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op-ed. Our involvement in xenophobia

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IT is sad, very sad but we must admit that xenophobia is still subsisting in today’s world. Xenophobia did not start in South Africa and it will not end in South Africa. Nigeria, now a victim, has aggressively indulged in xenophobia before. The worsening economic situation in most countries of the world is encouraging xenophobia and there is no solution in sight. As a matter of fact, it will become worse. Even within nations and within the various ethnic groups there is economic discrimination. It will become more aggressive and turn more violent later. It will happen earlier than expected. There is frustration everywhere. Everyone is under pressure in the words of Rastaman Kimono. In our desperation, anyone can be a scapegoat–neighbors, friends, foreigners, etc. The immigration policy being pursued in the United States of America is part of xenophobia. Even the referendum of the United Kingdom to quit the European Union commonly referred to as Brexit held on June 23, 2016, of which fifty-two percent were in support of leaving the union, is another form of xenophobia. Even the recent closure of our borders could be interpreted as another form of xenophobia. Imagine the way we celebrated the closure of the borders.

Economic distress leads to social unrest, breakdown of law and order and stagflation. Social unrest is generally characterized by the general dissatisfaction of a group and the unconventional and sometimes violent way people tend to show it. One example is rioting or when a large group of people behave in a violent and uncontrolled way.  According to Wikipedia, xenophobia is the fear or hatred of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. Xenophobia can involve perceptions of an in-group toward an out-group and can manifest itself in suspicion of the activities of others, and a desire to eliminate their presence to secure a presumed purity and may relate to a fear of losing national, ethnic or racial identity. Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an “uncritical exaltation of another culture” in which a culture is ascribed “an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality”. According to UNESCO, the terms xenophobia and racism often overlap but differ in how the latter encompasses prejudice based on physical characteristics while the former is generally centered on behavior based on the notion of a specified people being adverse to the culture or nation.

In other words, xenophobia arises when people feel that their rights to benefit from the government is being subverted by other people’s rights. An early example of xenophobic sentiment in Western culture is the Ancient Greek denigration of foreigners as “barbarians”, the belief that the Greek people and culture were superior to all others, and the subsequent conclusion that barbarians were naturally meant to be enslaved. Ancient Romans also held notions of superiority over all other peoples, such as in a speech attributed to ManiusAcilius, “There, as you know, there were Macedonians and Thracians and Illyrians, all most warlike nations, here Syrians and Asiatic Greeks, the most worthless peoples among mankind and born for slavery.” Despite the majority of the country’s population being of mixed (Pardo), African, or indigenous heritage, depictions of non-European Brazilians on the programming of most national television networks are scarce and typically relegated for musicians/their shows. In the case of telenovelas, Brazilians of darker skin tone are typically depicted as housekeepers or in positions of lower socioeconomic standing.

In short xenophobia is fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners. Dr. Kofi AbrefaBusia (1913-1978) was the Prime Minister of Ghana from 1969 to 1972. As a nationalist leader and Prime Minister, he helped to restore civilian government to the country following military rule. In 1969, he invoked the Aliens Compliance Order and deported an estimated 2.5 million undocumented African migrants, the majority of whom were Nigerians. Before then, Nigerians had grown annoyingly enterprising, their business acumen sharper, and to the detriment of Ghanaian businesses. It was this order that forced my late friend, Dr. Wale Oloyede, the former deputy Comptroller general of Prisons from Ghana to Nigeria. Mr. Layi Alabi, former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank, was also affected. Also partly affected by the order like many others was Chief Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala, a former governor of Oyo State who is from Ogbomoso. In fact, the First Baptist Church in Oke-Elerin in Ogbomoso and its environs became a refugee camp for the Nigerians deported from Ghana. Also affected by the order was my in-law, Chief Edward Afolabi Abimbola (1930-2017), the Lijofi of Idanreland the first industrialist to build a bicycle factory in Ghana. When the factory was opened on January 16, 1969, the event made a front-page lead in the Daily Graphic on January 17, 1969. Chief Abimbola married a pretty Ghananian princess, Miss Lucy MenyaDudome of Peki town in Volta Region, Ghana in 1965. When he was evicted from Ghana, he was only allowed to take his wife along with him and was forced to surrender all his properties in Ghana. So prominent was he in Ghana before 1969, that the Afenifere Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo became his guest while in exile in Ghana.

