Christmastime in Enugu: A Secret Love Affair

Poet JAMES EZE presents a picturesque view of his secret love affair with Christmastime in Enugu, the Coal City State.

By James Eze

Enugu is Nigeria’s greenest city.

Well…may be not.

Yet, I don’t know any other Nigerian city with a large park in its center, heaving with green trees, not flower gardens. Or one with long streets lined with trees blooming in the soft rays of the morning sun.

Enugu is different!

Perhaps, only few things compare to the joy of watching the sun rise slowly over Enugu’s quaint little hills. And if one is patient enough, it is possible to see the outline of the city’s famous hills in the distance, brooding over rows of roofs in a bewitching overcast in harmattan. Of course everybody knows that Enugu and her hills are like the tortoise and her iron coat. You can’t envision one without the other.

When the first wandering Europeans arrived in Enugu in 1903 they were essentially scavenging for minerals. They believed that the crouching hills of Ngwo must be keeping a heavy secret. They found the secret beneath the hills in 1909.

Coal.

And so began the modern story of Enugu… the aspirational city of the Igbo; the mirror image of Igbo quest in city aesthetics and urban lifestyle.

Christmastime

Christmas is different in Enugu. It creeps slowly into the atmosphere in early December with heightened festivities and a sense of freedom and happiness that is not easy to explain. Suddenly, the social circuits blink awake with colorful weddings, reunions, end-of-year parties, musical concerts, art exhibitions, award ceremonies, comedy shows and a shopping frenzy across the city.

The feeling intensifies when Christmas carols begin to filter out of overhead speakers in malls and car steroes. Excitement hangs in the air. Like the harmattan haze, you can feel it but you can’t touch it. There’s a swirl of anticipation; a sense of expectancy.

Enugu finally shivers in the cold clasp of the Yuletide season, a few days to Christmas. Traffic is heavy on all roads. You could feel the pulse of the city in the drinking gardens, lounges, night clubs and a thousand other watering holes.

At Extreme, a popular hangout in upper class Independence Layout, the mood is infectious. Youngsters down assorted cocktails as they munch on spicey recipes. Cubana stirs awake at midnight with shimering lights beckoning revelers to her warm bosom. Skimpy clad ladies line up the once serene Igbo Eze Street with deceptive smiles that promise cheap thrills behind closed doors. Cars crouch on either side of the roads, stretching as far as the eyes can see. It’s about to go down.

Diaspora Swing

042, as residents call it, is on the swing.

It’s hard to imagine Christmas in Enugu without folks from the diaspora. You can easily detect them from their fake American accents and slightly arrogant air. The joke is often on returnees from China, Malaysia, Pakistan, Vietnam and other little Asian countries who speak in fake American accents.

Returnees from the UK, Germany and Italy usually look too serious for everyone’s comfort. They are known to be tight-fisted and often at odds with themselves, wearing stern looks to put beggarly relatives at bay. Someone said they were usually weighed down by a mountain of unpaid bills and had to hide behind unsmiling faces to dodge financial obligations.

The American and Canadian returnees are not any better although their expansive ways chime in with the mood of the season. Some of them come with light entertainment, regaling their besotted relatives and friends with outlandish tales about life in America. Sometimes they pull off some showboating; dropping a few dollar notes into expectant arms. But even with the soaring exchange rates, the naira value of those notes reduces them to a mere a token. Still, they are the preferred. Everybody loves the dollar.

Enugu shrivels into a shy metropolis on Christmas day. Many residents celebrate Christmas indoors, preferring the warmth of family to the razzmatazz outdoors. The city sheds much of its traffic; revealing elegant roads lined with houses whose roofs are covered in mist at dawn.

Distances shrink into a few kilometers and family visits and reunions can be done with amazing ease. And if one is patient, one could even pullover to admire Enugu’s many impressive sculptures at close quarters.

The Exodus

Halfway into the yuletide season, the city empties its crowd into several villages where wrinkled elders and loving relatives wait with wise words and welcoming smiles.

Harmattan cold is felt more in the villages. And when it becomes very cold, elders warm themselves around log fires in the early morning.

Igbo villages come alive at Christmas. Familes give their children out in marriage under the kind gaze of their ancestors. New houses are opened with fanfare and firece football matches light up playgrounds in the evening.

