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Conscience, Wound So Deep That Akunyili’s Therapy

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Truth comes in various moulds; As suppressed human gas or pollutant in public, even during a church service;  a potent advance team for true reconciliation between two and among peoples; a symbol of repentance and preparedness for lowly restitution; an essential healing balm for wounds inflicted on the mind or simply a guilty conscience and sometimes just as the truth. In all its forms however, it is usually, a priceless commodity that attracts scorn or praise, enmity or friendship, love or hatred, honour or horror.

In most of its raw forms, it tastes sour in the mouths of those without integrity but to the honourable, a tasty cake of courage.

Being a rare commodity, especially among people of deep moral depravity, it requires a little more than raw courage to voice it during conflicts, particularly, when, individuals’ ambition, needs and fears are at play, but even moreso, when one is in minority, . At such times, to speak the truth is to endanger one’s socio-political status, juicy accruements to such high public office and or even risk ones own life.

This is why in matters of pressing national concerns, the truth is often elusive among those, society normally depends upon to voice it. Have Nigerians not simply forgotten ‘June 12’ and Abiola, the metaphor of our electoral success, which this country gladly jettisoned?

Uptill this day, the real reasons for the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections, largely believed to have been won by Late Chief Moshood Abiola still remain a guided secret among people who apparently required more of the kind of integrity needed to force out the truth.

And now, for more that 80 days today, Nigerians have witnessed another impasse, of mainly constitutional enactment of squinting meanings and expressions, which mainly integrity, honour and indeed the truth could very easily address. In my last treatise titled 2 Winners Same Silver Coin published Monday, February 1, 2010, (same back page) I laid bare the constitutional conflict and detailed claims of and quarrels between the competiting parties and would not wish to bore you with a repeat of those luried details. Suffice it to say that President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, according to section 145 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution ought to have exercised the discretion of transmitting to the National Assembly a letter to cover his long absence, a move which alone could have empowered a Vice to serve as Acting President. That, the ailing president did not do before traveling to Saudi Arabia in November, last year due to serious health concerns, and has been there, ever since.

Ironically, the same constitution also spells out how a president and his vice can cease to function in office on health grounds. Section 144 puts a key part of that process in the hands of the  office holder , in Yar’Adua’s case, the Executive Council of the Federation ,a body of ministers appointed by him, otherwise also known as the Federal Executive Council (FEC). That body was largely trusted to unveil the truth of the President’s health condition and save the nation all the suspense, political heat, conflicts, litigations and even disruption of key national needs and expectations.

But the ministers met, brain-stormed awhile and emerged with the assurance that the president was hail and hearty. But sadly, that was not the whole truth because none of them at the time had seen the ailing Commander-in-Chief, at least not within the period of the conflict. Yet they told an agitated public that the President was well and would return to his presidential duties last week. The president never did. Yet their resolve remained, to keep hanging on, if for nothing else, prevent the displacement of the status quo. Simply, keep their jobs.

But the unwanted truth still remained that the president ought to have transmitted to the National Assembly reasons for his long absence and not hold the federation to ransom, as most ministers willed it .

In the midst of these mistimed betrayal of trust, one minister gave Nigerians a reason to hope and believe in their own country, using the truth as a potent healing balm to mend whatever damage that might have been done to the minds of many.

Among the lot, Prof Dora Akunyili, the Minister of Information and Communications, it was who stood out to whisper, as it were, that much as she treasures the relationship between her boss and herself, she still thinks that it will amount to loving her country less if she chose to  hide the truth, simply to save her job. That the president should transmit  a letter of his health condition to the National Assembly, to enable his Vice to act, pending his return, a view which many of her ministerial ilk considered sacrilegious and shouted her, down. Of course, the body of ministers has repeatedly argued that such a step was not necessary, since the vice president was already performing the duties of the president. But how true?

Could VP Jonathan order the long awaited reconstitution of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)? Could VP Jonathan swear-in the substantive Chief Justice of the Federation? Can VP Jonathan sign the 2010 appropriation bill, if and when passed into law by the National Assembly? Or can Vice President Jonathan sack the present Federal Executive Council on grounds of poor service delivery and appoint another set of ministers?

More importantly, can VP Jonathan declare war on an aggressive neigbour- nation in protection of our territory without some lawyer dragging him to one of the many high courts?

