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Editorial

al-Mustapha’s speech about origins of Nigeria’s terminal woes: Who are the “We”?

By Tony Nnadi

 

Being a Rejoinder by Tony Nnadi on behalf of the NINAS Secretariat in response to the claims of Hamza al-Mustapha, in the attached video, about the foreign origins and orchestration of Nigeria’s debilitating woes.

The creation of Nigeria as an offshore business enterprise of Britain as well as the atrocious and most iniquitous Foundational Arrangements embedded by Britain and its Local Agent in the 1914 Amalgamation of Nigeria, are too well known to bear any further repetition.

The negative manipulations by Britain and that Local Agent, (the Fulani Caliphate), over the decades are also too notorious to bear any further rehash, and these are made even more self-evident by the emergence of the imposed and Unworkable Unitary Constitutional Order that now defines that Nigeria Nigeria.

It is against this backdrop that the Miserable Attempt by al-Mustapha and the forces he represents, to Send the rest of us on a wild goose chase should be dismissed as Dead on Arrival.

Where is the place of the events of 1966-1970 which culminated in the 1979 & 1999 Constitutions in this warped narrative?

Amidst the Union Dispute Raging all across Nigeria by way of Self-determination Agitations that trenchantly Question the Basis of the Nigerian Union, one should ask al-Mustapha: Who are the “We” that he was summoning by this sophistry?

When more than 75% of the Constituent Components of the Nigerian Union especially to the South and Middle-Belt, are heading to the exit door from the toxic Union of Nigeria, and the Global Community, particularly the UN, as well as the US and its Allies, are being inundated with demands for support towards remediation options that points more towards Dissolution; all because the Obdurately Arrogant Sharia Caliphate embrace a civilization under which *they owe it a duty of faith to kill the rest as Infidels*, and they embrace a civilization that insists that all men are not born equal for which reason they Proclaim *they are Born to Rule others*

The same Sharia Caliphate refused adamantly to come to the table of discussion set since after the abandonment of the Aburi Consensus in 1967.

They insist that their Worse-Than-Apartheid, Master-Servant contraption is Non-Negotiable, Indivisible and Indissoluble.

Where is the place of the undisguised Fulani Ethnic Cleansing Campaign in all these or are we being invited to join the pretense that there is none?

One would have said to al-Mustapha: Tell it to the Marines but even the Marines will reject this Al-Mustapha’s hogwash and poor spin of a Narrative.

We challenge those who listened to, and viewed this al-Mustapha’s video clip to offer us their answers to the Postulations, Propositions and Prescriptions of the December 16, 2020 Constitutional Force Majeure Proclamation by the Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS) regarding the claims and spins of al-Mustapha in the video relating to the diagnosis of the terminally sick Nigeria as well as Potent Treatment Options.

For the avoidance of doubt, Hamza al-Mustapha and his principals should be told in clear terms that until the Two Egregious Falsehoods contained in the Preamble to the 1999 Constitution are fully resolved (ie that *We the People Solemnly Resolved to Live Together as one Political Union* and that *We Made, Enacted and Gave ourselves that Constitution*), there is no “We” that he can summon to the task of rescuing “Our Country” from the machinations of Foreign Interests.

No doubt at all that there are foreign Interests involved in the destruction of Nigeria but the rest of us in the Alliance Territories (ie South and Middle-Belt) are telling al-Mustapha and his Caliphate Principals that they (the Caliphate) are the ones providing the Framework for whatever manipulations that are being wrought by Foreign Interests in Nigeria and that right now, our (the Alliance) concern is for our own lives, safety and future and not for the Preservation of the Toxic Nigeria that has become a Union of Death for Us, it’s Trapped Indigenous Constituent Components.

 

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#EndSARS, and a government’s perennial failure

This week marked the first anniversary of the #EndSARS, the mass demonstrations against police brutality that shook Nigeria and culminated in a brutal crackdown on the protesters by soldiers drafted to the Lekki tollgate, Lagos State. As we all recall, the protests began as a social media campaign against the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad, an elite unit in the police reputed for its excessive use of force, cruelty, unlawful arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings, and flagrant abuse of the law. In response to the protests, the government disbanded SARS but almost immediately replaced it with another agency just like SARS. The protesters would not have it, and as the protests gained ground both locally and internationally, they would go on to make broader arguments about the general state of the nation—insecurity, widening poverty, corruption, and poor governance.

The memory of what truly happened the night of October 20, 2020 at the Lekki tollgate has been contested by state agents, but none of their strident denials can take away the fact that the Nigerian government unleashed violence on its own people. The murders happened, and we will not let them minimise that truth with their feverish repudiations of that fact.

Also, this same week, The Wall Street Journal published a news article that narrated the extent of the Nigerian government’s powerlessness in confronting insecurity. The article highlighted how the supposed bandits terrorising Nigeria have not only grown more daring in their criminal activities but are, in fact, heavily equipped with arms that surpass that of security agencies and are also flush with ransom money. If you are already a Nigerian, nothing the TWSJ article says is new or even particularly surprising. We know how much Nigerian security agencies have been serially beaten by the hydra-headed monsters of terrorists, herdsmen, and supposed bandits turned professional abductors. But the article contained an interesting detail about how even the “intelligence” agencies paid off these criminal gangs to protect the president. According to the piece, an intelligence officer dropped crisp banknotes with a criminal gang in the bush to retrieve a sophisticated weapon they had seized from the army and which threatened the president.

That information is a new wrinkle, and it goes far to show the true state of governance in Nigeria. Now, couple that revelation with the brutality with which the same government confronted the #EndSARS, and it becomes clearer the extent to which the state officially antagonises its own people. Brutality by security agents in Nigeria, whether by the police or SARS (or its many mutations) or the army or the Department of State Services, is an antagonism consequent of their feebleness in apprehending the actual threats that militate against Nigerians. It suddenly made more sense why they descended on Nollywood actor Chiwetalu Agu with all the rage of their impotence. For that same reason, the anniversary of #EndSARS became another round of opportunity for the police to threaten violence rather than a demonstration of a thoughtful appreciation of the historicity of the occasion.

