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Pastor Tunde Bakare and the Lies of a failed State

In Bakare and Lies of a failed State, Chuks Iloegbunam deploys facts and logic to question an alleged Igbo curse.


Chuks Iloegbunam

Chuks Iloegbunam is the author of The Case for an Igbo President of Nigeria


Pastor Tunde Bakare of The Citadel Global Community Church recently spoke through his hat while preaching a sermon. He told his congregation that, during the January 15, 1966 military action that toppled the First Republic, the soldiers that took Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa removed his turban, poured wine on his head and force-fed him with the alcohol. For abominating him, Balewa, just before he was shot, pronounced a curse on Ndigbo, to the effect that no one from the ethnic group will ever rule over Nigeria. Mr. Bakare’s story, fanciful as it sounds, is a pack of lies. This article, therefore, is to educate Mr. Bakare and others of his misguided persuasion with the truth, of which Jesus, the Christ said in John 8: 32: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” 

…at the lectern, the microphone should never be a justification for verbal diarrhoea. So, Mr. Preacher Bakare, the next time the sound of your voice is amplified by the electronics of public address systems, you must endeavour to annexe some circumspection.

Chuks Iloegbunam

On the mundane level, no one removed any turban from Sir Abubakar’s head. The turban is a headdress. Soldiers invaded the Prime Minister’s official residence at around 3am, when the man was in bed. Did he sleep turbaned? Do people sleep in their headdresses? Apart from that picture in which presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari appeared in suit and tie, wearing a wan smile and looking almost comical with his receding hairline, there hardly is another photograph of the man in which a cap does not adorn his head. Would his traditional fondness for full dressing gear ever mean that he went to bed in a hat? Do women sleep with all those accessories they routinely assembled on their heads for public events? Tafawa Balewa’s turban was not removed because he wasn’t wearing one when his adversaries closed in on him.

Muslims are by injunction forbidden to consume alcoholic beverages. The story that the Prime Minister was bathed in wine and inebriated with it is aimed at sustaining the opprobrium first established by revisionists in 1966. Also his recovered body showed clearly that he hadn’t been shot. The lies spewed by Mr. Bakare have one source. They always had a single objective: the monopoly of political power by the geo-political north. There are many such lies still enjoying vibrancy in the country. Three of them should suffice for our argument.

One, when General Aguiyi-Ironsi’s regime was toppled, Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon, who succeeded him, was going to sunder the country by announcing the Republic of Northern Nigeria, for the simple reason that political power had left the region. Gowon is still denying this fact, despite incontrovertible evidence to its certitude. The document marked CAB/128/41 at the British Public Records Office at Kew Gardens, London contains the minutes of the British Cabinet meeting of August 2, 1966 that was declassified after a 30-year moratorium. It incontrovertibly shows Gowon’s secessionist tendency after they assassinated General Aguiyi-Ironsi.

Two, Gowon said in his maiden speech as Head of State that there was no basis for Nigerian unity. He denies the statement to this day. As a matter of fact, his government disingenuously published a misleading version of his speech, claiming that he had only discounted national unity in a unitary dispensation. But, the BBC Monitoring Service recorded Gowon’s broadcast live, and the transcript is forever available. It has Gowon saying, “Suffice it to say that putting all considerations to the test, political, economic as well as social, the basis of unity is not there…”

Three. Nigeria’s military leaders met in Aburi, Ghana, on January 4 & 5, 1967, for a conference to avert the contingency of civil war. They reached an agreement. Back in Nigeria, Gowon reneged on the agreement, an infamy he denies to this day, even though the Aburi proceedings were audio-recorded from start to finish. Had the agreement been implemented, the civil war might well have never occurred. 

The military action of January 1966 was called and is still called an Igbo coup. How could a putsch intended to install the Yoruba Chief Obafemi Awolowo, as Prime Minister be an Igbo coup? Here’s Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu: “Neither myself nor any other lads was in the least interested in governing the country. We were soldiers and not politicians. We had earmarked from the list known to every soldier in this operation who would be what. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was, for example, to be released from jail immediately and to be made the Executive President of Nigeria.” See  West  Africa  magazine of July 29, 1967, page 981.

And here’s Major Adewale Ademoyega: “At the end of the first week of January, Major Anuforo and I arranged to meet Captain Udeaja, a young engineering graduate from the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham, UK. We met in Major Chukwuka’s house at the Ikeja Cantonment but Chukwuka himself was not there. Having briefed Udeaja generally and got his consent, we gave him his task. He was to fly a special plane provided for the purpose to Calabar on the morning of D-Day, to effect the release of Chief Awolowo and bring him to Lagos on the plane. We had already arranged for a plane of the Nigeria Air Force to be made available that morning. This was done through Major Nzegwu (not Nzeogwu) of the Air Force.” See Adewale Ademoyega: Why We Struck: The Story of the First Nigerian Coup, Evans Brothers Limited, Ibadan, 1981; pp 68-69.  

The Nzeogwu and Ademoyega stories were corroborated by no less a person than Chief Awolowo, thusly: “It was learnt after the January coup that the authors had planned to release me from Calabar, fly me to Lagos, and install me as Head of State whether I liked it or not. If I refused the offer, they were prepared to govern in my name until I was persuaded to accept the offer. The authors of the coup had no plan to govern the country under a military administration.” See Obafemi Awolowo, My March Through Prison, Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Limited, Ilupeju Lagos, 1985; page 297.

In spite of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, the myth of the Igbo coup has been sustained to this day. According to Ademoyega, the innermost circle of the coup plot was composed of three Majors: Adewale Ademoyega from Ode Remo in today’s Ogun State, a History graduate of the University of London; Emmanuel Ifeajuna from Onitsha, a University of Ibadan Science graduate; and Chukwuma Nzeogwu from Okpanam, a town bordering Asaba in present day Delta State. Besides these facts, there were 50 Majors in the Nigerian Army on the morning of the coup; 24 of them were Igbo. About 20 of these knew nothing of the coup and never participated in its execution. The coup cost the life of Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Chinyelu Unegbe, the Quarter-Master General of the Nigerian Army. Chinyelu Unegbe was Igbo from Ozubulu in today’s Anambra State. General Aguiyi-Ironsi put down the coup; he was Igbo from Umuana Ndume in Umuhia in the present Abia State. These facts have never constituted extenuating circumstances. The coup must forever be labelled an Igbo coup, a lie from the pit of hell that continues to be used as a basis for the sporadic massacring of Ndigbo and their consignment to fourth-class citizenship in their own country.

All these lies are the reason Nigeria is a failed state. And unless these lies and countless others are finally and permanently abrogated, Nigeria’s chances of resurrection are unequivocally non-existent. In a sense Pastor Bakare is a tool in the hands of forces he scarcely recognises. The fibs he told his church members were as old as 1966. The precursors are from the top echelons of Northern Nigerian hegemony, but their lies first surfaced in book form when the Hudahuda Publishing Company of Zaria published John M. Paden’s Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto in 1986. This is Professor Omo Omoruyi in The Tale of June 12; The Betrayal of the Democratic Rights of Nigerians (1993) (Press Alliance Network Limited; 1999.) “President Babangida ruled out any Yoruba person if Chief Abiola who had been with the military and the North in various capacities could not win the support of the ethno-military clique.  He ruled out the Igbo on the argument that the country and definitely the North would not buy an Igbo then or in the near future. More seriously, he argued that the Yoruba and the Igbo did not have strong representation in the Armed Forces to provide them with the kind of protection they would need. This is still at the heart of democratisation today” (page 253). 