Many, if not all of the ministers had  answers to these and many more worrisome questions but none wished to shift grounds for many reasons, none of which could be tied to love for one’s country, but key of which, Methinks, is to maintain the status quo: I hope am wrong.

It is in this perspective that Dora Akunyili’s rare display of statesmanship, honour, integrity and patriotism can be appreciated.

But lets ponder a while. Were Yar’Adua a vindictive leader, and miraculously returns today from Saudi Arabia, Can Akunyili be sure of her ministerial job? Will Nigerians, particularly her ministerial colleagues not label her courage, a betrayal and she a villain? Will she not be seen as a political ingrate who abandoned her political benefactor in times of trials and tribulations?

But such is the nature and complexity which truth conjures, love or hatred, friendship or enmity, honour or horror.

That indeed is the nature of the bold steps Akunyili has taken for love of country but at great risk to her political career. Happily, some are gradually gearing-up to share of her praise and be decorated as co-patriots.

This is how role models are made; great characters who, at all times necessary, are willing to risk their personal needs for societal good, those not scared of shunning phoney successes and instead risk failure for integrity sake and above all, help teach others what honesty means.

Dora reminds me of a charming brilliant youngman during my primary school days, who denied my school, Ogoloma Town School, Ogoloma in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State the honour of lifting the golden trophy of an annual busy-bee competition, very early, in the 70’s.

As leader of our school’s spelling team of three, the young woman had correctly spelt all words put  to her in the contest to defeat the opposing side, at least so we all thought, because after each spelling attempt, the moderator would scream either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. So, all spectators and participants alike, knew the count.

But something strange happened. In the end, after our school had won the finals by a single point against our opponents  just when we thought our lead representative was going to lift the trophy, she instead approached the moderator and made a confession. That she had misspelt the word,’COMPETITIVENESS’ as COMPETETIVENESS, a slip which no judge noticed  and in tears told the judges that she did not deserve the victory. And so, rather than slave under the heavy weight of a guilty conscience, she chose to speak the truth, even if that singular action denied our school the trophy, and she, the cash prize of 20 pounds.

Such is the nature of some truths, and Dora Akunyili’s, no less so. But My Agony is that Nigeria’s long corridor of power has never been in short supply of sycophants, professional praise-singers and talented mischief makers who would insist and succeed in painting the former NAFDAC Heroine in dull colours of a betrayer, bureaucratic thorn-coat and political harlot. And to that, would many  scream, ‘yes’, only to be relevant.

But like one who tries to suppress excess gas, after consuming a large pot of beans porage, softened by Akanwu (calcium carbonate), the truth of her patriotism shall someday, reverberate and set free, a morally depraved lot in our polity. When? That I can’t tell.

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Wike, Pride Of Nigeria’s Democracy, NUJ Affirms

