THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PUBLIC SECTOR CEOs IN THE NORTH AND THOSE OF THE SOUTH OF NIGERIA

Ego, pride , procrastination, sycophancy , banal bureaucracy, and empty “bigmanism” is the greatest undoing and baggage of some of us in the southern part of Nigeria.

We have an Investment Banking funding group based in Zurich Switzerland that we represent here in Nigeria and also help to cover the West coast for them.

Last month they called me up that there is this Funding group that have concluded plans to invest in frontier markets economy in Africa. They desire to take African investment risks . They specifically mentioned that they will prefer Nigeria and the beneficiary projects must be a Private Public Partnership structured projects arrangment with capacity to generate enough cashflow to ensure interest and principal repayment.

The fund is an African focused one with a tenor of 15 to 20 Years, 2 years interest repayment moratorium and all in annualized real interest cost of 5% per annum.

All that is required of the beneficiary projects is to post a 30% guarantee on the project value from a top 5 local bank. However , they needed to secure first a letter of Readiness, Willingness and Ability from any of the top 5 local bank in Nigeria to act as the local agent bank to the project so that they can queue them up to commence the processing. They did not require or asked for any confirmation from a foreign correspondent bank . They trusted the balance sheet of the top 5 local banks.

This fund is limited. It is concessionary in cost. It is first come, first serve. There are other competing projects from other countries in sub Sahara Africa. They kept me updated as the potential deal list grew . They urged me to fastrack the deals identification urgency so that we don’t get shut out . Ofcourse, we will earn our fees. It is not a father Christmas thing.

Three weeks ago, we were invited by the representatives and agents of a state in the Southern part of Nigeria to open discussion on how we can help them. To even tie the governor down for a ten minutes chat was a tug of war. This is a state that desire to secure hundreds of millions of US dollars for a key PPP project that will add value to her people.

This is three weeks after . To procure the RWA that will not cost the state anything. NOTHING. NO DIME COST became a burden of sisyphean proportion . We spent our monies , our time and resources to see them . Till today, it is long grammar. Everyone is only focused on making the cabinet list . Everyone is still playing politics. Business of governance is shut down. Nothing works. This is southern Nigeria .

NOW FAST FORWARD TO early this month of June, My good friend, Lauretta Chinenye Onoh, who speaks fluent Hausa, heard about this same funding arrangement and quickly activated her contacts in the North . By June 12, 2019, we were invited to meet two first time governors in the North in Abuja . They are yet to form their cabinet , but still willing to hit the ground running for the sake of their people.

I was mightily impressed at their speed and humility. No airs whatsoever. No long queue of aides or hangers on constituting a nuisance or trying to lay borders/fences of long bureaucracy. We did not fill any forms or be tossed from one aide to the other , who are only after what they will eat and drink.

In less than four hours after entering Abuja , We had several meetings with these great but humble leaders that are up and running. We were up till 2am the next day . I had to even shut down a social meeting with my former boss and MD/CEO of a bank just to keep up with the programs lined up for that evening .

I have not rested since I met one of these guys. I am under serious pressure to submit loads of proposals and agreements on the lofty things we are all working together on now . Knowledge is power and these guys appreciate solid ones. All they are after is the value you are bringing to the table and now how well you praise them or stand in their face. They need help to fulfil their promises to their people and seek for it passionately/urgently .

They even introduced us to their Northern brother , who is anchoring another PPP project for a FGN top agency These ones have already arranged a second meeting at our Head office in Ikoyi Lagos to meet with us . They are the ones pleading that we should pick a convenient date and time to meet with them in Lagos. These are men , who are serious and understand what business of governance is. These are men in the mould of Peter Obi, who flew in to South Africa to plead with SB Miller to come to Anambra. A leader who sees governance as serious business. One who understands and appreciates the values of time in monetary terms.

The same terrible attitude of the southern political leadership is demonstrated on how they have participated in the CBN anchor borrowers funding scheme .

In 2015-2016, all the South East states got N300million from CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme while a State in the North (Kebbi state ) alone got N22billion for Rice under a PPP arrangements.

This is not marginalization.

While Northern States paid counterpart funding and partnered CBN on direct disbursement under unique schemes. The immediate past Imo state government refused to pay because they couldn’t control the disbursement. They refused to pay because they were not allowed to hijack the funds and divert it like they did with the bailouts funds for pensioners . Today Imo is owing over N57billion in pension arrears.

I want to reinterate it again for the umpteenth time that smart leaders go all out to solicit for help. Pharoah and Nebuchadnezzar , realised this, and sought for the help of Joseph , Daniel, Shedrach and Abadnego. It was not the other way round.

NOW, we are under pressure from these great guys and Lauretta to quickly fast track the process to deliver , unlike the Southern folks , who erroneously assumes and think that it is a privilege for helpers to help them. Can you just imagine .

We have the best of human capital, resources and contacts within and outside to fix ala Imo . We must fix the South east . We must fix Ala Igbo holistically. We have no one to blame but ourselves if we fail to do the right things . We can’t continue to marginalise ourselves and then turn around to blame the oligarchs .

God help us

OBIARAERI, Nnaemeka Onyeka

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A SLAVISH PARLIAMENT AND THE ROAD TO BUHARI’S LIFE PRESIDENCY. BY FAROOQ A KPEROGI, PhD

On June 11, 2019, Nigeria inaugurated what promises to be the most servile and least independent National Assembly in Nigeria’s entire history. The new Senate President and the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, whose ascendancy to their positions was enabled by nakedly transparent executive manipulation, are unabashedly obsequious grovelers to the presidency.

New Deputy Senate President Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege’s cringe-worthily sycophantic genuflection to Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa on June 11 is perhaps the most symbolic affirmation yet of the loss of any pretense to legislative autonomy in the coming months and years. The National Assembly will no longer be an independent arm of government; it will now be an extension of the presidency and an assemblage of fawning factotums of fascism.

Senate President Ahmed Lawan has been transparent about his desire to transform the Senate into a congregation of slavish yes-men (and women) to Buhari. He lived up to this desire on June 13 when he rudely stopped Senator Istifanus Gyang’s motion to debate the substance of Buhari’s uninspiring and uninspired “Democracy Day” speech, which signposts many dangers ahead, as I will show shortly.

Similarly, when Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo pointed out that former Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha should not be formally addressed as the SGF in official communications from the Senate since his tenure has expired and he hasn’t been reappointed to his position, Lawan rejected his suggestion and said, “the Senate must do everything within its powers to nurture a good working relationship with the Executive arm of government.”

