Category Archives: Viewpoints

Viewpoints are editorials, viewpoints, opinions, and personal columns served by sound minds with the sharpest pens in the business.

Anambra Diaspora Investments: A memo to Prof Soludo

Communication Strategist, Ralph Anyacho picks up on a thorny issue of Anambra Diaspora investments and how Governor-elect can safeguard them.

Anambra diaspora investments

Ralph Anyacho

Chief Ralph Anyacho, (Udosi achi) is the Director of Strategy at the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON)


The mood of Ndi Anambra after the conclusion of the gubernatorial election in the State which returned Prof Chukwuma Soludo as Governor-elect has been one of joy and great expectations. Everyone is expectant of stupendous development projects that would adorn the Anambra landscape if all of Soludo’s promises were accomplished.

One issue that deserves the attention of the Professor and the Transition Committee is how to attract Anambra Diaspora investments to the State. This means finding solutions to challenges faced by them in investing at home. Put simply, how do we manage the difficulties of accountability for funds that have been repatriated?

Diaspora investors tend to put their relations and friends in the forefront of businesses they want to invest on. Most often, the funds are not judiciously invested and the capital goes down the drain.

Two experiences narrated here will help drive home the point:

Uche Chizoba graduated from a university in the South East. Upon graduation in 2002, his Electrical Electronics degree could not fetch him a job. After shuffling the streets of Lagos, he could not secure a job. With parents getting old and five younger siblings waiting in the wings to be educated at that time, Uche persuaded his parents to a drastic action. A piece of land in the village was sold to finance his relocation to the US. Not long after he landed in Houston Texas, he secured a job with an IT firm.

Five years later, he repatriated some Dollars and gave instructions that the money be used to set up a business. He hoped this would help generate fund needed to stabilize the family’s financial standing and take care of two of his younger sisters. The young girls had secured university admission. The family chose to invest in poultry business and put their retired father in charge. Ten million naira was invested in the business. They hired staff to man operations and marketing.

Six months later, the business showed signs of growth, but this trend did not continue for long. Three years down the line distress set in. Sales dropped. Salary could not be paid as and when due. Creditors lined up for arrears of supplies made. Soon the family began considering what else to do as winding up became inevitable. A distress analysis indicated that the family managers did not keep accounting records and therefore could not measure the performance of the Enterprise. Managerial skills were lacking.

Further investigations revealed pilfering as a major cause of the down turn. Four staff of the company conspired to frequently remove birds and eggs which they sold secretly. Thus, Uche’s investment from abroad went down the drain.

If Uche’s experience is not enough to drive home this point, that of Bernard Ndu will. Bernard was a trader in Ochanga market before the economy got so harsh. His stockfish trade could no longer sustain him. It was time to check out. He sold out what was left of his stock and paid his way to Italy. Bernard’s job in Italy was clearing dust bins in search of disused electrical appliances, utencils, household materials and motor parts. He would team up with mates and ship the meretricious items to Nigeria.

After three years of the business, he decided to start a building project in his village – a place he hoped to move in from the shanty family house. Bernard who had lost his father before he relocated abroad trusted his uncle to help him oversee the project. The uncle would hire the contractor, monitor construction including making all necessary purchases for the building. Money began to flow from Bernard to his uncle for the project.

Two years after, Bernard was informed that the project had not gone beyond the DPC despite the huge funds he sent home. He was dismayed to learn that his uncle had squandered a large chunk of the money he repatriated for the project.

The experiences of Uche and Bernard are every where in Alaigbo, thus discouraging Umuigbo and in particular Ndi Anambra abroad from investing at home. What can the Government of Prof Soludo do to change the narrative and safeguard Anambra Diaspora investments?

I propose setting up a consortium of public/private management consulting outfit that would help our investor brother’s and sisters abroad to make sense of their desired investment. The consulting firm would have capacity in all aspects of business and would provide 360 degrees services to clients. One unique aspect of the consortium will be picking investible fund from investors and applying the fund to project chosen by them. The consortium will be total managers of the project.

Relations of the diaspora investors may be coopted as directors and as eyes of their relations who own the capital. In this way the investor will be assured that his fund is wisely invested and managed.

The Trouble With IPOB’s Sit-at-home

RUDOLF OGOO OKONKWO outlines the trouble with IPOB’s frequent sit-at-home enforcements by the Indigenous People of Biafra

The trouble with ipobs sit-at-home

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo teaches Post-Colonial African History at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is also the host of Dr Damages Show. His books include “This American Life Sef”, “Children of a Retired God” among others


In all of his 69 — 79 years in this world, how many times has Bola Tinubu, the man who could be the next president of Nigeria, visited the South-East?
 
I guess that it may not be up to a dozen times. He didn’t go there to school, compete in debate, quiz or Koran recital challenges. He surely didn’t go there on a school excursion to visit a major dam or a game reserve. Who wants to cross the Niger River just to visit Ogbunike Cave, Ngwo Pine Forest or Oguta Lake? The Umuahia Biafra War Museum was not yet built when he went to school. We know that he did not go to the South-East to work after school. With Ndubisi Kanu, Ebutu Ukiwe, Anya O. Anya, Ralph Obioha and others in NADECO, Tinubu most definitely did not go to the South-East to solicit support for MKO Abiola’s mandate during the pro-democracy movement of the 90s. When he emerged and became the governor of Lagos State, he had no need to campaign in the South-East. The same as when he became a National Leader of APC.

Why is that important? What has that got to do with the sit-at-home order introduced in the South-East by the Indigenous People of Biafra to add pressure to their quest for the actualization of an independent nation of Biafra?

I will get to that in a short while. In the meantime, follow me on this little detour.

While the opinion of Boko Haram members is not seen as the opinion of the people of the North-East of Nigeria, the same is not true of the opinion of Biafrans. Outside of the South-East, the opinion of Biafrans is by default considered the universal opinion of the people of the South-East. If you are from the South-East, many still see you as a Biafran, irrespective of how many times you swear not to be allied to the Biafrans.
We know why it is that way. It is because the people of the South-East are the most misunderstood people of Nigeria. The Fulanis come a close second. The misunderstanding is so endemic that the people of the South-East are beginning to misunderstand themselves as a result. I am sure psychologists must have a name for that syndrome.

The reason for the misunderstanding is clear. Even though all categories of South-Eastern people live all over Nigeria, speak various languages of the places they live, the same is not true about other people from other parts of Nigeria within the South-East. Take out the National Youth Service Corps program that compels many young educated and adventurous people to spend a year in the South-East; most Nigerians would not have any reason ever to visit the South-East.
There is little or no federal presence in the region to bring diverse workers from across the country to the South-East. The other reason, related to the first, is that life is very hard in the South-East. It is hard for the people in that region, so they leave at the slightest opportunity. If it is tough for the indigenes to stay and make a living, what hope does it offer non-indigenes?
Unfortunately, there is no way of understanding people you have not interacted with, in their natural environment.

