I have never written an
article about any individual. I’ ve rather been used to issuing press releases, commenting and analysing national issues in the media, particularly on issues bordering on good governance, political space, the environment, et al. But I am honestly persuaded to write about Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State.
I think that for someone I have known and watched his roles and rise in the political arena in the last quarter of a century or so, surviving the breath taking risks in the sharks infested waters of our home-made political environment, and remaining alive to clock 50 years is marvelous in our eyes.
50years of intuitive drive, navigating through poverty and deprivity of the good things of life in comparison to his peers who attended the Sea Shell Nursery School, Port Harcourt Primary School, Enitonia High School, Baptist High School, Stella Marris College and Comprehensive High School, all in the industrial city of Port Harcourt where the children of the elites and the middle class of the 70s had not just the privilege, but the right to attend these schools, as their parents were the commissioners, permanent secretaries, directors, management staffers in the oil companies, principals of grade “A” secondary schools and Headmasters/Headmistresses, captains of industry, bishops and senior pastors, senior public servants like in the army, customs, police, immigration, prisons, big traders etc. Those were the days you would see your mates hopping into Citreon and Mercedes cars, only to ask God some questions in your milky hearts and only wishing.
Well as children of the underprivileged, while you would hawk “Akamu and Akara” and plantain early in the morning to help parents raise money for your upkeep and school fees, you would see the world as above narrated with its divisions and where each belonged. You would finish your morning sales, get home, prepare for school, may be some distance on foot, may be often times get to school after 8 O’clock for the Headmaster’s cane for coming to school late.
For the likes of Gov. Amaechi like many of us, the circumstance of our diverse poor background imbibed in him the culture of hard work, resilience, street wisdom, native intelligence, creativity, courage etc.
Attending rural secondary schools in today’s Omuma in Rivers State and Imiringi in today’s Bayelsa State tells of the mobility of this young ebullient mind in search of a better berthing point to mould him for the future.
After college, Amaechi’s drive for universal knowledge saw him in Nigeria’s premier science and technology university, the Rivers State University of Science and Technology from where he hopped out when he was offered a course he preferred better than the one he had started studying at the UST. This saw him in the English department of the University of Port Harcourt.
At the University of Port Harcourt, the activist in the young Amaechi would see him join the aluta crusade, rising to the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) activism, from where he and the likes of Labaran Maku, the former eloquent information minister plied their zeal in the fighting for the better welfare of the Nigerian Students and a better Nigeria as well. And that was like thirty years ago.
Having graduated with an Honours Degree in English in 1987, Amaechi proceeded for NYSC and finished in 1988. As a corper, Rotimi Amaechi taught English in a secondary school. Those Amaechi taught English are today women in their forties. This is contribution to national development.
As a young graduate with a Degree in English at the time only government television media operated in Nigeria, Amaechi with his John Momoh-like voice tried to get a job in the Nigerian Television Authority- NTA. But destiny would not allow him succeed there as God knew that he would have been tied down there.
Trying other openings, he also sought to have one mentor him politically. By this time the Babangida’s political jingoism was on. Amaechi along the line met Dr. Peter Odili in whom he found one to follow. Odili employed him in his Pamo Clinic and gave him appointment as Public Relations Officer-PRO.
Rotimi Amaechi was not just only a PRO, but also served Dr. Peter Odili as a political assistant. Odili saw in Amaechi a veritable political son, in whom he was well pleased, and Rotimi served Dr. Odili diligently and intelligently.
To cut the long story short, by the time Chief Rufus Ada George secured the National Republican Convention-NRC ticket to run as governor of Rivers State and chose Dr. Peter Odili as running mate, the young Amaechi added so much value to the fortunes of Chief Ada-George and Dr. Peter Odili to the extent of almost losing his life at the hands of party men and women at the NRC Secretariat at Isiokpo, save for a lorry laden with heavy cargo which he outran his chasers and clung unto and escaped to Elele. I was an eye witness as the vehicle I was travelling in to Owerri stopped because of the number of assailants chasing him with machetes, clubs and stones. For Odili’s political interest, Amaechi took all sorts of risks for the person and cause he believed in. Nobody believed Ada George and Odili would win the election.
Chief Rufus Ada-George having become the governor of Rivers State, wanted to make Chibuike Amaechi a commissioner but for his very young age. He was asked to nominate any person of his choice to represent Ikwere LGA in the state executive council. Amaechi nominated his first cousin, Barr. Celestine Omehia who was given the education portfolio in the Ada George administration.
Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was compensated with the post of special assistant on students affairs to Gov. Ada George. His master the deputy governor never considered any other person capable for the post of personal assistant but Rotimi. I do not know where also this has happened in Nigeria, one person serving a governor and deputy at the same time. And he did it very well. No leakage. Rotimi was also appointed to the Board of Risonpalm Ltd, the largest oil palm and milling company in the whole of Africa. These three positions he held same time at the age of 25 years or thereabouts.
Gov. Rotimi Amaechi was at a time state secretary of a political party in River State. Dr. Odili’ interest in Ikwere and indeed the rest of the state was managed by Amaechi and very well to the chagrin of many. The point I’m trying to make here is that once Amaechi believes in a cause, he stakes his all for it. Amaechi believes in success through hard work, strategic thinking and planning.
By 1998 when the Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar regime lifted the ban on political activities, Gov. Amaechi joined his oga Odili to wrestle power from the other contenders in the People’s Democratic Party – PDP contest for the Government House Port Harcourt.
While Dr. Peter Odili won the governorship election in Rivers State, his godson Rotimi Amaechi who contested elections for the Rivers State House of Assembly lost the election in the ballot box and not convinced with the loss at the polls, headed to the election tribunal and won. As member of the House of Assembly, Amaechi’s colleagues were convinced in his capacity and ability to lead them and elected him speaker.
As speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi shown like a million stars to the admiration of his colleague speakers in Nigeria who went on to elect him to chair their conference of speakers of Nigeria’s Houses of Assembly. Amaechi’s confidence among his colleagues soured to the extent that he was re-elected to lead them for a second term.
As speaker of the Rivers State Legislature, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi caused a fantastically cordial relationship and harmony between the legislative and the executive arms of government in River State.
His dogged fighting spirit was to be put into test again after he won the PDP gubernatorial primaries and a k-leg, a mysterious political “disability” emerged from the blues and Amaechi’s mandate to fly Rivers State PDP gubernatorial flag was terminated and his cousin Barr. Celestine Omehia was handed the mandate to run the election. This the Rt. Hon. Amaechi challenged in court and the Supreme Court of Nigeria in its landmark judgement of 25th October 2007 retrieved Amaechi’s mandate and ordered his immediate swearing in as the authentic governor.
As governor, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi – CON even when nobody including his followers ever believed he would perform at all, went on to shock the peoples and inhabitants of the state with his delivering of the goods of democracy. This owed to the fact that the government that ruled the state from 1999 to 2007 was bereft of ideas of how to put the state in the right pedestal of growth and development.
Gov. Amaechi’s government transformed the state infrastructuraly in every sector, from education, roads, flyovers, bridges, health, agriculture, housing, sports, urban renewal, design and creation of a new model city, power etc. But did Nigerians not see what he did with regards to the security of lives and property? His stance on militancy and other forms of criminality which earned him the sobriquet of “ Island of stability in the Niger Delta Region during the Late President Umar Yar’Adua’s regime. Amaechi went into the den of Ateke Tom in his Okochiri forest and chased him away and built a hospital and school there.
On education, not only did Gov. Amaechi build the model primary and secondary schools, he went on to employ a mammoth thirteen thousand teachers to fill the almost empty teaching spaces in the primary and secondary schools in the state. As a National President of a college alumni association, I am a witness as to the recurring request of my Alma mater each time we went on our annual home coming to our school.
In Rivers State today, the Amaechi’s administration has awarded more than 500 model primary school buildings with about 300 completed. The children of the poor today are attending Amaechi’s model secondary school free of charge, while the parents of their peers in private secondary school cough out between six hundred thousand to one million naira per term.
Gov. Amaechi has built more than 200 model Health centres in Rivers State, with free medical programmes for pregnant mothers even up to government picking up the bills for caesarian sessions. Children up to five years and senior citizens also enjoy free medical programme.
On agriculture, Amaechi imported the modern integrated agricultural farm called the Songhai farm. The farm in Sakpenwa Tai in Rivers State also has integrated in it a hospitality resort and facilities for conference and retreat. This is indeed a sight to behold. This is aside the modern fish farms in kalabari and other places in River State.
On roads, there is hardly any state in Nigeria that has in the last seven and half years of Gov. Amaechi’s reign built more roads with drainages, bridges, fly overs. A visit round Rivers State will attest to the extent of work carried out in this area.