So it’s obvious that Lawan wants no one to cherish any illusion that he will be anything but a fawning lapdog of the executive. There is no indication that House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, who owes his position to the support he received from the minions of the executive, also won’t be a servile poodle of the presidency.

That means that, for the first time since the restoration of civilian rule in 1999, Nigeria will have a leadership of the national legislature that will be indistinguishable from the executive and that has no self-awareness of its constitutional obligation to be independent and to provide an institutional check to other arms of government. It is the presence of an independent legislature that marks the difference between democracies and dictatorships. Under Lawan and Gbajabiamila, the legislative branch will be as good as non-existent.

Here is why that is dangerous. If Buhari survives his current stolen mandate, all indications point to the possibility that he won’t give up power to anybody for as long as he is alive. Buhari exults in the glories and perks of power and can no longer imagine life outside it. He will most likely instigate a constitutional amendment to extend his tenure beyond four years. With the unprecedentedly malleable and bribable National Assembly we have now, this would be a cakewalk.

This may come across as an ill-willed, off-the-wall prognostication, especially for people who have not developed a heightened appreciation of Buhari’s persona. When I told a senior retired military officer that Buhari would lose the 2019 election, would never hand over to the person he lost to, and would instruct INEC to announce him the winner of the election and nothing would happen thereafter, he thought I was being hyperbolic. He later called to say my predictions had materialized.

Nearly four months after the presidential election, INEC has not given a breakdown of the vote count. Atiku Abubakar’s team, meanwhile, has made available to the world the raw data of the election that it said it got from INEC’s server, which shows that Buhari lost the election by nearly two million votes. APC’s henchmen initially scorned this claim. However, after they found the evidence to be incontrovertible, their scorn turned to panic. They charged the Atiku team with “hacking” into INEC’s server and demanded that they be prosecuted.

Nevertheless, INEC, which spent hundreds of millions of naira for a server and even trained its staff on how to transmit the results of the election to the server, now says it has no server—and has refused to make the results of the election available to Atiku’s legal team in spite of court orders asking it to do so. So, if INEC has no server, which server did APC accuse the Atiku team of “hacking”? This is the most damningly self-evident proof that the results of the presidential election that INEC announced have no association with the actual votes cast on Election Day. In spite of this knowledge, however, there is no outrage anywhere. Even many previously critical people have moved on.

Buhari has caused the nation to be in a state of suspended animation in ways never seen before. He will walk to a life presidency in this state. He has already given broad hints of this in his so-called Democracy Day speech, which Senator Istifanus Gyang wanted the Senate to discuss. In the speech, Buhari extolled China’s and Indonesia’s progress “under authoritarian regimes.” Of course, he tempered this with a tepid reference to India, which also “succeeded in a democratic setting.”

Now, why would a supposedly democratic leader eulogize totalitarian regimes in a “Democracy Day” speech? It wasn’t an innocent, unintended miscue. It was intentional. He was flying a kite. I study presidential rhetoric and know that presidents habitually deploy the symbolic and discursive powers of formal speeches to frame, reframe, define, and redefine national conversations.

Buhari didn’t stop at glorifying authoritarian regimes and subliminally linking them with development (while craftily mentioning a lone democratic example just to blunt potential criticism), he also said, “With leadership and a sense of purpose, we can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.” His current stolen mandate has a four-year duration. Why did he make a 10-year projection?

People who haven’t come to terms with Buhari’s plans to rule for as long as he is alive would say governments traditionally make projections way beyond their tenures since governance is supposed to be a continuity. Well, we know that governance isn’t a continuity in Nigeria. Governments in Nigeria derive the notional basis of their legitimacy and independence by instinctually opposing and upending the programs and policies of their predecessors—even when they are from the same political party. The Yar’adua administration, for instance, defined itself in opposition to the Obasanjo administration even though both belong to the same party and Obasanjo, in fact, made Yar’adua’s emergence possible.

Plus, fulsome praise for authoritarianism from a power-obsessed man who is also making projections into the future that exceed the limits of his constitutionally guaranteed tenure should, at the very least, invite curiosity and a search for clarity. Now, why would the leadership of a branch of government that works through deliberation squelch a conversation about this?

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s bid for a third term was thwarted by a virile, independent National Assembly. Now that the National Assembly has been fused with the presidency, there will no resistance to executive tyranny.

Buhari’s self-perpetuation bid, when it does finally unravel, will be unchallenged in the National Assembly. With a compromised legacy and digital-native news media formation, a decapitated judiciary, a purchasable civil society, and hordes of homeland and diasporan mercenary intellectuals for hire, Nigeria is sleepwalking to self-annihilation.

https://www.farooqkperogi.com/2019/06/a-slavish-parliament-and-road-to.html

NIGERIA’S SPIRALLING INSECURITY.

It was the immediate-past Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, who somewhat captured the stark reality of our country’s situation in an audio recording where he said, “Nigeria is helpless and hopeless.” It is difficult not to agree with him on some aspects of his assessment and conclusion. There is an irony here though, because the man is part of the problem of Nigeria – a country frozen in a nightmare of insecurity, lawlessness, helplessness, and near hopelessness. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the land, as evil people unleash violence, arson, kidnapping, banditry and terrorism upon Nigeria, peaking in alternate fashion. The spectre of death and destruction now casts a long shadow on our lives and has become an ominous companion of daily living.

You see, Nigeria is tethering on the brink of collapse as the country’s leaders fiddle away. The fault lines have never been so visible. Those in positions of leadership who unfortunately came to power with an ethnic agenda are the ones stoking the fault lines with such contemptuous disregard for the consequences in a way that leaves you numb with disbelief. Some of those who were loud in condemnation of the impunity and abuse of governmental power in the past are now silent in the face of tenfold abuses, impunity, spiralling insecurity and decadence. It frightens me to no end how what was bad and unacceptable in the past is now glorified with sure vein pomposity and reckless arrogance.

As if that wasn’t enough, many who should know the frightening implications are applauding the actions of these ethnic jingoists and feudal lords with medieval mindsets; to the extent of even minimising the dangers staring us in the face. Even the ones we once held in high esteem have become lead actors in deliberate misinformation and embellishment of falsehoods and revisionism of our most recent history. Nigerians are watching helplessly and hopelessly as the country is being picked apart by desperate political scavengers, moral harlot, and their dark messengers of death.

It’s a haunting tragedy how offhandedly and callously we now tolerate and normalise heinous crimes such as kidnapping, banditry, mass murder, etc. It is frightening how reluctant the government in power is to deal with what is turning to be an existential danger to our republic. It is just incomprehensible. The acceptance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s incompetence in the management of our national affairs has brought difficult consequences and lasting danger to our societal fabric and culture.