It is important to understand this distinction if one wants to understand in its proper context events taking place in the South-East and put them in their proper framework. This is vital for people who are not from the region but more cogent for people from the region but are ignorant of the dynamics of Nigeria and how they impact the perspectives of others and the perception they have of themselves.

When IPOB first introduced the sit-at-home order, the idea was to show that most people in the South-East support their quest for an independent nation of Biafra. It started as a once-a-year event, partly to remember those who died in the Nigeria-Biafra War. In the beginning, so many people in the region did not mind sacrificing a day to remember the dead. It soon transformed into a tool to achieve other goals, including raising awareness of other Biafran-related issues. Of recent, it has become a tool to draw attention to the plight of the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.

As such things are known to transform, the sit-at-home has become so frequent that it has triggered a backlash and a diminishing return. With resistance to the order came fierce enforcement with the force of arms. The people who initiated it have also lost control that they could not pull it back.

Freelance actors, breakaway factions, and others outside the original IPOB, have seen the tool as one to use to exert control over the populace. They and their supporters argue that despite the groaning of the region’s people, it was worth the sacrifice. They often quote unrelated and unsymmetrical history to support their argument.

For 27 years that Nelson Mandela was in prison, if black South Africans had stayed at home one day of every week, they would have spent 1,458 days at home, which would have been four years of their lives. If you think that South African blacks are poor now, imagine how poorer they would have been if they had lost four years of income. And under Apartheid, the white business-owners would have fired most of them from their jobs for such action.

While sacrifice has a place in every struggle, it must be well-crafted and one with buy-in by a majority of the people. Otherwise, those imposing the sacrifice are essentially saying that the people they are fighting for are idiots who have no mind of their own.

Also, responsible people have compared the frequent and economically strangulating sit-at-home as akin to drinking poison and hoping that your enemy would die or sitting at home crushing your testicles and wondering why you cannot get your wife pregnant. The idea that president Buhari would release Nnamdi Kanu because Igbo people are forcing themselves to stay at home does not sound like a strategy coming from those who have a good understanding of how Nigeria works, especially when it relates to anything tangential to Biafra.

If the sit-at-home were voluntary and sparingly used, it would have bestowed credibility to the argument of the general acceptance of the Biafran goals. All it required was to keep winning the hearts and souls of the people as more and more joined. But our people have no such patience. They want it now – nzogbu-nzogbu. Using a threat of bodily harm to enforce the sit-at-home order, you lose the moral right to argue that it is a referendum by another name.

A true voluntary sit-at-home would not need force to get people to comply. And Igbo people outside Igbo land will voluntarily join in staying at home. By them not joining, they are giving it thumbs down. They enjoy the freedom and the advantage that they deny folks at home. They are endorsing a philosophy that they are better and superior to those at home. That is a recipe for resentment. And resentment in a struggle like this can only lead to discord and disaster.

More dangerously, by imposing economic hardship on the home front, we encourage more people to leave home. That is the inverse of the new Igbo awareness should be – which is a return home to rebuild – aku lue ulo.

There is a reason Buhari won’t care if all the markets in the South-East are closed for the next 27 years. It is the same reason that Bola Tinubu will not care if school children in the South-East are never allowed to seat for WAEC again, if pregnant women have babies on banana leaves at home and children dig graves to bury their dead parents themselves.

We can be sentimental for the mundane, but history is not sentimental, not even for the profane. We can sit at home as much as we like, but we cannot sit on history. Our forefathers said that the wise ones get the proverb while the stubborn ones bury their heads inside the bush.

The limit of sit-at-home comes when it begins to crush a man’s testicles.

We can sit at home as much as we like, but we cannot sit on history. The limit of sit-at-home comes when it begins to crush a man’s testicles.

A year of citizen awakening to save Nigeria

Prof Pat Utomi encourages us in a New Year message to arise and make 2022 a year of citizen awakening to save Nigeria.


A year of citizen awakening

The renowned Prof. Pat Utomi is chair of the NCF and self-describes as leader of the shadow government in Nigeria. This was his New Year message for Nigeria in 2022


By Pat Utomi

As we cross over from 2021 to 2022 there is much to thank God for in spite of a surge in COVID infections, inflation eating away the income of poor Nigerians just as global supply chain crisis and problems at the Ports were compounding the woes of manufacturers and traders ; and insecurity was making farming and food security the worry of the year.

In joining fellow compatriots in Thanksgiving, I would particularly like to pay tribute to the emergence in 2021 of an a new crop of patriots in politics and civil society who seem to have recognized a desperate need to Save Nigeria from challenges that have brought our dear country to the edge of a political and economic precipice.

Movements like NCFront, RNP, The New Fabian Society of the Concerned Professionals, and emerging coalitions of alternative track political parties have provided hope in a time of gloom and despair as the country goes borrowing everywhere with the unfortunate tag of the poverty capital of the world. The collaboration of these groups to deepen our democracy with the idea of a Shadow Government marks for me a call for national renewal.

There is no question as I reflect on this that 2022 is the year of citizen awakening to save Nigeria. The promise of Nigeria in 1960 was the promise of peace and prosperity for all of its people, though tribe and tongue may differ but in brotherhood they would stand to shine the light to lead Africa out of serfdom.

A year of citizen action

As we cross over I want to call out all patriots to recognize that 2022 is the year to stop sitting on the fence and take action. Nigeria can and must rise up again but it will take patriots and true citizens willing to take on the fight for a new Nigeria as freedom is not served a la carte but taken by a bold generation responsible and accountable to a future foretold.

The future foretold has been setback by bad politics and poor economics. But we must now say no to the entrepreneurs of politics who have brought shame to the arena of politics as service on which our founding fathers like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr Michael Okpara, Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and others, erected the foundation of our beloved country. If millions of us have to get on the streets in the manner of the Orange or Pink revolution. to make the dream of a more desirable Nigeria that Fela Durotoye often envisions in his motivational exercises then that we must do. We owe this duty of transforming Nigeria to our children because, in a sense we have been accomplices in the undoing of their future.

George Orwell declared long ago that those who elect corrupt politicians, impostors and thieves are not victims but accomplices. In allowing those who loot our treasuries and use the war chest to brag about being ready to be elected we are accomplices twice over and need to make reparation in committing to vanquishing of money politics.

How did we get here?