In recent times, a colourful twist has been added to the Christmas pizzazz in Igboland. Delectable maidens file out for beauty pageants in the evening and in the nubile dance of the pageant, a man might pick his bride.

Local Delicacies

abacha and palm wine “in conversation”

It is normal to wake up to slices of steamy okpa on an Enugu morning. The soft, yellow recipe has sustained many generations with a taste to die for and instant filling of every space in the stomach. In the evening, abacha, a delicious mix of cassava, ukpaka and vegetables with the allure of a carnival in a plate, comes handy. Folks believe that Abacha travels faster when washed down with cups of juicy palm wine. The conversation between palm wine and Abacha in a roomy stomach has never led to a shouting match, they say.

New Year Return

The city roars back to life on New Year’s eve. But it is a different kind of roar. The contrast is sharp. The ebullience of Christmas has given way to fanatical spirituality and fear.

No one could tell what the New Year would bring. So, it’s best to approach the year through the open doors of religion and surrender all fears and anxities of the New Year to God. And this is why when firecrackers rent the air to welcome the New Year in Dubai, Sydney and Tokyo, shouts of “hallelujah” usually split midnight churches in Enugu and other Nigerian cities to hand the new year over to God.

Enugu. The ageless bride whose spell breaks the resistence of everyone that has found warmth in her soothing embrace!

Kaleidoscope of colours

Christmastime in Enugu – a secret love affair

PDP clears 15 presidential aspirants, disqualify two

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, clears 15 of its 17 presidential aspirants.

A panel headed by former Senate President David Mark however rejected two aspirants for not meeting the requirements.

He listed the requirements as party membership, nationality, qualifications, evidence of tax clearance, possesion of voters card and financial capacity.

Mark neither disclosed their identities nor volunteered which of the criteria knocked them out.

He however said they could contest their disqualification through the party’s appeal process.

PDP clears 15 presidential aspirants
Sen Mark

“Now don’t ask me those who have been cleared and those who have not been cleared because I won’t tell you.

“We haven’t released the result to them. So if you ask questions in that direction, you’re wasting time.

“We’re quite satisfied with the standard of the aspirants by and large. And we think that any one of them who gets the ticket would win the election in 2023.”

The party mopped up N646 million from the sale of forms to the 17 presidential aspirants.

Each of the 16 male aspirants paid N35million to purchase nomination forms and N5million for the expression of interest forms.

The lone female among them, Tariela Diana Oliver, however paid N5million for nomination and N1million for the interest form.

2023 PDP presidential aspirants

The 17 aspirants interviewed by the panel include

AspirantStateBio
1. Atiku AbubakarAdamawaFormer Vice President
2. Anyim Pius AnyimEbonyiFormer Senate President, Secretary to Federal Govt
3. Nwachukwu AnakwenzeAnambraUS-based medical doctor
4. Udom EmmanuelAkwa IbomCurrent Governor of Akwa Ibom State
5. Ayodele FayoseEkitiFormer Governor of Ekiti State
6. Mohammed Hayatu-DeenBornoInvestment banker
7. Chikwendu KaluAbiaFormer Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly
8. Dele MomoduEdoMagazine Publisher
9. Bala MohammedBauchiCurrent Bauch State Governor and former Minister
10. Cosmos NdukweAbiaformer Deputy Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly
11. Peter ObiAnambraFormer Governor of Anambra State
12. Sam OhuabunwaImoPharmacist and business leader
13. Tareila Diana OliverBayelsa
14. Olusola SarakiKwaraformer Governor, former Senate President
15. Aminu TambuwalSokotoCurrent Sokoto State Governor
16. Charles UgwuEnuguLawyer and businessman
17. Nyesom Wike RiversCurrent Governor of Rivers State & former Minister
Register here

Ekweremadu undergoes PDP screening in Enugu

Senator Ike Ekweremadu successfully undergoes screening by a PDP Governorship Panel and scores process high.

Southeast PDP governorship aspirants began appearing today in Enugu before the party’s national governorship screening panel.

Senator Ike Ekweremadu, an aspirant for Enugu governorship position, appeared first before the panel.

PDP National Vice Chairman (South East), Chief Ali Odefa, received the former Deputy Senate President on arrival.

