Tuesday, November 1, 2016


I am still at a loss for words over the utter disrespect recently shown to Nigeria, by Turkey. Over 50 Nigerian students were arrested in Turkey on the eve of our nation’s independence anniversary, on the orders of the Turkish Government. They were detained in some crampy, dirty room under the flimsy excuse of being ‘students of a terrorist organization.’ Then some of them were made to sign documents giving consent to their deportation back to Nigeria…some were eventually deported back home! How preposterous!
For those who might not understand the genesis of this brouhaha, I will attempt a brief explanation. A coup took place in Turkey on July 15th 2016. It didn’t last long though; as the coup plotters were overpowered by the citizenry. By July 16th, it was over. But then, it left in its wake, 200 dead, and thousands injured. Immediately, the Turkish President, Recep Tayip Erdogan, embarked on a crackdown of those suspected of instigating the coup; and in the same vein, he pointed fingers directly at an exiled moderate cleric, Fatullah Gulen, as being the mastermind of the coup. Erdogan demanded his (Gulen’s) extradition from the US- which has so far not been granted- and began shutting down all institutions and organizations connected with the Gulen movement.
As part of his revenge mission against Gulen, Erdogan did not just seek to shut down institutions associated with the Gulen movement within Turkey; but even outside Turkish shores. The Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Hakan Cakil, a while ago, requested that the Nigerian Federal Government shutdown 17 universities for alleged links to Gulen’s Hizmet movement. For all intents and purposes, Nigeria did not grant that request- and rightly so! I mean, the request went against all norms of diplomatic association and conduct! Foreign powers do not get to call the shots in another SOVEREIGN nation- not in peacetime! More so, there was no single established evidence of terrorist activities to incriminate any of the proprietors of the 17 schools!
Thus, with the request denied and Turkey probably feeling slighted, it resorted to embarrassing our students in its country…students who had committed no crime against the Turkish state! How disrespectful!
Will Turkey do this to American students? Will Turkey even do this to South African students? I doubt this. So, why do this to a supposed friend- Nigeria?
Turkey and Nigeria have had bilateral relations since 1962, when Turkey opened its first embassy in Lagos. Both nations have MOU’s in areas of politics, trade, education, and security. In terms of financial aid, Turkey doesn’t give dollars to Nigeria. So, is it the training of Nigerian policemen, or the pledge made months ago to aid in the fight against Boko Haram, that would cause the Turkish Government to flex its muscles in the affairs of a sovereign country like Nigeria in the most disrespectful way? Turkey’s actions would be expected from some failed rogue state with an erratic dictator at its helm *side eyes at that madman in North Korea*; not a card-carrying member of the NATO alliance with one foot in the Mid-East and the other in Europe! As a citizen of Nigeria, I am appalled!
I read that a diplomatic row may be brewing between Nigeria and Turkey- as it should at this point. I mean if this stunt had been pulled with students of other nations (say Russia for example), the Turkish Ambassador in that country would have been expelled! But our Nigerian Government is still towing the path of civility; even though none of that civility was accorded to us by Turkey. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs dragged its feet before summoning the Turkish Ambassador to give an explanation…and there has been no news since as to if the Ambassador obeyed the summon! *shaking my head*
Nigeria is not a failed state. Nigeria is a democratic sovereign republic that should be accorded all the respect of all other sovereign republics in the comity of nations. And if we don’t show to other countries that we are not push-overs, who knows who would decide to pull this sort of stunt on us tomorrow? Maybe Niger Republic! I know that seems far-fetched; but it’s a small world…others are watching…and learning.
We don’t have to go to war with Turkey over the issue, but I dare say we must take resolute action quickly to show that we would not be treated with such disdain. Besides, what do we have to lose? Our policemen can get trained elsewhere- not as if their overseas training has yielded genuine positive results so far...they're still sleeping on duty and collecting bribes *Oga/Madam, anything for the boys?*! Besides, It’s not as if Turkey is giving us anything for free. Turkish Airlines flies 3 routes into Nigeria weekly- Lagos, Kano, Abuja- so they’re also gaining from us. And like I said before, the agreements between both countries are ‘bilateral’- they gain and we gain…we probably even gain less.
In conclusion, enough is enough already! This is the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and in the voice of Birdman, Turkey must learn to “put some RESPEK on our name!”


In my heart of hearts, I am a good person. I was born ‘good’ and I intend to die ‘good’. Now, I may not look like it, and I do admit that I have become jaded by the facts of human nature and may have added some tinge of ‘bad’ discoloration to my ‘good persona’ as I have aged; but in my heart of hearts, I do know without an iota of doubt, that I am good. How do I know? Simply because I know me! Or will you say you know me more than I know myself? Ehen, so since I am telling you that I am good, just take it like that…no questions asked!
You see, good people like me are also born with an inherent gift…the gift of knowing others who are just like us. Let me demonstrate this now: I know my mother was good (because of her life’s work and how she associated with people), I know my father is not so good (but that’s not the subject of this discussion, so let’s move along), I know for a fact, that my primary school math teacher at Chrisland Nursery and Primary School, Opebi, was definitely not good (simply because he flogged students so much. I mean, who does that? When our parents paid so much in fees even at that time? Haba!) And then, apart from my mum (who is now deceased…God rest her beautiful soul), you know another good person (who is still living) who I know? - President Muhammadu Buhari. And how do I know this? Well, one, for obvious reasons- our President just has a good look…I don’t mean his facial features (even though let’s face it, the President has aged, but dude still looks good), but I mean his aura. There’s just something about Buhari that is inherently good. Now, whether you like him or not, you cannot deny the fact that he has superb moral characteristics; and in my ‘superb opinion’, this makes him good. But apart from his good aura, another reason I know he is good is because his Deputy- another ‘good’ man- Yomi Osinbajo, always tells us that he (Buhari) is good! And for me, a Pastor’s word is as good as gold- okay that’s not true, I’m clearly exaggerating. I do not have a soft spot for Nigerian Pastors, but let’s move along.
Since assuming office, there are certain things which have been reiterated by VP Osinbajo; namely, the evils perpetuated by the GEJ administration, the innate belief that Nigeria will rise again, and the inherent goodness of Muhammadu Buhari.
At a recent meeting with a delegation of Pastors from Taraba, Osinbajo again lauded the virtues of his boss. He said, “This morning, I had a meeting with the President and he repeated to me twice, he said, ‘at my age, there is only one thing I am looking for, I want to see a great Nigeria.’ He has no other objective, and I feel very inspired by that.”
Three days before that, at the interdenominational church service to commemorate Nigeria’s 56th independence anniversary, Osinbajo said, “God saw the nation when he decided to put the leadership of Muhammadu Buhari, a leadership that would take the nation across the red sea.”
And then, in June, when he received Dr. Kumuyi, the VP said, “we are very happy that we have a President who is honest, a President who is straight forward, a President who is operating from the genuineness of his heart, this is the kind of leader that we need now.”
What did I tell you? The President is good! And why? Because I know he is, and because the VP- who is also good- tells us too, all the time!
But now, to the crux of the matter- has Nigeria fared better by virtue of the (established) fact that her leader is good? Rotimi Amaechi- who I can’t really tell if he’s good or bad- might answer “yes”; but I doubt that majority of Nigerians would share his sentiment.
When a bag of Rice is sold for upwards of 20,000naira, would you still think your President is good? When petrol hovers between 141-145naira/litre, would you still think your President is good? When one dollar equals over 400naira, would you still think your President is good? When Tomato jumps from 50naira to 100naira because of Tomato Ebola; and traders refuse to revert back to 50naira after the disease is eradicated, would you still think your President is good? When CBN decides to tax you 65naira ATM charges even when you don’t have up to 200,000naira in your account, would you still think your President is good? Well, if you’re like any of the Nigerians I meet everyday, I’m sure you don’t think so! But if you’re like me, you probably still think he is…if you’re like me, your belief in the President’s inherent goodness is not doused by the present misfortunes of our country…but then if you’re like me, you also know that even if the President is good, just being good is not good enough!
It’s not good enough that Buhari is good, if Nigeria is seriously ill. It’s not good enough that Buhari is good, if prices of commodities keep rising while minimum wage remains 18,000naira. And worse still, it’s not good enough that Buhari is good, when his Ministers are largely ‘clueless’ as to how to bring us out of this present predicament!
My brothers would tell you that I am a good person with good intentions- they have no choice; I’m a domestic terrorist. I’ll give them hell if they say otherwise…lol. But they’ll also tell you- if they are being totally honest- that my good intentions do not always translate into good actions…but I won’t go into more details, because this is not about me!
Like Olamide would say, “who good epp?” You see, if good intentions do not translate into good actions which would reflect in all aspects of societal life- especially in the daily lives of average Nigerians- then it is of no use! And so, in my ‘superb opinion’ *wink wink*, I would say in conclusion, “It doesn’t matter what I and VP Osinbajo know about Buhari’s inherent goodness…if it does nothing to better the nation’s economy, then it is simply not good enough!”