The sorry pass through which we got to this fork of the road where Sony Okososuns sang ‘Which way Nigeria’, the Quo Vadis challenge, took us from excesses in the struggle of independence era politicians to bring progress along ethnic nationality lines. This fanned violence that led to military intervention. With that intervention and Oil price blow outs came state capture and many of the negative dispositions of what I have often called the regrettable alchemy of Soldiers and Oil.

Thankfully, even in the most challenging of times we have had patriotic proddings to change course. General Olusegun Obassnjo offered this as head of state when he turned the state away from profligacy asking us to cut our coat according to our cloth and not our size; and in another era it took the political savvy of a General Ibrahim Babangida to build the political imagination that skillfully began to pull us away from suffocating Dirigisme to trusting markets, a phenomenon much understudied but which may have saved us from the fate of Venezuela.
But a collapse of culture, manifested in the loss of a sense of service in the political class, pervasive corruption, unimaginative policy choices and problem solving modes that derive from compassion towards the people, have brought us to today’s troubles.

To reverse these ugly trends that have brought us to the insecurity we now experience, the dreadful poverty of so many who should not be poor , and national self-doubt, we need to address several issues.

These include a reconstruction of some critical institutions like political parties, our national value system, including a stout statement for the dignity of the human person, the electoral process and building elite consensus on a national economic strategy.

A make or break year

Nothing that currently stresses us in Nigeria was not predicted from the trends of the choices we made. Whenever I go back and read my own writings I feel like a prophet. Yet I know that I do not have the gift of prophecy. Those same trends that enabled me predict today, 20 years ago, indicate to me that the current crisis is an existential one if the forces of the division, exclusion and self love that govern the moment are not met with the resolve of patriots.

I believe that Nigeria is worth dying for and that 2022 is the time for citizens to throw down the gauntlet and reclaim their country from corrupt and shameless politicians.

We must stop being complicit in our own ruination by either failing to stand up for right or refusing to participate.

As such we must all arise and say this country is ours and these few do or die politicians in pursuit of narrow self interest must not be allowed through exclusion of women, youth, intellectuals and more honest people to extinguish the light of the promise of Nigeria..

The starting point of the struggle of 2022 has to be the explosion of some myths that inoculate citizen action. These myths are reified into poor grasp of reality by limited processing capacity of some in the media and analysts desperate for stereotypes to simplify the world.

A typical myth is that there are two major parties in Nigeria. That statement is fundamentally flawed and false. Neither of the two so called big parties, in their conduct, resembles the classic definition of a Political Party. At best they are election results hustle machines of clusters of power seekers .

Even as pale imitation of political parties they are not two but one. This is why crossing from one to the other is easy and can come up in several iterations in one political life.

Beginning of the end

When President Obassnjo tore up his PDP card it sang the nunc dimitis of that one. Just as when APC collected huge sums from its members as fees for forms for primaries that did not take place and members were requested to withdraw cases on the electoral abuse from courts with assurance of justice that never came. Even when APC governors hinted these fees would be refunded, nothing happened. Such pointed to a death of character in a party 419ing its own members and committing criminal acts recklessly with no apology.

We know that when character is lost all is lost. In those murky waters the APC died. Now it finds its President unable to sign democracy enhancing electoral laws for the fourth time and a convention that should be routine prove a difficult thing to arrange.

A great imperative of 2022 therefore must be the founding of one or two real political parties.

Allied to the myth of two dominant parties is that they control the votes.. Even the combination of free votes, induced and manufactured votes: through vote buying, thumb print manufactured votes, collation manipulation of votes which make them willing to bold face walking over the will of the people by refusing accent to electronic transmission of votes, fewer than a million votes, real and imagined, are cast to ‘elect’ the Governor of Lagos. Even at the level of total control in Lagos the number of those that voted for the incumbent in 2019 are fewer than those who voted for his predecessor in 2015.. Still, all the votes come to less than 10% of those eligible to vote.

As the Afrobarometer continuos polling provides evidence, our democracy is hemorrhaging and dying. We have a duty to fight to save it the way some of us who who matched for the end of Military rule committed to in the 1990s.

The tools of liberation

The tools of citizen response for the challenge of 2022 should, in my opinion, involve a massive commitment to Call Out; Recall; Litigate and March massively.

Earlier in 2021 I had said, while speaking to the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria, that the dignity of their profession takes a blow when a member of their body in government acts corruptly or incompetently. As such they should take the lead in calling out such a person.
Using technology to guage how constituents rate the performance of their elected officials, we plan to start Recalls of elected officials across the country. This may be the major feature of politics in 2022.

In 2022 we must implement a radical programme of calling out people who do wrong in office. People must litigate against institutions like INEC which in 2015 violated the laws in such ways as closing voters registration and other areas.

We need to assemble our best lawyers and litigate the many sources of injustice that make our system unstable by pushing the weak to despondency. Where power uses state capture to block progress we must call out the people unto the streets to protest of the scale of those in Ukraine during their struggle.
Beyond these initiatives to hold power accountable to the people all citizens have to massively recruit people currently none voters or activist to register to vote. If 12 million currently not registered to vote to register on a newcomer platform the game changer for Nigeria may just be knocking.

Leading the change

The idea of a shadow team of teams to provide practical accounting direction for the change we desire and develop policy options that an alternative leadership team can go to work with, without the long delay to put a government in place we saw in 2015 has proved a veritable organizing tool. Each MDA has a team that is a mix of experts, experienced leaders from politics or civil society and have two of the team act as spokesperson for team.

Personal Responsibility

I want to conclude by inviting all Nigerians to take personal responsibility for making the dream
we seek come alive. The Ghanaian High Life musician Ben Brako reminds us that a society in which the politicians are richer than its business men is one doomed to disaster. We know he is right and we know that the politicians and some civil servants are richer than the businessmen. So how do we avert looming disaster. Only in taking personall responsibility for the change we want to see.

Happy New Year.

Glimpses into Year 2022

We bring for your reading pleasure the following glimpses – observations reflections – into how year 2022 is shaping up.

Sam Amadi . Dike Chukwumerije . Nkem Denchukwu . Mike Asukwo . Ifeoma Malo


Reflections on the New Year 2022 – OUR ATTITUDES

Nothing will Change

SAM AMADI

Sam Amadi, former Chair of Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is now Associate Professor of Law and and Director, Abuja School of Social and Political Thought

……………………………….

Nothing really will change in 2022.

God will remain faithful. Human beings will be largely foolish. Few will truly love to do the right and the wise things. Fewer still will be able to do the right and wise things. Because of this, things will not change that much.

Still, the righteous shall flourish like a garden in rainy season.