The Senator was accompanied to the venue by party fauthful, led by Director-General of his campaign, Hon. Charles Ogbo Asogwa.

Sen Ekweremadu explained to newsmen that the party is conducting screening for the entire South East aspirants from Enugu.

The panel will however exempt Anambra and Imo from the governorship screening excerise as no governorship elections are taking place in the two states next year.

The Senator’s Media Adviser, Uche Anichukwu, in a statement quoted his boss’s overall impression as follows:

“I met with the panel today in Enugu and was successfully screened.

It was quite smooth and the people were quite friendly and courteous. The system is perfect and we hope that the exercise will continue to be smooth as I met it.

“I am sure the National Assembly and State Assembly aspirants, who had their exercise yesterday probably had the same experience of a smooth process, which is exactly what we have been advocating.

“Let us have a transparent and smooth process.

“PDP has come a long way and should be able to have sufficient experience to manage this kind of process and I can see the experience coming to play.

“So, I want to thank the officials of the PDP in Enugu State and the South East for a job well done so far,” he stated.

Ekweremadu undergoes PDP governorship screening in Enugu

Voter registration for 2023 ends 30 June

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ends current voter registration drive for the 2023 elections by 30 June 2022.

INEC announced that last quarter continuous voter registration which resumed on the 11 April ends 30 June, 2022.

However, it’s not clear whether the electoral umpire will be able to organise another registration round before the election.

INEC published February 2023 dates for the general elections that will usher in a new president and majority of governors.

Registration centres are located at INEC State and Local Government Area Offices as well as RA/Ward Collation Centres.

INEC officers do rotational visits to the Wards to ensure that eligible voters are captured to vote.

“This may be the very last chance to register to vote before 2023 elections,” an official said.

Start the process

Voter registration drive for 2023 ends 30 June

How to change voting centre

INEC has also announced that voters can conveniently transfer their voting points close to their homes.

They can do this by following a simple process as outlined in the link below:

Voter registration for 2023 ends 30 June

Transfer to new voting centre in easy steps

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) publishes steps for a registered voter to transfer to new voting centre.

The Agency encourages transfers for those who moved location and want to vote at nearby centres.

INEC advised those wishing to transfer their Voter’s Card to be guided by the following steps:

1. Go to INEC online portal (cvr.inecnigeria.org)
2. Select Services
3. Select Voter Transfer
4. Create account with your email address
5. Login with your email
6. Open the link sent to you in your email
7. Fill out form provided and new address
8. Check form for mistakes & correct
9. Save as instructed.
10. Use your phone to snap and upload 2 of your photos (First photo with serious face and the second with smiling face)
11. Submit form
12. Wait for when it is ready
INEC will send message (phone, email or both) on where to pick card around new place of abode

How to locate your voting centres in Nigeria

Register to Vote

Exercise your right as an Nigerian citizen today. Use the link provided here to register to vote. You can also use the link to change your voting centre or update your PVC.

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Nowadays, Nigerian voters are able to locate their voting centres, also known as polling units, through a simple online search.

Using the INEC Polling Unit Locator tool, voters should locate the centres to vote during elections in no time.

INEC however advises voters to select a polling units closest to their areas of residence.

This is “due to the restricted movement on election days.”

To view your polling unit:
1. Go to Locator: (https://www.inecnigeria.org/elections/polling-units/)
2. Select State (This is the state you would be voting in)
3. Select LGA (This is the LGA in which you live)
4. Select Ward
5. Click “Search”

Osinachi and her Igbo marriage

Let’s talk religion, and thereafter interrogate the actions of late Mrs Osinachi Nwachukwu in relation to her Igbo marriage.

Osinachi is another example of how we crucify justice, truth and compassion in the country. But at the end of the day, she won, and we lost.

Ogbuagu Anikwe

The late gospel singer qualified to be called and addressed as nwa Jesus. Ndigbo brand Christians who genuinely strive to be holy and upright as nwa Jesus  (son or daughter of Jesus). The tag is a fulsome praise for folks living exemplary lifestyles anchored on Christian ethics. Nevertheless, Ndigbo equally use the tag as a backhanded salute to the hypocritical who seek to impress with hollow displays of piety. In Osinachi’s case, Nwa-Jesus is positive praise for this God-fearing woman ‘martyred’ during the Holy Season of Lent in 2022.