As is always the case, the enthronement of evil doesn’t come all at once. It creeps in slowly, normalising itself bit by bit, until you don’t realise the danger until it’s too late. From colony settlements for terror herdsmen, a bizarre N100 billion handout to the same Miyetti Allah herdsmen to end the kidnappings, to a Fulani radio station, everything is moving in slow motion to achieving the ultimate conquest agenda. The security of lives and properties was a major plank of Buhari’s campaign in the 2015 elections. Midway into the president’s first term, this insensitive government went to great lengths to compare the number of killings under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government (Jonathan was in power for about five years) with those that had occurred under it, making astonishing and puerile claims that it had brought down the figure. It gave itself a pat on the back for a job well done. Now that Buhari has done four years, this government dare not make that comparison.

The security situation across the country has become so precarious that no one is safe anymore, either in their homes, at places of work, churches, mosques, or on the road. Interstate travel in the North has become a death wish. This is not an exaggeration of the situation, as to say otherwise is to normalise the reigning evil in the land. There is a list of roads now (from the North to South) that Nigerians are scared to travel on. It never used to be this bad. But the supporters of the government are telling us that the insecurity in the land is not new, and that the ethnic agenda being gradually foisted on the country is a figment of our imagination.

Emboldened by an incompetent and corrupt security apparatus, docile citizenry, compromised and conniving pro-democracy/human rights groups that even defend the government’s impunity and human rights abuses, the perfidy of the preachers of change and their “nauseating hypocrisy” are in full flourish. It’s a major tragedy that people no long cringe at the horror of mindless human carnage taking place all over the country. Human life counts for nothing anymore. The acceptance of Buhari’s mismanagement of our country and values on every front has brought disaster on our society, and has even coloured our definition and understanding of national values. It’s just incomprehensible.

How can one even begin to understand the lackadaisical attitude of this government to the security of the country and its people; more painfully, its aloofness to the daily deaths, banditry and the utter lawlessness in the land? What of the indescribable lack of empathy and the scandalous inability to stop the drift into chaos and anarchy? How can one even begin to rationalise this strange behaviour of a government that swore to defend the security of the people? How can we accept that despite the huge budgetary vote to secure the country, our security forces are failing so badly under Buhari, an ex-army General? The security of lives of the people is the first obligation of any government, failure which that government loses whatever reason why it is in power. This government at the moment has failed in its duty of securing the country, failed to grow the economy and failed in its own anti-corruption war.

The Kaduna-Abuja expressway has become a traveller’s death wish and kidnappers’ prized treasure trove. Hundreds were kidnapped in one fell swoop in broad daylight recently on that road. Strangely, there was neither a whimper of condemnation of the incident, nor was there any explanation, show of empathy for the victims and their families, or reassurances to a frightened citizenry come from either the federal government or the Kaduna State government. Unfortunately, the nation is so saturated with bad news of killings that we were not even kept abreast of their fate as everyone has simply moved on, hardly able to digest the steady stream of unpleasant news. It is unbelievable just how normal and acceptable killings and kidnappings have become. All Buhari and his Vice President Yemi Osinbajo are interested in is to be in power for the sake of it.

Our country increasingly looks big for nothing as aptly captured by the late Col. Kaduna Nzeogu in this timeless statement so long ago: “Our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10 percent; those that seek to keep the country divided permanently so that they can remain in office as ministers or VIPs at least, the tribalists, the nepotists, those that make the country look big for nothing before international circles.” Decades after Nzeogu uttered those immortal words, Nigeria’s torment has only grown worse, orchestrated by more vicious and corrupt actors.

The tribalists, the nepotists not only make our “country look big for nothing” before the world, the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10 percent; those that seek to keep the country divided permanently, have grown in number and are determined to make sure Nigeria does not progress. They have mismanaged our national co-existence and are setting up tribal armies to subjugate the country and its people to their feudal rule.

There is insecurity everywhere. Nigeria has become a huge killing field. Just flip through the newspapers and see the appalling carnage in the country: Bandits kill 26 in Zamfara, 25 in Katsina, 40 in Kaduna, herdsmen kill 23 in Jos, 31 in Taraba, 19 in Makurdi, 12 in Kogi, bandits kill 25 in Sokoto, suicide bomber kills scores, injures 30 In Maiduguri, etc. This is happening on a daily basis. And no concrete action is being taken by the people in power to arrest the situation, or bring the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to justice.

Indeed, here again, I beg to disagree with Professor Wole Soyinka’s view on how Boko Haram was allowed to fester for which he blamed former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Again, Soyinka’s position holds the facts of our recent history in contempt. Recall that in his BBC HARDtalk interview, he had said: “The issue of Boko Haram, if action had been taken at the beginning, and we are not talking about the time of the reign of Jonathan, when the first governor decided to make his state a theocratic state, that was when action should have been taken.

“The president of that time compromised because he was ambitious and he needed the support of that governor. And when you start operating a theocracy, a movement will get up and say you are not holy enough and they begin by killing, first of all those who don’t believe in their faith and then turn on to even the co-believers. Well, he (Buhari) certainly has made progress in that aspect…”

Really? I pinched myself several times in paranoia and rage at the deliberate misinformation. What progress was Soyinka talking of? It appears our Nobel laureate has allowed himself to be sucked in by propaganda rather than facts. Boko Haram has neither been technically defeated, as Buhari had claimed nearly four years ago, nor degraded as subsequently and repeatedly claimed by his government. One of the deadliest massacres of Nigerian soldiers by Boko Haram occurred in November 2018 at the 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele, Borno State, wherein scores of soldiers including the commander of the battalion, Lt. Col. Ibrahim Sakaba were killed. The exact casualty figure is still a closely-guarded secret.

In the last four years under Buhari, Boko Haram has attacked and sacked 22 military posts, killing hundreds of Nigerian soldiers. The sacked military posts were in Gajiram, Mainok, Rann, Geidam, Sasawa, Magumeri, Malam Fatori, Gashigha, Kanama, Gamboru-Ngala, Mafa, Damasak,Gudumbali, Garunda, Kunduga, Kareto, Jilli, Arge, Zari, Arege, Metele and Buni Gari. It is an irony that long after its purported defeat, Boko Haram is the one on the offensive, and the military, now its primary target, is on the back foot.