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The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as an exhibit of pride to democracy in Nigeria.
The NUJ also noted that Wike has redefined governance through demonstration of democracy in action with his service to Rivers people.
The National leadership, the 36 State Executives, and the FCT, including members of the NUJ across the country made the assertion in Port Harcourt during the inspection tour led by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim of both completed and ongoing projects being undertaken by the governor in the state.
The National President of the NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo, said the 1999 Constitution bestows on the media the responsibility to hold governments accountable to the people.
Isiguzo posited that having placed the projects side-by-side with the expectations of the populace, it was obvious that the governor’s investment in critical infrastructure would remain lifelong empowerment tools for the people.
”We were at the Mother and Child Hospital. We took time to look at the facilities there. That can easily be said to be first of its kind in the country.
”At the much-talked about Real Madrid Football Academy, where they are going to train the young ones, we saw that they have good facilities. At the moment, they have also offered admission to 140 pupils.
”That’s also to catch-them-young, and I want to believe that by the time this kind of resources is continuously invested in sports development in Nigeria, it’s just a matter of time, it will gain its pride of place in sporting world.”
On her part, the National President of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs Ladi Bala said that the projects she had seen were entirely unique, unprecedented and very uncommon in the country.
According to Bala, the Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges’ Quarters stand out as first of its kind in Nigeria, with its serene ambiance that would translate into enhancing the productivity of judges of Rivers origin.
”I believe that democracy is at work in Rivers State, and, for Rivers people, I want to congratulate them, and to say, this is the true reflection of what democracy should be across board.
”I want to call on other governors across the country to borrow a leaf from what the governor of Rivers State is doing. Wike is working, and we are very proud of what we have seen here”, she added.
In his reaction, the National Internal Auditor of NUJ, Muhammad Tukur, stated that Wike was a committed leader with the vision of uplifting the standard of life of his people.
Tukur, who expressed gratitude to Wike for his support to the NUJ National Conference in Port Harcourt, said that his show of love for journalists confirms his commitment to the welfare of the people.
On his part, Chairman of Oyo State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ismail Ademola Babalola, asserted that the Mother and Child Hospital, and the Real Madrid Football Academy were part of projects Governor Wike was using to secure a productive future for the youths of the state because they meet global standard.
Also speaking, the Vice President of NUJ North Central Zone, Chief Wilson Bako, commended the quality of the various roads and flyover bridges constructed in the Port Harcourt metropolis to make the city tourists’ destination of choice.
In the same vein, the Vice Chairman of NUJ in Jigawa State, Comrade Larai Musa, said she has confirmed all that the news media had carried about Wike and his projects’ mantra, and asserted that it was leaders like him that were needed at the national level.
Also, Comrade Ikechukwu Ordu of Enugu State Council of the NUJ noted the need for other political leaders to emulate Wike in providing dividends of democracy to Rivers people and changing the fortunes of his state.
Also from the Enugu State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ugochukwu Chukwudieke, said she was completely overwhelmed by what Wike has done in constructing the Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover Bridge, Rumuogba Flyover Bridge, and Rebisi Flyover Bridge delivered within one year.
Chukwudieke also praised the quality of work on the Rumuola Flyover Bridge, Ogbun-nu-Abali Flyover Bridge, GRA Junction Flyover Bridge, and the Orochiri-Wurukwo flyover project at Waterlines Junction by Aba Road.

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Stop Constitution Review, CNG Tasks NASS

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The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), yesterday, called on the National Assembly to suspend the review of the 1999 Constitution, describing it as ill-timed and uncalled for, particularly in the face of the growing agitation for Nigeria’s break-up.

It also urged the National Assembly to invoke the doctrine of necessity to organize a Biafra referendum as the final step towards the separation of the Igbo from the rest of Nigeria.

This was part of the presentation which CNG made before the leadership of the National Assembly against the backdrop of the disturbances created by certain interest groups in the South-East, in the form of the agitation for a separate state of Biafra.

Briefing journalists in Abuja after the presentation, CNG Spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, noted that the Biafra agitation in the South-East had turned violent, alleging that the aim of the unrest in the region was to instigate reprisals by northerners against people from other parts of the country.

He said, “We demanded the immediate suspension of the ongoing exercise for the review of the 1999 Constitution and to concentrate on the first priority of determining who and what actually constitutes Nigeria as a nation in the present circumstance in which the Igbo, by taking up arms against the Nigerian state for the third time, have foreclosed every hope for the rest of us to continue coexisting with them as one nation.

“In order to achieve the final separation of the Igbo from the rest of Nigeria, we also demanded the NASS to organize a referendum by seeking the cover of the same Doctrine of Necessity invoked by Nigeria’s federal parliament that paved way for former President Goodluck Jonathan’s takeover by declaring the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua unfit.

“We further demanded NASS to prevail on the Federal Government of Nigeria to invite the United Nations as well as the African Union and ECOWAS, to initiate the process of self-determination to mandate the Biafrans out of the Nigerian union by leveraging on the several relevant international treaties and conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory.

“Today, everyone can see that the diabolical scheme planned and exhibited in the actions and clamours of IPOB, supported morally and politically by the vast majority of the pliant and affrighted Igbo elites, politicians, traditional rulers, business persons, and the larger population of this ethnic group has pushed Nigeria to the precipice.

“We are convinced that this renewed violent determination of the Igbo to see through the secession of the South-East from Nigeria is now real and cannot be avoided or deferred any longer without terrible consequences.

“In order to avoid such mishaps and unnecessary devastation on all sides, particularly the South-East whose leaders and agitators are now bent on driving it over the brink into a catastrophe, CNG is of the view that resort to available means of actualising the separation of the South-East from the rest of Nigeria is today a vital task that must be undertaken by all.”