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Where were you on the morning of September 27th- 3am to be precise? If you’re like me, you were up, tuned in to CNN, watching the historical first Presidential Debate between US Democratic Nominee, Hillary Clinton, and her Republican challenger, Donald J. Trump. It was historical by virtue of the fact that it was the first time in American Presidential history that one of the debaters was a woman…and that was enough to keep me up at that hour!
The debate started out on a cordial basis. The rivals shook hands, smiled for the cameras and the crowd, and then took their respective places behind the podiums. But then, it didn’t take long before I -and majority of the viewing audience- began to cringe. Trump, in his characteristic manner, had gotten into full ‘bully mode’. Despite being allotted an equal 2 minutes as his female rival to answer each question, he repeatedly did something that is quite rampant amongst male folk in society as they interact with members of the opposite gender- Manterrupt!
Now, for those who don’t know what manterrupting means, it is the unnecessary interruption of a woman by a man. It is rampant everywhere in society- in homes, offices, schools, even religious institutions. There is scarcely a woman on earth, who has not experienced manterruption at certain points in her life. The most prominent example of manterrupting- prior to the Clinton/Trump debate- was at the 2009 MTV VMA’s, when Kanye West lunged onto the stage, grabbed the microphone from Taylor Swift, and launched into a rant about how Beyoncé should have won the award for Best Female Video. But back to the debate.
Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton for a record 25 times in one five minute period. By the time the debate was over, Clinton had been interrupted by the Republican Nominee for a total of 51 times! Incredible! Trump cut into Hillary’s speech on multiple occasions and kept going even when the moderator, Lester Holt, continually reminded him, “Mr. Trump, you’ll get your own 2 minutes.” To Hillary’s credit, she kept her cool. In fact, I kept wondering, “how is she managing to stay so calm in the face of this ridiculous verbal assault?”
As I said before, the issue of manterruptions is one that affects all societal life. I grew up in a house filled with members of the male gender. As an only girl growing up in the same space as three boisterous brothers and numerous uncles- who were a constant presence in the Obichie household- it was a daily struggle to hold my own and assert my individual importance. To achieve this, during arguments, I would usually plant my foot firmly on the ground, look them in the eye, articulate my thoughts as intelligently as I possibly could, and refuse to back down- especially when I knew I had a valid point! In consequence, I tend to be more assertive than most women, now that I’m much older. So for me, watching Donald trying to verbally silence Hillary, felt like a personal assault!
Now, being in the political space is much different from other arenas of human interaction. In my mind’s eye, a woman like Clinton, in a private setting, would not have given Trump even one chance to manterrupt her. She probably would have shut him down the first time he tried it. But in a public setting, with the eyes of the world on her, she let him carry on! Now this doesn't point to a weakness in her character; rather, it casts a beam of light on societal expectations of women, and how we usually tow the path of what is expected of us- by virtue of our gender- so we don't incur the wrath of the larger society! But don't get it twisted; Hillary was by no means passive. You see, women in public spaces have now devised a 'politically correct' method of asserting their individual authority, when dealing with male bullies. I have termed it 'subtle aggressiveness'; and women use it daily, employing their own unique strategies! Hillary's method of subtle-aggressiveness was a combination of self-control, intelligence, sarcasm, cunning; and then, experience, and preparedness. The Democratic Nominee, fully aware of her opponent’s weaknesses- chief amongst which is his big mouth- allowed him to dig himself into his own grave. Making use of a somewhat unique conventional-guerrilla tactic, she would allow him interrupt her with (mostly) outrightly ridiculous statements, then throw in her fatal sucker punch; most notable of which was the now famous line: “I think Mr. Trump is criticizing me for preparing for this debate…and yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be President!” And the crowd went wild! I loved it!
Hillary got Trump’s manterruption tactics to backfire so much against him that even twitter users took her side. One user (@cassandrahaven) tweeted, “Part of me wants to start a timer to see how long Trump can go without interrupting Hillary.” Another user (@roger91367) tweeted, “Trump is just a CHILDISH interrupting BULLY. Hillary is clearly the only ADULT in the room.” And he- roger91367- was right!
Greater than the outcome of the debate- Hillary won- I was more happy that the world got to watch in real time, the stupidity of manterruptions. A man may think that by constantly assaulting a woman verbally and trying to hush her down, he is asserting his strength; but in reality, he is displaying his colossal stupidity.
In conclusion, Dear men, you can pass your message across without being disrespectful to women-folk…it is possible. And to ‘the Donald’, I will say this: you messed up- big time. But there are two more debates ahead. You can redeem yourself- if you want to. I’ll give you a piece of advice for free: the next time Hillary is speaking and you feel your heart racing and your tongue about to push open the lids of your mouth, just practice this simple exercise- try keeping your mouth shut and count to 50. And then just breathe…deeply…in and out. I assure you, before you’re done, her two minutes would be up, and you can then have your say!

Sunday, September 18, 2016


There has been a lot of talk lately about the restructuring of the country, and the devolution of powers. And with increased agitation from various groups, the call for a remodeling of the process of governance has only gotten louder.
One of the most vocal proponents of the restructuring talk has been the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. Though a Northerner, Atiku seems to understand that allowing Nigeria proceed as is, would only lead to doom ahead.
Now, though many people understand the urgency of the matter, it seems like there is no willpower to proceed in that direction; and this is largely due to the fears of one part of the country- the North!
In terms of restructuring, a major issue of contention which has led to great trepidation from the North, is ‘oil’ from the South-South. Crude oil is (still) the main-stay of the nation’s economy, and the major commodity whose sale pays the bills of all states of the federation. The North has no crude oil in its territory…but for all intents and purposes, it is in charge of almost all apparatus of Government within Nigeria…so as long as it continues to wield the stick of control at the center, it may not have the oil, but it certainly has a say over the proceeds of the oil. So to retain control, it remains vehemently opposed to any idea of restructuring! This cannot be allowed to continue!
Nigeria is called a federation; but realistically speaking, this is a wrong description. A true federation does not have weakened parts. In a true federation, there would be greater autonomy for State Governments, so they decide on important issues of policy, resources, taxation, etc. In a true federation, states do not find themselves at the mercy of the center, waiting helplessly for ‘allocations’ each month. In a true federation, states are in charge of their own economic system and survival, and they pay tax to the center.
The fear of the opponents of true federalism is that it would lead to a weakened center; but by no means is this true. The Federal Government will always have the final say on key issues concerning the collective whole.
It seems like the North is getting quite jittery lately. Twice now, the President has ordered NNPC to search for oil in the North. Someone said the day oil is discovered in the North, is the day the country will be restructured! But if we look at things intelligently and non-sentimentally, is there really a worthy reason for this fear? The answer is NO.
Each state has something of importance it brings to the table; and in my own opinion, true federalism and a restructuring of the system of governance, would cause all ‘parts’ to return to their individual drawing boards, and truly evaluate their prospects for economic survival.
For instance, Kano State does not have oil- at least not yet- but it does have a large population, which translates to a viable profitable market for entrepreneurs, which in turn translates into greater sources of taxation for the State Government.
Ekiti State does not have oil, but it has a large community of intellectuals- home and abroad- which translates into educational manpower. If the state can channel its focus into developing the educational sector to world class standards, it can thrive on educational tourism, and witness an influx of learners, which translates into ‘payers’.
Ebonyi State has a lot of red sand, no oil, but Rice…which tends to be quite soggy…but if resources are channeled into scientific research to discover ways of achieving a higher quality of this Rice, it can become an export commodity within and outside Nigeria.
The bottom line is that each state has something to offer…whether its oil, manpower, agricultural produce, other mineral resources, or even a large population…there is enough to increase the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the component parts of the nation, in order to reduce their reliance on the center.
Finally my brethren *channeling my inner Paul the Apostle* there is no denying that restructuring and true federalism is needed in Nigeria. The inevitable can only be delayed, but not for too long. Like a seasoned scholar- Chief Akintola- recently said, “The North has only gotten away with delaying the process, because of the disunity of the South (paraphrase, mine)”. But if things continue as they are, there will come a day when the OPC man will come together with the Niger-Delta militant and Biafran agitator…and when that day comes, the center would no longer hold. But it does not have to get to that point…we can do the needful, and do it quick…there really is no need for the fear!


ISIS has recently suffered heavy defeats on the battlefield. When the group first gained prominence in 2014, it prided itself as being a caliphate with “headquarters” in Raqqa, Syria, and also firmly implanted in Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. Through an extremely brutal rule, the sect commanded great fear amongst the local populace- as they still do- and also made the international community very wary.
With control over large territories and access to funds via taxes imposed on Government officials, ransom monies from kidnappings and funds from oil sales etc., ISIS quickly became the richest terrorist organization anywhere in the world. A haven for young, confused souls, fighters flocked to Iraq and Syria in droves from all around the world.
ISIS has thrived largely on spreading fear and propaganda; but in the last couple of months, the momentum seems to be shifting- at least on the battlefield.
Earlier this year, the Syrian Army, backed by superior Russian intelligence, took back control of the historic city of Palmyra. The retake of Palmyra was seen as a symbolic, political and strategic victory for the Assad regime.
Symbolic because Palmyra houses some very revered historical artifacts, even though most of them were destroyed when ISIS overran the town. On the political front, the retake of Palmyra gave Bashir al-Assad some measure of a firmer hold on power and greater negotiating leverage at international peace talks. And on the strategic front, Palmyra sits in-between the Syrian-Iraqi border; and its recapture drove ISIS further into the desert.
The 2nd major front of attack against ISIS on the battlefield is the Iraqi Army advance towards Mosul. Backed by US advance and assist provisions, the Iraqi troops have cleared ISIS out from the towns South of Mosul, as they prepare to take the city. An onslaught is expected to be staged sometime soon, and it would surely deal a huge blow to the terror group.
In addition to increased airstrikes from coalition forces and also the Russian-Iranian alliance, ISIS has also faced increased onslaught from the fierce Kurdish militia, the Peshmerga, on the Turkish-Syrian border.
With each military advance, the sect loses power and sees its battlefield positions weakened.
But then, what does this mean in the wider narrative? Does a defeat on the battlefield translate into a global halt of ISIS’s movement? I don’t think so.
Terror attacks around Europe and even in the USA remind us of the lone-Wolf…the unknown gunman who is fuelled by a wicked ideology, to inflict maximum pain on an unsuspecting population…the ones who usually operate below the radar, planning away from the spotlight, and stepping in at an opportune moment to kill innocent lives. These are the offshoots of ISIS that the world must now worry about.
It would take more than a military operation- though highly essential- to subdue an ideology. It would take more than weeks, months and even a few years, to reduce to the barest minimum- if that’s even possible- the seeds of terrorism, which this deadly group has planted all over the world.
After battlefield successes, world powers would now have to depend on major intelligence to nip terrorist threats in the bud, before they occur. But security officials cannot do it alone. Citizens themselves would have to be on alert, and do their part in offering up information about suspicious behavior/activity. The Muslim community would also need to step to the fore, and do its part in quelling the harsh rhetoric from senior Imams which steer up animosity and violence and instill hatred for other cultures/groups/religions in the minds of young Muslims.
The decimation of ISIS on the battlefield is by no means the end, but it does take away the narrative of a so-called ‘caliphate’, which the group thrives on. It also helps in a large way, to dismantle the operational hierarchy and network of the terror organization. But after all that is done, the work shifts to all of us, members of the larger global society. It would not be an easy task, but it can be done.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