Talk about sports, not only did the administration of Gov. Amaechi support youth development through sports, he took a giant stride in developing sports infrastructure. He went on to build a 45,000 capacity stadium with games village in the new Greater Port Harcourt. The state hosted the National sports festival there.
In the power sector, several sub-stations were built by the Amaechi administration. Gov. Amaechi also went ahead to expand the state independent power project. Today river state generates about 500mw of power.
Talk about housing the Gov. Amaechi regime’s partnership with First Bank is indeed a wow! So also is a peep into what the Greater PortHarcourt will look like in the next fifteen to twenty five years.
Space will certainly not permit me enunciate all my eyes have seen in the last seven and half years of Amaechi’s revolution in Rivers State.
On national leadership, Gov. Rotimi Amaechi’s colleague governors’ confidence in him to lead them after Gov. Bukola Saraki, threw him up more at the national stage who on their behalf of his colleagues advocated transparency in the management of the national treasury. This was the stage that created the frost relationship between him, Pres. Goodluck Jonathan GCFR and the presidency.
Gov. Chibuike Amaechi’s national interest certainly is above primordial tribal interests and settlement. This is the stuff he is made of, which made the south-south people accuse him of betraying his brother, President Jonathan, and whichhis political opponents and adversaries in Rivers State capitalized to whip up hate sentiments in Rivers State and the South South and indeed the South east against him.
The Nigerian Governors’ Forum was later to re-elect him chairman when his tenure elapsed. As a matter of factly, observers did not believe he was going to be re-elected, but his eventual re-election as chair of the forum underscored his high regards among majority of his colleague governors.
To the utter consternation of all, Gov. Amaechi beat the trap to mess him up in the PDP when he lost the leadership of the party following the ouster of the Chief G. U Ake led PDP exco in Rivers state. He led other four governors to join the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC) and thereby altering the whole political equation in Nigeria.
Speculations were rife that he wanted to contest the presidency. Political rumour mills also had it that he was eyeing the position of Vice President in the 2015 general elections.
The roles he played in the build up to the APC convention which saw the emergence of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, as presidential candidate of the party left no one in doubts that Amaechi is imbued with political wisdom and understanding of socio-political dynamics.
That Gov. Amaechi and Ashiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu would blend in symphony for the political future of this country left many wondering and imagining.
That Amaechi went on to accept to be the campaign manager of the Buhari Campaign Organization as Director General left many in conclusion that he was finished politically, and that he would be used and dumped as that position had no much useful relevance.
APC having won the 2015 presidential election, the issue of who gets what and how has now taken the center stage, with the issue of zoning political positions taking dimensions that have left Nigerians watching and wondering.
I believe that this time is very crucial in the life and existence of the new national party, the APC. It is the time to deligently considers every critical variables in order to compensate people according to their inputs and works. Political zones should also be allotted positions in the manner that people from the zones should feel carried along.
For us in the South South geo-political zone, we have a strong feeling and agitation that the only politically relevant position which is visible in the scheme is that of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
If Amaechi is given an office that will hide him away, it will certainly hurt his party’s fortune in River State and the South-South region. And this is critical. He is the now the South South leader in this dispensation. So he must not be diminished.
Amaechi’s detractors will usually use his strength against him and to disparage his personality. They say he talks too much, but it is a truism that he talks as too much of what he thinks not right and proper, like the East- West Road that was not moving at a time. Any person who does not wish Amaechi to be SGF does not wish the South-South well as he is the only one that has the capacity to fight for our rights and get it. If Gen. Muhammadu Buhari makes a choice of Gov. Amaechi as his SGF, his administration will certainly be better for it.
Amaechi’s age is an advantage. He is well educated and armed with a Masters degree in English. Having built bridges from Port Harcourt across every State capital in Nigeria is an immeasurable value. A Speaker for eight years and Governor for another eight years without break is a record.
Turning the golden age of 50 on this 27th May, and exactly 2 days to the inauguration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s 5th Republican Civilian president, the best birthday gift to His Excellency, Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi-CON is certainly the gold medal of the office of the secretary to the Government of the Federation.
All hail Gov. Amaechi at 50
High Chief Chukumele is the convener and leader of the South-South Progressives Consultative Forum, and lives in Port Harcourt.