Suleiman also argued that in order to prevent a descent into another civil war, and to forestall mass killings and untold sufferings, CNG has committed to the call for a referendum that will finally separate the South-East from Nigeria.

He added, “In this connection, we are hoping the NASS will come up with a framework to be agreed upon in the course of the referendum and its final implementation in the South-East or any enclave that wishes to secede from Nigeria.

All identified indigenes (Igbos) of the enclave or entity that called for secession (South-East) must leave the territory of Nigeria and assemble in their designated enclave for the purpose of the exercise.

“The outcome of the referendum shall be final, irreversible and shall not be reviewed or reconsidered for any other reasons. Citizens of the breakaway enclave shall be deprived of any automatic rights to return to the territory of the rump Nigeria, or to be admitted to live in any of its parts.

“We are aware that all this while, the North continued to bear the brunt of the violent agitations for secession with equanimity, stoical calm and resignation.

“Therefore, as the CNG recommits to the pursuit of a final constitutional separation with Biafra, we urge the North to remain the bulwark of respect, integrity, dignity, decorum, tradition, decency, morality, civilization, etiquette, good behaviour, politeness, accommodation, and all other positive traits with the assurance that the good will ultimately prevail over evil.”

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PDP’s Performance Has Diminished APC In Rivers, Wike

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike says with what his administration has achieved, and is still doing, in terms of delivery of critical infrastructure, nobody in the state needs to talk about the All Progressives Congress (APC) anymore.
The governor made the assertion at the flag-off of construction work of the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern-Bypass Road project, yesterday, in Port Harcourt.
Wike explained that the previous administration politicised the reconstruction of the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern-Bypass road and actually failed to accomplish it.
The governor said he has defied those political intrigues, and has genuinely interfaced with the people to understand the economic benefits a dualised road in the city centre could attract.
According to Wike, with the level of infrastructural development around Ogbum-nu-Abali, there would be a spike in the value of property and enhanced economic activities.
“I know that the people of Ogbum-nu-Abali resisted the dualisation of this road because of lack of information. When I met with the community leaders, they said look, they have houses bequeathed to them by their grandparents.
“I told them that whether they like it or not, if I don’t dualise it today, tomorrow somebody else will do it. And you don’t know who is coming.
“So, it’s better done now that I am a governor than when you don’t know who is coming. And the economic benefit of this road is too much, which you may not understand now.”
Speaking further, Wike stated that the entire Old Government Residential Area (GRA) has been given a facelift with quality road projects.
“This is the only place remaining. Old GRA cannot be like that and then we will leave this place. We have done the Rebisi flyover, the Oru-Abali flyover. There is no way this place will not be dualised at all. It’s not possible.”
Performing the flag-off, the member representing Port Harcourt Federal Constituency 1, Hon Kenneth Anayo Chikere, said the formal flag-off ceremony has ended several speculations about the possibility of executing the project.
“This day witnesses the eventual actualisation of the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern Bypass Road project. Thank you governor for the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern Bypass Road project!
“Thank you governor, for the Ogbum-nu-Abali internal roads, completed, commissioned and profitably in use. Thank you for being a worthy son and governor! Thank you for the exemplary leadership, the infrastructural and human development in all sectors.”
The Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Elloka Tasie-Amadi, while giving the project description said the dualisation of the Ogbum-nu-Abali Road will extend all the way to the ongoing Eastern Bypass dualisation.
“Today, Ogbum-nu-Abali Road is a 7.3m wide single carriage way, with a cross section of approximately 8.5m width inclusive of the drains on either side of the road. After reconstruction and project completion, we will have a cross section of 18.1m width on the axis extending to Eastern Bypass and 17.35m width along Ogbum-nu-Abali Road.
“This cross section is made up of 2 carriageways, each measuring 7.3m wide, both of which will be separated by a median of 1.5m width along the extension to Eastern Bypass and a median of 750cm width along Ogbum-nu-Abali Road.
It includes 1m wide drains on either side of the road, and of course, street lighting to ease movement at night as well as enhance security.
The commissioner said, the project like many others commissioned or ongoing will be built to design specifications aimed at guaranteeing minimum life-span requirement of 30 years.

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