It’s been a good run lately for Hillary Clinton. Her daughter, Chelsea, just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy; and she has become for all intents and purposes, the Presumptive Democratic Nominee for President, having secured enough delegates before the convention. But like it has been with her entire political life, Hillary’s run for the Presidency has not been easy, and she still has a long road ahead.
During the run to amass delegates, Hillary’s opponent in the Democratic field has been the formidable Bernie Sanders: the white-haired, finger-wagging, arms-flaying Senator from Vermont. Too far on the left, Sanders has criticized Hillary constantly, especially on issues relating to her Wall-Street leanings; and his supporters have had a field day many-a-times, “feeling the Bern” at Hillary’s expense.
Sanders has repeatedly questioned how Hillary can expect to be un-biased as President, and stand against Wall-Street interests when she has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from industry giants like Goldman Sachs. He has challenged Hillary- quite sarcastically - to release the transcripts of her speech. Of course, the former Secretary of State has always hit back; even though not always so effectively.
One of Bernie’s fellow extreme leftists has been Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts). Like Bernie, she initially wasn’t a fan of Clinton. But lately, she has come out swinging in support of the former First Lady, and has not been shy to throw jabs at Hillary’s opponent for the November Elections- the loud mouthed Donald Trump, who refers to Warren as ‘Pocahontas’!
Senator Warren has recently been included in campaign stops with Clinton. Her name has also been floated as a possible choice for Vice President. This is mostly because of her extensive support base. If Hillary is hoping to attract Bernie’s supporters to her side before November, she’s going to need a person like Senator Warren on her ticket. But there’s a problem- it may not be accepted by Hillary's friends in New York i.e., the folks on Wall-Street.
Wall Street insiders have disclosed that they would take back their support for Clinton, if she picks Warren- a woman so staunchly against the activities of big banks- as her running mate! Warren continuously pounded Wall-Street for contributing to the financial collapse, when she was elected to the Senate in 2012; and Wall-Street never forgets.
Losing the support of Wall-Street would cut deeply into Hillary’s financial support base. Apart from losing campaign dollars, should Hillary eventually become President, she would need someone with strong negotiating skills- on Capitol Hill, as well as on Wall-Street. That was something Joe Biden provided- and still does- for Barack Obama; but it may not be something a ‘Vice President Warren’ can provide for a ‘President Hillary Clinton’. Warren just doesn’t have that expertise.
Other names being vetted as potential Vice Presidential Candidates include Senators Cory Booker and Tim Kaine.
Elizabeth Warren has proven that she is a fighter, who is not afraid to stare the Bull in its eyes. She has referred to Donald Trump as a “thin-skinned nasty bully who serves no one but himself,” and declared that she would do what it takes to get Clinton to the White House, and keep Trump away from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But will her staunch (and much needed) support be able to land her a spot on the ticket, or will the ‘Ghost of Wall-Street’ prove too formidable for this feisty silver-haired leftist? Only time will tell!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State is not one of my favorite politicians…actually; he’s not even one of my favorite people! I find him to be quite dubious, overly animated, and with a somewhat exaggerated view of himself! Now, these are traits that are not alien to politicians- especially Nigerian politicians. In actuality, these traits are quite at par with the disposition of the average Nigerian politician. But in a man like Fayose, they come across as highly nauseating…maybe it’s because his vices always seem to greatly outweigh his virtues- whatever those are! In short, I cannot stand the man most times! His frequent outbursts seem to me to be quite juvenile, and much unbecoming of a man of his age. And then, one cannot look past his comical theatrics (remembering China) which would seem to be more suited to Reality TV (taking a cue from Donald Trump), than Politics and Governance.
Anyway, much as I detest the shenanigans of this eccentric Ekiti man, I have recently found myself standing with him on his latest proclamations against the Fulani Herdsmen in Ekiti State.
You see, the antics of these Herdsmen are not new, but they are becoming more alarming and brazen each day. I have actually written about some of their attacks in a previous article. But before Fayose, no other Governor has been bold enough to tackle the issue square-on, and take such a bold and firm stance without mincing words! Not even those whose States have been victims of such attacks!
So the story goes thus. Some days ago, the herdsmen attacked a community in Ekiti. They killed 2 people and injured many others- as per their usual mode de operandi. But if these herdsmen thought that Ekiti State would take their aggression lying low, they were grossly mistaken. Unlike other States whose Governors would drag their feet before even visiting the affected community, Fayose wasted no time before making his way down to the scene of the attack. He gathered the hunters in the community, and gave them very clear instructions: “I want to say it clearly; everything you want me to do, I will do. Because the moment you are not secured, then I had better resign as your Governor. ” “They have killed two; they have killed all of us. A fight against one Ekiti man is a fight against everybody.” “I stand by you, I stand for you…I will not disappoint you!” “Enough of these political herdsmen operating as herdsmen…we are going to fight you.” “Anywhere you find a Cow that is grazing unnecessarily on our ways, call my attention, we will take them out.” “Some people are behind them using AK 47. You rape my wife? You rape my children? If they attempt it, bring them down!”
I swear, I felt Goosebumps, just listening to his words. Just like that…all it took was one attack, and Fayose was ready to unleash the wrath of Zeus and all his demi-gods on these murderers! He proclaimed that a Bill was going to be sent to the State House of Assembly, making Cattle Grazing illegal in Ekiti State. So if you want to feed your Cattle on Ekiti Grass, you must set up your own ranch! Bravo, Mr. Governor!
Then I asked myself, “Why can’t that man in Benue State (Ortom) do the same thing?” Hundreds of people were killed in Agatu, scores were injured, houses were burnt, farmlands destroyed; and yet, Ortom is still employing a ‘kids glove approach’ on the issue! Four of the communities in Agatu have now being taken over by these Fulani Herdsmen, while Governor Ortom watches and invokes the name of God at every opportunity! Oh, did I mention that Fayose also emphatically asked the indigenes of the affected community not to leave? These were his words: “Don’t run away, don’t go to another community, it is your home and nobody will drive you out of your home!” Such words of inspiration and encouragement!
In singling out the differences between Fayose and Ortom, one may say that their personal characteristics account for much of their different approaches- Ortom always looks docile, while Fayose (like Dino Melaye) has the ever-noticeable countenance of a Lion on the prowl! One can also call to attention, their different party affiliations- Fayose being an ‘Umbrella Man’ and thus a member of the opposition, while Ortom ‘carries a broom’ alongside Mr. President!
But my Dear Brothers and Sisters *saying it in the voice of my Priest at Mass*, this is Politics, and this is a War! A General fights not for himself, but for his country and its people (pun intended, as I also reflect on the somewhat lukewarm stance of our President). Like Fayose said, if he cannot assure the security of his people, he would resign! Ortom must take the same stance…Buhari too!
How many more must die before our politicians realize than humans are more valuable than Cattle? Did they take their oaths of office to govern over Animals, or PEOPLE? These are desperate times indeed…desperate times which call for desperate measures! Fayose may be many things: a clown, a jester, a dubious and cunning fellow, an arrogant caricature, a pompous sycophant…but he is also a man of his people, and a man of action. And for the first time ever, I have found myself standing with him!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

GUEST WRITER SERIES: Why Buhari is Nigeria’s luckiest President

Azuka Onwuka
Email: azonwuka@yahoo.com
Twitter: @BrandAzuka

With last week’s removal of petrol subsidy, President Muhammadu Buhari, again, went against one of the points that made him win the 2015 election. All through his campaign for the Presidency, Buhari had maintained that he did not know anything like subsidy in the petroleum sector and that subsidy did not exist.
But was Buhari right in removing the subsidy on petrol? Yes, of course. It had never made any sense to keep the subsidy running all these years, thereby making a few people rich at the expense of the nation. Therefore, Buhari should not cave in to Labour’s demand that the decision be reversed. The only problem is that Buhari opposed that same policy in 2011 when the debate was on as well as in January 2012 when the masses were deceived into protesting against it. If that subsidy removal was left to stand in 2012, the trillions of naira that were paid out from that year to this year by the administrations of Dr Goodluck Jonathan and Buhari would not have been paid. Perhaps, petrol would have been selling lower than N100 per litre today.
Throughout these years of subsidy, the only places where petrol religiously sold at the approved pump price were in central parts of Lagos as well as Abuja and some parts of Port Harcourt. So, only those areas enjoyed the subsidy that ran into trillions of naira. Other parts of Nigeria bought petrol as high as N200 or more per litre at a time these three parts of Nigeria were buying petrol at N86.50, even though it was a tug of war to get the petrol at N86.50 per litre. To get petrol during the petrol scarcity that lasted for months recently, a Lagosian took the extreme measure of stripping himself completely naked at a filling station, to send a message to even the security men at the filling station that his desperation had reached its apogee. His picture and video went viral.
During the 2011 petrol subsidy debate, the erstwhile Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the Governor of Central Bank, Mallam Lamido Sanusi (who is now the Emir of Kano), sounded like a broken record as they went from one part of the country to another and from one TV programme to another, explaining why it was economically senseless to continue to waste our national wealth in the name of subsidy. Even the state governors like the current Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, and the then Governor of Lagos, Mr Babatunde Fashola (who is now the Minister of Power, Works, and Housing), supported the idea of removal of petrol subsidy. The opposing argument was that there was really no subsidy, that if the corruption in the system was removed, petrol would sell at a low price.
When the subsidy was eventually removed on January 1, 2012, there was opposition to it. The opposition parties of the Action Congress of Nigeria and Congress for Progressive Change as well as the Nigeria Labour Congress mobilised many Nigerians to stage protests across the country. At the Gani Fawehinmi Park in Ojota, Lagos, musicians were mobilised by the opposition parties to entertain the protesters for many days. Many protesters insisted that there was no subsidy and advised the President with their posters that read: “Kill corruption, not Nigerians!” Some people lost their lives during the protest. Eventually, the government budged and reduced the pump price of petrol to N97 per litre and still continued with partial subsidy.
There are some people who don’t want to accept that the 2012 protest against subsidy removal was wrong-headed. They argue that the petrol subsidy was resisted during the 2011 debate because of lack of trust in Jonathan. But that argument falls flat on its face. Jonathan was sworn in in 2010 as Acting President. So, he had spent just about one year in office. He had also overwhelmingly won an election early in 2011. There was no scandal against him. The only issue some people had against him was that he should not have contested the 2011 election because of the rotational arrangement the Peoples Democratic Party had. But his approval rating was high.
The removal of the petrol subsidy was another sign that Buhari as the President is coming to terms with the challenges of leadership. As Mario Cuomo says: “You campaign in poetry but govern in prose.” There is nothing bad with one changing one’s mind on a critical national issue. But there is something bad with one not acknowledging that one made a wrong judgment in the past and apologising for it.
It is also a sign that politicians and their supporters must draw a line between opposing the government in power and working against the interest of the nation. Much of what went on between 2012 and 2015 was not opposition to the government and party in power but opposition to the nation. A bad precedent was set that is being used against this present administration. It was, for example, embarrassing to hear the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, say some months ago that he never knew that trains were functional in Nigeria.
If Buhari was a student doing a four-year course in the university, this month would mark the end of his first year as well as 25 per cent of his continuous assessment. Each person is free to rate him. But the bottom line is that the Nigerian economy is hurting. And it is not because of the trite expression of “no pain, no gain” as many assume; rather it is because of what former President Olusegun Obasanjo said last week, which had been said last month by Oby Ezekwesili and Prof Pat Utomi, that Buhari is not good on the economy and foreign affairs. These three personalities supported Buhari’s Presidency. So they did not speak as enemies or detractors.
Buhari means well for the country but it takes more than meaning well to move the economy forward. He should accept the reality that he is not strong on the economy and foreign affairs and give more freedom to result-oriented experts to manage those two areas, while he focuses on national security, national orientation and anti-corruption fight that is non-selective.
Buhari should not stretch his luck too far. He and his party have broken many of their promises. Whether it was promising to declare his assets publicly but choosing to only give the public highlights of it, or promising not to have the office of the First Lady but having the office of the Wife of the President, or frowning on the number of aircraft on the presidential fleet but retaining all the aircraft one year after, or promising to pay the unemployed and elderly monthly stipends, or to feed schoolchildren once a day, or to provide three million jobs per year, or to provide electricity but ending up increasing electricity tariff without any improvement in electricity supply, or promising to belong to all but still treating some people as “97 percenters” and some as “five percenters”, or frowning on an exchange rate of N216 to a dollar in March 2015 but governing in May 2016 with the exchange heading towards N400 to a dollar, or promising to obey the rule of law as a reformed democrat but choosing the law court pronouncements to obey and the ones not to obey, President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress have done enough somersaults on national issues without apologising, but rather giving excuses or just keeping quiet as if nothing happened. This makes it look as if in politics, promises are not meant to be kept.
This luck will not last forever just like Jonathan’s “good luck” did not. Nigerians are patient with Buhari because they earnestly want to see a change in the nation’s fortunes. But that patience should not be exploited.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