Under Ghana’s Alliance Compliance Order, Nigerians and other Africa and non-African immigrants were forced to leave Ghana as they made up 20 per cent of Ghana’s population at the time. The returnees were mostly children but of Nigerian parents. They knew no other country than Ghana and that was during the Nigerian civil war. Mostly affected by the order then were Yorubas from Ogbomoso, Ikirun, Ilorin, Oyan, Offa, Inisha, Oke-Imesi, Ogotun, Ejigbo, Ede and other towns from the then Western states. They lost their properties and money in Ghana for they were given less than fifteen days to pack out. In spite of appeals by then head of state of Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon and other African leaders especially, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (1892-1975) and President HamaniDiori (1916-1989) of Niger Republic, Dr. Busia rejected those appeals.

Dr. Busia’s order of November 19, 1969, was that all aliens without valid residence permits were ordered to quit the country within fourteen days, that is, latest by December 2, 1969. Official explanations for the expulsion as offered by the Government of Ghana included the following: i. that there were about 600,000 registered unemployed in Ghana, which would be relieved by the expulsion of the aliens; ii. that the continuing balance of payment deficit was worsened by immigrant workers and traders who remitted home some of their earnings; and iii. that the aliens engaged in smuggling, especially of diamonds.Another important reason for the expulsion order of 1969 was the economic misfortunes that befell Ghana. From the late 1960s through the early 1970s, Ghana experienced a severe economic decline. It should be recalled that the Ghanaian economy was cocoa dependent; providing over 70% of foreign exchange earnings for the country. However, since late 1950 up till 1970, the world cocoa price witnessed a continuous decline, falling by over 75% as of 1969. This engendered an increase in the cost of living and import shortages.

Expectedly most Ghanaians hailed Dr. Busia’s action. On January 13, 1972, he was overthrown. Later fortune smiled on Nigeria. Drilling of oil commercially by Shell, Mobil and Agip doubled in the Niger Delta. The oil money was steady and hopes were high that Nigeria could prosper, despite the brutal military regimes that marred that period. In the 1970s the economy exploded when oil prices soared worldwide. The golden decade had arrived and the country became Africa’s wealthiest, securing its title: Giant of Africa. By 1974, Nigeria’s oil wells were spitting out some 2.3-million barrels a day. The standard of living improved. There was an influx of people from the farms into the cities; when they traveled, robust iron boxes were generally preferred over cheap plastic sacks. The influx came not just from within Nigeria, but from across the region. Even Nigeria’s leader at that time, General Yakubu Gowon was reported to have boasted that money was not Nigeria’s problem but how to spend it. Suddenly Nigeria became an Eldorado.

Nigeria led the formation of the Economic Community of West African States known as ECOWAS.ECOWAS is a regional political and economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa. Collectively, these countries comprise an area of 5,114,162 km2 (1,974,589 sq mi), and in 2015 had an estimated population of over 349 million. The union was established on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, with its stated mission to promote economic integration across the region. The countries that formed at that time were Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra-Leone, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Niger, Nigeria, and Togo. Expectedly Nigeria’s General Yakubu Gowon was made the first chairman of ECOWAS.

Suddenly Nigeria entered the oil boom era. A lot of migrants from Africa came into the country in search of jobs and greener pasture. Nigeria was like the U.S.A., Britain, Germany, South Africa, etc of today, that many Nigerians are queuing up for visas, so as to elope to. During the oil boom period, there were jobs that Nigerians were shy or reluctant to do. Such job includes Driver, cobbler (shoemaker), tailoring (Obi-Oma), security guard, cook, gardener, etc. As such, those immigrants that came to Nigeria were more than willing to do jobs. In fact, in Lagos then, most cobblers, tailors, drivers, etc. were Ghanaians.

On September 24, 1979, Dr. HillaLimann (1934-1998) was sworn-in as the elected President of Ghana. Mr. Limann, a Muslim from Gwollu in the Sissala West District of the Upper West Region part of Ghana was elected on the platform of Peoples National Party (PNP). Seven days later, on October 1, 1979, AlhajiShehu Usman Shagari was also sworn-in as the President of Nigeria. They became friends. The friendship extended to parliamentarians of both countries. There was a strong bond between Ghana and Nigeria at that time. On two occasions, I was part of the entourage of the chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation, Senator Uba Ahmed to Ghana. On another occasion, I accompanied the then-Senate President, Dr. Joseph Wayas to Ghana. On three occasions, we were hosted in Accra by President HillaLiman. He even granted me an exclusive interview in Kumasi, Ghana.