It is bad enough that Nigeria faces myriad woes of insecurity and deepening poverty, but it is even far worse that we lack a government invested enough in social development to offer anything other than occasional cosmetic changes. All the issues raised during the #EndSARS protests last year have not only remained but have even grown worse. From North-Central to North-East to South-East to North-West to South-South and South-West, no region in Nigeria is spared from the massive disruptions to their lives and livelihoods due to the failings of the state. How far better improved would our lives have been if the government had taken the anger and the angst that drove #EndSARS seriously and committed itself to addressing the issues raised through social reforms? The way the #EndSARS protest was brutally repressed has made me wonder what else it would take for the government to acknowledge the existential conditions of the Nigerian life. If #EndSARS could not move them to embark on necessary reforms, what would?

There is no politically correct way to state it, but the Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) regime has been the worst thing that ever happened to Nigeria in recent times. From hunger to insecurity to multi-dimensional poverty, and the systematic diminishing of Nigerian life, their government checks every box. This country has never had it so bad as we have done in the past six years under his watch. They have not solved a single problem since they came into office, but they have also compounded the nation’s issues to the point that any leadership after Buhari will spend much of the time doing massive repair work at a foundational level before even attempting to start rebuilding the nation. His administration is many levels of a setback for the country. When you think about it, a government paying bandits to protect the president is a conspiracy against the nation in the highest places. It means the government itself is part of the enemy to be defeated for Nigeria to thrive. If God had decided to punish a nation for its sins, the divine judgment could not have been worse than the present Nigerian experience.

In another 18 months or thereabouts, other factors being equal, we will get a chance to choose another leader. If there is something we need to start sounding to ourselves from now, it is that we must not repeat the mistake of assigning someone who has nowhere to go the task of setting the nation’s clock. Buhari should have been the kind of leader mindful of the nation’s time. He should have been the kind of person that should have understood that time is counting against us, and everything that needs to be done to reform Nigeria must be approached with utmost urgency. Unfortunately, he got into power and just slumped. Without either a sense of zeal or haste, the nation plumbs new lows under his blind watch. With the help of his sadistic associates, they actively feed the monster consuming Nigerians. We owe it ourselves to carry forward the passionate desire for a better country that drove the #EndSARS protests and invest it in selecting a better crop of leaders. Because, if we do not set ourselves on a path of reformation and rebuilding immediately after Buhari, we risk losing the nation entirely.

While the election will officially take place in 2023, the horse-trading has long started among the usual suspects whose administration will only be a mere recrudescence of the visionlessness that defined the Buhari years. Enough of being ruled by the cabal of deadwood who thrive on the sweat and blood of Nigerians. That is why we must neither play nor yield to emotionally unintelligent issues like “power rotation” or “power zoning” that serve nobody but the carpet baggers and professional politicians. Those are minor issues compared to sweeping away everything that smells of Buhari and his associates. Everything and everyone associated with the present regime must go so that Nigerians can catch a breath of fresh air.

We must make a break from a leadership that has not only jinxed the nation but has also been extremely toxic. We must flush out the vestiges of this administration with their anti-Midas touch. Everything the Buhari government has touched not only rusted, but they also eventually crumbled. By 2023, Buhari would have wasted not just eight calendar years of our lives but also a lifetime of an entire generation by frittering away lives, material resources, and even the hopes and the expectations that things could ever be better that they invested in 2015 when they elected him and in 2020 during the #EndSARS. Their gross administrative incompetence has weakened Nigeria, not only politically and economically, but also morally. We owe it to everyone—the living, the dead, and even the living dead—to rid ourselves of this pestilence of leadership and take back our country. We cannot continue like this, both impoverished and embattled by the criminal gangs whose impudence is sponsored even by the government.

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Wike setting the pace in fiscal responsibility

 

By Paulinus Nsirim

Rivers State is the best performing and most financially viable state in Nigeria today in terms of fiscal performance.

A report by BudgIT, a highly respected Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) which focuses on fiscal performances of both federal and state governments in the country, listed Rivers State at the top position, ahead of four other states, namely: Lagos, Anambra, Ebonyi and Kebbi, in the fiscal performance ranking of states for 2020/2021.

According to the BudgIT annual report on the state of States, released on Monday, September 27, 2021, Rivers State, once again, topped the overall 2021 Fiscal Performance Ranking, indicating that “the fiscal fundamentals of this state, compared to others in the country, are more prudently managed”.

To put the ranking in its proper context and perspective, it is important to note that BudgIT, is a civic-tech organisation leading the advocacy for transparency and accountability in Nigeria and three other African countries and it has launched the 2020 edition of its annual States of States report entitled: “Fiscal Options for Building Back Better.”

This report is BudgIT’s signature analysis that provides citizens, CSOs, stakeholders and policymakers with robust insights on ways to implement financial and institutional reforms that will improve states’ fiscal performance and sustainability levels.

Gabriel Okeowo, CEO, BudgIT, shedding more light on how the ranking was derived, said that ‘for this year’s report, the organization examined states’ fiscal health using four metrics namely; the ability of states to meet their operating expenses with IGR and VAT, states’ ability to cover their operating expenses and loan repayment with their total revenue, how much fiscal room states have to borrow more, and the degree to which each state prioritizes capital expenditure with respect to their operating expenses.”

The nitty-gritty of the report as it concerns the excellent fiscal performance of Rivers State under the pragmatic leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike highlights the critical areas that the State exhibited astute prudential management to include the following:

Rivers State was top and one of Only three (3) states in the country that could meet their operating expenses obligations with a combination of their IGR and Value Added Tax (VAT) as measured in BudgIT’s ‘Index A’ ranking. The others are Lagos and Anambra states.

Rivers State came out tops amongst five states, which prioritized investment in infrastructure by spending more on capital expenditure than operating expenses. This analysis was based on each state’s 2020 revenue and the other states are Ebonyi, Anambra and Cross River states in the south and Kaduna state in the north.