Reflections on the New Year 2022 – INTROSPECTION

Many things we don’t understand

dike chukwumerije writes buhari
DIKE CHUKWUMERIJE

Dike Chukwumerije is a Nigerian spoken word and performance poetry artist and an award-winning author.
………………………

Sometimes, being soft-hearted, soft-spoken, and willing to believe the best in others can make you appear a fool. But it is the foolish things of this world that God uses to confound the wisdom of the times. For if the solutions were known already, they would be deployed already. But even after centuries of exploring and researching and postulating and thinking, there are still many, many things about Earth that we know very little about. And that is just one planet – the one we live on – in an unimaginably vast Universe.

So, do not think that we are anywhere near exhausting the need for Faith as human beings. Too many paths we are standing on still lead through the Unknown. And you will find that in those dark spaces where the light of technology has not yet penetrated, Love – that capacity God put in all our hearts to smile in the face of our trials, to bear up, to persevere, to forgive and move on, even when we do not know tomorrow – shines through. Let nothing ever take it from you. For unlike an app you can download, use and delete whenever you wish, Love – like mountains, oceans, and the mighty Iroko – is from the more ancient sections of our world. You see? With these ones, you reap only if you have taken the time before to sow.

So, invest in books this year. Invest in your social network. Invest in your career and your business this year. But above all invest in your capacity to love. For while we are still looking for that eternally renewable source of energy to power our industries, we are not, in fact, without Power. You see? For, ultimately, this is still true. That the world around you is a manifestation of the world within you. So, turn those lights on in your heart. And shine.

Happy new year.


Reflections on the New Year 2022

Crazy Times. Wahala People

NKEM DENCHUKWU

Nkem DenChukwu is a bonafide creative writer, an award-winning author and film producer, a woman whose strength is anchored on God, and a mother of four. 
………………………………………..

While onboard to L.A from Oakland, an adult male kept removing his mask. One of the flight attendants kept reminding him to put it back on like he was a two year-old.

He was inconsiderate, senseless, selfish, and ignorant. He clearly lacked common sense. Before take-off, the lady sitting next to him nicely asked him if he was sick because he kept coughing without his mask on.

My eyes almost fell off in shock. I was panicked too! See wahala!

He said no.

While airborne, he removed his mask again a million times and he was asked again to put it back on a million times.

When we landed in L.A, he removed his mask, and the lady finally lost it. Oh boy! She gave him pieces of her mind. Not a piece! The man was speechless and put it back on.

Looking educated and very polished don’t mean you have common sense. The two flight attendants begged the lady to calm down. She was VERY angry. We all were too!

She took his photo.

When the door was opened, airport security came and escorted the inconsiderate man out of the plane. The woman too. We all stood/sat still, speechless, and only communicated with our eyes.

Na wa! Crazy times! Wahala people!

Btw – I wanted to fly the plane ? but they offered to take a shot of me like this, and I promised them a bowl of my signature Jollof rice, fried plantain, and stewed goat meat next time ?

It’s 2022! Don’t forget to reflect and give thanks because you can still feel your heartbeats too ?

Reflections on the New Year

No arrow for January

MIKE ASUKWO

Mike Asukwo is a fine art graduate who majored in Sculpture. He is currently the Chief Editorial Artist at BusinessDay Media.
………………………………………..


Selfishness unbound

IFEOMA MALO

Ifeoma Malo is a Nigerian lawyer working in international development. Her work focuses on clean energy technologies, and energy access and climate change mitigation and adaptation across Africa
………………………………………..

It is a new year and there are a few things we should stop doing this year…. Like make it a part of your resolutions … I want to highlight two…

That’s how I turned into emergency church warden today at mass because people come to church and keep seats for their family and friends still in the shower at home. Mass starts at 8.30am and by 9.00am after the Gospel has been read— people are still keeping seats and preventing others from sitting there.

After the Gloria this morning, and seeing the umpteenth person about to be turned away from sitting on two reserved seats close to where we were seated —— my irritation got the better of me, and I intervened and made someone sit there. I then went outside to go get more people standing outside the church to fill up empty seats around me.

When I looked up because I felt I was disrupting the mass, I saw my parish priest smiling/laughing from the alter. Anyway I left immediately after mass so that those upset that their reserved seats were taken don’t beat me. They include the church wardens that were behaving like they don’t know their jobs.

Reserve seats all you want but if (in my own church) if you are not at mass by the Second Reading, please sit your butt at home. Or maybe stay outside the church. Don’t be inconveniencing the rest of the church with your tardiness.

Give the poor dignity

Similarly, it’s great to see a lot of outreach to orphanages and IDPs and hospitals and maternities during the Yuletide.

But I thought we agreed it’s not proper to take pictures of the occupants of these homes or health centers when we go? Please give them dignity. Don’t splash thier faces all over social media. If you must post pictures because you crowd sourced, kindly use the markers on your phone to completely blur out their faces only…

Let us try small this year. I come in peace…

Selah!!!

Girl at the Traffic Lights

Girl at the traffic light
Lanre Idowu

Girl at the traffic lights is author LANRE IDOWU’s New Year profound prayer that we awaken to the responsibilities of citizenship in 2022.


Our eagerness to get home quickly and welcome the New Year with hymns and prayers was halted by the traffic lights at the junction of Adeola Odeku and Akin Adesola streets on Victoria Island. Time was 21.45 hours.

The car windows were wound up. As we waited for the green light to continue the journey, a young girl moved close to the driver’s side, soliciting.

Involuntarily, I moved my mask to cover my nose and mouth even with the car windows closed.

Our guest was not deterred. “Sorry Daddy,” she pleaded.
I pretended to not see her, so I kept my eyes fixed on the traffic lights, monitoring her with the corners of my left eye.

You never know with this people, I thought. They come with all tricks in the book to set you up for a sucker punch and I wasn’t falling for it in these dying hours of 2021.

But the girl, probably no more than seven, wasn’t done yet. “God will promotion you,” she declared. “Your children children go better well well.”

As I pondered on her quaint expressions, looking for loose Naira notes near the joystick, the green light came on, and I moved the car in the direction of home, unable to help the girl.

Thereafter, the traffic was light and nothing stood in our way until we got home twenty minutes after. What kept playing over in my mind was the girl’s eleven-word prayer.

God go promotion you. Your children children go better well well.”

Her opening apology of “Sorry Daddy,” indicates her sensitivity to disturbing my peace in the comfort of my space. The import of her prayer, “God go promotion you” was that God would uplift me. I would enjoy an improvement in my circumstances. Since I looked old enough to be a father and indeed a grandfather, her last statement was a prayer for my children and grandchildren that things would go well for them.