Where were you on the 31st of March, 2010? It was the day Dilma Rousseff won the election to become the first female President of Brazil. Now I don’t remember where I was specifically on that day, but I do remember the feeling I had upon hearing the news that Rousseff had become President-Elect. It was a feeling of pride- female pride- that one of my kind had successfully ascended to the highest office in the land, in a world that does not give women too many chances! I didn’t even really know who she was at the time; but I identified with her. And as I read and heard more about this spectacular woman, my admiration for her grew.
Dilma Rousseff has always been a fighter. Never one who hid behind the curtains and complained from deep within the shadows. No. she was out there, early enough in her life, fighting for change with the left-wing movement; and thus making herself a target for the brutal military regime which seized power in 1964. By her early 20’s, she was already thrown into prison by the dictatorship; tortured and traumatized…but not broken. They soon began to refer to her as the ‘high priestess of subversion’. Maybe I can relate with Dilma, because I see in myself, the innate stubbornness, and raging temper, which she possesses. Maybe it is the strength of character which is lacking in so many today, which draws me to her. Whatever it is, she had caught my attention, with her election.
Dilma was handpicked by her predecessor to lead Brazil. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had so much faith in this woman whom he had made his Chief of Staff…faith enough to back her for the presidency. It was a wave of euphoria that swept the nation when she initially became President; and just 3 years ago, her approval ratings were soaring, as Brazil basked in economic good fortune. But all that was about to change, as the global economy took a down-turn, and her nation slid into deep recession. And now, the people call for her head!
 A while ago, on April 17th to be precise, Brazil’s lower house of parliament, led by Speaker Eduardo Cunha, voted in favor of Rousseff’s impeachment. The ground for the vote was so-called budget manipulation, and covering up the deficit. This in itself is not a crime- and certainly not an impeachable offense- but her political opponents have taken advantage of the nation’s economic misfortune and the unease of part of the populace, to stage something of a coup. The situation in Brazil is a classic case of the ‘guilty pointing accusing fingers’; as those who are pushing for Rousseff’s impeachment are those who in fact, have been fingered in corruption scandals- mostly involving Petrobras! The Speaker of the House himself, Eduardo Cunha, who is leading the impeachment campaign, is accused of financial wrongdoing. And so, in a bid to divert attention from themselves- and indeed from the larger fight against corruption- they have singled out Rousseff and offered her up as a scape-Goat to feed the people. Rousseff’s deputy, Michel Temer, is already plotting his ascension, even though he is also fingered as one of the corrupt ones. Note that Dilma herself has NOT been implicated in the corruption scandal!
From the lower house, the case will now proceed to the upper house. After committees are set up, the house would decide whether it wants to take up the case. If it chooses to do so, notice would be sent to Rousseff to step down for 180days to defend herself; during which time, her deputy would hold sway. After this period of defense, deliberation and investigation, the upper house would take a final vote on impeachment which would need a 2/3rd majority vote in favor of impeachment, to pass. If it does- if it does- it would be the end of the Dilma Rousseff Presidency! It is expected that she could be given the notice to step down and defend herself as early as mid-May. This means that Dilma may watch the Olympics from the sidelines, even though she was front and center of the proceedings that led to the emergence of Brazil as the host of the 2016 Olympic Games!
I can’t help but wonder, ‘will Dilma Rousseff’s opponents have easily turned against her, if she was a man?’ My mind tells me the answer is no. There is something about a leading political woman…one who is usually not privy to the ways of men, which seems to make her an easy target for her male counterparts. I may be wrong, but when I ponder upon Rousseff’s predicament, it kind of reminds me of the Hillary predicament in the USA as well! In any case, whatever the underlying reason may be, I maintain that budget manipulation is not an impeachable offense. The funny thing is that past Brazilian Presidents- who just happen to be men- have also been found to have covered up deficits! But they were not impeached! So, why Dilma?
It is an uphill battle for this dogged woman, as her approval ratings continue to tumble. Right now, it stands at 10%! She has promised to fight on till the end; I can feel her pain, and I wish her the best. It is true that Brazil- like many other countries- is experiencing economic hardship at this time. And when people’s bellies are empty, it can be hard to make sound judgments! Maybe this is why the people call for her head. But I can assure you that her opponents would hardly go unscathed. Cunho and Temer are so loathed, that it is certainly only a matter of time before the people also start to chant their names with angst! Dilma Rousseff still has time to fight; and just as she fought against lymphatic cancer, I hope she wins this fight. But even if she doesn’t, it still won’t diminish my utmost respect for her, or erase her place in history. And if Madam Rousseff is impeached- if she is- then the Brazilian people would also have to displace those like Cunho and Temer…all those who have actually been found guilty of corrupt practices. Those who live in glass houses are certainly not expected to throw stones!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Imagine having your farmland overrun by armed marauders, who set their Cattle loose to decimate your property and destroy the crops you have labored so hard to plant! Imagine that these invaders not only destroy your farmland, but also injure you with machetes and kill the people in your community! Imagine they also rape women, before retreating into the bush! Or imagine that not only did they do all these; but they also kidnapped you! If you’re like me, by now, your mind would have started trying real hard to shut out these images! But sadly, this is the reality for several Nigerians! And I am not talking about Boko Haram when I refer to these invaders…I’m referring to another group which is just as dangerous- the Fulani Herdsmen!
 Now, except you’ve been living under a rock for a while now- no offence- you’ve most likely heard about the Olu Falae abduction, the Agatu massacre, and the Enugu 76. These 3 events- and many more- are all connected by one unique strand- invasion by Fulani Herdsmen!
Late last year, renowned politician and elder statesman, Chief Olu Falae, was abducted from his country home in Ilado, Ogun State. His farm workers had previously had run-ins with Fulani herders who let their Cattle run amok on Falae’s farm (as they usually do elsewhere). And finally, on that fateful day- which coincidentally also happened to be Falae’s 77th birthday- the herdsmen struck again! They shot into the air on arrival, injured workers, beat the elderly statesman, before carting him away. It would take the payment of a 5million naira ransom, before Falae was released. But sadly, Falae’s ordeal at the hands of the herdsmen did not end with that episode. They struck again just this month; and this time, they killed his security operative, and dumped the dead body in a pool of water, several kilometers away from Falae’s farm!
Sometime this year, 8 communities in Agatu LGA of Benue State were also attacked by invading Fulani Herdsmen. About 500 people were killed, while 10,000 were displaced from their homes. Benue has been a strategic location for the Fulani Herdsmen onslaught because of its riverine communities and unique vegetation. 17 of the 23 LGA’s in the state have been attacked at some point by the Herdsmen; and cumulatively, the death toll from these combined attacks has been placed at thousands, with about 100,000 displaced collectively!
In February 2016, the herdsmen struck in Uzo-Uwani LGA of Enugu State, killing 2 siblings, injuring villagers with machetes, and burning down houses and other property. 30 herdsmen reportedly attacked the community with AK 47’s and machetes; before disappearing into the bush after carrying out their brazen attack!
Irked by the increasing destruction of farmlands by the Cattle of these herdsmen, another community in Enugu State- Ugwuneshi- rose up to protest. After repeated pleas to the herdsmen fell on deaf ears, and their livestock continued to run amok, the residents rose up and protested. But alas, 76 of them were abruptly arrested and detained by military men! It would take outcries from several quarters of the nation, before they would be released!
The Fulani Herdsmen have also struck in Taraba this month; invading 2 villages, killing 40 people, and burning houses!
Now, these are just a few of the countless cases of carnage and mayhem inflicted on various communities by so-called Fulani Herdsmen. There seems to be no end in sight to this madness!
The Fulani’s have historically been a Nomadic people- they still are. They move their Cattle from one place to another, seeking lush grounds for grazing. It is thus not uncommon, to find them in places outside of their natural habitat i.e. the North. But the fact that it is common place, does not make it appropriate; especially when the herders carry out atrocities as they go searching for healthy feeding grounds for their livestock. As you may have noticed already from the various case points highlighted above, their reign of terror extends to all parts of the federation- north, middle-belt, east, west, even south-south. No zone is left untouched, as long as there are farmlands to be devoured- even without permission!
As the uproar against the activities of the Fulani Herdsmen gathered steam, it was reported that a Grazing Reserve Commission Bill, was being pushed forward in the Senate. Actually, a certain Senator Zainab Kure had proposed the bill in the 7th Senate. The bill is actually called the Fulani National Grazing Reserve Bill; and it seeks to establish a Grazing Commission- as if we don’t have enough Commissions already- and allot grazing fields to these herders, in all 36 states of the federation. These reserves and stock routes would have been (forcefully) taken from Nigerian farmers across the 36 states. Now, for all intents and purposes, this bill was shouted down in various quarters- even though it had some support from the north. CAN, OPC, various state governments, cried out against the bill. It would be wrong for the Government to force Nigerians to hand over their land, even if they are paid for! And judging by the erratic nature of these herders, they would simply encroach on an un-allotted piece of property, after decimating whatever land they are given (If indeed the bill sails through). The passage of such a bill would amount to an abuse of the Fundamental Human Rights of citizens, to own property! It is a good thing that there has been a sustained collective uproar against it! The Federal Government has instead been advised to set up ranches in partnership with the Cattle owners, as is obtainable in other parts of the civilized world.
But beyond ranches, I also believe that if justice is to be served, the evil must be tackled from its root. Who are the owners of these Cattle? They certainly don’t belong to the herders who carry them from place to place; and who are the culprits in these abominable acts of sabotage. No. these Cattle belong to rich men and women- the mostly unknown elite. I believe that a national database showing Cattle owners in Nigeria should be kept, on a state-by-state basis. When a criminal herder is apprehended, his owner should also be made to answer for his crimes. Maybe that way, they would be more likely to discourage their herders from criminal behaviors! These Cattle-owning elites cannot claim to be without blame. If not, how can you explain how a common Cattle herder would be in possession of a weapon such as an AK-47 and a double-barrel? Where did he get the money to purchase it? Or is he a licensed security operative?
The IGP, Solomon Arase, has recently vowed to clamp down on any herdsman found bearing sophisticated weaponry. But knowing Nigeria, one can easily say that this is simply “rhetoric in the heat of the moment”! But I say if we are serious about ending this madness, we have to trace these killers; trace their bosses (the Cattle owners), and make them account for the actions of their “paid workmen” (the Cattle herdsmen)!
Nigeria stands at a very delicate moment in its history. Ethnic divisions which are so palpable, threaten to tear our nation apart. We do not need more sources of agitation to fan the embers of these divisions! The ‘loud silence’ of the Federal Government seemingly amounts to complicity, because the President is coincidentally a Fulani man himself, who also owns Cattle! He must show himself unbiased, by speaking up against these atrocities, and acting to stop them! Ranches are certainly much needed; but right now, we also need justice! And that means ordering the Police Force (beyond lip service) to fish out these miscreants and prosecute them; not staying silent when communities are ransacked by marauding herdsmen; and ensuring that the FG (working through the State Governors), keeps an eye on the Cattle owners- and that includes the President himself!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