Rivers State, according to the NGO, was equally amongst seventeen states, which were still able to improve their investment in capital expenditure, from 2019 levels, despite fiscal constraints induced by COVID-19.

The report identified States with the highest foreign debts that were significantly hit due to negative exposure to exchange rate volatility. The states are Lagos, Kaduna, Edo, Cross River and Bauchi.

Furthermore, Rivers State is NOT amongst the five (5) states which accounted for more than half (that is 63.63% or N300.7bn) of the net year-on-year sub-national debt increase of N472.63bn for all the states between 2019 and 2020. The states are Lagos, Kaduna, Anambra, Benue and Zamfara.

The overwhelming import of this impeccable report is that Rivers State, under the brilliant financial management of Governor Wike, has once again emerged as the best prudently managed state in the country.

Ironically, some self-styled leadership experts had gone to town with concocted and outdated figures allegedly from the Debt Management Office( DMO), to claim that Rivers State was the second most indebted state in the country.

This unpatriotic, shameful and loquacious attempt to de-market the State for cheap political recognition and tokenist gains, was a very desperate attempt at misleading the people with misinformation.

This was soon debunked by the DMO, the very establishment they alluded their misleading information to, which published the comprehensive debt profile of all the states and the Federal Government and confirmed that Rivers State was not even amongst the first 10 most indebted states in the country.

This annual report has once again exposed the pernicious misinformation being peddled by the fake analysts who would deliberately prefer to turn a blind eye to the massive infrastructural development and the astute acumen with which Governor Wike is managing the State’s resources, especially at a time when the global economy has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is on record that for every project which the Governor Wike’s administration has embarked; Flyovers, dual carriage highways, educational institutions campuses, healthcare facilities, agriculture, housing, sand filling and reclamation of vast swathes of land in riverine communities across the length and breadth of the state, there has always been a structured payment schedule to ensure that no project is delayed as a result of funding constraints.

Even those projects for which loan facilities have been sourced to execute, like the recently approved N25billion (Twenty Five Billion Naira) loan from Zenith Bank for the funding of the Oyigbo-Afam Road, Chokocho-Igbodo Road, the tenth flyover in Port Harcourt and other projects, a servicing and loan repayment schedule which has ensured that the loan would be repaid within eighteen months from the State Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), has already been put in place.

Indeed, the most impressive aspect of Governor Wike’s fiscal prudence is the fact that funds are clearly appropriated to defined and verifiable projects like the Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School at Rumueme, Port Harcourt, the Chokocho-Igbodo Road in Etche Local Government Area, the Oyigbo-Afam Road in Oyigbo Local Government Area, amongst others, which have been earmarked for the recent N25 billion.

Governor Wike has also been at the forefront of monitoring the pace of construction and implementation of these projects, with his hands-on, pragmatic, often spontaneous on-the-spot assessment and verification visits to project sites, to ensure that they are delivered to specifications and within the time frame stipulated for the projects.

It has therefore come as little or no surprise at all that the State has come out tops in the BudgIT fiscal performance ranking of states for 2021. The reason for this is simple; Governor Wike’s midas touch in fiscal acumen and the strategic prudential discipline, which had been the hallmark in the management of the states financial resources, is unparalleled and yielding fantastic reports.

Governor Wike has always sounded it loud and clear that he has no reason to be shuttling to Abuja, cap in hand, to go and beg for funds as some administrators do. He has left no one in doubt since he assumed office in May 2015, that he is not a lazy leader but is well aware of his avowed pledge and commitment, both in actions and comments, and he is very determined not to leave any debt behind for the incoming administration in the state.

Indeed, for a leader who has also kept faith with his pledge to Rivers people of his commitment not to leave any abandoned project behind for the next administration, as well as his promise to make sure that he delivers legacy projects to every local government area in the state, the obvious conclusion to be made is that Rivers State will continue to excel in its fiscal performance till the end of the tenure of the Governor Wike’s administration.

Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State

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My thoughts on the situation in Southeast Nigeria

 

By Kingsley Moghalu

 

A file photo of Dr. Kingsley Moghalu, former presidential candidate, former CBN Deputy Governor, foemer diplomat and former university professor.
I was a child during the Nigerian Civil War but I have good memories of the destruction and death from the war itself and the death from kwashiokor of at least a million children who died of starvation. I remember the death of my uncle Godson, my father’s youngest brother and a Biafran soldier, and the wailing anguish of my now late grandmother at his funeral. The lives and futures of so many brilliant young men and women wasted in a conflict not of their making.

Till tomorrow, I continue to believe that Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu’s violent coup of January 1966 (which ultimately failed as it was suppressed) was a wrong move, because that’s what started the violent phase of the Nigerian crisis (there was a political crisis already). But I believe Nzeogwu and his co-conspirators from various ethnic groups in our country acted alone. No one sent sent them, let alone Ndigbo. They were simply hot-headed and misguided soldiers in a time in Africa when the military thought they could settle problems. As we know now, they created more.

Fast forward to 1970. The war is over. General Phillip Effiong, Justice Sir Louis Mbanefo, Dr. Akanu Ibiam and the rest of the Biafran military and political high command have surrendered. The short-lived Republic of Biafra is no more. General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Biafran leader, has gone into exile. Fifty years later, Ndigbo have yet to recover. Yes, we were relatively quick to recover economically. Who can possibly stop the Igbo trader or industrialist who, love him or hate him, supplies the basic elements of survival in communities across our country for a justifiable profit margin?

But, politically, it’s been complicated. Remarkably, though, nine years after the civil war an Igbo, Dr. Alex Ekwueme was Vice-President of Nigeria under President Shehu Shagari. It is quite possible, perhaps even likely, that Ekwueme could have become President and a great unifier of Nigeria in 1987 at the end of Shagari’s second term in office. But the Second Republic was truncated by the soldiers, led by the then Major-General Muhammadu Buhari. Again, another example of how the military created more problems than they were meant to have solved. The rest is history.