It is not the hit-and-run style attack on soft targets as the former Information Minister, Lai Mohammed would want us to believe. Rather, what we have are full savaged and humiliating sacking of military formations and killings of several hundred soldiers including senior officers. The United Nations recently revealed that Boko Haram was in firm control of three local government areas in the northeast, despite repeated denials by this government. To me, Soyinka was simply on an image-laundering mission. And he did a bad job, muddling up facts to suit the propaganda narrative of this government. Who is better to do a yeoman’s job than a Nobel laureate?

The truth is that Buhari has failed to guarantee the security of the country. He has made things worse than he met them: kidnappings, unprovoked killings, banditry, rape, arson are now so pervasive in the land, that it’s unbelievable how we got here. Deadly danger lurks everywhere under Buhari but his supporters who live in an alternative universe continue to tell us things are better? At the rate at which his supporters are going, if Buhari pulls a gun and shoots innocent people at the Eagle Square Abuja, I can bet an arm and a leg that many of them including the human rights community will defend him for doing so in the national interest.

Now let’s take a stroll down memory lane: though the Boko Haram group may have existed since the late 1990s and was organised by the Muslim cleric Mohammed Yusuf, it was officially launched and galvanised into action in 2002 after the declaration of Sharia in Zamfara State in 2000 by then-Governor Sani Yerima. Eleven other Northern states followed suit. It is important to note that Yerima, a member of the APC, did nothing to bring policies of development to Zamfara State to alleviate the extreme poverty ravaging his people instead, he brought “political Sharia” on them. Is Zamfara better or worse off now? How many companies did it attract to the state? How many people did it lift out of poverty? How did it improve student enrollment in schools? One of the reasons Yerima gave for introducing Sharia was to reduce the crime rate in the state. But today, Zamfara has become a haven for bandits, daily breaking its own worst record in killings and medieval barbarity. Now there is a burial ground in every nook and cranny in the state.

The Sharia set the stage for nefarious groups, individuals and bigots who not only prefer feudal hegemony but despise and resent evolution in culture, religion and modern civilisation to hide behind it to advance their nefarious base and ruinous prepositions.

Buhari was one of those individuals who fuelled the Sharia movement with his radical utterances and great verve. In August 2001, Buhari at a seminar in Kaduna organised by the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, even called for the introduction of “total” Islamic law across the country. He had said with gusto to a charged nation: “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria. God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country.”

In reaction to the pushback against Sharia, Buhari had queried: “Why should Christians be concerned when Muslims cut off their limbs? After all, the limbs cut off are Muslim ones.” Earlier in 2001, he had called on Muslims to vote at the 2003 presidential polls only for someone who would defend their faith. He eventually contested the election because he believed that with his track record, he had convinced the core Muslim faithful enough that he was someone that would do it. From day one, he projected himself as the defender of the Muslim faith to get votes; a firm believer in theocratic state.

By all these utterances, Buhari helped to nurture the seeds of radical religious intolerance and division that has grown into full blown terrorism under the guise of wanting the full implementation of Islamic Sharia. In return, he amassed huge political capital in the form of support and votes from the Muslim North starting from the 2003 elections.

It is generally acknowledged that the language of his campaign in 2011 election led to the violence that claimed several lives, including the lives of 12 youth corps members after he lost the election.

In November 2012, Boko Haram nominated Buhari among six northerners to negotiate with the federal government on its behalf. Why the choice of Buhari? Of course the terrorists trusted him more than any other person to defend their interests due to his track record.

On June 4, 2013, the Jonathan government approved the proscription of Boko Haram and splinter group Ansaru as terrorist organisations. What was the reaction of many Northerners? They condemned the action of the government. Many Nigerians won’t forget in a hurry the role played by the Borno Elders’ Forum to undermine the war against Boko Haram. Is it not instructive that since Buhari assumed power, no one has heard about them despite the worsening security situation in Borno State?

In the same June 2013 that Boko Haram was proscribed, Buhari flayed the way the Jonathan government was handling the security situation, saying unlike the special treatment being given to the Niger Delta militants by the federal government, the Boko Haram members were being killed and their houses demolished by the government. For more damaging effects, he upped the ante in his poisonous ethno-religious comments saying, “A declaration of a state of emergency would be anti-North.

Buhari did all he could to undermine the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo with his strong support for Sharia and radical religious urgings to Muslims to only vote someone who would defend their faith. The Sharia he supported nurtured the seeds of radical Islamic groups such as Boko Haram that the nation is today grappling with. To twist the knife still further, Buhari also voiced support for Boko Haram and lamented the killing of members of the sect. He did this purposely to undermine Jonathan’s government. It is noteworthy that Buhari like members of the northern intelligentsia never condemned the terror group then for all the atrocities it committed. His utterances arguably emboldened the sect in its reign of terror.

Don’t be fooled, he only began to move away from the group when it was looking likely he would seek the presidential ticket on a broad coalition platform; he would later on become the standard-bearer of the then-newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC). He went on to campaign on the mantra of “Change” just as he assured Nigerians that he had also changed from his bad ways. Well, in the land of my fathers, there is this saying: “The chameleon changes colour to match the earth, the earth doesn’t change colour to match the chameleon.” Buhari only pretended to have changed when his promoters packaged and rebranded him in 2015. And I should borrow this quote from Soyinka’s description of Jonathan when he endorsed Buhari in 2015: “The predator walks stealthily on padded feet, but we all know now with what lightning speed the claws flash into action. We have learnt to expect, deplore and confront certain acts in military dictatorship, but to find them manifested under supposedly democratic governance?” Now, between Buhari and Jonathan, who is a better fit for this description? Soyinka must be gasping with embarrassment.

Obasanjo’s government as well as Jonathan’s was a victim of Buhari’s harsh and destabilising ethno-religious rhetoric.

It is therefore most uncharitable of Soyinka to play to the gallery and blame Obasanjo for compromising on Boko Haram because he was ambitious and needed the support of “that governor” who wanted to turn his state into a theocratic one. Blaming the victim of Buhari’s undermining tactic, while giving him (Buhari) credit for fighting a Frankenstein’s monster he helped create but has turned on its creators flies in the face of reason. Sometimes I wonder what kind of spell was used on these people.

You see, despite the withdrawal of support for Boko Haram by the Northern intelligentsia and other groups, thereby giving Buhari a head start over Jonathan in the fight against the sect, he has failed to defeat the terrorists he once gave moral support. Nigeria is now a Savage Kingdom under him.

Buhari’s reign since 2015 has reinforced the public’s perception of him as an ethno-religious irredentist.