GUEST WRITER SERIES: (Nigeria: The Joke is on Us...and We Are All to Blame! Part 2)

Mbachu Obinna.


More recently the CBN introduced 2 different charges on certain bank transactions. The first called Accounts Maintenance Charge is a straightforward rebranding of a spurious charge of COT that was due to be phased out this year 2016. And when the awaited moment came, they did as they promised, the COT charge was indeed phased out but then an interesting thing happened. Voila! A new charge was introduced called, yes you guessed it - Accounts Maintenance Charge and it works exactly how COT used to work. It just has a different name so you can’t say that the CBN did not make good on its promise to end COT charges!

The second is a little less straightforward. In fact we have to go back to 2004. In the Stamp Duties Act of 2004, section 89(2) states: “every receipt given by any person in acknowledgement of goods purchased or services rendered should be denoted by an adhesive postage stamp worth N50 issued by NIPOST.”

Now for how this section of the Act comes into this story, we would have to endure a bit of background history.

School of Banking Honours (SBH) a private Institution with offices in Lagos on 74 Ogunnusi road at Ojodu Berger came up with this idea sometime around 2012 of a N50 stamping of bank transaction receipts in form of electronic money transfers and manual banking tellers with values of N1000 and above.

This incredible idea was then sold to the Federal government of the time under Goodluck Jonathan as an avenue for increased FG revenue.

SBH then obtained an MSA (Master Services Agent Agreement) from NIPOST to act as a paid agent in the collection of this revenue. All that was needed at this point was for the FG to mandate the CBN to issue a compliance circular to all commercial banks. This circular did not come until January 2016 as we know it.

On Oct 25, 2013 another entity emerged; KASMAL International Services Limited (Owned by Prince Buruji Kashamu) obtained a court order delivered by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke mandating 22 commercial banks to remit to NIPOST via KASMAL international services Ltd, N50 as stamp duty on every eligible transaction. This judgement was based on (1.) The stamp duties act of 2004 (2.) the NIPOST act of 2004 and (3.) Federal Government of Nigeria Financial Regulations of 2009.
The 22 commercial banks have appealed this decision at the Federal Court of Appeal with a number of arguments, one of which is that the bank transactions relating to electronic funds transfer on behalf of its customers and teller deposits into its customers’ accounts cannot be described as receipts within the provisions of section 89 of the Stamp Duties Act.

Let us collectively attempt to comprehend the section of the act on which this charade hinges, as stated in the first paragraph of this piece. Thankfully, section 89 of the Stamp Duties Act is in clear enough English and we will not be needing the services of a lawyer to interpret it.

Nothing in this section remotely suggests charges on electronic money transfers and teller deposits. There is no mention of a minimum chargeable sum of N1000. It simply states that receipts for goods and services purchased and rendered must be duly stamped with an adhesive stamp worth N50, suggesting to us that the receipt in consideration here is a physical document—you cannot put an adhesive stamp on an e-receipt. When you deposit money into an account over the counter or make an electronic money transfer, it is just that—a transfer. It becomes a payment only if a goods and/or services are exchanged in which case it can be argued that the receipt for this transaction must be duly stamped and even then, only if a paper receipt is issued. In which case a stamp will be bought from NIPOST or an accredited stamp reseller, for this purpose. And it will have nothing, absolutely nothing to do with commercial banks as a whole. But somehow a group of very clever people together with a Federal High court Justice decided to simply assume this charge on all deposit transactions. This, I find to be incredible, absolutely incredible!

If you reading this and at this point you are not yet incensed, please accept my invitation. I hereby invite you to share in my anger.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


I wasn’t alive during the Biafran War- obviously- but my parents were, and my mum used to tell us stories of how people ate Leaves and Lizards to survive! As I was getting my Master’s Degree at the University of Lagos, my course coordinator, Dr. David Aworawo would say, “The Biafran War dragged on due to the recalcitrance of Ojukwu, and the ambivalence of Gowon!” From all accounts, the war wasn’t palatable- mostly for the Biafran side!
The man called Nnamdi Kanu, was the Director of the now shut-down so-called “Radio Biafra”- a radio station set up in the UK, which broadcast anti-government propaganda from the UK, into pockets of certain Eastern Nigerian States. To be truthful, I didn’t really know so much about Kanu, until his arrest sometime last year. To me, Nnamdi Kanu was just a hypocritical caricature, seeking for self-grandiosity, by inciting violence while hidden in the comfort of London! I called him hypocritical because he disowned Nigeria, yet still, travelled with a green Nigerian passport. He referred to Nigeria as a zoo, and hurled all manner of insults at the President…all in the name of Biafra! Yet I didn’t think much of him…until he was arrested by the DSS on a visit to Nigeria last year. 
I love having conversations with my big sister. She has such a quirky, intelligent mind. I visited her recently, and we had a really interesting conversation on the issue. She basically said, “Nnamdi Kanu was a nobody, until the Federal Government made him a Legend!” According to her, if Kanu’s movements were simply monitored, or if he was taken in for questioning and then released, events wouldn’t have turned out the way they have. But he was taken by the SSS, and has been continually detained by the DSS, even when a Federal High Court ordered his release. His supporters- MASSOBites and IPOBites- took to the streets in Anambra, Abia, Imo, Rivers and Delta, calling for his release. In certain instances, they clashed with security operatives…a few died…Kanu is still being held by the Government. 
I have no sympathy for Nnamdi Kanu. I understand the agitations of the Igbo’s, but as I have alluded to, Kanu is a self-serving individual who in no way serves the collective interest of the “Igbo Nation”. But as events usually turn out in history, his continued detention by the FG has sort of transformed him into something of a “fabled figure”…maybe not along the lines of “Turi Guiliano” in Mario Puzo’s acclaimed bestseller, “The Sicilian”; even though his supporters would want to portray him in that light…however skewed that view may be! As the protesters chanted their demands for the release of Kanu, a MASSOB spokesperson said, “No agitation is complete without arrest, detention and persecution. It shapes the minds of activists, drawing sympathy from international and external observers; it also shows that Nnamdi Kanu and Radio Biafra have become a factor of reckoning in Nigeria”. And so, by his continued detention, Kanu has become- at least to his followers- a “demi-god”! What was simply an underground station in the UK, broadcasting gibberish to certain pockets of the country by a hypocritical and cowardly individual, has now become a popular movement within the confines of Nigeria!
After the High Court ordered Kanu’s release, the FG immediately slammed fresh charges against him- including illegal possession of items, and maintaining an unlawful society- and held him further in detention. Femi Falana, a renowned human rights activist and lawyer, asked the FG to stop violating court orders, and immediately release Kanu (and Dasuki). He warned that holding on to the 2 men in spite of the orders of the court, amounted to a violation of the law that Buhari pledged to uphold! Bear in mind that Falana is a supporter of the President!
 Chief Guy Ikokwu, chieftain of the defunct NADECO, believes that Kanu’s actions are not “treasonable”; and that he is only utilizing the tools of the digital media sphere. He noted that the radio station is registered in the UK, and that in the past, Prof. Wole Soyinka, a very prominent Nigerian, had operated Radio Kudirat, which was endorsed by NADECO. He then stated that if Kanu is guilty of treason on account of Radio Biafra, then millions of Nigerians are guilty of treason in the social media space! Now, I wouldn’t go so far as giving equal justification to Radio Biafra, as I would to Radio Kudirat, which was set up to actualize the electoral mandate of the late MKO Abiola; and to call for democracy in Nigeria, while speaking out against the Abacha tyranny. In my opinion, Kanu wanted to achieve the status and legacy of Ojukwu, without the pain and suffering endured by a man like Abiola! Kanu’s detention was not something that was meticulously planned or foreseen by him; but was rather an event which simply happened, and on which he has now capitalized, to “immortalize” himself. I say this because when Nnamdi Kanu flew into Lagos and lodged in a hotel, he didn’t do so under the name “Nnamdi Kanu”; but with a different name- “Nwanekaenyi Ezebuiro”. In fact, the name, Nnamdi Kanu, was nowhere on the guest list, and it took a room-to-room search of the entire hotel by the SSS, before he was finally discovered in Room 303!
I believe that most people clamoring for “Biafra” do not really know what they are even fighting for. Kanu’s supporters are blindly following a man with no true “Igbo heart”. If not, he would not have hid away in London! Kanu is not half the man Ojukwu was. Even though Ojukwu eventually had to flee to Ghana, he did not start a fight from the confines and safety of “obodo oyibo” i.e., “the white man’s land”, without regard for the safety of the lives of those who would be incited to employ violent means, due to his inflammatory remarks! But nevertheless, though Kanu is really a man of “very little standing”, the FG, by continually detaining him, propels him further into the limelight!
The Government now tows a very fine line. Releasing Nnamdi Kanu would make a mockery of why he was arrested in the first place, and might also come across as acceptance of a “mistake” and justification for Kanu’s actions, by his supporters. On the other hand, his continued detention comes across as further violation of the law, while also fuelling the drive of his supporters, who now see him as a strong opposition figure- the man who took on the Federal Government (even though Kanu did not necessarily orchestrate the chain of events that have happened since his arrest).
Nnamdi Kanu is certainly NO LEGEND. But whatever the Government does next, they must make sure he does not die in their custody. We do not want to even imagine what would unfold in the country, if that happens! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

GUEST WRITER SERIES: (Nigeria: The Joke is on Us...and We Are All to Blame!)