We need national reconciliation. Nigeria needs healing and peaceful co-existence of its motley ethnic groups joined together by the British without our consent but nevertheless a legal reality under the International law doctrine of uti possedetis. We are not unique in this regard. Other countries were colonized too, and many of them are doing well today, thank you. They built their nations and moved on from the past, focused now on achieving glorious futures

Who will bring and lead the necessary healing and reconciliation, and how can it be achieved in a practical manner? It’s an open question, but my many years of experience in conflict resolution, international security operations and nation-building as a United Nations diplomat (before the next chapter in central banking and economic management) have left me with some answers.

Flashback. In 1982, Ojukwu returned to a tumultuous welcome following a state pardon from President Shagari. (General Gowon, accused of complicity in the Dimka coup of 1976 that killed Murtala Muhammad who overthrew the Gowon regime seven months earlier, was also pardoned and cleared to return home to Nigeria in 1981). For those of us old enough to have seen these events first hand, it is hard to reconcile the progress we made in healing and nation-building, especially under the Shagari presidency, with what is happening in Nigeria today.

Ojukwu was to go headlong into Nigerian politics in the years after his pardon and return from exile. He was later elected to the Senate, and in the next decade even contested for the Nigerian presidency in 2003 in the Fourth Republic after the second return to democracy in 1999. Older and wiser, he sought to advance the interest of Ndigbo in a united Nigeria. He now saw a territorial Biafra as unrealistic.

I am yet to be convinced that he was foolish in reaching this conclusion, or that anyone could be more “Biafran” than the man who led the military fight, ultimately without success, for a territorial Biafran enclave.

What is the lesson of all this history from the standpoint of the present? It is this: that although Nigeria’s Southeast region has a valid case of being politically denied justice and equity, secession or a victim mentality are not the answer. There simply isn’t a path forward for Ndigbo other than to embrace our national politics and bring their 20 million (at the very least) adult, voting age votes into it. Period. Any other alternative, such as boycotting elections or having low numbers in voter registration, is to marginalize themselves and then turn around to blame others.

In the United States, residents of the two largest states of Texas and California have occasionally floated the idea of secession. They have not seceded. But they have not been persecuted for having that desire. These demands are simply managed within the boundaries of the Constitution as the right to free speech and assembly in America. The French speaking Quebec Region in Canada had a strong seccessionist movement. Today, tout et calm (all is quiet). It was all negotiated politically. Constitutional adjustments were made to accommodate their grievances. Not a bullet was fired. I respect civilized people, I have to tell you.

In Spain, the same thing, the problem even worse. In 2017 the country went into its worst political crisis in 40 years after separatist politicians in its affluent Catalonia region (home to Barcelona) tried to have the region secede from Spain. They failed, but the battle continues, politically and inside the Spanish electoral system. Today, the separatist forces have won a majority in the Catalan regional parliament and are calling on the European authorities for negotiations. But the Spanish Constitution does not permit secession.

Self determination is a right under international law. But in reality it is a qualified right. When domination is external, as was the case in colonialism, the right is interpreted as an absolute one, and the United Nations supported the independence process of many nations under this principle. When it concerns self-determination from an already constituted, independent country, it becomes more complicated, because it is then subject to the Constitution of that country.

To conclude, there is a big difference between having a grievance and pursuing such a grievance intelligently. The destruction of the economy of the Southeast in endless sit-at-home orders by IPOB is hurting the interest of the region and Nigerians who live there. So is the ongoing violence, although there is some confusion about its true provenance because of a mish-mash of actors and motives. Of course, we know this is happening because of a failure of leadership by the State Governors and other politicians from the region. Nature abhors a vacuum. The Nigerian political class in the Southeast, as in most of Northern Nigeria, for example, have lost legitimacy. Non-state actors have filled the vacuum.

But we simply cannot go on living as if in a jungle, with citizens cowed and terrorized by a confusing array of forces, and legally constituted authorities unable to investigate, provide answers and stop the violence. This is called state failure, pure and simple. But the lessons of the tragedy of 1967-1970 must be kept sharply in mind. It cannot happen a second time. No matter the challenges, peace is a better option than war.

I believe that every part of Nigeria will benefit from remaining one country in the larger union it is today, if we can successfully re-engineer (restructure) our country for success instead of our current failure. A great future for Nigeria is possible and doable. We just need to select the leaders that have the vision and the capacity to make it possible. This is where we must now spend our time and energy.

Kingsley Moghalu is a former Nigerian presidential candidate, former Central Bank of Nigeria Deputy Governor, former diplomat and former university professor. The opinions expressed in the above article are entirely his.

 

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SOUTHEAST UNDER SIEGE; A SHORT MEMO TO GOVERNOR DAVE UMAHI

 

By Charles Ogbu

 

Mr governor Sir,

It is with a heart burdened with grief that I address this memo to you IN YOUR CAPACITY AS THE CHAIRMAN OF SOUTHEAST GOVERNORS FORUM. And forgive me for not addressing you as ‘His Excellency’ because in this context, I honestly don’t think you are deserving of that title.

Mr governor Sir, as the governor of Ebonyi state, you have been remarkably outstanding in terms of infrastructural development like roads, bridges, fly-overs etc especially in the state capital, Abakaliki. One who finds himself in Abakaliki at night would be forgiven to mistake the city for London or Dubai and this is no exaggeration. The quality of the roads, the fly-overs and other solid structures leaves one with a smiling face. Indeed, it is my view that other governors of the southeast should come to you for tutorial on how to build solid durable roads with indigenous contractors and manpower. This is not to say that governance starts and ends with building roads, bridges, fly-overs and other physical structures. Not at all. But it is a very important part of it. And in this respect, you deserve some accolades.

But,

That’s as far as the harvests of praises go.

With regards to your role as the Chairman of Southeast Governors Forum sir, you have been a SPECTACULAR FAILURE. Very very uninspiring, irresponsible and irresponsive to the yearnings of Ndigbo. There is no ‘but’. There is no ‘if’ here. And please, do not let any sycophants deceive you by telling you otherwise.