Professor Omoruyi, who was the Director-General of the Centre for Democratic Studies and, more importantly, Babangida’s closest confidant, sought clarification from the military President. “This was when (General Babangida) called my attention to the feeling in the North about an Igbo as President. He thought that it would violate the curse placed on the Igbo by the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa before he was executed on January 15, 1966. Sir Abubakar was quoted to have said: ‘I know you are going to kill me; you will never get a Prime Minister like me. The Igbo will suffer for twenty-five years.’” (Page 262.)

Now, under Pastor Bakare, the consummate wielder of the microphone, the falsehoods got added embellishment. The curse preventing any Igbo from becoming President over a period of 25 years assumed eternal dimensions. The snippety nonsense of turban and wine got thrown in. No one seemed to underscore the impotence of the curse by General Aguiyi-Ironsi, an Igbo being Balewa’s immediate successor. I reacted thus to this story in Ironsi: Nigeria, The Army, Power And Politics (Press Alliance 1999; and Eminent Biographies 2019): “The story that was put out claimed that Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa ‘cursed’ the Igbo, saying they will not rule Nigeria for 25 years. By the time Babangida used this fiction to discount an Igbo President in 1993, 27 years had elapsed since Sir Abubakar died. Yet, the “curse” was still potent. Babangida himself had no qualms marrying into a “cursed” ethnic group and raising four children who by extension must be half cursed.

The main point here is that, apart from Sir Abubakar’s lack of locus standi to curse the Igbo, (how many million curses will the thousands of Igbo victims of the 1966 pogrom utter?), the story is patently false. Its authors lacked authenticity because their story was bereft of citation and attribution. The most detailed account of the interrogation of those that carried out the coup of January 1966 was released by the regime of General Yakubu Gowon. The details also appear in Crisis And Conflict in Nigeria: A Documentary Sourcebook (Oxford University Press, 1971) by A. H. M Kirk-Greene. Nowhere is there anything about any curse. No authority ever corroborated the story. Yet this fiction is what the Clique has held on to in the protracted subjugation of Ndigbo. That was why Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, a principled officer and gentleman, was ignominiously removed as Chief of General Staff within months of his appointment. That was why Ndigbo led the formation of the PDP and gave it their all, only for the currently acclaimed Igbo leader, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, to be given a short shrift.” (pp 242-243.)

According to Omo Omoruyi, Chief M. K. O. Abiola’s presidential election victory was nullified because it was not backed by what he called Ethno-Military Clique of Northern Nigeria. General Babangida posited in 1993 that, “the Yoruba and the Igbo did not have strong representation in the Armed Forces to provide them with the kind of protection they would need.” Yoruba and Igbo representation in the military today are far more minuscular today than ever before, due to the conscious and deliberate nepotistic policy of the man at the helm today. Besides, no one has bothered to decipher the Caliphate’s thinking on 2023. Perhaps the assumption is that its deafening silence is symptomatic of non-alignment? How could this be when Sultan Dasuki was one of the prime forces against Chief Abiola’s presidential election? All these point to the fact that, in the ultimate, even the Jagaban would discover that he washed his hands and cracked a nut for an errant fowl to carry the seed away. At that point only would the incalculable harm done to Yoruba and Southern interests by the forward-looking politics of Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu become ever so clear.

To return to phantom curses and negative repercussions! Pastor Bakare needs to ask himself this fundamental question: Why is the curse for bad behaviour unidirectional? A sensible answer to that question may assist him in coming to terms with a myriad of other questions. Those who killed General Aguiyi-Ironsi in July 1966 have the longest streets in Abuja named after them. Apart from Aguiyi-Ironsi, they also killed countless other officers, including Lieutenant Colonels Israel Okoro, Gabriel Okonweze and Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, and Majors Nzegwu, Emelifonwu, Nnamani, Ihedigbo, Obienu, Ekanem, P. C. Obi, Isong, Ogunro; and 11 Captains, and 13 Lieutenants, and 128 NCOs and Other Ranks. They went ahead with a pogrom that cost 50,000 lives of Eastern Nigerians, mostly Ndigbo. Why have the perpetrators of the nsoani never been visited by a curse? Nigeria has five functional international airports. Two of them are named after the mass murderers of July, August, September and October 1966.

They claimed that wine was poured on Tafawa Balewa, and that alcohol was forced down his throat. Compare it to the following: “Thirdly, the evidence disclosed that it was not merely a case of Northerners descending on Easterners and shooting, matcheting and clubbing them to death. They embarked on various methods of torture and humiliation. One method was described by the 72nd witness – Dick Iwebi. This punishment is one of the most dreadful ways of crucifying a person. A heavy rod is tied across the back of the chest of the victim with the hands stretched and secured firmly on the rod. While the victim may still be standing on his legs, he is as helpless as a man nailed to a cross. In this position they then proceed to torture the victim by plucking his eyes, cutting his tongue and cutting his testicles.” See The Report of the Justice G. C. M Onyiuke Tribunal on the Massacre of Ndigbo in 1966, Tollbrook Publishers Limited, Ikeja Lagos, pp 125-126. Dear Pastor Bakare, who got cursed for this atrocity?

The thoughtful must ask what informed Pastor Bakare’s timing for his peculiar sermon. But the answer is all too obvious. The presidential election is next year and people who should only be seen and never heard are bursting eardrums hectoring all-comers for an Igbo President of Nigeria. It is important that their agitation is shot down before it gets a chance of taking off and actually flying. Of course, anti-Igbo propaganda was never a spontaneous thing. Its real name is INSIDOUS. To exemplify: In 1954, Emmanuel Ifeajuna won the gold medal in the High Jump event of the British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Vancouver, Canada. Ifeajuna was not just the first Nigerian, but also the first Black African, to win an international sports event. Back here in Nigeria, those that must never be cursed set up a national Sports Hall of Fame, which, to this day, does not include Ifeajuna’s name. Those who recall that Chioma Ajunwa is the first Nigerian to win an Olympic gold (in the long jump in Atlanta 1996) must go check out “their” sports “Hall of Fame”. Chances are that her name is not there. Not because she committed any offence but because of “from where she from come from”! Yes, it is a capital offence to come from the Igbo country. In 1995, Gideon Akaluka, a young Igbo trader based in Kano was accused of desecrating the Koran. He was locked up. But an organised mob broke into his Police cell, dragged him out, beheaded him and danced through Kano metropolis with his bodiless head. Does Bakare know that not one person was cursed for this atrocity? 

The injustice against Ndigbo is pervasive. Take the National Honours. Every head of every hamlet in the far North is an MFR or an OFR or a CFR or a CON or a GCON. Not so for Ndigbo. That is why a personage like Eze (Professor) Green Onyekaba Nwankwo, a distinguished traditional ruler, an accomplished academic who set up the Department of Finance at the University of Lagos, a former Executive Director in charge of banking and monetary policy in the Central Bank of Nigeria and the author of over 20 books has only the MON – the least of all the honours Nigeria can offer. The iniquity is most eloquent in the military. Unless they are in the Education Corps or the Medical Corps or the Physical Training Corps, hardly any Igbo gets promoted above the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. 