The Danger Of Cybernetics And Genetic Terrorism
Cybernetics is the science of information codification, classification, communication and control in machines, chemical elements and biological species. In machines and electronic system the process is done through computer programming, while in biological species the process takes place through genetic modification and change in blood radiation. Studies and research in these fields are quite many, including what is known as DNA Mapping. (DNA means deoxyribonucleic-acid-as an abbreviation). This has to do with the classification of human blood groups and genotypes for the purposes of exploring the mechanism of heredity and the cycles of evolution of species.
Cybernetics and Cyber-crimes
Mendelism in cybernetics would be tedious to explain but it is an aspect of cybernetics which has to do with the modification and alteration of human consciousness and volition through a manipulation of the glands. Ordinarily, the nature of what we eat and drink, how we breathe and exercise the body, can affect our health and consciousness. Studies indicate, for instance, that the consumption of animal fats regularly, can dim and distort the quality of the blood and the kind of radiation it emits.
Research activities into various means of alteration of human genetic system rarely end with applying the results genetically but through electronic system too. This can be quite dangerous in a world where terrorism can take various forms, just like fraud. It is true that institutional or state-sponsored research projects would be done under strict control and taking security into consideration too.
Not everything which private researchers do can become public knowledge, including the process of testing and verifying results. Human beings who serve as guinea-pigs and whose participation in such projects may not be voluntary, can be exposed to some dangers. For example, there are hypnotists among various criminal groups who can make their victims do a number of things without their free will. Internet and other electronic media can be used in such diabolical and criminal activities. This cuts across nations and continents.
A number of youths who are mentally unstable currently got involved through the internet and cell phones with some cult groups operating in various countries. From giving away information about their blood status and other personal data some unsuspecting youths have been placed in conditions enabling them to receive strange instructions and communications from sources which they know nothing about. There is more to increasing cases of cultism and other aberrations among Nigerian youth than what we generally know. The major criminality in cyber engineering lies in teleguided modification of the human brain and cells through electronic contacts. The practice is widespread.
Cybernetics, Eugenics and Racism
After Charles Darwin published his book “The Origin of Species” (1859), there began many experiments in cloning and genetic engineering. Francis Galton, regarded as the “father “ of I. Q. testing and the science of intelligence, wrote a book: “Hereditary Genius” (1869) and also founded the British Eugenic Society. The aim of the society was to “help nature along by determining who the intelligent and the unintelligent were, and by promoting the breeding of the former and the infertility of the latter.”
Thus began the era of genetic terrorism with key emphasis on promoting the infertility and reduction of the population of unintelligent and inferior races and classes. One Arthur Jenson exposed the racial motives and contents of the Eugenic ideology, with another racist writer, Richard Hernnstein. Both of them had the audacity to assert that Blacks are an inferior genetic stock and that no legislation was necessary to seek to make them equal with the whites.
As criticisms over these assertions and racial insults mounted, research works on genetic modification went underground, with secret sponsorship. International “humanitarian” agencies were infiltrated for the purpose of implementing the eugenic ideology, the special emphasis on “helping” developing countries. Thus began a well-articulated program of one-sided and unfair exploitation of the poor, weak and “unintelligent” sections of the human stock.
We cannot wish away the sad effects of racial prejudices and stereotypes whereby various classes of people are associated with some peculiar and fixed behavioural patterns. More ludicrous in these stupid ideas is the association of intelligence, wealth and integrity with the elite; and crime, lechery and dishonesty as the preserve of the “agbero” class in human society.
Not too long ago in Nigeria there were some controversies over “Trovan” drugs and polio vaccine of which there were allegations of unwholesome intentions. Perhaps, unknown to them, drug manufacturers, vendors and international aid agencies can be infiltrated by secret agents for the purpose of contaminating drugs meant for certain countries with genetic modifying chemicals. Hitherto, there are a number of unanswered questions regarding the HIV/AIDS scourge, which has been described as “Artificially Induced Distortion of the genetic system”. Concern about unchecked population explosion had resulted in suggestions to use genetic means, targeted at certain social classes by drug administration.
Cloning, Commercialism and Compromise
Cloning is an artificial process of producing exact copy of something or someone else, programmed and teleguided to function like a zombie. Through similar process, experiments in cloning and genetic modification have widened into power-politics, commercialism and blackmail. Power-controlling strategies include the cloning of cronies and agents who can be used to do some dirty and dangerous jobs and then abandoned or programmed to commit suicide thereafter.