The relationship between Nigeria and Ghana broke down on December 31, 1981, when Jerry Rawlings deposed Dr. Limann in a coup. Initially, President Shagari refused to acknowledge Jerry Rawlings as the President but later he had no choice. In 1982, Flight Lieutenant General Jerry Rawlings raised an alarm that President ShehuShagari wanted to help HillaLimann to overthrow his Military Government in Ghana. Nigeria stopped the shipping of crude oil on a lone deal to Ghana. And as this animosity continued between both governments, so did it between citizens of both countries.

By 1983, Nigeria’s economy was collapsing due to mismanagement and the golden era of Nigeria was fading. And then came the oil crash. Global oil prices started to dip in 1982 when large consumer markets such as the United States and Canada slipped into recession and demand was low. By 1983, the price of a barrel had fallen to $29, down from $37 in 1980. At around the same time, the US began producing its own oil, further cutting demand and causing excess supply. Nigeria, its economy almost exclusively reliant on oil, was hard hit. By 1982, 90% of the country’s foreign reserves had been wiped out. Food prices skyrocketed and salaries became erratic. Poor policy decisions at the highest level of government only made things worse. Ghana’s nightmare was being replayed in Nigeria. As it began to feel the crunch, Nigeria started to turn inwards looking for scapegoats. By 1982, politicians started to use words like “aliens” in their manifestos in preparation for the 1983 general elections. They blamed African migrants, especially Ghanaians, for the flailing economy. Ghanaians had taken all the jobs and brought crime to Nigeria and, if elected, they would chase them out, they promised. It didn’t take long for this animosity to spill over into relations between Nigerians and Ghanaians.

The last straw that broke the camel’s back which Culminated in the Deportation Saga of the African Immigrants during the ShehuShagari’s Government, was the Robbery Incident at Alex Ekwueme’s house in Ikoyi, Lagos. Dr. Alexander Ekwueme, the then Nigerian Vice President was robbed by a group of armed robbers which consisted mainly of Immigrants.

When the robbers were caught by the police, it was discovered that two of them were Ghanaians. This revelation sent the whole of Nigeria in rage. Instant action was taken by the Nigerian Government and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. On the 17th of January, 1983, the Nigerian Minister of Internal Affairs, AlhajiAlli Baba, from then Gongola state announced the immediate expulsion of all illegal immigrants in Nigeria within two weeks. President ShehuShagari also added in a statement by his spokesman Mr. Charles Igoh that “If they don’t leave, they should be arrested and tried, and sent back to their homes. Illegal immigrants under normal circumstances, should not be given any notice whatsoever. If you break a law, then you have to pay for it.”Panic gripped all immigrants without papers in Nigeria for it was the least expected action of the Nigerian government. Over 1 million Ghanaians were thrown into confusion and indecision. It was rumored that the Federal government gave power to Nigerians to confront any alien after the ultimatum given to leave. This scared the aliens and sent them fleeing with and without their luggage. Those who could pack their belongings used the biggest of bags available which happened to be the big bag which is now referred to today as GHANA MUST GO. This mass deportation met global criticisms. The act was condemned by many humanitarian organizations across the Globe. The US Department of State said the expulsion Order was “shocking and a violation of every imaginable human right.”All these did not make PresidentShehuShagari’s Government to reverse the order. It still bent on expelling all illegal immigrants in the country. Also, there were claims that the corruption-riddled Government of ShehuShagari Ordered the deportation to divert attention from its shenanigans because the election was near.

My then Editor, Mr. Sola Odunfa sent me and our photographer, Thomas Umoru, to the Seme border to cover the expulsion of immigrants mostly Ghanaians. What I saw was shocking. There was no food or water at the border. People were begging to be deported. Millions streamed out through any possible exit they could find — through Shaki, to northern Benin. Down south, at the Seme border in Lagos, stampedes would kill many. Dozens were loaded onto open haulage trucks headed for Ghana. To add to the tragedy, President Jerry Rawlings, Ghana’s military head of state, had ordered the borders with Togo closed, to desist coup plotters and insurgents, so there would be no passage for days. In response, Togo closed its border with Benin to avoid a refugee crisis. Cars stalled bumper to bumper from the Benin-Togo border to Lagos, with people caught in sweltering heat and without water. Diseases spread. The United States sent in aid. The League of Red Cross Societies airlifted 500 tents, 10 000 blankets and thousands of buckets. It was tragic. Children were abandoned by their parents. And all these happened in spite of the ECOWAS treaty.

President Shagari won the election for the second term. On December 31, 1983, he was toppled by Major General Muhammad Buhari. His first announcement that night was” fellow Nigerians, finally, we have dutifully intervened to save this nation from imminent collapse. We, therefore, expect all Nigerians, including those who participated directly or indirectly in bringing the nation to this predicament, to cooperate with us. This generation of Nigerians, and indeed future generations, have no country other than Nigeria. We shall remain here and salvage it together. May God bless us all”.