Those of us campaigning for an Igbo President of Nigeria are looking at more than the spectacle of a politician from the ethnic group enjoying the tenancy of Aso Rock. That is too simple. We are demanding equal rights. We are saying that a country indexed on lies already collapsed before it got the chance to take a first step to nationhood. An Igbo President is supposed to be the antidote to nearly 60 years of a people’s subjugation. People have no business forgetting that there is a distinction between being a slave and being enslaved. Ndigbo are no slaves. That was why in 1803, 75 of them rebelled at Dunbar Creek in Georgia, USA, took control of the slave ship carrying them, drowned their captors and chose to walk into the ocean rather than be slaves to white slave masters. That was why, between 1791 and 1804 they rebelled and overthrew the French regime in Haiti to establish an independent country founded and governed by ex-slaves. That is why the Igbo, indigenous to their current geographical space for millennia, find intolerable their insolent subjugation by recent migrants from the Fouta Djalon whose numbers no credible census has put at more than 5 percent of the Nigerian population. 

The systematic enslavement of Ndigbo in what is supposed to be their own country has got to be terminated. The epic Igbo struggle has taken various forms and will continue to do so. A prime example is their attempt at secession in the 1960s. Britain, and a genocidal war in which “Starvation is a legitimate instrument of warfare” thwarted them. Back inside Nigeria they are compelled to permanently stand back and keep bloody quiet forever. For any sigh, groan or moan of theirs, goons, troops, the Police and paramilitary contingents are deployed with extreme prejudice and excessive numbers against them. They are called terrorists while those that have stopped Kaduna State and wiped out innocent thousands in many parts of the country are termed bandits and treated with kid gloves. They have been branded “a dot in a circle,” a military euphemism underscoring their unenviable situation as targets for continued massacring.

There is news for the liars and the killers. Nigeria is unsustainable on the diet of lies and more lies. It is true that those that laid into Ndigbo in the 1960s and killed them in the tens of thousands got rewarded with high political offices and oil blocks and whatnot. But the kill-and-go ship of Ndigbo finally steamed into turbulent waters. Although census exercises in Nigeria are a huge joke, there are at least 40 million Ndigbo in Nigeria today. Nobody and no country can manufacture enough weapons to wipe them off the face of the country. Even in the extremely unlikely event of all Igbo in Nigeria getting killed, there are millions of them abroad today. From their number, at least a thousand will eventually pay a visit to the mother country, these question pouring from their flaming tongues: “Why did you slay my mother? Why did you massacre my father? Why did you annihilate my sister? Why did you exterminate my brother?” 

For all of the above, and especially at the lectern, the microphone should never be a justification for verbal diarrhoea. So, Mr. Preacher Bakare, the next time the sound of your voice is amplified by the electronics of public address systems, you must endeavour to annexe some circumspection. On disseminating the falsehoods of those who claim the right to perpetually sit and fart on all our heads, you must do two things: DESIST and CEASE!

Chuks Iloegbunam is the author of The Case for an Igbo President of Nigeria

Nigeria: When shall we take responsibility?

There’s no common ground to dream a better Nigeria into existence. We appear incapable of rising above our differences to fashion out a better country, to instill higher standards in public service and to organize our society for both prosperity and posterity.

James Eze

In his lecture at the Silver Jubilee of The Guardian in October 2008, Chinua Achebe observed that; “Nigeria is neither my mother nor my father. Nigeria is a child; gifted, enormously talented, prodigiously endowed and incredibly wayward. Nigerian nationality was for me and my generation an acquired taste – like cheese.”

I will always remember the above submission by Achebe. To my mind, no one has looked at Nigeria the way he did. In reality, Nigeria has been something of a bitter joke to many of us. Like a football Nigeria’s leaders kick her around as they wish. To some of us, Nigeria is probably the only location on the planet that represents two extremes; it is both the best and the worst place. Best because our loved ones live here and worst because our hearts are broken here. If you live in Nigeria, you are just a breath away from heartbreak. So, over the years, it occurred to me that Nigeria is a pain that will not easily go away. I realized that the trouble with Nigeria never changes. But perhaps even more depressing, I realized that the only thing that might change Nigeria is the power of taking responsibility. Now, let me make myself clear.

Nigeria is a victim. A victim of acute neglect! She is suffering from rejection by her citizens; their refusal to take responsibility for their country, their own happiness and their own dreams. Nigerians have chosen to hide from their own truths… that Nigeria is neither their mother nor their father but a hapless child we must all take responsibility for. Achebe was right!

I often chuckle when Nigerian intellectuals, thinkers and philosophers berate Nigeria for failing them. I chuckle at our sense of outrage, our cry of anguish and our willful rejection of our collective heritage. But outrage is the easy way out here. Nigerians have shown extreme annoyance with Nigeria for years and it hasn’t changed anything. I think it is time to ask ourselves what next.

What we have done with our famed talents? Among us are gifted writers, economists, surgeons, scientists, thinkers, educationists, bankers, activists, footballers and actors. Nigerians in the Diaspora compete with their peers across the world. Some of them have broken the glass ceiling to become mayors of important cities, members of parliament, heads of major corporations, renowned academics, painters and writers and lately, Vice Chancellors of universities. Nigerian professionals in the Diaspora have brought respect and dignity to Nigeria by taking backbreaking challenges in different fields of human endeavour. They have shown that given the right conditions, we can change our story. Are Nigeria’s troubles beyond the genius of these people?

It seems though that they have yet to come to terms with the fact that no one else will create the condition for them. We all have to desire the right condition enough to get actively involved in creating it for ourselves. Pointing a finger at Nigeria from the safety of the West is an expensive indulgence that cannot be sustained. We all have to take responsibility.

We ought to be unhappy that a country whose founding fathers were all deep thinkers is today led by folks whose vision is blurred. It may be easy to excuse this irony by citing our military past and its hangover but if we have yet to figure our way out of that challenge even with all our advancement in western thought and learning, then we have no one else to blame but ourselves.

The question is; since bad leadership hurts us the same way regardless of ethnicity, why is it impossible for enlightened friends and associates across the fault lines to come together and retrieve Nigeria from the abyss? What happened to the bonds of friendship forged over the years across ethno-religious lines? Why can’t we express our disappointment with Nigeria as one people by building a network for progress? Who are we all waiting for?

At the moment, there is no conversation between young idealistic Southerners and young idealistic Northerners. There’s no common ground to dream a better Nigeria into existence. We appear incapable of rising above our differences to fashion out a better country, to instill higher standards in public service and to organize our society for both prosperity and posterity.

If Nigeria is to ever experience real greatness, Nigerians must take responsibility for Nigeria!

Our Children’s Lives Matter

In this thoughtful entry, IKELE EJIKE laments, and shows us how it is that succeeding generations of privileged Nigerians have been recklessly drawing on the savings accounts of our children to service the greed of their various moments in time.

By Ikele Ejike

I shall begin with what I know. In Igbo cosmology, emphasis is almost always on tomorrow; not yesterday or even today, much as the events of the past are allowed to shape future calculations among the people. An Igbo man aspires to greatness within his natural and social circumferences. If, however, greatness fails to come in spite of genuine efforts, he removes hope from himself and places it on his children. He then prays for his children to take life a notch higher than he has done.

The fad today is for some delinquent adults, including persons who had and still have opportunity to make a difference, to congregate under old students associations and pontificate about fallen standards in the school system. And I ask; who caused the standards to fall?

This is why, among the Igbos, ‘may you live a better life than your father’ is a standard prayer to an aspiring young man. It is accepted that the totality of a man’s life must come across as an improvement on the life that his father lived. By that rating, the opposite is somehow adjudged less than a fulfilled life. On the social scale, greater honour tends to go in the direction of he who improves on his father’s life than he who stands tall in the shadow of his father.