Apart from the mechanism of genetic modification and alteration of blood radiation through the infusion of “occult blood”, there are other ways of producing political clones for a fee. Through research and secret experiments the human brain has been abused in ways that are shocking and unbelievable.
Some money-bags and power-mongers hire, train and feed some macho-men with certain concoctions such that they become animal-like in behavior and thinking. Thus they become zombies rather than humans, with the purpose of serving their masters for security and other specific projects.
Studies in herbal pharmacology also aid in these practices, whereby people hired as domestic helps are fed by their masters or mistresses with certain herbs mixed in their food which eventually alter their behavior and mind-set. Not only house-helps but also people who fall foul to the law can, during their detention period, be fed with substances which alter their behavior and consciousness permanently after their ordeal.
Plea bargaining which is a common compromise strategy as well as blackmail are ready instruments of parallel terrorist measures. Thus political, business or economic power brokers produce their own clones in the form of cronies, private eyes, mercenaries, clowns or saboteurs who can terrorise opponents of their masters. Unfortunately there are some variations of clones who operate as servants of various religions, bringing discredit and dishonor to ecclesiastical institutions.
Cloning centres are deep waters and shark-infested. Many of the mindless clones and zombies rarely know the end-result of their assignments. Mass hysteria is used as a ready tool to enlist the services of those who can be swayed by pontification and indoctrination. Such zombie-like clones, with no personal conviction or moral scruples can carry out with glee and euphoria bombing and other terrorist acts. What we call brain-washing is in reality a programming process, the same way that de-radicalisation is de-programming.
Programming and program sponsorship in the cybernetic project are complex and dangerous issues to write about. The intention here is to warn the Nigerian public that the nation is coming under a siege through the instrumentality of internet technology coupled with dogmatic ideologies of various shades. Security agencies may not have all the answers or solve all the problems, neither is one raising any false alarm. The situation demands utmost vigilance and the ability to understand that all that glisters is not gold. Attention should be paid to what Nigerian youths engage in, home or abroad.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
Weapons Of Mass Devaluation: An Examination
“Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter” – Holy Qur’an, Sura II: 217
We must admit that right from pre-historic time humans live in environments where there are always predators, not of the dinosaur genre. Despite the claims about all humans being equal, maybe in terms of having a common origin, it is quite obvious that glaring inequalities exist among humans. Without going into the causes or origins of such wide diversities among humans, we must admit that human environments are battlefields not only for the survival of the fittest, but for maturing purpose.
Mass devaluation refers to conditions where weak individuals, groups or nations are placed in de-humanising situations thus reducing the status of their humanity, pride, self-esteem, independence, and opportunities to survive. In such restricting situations the weak are forced to give in and surrender to external pressures, in a state of helplessness and perhaps hopelessness. It is not in the spirit of humans to submit willingly to oppression and tumult, but when force and cunning come into social relationship, the weak can succumb.
Organized system of human settlements and governance came about as a means of defence or protection against external aggressions and oppressions. However, since different people and groups must interact for economic and survival purposes, strong and weak groups of people can always meet, with various results arising.
Theaters of Devaluation
The devaluation process and strategies take place at different levels, ranging from individual, local national and international settings. A child once asked the father why people lock their doors before going to bed at night. The father’s answer was that “people are dangerous, and they become more daring when opportunities are created for them to take undue advantage of”. The father and child conversation changed when the child asked the father: “Are you also a dangerous man?”
No one would admit in the open that he is a dangerous man, even for someone who is so. People soon discover through practical daily experiences that it is folly to surrender one’s life or destiny solely in the hands of another person, no matter how close. Let us call it precaution, but the natural instinct of self-preservation demands that a responsible adult has a duty to be cautious in his dealings with other individuals.
It is obvious and quite natural that people can, and often do, exploit weaknesses which other individuals exhibit. Therefore, at individual level personal indulgences constitute immediate theater for devaluation. Take example of a man who cannot hold his amative appetite under control; whether a clergyman or a professor, he runs the risk of being devalued. Once an aggrieved woman throws the first stone even after many years of alleged “rape”, other women would come up with more stones to demolish and devalue anyone. Apart from predatoriness, there is also sadism in humans.
At the local level of human interactions, envy can become the theater and instrument of the devaluation process, especially where arrogance and vanity join hands with envy. Even within families in local communities, farmlands and who owns what space, can spark off issues which can result in mass demotion and devaluation.