Months after General Buhari took over nothing improved economically. The prosperity that General Buhari promised never came in spite of imprisoning prominent politicians. For the first time, Nigeria started to queue for essential commodities like sugar, salt, milk, etc. There was anger in the land. The government distanced itself from the people. Nigeria’s foreign friends abandoned her after Nigeria ridiculed Saudi Arabia as “We are unlike the Sheiks who do not know how to spend the oil money”. There was resentment all over the land.

A publication titled, AFRICA TODAY, published by Chief RaphUwechue, captured the mood of General Buhari’s tenure in 1985. In the publication, it declared “There were further outbreaks of religious violence by Islamic fundamentalist followers of Maitatsine in February 1985. The riots started in Jimeta, near Yola, in Gongola State. The trouble started when the police moved in to make a pre-emptive arrest of members of the proscribed sect who had been congregating in Yola. The sect offered very stiff resistance, resorting to rampaging, killing and burning. The Jimeta main market was razed to the ground and the town was deserted. The rioting was brought to an end only with the intervention of the army brigade based in Yola. After it was revealed that a substantial proportion of the rioting fundamentalists were aliens, the government ordered immigration officers to take greater action to monitor the movement of aliens in Nigeria and to stem the influx of illegal immigrants. This course of action was dictated not only by security reasons but also by economic considerations. Aliens were accused of smuggling and other forms of economic sabotage. They were alleged to aggravate the unemployment situation by taking jobs that would otherwise have been available for Nigerians

On April 15, 1985, the Nigeria government ordered an estimated 700,000 illegal immigrants to leave the country by May 10. If they failed to do so, the government declared that it would be ‘constrained to take necessary steps to ease them out of the country’. Residence permits for aliens would in future carry a special seal to cut down on forgeries, while identity cards would be introduced for Nigerians. The Ghananian government sent a delegation to beg General Muhammadu to extend the May 10 deadline for the expulsion of the aliens. A few hours after their departure, Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Major General MuhammaduMangoro announced that there would not be an extension. Most returnees went home penniless. Many were searching for food and water. It was a nightmare. Expectedly the world condemned Nigeria’s action.”

The recent xenophobia in South Africa was carried out by a mob. The one carried out in 1969 in Ghana and in Nigeria 1983 and 1985 was a state policy carried out by Ghana and Nigeria government.

Xenophobia is bad, very bad indeed. It should not be encouraged. It should be condemned no matter what.

  • Teniola, a former director at the Presidency, writes in from Lagos.
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Op-Ed

Op-ed: Is the Niger Delta Still Part Of Nigeria?

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Is the Niger Delta Still Part Of Nigeria

The dance of the absurd taking place in the media space in recent times couldn’t have been had President Buhari not ordered for a Forensic Audit of the Books of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

The National Assembly under Senator Ahmed Lawan and Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila seems to be unconcerned about the imminent dangers of a resurgence of youth restiveness in the oil and gas rich area of the country as some Lawmakers with obvious insidious interest have continued to challenge the authority of the President on the all-inclusive probe of the Commission which has been wobbling, twenty years after its creation. The excessive freedom enjoyed by those who have been publicly accused by the supervising Committee of the NDDC has been overstretched as the leadership of the 9th Assembly has either chosen to look the other way or become complicit in the macabre dance.

Since the decision by the President to look into the way billions of Naira have been frittered away through the Commission, the discordant tunes from a few, powerful Lawmakers from the Niger Delta region has become worrisome that the reading public is now suspicious of their involvement in the pathological sleaze that has characterized the Commission while leaving the region underdeveloped and gasping for air, in a manner akin to the African-American, George Floyd who died while begging to breathe.

It is worrisome that in spite of the fact that the National Assembly is led by the ruling party, APC, yet, the synergy expected between the Executive and the Legislature is far from being in existence as it concerns the Niger Delta region, which has consistently sustained the economy since 1956, when oil was discovered in commercial quantities.