I must add, however, that this does not replace the responsibility of the passing generation. If anything, the performance of the succeeding generation is a direct consequence of what the preceding generation did with its time. And this is the kernel of my outing today.

In Nigeria, the subsisting generation operates as if time will end with it. We so recklessly draw on the savings accounts of our children to service the greed of the moment. That is the reason the contractor feels no shame colluding with officials to circumvent the building of a classroom block for which money had been released to him. When this happens across board, a situation arises where children attend worse schools than their parents in spite of the relative expansion in time, space and all other indices of human progression.

The fad today is for some delinquent adults, including persons who had and still have opportunity to make a difference, to congregate under old students associations and pontificate about fallen standards in the school system. And I ask; who caused the standards to fall? Is it the helpless children who were born into it and have been forced to swallow what is available or parents who decided to live better lives than their children? There was a time when universities in this country were among the best in the Common Wealth. In fact, the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, was rated the 7th best health facility in the Common Wealth, which included Britain, Canada, Australia and India. What then happened that, today, no Nigerian university is among Africa’s top 10, how much more the Commonwealth?

I return to the Igbo cosmology. The land tenure system is a highly entrenched practice of inheritance among the people, such that the available land and its ownership structure is a product of systematic transmission of inheritance rights across generations. This, I hope is largely the practice everywhere in Africa. For instance, what I call my ancestral land in Ukawu is traceable to Amankpuma in Onicha LGA of Ebonyi State, the starting point of the Ukawu genealogy. I am seventh along the genealogy, yet my tiny place is assured because the generations ahead of me did nothing to obliterate the transmission of inheritance rights to the generations behind.

Even so, the conditions are fast changing and I cannot say for sure if the transmission shall continue for too long, as kindred detach from communal into self-feudalism. In other words, as excessive individualism erases every sense of common good, the tradition of ‘from father to son’ is dissolving even in traditional societies. We attack exhaustible resources as if they are renewable and in so doing we eat up the unborn generations. Today, there is a new occupation called sand dredging and mining in some communities in Ebonyi state. Every person of average resources fabricates a dredger dumps into a stream to mine sand and other solid minerals. Everywhere is a sand beach and mining site.

It is good business and government is turning a blind eye after collecting rent and revenues from operators. These people carry on as if they also have capacity to regenerate the environment and bring the intriguing network of flowing streams and rivulets to baseline conditions. The environment is under massive abusive and coupled with wide-spread seismic activities in the area, I fear what will be left of the Ebonyi state in another 50 years.
There is simply no control on consumption. We chop and quench literally and then hope for some miraculous recovery of what has been eaten when tomorrow comes. Better tomorrow is not a guess work or some scene in Arabian movie that gets established by mere wish. It is a product of rational thinking and decision. It follows the same principle of investment which, simply put, is denial of consumption for the moment to create activities for bigger and more sustainable yield in the future.

Last week, youths came out protesting the current hardship in the country. They said the old generation should be blamed because mainly old people including the President have been in the commanding heights of the political economy. They spoke with statistics. Persons who built the Nigerian State and whom we address as founding fathers were in their 20s and 30s when they founded Nigeria. They actually wanted to know the task of nation building would get to them. No child revolts if he is well represented by the father. The impending youth revolt is a clear ‘no confidence vote’ on the old men and women that have been harvesting and do not have planting season in their farming calendar.

The story of Nigeria is also the story of unceasing conspiracies of an elite class to serve its purpose alone. They destroyed the rail so that their haulage business can thrive. They destroyed public electricity so that diesel and generator importation can continue. They truncated the refineries so that fuel importation and arising benefits of subsidy payments can go on. They destroyed tertiary education so that they can become successful proprietors of private universities. And they will foist on the nation a morbid political leadership so that they can be protected.

No investment is ever made for tomorrow. That is why our yesterday tends to be always better than our today just as our today, by the same measurement, will be better than our tomorrow. In other words, we are permanently on a retrogression mode. To me, the problem is more spiritual than otherwise. The starting point in Nigeria is to tell every man and woman that has opportunity to operate in the public space that a life lived to the benefit of others is much more fulfilling and meaningful than a life lived to the benefit of oneself. In Norway for instance. The Norwegian State oil company called Statoil (equivalent of our own NNPC) is a major operator in the North Sea. The other is the Anglo-Dutch oil company, Shell. A high ranking official of the Norwegian government said they, in Norway, understand that oil is a finite resource and as such proceeds from its exploitation are invested for the future generation and that the governing law allows the subsisting generation to spend on itself only 4% of the returns on investment. More or less, everything about the oil economy in Norway is saved for the future. The country as at 2017 has about $900 billion in Sovereign Wealth Fund even as fishing remains the prime occupation and foreign exchange earner.

Back home, we have nothing to give our children because the subsisting generation eats the next and it has been consistently so. Let politicians, civil servants, business people, militants and terrorists agree that life will continue after their activities. If we love and genuinely wish our children to live better than we are living, we should as a matter of duty cut down on our current obscene consumption and invest in our tomorrow. The Good Old Days! The unborn days could be better!

Ikele Ejike is a journalist and public affairs analyst

Nigeria’s outstanding national holiday

A Democracy Day Message from the Anambra State Government, as released by State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Chief C. Don Adinuba.

Chief Abiola was all his life a proud Zikist, that is, a disciple of the Great Zik of Africa. He followed Dr Nnamdi Azkiwe to become not just a pan Nigerian but also a Pan Africanist. In other words, he was never a prisoner of parochialism or primordial considerations.

The Government and people of Anambra State rejoice with all Nigerians on the second anniversary of June 12 as Democracy Day. Chief Moshood K. O. Abiola, the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential vote, is richly deserving of the honour of having a national holiday in his memory. The June 12 election was, indeed, historic. Nigerians spoke with one voice on this day.

Chief Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) defeated his sole rival, Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC), in the latter’s home state of Kano. Chief Abiola ran with a fellow Muslim, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe. Yet, they defeated Alhaji Bashir, whose running mate, Dr Sylvester, is from Imo State, even in places like Anambra State which regards itself as the bastion of Christian faith in West Africa.

Anambra State had no difficulty identifying with Chief Abiola because our state has always been very progressive. What is more, Chief Abiola was all his life a proud Zikist, that is, a disciple of the Great Zik of Africa. He followed Dr Nnamdi Azkiwe to become not just a pan Nigerian but also a Pan Africanist. In other words, he was never a prisoner of parochialism or primordial considerations. Though a proud Yoruba Muslim, Chief Abiola gave generously to all faiths and employed Nigerians, including those from Anambra State, without regard to their ethnicity or religion. He was a Zikist through and through. It is not surprising that he was a given a resounding national mandate on June 12, 1993. We thank President Muhammadu Buhari for not just declaring a national holiday in memory of this great man but also naming the National Stadium in Abuja for him. Chief Abiola was a sportsman through and through, that is, literally and metaphorically.

The second anniversary of the declaration of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day should also be an opportunity for national introspection which should enable us to identify key national gaps and take concrete steps to correct them. One of the gaps is the failure to have a national holiday in honour of Dr Azikiwe, the man who led Nigeria to independence on October 1, 1960.