Mbachu Obinna.

I have been asking myself, how we got here; to this present state of moral decadence? How did our values get so eroded and our sensibilities numbed? How did our morals get so low that we began to celebrate that which we should utterly and angrily denounce, while our should-be heroes suffered blatant disregard or flagrant contempt at our hands?

We are a nation accustomed to falling and rolling over while laughing at ourselves; that we did not notice when the rest of the world joined in laughing at us. We became the party clown at the children’s party. And now we’re the washed-up comic whose joke is worn out from repetition that the world stopped laughing; but tragically, still, we continue to laugh.

Perhaps we can’t help ourselves because we are the proverbial laughing Jackal who couldn’t stop laughing while the porcupine slowly walked up the hill and ate the delicious meat.

Let me attempt an exploration into our collective national psyche with an event from the past:


In August of 2013, a story broke about a little teenage boy, Daniel Ihekina, who stowed away in the wheel well of a plane traveling from Benin to Lagos. What was our reaction? We laughed! We laughed so hard about the kid who mistakenly thought he would land in America. We then went on to talk about the state of the economy and how it made a little kid desperate enough to attempt such act. Some even used words like ‘brave’ and ‘daring’ to describe him.

A prominent national daily joined in this travesty and published a front page photo of him flanked by Adams Oshiomhole, the then and present Governor of Edo State; as well as Peter Obi, the then Governor of Anambra state. They were all smiling in approval. The kid had become a celebrity. These Governors then spoke of plans to establish a scholarship trust for his education.

Interestingly in all this, there was no talk of punishment.

Now if you do not know, the wheel well houses the landing gear and wheel among other things. The doors to this well closes after take-off and reopens in preparation for landing. If you are sitting on these doors and they open you could fall out of the plane to your death. And bodies of people have been found, who stowed away in this manner. Also at airplane cruising altitude, air pressure, temperature and oxygen levels are greatly reduced, and there is artificial air regulation in a wheel well. Any living being unfortunate enough to be here in these conditions will be exposed to the risk of hypothermia and other dangerous health conditions. There is also is the risk of compromising the airplane’s landing gear and appurtenances.

I think we can all agree that this kid put himself and others in grave danger by his action and was extremely lucky to have survived. This kid breached airport security and violated FAAN regulations but despite this knowledge, the authorities gave him a pat on the back and rewarded him with gubernatorial handshakes and a scholarship! Perhaps he was even in consideration for an OON or MFR.

Do we not reprimand our children when they fall short? Do we hand out candies to them when they fight in class or steal meat from the pot? Was this some heroic act worthy of praise? And if our answer to the last question is no, then why was there no dissenting voice? Tomorrow when this happens again we would blame airport security; we would say that they are incompetent. We would blame the Airline operator for not doing a thorough check. We would blame the Government; we will call them unserious and inept for not putting enough regulations in place and we might be right. But we will forget to blame ourselves for the contribution we made by not speaking up, for seeing wrong and ignoring it because that laugh was more important.

To be continued...

Thursday, March 17, 2016


My late Uncle was a state Judge, in old Bendel State. My extended family (on my father’s side), is full of “learned men and women of the wig”. My darling big sister is a lawyer…my brother is a lawyer…if I had to count on my fingers, the amount of lawyers in my family, I would exhaust both hands-no jokes! But even though I come from a family flooded with “black-robed men and women”, I must confess that I have no faith in the law! Okay, let me rephrase- I have very little faith in Nigeria’s judiciary!
The case of Ricky Tarfa, SAN, is just one case which re-affirms my deep-seated distrust of the Nigerian legal system. When lay men and women commit obvious crimes, one may be tempted to say, “Oh, maybe they didn’t know better…maybe”. But when a Senior Advocate of Nigeria is caught red-handed breaking the law, then it is only right that we all begin to throw stones! So here’s the story. The esteemed SAN was not too long ago, accused of hiding two foreigners in his car, in order to protect them from the long arms of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). These 2 alleged criminals were accused of fraud and tax evasion. When he was arrested, he threw out the “my fundamental human rights are being abused” card! We all watched the spectacle play out. We watched as Tarfa was then “escorted” to court, by a very large number of his fellow esteemed men and women of the wig. It was as though they were all there to “intimidate the presiding judge and prosecuting counsel”! Then the EFCC threw out the joker- alas, Barr. Tarfa had been caught- with “receipts” provided- bribing a certain Justice Mohammed Yunusa. In fact, his law firm had on various occasions, gone through the back door, to ensure that their cases were routed to the said judge, in order to ensure easy wins. And so, in the face of such incriminating evidence and obvious disgrace, one by one, just like the apostles who abandoned our Lord Jesus in his moment of trial, the “escorting lawyers” deserted their now-shamed colleague! The case is still being played out…
Upon assumption of office, President Muhammadu Buhari outlined the key focus areas of his administration: the economy, security (the fight against Boko Haram), and the fight against corruption. Let us focus on the fight against corruption. So far, the EFCC has arraigned numerous prominent individuals, accused of corruption. The key phrase has been “embezzlement of public funds”. From Dasuki, to Dokpesi, to Metuh, to Moro, to Badeh…the list keeps getting longer. We have watched men being led in handcuffs into court, being taken to Kuje Prison (by the way, is Kuje Prison the only prison in Abuja?), being released on bail, being arraigned for further hearing(s)…and on and on, the circus keeps going. Still yet, not one final verdict. And if past antecedents are anything to go by, these cases would probably die into the cold dark night.
Professor Yemi Osinbajo, our very likeable Vice President- he is said to be more “humane” than his boss- was at a judiciary conference sometime last year. The Vice President is a lawyer himself…like Tarfa; he is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. As he stood before his learned colleagues, he bemoaned the state of the judicial system; admitting that there have been instances of high profile corruption in the judiciary, especially when they involve ex or current political office holders. The nation’s Chief Justice himself who was also at that conference, lambasted certain unscrupulous elements within the noble profession who through their “unlawful conducts”- how ironic- had caused a large section of Nigerians to cast aspersions at the judicial system! In fact, to paraphrase the VP’s statement, “the fight against corruption is mostly being hampered by dubious, scheming, money-loving, corrupt judges who prolong cases or render faulty judgments, in favor of obviously guilty individuals who line their pockets”! So then I ask, how can this same judicial system which is so obviously corrupt, so obviously tainted, so obviously filled with crooked individuals, be entrusted with effectively administering righteous judgments? How can I trust that if I stand before a judge, and the Counsel for my opponent is Ricky Tarfa; that I would be given a fair hearing? How will I trust that the case would not already have been decided the night before, over drinks, and with the exchange of brown envelopes?
Aside from politicians, many other “normal citizens” such as myself, have no faith in the law. I have never been in a court-room; but I have been reliably informed, that most times, proceedings are somewhat akin to a playground. A magistrate sits before you and renders judgment on a case in 2016, based on a judgment rendered by a now-deceased judge on another case in 1854! The rationale is that the cases are somewhat similar…even though when it boils down to specifics, they usually aren’t! So the opposing counsel says, “my lord, refer to the case brought by the Mouse, against the Cat, presided over by the Lion, in the High Court of the jungle, in the year of our lord, 1854 AD; and you would see that the charges raised by the individuals on the other side, are not enough to convict my client…the “doubt” is just not “reasonable” enough”. Then the judge would adjust his/her spectacles and pretend for a brief moment to be deep in thought…and then before you can even say “but my lord”, he finds the case in favor of the accused, and might even order you –the righteous plaintiff- to pay damages! Okay, I admit, I watch too many movies in my head, so my mind is a bit crazy; but I can bet you that it does happen this way!
I believe- and I should apologize beforehand, to those who are not so- that our Nigerian Bar Association, is mostly filled with quacks! I apologize because like I said, a sizeable portion of my extended family members are lawyers. Also, some of my dearest friends are lawyers; and I would like to think of these people as brilliant, outstanding, integrity-laden individuals. But they constitute a very “minute minority”. And so, because they are so few, it is very easy to “lump them in” with the larger sordid population! There are quacks sitting in magistrate courts, state courts, federal courts, and probably even within the Supreme Court! And unfortunately, these quacks have been entrusted with “safeguarding and judiciously interpreting” the law! Oh, how I weep!
Ricky Tarfa, SAN, like the dodgy fellow that I think he is, is now throwing out every card in his “Rule Book of Dodgyness”… the same rule book that has obviously been read by a million other Nigerian lawyers! Fellow Nigerians, how can we then expect an effective fight against corruption, when our law courts are filled with men like this? *deep sigh* I have exhausted my words; but I would say this finally- until our judicial system experiences a great reformation which would weed out the thistles and thorns from the fine grain, the guilty will continue to roam free! Until our judicial system is truly “born-again”, the righteous, who seek the judgments of our law courts, would continue shaking their heads in disbelief and wishing that they hadn’t! Until men (and women) like Ricky Tarfa are called out and punished when they commit a crime, “lady justice” would continue to weep beneath her blind fold! I pray for our country…may we get it right…may justice prevail!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