Is it not beyond surprising and an effrontrey for a group of Lawmakers to challenge the decision of the President in approving an intervention for the people of the region for the purpose of the pandemic? The impudence displayed by these Lawmakers who definitely have something sinister to frustrate the efforts of the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Commission and the supervising Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio is a pointer that all is not well, particularly, when the supposed leader of the recalcitrant Lawmakers is from the opposition party, PDP. Could it be that the Senate President has conceded his powers to his Deputy, who recently, walked into the Headquarters of the EFCC with a letter written by the Clerk of the Senate, albeit on his instruction and requested for the probe and arrest of Buhari’s Minister, even when other Senators were kept in the dark of such an offensive? With the denial of Omo-Agege of his involvement in the scandal, will the Senate President set up a Committee to investigate him alongside the Clerk or simply sack the latter? That is up to him to stand for the truth or let his exalted office be ridiculed by his Deputy and his quest for power!

The desperation to have Akpabio removed and the Pondei-led IMC sacked is purely an effort to ensure that Buhari leaves no legacies in the Niger Delta region. The cry over the mismanagement of funds at the NDDC has been on, over time and was enunciated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, sometime in 2019 at Delta State. There was a follow up visit to the President by the Governors of the States under the NDDC which compelled the President to give Akpabio the mandate to appoint Forensic Auditors to look into the books, with an Interim Management Committee to oversee the running of the Commission while the audit lasts.

Sadly, those who seem to have been squandering the funds meant to build high grade Schools, Hospitals, Roads and Bridges amongst other infrastructures, are desperate to have Akpabio’s head on the slaughter slab, as millions of Naira have been deployed to different youth groups and a section of the media to further plant negative stories in other to discredit those saddled with this responsibility.

More worrisome is the involvement of high profile and principal officers at the National Assembly in this distracting dance, that one begins to wonder if truly they mean well for the region. What really do they intend to achieve in ensuring that Buhari does not add a stone to projects in the Niger Delta. Is there a fifth columnist working against the President but are pretending to be partners in progress with him?

The effort made by the NDDC to source for international grant of $126 million from the International Fund for  Agricultural Development, IFAD, has been aborted at the point of delivery by this same Lawmakers who wickedly slashed the budgetary provision for the counterpart funding from N1.3 billion to a paltry N100 million in the 2019 Budget of the NDDC! Funds from IFAD meant to massively engage in Agriculture in the region was wished away with the stroke of the pen. Not done with the plot to keep the region perpetually underdeveloped and totally dependent on crumbs from. Federal Allocation, these agents of darkness ensured that the budget of N10 billion for the construction of three Specialist Hospitals in the region was slashed to another paltry N100m! Yet, they prefer that billions of Naira are allocated for non-existent Training programs, Desilting of the Waterways and Medical Tourism overseas that yield nothing.

The 2020 Budget which has since been submitted in 2019 is yet to be attended to. Those who have gathered irrespective of party affiliations, to keep the region in agony at the risk of illegal activities of oil bunkering, environmental degradation and deprivation, and massive pollution of the air and water resulting in the cancerous black smooth and death of aquatic life are not done with their offensive as they question the rationale behind the payment of contractors owed by successive Boards of the Commission.

The recent probe of N40 billion by the two Houses of the National Assembly is only a disguise of their real intents. Why is this probe more important to the supposed watchdogs of the Commission rather than allow for a thorough Forensic Audit? What is the real purpose of the Adhoc Committees of the two Houses in writing the Bureau of Public Procurement to deny the Forensic Auditors access to the nine states to verify the records of the Commission? This is not only suspicious but scandalous by those who claim to be in support of the Presidential Order of the Forensic Audit!

One begins to wonder who is actually ruling the country when a few Lawmakers have effortlessly challenged the powers of the President to seek to know what has been of the monies poured into the NDDC for over 19 years.

For the second highest ranking Senator who flaunts the title of “Leader of the South South” to resort to a petition against a Minister to the EFCC, in order to frustrate the President and leader of his political party, leaves much to be desired! It is clear that the 9th Assembly is not interested in the development of the Niger Delta region.

No wonder the same Lawmakers who claim to have an oversight function on the Niger Delta have failed to query the Presidential Infrastructural Development Fund, PIDF, on the deliberate neglect of the East-West Road which is one of the five critical projects under the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, NSIA. While they are at war with the managers of NDDC, they have left the people of the region to suffer as they navigate from one state to the other through the East-West Road. In spite of a Presidential approval of N100bn in 2018 for the completion of sections 1 to 4 of the road and a release of N19.5bn by the Minister for Finance, three years ago, for the payment of legacy debts, the PIDF under Mr Uche Orji has failed to pay the Contractors, thereby delaying their return to the site and allowing the road to deteriorate. 

Without a recent intervention by the NDDC to repair the failed sections of the road, the people of the region would have completely been cut off from the West.