Nowhere did she outrightly ask me for alms, even as there was no denying her intention. Her approach subtly employed prayer, hoping that I would do the needful. As I headed home, I couldn’t help remembering the approach of girls of her age in another era, armed with the beggar’s bowl, moving in bands of twos, threes, and fours, soliciting with songs.

Involuntarily, I started humming one. Ba bi Allah, tori Olorun ba bi Allah, e bun mi toro, ba bi Allah. Asiri abo.

Ba bi Allah was a more direct plea for alms; a call for help with the persuasive appeal of music. It was a song rendered by itinerant beggars moving from home to home in the Lagos of the 1960s where traffic lights were not common sight. Appealing to our common humanity, it asked in the name of God for alms, indeed the odd three pence.

Then and now, street begging remains a reminder of the poverty in the land. And the unfinished work of deploying state and private resources to ridding the land of poverty enveloped, in this instance, in idle begging. It is a reminder that our people’s needs are largely rudimentary—food to keep body and soul together. It is what our politicians exploit to buy votes and under-develop the land. It is what conscienceless leaders in secular and religious groups utilize to take advantage of the weak.

Beyond the relatively sane and safe precincts of Victoria Island where the praying girl operated on 31st December 2021, many like her are exposed to grave dangers of being exploited in the name of begging to douse the hunger in their stomachs and those of their parents who usually lurk in the background.

So, as I review the past year this first day of the new year, I pray an expanded version of the little girl’s prayer at the traffic lights that this year will favour you.

May the Lord promote you above your current circumstances. May you enjoy an anointing of ease.

May doors of opportunity open for you and you be equipped to put them to effective use.

May you not be a disused rag in the hands of exploiters. May the Lord open your eyes to the deceit of those who promise heaven on earth but deliver hell as a living reality.

May you not be a mean exploiter yourself.

May the New Year favour you generationally.

May you be counted among the league of problem solvers in the land as you work assiduously to contain poverty in the land, knowing that the fewer the number of the poor, the higher the chances to enjoy peacefully from the sweat of your labour.

This new year, may you partner with the State and people of goodwill to take more people off the streets. And may you be assured of the Lord’s promise that “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.”

Happy New Year! ?

…………………………………………………………….

Lanre idowu, Trustee of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence Trust Fund, is a Veteran Journalist and Journalism Regulator.

Nigerians in African inter-group relations

Prof Moses Ochonu interrogates the love-hate relationship that Nigerians enjoy in African inter-group relations and its far-reaching impact.

Even amongst ourselves in Nigeria, we have inter-ethnic banter and joking relationships that are lubricated by exaggerated caricatures and stereotypes to achieve maximum comical effect.

There is nothing wrong with that. In fact in the right proportion, it could be an ingredient for forging cohesion, an instrument for breaking the frost of national tension and mutual suspicions.

In that spirit, I have no issue with a little intra-African banter that is expressed in a lighthearted language and context understood by all involved.

The jollof rice banter between Nigeria and Ghana has been a source of comic relief and entertainment and has spawned several memes and creative online visual content.

We all, as Africans, have stereotypes of one another; West Africans of Southern Africans and vice versa. East Africans of West Africans and vice versa.

Even when it’s negative, it is expressed and taken in the spirit of consanguineous banter.

But it’s not even all negative. Some of the inter- and infra-African stereotypes are romantic and mythical, and are strategically framed as self critique and self-reflexivity.

A good example of this is South African politician, Julius Malema’s viral lionizing of Nigerians as bold, self-confident, no-nonsense, proud, and assertive black people in the face of White supremacy and arrogance.

The object of critical reference in his remark is of course what he sees as a docile black South African populace whom he considers sheepish and obsequious in the face of White supremacy.

Nigerians in African inter-group relations

When I was a teenager, I went through a phase in which I thought South Africans were the gold standard of African identity. I admired and consumed their music, movies, and culture, and I idolized their resilience in the face of Apartheid oppression. Watching the movie “Mandela” changed our lives, filling us with a mix of acute pan-African empathy/awareness and righteous anger.

The first time I watched that movie, it was with a group of people in my village in Benue state. I recall how an older young man screamed angrily at the end of the movie, saying in our dialect of the Idoma language that he wished he could get his hands on one of the white South African policemen portrayed in the movie and shake him until he was limp and lifeless.

It was of course empty, youthful bluster, but it was, however crudely expressed, a product of pan-African solidarity and rage.

Many years later, at the University of Michigan, I relayed the story to my South African doctoral classmate and we laughed at the angry folly of my kinsman who thought he could singlehandedly defeat the Apartheid street police machine with his raw African machismo.

My long-winded point is that both romantic and “negative” stereotypes are natural in intergroup relations, especially in the context of a shared social and geographic space.

But there is a thin line between healthy inter-group banter and toxic fratricidal negativity.

And this brings me to the inspiration for this post. What is the basis of Ghanaian pop artiste, Shatta Wale cursing out at Nigerian artistes with the words “fu*k Nigerian artistes”? I read that this was part of a tirade in which he also lamented that Nigerian artistes were getting more air play even in Ghana than Ghanaian artistes like himself.

He is getting deserved flak from both sides, with some of his Ghanaian compatriots hitting him with the harshest criticisms.

Rather than join the bandwagon of criticism, I am inclined to some introspection and reflection here. What could have triggered him? Some say it’s resentment and envy at being eclipsed and overshadowed by Whizkid, Burna, Tiwa Savage, Teni, Davido, Fireboy, and others in the ongoing global “discovery” and appreciation of Afrobeats.

If that is the case, what is the root of this resentment beyond the ephemeral emotions of professional envy?

Is there something deeper? Are we Nigerians in our stereotypical loudness attracting hostility to ourselves amongst other Africans by simply being our loud, boisterous, and even boastful selves?

Nigerians in African inter-group relations

I remember a conversation I had with my Kenyan classmate in graduate school. He narrated how, during the All-Africa games hosted by Kenya in 1987(?), he was cheering for the Nigerian basketball team, which was playing so well and was beating other teams by wide margins. As a young boy, he said he had simply been mesmerized by the play of the team and found himself cheering for the entertaining team.

When his compatriots caught him visibly and vocally supporting the Nigerian team, they all, in unison, scolded him. What are you doing, they asked. Taken aback by their question, he responded that he was cheering the winning Nigerian team. His compatriots in the room angrily replied, “do you know how arrogant these Nigerians are?”

That was my first jarring encounter with the pan-African narrative of Nigerian “arrogance,” a stereotypical aspect of our character that we probably subconsciously exude.