After being sworn in for a second term in the midst of spiralling insecurity, his first official act was a hurried departure for Saudi Arabia for a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) without delivering his inaugural speech. What does this particular behaviour tell those who pretend Buhari cares about them and the country? He doesn’t, he cares only about himself.

With a track record such as this, is it any surprise that the government under him has sat back while anarchy is loosed upon the land?

THIS REPUBLIC By Shaka Momodu.

JIHADISTS HAVE RECRUITED HEAVILY FROM FULANI PASTORALISTS ACROSS WEST AFRICA – REPORT.

•The crisis may engulf coastal West Africa —Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister

•10 million people in Lake Chad area need urgent help —UN

There are fears that the current security problems wracking the country could become worsened soon with reports that jihadists across the West African region are recruiting heavily from aggrieved Fulani pastoralists.

While the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), fears a hike in the population of the displaced in West Africa, other reports warned that militant groups in the Sahel are on their way down to West African coastal countries.

Sahel countries are Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Southern Algeria, Niger, North of Nigeria, Central Chad, Central and Southern Sudan, the extreme north of South Sudan, Eritrea, Cameroon, Central African Republic and the extreme north of Ethiopia.

The coastal countries of the West African region under these threats are Nigeria, Cape Verde, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Benin, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, The Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Sao Tome and Principe and Mauritania.

The New Humanitarian news agency (formerly IRIN) a few days ago released a detailed report on the security crisis which may threaten the coastal West Africa with invasion by the militias.

According to the news agency, jihadist groups have recruited heavily from Fulani pastoralists, which it described as “an ethnic group that suffers from social exclusion as well as government and development programmes that favour agriculturalists.” The report added that this has raised tensions with members of other ethnic groups who say they are targeted by the jihadists.

“In the absence of the state, some have turned to self-defence militias, who have indiscriminately attacked Fulani communities,” it said.

“Failure to contain the insurgencies,” it said, “could also result in further regional destabilisation, with militant groups now moving southwards from Burkina Faso towards Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast, and Benin, where two French tourists were recently kidnapped,” the report said.

“It’s no longer just the Sahel, it’s coastal West Africa and the risk of spreading regionally,” Burkina Faso Foreign Minister, Alpha Barry, told a security conference in Munich in February.

 

The OCHA has also disclosed that nearly 10 million people, or half the population of the conflict-hit Lake Chad Basin region need humanitarian assistance as the decade-long conflict drags on.

In a report released during the week, OCHA said some 2.5 million people are now displaced. “Hunger and malnutrition remain high. Abduction, killings and rights violations are also widespread. Humanitarian response has been accelerated over the past three years, with many more affected people receiving assistance.”

It added that “this year, the humanitarian community is seeking US$1.3 billion to provide food, water, shelter, healthcare and safeguard the rights and dignity of the conflict-affected.

“The region is facing a severe protection crisis. The armed violence that has affected large parts of the Lake Chad Basin is stretching to its tenth year. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have lived in displacement sites and refugee camps for years, grappling with extreme hardship and deprivation. Many civilians have suffered abuse and rights violations and are deeply traumatised by the violence.

“It is critical to strengthen the protection of civilians, especially women and girls, and work towards preventing sexual and gender-based violence as well as enhance support to survivors. Women and girls face high risks of sexual and gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse primarily by armed groups, but also by men in uniform.

“Thousands of civilians have also been killed or abducted and many families separated.

“The recurrent attacks and insecurity as well as security measures have restricted free movement. “Farming, trade, transhumance and other activities have been significantly affected, depriving millions of people of their means of survival and limiting access to basic services. Displaced people are also unable to move freely in and out of camps.

“In January 2019, the Governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria reaffirmed their commitment to the Abuja Action Statement on civilian protection in the Lake Chad Basin region. The agreement comprises a range of actions to enhance protection and respond to the most urgent needs of refugees, internally displaced persons and other affected populations.”

Humanitarian needs still high

The OCHA added that: “Humanitarian needs remain high. The persistent violence and its impact on the lives of millions of people across the Lake Chad Basin mean that many families and communities still require help to survive.

“Humanitarian assistance has been significantly stepped up over the past three years, with millions more people receiving aid. Relief assistance needs to be sustained and international support increased to provide adequately to those in need. The prevalent insecurity and inadequate funding are some of the main hurdles to effective relief assistance.

“To sustain relief operations, the protection of aid workers and humanitarian assets is paramount. While providing life-saving assistance, aid workers have unfortunately come under attack. In 2018, six aid workers were killed in Nigeria and one is still held captive.

“The prevailing insecurity has forced the suspension of operations and withdrawal of humanitarian workers in some locations, leaving affected communities without access to basic services and assistance.

“As insecurity and recurrent armed attacks prevent the return of millions of displaced people to their homes, efforts towards lasting solutions are necessary to increase access to basic services and livelihoods. The protracted crisis calls for an early shift towards self-sufficiency. The displaced need not wait for the conflict to be fully resolved to start rebuilding their lives.

“In addition, steps towards increased collaboration between humanitarian and development strategies need to be sustained and strengthened.

“Greater economic and infrastructure investment are required to complement humanitarian action and decrease dependence on relief aid,” it said.

The report by The Humanitarian (formerly IRIN) reads in part:

 

What is causing ethnic conflict?

Jihadist groups have recruited heavily from Fulani pastoralists,  “an ethnic group that suffers from social exclusion as well as government and development programmes that favour agriculturalists.” This has raised tensions with members of other ethnic groups who say they are targeted by the jihadists.

In the absence of the state, some have turned to self-defence militias, who have indiscriminately attacked Fulani communities.

In January, attacks against Fulani villagers in northern Burkina Faso left more than 200 dead, according to local civil society groups. In March, some 160 Fulani men, women, and children were killed in a single attack by an ethnic Dogon militia in central Mali. The violence is now being widely described as “ethnic cleansing”.

 

Why is violence rising?

The violence has its roots in the activities of a number of local but globally oriented jihadist groups that have spent the past few years laying the groundwork for armed insurgencies and are now wreaking havoc across the Sahel – a semi-arid belt of land on the southern edge of the Sahara.

In 2012, the militants were largely contained to northern Mali, where they had joined forces with separatist Tuareg rebels to take over a number of strategic towns, including the fabled city of Timbuktu.

A French intervention in January 2013 dislodged them, but they regrouped and insurgencies have since spread into central Mali, northern, eastern and southwestern Burkina Faso and the Tahoua and Tillaberi regions of southwestern Niger.