At national level the same shenanegans which play out in local communities swell bigger in line with increased population. Unfortunately, there are usually people who would want to run before they have learnt to walk, especially when they see others run with such ease that can make the crawling ones want to catch up with or get even with those they envy.
Political leaders have been known to use the wide disparity among various parts in a nation as the instrument or theater to cause tension and division among people. Development process demands that individuals and wider groups try to identify, utilize and build upon available local resources and talents rather than ignore them or envy others of what they are able to develop and use.
Both at national and international levels, it is the formidable impersonal power structure which becomes the preying titan. Without wearing the tag of modern slavery, the system disempowers and devalues the weak masses, while creating the impression that people’s best interests are being served and protected. The Globalisation system provides the enabling platform for the survival of the fittest, whereby it takes strong bargaining power or a countervailing force, to stand the impersonal politico-economic structure. The world of capitalism is a predatory world.
Mechanism and Weapons of Devaluation
The structure upon which mass devaluation operates at national and international levels had evolved long ago, thanks to political and economic institutions. With Nigeria as an oil producing nation, the game of devaluation has a high stake. The following are the means of the devaluation process:
Misdistribution of national resources.
Anybody who doubts that there is a deliberate misdistribution of the commonwealth should please take a critical and unbiased look at the records of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). Is it not on record that Senator Ita Enang once said that “Northerners owned 83 per cent of all oil blocks in the country”? Why was such serious revelation drowned and swept away through a national uproar and denials? Did the then Petroleum Minister, Dieziani Allison-Madueke and the Federal Government disprove Enang’s claim? Ignorance and fear are serious weaknesses.
Did a global body, the Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) not give Nigeria very poor marks in the administration of its oil sector, with reference to secret award of oil licences? Since after the end of the Nigerian Civil War, the Nigerian political economy had swung steadily into less than 20% of the population controlling and enjoying more than 80% of the nation’s wealth. It is neither productivity nor great patriotism that is the basis of such abundance of wealth. Thus the weak 80% of the population becomes devalued; thanks to corruption!
Exploitation of labour, talents and resources
Apart from the public sector of the economy controlled by the governments, the private sector can be divided into two sections. The oil and gas section can afford to pay salaries that make their workers the envy of the society. The banks which would have come next in that category had laid off a large number of their workers, thanks to the introduction of electronic banking. The other section of the private sector exploit their workers in such a way that anyone would wonder how such workers feed during the month. Private school owners pay their workers between fifteen and fifty thousand naira a month, including postgraduate teachers. With mass unemployment, talents waste away.
State policies and programmes.
But for the serious outcry from various quarters, the RUGA projects which were designed with obvious ulterior or hidden motives, would have been foisted upon unsuspecting communities, with attendant unpleasant results. It is obvious that similar ill-conceived policies and programmes had been pushed through for implementation, whose results would not be in the best interests of the masses. The issues of fuel subsidy and price equalization are cases in point which pass on the burden of profligate state spending and poor management of affairs to the docile masses.
Power monopoly via money politics
Money politics, which is sustained by the club of money-bags, buccaneers and pig-headed adventurers, turns a democracy into an oligarchy or an exclusive cult system. The result is that the masses are not only excluded and devalued, but often used and exploited for base political purpose. The result is not only the promotion of instability but also insecurity in the society. Money politics, like big business monopolies and armed combat, promote proliferation of fire-arms and pig-head adventurers.
Aggressive Taxation and tax-drive.
Money-politics brings on its trail profligate spending during and after election processes. When state purse begins to run dry aggressive taxation and tax drive come handy as means of raising revenue. The process of increasing internally-generated revenue (IGR) goes along with intimidation, oppression and possibly forced grabbing and seizure of property including land. Members of the Task Force created for this purpose often become monstrous in their operations.
Strangely, what tax consultants and members of Task Force on revenue collection have not been able to do is impound marauding cattle that invade everywhere, including LGA premises. Are the macho-men, despite their bravado, afraid of cattle or their owners? Here, we see how intimidation and the use of force under various guises can become the means of devaluation of the masses. A warning that “your boys may impound nama belonging to the Brigade Commander” prevented a local government chairman from creating a taskforce for the purpose. Cattle can serve as means of devaluation.