As I write, Mr governor, the southeastern part of Nigeria is effectively under the control of non-state actors who order Ndigbo around. They decide when we come out and when we stay indoors. They tell us when to remove the Nigerian flag and when to put it back. And like a people without alternative, we obey them ex abundantia cautela (out of the abundance of caution). As I write, Mr governor, our region has been a killing field. Innocent Igbo lives and property have been terminated and continue to be terminated in a most brutal way by criminals and terrorists who now run the show in a region rated the most peaceful in the country not so long ago.

In the midst of all these, Mr governor, it’s been nothing but a very thunderous silence and inaction from you and your colleague governors who we elected to protect and keep us safe.

Despite billions of naira available to you guys as federal allocation, internally generated revenue and security votes, Where is the leadership????

As the Chairman of the southeast governors forum, pray tell, Mr governor, what exactly is your job if not to galvanise and organise your fellow governors to protect and defend the interest of the Southeast? And which interest could be more important than their right to life? In all honesty, can you say you have done this job at all, let’s not talk of doing it well?

Few days ago, I watched you condemn in strong terms the now-suspended sit-at-home by the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) describing it as destroying the Eastern economy which depends largely on every day buying and selling. You equally lamented that we the Igbos are now killing ourselves.

Unlike some Igbos especially those of them in diaspora scattered in so many Igbo WhatsApp fora who believe in Igbo Exceptionalism of ‘Igbos don’t kill each other’, I am of the opinion that what we are going through now is largely self-inflicted. Yes, we are the main authors of this current misfortune of ours. The weekly sit-at-home was a very foolish measure which would only achieve the evil aim the economic/food blockade during the Biafra war failed to achieve. And yes, the festival of blood happening in the southeast is by Igbos against their fellow Igbos. If non-Igbos are involved, it is Igbos who created the fertile ground. We as Ndigbo should be humble enough to do some introspection and take responsibility instead of this very irresponsible act of blaming other people for woes we knowingly brought upon ourselves. So on that, I agree with you.

But Mr governor sir, if we are to pay ourselves the courtesy of being blunt, we’d admit we didn’t just get here by magic. We got here as a result of FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP by the forum you lead. The DELIBERATE REFUSAL of the Southeast Governors Forum under your watch to listen to the cries of Ndigbo on Regional Security got us here.

For years, the Igbo masses cried, wailed, shouted and pleaded with you governors to set up a regional security outfit to combat the menace of marauding Fulani herdsmen operating with STATE-SPONSORED IMPUNITY. Not only did you guys refuse to heed to the demand of the Igbo people you are supposedly in office to serve, you, in your capacity as the Chairman of the forum went on Channels TV to vehemently argue that regional security outfit is unconstitutional in a federal system of government. You made this argument at a time the southwest was already establishing their own regional security outfit known as AMOTEKUN. You made this argument knowing that the first and most important duty of any government anywhere in the world is protection of lives and property and that the federal government has manifestly REFUSED to use their security operatives to combat the herdsmen terrorism.

Riding on the vacuum created by the southeast governors forum under you, IPOB created an armed wing known as the Eastern Security Network which they claim was to fight the menace of the herdsmen.

To be clear, Mr governor, I don’t believe that putting AK-47 in the hands of non-state actors who are not accountable to any constituted authority, have no known office and no clear structure will produce anything but total anarchy and insecurity no matter how well intentioned. But the truth is, your REFUSAL to listen to the cry of Ndigbo on the necessity of a Regional Security created a vacuum which, as you know, nature abhors. So you bear maximum responsibility for getting us here.

Mr governor sir, I don’t agree that you and your colleagues are completely responsible for some extremely foolish and suicidal actions taken by SOME Igbos. Actions such as OPENLY showing support and hailing the activities of the Unknown-Gun-Men as they go about killing security operatives and taking their weapons some of which are now being used against Ndigbo, breaking the Owerri prison and releasing hundreds of criminals back into the Igbo society etc but I do think your irresponsible leadership as the chairman of the Southeast Governors Forum left Ndigbo hopeless and frustrated. Out of this hopelessness and frustration, most Igbos turned to non-state actors for mental and psychological refuge. So there is a sense in which those who blame all of this on your failure to show leadership are not entirely wrong. When leaders fail or refuse to do the right thing, the wrong people may step in and end up making things worse.

Your failure is not only limited to refusal to set up a regional security outfit for the region, it extends to your non-chalant attitude to other regional issues of existential nature. For instance, after the Southern Governors Forum met in Lagos to agree that all Southern states should pass a law banning Anti-Open Grazing of Cattle in their respective states, a major umbrella under which terrorist herdsmen hide to carry out their terror, the Southeast region under your leadership has been the only region that has shown less commitment to the resolution of the Southern Governors block. And let’s face it, this is because of your lack of leadership. Enugwu and Abia are the only two Eastern states that have passed this law. Imo governor has made it clear he has no intention of implementing the law even if it has been passed by the previous government. Anambra governor clearly stated the state doesn’t need such a law even as I understand it is now before the state parliament. But in your own state which has witnessed worst cases of herdsmen atrocities, mum has been the word. This is even as you ought to be the main mobiliser and motivator to your colleague governors in this respect.

The last Southern Governors Forum meeting held in the same region where you are the Chairman of the Governors and ought to be the Chief host, you violated a very fundamental Igbo tradition of not welcoming the same people you yourself invited to your home. The next we saw was you going on Channels TV to ridicule the decision of the same Southern Governors Forum to which you belong.

Despite heading the Southeast Governors Forum, your position on Restructuring has been exactly the opposite of what majority of the southeasterners and the entire southern Nigeria stands for. So how do you explain all that?

Mr governor sir, this is supposed to be a short memo so let me summarise; Ndigbo are facing a grave existential crisis right about now. And leadership is an act, not just a mere rhetoric. So please, take a deep introspection and make up your mind on whether you are ready to discharge the duties expected of your office as the Chairman of Southeast Governors Forum. And in the event you are not ready, please, honorably step aside and give room for another.

While hoping you will take urgent steps with your colleague governors toward putting an end to the mindless killings going on in the East, do kindly accept my warm regard.