At this point I do not believe there is anyone in Nigeria who hasn’t heard the name: Ese Oruru. Okay, for the sake of those (within and without Nigeria) who haven’t, let me give a brief summary. Ese Oruru is the (now) 14year old girl who was abducted from her home town in Bayelsa (in Nigeria’s south-south) on August 12th 2015, when she was 13, by a certain man named Yunusa. She was taken by this Yunusa, to Kano State (in Northern Nigeria); and there, she was converted to Islam and allegedly wed to this Yunusa…all without the consent and knowledge of her parents! Upon discovery of Ese’s absence, her mother immediately journeyed to Kano State the following day (August 13th) to retrieve her daughter. She lodged a complaint with the Kano State police command. Along the line, it was disclosed that Ese had been taken to the palace of the Emir of Kano; so she proceeded there. But when she got there, she was allegedly ridiculed and insulted by the youths at the Emir’s palace; and she was told that her daughter was now in the custody of the Emirate Council. After all attempts to retrieve her child proved futile, she proceeded back to Bayelsa, heartbroken. Ese’s father then undertook his own journey to Kano, where he was chided by the Kano Police, for lying. According to them, Ese was in fact 18years old. Mr. Oruru then had to convince them that his daughter was only 13, and thus, still a minor. Again, after all attempts to secure Ese’s release proved futile, Mr. Oruru return back to Bayelsa, empty handed! From August 12th 2015, up till March 2016, Ese Oruru was held in Kano! Not until large numbers of Nigerians began to cry out on social media, did the authorities begin to move their muscles a bit. The former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, reached out to the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi Lamido, who then informed her that he had already ordered the release of the young girl. Senator Ben Bruce then called out the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, on twitter, asking him to secure Ese’s release. The opposition party (PDP) also cried out. People began yelling. Then the IGP, Solomon Arase, made a very troubling statement, which was that the release of Ese Oruru depended on the intervention of the Emir of Kano!
In 2003, Nigeria passed the “Childs Right Act”. It is supposedly a law to protect the rights of children. But so far, it has been ineffective. Studies have shown that as at 2015, 17% of girl children under the age of 15, were already married. The percentage rises when you get to the North-East, where 48% of girl children under the age of 15 are married! The enactment of the Child Rights Act is largely dependent on enforcement by individual states and so far, only 24 states have enforced the law! Most Northern states have not…and herein lies the problem.
In 2010, a Northern Senator, Ahmed Yerima, married a 13year old Egyptian girl. When people began yelling, his response was that his religion permitted such! Now, for the IGP to say that the release of Ese Oruru was dependent on the involvement of the Emir of Kano, one then begins to wonder: “is Kano State a country within a country?”…and “does religion and/or ethnicity now supersede the law(s) of Nigeria?”
While social media was agog with disbelief and anger over the issue, a certain individual who is obviously of Northern Nigerian heritage; gave an incredulous take on the matter. His grouse with the so-called Yunusa was not that the man had contravened the laws of the land by committing an obvious crime which is for all intents and purposes, punishable under law! Rather, he was peeved because according to him, the girl (Ese) was so ugly, that he wondered why Yunusa did not instead choose any other pretty (probably under-aged) girl from the North, to wed! So I ask again, “Is Kano State a country within a country?”…and “does religion and/or ethnicity now supersede the law(s) of Nigeria?”
Why would youths at the palace of the Emir haul insults at a suffering mother just because she went to seek out her child there? Why did they think Yunusa’ actions were acceptable? Why did the Emirate Council scold the police when they asked them to kindly hand Ese back to her father, when he revealed that she was only 13, and not 18? In fact, why did they accept Ese from Yunusa, in the first place? Why were they still holding her even though the Emir had ordered her release? And then, why did her release even have to be dependent on the Emir? Is the Emir now the law? Or is he greater than the law? Is Kano State now a country, not answerable to Nigeria? What about the “criminal” Yunusa? Does his Muslim religion and/or Northern heritage now place him above the law(s) of Nigeria; or not subject to them? Why was he not thrown into jail “immediately” Ese’s mother sounded the alarm over her child’s abduction? Will his case now serve as a deterrent against such actions in future? Will this case now lead to the enactment of the Child Rights Act in all 36 states of the federation?
These are all questions that must be carefully answered, if we are to provide a better future for the Nigerian child. They must also be answered correctly, if we are to prove the supremacy of the laws of our country Nigeria, over any religion and/or ethnicity within its borders. Yes, we all have our religious beliefs, and they are important in our lives, but when they contravene basic laws, then there are bound to be problems! Even aside from laws, I find it personally insane, that anyone would think that a 13year old child if of marriageable age! At 13, a girl child is not even fully aware of who she is as an individual…at 13, her sexual organs are still yet immature…heck, at 13, some females have not even begun to see their monthly periods! So in my opinion, underage marriage is nothing short of barbaric and inhumane!
Nigeria is a nation of laws. The nation is superior to any state within its borders. Religion cannot be an excuse for blatant disregard and disobedience of the law. A crime is a crime…whether it is committed by an Ibo man, or an Hausa man; or whether it is committed by a Christian or a Muslim! Yunusa has obviously committed a crime. No matter what he says, Ese is a minor, who cannot give her consent to anything! He has to be punished! And now, to save the saddest part for last, even though Ese has now been returned to her parents, she is pregnant! Yet another unfortunate child, is about to birth her own child! Her life is changed- hopefully, not ruined- forever! My final statement is this- let children be children…not spouses! We must all do our parts to protect the rights of the child, today!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


For a while now, there has been a tug-of-war raging between Apple and the US Government. In the wake of the San Bernadino attack, more people have questioned why the government was not able to intercept the communications of the terrorists; and thus prevent the attack. After the terrorists were killed, a phone belonging to one of them, was confiscated by security operatives. But so far, the FBI has been unable to access the data on the device because of a user-generated password which they have been unable to crack. Because the data on the device is encrypted, it is programmed to automatically delete itself upon 10 failed password attempts. A court has ordered Apple to enable access; but so far, it has refused. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, states that obeying the judge’s orders would compromise user security/privacy and enable large scale hacking; as Apple would be required to create a new Operating System that would essentially give security operatives a back door access to bypass the user-generated password. Those who stand with the FBI- such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates- chide Apple for “misleading” the public and whipping up consumer skepticism (about the government's intentions). According to Gates, the government has the authority to ask for certain communications records from tech companies; as they would, from phone companies also. But even as the families of the 14 victims cry out against Apple, Google’s new CEO, Sundar Pichai, has come out in support of Apple; stating that “we build secure products to keep your information safe, and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders. But that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices and data. Could be a troubling precedent…” The various arguments made by the US Government and by Apple, have again raised the all-important question of: Security vs. Privacy- which is more important?
In 2013, whistleblower and former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, exposed details of NSA communications surveillance over millions of Americans. He has since fled for Russia. Since Snowden’s revelations, it has been revealed that terrorists have now moved on to encrypted apps, to protect their communication. Now, these encrypted apps- such as Telegram- ensure that vital information from terrorists cannot be accessed by the NSA (and other inter-governmental spy agencies) even when they are intercepted. And this essentially means that more terrorist attacks can be planned and executed without fear of government sabotage, due to data-protection by the use of encryption! Scary thought indeed! It should be noted that these apps are not just used by terrorists, but also by journalists, activists, and other individuals.
Since 9-11, the human race has felt completely exposed and vulnerable to terrorist attacks. And in the face of ever-increasing insecurity, we have been forced to squarely address the issue of what we would rather have- security or privacy! Now, for most law-abiding citizens, we contend that we have nothing to hide. That we would much rather accept some intrusion of our privacy by the government, as long as it guarantees our security and safety. But then, how much is too much? The government does have a tendency to over-step its boundaries. After 9-11, the NSA violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), with White House authorization via an enforcement of “Presidential War Powers”, to engage in large-scale wiretapping of phone calls, without authorization from the courts. President Bush’s excuse was essentially that “tough times call for tough measures”. Now, while we accept that the vulnerability of the USA in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 did indeed demand the enactment of greater security measures, we also cannot ignore the fact that there was a disregard for judicial procedure!
Security and Privacy are both equal components of the “liberty spectrum”. We are entitled to both. But in a post 9-11 world, it seems like we cannot have both equally. And so in the light of this, we are more readily willing to give up some of our privacy. But the urge to “not end up dead”, certainly does not mean that we would rather have a “police society”! I would state here that even in the face of heightened insecurity, government surveillance must be sanctioned by the judiciary, and carried out within the ambits of the rule of law; and only after the government has pled its case and justified why such surveillance is necessary in the first place! This is how free societies function! But the issue is this- we just do not trust the government! We question its motives, and do not trust its judgments! And that is why increased government surveillance conjures up images of an “Orwellian society” and seems so scary…that is why we feel as though “Big Brother” is constantly looking over our shoulders!
Only the living can make demands for the condiments and niceties of liberty. But the urge to stay alive does not essentially give approval for the disregard of the rule of law…the rule of law which ought to apply equally in times of war, as they do at peace-time. I think I speak for a majority of the global populace when I say “we would much rather stay alive". We are willing to sacrifice a part of our privacy. But it would be disastrous if we do so without demanding caution on the part of our government(s). It would be disastrous if in our bid to stay alive, we give the government complete freedom to trample over law, and act with impunity; under the guise of “safeguarding our security”! If “we the people”, wherever we are- barring some autocratic states- essentially possess the power to elect and recall our own representatives, then we also have the power to render them accountable for their actions. We have the power to demand transparency…even in troubling times!
 And with that said, “Dear Apple tech’s, you are some of the most intelligent individuals in the world. Can you all find a way to assist the investigation; while also ensuring that you keep the NSA (and other spy agencies) within boundaries, and keep criminals away from these personal records?” “Please try. That’s all we ask. Thank you.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Everyone says Africa is a blessed continent. We are blessed with beautiful people and enormous resources. We are rich in culture; and possess a tenacity not frequently seen elsewhere. But we are plagued by many evils. In spite of our resources, we are impoverished. And our beautiful and diverse culture has served as the foundation for many wars. Added to these, we are bedeviled by so-called leaders who have firmly entrenched themselves in power and refuse to pass on the mantle of leadership. In the face of enormous human suffering, these men have stayed on. Rather than bow out gracefully, they have pursued their so-called enemies with a vengeance; punishing any and all voices of dissent. Two of such men are Chad’s Idriss Deby; and Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza.
Deby recently announced that he was running for a fifth term in office, in April’s presidential elections. The fact that his announcement did not quite stir up mayhem, is probably testament to the fear of him that prevails in Chad. Idriss Deby has been at the helm of the Chadian government since 1990. He came into power via a coup that ousted the very man he helped bring into power- Hissain Habre. In spite of the various rebellions and even a foiled coup, Deby has managed to evade the grip of those who wish to see him leave the presidency- and they are many- and has maintained a firm rule over the country. Crushing all foes in his path, he has shown not just a unique brand of ruthlessness, but also political wits and cunning. Dubious political reforms meant that Deby encouraged a multi-party system in Chad, lifting the ban on political parties in 1993. But instead of giving everyone a fair and level playing field, he has clamped down on opponents and journalists, ensuring that the opposition remains in a perpetual state of political non-viability. Deby had initially committed to relinquishing power at the end of a 2 term tenure in 2006; but cunningly modified the constitution in 2004, effectively scrapping term limits! Now, he says that if he is re-elected in April (which he most likely will be…majorly by fraudulent means), he would restore term limits! The effrontery! A man has been entrenched in power for 26years now, and has had 11years since 2005 to re-introduce term limits; and now suddenly needs a fifth term to do so? The same man who scrapped term limits in the first place? Come on, give us a break! There is nothing new under the sun; and also, nothing meaningful would be achieved in a fifth term!
Economically, though oil-rich, Chad still ranks as one of the poorest countries in the world. Deby has drawn the ire of the international community in the past, by diverting oil proceeds for the purchase of guns; and scrapping funds meant for educational, health and developmental projects! His purchase of more arms in the face of increased suffering by his people can only be interpreted as a ploy to protect his government and probably keep him in office perpetually!
After 26 years at the helm of affairs, Chad’s Idriss Deby seeks a fifth term. And now he promises to restore term limits. But he has proven in the past, that he can use fraudulent means to extend his stay in office. So who is to say that he wouldn’t do so again?
Elsewhere in Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza is treading the same path. The most notable difference is that his quest for a third term did not go down quite so quietly. You see, Pierre Nkurunziza violated the terms of the 2005 Arusha Agreement that ended Burundi’s previous bloody civil war. Riddled with ethnic strife much like Rwanda, Burundi was thrown into chaos and mayhem due to political tensions between the Tutsi and Hutu ethnic groups. As part of the Arusha Agreement which finally ended the war in 2005, it was decided that power be alternated between both groups; and that a two term limit be set for Presidents. But Nkurunziza broke the agreement by announcing that he was standing for a third term (which he eventually won…albeit fraudulently) in 2015. The very next day after the announcement was made, protests broke out around the country. Instead of listening to voices of reason, Nkurunziza employed brutal force; ordering the police to crackdown on protesters. Men, women, children were violently beaten; and hundreds were killed, including children as young as 12. Amnesty International recently released a video last month showing mass burial sites- most likely, a ploy by the Nkurunziza government to hide their atrocities; the full scale of which is probably not even known!
At the height of the tensions last year, the constitutional court adjudicated over the matter, and then decided that Nkurunziza could indeed run for a third term; in violation of the Arusha Agreement. But as we later found out when the Vice President of the court fled, it was revealed that the court’s ruling was decided under duress; and that most of the judges actually believed it was unconstitutional for the President to stand for a third term! But they were forced into passing a wrong judgment! Such is the nature of African politics! Such is the quest for perpetual political power that leaders would kill and deceive their own people, in order to maintain control! With no compass for national growth and development and no regard for the will of the people, many of Africa’s leaders are as ruthless, heartless and cunning; as they are indeed clueless- no pun intended!
From Uganda to Zimbabwe, to Sudan and Chad, to Burundi; the African continent is littered with so-called leaders who refuse to step down, regardless of the consequences. Yet they want to be seen as statesmen! Well, in my opinion, a statesman is a man like Nelson Mandela who endured 27 long years in prison, and yet stood down after just one term as president of South Africa! Respect can never be given to despots who employ violence against their own people. The fear of the despot’s gun may last only for so long; but there is none who can outwit a revolution whose day has come, or even death itself! One day soon…one day soon!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