After that conversation, I became self-conscious about exhibiting any hint of self-assured confidence (aka Nigerian arrogance) in my friend’s presence, although I would occasionally deliberately do an exaggerated version of my arrogant Nigerian persona to unsettle and mess with his head.

Arazu was a philosopher, at home with nature and kinsfolk

EULOGY

EFFC’s Inelegant Drama over Obiano

Anambra State Govt spokesperson, C Don Adinuba writes that late Father Raymond Arazu was a philosopher priest who was also at home with nature and with his kinfolk.


By C Don Adinuba

Arazu was not just a good priest, but an amazing gift to Anambra State, ndi Igbo and the world of scholarship. After studies in Nigeria, Italy and the United Kingdom where he excelled in academics and sports, Fr Arazu embarked on a lifelong campaign for African cultural Renaissance through psalm translation, music, scholarship and herbal medicine.

“He translated the psalms in the Holy Bible into Igbo and set them to music played entirely with African instruments like ubo, or thumb piano.”

At a time when many educated Africans considered it infra dig to speak any African language, Fr Arazu, who received a doctorate in moral science in Italy with distinction and emerged the best student at the University of Southampton in England, started wholesome African cultural revival.

He was the first researcher to establish that the language of divination in Igbo and Bini is exactly the same.

Father Arazu began a scientific study of African plants and herbs and their curative properties which led to his establishment of centres of herbal medicine in Enugu and Awka. The Anambra State government appointed him chairman of the state’s Traditional Medicine Board.

There are thousands of people in different parts of Nigeria who have over the decades depended entirely on his medicines, regardless of their faiths, because they believe passionately in their efficacies.

This Spiritan priest led his life entirely for society. He was in the service at the old Anambra State Ministry of Youth Development and Social Services in Enugu. While on this position, he established farms in places like Abakaliki in Ebonyi State where he was constantly tilling the soil with hoes and cutting plants with cutlasses, alongside his workers. The produce was either sold or used to feed the numerous indigent people he was training without making a show of it in public.

Fr Arazu fervently believed that a priest was, ipso facto, a servant of the people, and not just of God. He drew inspiration from the life of the great Father (later Bishop) Michael Eneja who, as parish priest of the church at Fegge, Onitsha, would personally carry a bucket of water on his head to serve mere deacons and seminarians, despite living with aides who could perform this duty.

Arazu saw in Eneja a perfect example of what was later to be known across the globe as a servant leader, and strove to be like him in holiness and humility.

An engaging scholar who wrote numerous research articles and books on various subjects, Fr Arazu spoke six international languages fluently.

Arazu was a philosopher

MORE ON FR ARAZU

His research work on the place of kabbalah in ancient Jewish mystic tradition and work on comparative religious systems which include oriental religious, have drawn global attention.

Still, he was at home with his kinfolk. When his rural Ihembosi community was in crisis, he accepted to lead the town union and quickly brought peace and stability to the place.

May the Lord accept the soul of this dedicated servant of the people and a hero of African Renaissance who led a life of poverty, chastity, humility, service to society and solidarity.

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

Arazu was a philosopher

The Trouble with Underrating Obiano

Poet James Eze on the trouble with those underrating the stellar performance of Willie Obiano as Governor of Anambra State.

It is hard to believe but true that Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State is one of the most terribly underrated and wrongly vilified political leaders in the South East. This may not sound strange to anyone who is aware that much of Obiano’s eight years in office have been spent fending off brutal attacks from his predecessor.

The last of these cruel attacks was a vacuous story planted in a national daily, alleging that he was on the watch-list of an anti-graft agency. The story has been proven to be a piece of poorly couched propaganda fueled by vendetta. Indeed, the campaign to distract Obiano and expose him to hate and ridicule has been consistent, far ranging and vicious.

It was therefore not surprising to hear Dr. Sam Amadi wailing on Facebook about Obiano’s final unveiling. In a post entitled “So surprising that Obiano has a legacy project,” and shared on December 8, 2021, Amadi, a former gubernatorial aspirant in Imo State wailed thusly:

“I am traumatized that somewhere in the future, Obiano could even be considered more consequential than my much beloved Peter Obi. Hard to bear.”

Such audacity!

Amadi was writing about the wave making Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport and the gravitas it has given Obiano as a visionary leader. He is deeply pained that Obiano had accomplished what his hero could not even dream of. It is somewhat surprising that Amadi who prides himself as a thinker and strategist had allowed himself to be swept away by the fiendish efforts of the former governor to make his successor look like a poor waxwork.

It would be unfair to blame Amadi though. Obiano is a victim of vindictive campaign. No other governor in Nigeria has had an influential revenge-seeking enemy breath down his neck for eight years like him. We are not talking about an ordinary enemy here. We are talking about a man who enjoys the adulation of many Nigerians.

Something had to give. And it did. Many otherwise smart people whom you would have expected to take certain stories with a pinch of salt also believe the calumny campaign against Obiano. If only they knew better.

Their own moment of awakening is sure to come.

James Eze: The Trouble with Underrating Obiano

There is a simple explanation for that though. For one, it is far easier to swallow a blatant falsehood about a Nigerian political leader than to believe their innocence. For another, Nigerians hold their political leaders in acute suspicion. It takes a lot of mind bending to convince them that a governor is not a spineless wimp whose sole mission in office is to steal public funds. This perception is often hardened if there is a deliberate and sustained campaign to strengthen it.

And that is why they have continued to underrate Obiano in spite of his array of glittering legacies that dot the Anambra landscape. That is why they have refused to acknowledge his stellar achievements. It would be too much kindness to accept that someone so viciously maligned had actually done better than their hero. The pain of this admission is clearly embedded in Sam Amadi’s voice and it shone when he wrote “I have always believed that Obiano was a mistake. The brutal criminality of the leadership of APGA on the Imo Governorship Primary in 2018 added to this dislike.” Amadi believed everything the former governor’s spin doctors spewed out about Obiano without question, without second thoughts.

Nevertheless, we would be naïve to assume that Amadi is alone in this. In fact, Amadi deserves our respect for having the courage to admit his error of judgement; to finally wash the voodoo off his face and come to full wakefulness. Many others who were struck blind by the former governor’s voodoo men have yet to regain their sight. Not even the eventual commencement of commercial flights in the Anambra International Airport can jolt them out of that spell.

Obiano’s achievements speak for him.