 

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Developing foresight in the battle against terrorists and bandits

 

Indications are that the offensive against the bandits in Zamfara State is making some progress. Hundreds of them have been killed through aerial bombardments and some of those running away are being mopped up by ground forces. We must congratulate our troops for the success so far and urge them to do more. In the Eastern Front, internal fighting within Boko Haram led to the killing of factional leader Abubakar Shekau. There were reports yesterday that the killer of Shekau and leader of the ISWAP faction, Musab Al-Barnawi, has been killed in a revenge attack. These are very positive developments that are bound to create traction in the fight against these terrorists and our troops should seize this opportunity to go for the kill, that is, eliminate the entire movement.

 

Nonetheless, although the heat is on and the terrorists and bandits are in disarray, the tipping point in the battle against them has not yet arrived. The on-going offensive in Zamfara has resulted in the killing of hundreds of bandits but both the State government and experts believe that there are over 30,000 armed bandits in that State alone so killing a few hundred is not a significant achievement. Close observers have said many of them moved out immediately government announced the offensive and closed down telephone access. There is no doubt about it, they will return when the coast is clear. To remind us all that they are very much alive, they have been attacking villagers in surrounding States such as Katsina and Kaduna. No one is safe as witnessed by the abduction of the Emir of Bungudu a few days ago. Schools, military formations, towns and cities are still being attacked so there has been no significant shift in the dynamics.

 

The fact of the matter is that they are not really feeling the pinch. They are mobile groups, well-armed, and now, wealthy from the ransom money they have been collecting. When large offensives are announced, they duck. When petrol sales are restricted, they bribe massively to procure necessary supplies. When the GSM network is switched off, the buy Thuraya satellite phones. In other words, the conventional approach our armed forces are using against them have been ineffective. They are ahead of us on the thinking curve. That has been the situation for a long time.

 

A few days ago, the Katsina State Governor Aminu Masari has said that with the benefit of hindsight, his government should never have negotiated with bandits, let alone grant them amnesty. Today, he has realized that: “They are not pushing for any ideological view; they are not pushing for any religious view. They are simply bandits, criminals and thieves.” Yes indeed and they are making so much money from their criminal activities that State governments simply do not have enough financial resources to compensate them for their proceeds of crime. Analysts have said that from the very beginning but many State governors believed they could placate them. The real question is not why they are discovering this, years after, with hindsight while they refused to listen to those with foresight that had tried to advise them.

 

Meanwhile, the armed forces are excited that six additional Tucano fighter jets are expected in the country next week to complement the six already on the ground in the fight against insecurity. This would significantly improve both surveillance and bombing capacity of the Air Force. The problem is that bandits and terrorists do live in real fear of air raids and distribute themselves in small groups hidden in thick forests so while a few do get killed in attacks, most of them survive and continue with their destructive attacks on the lives, liberty and property of Nigerians.

The new approach emanating from State governments and community leaders in many parts of the country is to buy guns to fight back. People realise that they have been sitting ducks for too long. They are regularly killed and abducted. Their wives and daughters are raped, their properties and homes destroyed. Increasingly, they are being prevented from engaging in the livelihoods, farming in particular. Many communities are therefore buying weapons for self-help. It seems to be a good idea given the failure of the security forces that have had the monopoly of the means of violence until a few years ago. The problem is with so many arms in circulation and the now widespread knowledge that the Kalashnikov is the fastest path to riches, there is a real risk that rogue elements within communities will turn these arms against the people and loin the looters. In other words, this could be the pathway to Armageddon. For me, the best pathway is for our armed forces to succeed in the battle against terrorism and banditry. Already, reports from communities that have succeeded in killing some bandits indicate that subsequently, the bandits re-organise, return to the community in large numbers, overwhelm them and massacre innocent community members that were only trying to defend themselves. It is difficult for communities to have access to the type and number of sophisticated weapons being used by bandits. There is also a wider risk that if communities have problems with one another in future, they will use the weapons against each other. Currently, there are over six million small arms and light weapons in the hands of private citizens in Nigeria according to former Head of State General Abdulsalam Abubakar. Multiplying the number might just lead to a degeneration of the situation and a move towards anarchy.

The armed forces need to change its approach. Large military operations, announced in advance and focused on one State at a time has not been working and simply cannot work. It requires large budgets which the army command would want to control and the resources simply do not get to the fighting soldiers. Both bandits and terrorists are engaged in a war of movement based on small mobile groups. The armed forces must follow the same tactic. Hundreds of small mobile army units should be established based on the intelligence of where the bands of terrorists and bandits are. There should be a clear definition of success – every attack by bandits and terrorists must be followed by hot pursuit conducted by local units of our armed forces. When they start getting casualties for each and every operation, the fear in them will start to emerge. Currently, they operate with impunity[…]

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Ndigbo: Time to Re-think sit-at-home as a strategy.

 

THERE is no gainsaying that Ndigbo have had a rough patch in Nigeria since the end of the civil war in January 1970.

It is even worse in the last six years of Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency when the South-East became, literally, a territory under the dominion of a suzerain. The President’s overlordship and his relationship with the zone, which is that of a superior feudal lord to whom fealty is due, rankles.

No self-respecting people can take that, not to talk of proud, self-assured Ndigbo with their indomitable optimism and can-do spirit. It, therefore, didn’t come as a surprise that a group like the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra sprang up and its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, became a mythical figure with a cult following. His message resonated loudly and his fiery rhetoric caught the imagination of the youths who reasoned, correctly too, that it is a sacrilege for them to be relegated to second class citizens because of their ethnicity.

Overnight, IPOB activists became self-determination aficionados. The group started well. Kanu, himself, meant well. He had passion, charisma and conviction. But IPOB lost the plot when they framed the struggle around their leader, thereby personalising Biafra. First, Kanu became the Supreme Leader whose followers worshipped at his feet. Insults and ultimatums became the language of the struggle. Kanu broached no dissent or criticism, no matter how constructive and well-intended. He became Nnam Oha – a “He Who Must Be Obeyed, HWMBO”.