It is a supreme irony that the Ghanaians have a national holiday in honour of Kwame Nkrumah, just as the Tanzanians have in honour of Julius Nyerere and Kenyans in honour of Jomo Kenyatta, Nigerians have yet to give such an honour to the man who led them to independence

The Great Zik of Africa inspired generations of African nationalists and freedom fighters, including Chief Abiola. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, referred to as a sage by his followers, wrote in 1980 that he was inspired into great public life after watching the Great Zik speak at a meeting in Yaba, Lagos. He even decided to study law as an adult in London in order to be knowledgeable and eloquent as Zik. No wonder, he established his Nigerian Tribune newspaper on November 16, 1949, in honour of the Great Zik who was born on November 16, 1904. Needless to add, Zik also inspired pan Africanists like Kwame Nkrumah who was to lead Ghana to independence on March 6, 1957. He discovered Nkrumah’s promise while serving as the editor in chief of African Morning Post in Accra, Ghana. He advised Nkrumah to study at his alma mater, Lincoln University, the first historically black university in the United States.

It is a supreme irony that the Ghanaians have a national holiday in honour of Kwame Nkrumah, just as the Tanzanians have in honour of Julius Nyerere and Kenyans in honour of Jomo Kenyatta, Nigerians have yet to give such an honour to the man who led them to independence. History beckons President Muhammadu Buhari to do the right thing, and so move Nigeria closer to national integration and cohesion.

The people and government of Anambra State wish all Nigerians a most rewarding second anniversary of Democracy Day.

The Anambra State Government argues for a national holiday to honour Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who led the defining Nigerian fight to secure Independence from British colonial rule

George Floyd, The Black Race, and The Greatest Love of All

By Reno OMOKRI

We cannot behave as if #BlackLivesMatter only when a White person does the killing. If Black lives matter, it should matter above board. It should matter when Blacks kill Blacks and when Blacks hate Blacks and when Blacks discriminate against Blacks.

Reno Omokri

God created diversity. It is satan that created racism. How do I know? The first time racism occurred in Scripture (“Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married”-Numbers 12:1), God punished the racists.

Many people have asked why I am yet to comment on the George Floyd case, and the truth is that I am not as concerned about Blue on Black killings as I am about Black on Black killings. For every Black man killed by a White cop, there are over 20 Black people murdered by their fellow Blacks.

The death of George Floyd is a tragedy. Officer Chauvin AND HIS CREW must be charged as a lesson. But the Black race must learn our own lesson. Protests are good. But destroying infrastructure in Black neighborhoods doesn’t help George get justice!

Many Africans who have never travelled out of Africa are sadly unaware of the tragedy of Black disunity. They are shocked when they first get to London or New York and expect the Blacks they meet there to embrace them, only to be scorned!

When I first became a resident in America at age 9, the only people who ever called me ‘African butty scratcher’ or who told me to go back to Africa were my fellow Blacks. I lived in Albany, California, which was very White in the 80s. Not once did I experience that from Whites!

In Nigeria, Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s son labelled a whole ethnic group and called an Igbo mother a bed jumper that he would pass around to his friends. Tueh went the sound. Many of those raging over George Floyd defended him.

We Black people have to start loving ourselves. Then and only then will we be valued. To a large extent, we don’t love or even like ourselves. If a Black African goes to Europe or America, too often, it is Whites in those countries who are friendlier to him than his or her fellow Blacks.

I remember when I first went to school in England, I was stuck in the underground. Naturally, I was drawn to asking other Blacks like me. Not one of my fellow Blacks even listened to me. The first White man I asked entered the tube with me and took me to my school.

Look at the knife crimes in London. Who is killing who? Look at the murders in Chicago. Who is killing who? Even look at the abortion rate per race. Who is killing their unborn children? These are uncomfortable conversations Blacks should have. Right there in America, many East Coast Blacks don’t like West Coast Blacks. And many Blacks on both American coasts don’t like African Blacks. Caribbean Blacks don’t like African Blacks. How then can we expect others to like us if we don’t like ourselves?

We cannot behave as if #BlackLivesMatter only when a White person does the killing. If Black lives matter, it should matter above board. It should matter when Blacks kill Blacks and when Blacks hate Blacks and when Blacks discriminate against Blacks.

We Blacks are very reactionary to racism, and we should reject it. But do we love ourselves? In South Africa, did we love ourselves? How many Black people died at the hands of fellow Blacks in SA? We must reject racism amongst ourselves first.

In Africa, many of our well-known comedians have made tasteless jokes about dark-skinned Blacks like Lupita Nyongo. In America, Blacks sororities and fraternities reject fellow Blacks if they can’t pass The Brown Paper Bag Test.
Simone Biles became the most decorated American gymnast. While the world was celebrating her, we Blacks were denigrating her (Google it) for refusing to ‘fix’ her hair (chemically straighten it to make it less nappy). We have our issues.

In Nigeria, we have a President who favours his own Fulani tribe above other Nigerians. A man who killed 347 Shiite men, women, children and infants. What the White police did to George Floyd is not up to what General Buhari is doing to Nigerians. If a White President says ‘constituents that gave me 97% cannot be treated same with constituencies that gave me 5%’ and then goes on to exclude Blacks, there would be an uproar. But it is happening in Nigeria. And we accept it!

Recently, some young persons have been killed by the police in Nigeria. Ditto for Kenya and South Africa. Where was this George Floyd level rage? Or is it okay for Black police officers to kill Blacks and not okay for White police? Isn’t that racist?

A significant challenge with the Black Race is that every Black person wants to be Black when a White person kills or is racist to another Black person. But few of us are Black enough to be Black when a Black person kills or is racist/tribalistic to another Black. Right now, there is an episodic massacre ongoing in Southern Kaduna.

In Nigeria, a Governor’s son (Nasir El-Rufai), labelled a whole ethnic group and called an Igbo mother a bed jumper that he would pass around to his friends. Tueh went the sound. Many of those raging over George Floyd defended him.

A significant challenge with the Black Race is that every Black person wants to be Black when a White person kills or is racist to another Black person. But few of us are Black enough to be Black when a Black person kills or is racist/tribalistic to another Black. Right now, there is an episodic massacre ongoing in Southern Kaduna. Black herdsmen are killing Black pastoralists. If I put up the pictures on social media, Twitter and Facebook may ban my account. We should care about George Floyd. We should also care about Southern Kaduna.

In Southern Kaduna, you see the frontlines of Nigeria’s ethnic and religious divide. A young man, Bello Shagari, put up a tweet saying (inaccurately) that the Southern Kaduna Massacre is a hoax because someone told him. I responded by listing 3 Northern Muslim journalists who confirmed that the massacre is real. It has not escaped my notice that Bello is of the same ethnicity of those suspected of being the perpetrator of the killings. And we want to settle the George Floyd matter when we have not settled our genocidal hatred of each other.

I have lost track of how many times Nigerians and Kenyans, or Ghanaians and Ivorians or Northern Cameroonians and Southern Cameroonian have trended on social media because of their international beefs. We do not like ourselves, and we expect others to like us, and when they don’t, we shout racism. Have we forgotten Whitney Houston’s song, The Greatest Love of All (originally by George Benson)?
Because the greatest
Love of all is happening to me
I found the greatest
Love of all inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all.

Let us be truthful to ourselves. The Black Race has not yet found this Greatest Love of All. The Jews have found it. The Arabs exude it. Caucasians have it. The Asiatic races have it. Latin America has it to an extent. However, we, the Black people, do not yet have this love. And until we do, we will never truly fulfil our potential. We will keep on investing in arms to kill ourselves when we should be developing farms to feed ourselves. The worst is that we do not even take responsibility. It is the White man’s fault. It is the Arab. It is our climate. It is… No. It is our fault. And it is our duty to find a solution! And until we find a solution, there will be many more George Floyds in America and many more Southern Kaduna Massacres.