Induced Mass Poverty
Can mass poverty not be deliberately induced as a means of keeping the masses docile and malleable, for political purposes? Why is the payment of a paltry N30,000 minimum wage such a big issue when some political office holders earn fantastic salaries and allowances which they will feel jittery to be made public? Why are workers in some states owed salaries for several months, and pensioners subject to the ordeal of endless biometric verifications? With increasing poverty, unemployment, job losses and widespread insecurity, it is obvious that the weak and poorest of the poor would see life as having little or no value or purpose.
Mental enslavement is the most dehumanizing bondage leading to devaluation.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
Herdsmen: Demand As Passive Weaponry
In March 2016, the people of Egbema in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government (ONELGA), Rivers State and their friends from near, far and wide converged at home for the burial of Mrs. Ule Samade who was sexually assaulted and fatally shot in her farm by herdsmen. The death of the very vivacious and homely Ule in her prime was a bitter and painful loss made more so by the peculiar circumstance of her death and the fact that every effort to bring the assailants to book failed due to the status of the owner of the herds in the security apparatus of Nigeria. Nursing its deep emotional wounds, the family decided not to serve beef at the burial and took a traditional oath never to cook or eat beef in the family throughout the life of the current adult members. So it was that fish and chicken were served as protein at the burial, a rather eloquent protest albeit a passive one. In the opinion of the family, to serve beef would have invariably meant patronizing the assailants of Ule. So for the occasion, the principals of the herdsmen lost clientele, no matter how comparatively infinitesimal.
In the nauseating novel tradition of turning burials into carnivals irrespective of the age of the deceased and circumstance of death, snacks and drinks were served at the service of songs while food and drinks were dished out in ample quantity at the burial; and that was in keeping with the silly and senseless bid to meet or surpass the tacit standard for burials set by an ignominiously wasteful society. Naturally, that was to the delight of guests, both the invited and the uninvited that constituted the vast majority.
Fast forward to today, on Saturday, June 29, 2019, the people of Nenwe Community, Enugu State, chased a herd of cattle and their AK47-totting herders out of the community and expressed the desire to collectively abstain from beef. Now, if a leaf is borrowed from the apparently petty passive protest of the Samade family and the threat of the Nenwe Community and the underlining consciousness that manifested in these acts of resistance is effectively tapped into and propagated widely, it will constitute a trickle into the ocean of withholding demand for beef. The law of demand and supply teaches that where demand is nonexistent, supply seizes to be; in other words, if there is no demand, the entrepreneur has no need to process his commodity and transport it to a nonexistent marketplace and if this persists over an extended time frame the entrepreneur is, inevitably, out of that particular business.
Within the context of the above economic truism, it is wondered why demand cannot be utilized as a weapon against the menace of herdsmen. After all, nutritionists counsel against eating beef as a result of its cholesterol content. And currently, there is a global campaign against the consumption of beef based on the argument that it takes enormous amount of water and degradation of the environment to produce beef meanwhile man is running out of water and may go to war in the near future for table water as the aquifers are drying up. That the Fulani customarily do not consume beef means that they may have been aware of the health hazards from time immemorial. So, for the rest of Nigerians, it is lose-lose situation: beef, arrow or bullet, either way, Nigerians are being killed in their thousands. Obviously, the sustainability of the profession, economy and livelihood of the Fulani primarily depends on demand from people south of their territory.
In a 1995 poem titled “Niger Delta Donkey,” which is part of a thirty-poem anthology published in 2002, a poet observed and prophesied thus inter alia:
See the herdsman His holy book in han’ He’s jihading to thy sea Always where and what he wants to be
From pre-Boro To post Saro
You aborrowed And asorrowed While their serfs on your horses
Cart away their loot From your land and purses As your princes are on foot
If you close your eyes And bow your head Persistent would be their actions and lies Until you are dead
In the first three lines, “Niger Delta Donkey” alludes to the statement credited to Sir Ahmadu Bello to the effect that the Koran will be dipped in the Atlantic Ocean, thus Islamizing all of Nigeria as intended by Uthman Dan Fodio. The fourth line refers to the audacious manner in which Northerners take positions in the system without caring whose ox is gored; this is exemplified by the facts that (1) Hausa/Fulanis are the major beneficiaries of the allocation of oil wells and (2) the current appointment of Fulani Moslems into virtually every major national security office and other high profile positions. The eight-line second verse captures the existence of abject poverty amidst plenty and the systemic oppression of the people of Niger Delta.