No one needed to be a Nostradamus – the French astrologer, physician and reputed seer, who predicted future events – to know that sooner than later, IPOB would become the problem, rather than the solution. I was alarmed and on June 3, 2021, I voiced out my fears in an article titled: “Is another war for ‘Biafra’ inevitable?”

And these were my points: “As I noted recently, there is no Igbo leader today that has as much hold on Igbo youths as Kanu. Such enormous power should come with great responsibility. That seems not to be the case. Biafra or no Biafra, Ndigbo need to be alive. Brainwashing Igbo youths to confront soldiers that have no respect for any rules of engagement is suicidal.

“Today, some Igbo are as afraid of Kanu as they are of Buhari. This my way or the highway philosophy of IPOB detracts from the struggle. Threats against those who do not necessarily disagree with the struggle but have a different idea of how things can be done without bloodshed smacks of a budding autocracy.

“Mass self-immolation, which is what I am seeing in this “it is either Biafra or war” battle cry of IPOB is not a sign of bravery. It is a red flag of a society on the path of self-destruction. You don’t wage a war against a bull in a China shop, because even if you win, you risk losing all. You deploy tact and wisdom in guiding the bull out of the shop. That is not cowardice. Ndigbo who are calling for restraint are neither fraidy-cats nor quislings.

“Calling Nnamdi Kanu out if he errs is not an act of betrayal and, therefore, does not deserve a fatwa. With the way things are panning out, particularly the stratification of Alaigbo along the lines of those who are for and against Kanu, we risk Igbo-on-Igbo violence. It is a slippery slope. Ndigbo don’t need to fight another war even for the sake of a territorial Biafra. Buhari is a rampaging bull who has no qualms replicating the tragedy of the late 1960s. Playing into his hands is foolhardy. This war is not inevitable.”

Expectedly, IPOB sympathisers were up in arms, calling me an otelectual, a derogatory slang coined by Kanu, meaning an intellectual that reasons from the anus. This was before he was kidnapped in Kenya by agents of the Federal Government and brought back to Nigeria in an extraordinary rendition that runs afoul of international laws. The problem has since then become hydra-headed.

The Igbo-on-Igbo violence I warned against in June is very much afoot. If you are branded a saboteur, that is a death sentence. And you don’t even need to betray the cause for you to be so branded. Personal scores are settled by people hiding under the protective umbrella of IPOB. Things got to a head when IPOB announced that henceforth, every Monday starting from August 9, will be a ghost day until Kanu is released.

The sit-at-home order will affect schools and marketplaces, they decreed. In Alaigbo, education is an industry, not a haram. Entrepreneurship is a virtue, not a vice. As businessmen, Ndigbo have made spectacular success of private enterprise. Enlightened self-interest should have informed IPOB that anything that will affect those two pillars of Igbo reality negatively is a definite no-no. More so, secondary school students were writing their external examinations and any attempt to shut down schools at such a critical moment will impact negatively on a generation of Igbo youths.

Many, therefore, heaved a sigh of relief when Kanunta, Nnamdi Kanu’s brother, announced that the sit-at-home order had been suspended to allow students in the region write their National Examination Council, NECO, papers. But on August 8, Emma Powerful, the IPOB spokesperson, issued a blood-curdling statement, not only insisting that the lockdown order was “sacrosanct”, but threatened that “anybody who ventures to come out tomorrow will regret his or her life. We warn you tomorrow is a total lockdown in every part of Biafra.”

Some who dared paid the supreme price. Since then, it has been a free fall. Mondays became “ghost day”. With the capacity of the state to enforce law and order grossly diminished, people stayed away from the streets to save their lives.

Emboldened, IPOB expanded the coast. Last week, they declared Tuesday, September 14, 2021 as another sit-at-home day, this time, to commemorate victims of genocidal invasion of the compound of Kanu at Afaraukwu Ibeku Umuahia, Abia State. To enforce the order, IPOB operatives invaded the Comprehensive Secondary School, Nkume in the Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State and stopped students from writing the West African Senior School Certificate Examination, WASSCE, and set ablaze motorcycles and bicycles belonging to staff and students.

Rev. Emeka Merenu, the priest-in-charge of St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Ihitte-Ukwa in the Orsu Local Government Area of the State was also killed and his vehicle set ablaze. His crime? The church has a school and he was alleged to have brought in security men to protect the students who were writing the WASSCE. Neither Taliban nor Boko Haram can do worse.

The backlash was instant. The people have been pushed to the wall by those who claim to be their protectors. So deafening was the outrage that IPOB issued a statement disowning its own foot soldiers. Former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, described what happened at Nkume as madness.

“The goal of struggle is to spare children from the scourge of discrimination that blighted the lives of their parents and grand-parents. Destroying spaces in which kids are taking exams in order to forcefully prevent them from doing their exams is madness,” he said.

Some people have justified the lunacy in the South-East on the ground that revolution is not a tea party and cannot be without collateral damage. Maybe! But there must be a goal and the strategy must be right. What is the goal here? Is it to force Buhari’s hands to set Kanu free? Anyone who knows Buhari well and the mindset that underpins his actions will know that won’t happen.

IPOB’s actions are tantamount to cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. Buhari does not care. In fact, he will be happy that Igbo youths are helping him complete the job of reducing South-East to the level where North-East is right now. The businesses that are destroyed are owned by Ndigbo. The students that are prevented from sitting external examinations are Igbo. The sit-at-home order is only hurting the economy of the South-East. So, why should Buhari bother?

Those who are busy fanning the embers of this madness should reflect on the posers Peter Obi, the former governor of Anambra State, raised on Tuesday: “Will investors come to the zone under the present condition? Will established businesses not think of leaving the South-East under such a condition? Will traders from neighbouring countries that flock Aba and Onitsha on Mondays not seek alternatives? Will some industries not think of re-locating?”

Making South-East ungovernable in the name of self-determination is a self-defeating gambit. It is counterproductive. Ndigbo are better than that. This madness must stop.