If it were not so sad, I would have found it amusing that those Nigerians who are rightly calling for the trial of the cop responsible for killing George Floyd are not angry that Buratai, who masterminded the killings of 347 Shiite men, women, children and infants, was not punished for his crimes. Rather, he was promoted by General Buhari to Lieutenant General.

I urge Nigerians and other Africans to do locally what they expect others to do globally. Only then will we have the moral authority to condemn incidences like George Floyd’s killing.

Reno Omokri wonders at the hypocrisy in black people’s condemnations of police murder of George Floyd when blacks visit more violence on each other

Igbo are makers of modern Nigeria

Obi NWAKANMA

“The regular skewering of the facts, and angling of contemporary national narratives often makes it seem these days like the greatest contributor to the founding of Nigeria and its development is Awolowo and the Yoruba, when the actual facts speak differently”

The problem with writing skewered history is that it equally misinforms its target: Kayode Esho was a great jurist, but Akunne Oputa was the “Socrates” of the Supreme court. Enahoro was a young editor, but Azikiwe made him that young editor with Osita Agwuna as his assistant, at his paper, the Southern Nigerian Defender in Ibadan, where my own father incidentally started as a rookie before shortly abandoning journalism for the stable berth of the civil service.

The myth of Awolowo as building the first this and that does not match the documented economic history of the period. Between 1954 and 1964, Eastern Nigeria was described as “the fastest growing economy in the world,” by the Harvard Review; faster than China, faster than Singapore, and all the so-called “Asian Tigers.”

Awolowo is often credited with “free education”. No one yet has pointed out any surviving school buildings of the period built by Awo. But all over the East there were quality schools built by the various communities using the Town Development Unions from 1954, and acessing the matching grants of the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation. This was the East with the poorest revenue resources of any of the regions. The Mbaise secondary school exists, the National High School Okigwe exists, the Ngwa High school exists, the Enyiogugu Grammar School exists, etc. These were solid schools built all over the East with matching goverment grants. But where are the buildings of the Modern schools in Western Nigeria? They do not exist. They were makeshift.

The Catholic church forced the Azikiwe government from its scholarship program, but it is also on record, that the Eastern government was the only government in the world that invested 45% of its revenues in education. The East had the highest number of schools; the highest school enrollment; the broadest penetration of medical services; and the best modern road network in west Africa.

Indeed if we look carefully, the only public hospitals and most of the schools still standing in the East today, at various stages of run down are the schools and hospitals built by Azikiwe/Okpara. Every division of the East had a Joint Hospital as part of the Eastern Medical services.

So it is often claimed Awo built the first television station; the first sky scraper, and the first Sports stadium, the liberty stadium in Ibadan. Well, these are prestige or white elephant investments. First, the Eastern Outlook, the government paper of Eastern Nigeria was the first newspaper established by any government in Nigeria, and it was of such quality and impact that the literacy level of Easterners, and the depth of public information retailed by Outlook was without compare. This is besides the fact that Western Nigerian Broadcast Services, WNBS-TV founded in 1958 only preceded the ENBC-TV founded in 1959, by only seven months. But Outlook preceded Sketch by about 15 years.

Now Azikiwe built the Onitsha Modern market, the first modern mall or trade emporium in West Africa. Onitsha was effectively Dubai before Dubai. People traveled all over Africa, from as far as the Congo and Sudan and Egypt, to come and buy and trade in Onitsha. The economic impact of this was humonguos. So, give me the vast Onitsha modern market over Cocoa House in Ibadan.

Azikiwe built the first Nigerian University at Nsukka with the first School of Law, the first School of Engineering, the first Business School; the first school of journalism, and the first school of music and performance, etc. By the time its first graduates took the Nigerian civil service exams in 1963, everybody began to raise the cry of “Igbo domination” starting with Akintola and Ayo Rosiji. Give me UNN over Liberty stadium.

Azikiwe began the first modern library system in West Africa. The East had a system of city libraries starting with the very modern Ziks Library in Enugu. I Literally grew up in the Umuahia Divisional Library. These libraries were built all over the East. Schools in the East were built with libraries. Moreover the Eastern Nigerian Library Board had a sysem of rural amd mobile libraries. There was nothing like it anywhere else in Nigeria: kids having library cards and able to borrow or order books from the public library. Give me the the first library over the first TV.

I do not by this mean that Awolowo did not make his contributions, but the regular skewering of the facts, and angling of contemporary national narratives often makes it seem these days like the greatest contributor to the founding of Nigeria and its development is Awolowo and the Yoruba, when the actual facts speak differently.

The great Ibadan historian, Tekena Tamuno, was unambiguous in stating once at NIPPS, Jos, that “the Igbos are the makers of moderm Nigeria. When they abandoned their project, Nigeria collapsed.” We must remind Nigerians, particularly Igbo children, daily of these fact, to achieve what Achebe called ” a balance of stories.” And that also means we must read beyond the surface of things.

Even today, most Yoruba think that Awolowo founded the Universities of Ibadan and Lagos. No one has reminded them that it took Azikiwe’s pressures for a university for Nigeria, in his meeting with Arthur Richards in 1946, that led to the constitution of the Eliot Commision and subsequently the founding of the University College, Ibadan. This fact is even clearly conveyed in Michael Crowder’s eponymous book, The Story of Nigeria. Nsukka was Azikiwe’s critique of what he felt to be the conceptual limitations of Ibadan. The University of Lagos was the result of NCNC’s ideological contributions to the federal policy during the ill fated coalition government with the NPC. UNILAG was an NCNC project, shepherded by Aja Wachukwu as minister for education. Even the great UNILAG in her 50th anniversary failed to mention Prof Eni Njoku as the pioneer Vice Chancellor of the university, a man that layed the solid foundation of what made Unilag is today.

These facts must be made known and put as forcefully accross as possible. Again, until the lion tells his own story, the story of the hunt will belong to the hunter.

Wanted: Good Igbo Followership

The battle is for all Igbos not for the leaders alone.

Let me complicate this a bit. We keep hearing, Igbo leaders have done this, Igbo leaders have not done that. But about Oha ndi Igbo? What have we done to deserve good leadership and effective representation?

Let me get a little personal, if you don’t mind: do you attend the meetings of your town union? Do you pay dues and levies to your town Union? Do you in fact have an organized town union? If you do, does it have a political committe? Does your town have a political action fund by which you could raise money to support a candidate of their choosing?

How many times have you volunteered hours to organize on Igbo issues? How effective is your organizing? Do you make out time, at least once every month to host a small dinner in your house aimed at galvanizing an Igbo issue?

Will you come out to protest in Owerri or Enugu or Umuahia or Abakiliki if either Nnia Nwodo or Sen Enyinnaya Abaribe is shot by “unknown gun men” ?

We expect much from Igbo leadership, but we have no hand in the choice of who makes that leadership. Now take this example: when the Supreme Court sacked Emeka Ihedioha as Governor, you would expect that a mass protest would erupt in Imo with support action in all of Igboland and the Igbo diaspora. But what did the Igbo people do? They talked the moon to sleep. Critics arose in support of a … cream bleaching governor to rule Imo State.

If it were the Irish, say, they would send a quiet and effective message in the night to the judges encouraging them to do the right thing. But the Igbo? They pray and wait for God, and act surprised at very obvious political turn. When in 1983 this same Buhari hauled Mbakwe, his wife Ahuikpeghe to jail, did the masses of Imo and Igbo people get out of their homes in great numbers with their own guns slung accross their shoulders to say to those who took Mbakwe, “you dare not!” Hell no! How about when Babangida tested the waters with his sack of Okom Ebitu Ukiwe. Did Igbo people rise in protest? Heck no!