“It is unprecedented,” the top UN official in Burkina Faso, Metsi Makhetha, told TNH recently. “The country has never had to deal with such massive displacement.”

The militancy’s rapid progress has been aided by the region’s vast desert areas and porous borders, a flow of firearms from nearby Libya, and weak – and often predatory – states that struggle to provide even basic social services: Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger all rank among the 10 least developed countries in the world, according to the UN’s Human Development Index.

“People think the jihadists can offer them a better life than the state,” Mahamadou Savadogo, a Burkinabe researcher, told TNH.

In recent times their tactics have shifted from targeted assassinations of government officials, soldiers, and local leaders that oppose their vision of Islam, to indiscriminate attacks against civilians and entire villages.

The response from security forces has, by and large, made matters worse. Last year Malian troops were implicated in mass killings in the central Mopti region, while in northern Burkina Faso TNH has documented recent atrocities by military personnel, who are now killing three times as many civilians than jihadists. Affected communities describe being trapped between the state and jihadists. Both sides accuse them of collaborating with the other.

France’s counter-insurgency force in the Sahel – Operation Barkhane – has been accused of stoking communal tensions by backing two Mali-based militias, the MSA and GATIA, which have targeted Fulani herders during anti-jihadist operations in both Niger and Mali.

A string of recent attacks on churches by militants in Burkina Faso could also now test relations between the country’s majority Muslim and minority Christian religious groups.

 

What are the humanitarian needs?

Internal displacement has increased five-fold in the past year according to the UN, with 330,000 people uprooted and a further 100,000 people fleeing across borders.

In Mali, the number of people forced to flee tripled in 2018 and continues to rise, with 133,000 newly displaced since the beginning of the year, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.

In Burkina Faso, 170,000 people have been uprooted, with more than 100,000 fleeing so far this year. In Niger’s Tillaberi and Tahoua regions, violence has forced more than 70,000 people from their homes.

Levels of food insecurity and malnutrition were already chronically high following a severe drought in the Sahel last year. The current violence is now “compounding” these issues, “threatening civilians’ lives and livelihoods”, said Gasarabwe, the UN official. Some 5.1 million people require humanitarian assistance across the region but aid groups say the needs are far exceeding available resources.

 

The crisis in numbers

• Civilian fatalities rose 7,000 percent in Burkina Faso, 500 percent in Niger, and 300 percent in Mali compared to the previous year.

• 440,000 people displaced by conflict, a five-fold increase over the previous year, a five-fold increase over the previous year

• 1.8 million people face food insecurity

• 5.1 million people require humanitarian assistance

• 157 men, women, and children killed in March in one attack in Mali

 

How much worse could it get?

Conflicts are likely to escalate further through the year as militants expand their reach, ethnic militias proliferate, and communal divisions harden.

So far this month, 20 people have died after militants attacked four churches and a religious procession in northern Burkina Faso; at least 18 civilians have been killed by ethnic militias in central Mali; and jihadists killed 28 soldiers in western Niger – one of the deadliest attacks recorded in that area to date.

Projections on future population displacement are hard to come by, but Daouda Djouma, an official at the UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, has said more than 380,000 people could be uprooted in Burkina Faso alone by December.

How is the international community responding?

Efforts to stem the violence aren’t working. The UN has around 13,000 peacekeepers deployed in Mali, but attacks by jihadists mean the mission is now “more a target than an anchor of stability”, according to a recent assessment from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

The French have 4,000 troops in the region as part of Operation Barkhane; the US is building a $110 million drone base in Agadez, Niger; and five Sahelian states – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger – have united under the G5 Sahel joint force.

But analysts and aid groups say focusing on military solutions risks overlooking the social and political grievances enabling militants to take root within local communities. A recent study by the peacebuilding charity International Alert attributes the rise in violent extremism in the Sahel to weak states rather than religious ideology.

 

Which jihadist groups are involved?

The largest coalition of jihadist groups is known as Jama’at Nusrat ul-Islam wal-Muslimeen, or JNIM. It brings together al-Qaeda’s Sahara franchise, AQIM, with a number of other militant groups. The coalition was formed in March 2017 and operates in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

A franchise of so-called Islamic State, known as Islamic State in the Greater Sahara or ISGS, has been active since 2015 and is also gaining ground despite recent pressure from French forces.

In his first video message in five years, the Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, paid special tribute to ISGS fighters in Burkina Faso and Mali: “We congratulate them for their joining the convoy of the caliphate,” he said.

An assortment of homegrown militant groups – including Ansaroul Islam in northern Burkina Faso and Katiba Macina in central Mali – completes the picture. Their success is largely predicated on understanding the local grievances of different communities, in particular the Fulani.

A surge in violence across West Africa’s Sahel has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and left thousands dead since January, as Islamist militants with links to al-Qaeda and so-called Islamic State extend their reach across the region at a time when they are losing ground in their Middle Eastern strongholds.

For the past 10 months, The New Humanitarian has been one of the few news organisations reporting consistently from the front lines on the civilian impact of the rapid rise in violence by the militants, who are based primarily in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger – three countries with shared borders and problems.

• Five takeaways on the growing violence and its civilian toll.

• Jihadist groups are manipulating inter-communal conflicts. They are exploiting the region’s ethnic fault lines to stir violence that can be far deadlier than anything the militants are doing directly themselves. In central Mali, the level of violence may now qualify as ethnic cleansing.

• Governments have helped local militias thrive. Central governments have allowed and in some cases encouraged the proliferation of communal militia groups – decisions that are now coming home to roost as intercommunal conflicts rise.

• Civilians look to jihadists for support the state doesn’t provide. Jihadist groups often understand the social grievances of local communities. A recent study by the peacebuilding charity International Alert attributes the rise in violent extremism in the Sahel to weak states rather than religious ideology.

• Civilians are becoming casualties of security forces. These forces add to the insecurity by killing civilians during counter-terrorism operations. In Burkina Faso, military forces are killing three times more civilians than jihadists.

• Displacement, food insecurity, and other humanitarian crises are escalating, but resources to respond are lacking. Some 5.1 million people require humanitarian assistance, and the new violence is “compounding” already existing needs and “threatening civilians’ lives and livelihoods”, a UN official said.

According to data from ACLED – a group that monitors and maps conflicts – civilian fatalities between November 2018 and March this year rose by an “alarming” 7,000 percent in Burkina Faso, 500 percent in Niger, and 300 percent in Mali, when compared to the same period the year before.

In early May, senior UN officials from all three countries warned that insecurity had “reached unprecedented levels”.