It is clear that there is an orchestrated plot to make sure that the APC controlled Federal Government fails in the Niger Delta region. And who are those responsible for this mess? Obviously, they are not far from us as the fate of the Niger Delta region now depends on them!

Obiaruko Ndukwe

President, Citizens Quest for Truth Initiative

The Newscap, part of NYMEWSNET addresses a range of topical subjects and openly invites your views.
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Op-ed: NDDC, When Strange Bedfellows Unite To Rape a Region

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NDDC: When Strange Bedfellows Unite To Rape a Region

If the news of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, on Wednesday 3rd June 2020, denying ever writing any letter for an extension of the tenure of the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sani Ataba Omolori and other Staff is anything to go by, then one wonders why till date the Clerk still retains his office when he is supposed to have been retired since February, 2020, according to the National Assembly Service Commission rules.

The seeming conspiratorial silence of the leadership and members of the 9th Assembly should worry any right thinking Nigerian, especially when it is an institution that inspires hope in our democracy.

According to a highly placed source in the National assembly, It has become worrisome the twist in the face-off between the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and some members of the National Assembly as the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege mandated the Clerk to write a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes and Commission, EFCC, against Akpabio, bothering on alleged malfeasance and money laundering. In what looks like a desperate launch of a vendetta against Akpabio, the petition refers to a  $4.9bn Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) contract award to Osmoserve for supply of relief materials for the Covid-19 pandemic across the nine Niger Delta States. This is most likely because the Minister chose to courageously take the right course of action by backing the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of NDDC to plug all loop holes from which scarce funds were surging  out of the Commission over the years.

There are strong indications also that the duo of Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege and Sen. Nwaoboshi, the Chairman, Senate Committee on NDDC, both from Delta State are in active connivance with the Clerk of the National Assembly to ensure they frustrate the work of the Forensic Auditors currently perusing meticulously through the accounts of the NDDC.

Nothing else explains coherently the reason the EFCC currently working with other renown financial institutions in auditing the books of NDDC will welcome an isolated case bothering on same concerns as the ongoing Forensic Audit.

It all reeks of vindictive intent on the part of the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who, very obviously, is still disenchanted by the way the Bernard Okumagba-led Board ended in a still birth. Omo-Agege had nominated his former contemporary, Bernard Okumagba with whom he served as Commissioners under Ex Governor James Ibori’s Government in Delta State. Unknown to many, Peter Nwaoboshi and the duo of Omo-Agege and Okumagba all served at the same time in that Government, from where they got the appellation, “the Ibori Boys.”

The decision of President Buhari to jettison the already screened members of the Board has not gone down well with Omo-Agege and co, who believe that Akpabio opted for an IMC in a bid to upstage the nominees and their sponsors.

The President’s action is considered an advise from the Minister and that has pitched some members of the National Assembly against Akpabio and by extension, the Interim Management Committee saddled with the responsibility of running the affairs of the Commission during the period of the Forensic Audit.

It is sad to realize that the Clerk of the National Assembly,  Sani Ataba Omolori’s desperation to keep his job for another 5years, albeit illegally can make him resort to anything, including joining an unholy union with Principal Officers of the Senate and House of Representatives, simply to retain his job. It won’t be out of place, therefore, if I refer to these strange bedfellows as friends with benefit.

That the Deputy Senate President in a letter addressed to the Chairman of EFCC with a reference no. NASS/CS/99/R/21/19, the Clerk of the Senate stated that he was directed by the office of the Deputy Senate President to request the assistance of the EFCC “in an ongoing inquiry into the affairs of the core members of the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC…” According to the letter titled, “SENATE REQUESTS THE INVESTIGATION AND MONITORING OF MINISTER OF NIGER DELTA AFFAIRS HON. GODSWILL AKPABIO AND POSSIBLE CRIMINAL AFFILIATE MR. SCOTT IKOTT TOMMEY”, the Senators are overriding the adhoc-committee already inaugurated to look into the alleged misappropriation of N40 billion by the Minister and the IMC. This also implies that the Senate President may have mandated his Deputy to petition the EFCC or it could be that his powers have been whittled down by his Deputy and his ally, Nwaoboshi.

 Shamefully, it has become a story of one day, one propaganda while another day comes with yet another blackmail, petitions, lies and deceit as the case maybe against the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs and the IMC of NDDC.

 Most shocking is how a notable figure like the  Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-agege can go all out to scuttle a Forensic Audit authorized by the President on the request of the Niger Delta Governors.