More than two decades after the twenty-eight-line “Niger Delta Donkey,” the poet captured the same theme in another metaphoric poetry titled “Sitting Ducks” in which he wrote thus inter alia:
From around the Sahel they’ve arrived Full, fiendish, fanatical freaks Plying trades on which your forebears thrived And taking over your creeks Your farmland are trampled by their herd Your protestations can’t be heard
Sitting ducks, waiting to stop the poisoned arrow
Shot from the full freaking fanatics’ bow As you live in silent desperation While they have no hesitation To unleash the deadly staccato of their AK47 Towards voluptuous rewards in heaven (The Tide, June 28, 2019:9)
Interestingly, in “Niger Delta Donkey,” the author was historical and at the same time futuristic; however, in “Sitting Ducks,” he addresses the cogency, currency and urgency of now. He utilizes the metaphor of ducks helplessly and unconsciously sitting at “bull’s eye” of the herdsman’s bow and arrow or the globally acclaimed deadly AK47 assault rifle thus emphasizing the fatality and finality of the situation. Taken together, both poems constitute a wake-up call for a very generous and highly gifted people who are, rather unfortunately and shamefully, known for their divisiveness and docility.
With the Federal government cancelling gun licenses and withdrawing all licensed guns while herdsmen ply their trade with AK47 brazenly and arrogantly hoisted on their shoulders, the vulnerability of the citizens of the Middle Belt and the rest of the South of Nigeria cannot be overstated. Under the circumstance, adjusting the taste buds and withholding the demand for beef will, if affected widely and committedly, pull the entrepreneurial rug off the feet of the principals of the herdsmen. Speaking in this vein, Emeka Anyaegbu rhetorically asked thus: “is it not high time we boycotted cow meat? Is it not ironic that while they slaughter us we still spend more than N5b per annum patronizing them”? Ponder the essence and import of these questions vis-à-vis the number of cows bought during festive periods, the new fad of royal-standard weddings, insane burial carnivals, traditional wine carrying, thanksgiving services and opening of houses, offices etc not to mention daily patronage for domestic and commercial purposes. Certainly, the purchase of beef inadvertently strengthens the principals of the herdsmen; therefore, the proposed boycott is a very eloquent way of telling the Fulani that we can do without their commodity. All that needs be done is to join the Fulani in abstinence from the commodity of their enterprise and the demand for beef will plummet and the whole hoopla about RUGA and cattle ranches will come to a quiet and peaceful end.
In view of the above, it behooves the governments of the States affected by this menace and NGOs with a proclivity for human rights to embark on extensive public enlightenment campaign to sensitize the people to align with Samade family of Egbema (not necessarily to the extent of the traditional oath) and the intended action of Nenwe Community. Perhaps, this will force the principals of the herdsmen to a roundtable towards peaceful coexistence. Particularly speaking, the people of Niger Delta have been the donkeys of the Nigerian society over the years; their docility has now translated into living the essence of “Sitting Ducks” invariably waiting for the herdsman’s bow and arrow or the staccato of his deadly AK47.
What is very irksome in this whole affair is that humanity is racing into the future at breakneck speed, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is displacing man in the workplace, oil has lost its primacy in the global marketplace, John Magufuli has put Tanzania on the wheels of progress and Paul Kagame has attracted Volkswagen to establish an assembly plant in Rwanda; meanwhile, Nigeria is feverishly driving blindly on the reverse by being neurotically preoccupied with mundane things such as land, cattle, ethnicity and the preposterous and idiotic matter of searching for the face of the Unknowable through the jaded and ossified creeds of two alien religions called Christianity and Islam; what a pity, what a great pity for a country so richly endowed with globally acknowledged abundance in human and material resources.
In the history of communications, it is said that nothing arrests the mind more permanently than words captured in music or poetry; so, the reader is humbly invited to ponder the following fourteen-line poem as a parting gift:
Demand as Weapon Bow and arrow have we not, Against the lethality of the staccato of AK47 We can’t get even; But we owe posterity Protection from hurt
So, if one and all, We reject beef The butcher’s stand will surely fall without a miff. Then we’d cultivate our land And peacefully savor the bounty of the Almighty
Every human being has ears; however, for some, their ears are ornamental hence the Man from Galilee said thus: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” The Fulanis are predators of the first order with the patience of a vulture; the suspension of the RUGA program should be seen for what it is, suspension not cancellation. This issue will certainly resurface in the future in a more daring and audacious manner.
Osai is a lecturer in Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
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