The situation has surprised many analysts and UN and government officials and is pushing an area already prone to droughts and floods to its limit, with 440,000 people forced from their homes by conflict in the past year alone.

Hundreds of thousands of people are now without access to education and healthcare as staff flee their posts; 1.8 million people are facing critical food insecurity.

“Many people affected by the violence were already facing serious difficulties,” said Mbaranga Gasarabwe, the UN resident coordinator in Mali. “For them it is a double disaster.”

The militants’ increased presence has sparked a violent backlash by the region’s overstretched security forces and fuelled a growing number of explosive inter-communal conflicts among ethnic groups accused of either supporting or opposing the jihadists.

GOVERNOR IHEDIOHA: SEPARATING HOPE FROM HYPE.

For the average Nigerian, the politician is that man who does not honour his words. He is economical with the truth and finds it an arduous task to also trust another man.

Paul Bamikole, the great revelational speaker of God’s words, may have captured this notion when he stated: “God forbid that we become so brainwashed as to embrace a politician as a messiah and believe what the media portrays him or her to be. Until their tenure is up and they have done their bit, every politician is another politician”.

Specifically, the last sentence of Bamikole’s statement suggests that to trust our Presidents, Governors, Lawmakers and other political office holders while they still enjoy the paraphernalia of their offices is a big risk. He may be right, but not 100%. Granted that we live in a clime where “every politician is just another politician”, this theory may not apply to all politicians. There is, of course, an exception to every rule.

To be fair, the Governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, is an exception to the rule of every politician being dishonest and insincere. The appellations: a leader, father and team player, fits him better. His close friends would tell you that he appreciates talent and capacity. He has enviable leadership acumen and dexterity. However, if there are imolites who still take the governor’s “My word My Bond” mantra with a pinch of salt, more reasons to reconsider their stance have emerged. One of such is the emergence of Hon. Chiji Collins as Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly.

It is on record that after the elections in March, no House of Assembly member elect of the ruling People’s Democratic Party in the state emerged from Okigwe Senatorial Zone where the new speaker hails from. PDP lost all six state constituencies to AA and APGA candidates whose gubernatorial candidates were Gov. Ihedioha’s arch rivals in the race for the government house. It therefore became a dicey situation for Governor Ihedioha. Since the Deputy governor is of Orlu senatorial zone and Gov. Ihedioha himself belongs to Owerri zone, the governor had only two options, to either thwart the age long power sharing arrangement in the state by supporting any lucky person from Orlu zone to become Speaker or choose to throw his weight behind a supposed political enemy who contributed nothing to his election, for the much sought after position.

It is said that the true character of a man is known when he is given money or power. All of these Gov. Emeka Ihedioha has today, but he has remained the same man he had been. As recent events have shown, it is therefore reality than a wishful thought that the newly elected number one citizen of Imo State is a man of impeccable and unimpeachable character – firm, sincere, reliable and trustworthy.

Gov. Ihedioha had before now spoken highly of his commitment to unite Imo leaders across the various political divides. He had severally told everyone who cared to listen that his words are his bond. The man was not joking about all he had said.

Two times the leaders of Okigwe zone paid him courtesy visits to solicit his support to produce the Speaker of the legislative arm of the government, the governor reiterated his belief in equity and fairness. He assured them he would be a faithful ally and partner. Gov. Ihedioha told the delegations that he will damn the feared negative political consequences and support the zone to produce the Speaker, to ensure equitable distribution of power along the tripod on which the state stands.

For another politician, this could have proved a mere lip service, but for Gov. Ihedioha, it is either he commits to his words or he commits to nothing. Today, the people of Okigwe zone have got their wish. The chosen one became Hon. Collins Chiji who not only hails from Isiala Mbano LGA as the APGA House of Assembly candidate in the last election, but also a close confidant and loyalist of the Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, the Imo APGA guber candidate in the last election. What is the implication of this? Now that Gov. Ihedioha took what ordinarily should rank as a political risk by reposing confidence in a friend to a supposed political foe, he has proven his commitment to uniting Imo state. He has also kept his promise to support Okigwe to clinch the Speakership of the 9th Assembly at all cost. Having done these, Gov. Ihedioha has proven wrong those who doubted his strength in character.

Furthermore, he has exhibited the character of a good leader, father and elder statesman. Importantly, he has proven beyond reasonable doubt that he is the governor Imo citizens have long craved to have – brave, sincere, trustworthy and reliable.

Imo people can go to bed with the assurance that they have a governor they can always trust, a man whose words are his bond. There is little or no doubt now that people of the state should expect their homeland to be rebuilt as their governor has promised. It is evident, the promise keeper will surely keep to his promise and words. Having assured Imolites of equal opportunity for all, Governor Ihedioha’s government will also demand for equal responsibility from all.

Imo is indeed back on track!

Obinna Duruaku

Founder: Imo Grassroot Voters Movement (IGVM)

OPINION: THE CURRENT IGBO ARE INFERIOR IGBOS. By Prof. Obi Nwakanma.

Nwanna, Many years ago, the General, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu spoke about the “Biafra of the mind.” Only a few, I think, understood him. Well, they say, only the deep speak to the deep.

But let me attempt here to tease out Dim Ojukwu’s prescription: the greatest proof of Igbo survival and aspiration must be to model, wherever Onye-Igbo stands, the ethos of innovation, excellence, ingenuity, and ability that marked the Igbo endeavor in Biafra. We must also use Biafra as the stepping stone to a higher vision of the Igbo place in the world.

There is no single proof or evidence today that the Igbo of this generation are capable of transforming any nation to which they lay claim. I have looked; I have studied the Igbo situation, and I have listened to my Igbo kinsmen, and I think something is fundamentally wrong: the Igbo are trapped in a deadening hate, self-pity and nostalgia. It is the kind of nostalgia that is both defeatist and deadly because it continues to romanticize the past while the future speeds away.

The Igbo cannot wait until they achieve Biafra or a separate nation in order to build and secure Igbo land. Soon after the end of the war, Igbo survivors of the war, girded their loins and embarked on the work of restoration. With singular grit, they revived the economy of the East, and by 1979, just nine years after the end of the war, were ready to take on the rest of the nation again. We their children are a disgrace to the spirit of those men and women.

The Igbo are today a beggarly nation of impotent, lachrymal people now weeping about “marginalization” and waiting for Nigeria to collapse or let them go, so that they will go and make something of themselves. This is an over-indulged generation. The last of the Igbo are old and dying; the current Igbo are “inferior Igbo.” They are just waiting for Godot.