How is it that Senator Peter Nwaoboshi is throwing every available spanner into the works, like a drowning man holding unto a straw, ready to pull anyone along with him? How can Sen Peter Nwaoboshi be so knowledgeable about the NDDC, yet, this level of sleaze is being perpetuated under his watch? Is he saying he is unaware of the 50 billion naira payment to NGOs in a single day, on May 15, 2019, and another payment of billions of Naira to 360 NGOs in 2018, and another singular payment of 15 billion Naira to a company based in Akwa Ibom, without any commensurate work done?

It is becoming more difficult convincing Nigerians that government is for them, when news like the clandestine move by NASS leadership to extend the tenure of the Clerk of the National Assembly greeted the news media. For a personality like Sani Ataba Omolori who has served the nation meritoriously, the honour is in retiring from active service with pride, rather than be forcefully evicted going by allegations of illegal extension of his service, a position held by the National Assembly Service Commission.

Following the sudden sequence of allegations against the Minister and the IMC, you will not be living in doubt that they are all geared towards stalling the Forensic Audit, so as  continuing with business as usual in the NDDC; nothing more.

A keen observer of the face-off between the NDDC and NASS will tell you that should this impasse in the region be resolved in objectivity, the Niger Delta people will be the greatest beneficiary, and they will have a better NDDC than they ever before the crisis started.

To some gladiators, it is an ego battle, to some others it is a battle for the soul of the Commission to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people of the Niger Delta region. Whether you lend your voice to the developing debate or not, one thing is sacrosanct; it is the expectation of all well-meaning Niger Deltans that President Buhari will stop at nothing until the final report of the Forensic Audit is presented and is implemented to the letter.

Eghosa Sunday-Salami

Edo State Secretary

Citizens Quest for Truth Initiative

The Newscap, part of NYMEWSNET addresses a range of topical subjects and openly invites your views.
However, independent views expressed in our media presence are those of the author. And are not necessarily those of NYNEWSNET or any of its employees and volunteers

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Op-Ed: “What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge”, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:

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What was your first reaction when you saw the video of the white cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck while Floyd croaked, “I can’t breathe”?

If you’re white, you probably muttered a horrified, “Oh, my God” while shaking your head at the cruel injustice. If you’re black, you probably leapt to your feet, cursed, maybe threw something (certainly wanted to throw something), while shouting, “Not @#$%! again!” Then you remember the two white vigilantes accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood in February, and how if it wasn’t for that video emerging a few weeks ago, they would have gotten away with it. And how those Minneapolis cops claimed Floyd was resisting arrest but a store’s video showed he wasn’t. And how the cop on Floyd’s neck wasn’t an enraged redneck stereotype, but a sworn officer who looked calm and entitled and devoid of pity: the banality of evil incarnate.

Maybe you also are thinking about the Karen in Central Park who called 911 claiming the black man who asked her to put a leash on her dog was threatening her. Or the black Yale University grad student napping in the common room of her dorm who was reported by a white student. Because you realize it’s not just a supposed “black criminal” who is targeted, it’s the whole spectrum of black faces from Yonkers to Yale.

You start to wonder if it should be all black people who wear body cams, not the cops.

What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you’re white, you may be thinking, “They certainly aren’t social distancing.” Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, “Well, that just hurts their cause.” Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, “That’s putting the cause backward.”

You’re not wrong — but you’re not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness — write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change — the needle hardly budges.

But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting. Just as the slimy underbelly of institutional racism is being exposed, it feels like hunting season is open on blacks. If there was any doubt, President Trump’s recent tweets confirm the national zeitgeist as he calls protesters “thugs” and looters fair game to be shot.

Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts. I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.

So, maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19.

What you should see when you see black protesters in the age of Trump and coronavirus is people pushed to the edge, not because they want bars and nail salons open, but because they want to live. To breathe.

Worst of all, is that we are expected to justify our outraged behavior every time the cauldron bubbles over. Almost 70 years ago, Langston Hughes asked in his poem “Harlem”: “What happens to a dream deferred? /… Maybe it sags / like a heavy load. / Or does it explode?”

Fifty years ago, Marvin Gaye sang in “Inner City Blues”: “Make me wanna holler / The way they do my life.” And today, despite the impassioned speeches of well-meaning leaders, white and black, they want to silence our voice, steal our breath.

So what you see when you see black protesters depends on whether you’re living in that burning building or watching it on TV with a bowl of corn chips in your lap waiting for “NCIS” to start.