Her life and death mirror that of Jesus Christ in many ways. Her suffering and death also reflect her name. Loosely translated, Osinachi means “destiny” In Igbo. It is a declaration that who we are and what we become are subject to God’s will. Thus, humans experience things in life to fulfil a purpose. Instinctively, she saw it as her destiny to suffer. Marriage became the cross and crucifixion that she bore with equanimity. This is why, in a sense, her death looks like pre-ordained martyrdom.

Viewing her passage from this window of martyrdom opens a world of parallels between hers and the life of Christ. Because death happened during the holy season of lent, characters that witnessed to her death assumed biblical associations. The characters are all of us, who are spouses, pastors and relations in marriages.

Biblical Actors

Spouses are central characters in a marriage setting. Spouses that abuse their partners are the Pharisees and High Priests of our time. They have antiquated philosophies of what it means for two persons to come together as partners in marriage. In different Christian denominations, separation and divorce attract terrible consequences for the female partner. Some have suggested, for instance, that if Osinachi separated from her husband or asked for divorce, her career would crash . This was how one member of her sect explained it to me:

“No Pentecostal church will invite a separated singer or divorcee to perform at their events. What kind of message would we be sending if we allowed that? She knew this consequence. It explains why she begged everyone not to trigger an action that potentially leads to separation or divorce.”

Wives, like floormats

I have heard more than one pastor preach about husband-wife relationships and the role of the wife in that relationship. Listening to Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, for instance, the wife can as well be a foot mat for the man to step on. Again, most churches preach against divorce. But there are nuances in their approach to divorce and separation that differentiate the Christian denominations. This is a subject for another day.

For our purposes here, let’s leave it said that Osinachi’s pastors carried on like Pontius Pilate on the matter of her avoidable death. They washed their hands by pretending not to be aware of the plot to have her crucified.

Finally, what about the Congregation of Christian acquaintances that saw her serial abuse? Friends, artiste colleagues and church brethren. They witnessed the abuse are like the Biblical Peter. Most stood by and watched and, like Peter, denied many times the opportunity to identify with a suffering soul. This is what modern civilisation has done to us

Increasingly, urban Nigerians are no longer their neighbor’s keeper. Ironically, elsewhere in the world that we imitate, neighbours report to the authorities those who mistreat humans and animals. Those authorities also make – and enforce – laws for abuse of human and animal rights. Unfortunately, our case is that urban dwellers express outrage depending on how close to us an abuse victim is. When victims are not close, they become like logs fed into a bonfire. We sometimes lose the meaning of sanctity of human life.

The late gospel singer Osinachi is not Jesus the Christ and can never be. But like all of us,she’s created in God’s image, and is therefore like God in all things minus sin. Yes, she used her songs to play with our emotions and to connect us powerfully to the creator. Yet, she remained a sinful pilgrim groping in darkness, like all of us, to find a pathway to eternal life.

Igbo Marriages

The Igbo recognize that physical abuse happens in marriages. Spouse abuse demonstrates levels of maturity and tolerance at a given point in a marriage. But at some point, everyone draws a line. The Igbo wife flees to her father’s house to escape physical abuse when it reaches the point.

Ogbuagu Anikwe

The Igbo culture does not lionize a wife abuser, and a woman abusing her husband is an abomination. A man who raises his hand on his wife acquires the image of a coward and a loafer. He is a coward for leaving the “stronger sex” with whom real men test their strength to turn on his wife. And he is a loafer because only idle men abandon onerous family responsibilities to bicker and fight at home. What we’ve read thus far gives Osinachi’s husband out as a loafer and coward, a true ambassador of wife beaters.

Because this was an Igbo couple, it is difficult to appreciate the conduct of both Osinachi and her relations. Her people, like Jews of Old, watched from the sidelines and did nothing to save her. Modern social convention forced them to play sympathetic but largely inactive roles. As close acquaintances, its not enough to offer sympathy, sighs and a sense of resignation at her attitude to the oppression. Doing this is negligent conduct. The Christians among us who do this are biblical Judases. They accept 30 shekels of silence to helplessly watch their relation suffered unto death.