So I woke up, Sunday morning; and my first instinct (after praying) was to check the news- typically. A lot happens when you sleep you know. Well, I found out a couple of interesting things; amongst which was that the crazy North Korean leader had ordered a rocket launch- thought to be a cover for a long range missile- to the chagrin of most of the world! Hmmm…another day, another provocative action from Pyongyang. At this point, I feel like I’ve seen it all; and heard it all…so I moved on to another story. Still scrolling through my phone; then boom! I saw it! Just a couple of hours before the start of Super Bowl 50, and Beyoncé had pulled a “Beyoncé” on us, with a surprise video release. I wasn’t “surprised by the surprise”, because it’s typical of Beyoncé. But what struck me was the fact that this was not just another sexy Beyoncé video…it was a Beyoncé video laden with political undertones and a social message...excellent! It was a message that was mostly geared towards the black community. Beyoncé is usually criticized for not being too vocal on issues affecting the black community. But in recent times, she and her husband have shown greater support for black causes; especially with the #blacklivesmatter movement. And this video was a feather in the cap of Beyoncé’s rhythmical political activism- if I may call it that! Now before I venture further, I would just say that I am a Beyoncé fan. Mix that with political and social activism; and I knew the video would be a hit. I was not disappointed.
Beyonce atop a half-submerged police car

The video- Formation- is a work of art filled with political messages…and the scenes bear evidence of this. Shot on location in New Orleans, it opens up with a warning- Parental Advisory, Explicit Content. The faint-hearted had been given notice! We then see Beyoncé bending to squat atop a police car partially submerged in water- this being a tribute to New Orleans as it was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005; and can also be seen as a “f**k you” message to trigger-happy, black-killing cops, when it is fully submerged (drowned) at the end of the video. And with the entire #blacklivesmatter movement gaining traction all across the US in the wake of police brutality towards blacks which have culminated in the loss of several black lives, the particular choice of a police car was a poignant message which was not lost…much like Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”.
As a tribute to her black heritage, Beyoncé pays homage to her Negro+Creole roots; announces that she’s proud of her baby’s (Blue Ivy) curly hair; and defiantly declares that she “loves her Negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils”! As black people, the media tries to convince us that we are not good enough…that we should aspire to be “white”…but Beyoncé isn’t here for all that bullsh*t, and strongly urges us to own our blackness! And oh, by the way, watching Blue Ivy playfully affirm her mother’s powerful lyrics; was just the cutest thing ever!
Blue Ivy in Formation

In the mostly white dominated society that is the USA, black stereotypes abound. I was struck by the fact that rather than shy away from these stereotypes, Beyoncé puts them in full view, casting them in a positive light. From the church scenes (yeah, black people everywhere do have a very vocal, albeit theatrical way of worshipping God), to the black basketball players (we own the game…white men can’t jump! *joking*), to the scenes showing black women (one of them being Beyoncé) sitting while dressed elegantly in a plantation-styled mansion (yeah, blacks were once slaves in America…but I liked the fact that instead of being dressed in “slavery attire”, Beyoncé and her crew were all elegantly clothed), to a black child dancing in front of a line of black cops (I’ll get back to this particular scene in a bit…by the way, y’all know that nobody dances better than a black person!); it was all black excellence!
Beyonce surrounded by her crew in a plantation-styled mansion

Beyoncé has always been a firm believer in financial empowerment; and her catchy lines in Formation, reaffirms this. From constantly telling us that she “slays”, to letting us know that we might be the new “black Bill Gates”; just as she also just “might be a black Bill Gates in the making”, black people are reminded that the financial realm does not have to be monopolized by a few white men in Silicon Valley and Wall Street. Beyoncé lets us know that we are the new face of blackness…the new elite. And she doesn’t just give us catchy lyrics, but also shows us a process as she sings- “I see it/I want it…I dream it/ I work hard/ I grind till I own it”; and she does this while “slaying all day”. Now who says a black man can’t think up the next Microsoft, Google, or Facebook? And there weren’t just lines to black financial excellence, but also to female empowerment. With X-rated lines like “when he f**k me good, I take his a** to Red Lobster…if he gets it right, I might take him on a ride in my chopper”, Beyoncé reminds women everywhere that we can ALL be bosses! We can change the game…we can be the new generation of bad bi***es!
Beyoncé has never been one to shy away from controversy. Surrounded constantly by a thick cloud of conspiracy theories, she pokes a finger in the eyes of her detractors by telling them that “y’all Corny with that illuminati mess”. Yes, we’ve all heard the rumors…we know what she’s talking about. Haters, take a few seats!
Now, back to the little black kid dancing in front of a line of white police officers. That, for me, was the most potent political message in the video- aside from the drowning of the police car. As the little boy dances, he suddenly stops and puts his hands up in the air (y’all remember the line: “hands up, don’t shoot”?), and then surprisingly, the policemen all raise their hands too. Then the camera closes in on graffiti on the wall- “stop shooting us”! I wept! May we see the day when a white cop also waves the flag of peace and surrender in the face of an un-armed black man! Black lives do matter!
Little black kid dances and then raises hands in front of a line of white cops (click picture to watch)

Beyoncé reminds us of our power. We are capable, and we are ‘fly’. Yes, black people love Corn Breads and Collard Greens, and got hot sauce in their bags; but it’s a sign of swag. And ain’t nobody got swag like a black folk! The system may be unfair…black people in the USA are usually treated unfairly, just like the rest of the black race is also marginalized in the global community; but like Beyoncé dressed in black garb with a neck full of chains and surrounded by black men, a time comes when we have to put our 2 middle fingers up in the air and say “f**k you”, to the system…we will do things our way…as black folks…with black swag…and black excellence. And just like Beyoncé admonishes in the last line, we will “always stay gracious, because our best revenge is our paper”. So we will keep getting that paper! Can the African continent stop begging for crumbs now; and learn to create its own wealth?
Beyonce puts her middle fingers up

Beyoncé’s “Formation” is a call to blacks everywhere…an excellent black empowerment anthem. It is a reminder and affirmation of black heritage, and also gives us a window into our glorious future. It is a sexy, groovy political declaration, and one of Beyoncé’s best offerings. It is Kwame Nkrumah in the 40’s and 50’s; Martin Luther King in the 60’s; Barack Obama in 2008. Thank you Mike Will Made-it, for producing such a dope a** masterpiece; thank you Swae-Lee, for being an awesome co-writer; thank you Melina Matsoukas, for being a visionary video director; and thank you Queen Bey, for being such a genius artist and a great representation of the black race. Yes, we are black and proud; we slay…we slay…all day!