What I want to see is not a rush to judgment, but a rush to justice.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the N.B.A.’s all-time leading scorer, is the author of 16 books, including, most recently, “Mycroft & Sherlock —The Empty Birdcage” www.kareemabduljabbar.com

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Op-ed: THE 1967 NIGERIA-BIAFRA WAR EXODUS, by Nnedinso Ogaziechi

Some Igbos betrayed their kinsmen for filthy lucre – the notorious saboteurs who always ended badly despite their acquisitions, some accused others of greed, but yet, those who sang for him and encouraged him were not necessarily from the East

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Nigerian-Biafra-war

“ Joe de abukide takikwojawa” he sang and danced in all his elegance. He was the tallest man I saw growing up; he was the first ‘journalist’ I met and ‘interviewed’. He was in love with current affairs; he was up to date with the news. He was a good storyteller. He was an entertainer, and more than two decades after his death; he is widely quoted around his community. He was well admired; he was the quintessential man of integrity that was as compassionate as he was firm. He was my father….

The Igbos-the exodus

The opening sentence here is in the local language of his host community, he sang it often and danced in that his elegant form, he belonged to different village dance groups like the Ogene group, a group whose music was almost elitist at the time, they only sang at notable and remarkable ceremonies and at funerals of important chiefs and kings.

So growing up, he always sang this particular song and danced at times he felt depressed. Of course, we had that father/daughter bond, so I asked him the meaning …then he tells me;

 “I’m still the same Joseph that I was before the war” He smiled and sat down. 

 “That song, Nne nwa m, was sang by the men and women I lived with in the North before the war. They sought me out after the war and and they all came here to visit and sang that song and danced. They were happy I survived and I’m still the old Joseph they knew” The song means, Joseph is still the Joseph that we knew before the war. What they did not know was that the song they sang was an elixir for a former wealthy man who the war stripped naked materially, but he was happy to have survived with his family and some dependants , but many did not…

Biafran Girls at the battlefront
Biafran Girls at the battlefront

He had businesses and houses in the North, at the beginning of the war, he was scared for his family, apprentices and the larger Igbo community. He was an ardent BBC fan and so followed the pre-war news about the coups and countercoups and the attendant pogrom in the North. He called the Igbo community to urge them to get ready to leave because he was following the news and knew they were not going to be safe. His hosts at the time gave him assurances that they would protect him but he wondered, what of my people, what of those who depended on me for survival? He made arrangements to take as many people as he could back home amidst protests from his amiable hosts.

“I have investments here, I have houses, I have many debtors so I will always come back after the war. I have lived here since adulthood, most of my investments are here and not in my ancestral home. I will surely return but let me secure as many lives as I can first,” He told them.

Nigerian-Biara-civil war
Nigerian-Biara-civil war

The prognosis of events he was hearing on radio was not heartwarming. He was particularly disturbed by the radio speeches of an Emeka Ojukwu, the son of his business partner at the time, Sir Louis Ojukwu. For my father, it was an emotional but a survivalist decision to head East before danger enveloped him and the people he cared about.

So in August 1967, he hired a big truck to take as many people as it could accommodate home. So when Joe, as he was addressed made the trip out, the other nay-sayers knew that really, danger loomed…he continued to make arrangements for those willing to get back home…many left on his prompting.

But even the home was soon invaded…one of his houses demolished and his vintage Stone House building turned into Nigeria Soldiers Senior Officers House…it was stripped bare of all furniture and ornaments acquired over the years.

So he told me the war was a cocktail of humanity and the individual idiosyncrasies, he saw love, kindness, compassion, wickedness, sadism, narcissism and all sorts…In war and peace, humanity thrives, he told stories of resilience, of perseverance, gratitude and friendship across Nigeria.

Some Igbos betrayed their kinsmen for filthy lucre – the notorious saboteurs who always ended badly despite their acquisitions, some accused others of greed, but yet, those who sang for him and encouraged him were not necessarily from the East. They were Northerners who took him in as family. The contradictions of a nation caught in the throes of political intrigues across ethnic and religious lines and the grass that suffer when many, not two elephants fight…

The story of Nigeria-Biafra war is as diverse, intriguing, heart wrenching and devastating as every war story…but the essence of history is to look back and learn from mistakes of the past…we must document our tiny pieces for humanity…

 In memory of all the dead, the maimed and the dispossessed, we must raise our voices. In Igbo language, there are names like Ozoemena – let evil not be repeated, Agha Egbune – let war not consume, Osondu – the race for life etc. All these are snippets of oral and enduring history we must document and preserve.

The war has been described as a rain that fell on all roofs, we would all contribute our stories for prosperity…

 The coming days will have other stories…🙏🏼

 Pic: Google.

 ©Nnedinso

 May 27th, 2020.

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