That this was an Igbo marriage makes it not only annoying but downright wicked that she had to die. Both Osinachi and her relations misconstrued or chose to forget custom and conventions that nurture Igbo marriages. Every public account we’ve read so far about how Nwachukwu allegedly abused his wife is a desecration of Igbo tradition.

The Igbo recognize that physical abuse happens in marriages. Our wise old men know that they demonstrate levels of maturity and tolerance at a given point in a marriage. The husband undergoes informal counseling from older, more experienced folks. But at some point, everyone draws a line. The Igbo wife flees to her father’s house to escape physical abuse when it reaches the point.

Separation & Divorce

Fleeing from an abusive marriage triggers various remedial community actions in Igboland. Although not encouraged, persistent wife abuse rouses incensed brothers to waylay and beat the living daylights out of their brother-in-law. What the community encourages is for a repentant husband to go with relations to plead for forgiveness. They take wine and colanut as peace offerings. Doing this demonstrates that the wife beater was acting under influence and actually adores his wife. Expectedly, he also undertakes never to lay hands on her again.

However, where a husband decides not to beg for her return, she lives in separation, and is free to re-marry. When she finds a new husband, her family returns  the brideprice paid by the abuser-husband and the marriage formally ends. Similarly, the husband’s plea hits the rocks if his wife refuses to return to the marriage. Separation begins for a woman at that point. This separation ends only after she remarries or her her family refunds the bride price. In Igbo culture, separation and divorce are therefore clearly established.

From the foregoing, it is possible that both modernity and Christianity figuratively murdered soul-lifting singer, Osinachi Nwachukwu. When tragedy results from criminal silence, eyewitnesses can become accessory to murder. We spit on the body and grave of abused spouses with every attempt to tell the truth of what happened, after enabling it with our criminal silence.

Osinachi is another example of how we crucify justice, truth and compassion in the country. But at the end of the day, she won, and we lost. She is a winner because God lifted the crown of suffering she wore to the bitter end. We lost a powerful voice for moral and ethical change, for justice, truth, and compassion.

Geometric Power Appoints CEO for generation

Geometric Power, Nigeria’s first private integrated power company, appoints veteran power engineer Ben Caven as CEO of its generation arm.

Geometrics is gearing up to begin operations later this year in Aba, Abia State. It is licensed to produce and supply power to the industrial city and neighboring communities,

Impeccable sources told Enugu Metro that Caven will serve as Managing Director of Geometric Power Aba Power Limited (GPAL).

He was variously executive director in charge of engineering, generation, and transmission at the PHCN. Caven is also reputed to have actively participated in the design and construction of power infrastructure in Nigeria.

Power engineers hail appointment

Power engineers received the news of the appointment with general approval.

Engineer Cliff Eneh, former PHCN Senior Manager who joined the academic world after working at Texas Power and Light Company in the United States said it was a good decision.

“Caven was incomparable throughout PHCN history, even in human relations terms. “He is so talented as an engineer. Yet he is so self-effacing and associates with colleagues closely, regardless of their status and backgrounds.

Caven’s appointment also earned praise from the initiator of the South East Nigeria Economic Commission (SENEC), Chris Okoye.

In a message to Company Chair, Prof. Bart Nnaji, Okoye said it was a very good appointment.

“Geometric Power could not have chosen a better person to head Geometric Power Aba Limited, said,

“He is a quintessential and dedicated power engineer well trained in the United Kingdom, as we found out when we did a project for NEPA.”

“In fact, Engr Caven is an outstanding business leader rather than a manager who knows how to manage human resources, materials and financial resources effectively.

“He sets his sights on the future, rather than the present.

“His choice as the Geometric Power Aba Ltd MD shows that Geometric Power group is determined to conduct a 21st century electricity business”.

About Geometric Power

Geometric Power operates gas turbines manufactured by General Electric of the United States, the world’s largest electricity equipment manufacturing firm.

It has a 27-kiolmetre gas pipeline from the Shell flow station Owaza in Ukwa West Local Government Area to the Osisioma Industrial Estate in Aba.

Oilserv Ltd, a leading indigenous engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company in Nigeria’s petroleum industry constructed the pipeline. 

Geometric Power Appoints CEO for generation

Nnamani complicates governorship quest by Nkanu

Analysts wonder how Nkanu East/West will monopolize both PDP governorship and the senate positions shared by entire Enugu East District.