The Awka International Convention Center was designed to look like America’s iconic B52 Bomber. The 10,000 capacity center speaks of the huge aspirations of Anambra State in its symbolic design and immense capacity. The Awka City Stadium is an eye-catchy sporting facility that meets FIFA standards. The Anambra International Airport is a monument to the king-size ambition of Anambra State. The three flyovers in Awka and Amawbia are landmarks of greatness. The mechanized rice farms in Ayamelum, the ultramodern rice mill in Igbariam, the largest poultry farm in the South East, the longest bridge in the South East and the eventual acceptance of Anambra State as an oil-bearing state are all immeasurable legacies of Willie Obiano.

Sadly, those who are willfully in the firm grip of the false atmosphere induced by the former governor have chosen to live in absolute denial of these facts. It is their choice. But the question is; why is it impossible to accept that Anambra did not descend into the abyss of bad governance after the former governor?

Why is it difficult to accept that Willie Obiano has not only proven, against popular belief, to be an effective political leader but also a smart politician who has outfoxed his greatest political enemy and handed him three defeats in a row? Why is it so easy to underrate Willie Obiano? How many times must a hunter slay a lion before he is addressed as ogbu agu!

And just a few months to handover, the verdict of history is out. The beloved predecessor pales in stature when placed beside his successor. Pound for pound, the difference is clear. The former has illusions of greatness. The later stands on hard surface of greatness.

James Eze: The Trouble with Underrating Obiano

Soludo, Central Politics and the Rest of Us

Soludo, Central Politics and the Rest of Us

Soludo central politics and the rest of us

Author and polemicist, CHUKS ILOEGBUNAM interrogates and dismisses the notion that Anambra abandons Soludo and the APGA brand on 6 November.

ANAMBRA 2021


I write this letter with a very heavy heart. For some time now I have watched events in Nigeria with alarm and dismay. I have watched particularly the chaos in my own state of Anambra where a small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom. I am appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency.

The above is from a letter Chinua Achebe wrote to President Obasanjo on October 15, 2004, rejecting his nomination for national honours on the grounds that under the President’s watch Anambra State had become a political gangland. Anambra State is once more sitting precariously on the horn of a dilemma. The gubernatorial election is slated for November 6, 2021. There are over a dozen candidates, which, comparatively speaking is merciful. Ordinarily there should be more than 200 candidates, something close to the scenario of a church with more pastors than the congregation.

There is a matter of primary concern. Where are the election materials to be stored? The Awka branch of the Central Bank has vaults spacious enough to store all the materials necessary for the election. The place was previously used to store such election materials. Why might it not be used this time around? INEC says the election materials would, instead, be stored in Owerri, Imo State. Why?

From Enugu to Awka is 72.9 kilometres (coverable in 1 hour 30 minutes). Asaba, Delta State, is 65.5 kilometres from Awka (coverable in 1 hour 21 minutes). Why is neither state capital an option for storing voting materials? Owerri in Imo State is 119.3 kilometres from Awka (coverable in 2 hours 12 minutes). Please bear in mind that the times specified for reaching Awka from any of the three state capitals are for ideal conditions. Terrible Federal roads sometimes make journeys of two hours last longer than two days. Therefore, could INEC’s illogical decision to store voting materials in Owerri be because, logistically, it will favour those prejudiced enough to want to corrupt the outcome of November 6 ballot? 

Now, take a look at the candidates. It is not rocket science to fathom that Chukwuma Charles Soludo is the quintessential candidate, the best prepared and by far the most exposed to direct with passion and vision the affairs of Anambra State. Academically, Soludo attained his professorship in the 10th year of his lectureship. As a technocrat he has advised unilateral and multilateral institutions and financial organisations, including the African Union and the World Bank, to resoundingly successful effect. He acquitted himself creditably both as Economic Adviser to the Federal Government of Nigeria and as the Governor of the Central Bank. To Soludo’s eternal credit, the consolidation of Nigeria’s banking sector took place under his watch. His setting in 2005 of N25 billion as the minimum capital base for any bank reduced the number of banks from an unwieldy 89 to 24 viable financial houses that enhanced the national economy. 

Unfortunately, Soludo has as fellow contestants some of those that turned Anambra State into a lawless fiefdom in 2004, folks that journeyed to the United States and stayed there for decades but came back home without as much as the academic equivalent of the ordinary national diploma.

People who incinerated the Government House in Awka, the Ikenga Hotel in Awka, the INEC offices in Awka, blokes that abducted a sitting governor and went scandalously unpunished are back 17 years after their villainy, wrapped in the effrontery and temerity to glibly declare the intention of governing Anambra State, a state that sired the likes of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alex Ekwueme, Dora Akunyili, Mokwugo Okoye, Kenneth Onwuka Dike, Roy Umenyi, Pius Okigbo, Modilim Achufusi, Francis Cardianl Arinze, Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Emmanuel Okala, Godfrey Ezekwe, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Charles Nnolim, G. C. M. Onyiuke, and thousands more. The proposition swallows response, being innately and irreversibly sacrilegious.

Who should lead Anambra?

Soludo, Central Politics and the Rest of Us

In the Igbo country, only those not completely together upstairs would abandon the panoply and sumptuous dishes of an Ozo title-taking ceremony for a ritual in propitiation of Agwu – the god of recklessness – that is performed with the sacrificial lame or blind chick. Has Anambra’s imposed orphanage hit such a dismal nadir that it is being trumpeted from alien rooftops that it must be led by someone whose School Certificate the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) pronounced forged, who in the not too distant past arrived an American port of entry to the charge of currency offences, and whose sole distinction as a federal lawmaker is record-setting victories in sleeping matches inside the chambers?

There are things you tell a woman with the strident warning that her husband must never get an inkling of it. Ndi Anambra are today being subjected to moonlight tales regarding the wisdom in switching political parties at the drop of a needle. If a woman plundered the national treasury and is called upon to hold herself accountable for corruption, yes, she could hop into the Party of the Centre where mere membership exculpates even the most heinous of atrocities. If a man expected appointment to high political office or election to the National Assembly but drew blank on both scores, he could plunge into the Party of the Centre where the sheer acquisition of membership card could translate into the diversion of crumbs from the national purse to his pockets.

But neither the women nor the men primed by the impetus of personal aggrandisement should presume to cajole the APGA faithful into partaking in their non-altruistic gambits. The Party of the Centre has nothing to offer Ndi Anambra and Ndigbo as a whole, being the flank trying to imprint on our scandalised senses the obnoxious lesson that a cow’s life is more valuable than that of a human being.

Soludo, Central Politics and the Rest of Us

Jesus, the Christ said in Matthew 7: 15-16: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognise them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” The old woman said that she had had such an extended experience with “the long thing” that it no longer could be used to frighten her. We have known their spite, their deceit, their treachery and their double standards over millennia for them to now habour in their mind the illusion that they can bamboozle us.