It was after the Ukiwe sack, without very strong response from the Igbo, that they began the strategic marginalization of the Igbo. They found that the Igbo were no longer politically relevant, effective. The current Igbo sons and daughters have not shown the kind of fidelity the older Igbo showed to each other. If it were in 1965, and Emeka Ofor donated whooping N460 million to the A B U Zaria for research, while Nsukka, Unizik, FUTO, MOUN lack money for their researches, the Igbo would send a quiet emissary to Mr Ofor and say, don’t you ever return to Igboland until you have given some money to Nsukka and others, too. In fact, Emeka Ofor may not have even dared.

If a people are without consequence, their leadership will be without consequence. In fact, how can you send men and women on an errand without making certain that they will return in one piece? All the people guarding your so-called Igbo leaders are all sent to them from Abuja. They are surrounded by military barracks whose provenances they cannot determine. So, you’re an Igbo leader, and you are stubborn like Mbakwe, and one day they take you out and say you had an accident. Guess what the current Igbo would do because they have not organized for effect? They will write letters to the Untied Nations and call all the forces in the world to bear witness to how we suffer in Nigeria. The world, if they pay attention, will nod their head in sympathy and say, “indeed, you suffer” and continue on their merry way. But if the Igbo provide very sophisticated protection services to their leaders, irrespective of what the federal government says, you’d have effective leasership because the Igbo too could bury you if you let them down.

Think about the Irish or the Palestinians. They don’t stand for rubbish. And if any one who leads them sells out, they have people to answer to. But not Igbo leaders. You know why? Because just as Igbo leadership is absent, Igbo people themselves are half awake because they can’t seem to organize themselves.

A people are always greater than their leaders. But today, the Igbo want leaders who are bigger than they, and from whom their destiny must be shaped. No! We must make the leaders we want. Recruit them. Train them. Support them and protect them. If they depend on us for their survival, they will give us sterling service. But if they depend on forces outside Igbo land for their political and economic survival, as well indeed as for their lives, you cannot expect their loyalty to be with the Igbo.

So, lets take some responsibility. The leaders we get reflect us too. We must somehow find the means to rebuild fidelity between the Igbo and those we send to lead the way.

Buhari speaks on Covid-19

Over the last few days I have received extensive briefings on the state of the nation as it relates to the Covid-19 pandemic, from the relevant Federal Government agencies as well as the Lagos State Government.

Accordingly, I approved the following:

The immediate release of a 10 billion Naira grant to Lagos State, which remains the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in Nigeria. This grant will enable Lagos State increase its capacity to control and contain the outbreak, while also supporting other States with capacity building.

The immediate release of a 5 billion Naira special intervention fund to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) to equip, expand and provide personnel to its facilities and laboratories across the country.

The Nigerian Air Force is already making its fleet available to the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, to enable a better coordinated and more effective response across the country.

To protect our homeland from external exposure, I directed the immediate closure of our International Airports and Land Borders for four weeks in the first instance, to enable us put up the appropriate policies, processes and infrastructure to cope with suspected and confirmed cases at home, without risking a compounding of the situation with more imported cases.

The inconvenience caused by these flight and travel restrictions to our fellow citizens abroad who want to return home is regrettable, but it is necessary for the greater good, and I thank you all for your understanding and cooperation.

I have also directed that only cargo vessels that have been at sea for more than 14 days be allowed to dock in our ports, after the crew have been tested and confirmed disease-free by the Port Health Authorities. This 14-day restriction however does not apply to vessels carrying oil and gas products as by their nature, there is minimal human contact.

We have also suspended the movement of commuter trains to limit the spread of the virus to other parts of the country.

I have directed the NCDC to draft all its recent retirees back into service to beef up our manpower as we respond to the pandemic.

Furthermore, all NCDC staff and experts who are away on training or international assignments are to return immediately. Already the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) are conducting an evacuation mission to bring back some of our specialists in Central Africa, to enable them support the national response.

I commend the monetary policy authorities for their financial intervention to support our entrepreneurs and companies as we go through this difficult time. We are also looking at fiscal measures to minimise the negative impact of this pandemic on the livelihood of millions of Nigerians.

As you are aware we have begun the process of reviewing the federal budget. We shall communicate our fiscal interventions once the budget review process is concluded.

In the meantime, I have directed the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, to work with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, to ensure that all production of essential items such as food, medical and pharmaceutical products continues unhindered.

We are engaging our international friends and partners to share knowledge and to seek their support in our response to the pandemic. We are grateful for the show of support thus far – we have already started receiving goods and supplies intended to help us scale up our efforts.

Let me specially thank and commend all of the hard and heroic work being done by our medical personnel, the NCDC, Port Health Authorities, Security Agencies, State Governments, and all ad-hoc staff and volunteers.

I urge all Nigerians to be mindful of those among us who seek to spread panic and misinformation, and sow confusion at this time. We must all pay attention only to the relevant government agencies working day and night to make accurate and useful information available to the public.

I will also ask all of us to strictly obey all public health guidelines and instructions issued by the Federal and State health authorities, regarding personal hygiene and social distancing. These guidelines will be updated from time to time as new information and treatments are obtained.

In the meantime, I want to assure all Nigerians, that the Federal Government remains committed to protecting all Nigerians. We seek your full support and cooperation as we go through this very difficult time. Together we will triumph over this pandemic.

Muhammadu Buhari
26/03/2020

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Covid-19: Anambra’s Proactive Response

By C. Don ADINUBA

C. Don Adinuba, Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment

The Coronavirus, known as COVID-19, which has been devastating the world since late last December, has not reached Anambra State, Nigeria’s safest state. Still, on Monday, March 23, Governor Willie Obiano shut down schools, directed civil servants not on essential services to work from home and limited the number of passengers in tricycles and buses, but also set up a 23-person Coronavirus Attack Team to work against the contagion in the state. To underscore the importance of the team’s work, Governor Obiano chose to head the team himself. Other members include the Speaker of the House of Assembly, the Secretary to the State Government, the Chief of Staff to the Governor, the Commissioner for Health and his counterpart in the Ministry of Information and Public Enlightenment, the state Commissioner of Police, heads of the two teaching hospitals in the state and specialists from relevant fields.
 
The Anambra State government has once again demonstrated its belief in the old aphorism that prevention is better than cure. The cost of preventing the viral outbreak is, in every sense, far cheaper than the cost of managing the crisis if it erupts. If the contagion could wreck Europe, China, South Korea and the United States, with all their sophisticated advances in medicare, it is not difficult to imagine what could be the fate of African countries if the virus spreads here.  Had the Italian, American and British leaders, for instance, acted promptly as the Anambra State government when the contagion was reported in their respective nations, the situation would not have been as cataclysmic as it is in each of these places today. Italy records on some days over 700 deaths. No wonder open religious services have been closed all over the country, including the Vatican. In the United Kingdom, the British prime minister has issued a stay-at-home order to all, just as 16 American States have done. Some countries are on lockdown.
 