Now, you say, the only time the Igbo will work is if power remains in the South. I think this is too simple. Take a look around you, where are those Igbo men and women? Which Igbo today have the sagacity of Zik, or the courage of Okpara, Mbakwe, or Ojukwu, the capacity of Ojike or Okigbo, the fierce pride and stabilizing force of the old Igbo women, the organizational acumen of an RBK Okafor, the selfless pride of those Igbo of the last generation, who always rose to the occasion when the Igbo summoned them to great causes, including giving their widows mite without question, for as long as “they Igbo have said…”

Now, what I’m trying to say, people, before I lose you, is that the Igbo have left the land, and the land has left the Igbo. There is incoherence. And an Incoherent people cannot run an independent nation, simple.

Bring proof to me that the Igbo have turned Igbo land into an oasis of prosperity different from elsewhere in Nigeria, and I shall agree that the current Igbo know exactly what they are saying. There is no Igbo state with a budget that is not bigger than the budget of the Republic of Ghana. Indeed, put together, the budget of all the states in Igbo land is bigger than the national budget of ten West African states. What have we done with it in terms of rebuilding public services? Creating liveable cities? Developing new infrastructure? Developing the Igbo world.

The North or the West has never run down our schools.

They did not dismantle the Government Colleges at Umuahia, Owerri, Afikpo, and the Queens School at Enugu.

They did not destroy our hospitals or primary schools.

They did not stop us from building our cultural infrastructure – Community centers; recreational centers, or building up our libraries; or public parks, or city centers, or trunk B & C feeder roads.

They did not destroy our civil service. They did not stymie the growth of our cities.

They did not forbid the Igbo from creating strategic means of employing their greatest resource – their highly trained manpower- and using them to create a powerful regional economy that would continue to startle West Africa.

The North or West did not say we should not build an efficient trans-regional transport metro system, by jointly developing the old Oriental lines, that would create a network of contacts all over the East and ease the strategic movement of people, or take advantage and rebuild, and expand the Rail system that connects Port-Harcourt, Aba, Umuahia, Okigwe, Ovim, Afikpo, Enugu, to Eha-Amufu. Even if the rail system is a federal project, there has never been a consortium of the Igbo states and consortium of investors that have mounted pressure to force the Feds to hands off the Eastern Rail system, to be run as a regional Terminus. We have never made the argument.

Mbakwe threatened in 1981 that if the FGN did not build an airport in Owerri, he would mobilize and build one. He did it. He threatened that if they did not build the Petrochemical plant in Izombe, he would build one by 1984. The land for the construction of the Imo Petrochemical Plant was already cleared when the soldiers struck on the last day of 1983.

When Mbakwe arrived government house Owerri in 1979, the three major cities in old Igbo – Owerri, Aba, Umuahia still had houses operating “bucket latrines” and the cities still employed nightsoil men (ndi Oburu nsi) and ran waste landfills. The first statewide public safety and hygiene law passed under the Mbakwe administration gave every landlord and household in these cities 4 months and a tax rebate to change the infrastructure from the bucket system to the water system, failure of which the houses would be marked as public health hazard zones. This was fully accomplished in three months.

By 1982, there was a marked upsurge and population shift as more Igbo began to leave Lagos and other places to return to Owerri and invest and settle. Nobody told them to return, the conditions were simply made amenable. By 1984, Igbo business men, particularly in the North, were moving their money and opening accounts with the Imo state Progress Bank, and the capital was growing for both accessible credit and for capital borrowing for infrastructural development in the East.

I point this to simply suggest that there is nothing the Igbo wish to accomplish in Nigeria that anyone can stop, if the Igbo hold down their lines. But we’ve deceived ourselves for too long – we have now made Nigeria into the convenient excuse for our own failures and self-indulgence. Now, there is a man called Onwuka Kalu. He gave the first N100, 000 as donation towards the Imo state Airport Appeals Fund in Owerri in 1981/2. There is not a single plaque to honour this man’s gesture at that airport. It will not be the Federal government that will do it; it will be the initiative of those who put value to memory in Igbo land.

But in the Imo/Abia/Ebonyi/Anambra/Enugu divisions that now pervade the Igbo mind, no one will remember. This is no recipe for a people moving towards transformation. Let me now, tell this whole truth: onweghi onye ji Ndi Igbo, Ndi Igbo ji Onwe ha (no one is to blame for the Igbo predicament but Ndigbo). Those who wrestle with Ala, the Earth goddess, often forget that no one has ever lifted the earth. Ala-Igbo is the earth, Anaghi Apa ala Apa! (No one can lift the earth). Period.

The Igbo of this generation are wrestling with the earth left to them by their ancestors. And they are busy blaming everyone else for their condition. We who have done, “Ihe Nzere” should tell the truth, or may our tongues cleave to our gums.

ABDULRAZAQ ISA BUILDING MODULAR REFINERY IN IMO, ANAMBRA. INVESTS N7BN.

Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited has restated its preparedness to contribute about 271 million litres of refined petroleum products annually towards the development of nation’s economy.

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited, Mr Abdulrazaq Isa, said that the establishment was keen to serve as an import substitution for meeting domestic demand for petroleum products, create both direct and indirect employment as well as reduce the demand for foreign exchange from the nation’s treasury to import these products.

Abdurazak Isa is one of those few Nigerians who are assisting the nation with their personal wealth to improve its downstream sector.

Isa invested the sum of N7 billion into the building of a modular refinery which will not only help the nation to meet its petrol demands but will provide more jobs and reduce the imports of refined crude oil.

The project is nearing completion as Isa’s modular refinery threatens the position of oil marketers in the country and will replace the situation where the nations spends so much importing petrol products.

He said that the refinery which was the first phase of a much larger development was conceptualised in 2011 to mitigate the frequent outage of the third- party export Trans Niger Pipeline and optimise the full value of the company’s produced crude through in-country refining and provide the products for the domestic market.

According to him, the company established as an indigenous exploration and production company in 1996 and was awarded the Ibigwe field located in OML 16 (now OPL 2004) in 2003 had plans to increase the capacity to 30,000 bpd.

“This is to process additional products including petrol and jet fuel, just as it had already executed an MoU with the PCC of China towards the installation of the additional capacity within three years after start-up of the 5,000bpd modular refinery in December 2020.”

“I would like to also mention that we are currently upgrading our crude evacuation facility to 20,000 bpd to accommodate an indigenous third-party producer, through a crude handling agreement. Waltersmith has been developing and operating the Ibigwe field through a farm agreement executed in 2004 with the SPDC and its joint venture partners including the NNPC,” Isa added.