 

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DCP Abba Kyari and FBI: A Reform Opportunity

 

 

By  Osita Chidoka

 

A few weeks ago, the news media was awash with stories about the issue of the FBI report on DCP Abba Kyari. Subsequently, the Police high command suspended the Deputy Commissioner of Police and instituted an investigation panel headed by a Deputy Inspector General of Police. The Special Investigation Panel submitted their report on August 26, 2021. We await the outcome of the Inspector General’s review.

 

The FBI, as widely reported, named DCP Abba Kyari as an accomplice in an international fraud case. A US court issued a warrant for DCP Abba Kyari’s arrest over his alleged involvement in a $1.1m Internet fraud allegedly perpetrated by an Instagram influencer, Abbas Ramon, popularly known as Hushpuppi and four others; AbdulRahman Juma; Vincent Kelly Chibuzo (Kelly); Rukayat Motunrayo Fashola; and Bolatito Agbabiaka. The FBI claimed that Kyari detained Chibuzor at the behest of Hushpuppi for one month to enable the latter and his co-conspirators to fleece their Qatari victim of over $1m.

In typical Nigerian style, the issue of the FBI report has adorned a national toga of pseudo nationalism or ethnic rallying point. On either side, it represents our national descent to moral ambivalence. DCP Abba Kyari is a renowned officer with many feathers to his cap for his courage, dedication to duty and unceasing battle against criminals. I am one of his numerous distant admirers and will continue to praise his work as a crime fighter. In my opinion, as a police officer, he should willingly appear before any authority to clear his name and show respect to constituted authority. He does not need to be extradited to the United States unless he has embraced the growing national culture of shamelessness.

 

The real issues that concern Nigerians are: Did DCP Abba Kyari arrest and detain Mr Kelly Chibuzo for ONE month? What offence was recorded in the police entry against Mr Chibuzo? Did DCP Abba Kyari obtain a court order to detain him initially or subsequently? Who was the complainant in the detention of Mr Chibuzo? These questions deserve simple answers. Suppose the answers affirm that he arrested a Nigerian citizen and detained him for more than 48 hours without charging him to court for a whole month. In that case, we have serious issues here—issues of impunity, violation of our constitution, and lack of internal compliance mechanism.

 

Democracy, or rather the appearance of democracy measured by the presence of institutions like legislature and judiciary, periodic elections, and citizens’ rights, can present a vast opportunity for state capture. A Police organisation in which an individual, no matter how rich or powerful, can induce an officer to arrest and detain a citizen is a danger to any citizen without government connection or protection. This captured state is the Nigeria that we need to fix. That Nigeria that provides cover for egregious acts of impunity will not change if we don’t restructure citizens control of institutions.

 

The opportunity before us as a nation today is to take the Abba Kyari issue as a basis for the reform of the Nigerian Police. Who oversights the Police? Does the Police have an internal compliance unit that ensures officers and, in the case of Kyari, highly decorated officers acting with broad discretion, comply with the rules of the Police? Does the Police have an Ombudsman to who the public can complain about abuses by officers? In the event of the failure of the Police Ombudsman, the next stop should be the Police Service Commission with the mandate to discipline officers. If fundamental rights are breached the National Human Rights Commission has the responsibility to investigate and provide citizen redress against such violations. Are these organs working? If so why did Chibuzo spend over one month in detention without triggering an internal inquiry? Why do we need a Special Investigation Panel if normal organs are functional to investigate DCP Abba Kyari?

 

By way of example, the FBI has a Chief Inspector who oversees internal inquiries and performance audits. The Office of Integrity and Compliance ensures that officers are monitored and comply with the spirit and letter of rules. I recommend the same to the Nigeria Police if they do not have such an office. Such an office would have a mechanism to trigger internal inquiry when, for example, a person is detained beyond the constitutionally provided time of 48 hours without a court order.

 

The important story is that many public functionaries like DCP Abba Kyari in the government may use the instrument of public office for their end. The growing rise of impunity amongst government officials and failure of the government to oversight its institutions is one of the outcomes of a captured state. Nigeria is a state captured by special interests, and its institutions are used to further the welfare of its ruling elite.

 

To use this Abba Kyari scandal as a learning and reform moment, the government should do the following:

 

1. Review the current Police reporting mechanism and institute an online platform that provides daily information on detainees and the number of days in detention without the names of the detainees.

 

2. If it does not exist, the Police should appoint a senior officer at the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police to head a compliance unit for internal monitoring, investigation, and enforcement of officer’s compliance to rules equivalent to the Military Police in the Army.

 

3. The Police should clearly define an Ombudsman to deal with public reports of abuses or infractions by officers.

 

4. The National Human Rights Commission should Conduct an independent audit of Police cells across the country to determine the number of detainees and those in custody against constitutional provisions.

 

5. The Police Service Commission should Review records of police detention activities and ensure proper record keeping of documents about arrest and detention of citizens. It should invite the public to report cases of unlawful detention and try the officers involved appropriately.

 

6. The Police Service Commission and the National Human Rights Commission should collaboratively conduct quarterly oversight of Police activities that impact fundamental rights and publish reports.

 

It is the responsibility of Nigerians to hold the Police accountable. I call on all illegally detained Nigerians to speak up now. The Police Service Commission (PSC) is mandated to appoint, promote, and discipline officers of the Nigerian Police except the Inspector General of Police. It will be of public interest if the Commission can make public its procedures and mechanism to proactively control the behaviour of Police officers. The office of the Police Ombudsman should ideally be in the PSC.

 

In the event of fundamental rights violations, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), as a statutory organ with investigative powers should lead the inquiry and seek redress for breach of rights through unlawful detention. Nigerians should use the NHRC to hold the Police accountable.

 

The path to Unlocking the self-created gridlock obstructing our path to progress is through citizen activism. Citizens must lead the fight to make sure that good officers like DCP Abba Kyari do not get carried away and succumb to a growing culture of impunity. Let’s #unlocknaija together.

 

Osita Chidoka is the founder of UnlockNaija Movement, a volunteer-driven organisation committed to the renewal of the idea of Nigeria

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