Anambra State has in the last few years displayed uncanny leadership, and its latest attempt to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus in Nigeria since the nation’s index case was reported on February 27 is just the latest brave effort to grapple with the pandemic. The Anambra State administration is the first government in the country to call citizens’ attention to the grave danger which the contagion poses. It played this role because it is fully conscious that its people are the most travelled in the whole country, and they frequently visit China and other nations hit by the pandemic for business. The government has also taken other measures like suspending burials of up to 30 persons, parties and title taking ceremonies till the situation improves.
 
Ndi Anambra need to cooperate fully with the government in the campaign against the COVID-19. There are a lot of markets and motor parks as well as churches in the state which record very large numbers of people. The Onitsha Main Market is reputed to be the largest open market in West Africa. Movement in the market is difficult because of the large crowds of people who buy and sell there daily, including those who come from West and Central Africa. In other words, the markets and motor garages in Nigeria are potential areas where the virus can spread fast, since it is contracted mostly through person-to-person contact and physical surfaces.
 
There are unfortunately people who are not yet aware of the virus. This ignorance is more pronounced in rural areas. Worse, there are people who are aware of the highly infectious disease, but strangely believe that it cannot get to Nigeria because of the false belief that it cannot survive in our hot climate. This belief persists despite that the fact that there are already over 40 COVID-19 patients in Nigeria, including the son of a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar. More disheartening is the large group of Nigerians, many of them educated, who believe, for superstitious and other strange reasons, that they cannot be infected. There are, in addition, those who believe that the disease can be treated easily with honey, garlic, ginger and hot water.
 
Ndi Anambra are enjoined to seek proper treatment from doctors and other medical staff members trained to manage viral outbreaks like the Coronavirus. Symptoms of the disease are high fever, vomiting, cough, sneezing and difficult breathing. Any person showing any of these symptoms should not indulge in self medication on the assumption that he or she is afflicted by malaria or any common disease but should rather immediately contact the state’s Public Health Emergency Operation Centre via telephone numbers 08030953771 and 08117567363. It has to be noted that a person may be a carrier without showing any of the symptoms. This is why the government has been advising persons who have in the last two weeks visited any of the countries with up to 1000 recorded cases of COVID-19 to isolate themselves for 14 days. The earlier the disease is detected the easier it is to treat. The government will bear the treatment cost.
 
There are three hospitals in the state with isolation centres. They are Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital in Nnewi, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital in Awka and Onitsha General Hospital. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital, Ekwulobia General Hospital in Aguata Local Government Area and Umueri General Hospital in Anambra East LGA have surge centres, that is, they can absorb patients who may not be accommodated in the three hospitals with isolation centres based on existing facilities.

Traditional rulers, presidents general of town unions, market groups, transport unions, trade unions, professional groups, the organized private sector, civil servants as well as religious leaders should be on the frontlines of the spirited campaign to ensure that our state is spared COVID-19. It is not the job of the government or medical doctors to fight this monster alone, but that of every person.
 
Each of us can contribute meaningfully to the campaign by washing our hands regularly with water and soap for 20 seconds which must be poured away if it is in a bowel, by airdrying our hands instead of drying them with towel or handkerchief because it may be contaminated, by using hand sanitizers always, by not shaking hands or hugging each other, by keeping away from people by some six feet, and by regularly cleaning door handles and rail surfaces with liquids containing up to 60% alcohol. It is reassuring that a lot of hotels, hospitals, offices and homes have been observing these rules. Churches, markets, motor parks, transport owners and operators have also joined in observing these rules.

The Anambra State Government has shown the light, and the people are happily finding the way. God bless Anambra State, the Light of the Nation.
 

C. Don Adinuba is Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment, Anambra State.   

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The Igbo Amotekun Must Not be a Convoy

By SKC OGBONNIA

…instead of colluding with the police to promote convoys of individual security details, the South-East governors should harken to the yearnings of the masses and join their counterparts in the South-South zone by launching without further delay a true regional security network.

SKC Ogbonnia

Tongues have been waging on why the South-East Governors Forum reneged on its initial plan to launch a regional security outfit in Igboland, similar to the Amotekun of the South-West. But the people should ponder no more: the sudden U-turn has everything to do with sheer selfishness. 

Security crisis has become an existential threat in Nigeria. The South-West zone had been at the forefront of the campaign to restructure Nigeria to true federalism, arguing that such model would lead to a more progressive and safer nation. However, the campaign stalled on the altar of parochial political interest after the All Progressives Congress (APC), the majority party in the region, captured power at the center. But all that changed after July 12, 2019, being the day bandits murdered in cold blood Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, the leader of Afenifere, the apex Yoruba socio-cultural group.

Recognizing that their people must first survive before they can prevail, the South-West governors put politics aside and floated a revolutionary regional security network, codenamed Operation Amotekun, an arrangement that mirrors a true federal structure. The genius is that the South-West governors could no longer fold their hands and wait forever on the long-awaited restructure of the country nor continue to rely on inept federal police before securing the lives and property of their people.

Make no mistake about this: The Amotekun is not a bulletproof solution to the security crisis, but it is a common knowledge that mere emotion of fear stokes deterrence. The elaborate style in which the Amotekun was launched, coupled with its unique name, not only demonstrated unity of purpose in the region, it is also an eloquent statement that it is no longer business as usual. The optics quickly sent shivers to the spines of criminals who may entertain the thought of venturing into Yorubaland. More importantly, the Operation Amotekun would provide a new layer of security in the South-West amid waning public confidence in the Nigerian police.

Despite initial critics, the Amotekun has enjoyed broad support from the Nigerian people and beyond. The major socio-cultural organizations in the country representing the six political zones, namely, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Afenifere, Northern Elders’ Forum, Pan-Niger Delta Forum, and Middle Belt Forum lauded the development. It did not take long before a group in Northern Nigeria launched a regional security network dubbed Shege-Ka-Fasa.

In view of the worsening wave of insecurity in Igboland, the consensus, therefore, was that the South-East governors would emulate their counterparts in the West to float a regional security outfit. But the South-East chief executives looked the other way. Rather, they pandered to the federal government on the basis of a naïve political expediency and agreed to wait on a community police model that was proposed circa 2006 but is yet see the light of the day. To these governors, the status quo trumps regional security apparatus. Ironically, such view is coming from the same Igbo leaders who have been going around in recent times, heaping every blame for the lack of development in the zone to the long-awaited restructure of Nigeria, which they insist must feature regional autonomy. But there comes a time shenanigan gives way to common sense.

The truth is that the South-East governors decided to discard a new layer of security in Igboland, because the victims of insecurity are typically the ordinary people. Unlike their counterparts in the West where the gruesome murder of the daughter of a prominent politician provoked a sense of urgency in Yorubaland, the Igbo politicians have had no cause to question their own sense of invincibility. The nonchalance, of course, is hinged on the fact that the Nigerian rich and famous enjoy maximum security by maintaining a retinue of large convoys of police personnel for the protection of their families and estates. Not surprisingly, a convoy of vehicles—with sophisticated sirens accompanied with police escorts—has not only become a status symbol in Igboland, it has also emerged as the most common security alternative in the region. To that end, instead of public safety, the Eastern police contingent now focuses on the pecuniary opportunities in the convoy security model at the cruel expense of the vulnerable masses.  

Every life matters. Moreover, the Igbo do not thrive on superficial politics. Therefore, instead of colluding with the police to promote convoys of individual security details, the South-East governors should harken to the yearnings of the masses and join their counterparts in the South-South zone by launching without further delay a true regional security network to stem the rising tide of crime in the entire East. “A stitch in time saves nine.”

SKC Ogbonnia, a 2019 APC presidential aspirant, is the author of the Effective Leadership Formula

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