Senator Chimaroke Nnamani complicates governorship quest for Nkanu East by purchasing forms to return to the Senate in 2023.

The former governor, undaunted, made a grand appearance before the Peoples Democratic Party’s screening committee today in Enugu.

The party screened a number of National Assembly aspirants today 27 April.

Dozens of supporters drummed, danced and sang as they accompanied him to the venue.

Party chair, Chief Augustine Nnamani (no relation), warmly welcomed him to the screening venue.

Making a grand entrance

How Nnamani complicates Nkanu Governorship Quest

The Governor’s planned return to the Senate complicates the quest for governorship for aspirants from Nkanu East and West.

Enugu District has three federal constituencies – Enugu North/South, Enugu East/Isi-Uzor, and Nkanu East/West.

The former Governor, from Nkanu West favours Mr. Peter Mbah (Nkanu East), his former Chief of Staff, to succeed Governor Ugwuanyi.

Similarly, majority of aspirants who bought forms to contest the governorship are also from Nkanu East/West Federal Constituency

Analysts however wonder how Nkanu East/West will monopolize both PDP governorship and the senate positions shared by Enugu East District.

A politician from Enugu East noted that two of the three constituencies in the Enugu East District have produced the governors and senators since 1999.

“In contrast, Enugu East/Isi-Uzo have not been allowed to nominate a governor or Senator since 1999.

“Clearly Enugu East/Isi-Uzor federal constituency are the whipping boys of Nkanu politics,” the embittered stakeholder told Enugu Metro.

“Our Senator tends to be selfish and inconsiderate. He governed Enugu for eight years and will serve in the Senate for 12 years or more.

“Enugu North/South Constituency produced Senators for 12 years, between brothers from same town, Chief Jim Nwobodo and Chief Ken Nnamani.

“If the former governor is sincere, he will yield the Senate position to either Enugu East or Isi-Uzor. Or support an aspirant from these two local governments to rule.

His position on zoning

The former governor made his position known on the zoning controversy through a statement he released and personally signed on 20 February.

He insisted that political leaders “must respect existing zoning formula” for the governorship seat in 2023.

This, he said, is in the interest of justice and fair play. 

He also claimed that the zoning formula has been in place since 1999 and has ensured peace and harmony and given everyone a sense of belonging.

His successor, Gov. Sullivan Chime, however discredited the claim, saying that Enugu does not operate a formalized zoning arrangement.

Update & Correction

15:03 P.M. 28 April 2022. By Editor

The claims made by our source in respect of Enugu East/Isi-Uzor federal constituency is not accurate.

This is because Senator Gilbert Nnaji is from Enugu East/ Isiuzo Constituency and served in the Senate for eight years (2011 – 2019).

His younger brother, Rep. Cornelius Nnaji, also currently represents Enugu East/Isiuzo federal constituency in the House of Representatives.

The errors are inadvertent. – Editor

Kalu bemoans hypocrisy of Southern Nigeria politicians

Senator Orji Uzor Kalu bemoans hypocrisy of Southern politicians other than Southeasterners angling to become president of Nigeria in 2023.

He labelled their ambition as “inordinate” and asked that they consider the justice and fairness of their quest.

In a well-articulated essay, the Senate Chief Whip lashed out at Southwest and South-South politicians aspiring to rule in 2023.

He warned that their declarations will ultimately work against the South and give advantage to the north which has the stronger voting strength.

“The two regions that are yet to produce a President are South East and North East.

“If this means anything to Nigerians, the APC and PDP should be fair enough to prioritize these regions.

“If power should come to the South and not the South East or North and not the North East, the essence for which the six geopolitical zones were created is long dead,” he warned.

Read the full essay here:

Kalu bemoans hypocrisy of Southern politicians

The Fairness I Know for the 2023 Presidency

In The Fairness I Know for the 2023 Presidency, Senator Kalu examines the odds of zoning the presidency to Southeast.

By Orji Uzor Kalu

It is my desire and intention to run for the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I am committed to this pursuit, but I can’t make an official declaration to this regard without the full support of other regions. Everywhere in the world, politics is situational and that of Nigeria is exceptionally situational.

Continue reading The Fairness I Know for the 2023 Presidency