Look at Zamfara State. Look at Kaduna State. Look at Katsina State. Look at Bornu State. These kidnappers’ enclaves are all of the Party of the Centre. They all are in tatters, festering with social dislocation and dripping with the blood of the innocent. Closer to home, look carefully at Imo State. It teamed up with the Party of the Centre on the strength of a Supreme Court verdict that will forever remain a testament to infamy and gross injustice. “His Supremacy,” the State Governor, notoriously spends four fifths of his time in Abuja, leaving the people bereft of hope, the pensioners unpaid in 12 months and counting. Imo State is definitely not the argument to advance for Ndi Anambra to auction APGA and mortgage their future.

The APGA brand

Soludo, Central Politics and the Rest of Us

And there is something fundamental to be said about APGA. When the politics of the Second Republic commenced, Dr. Azikiwe wisely joined the Nigeria Peoples Party and, thus, gave Ndigbo a voice in national politics, the NPP controlling old Anambra, old Imo and Old Plateau States, even forming a coalition government at the Federal level. APGA had known faces in the process of its registration. But the unseen hands that forged it were largely members of the PDP, including Dr. Chuba Okadigbo. They did it on the imperative of Ndigbo having a voice in national politics. A prominent PDP chieftain donated the first APGA secretariat in Abuja.

APGA has been the most enduring political party in the South East geopolitical zone. Unfortunately, its electoral fortunes have, every so often, been violently vitiated by the manipulations of election riggers. It won Imo in 2011 only for Rochas Okorocha to donate the electoral mandate, hook, line and sinker, to the APC. Thereafter, he left the state in wrack and ruin, a sellout that Hope Uzodinma is today single-mindedly sustaining. Ndi Anambra can never be persuaded to join the macabre dance of the Party of the Centre. But if their state is yanked from them by Federal might, Ndigbo will have lost their last voice in Nigeria for the foreseeable future. 

Common sense makes it the case that, if there are problems in APGA, as there are in all political parties the world over, the sane measure to take is to sit down around a table and fix them, not to career from one counterproductive party to another like an anchorless ship. Those APGA members that have recently jumped ship for instant dividends will eventually end up like fish out of water. On the day of reckoning, they would be ordered to find their level. Who does not know that there are prominent Ndigbo in the PDP and the APC today? Who does not also know that their vaunted prominence notwithstanding, none of them, including the nosier noisemakers of the lot, ever earned a ticket to caucuses where important decisions were taken? 

To jettison APGA and align with parties and characters that brand you a dot in a circle despite your numbering in the millions, that consider you a nonentity, that place the cow ahead of you in ranking, is like a dive into effluent. It is an unconscionable leap in the dark that is fraught with uncountable dangers. It is a choice for which Ndigbo have given a resounding answer: NO!

Gov. Obiano in the mix

Soludo, Central Politics and the Rest of Us

It leaves us with one more word – on Governor Willie Obiano. The man has his critics. He has, as a matter of course, always taken criticisms of his administration in good faith. I do not mistake him for a perfect man. He never garlanded his head with a saint’s hallow. But the gracious adjective suits him nicely.

His legacy in Anambra will remain imperishable. We had an international airport in Uli that survived the civil war. Central politicians scraped it out of spite. It took 51 years for Anambra to have another airport, the one at Umueri that Obiano built. He gave Anambra an international conference centre. He gave us the longest bridge in the state. He has helped more than all previous governors to transform Awka’s provincialism into a thriving metropolis. He has always and promptly paid salaries and pensions, unlike what obtains in many states whose umbilical cords are tied to the Party of Centre, including Imo, where unpaid salaries and perquisites have since blown all computation metres to smithereens.

Governor Willie Obiano made Anambra the safest state in Nigeria, to the point that neighbouring states hit by virulent and violent criminality invariably ran to him for assistance in combatting the renegades and nonconformists. Then the era of “unknown gunmen” materialised, something decidedly not home grown. Still, Anambra State holds its head high, thanks to Obiano’s steady hands at the controls.

I am confident that it will be a seamless hand over of power from Chief Obiano to Professor Soludo, and a continuation of the continuous business of good governance – if the Party of the Centre allows the voice of the people to matter in the ballot of November 6, 2021.

| Chuks Iloegbunam is the author of Ironsi: Nigeria, The Army, Power And Politics

Soludo, Central Politics and the Rest of Us

Should I waste this Banza?

Should I waste this Banza? is a chiiling narrative of an encounter with soldiers on Operation Golden Dawn today in the heart of Enugu City.

Please beware!

The soldiers on special duty in the South East mean business. Possibly, avoid army or DSS checkpoints in the South East, especially at night. A young, lanky soldier, apparently below 25, almost killed me about 8.37pm at Park Avenue, GRA, Enugu.

My offence was that I drove up to their barricade at the DSS State Headquarters, along Park Avenue. Immediately I saw soldiers standing, civil men and women kneeling on the tarmac, likely earlier victims, I stopped and contemplated my further moves.

He ran up to me and started raining abuses. I was surprised. I calmly asked him whether I should turn back. That now angered him. I quickly switched to silence, which now enraged him the more.

“You no dey talk, banza?” he shouted.

Gun corked, as he called another soldier, likely superior and demanded, ‘make I waste this banza.’

The superior came, looked me over and scolded me for trying to use the road.

“Idiot, turn and find another road,” he cursed.

As I made to reverse, the younger chap ran up again, and tried to yank open my door. He couldn’t contain his rage when he discovered that the doors were locked.

“Come down, idiot,” he yelled.

I complied.

He peered into my car and snorted, ‘idiot, go. Because you dey drive jeep na him go make you come here this time.’

I said I was sorry. Perhaps, it escaped me that I had almost successfully managed them with silence.

“If you talk that sorry again, I go just waste you here and nothing go happen,” he said with every severity he could mister.

I reverted to my silence strategy.

Soon, he noticed that other vehicles behind me were quickly reversing and heading back. He chased one yellow bus with so much force and fury that I concluded he must be on some substance. Anyway, that presented me with an opportunity to slide into my car and slip away.

I have no doubt that what fires him is likely more of hate than duty, because I was completely compliant to his orders and unreasonable reasonings, so there was no reason for his rage.

I spoke to SOMEBODY shortly afterwards and he said: “…please, in the coming days, find a way to keep clear of those boys.

“Their briefing is an indoctrination of hatred by those who believe that the Igbo played a major role in profiling the Fulani and the relentless protestations leading to herder discomfiture so far.

“Don’t even rule out vengeance. So, keep clear of them for now…”

Another SOMEBODY said, “let us all work hard to outlive this junta.”

Should I waste this Banza?