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The Making Of A King In Ubeta

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Nature does not endow for nothing; so, to achieve success, whatever the goal, we must pay a price. Omniscience associates the people of Ubeta in Ahoada-West Local Government Area of Rivers State with spectacular circumstances which lie on their carpet of fate woven by nature. These include the discovery of ocean of gas buried in the bowel of Ubeta soil, the first academic professor in Ekpeye kingdom, Pius Judah Egbelu; the first Ubie man to be elected into the Green Chambers of the National Assembly, Prince Ezekwem Sam Eligwe (now late), and the first Ekpeye man to be appointed as Mayor of Port Harcourt, High Chief David Ayaugbokor (now late).
The people are convinced that these notable unique firsts are enough for them to hold their heads high among the communities in Ekpeye land.
An Ubeta man was a true brother to a fellow Ubeta man. Their uncommon belief in the Ubeta cause was a source of inspiration and envy to others. The founding fathers clamoured for unity and oneness – a rare force that gave rise to the appellation “akinima oriagbo”, which was anchored on brotherliness and love. They knew that patience and perseverance would urge them onward towards their goal.
But that was before oil and gas were discovered in Ubeta and which has today transformed into politics and paved way for strife, distrust, disharmony, chaos and bloodletting etc.
Facilities belonging to the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas, Total E&P and Nigeria Agip Oil Company criss-cross the length and breadth of their land.
The rights and privileges of indigenes on the award of contracts, scholarship opportunities and skills acquisition programmes were usually diverted and converted by a few indigenes who served as cronies to some staff of these multinationals to steal Ubeta blind. The unrestrained indulgence of this few to accumulate and pocket what belongs to all has been the main brain in the agitation and bickerings. Those who qualify are deliberately denied available opportunities. It pains to watch the people groan in hunger and penury; hovering between hope and anxiety as they watch helplessly their wealth being violated and plundered by creepers.
Bear in mind that in today’s world, only enemies speak the truth, friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of duty and conceit.
Between 2001 and 2003, over 20 youths of Ubeta were killed in an induced crisis that consumed the community. Several buildings and habitations belonging to entities were destroyed. Indigenes fled on self exile. The community became desolate, widowed, lonely, heaving in agony and resignation. Blood flowed, never before heard in the history of the people. Sacred sites including churches were desecrated, homes looted and families decimated. As the community staggered in pains and wails, “the big monkey hand in the soup” wagged its tail and tongue in smiles.
A  poet, Bernard Shaw, was right after all when he said, “you see things, and you say; why? But I dream things that never were; and I say why not?”
Indeed, nothing captures the sharp disunity in Ubeta than the failed attempts to install a stable and enduring leadership for 26 years after the earthly passage of Chief Sam Eligwe in 1991. It is puzzling!! Elections into traditional stools in Ekpeye land are democratic, not hereditary and every legitimate Ekpeye son is a prince, but those with sound mind, quality intellect and opportunity are potential kings. But like the parable of the big man, any attempt to personalize any stool by infusing hereditary overtly or covertly opens avenues for friction.
Worried by the grave implications of not having an organized leadership, and convinced that those who struggled through slavery knew how extremely expensive it was to be voiceless, the Ubeta people gathered on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 (the cultural Udhie day), surmounted the hurdle and elected another (paramount ruler) Eze-Nwe-Ula of Ubeta, Chief Chimezie Nathaniel.
Petitions, court cases and threats of violence had tried to thwart the effort that was conceived over 15 months ago. It is now in the pages of history that Chief Monday Ezebulunwo’s reign (who succeeded Late Sam Eligwe) was marked with a long journey of internal wrangling. He was finally hurled out from office in 1998 for being steadfast.
Chief Napoleon Agihuo took over. Agihuo’s stay as paramount ruler was the proverbial war against a nine – headed snake; cutting off one head, quickly allows another to emerge. His tenure was the shortest ever in the history of our traditional clime. And so, ushered in another chief,  Kenneth Odoyi – a modest civil servant. Interest groups and litigations, accusations that spelt the importance of the office, characterized the era, and finally tore down his tenure.
In the ensuing uncertainties, one Goodlife Ebina pronounced himself paramount chief. It was reminiscent  of the Biblical account of “what inheritance have we in the son of Jesse, to your tents oh Israel”. There was insurrection, while the community was in limbo! In the early 70’s , two paramount rulers also reigned at the same time, Chief Sam Eligwe and Chief Friday William. Confusion, that is!
So, to stem the looming violence, after the clergy in Ekpeye land had intervened in October, 2014, Nna Frank – Jack, a Justice of Peace and journalist was appointed the Chairman of the community, heading both the traditional institution and community development initiatives.
Again, in just few weeks on saddle, turnings and turnings widened the gear. He left office in 2016. The then election planning committee was subsequently dissolved over inexplicable yet curious excuses, and another put in place. Much sacrifice was made, which nonetheless, marked the journey towards liberation.
The Eze Nwe-Ula stool is the rallying point of Ubeta people. It is, therefore, instructive for the new leadership in Ubeta  –  Chief Chimezie Nathaniel, the Eze-Nwe-Ula, Ubeta; Sir Julius Ojeme,  Chairman, Community Development Committee, and Innocent  Abali, Youth President,  to learn from the words of an author now buried in antiquities:  “to stumble twice against the same excuse is a disgrace”, hence “we are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future”.
And so it is,  that the end of a fateful cycle which began in 1991 has joined its beginning, and an ancient evening heralding a new era. We need a collective approach to reposition Ubeta, where healing, forgiveness and equity may reign.
My prayerful thoughts shall envelop this giant stride. I thought, I heard voices chant, Amen!
Frank -Jack lives in  Port Harcourt.

 Nna Frank – Jack

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Opinion

Short, Sharp, Shock-Treatment

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There was a recent allusion from the Nigerian President, or the Presidency, about the possibility of some impending shock, meant to restore sanity in the country. It came as a warning to those who were alleged to be intent on destroying or destabilising Nigeria via insurgency, agitation and causing mayhem. Therefore, it has become needful to alert Nigerians about Nature’s Standing Order of Short, sharp, shock treatment (SSST), as a mechanism of restoring order when humans allow disorder to grow too high. In truth, there is such mechanism in the scheme of things.
Those who are familiar with Jewish cosmogony via the Kabbalah, would know that there is a flow of Divine influx, also known as Zazahot or lighting flash, which is an up-building and a restorative system. The 5th anchorage of that Divine Circuit system known as Geburah or Judgement has the duty or responsibility of restoring order and bringing about a balance, when disorder and imbalance become overwhelming in creation or a section thereof. Disorder and imbalances usually come from humans.
Being endowed with a free will and the freedom to make personal decisions and choices, which are often mis-used, humans bring about disorders and imbalances which distort the beauty and harmony of creation. Accumulation of massive impurities would necessitate a cleansing process to reduce the results of human engagements in acts of impunity, shamelessness and irresponsibility. Before catastrophies come there are usually warnings.
In the case of Nigeria, the warning signals have been persistent and loud enough even for obtuse persons to be aroused to a state of alertness. Nature has a process of educating human beings through bitter personal and collective experiences. No one can say that such warning signals and bitter experiences have not been there for quite some time. As a process of ensuring justice, there are watchers and weavers whose activities in the 100m of destiny entail monitoring the deeds of everyone with utmost accuracy. There are also provisions for deep reflections and possible redressing of imbalances.
Nigeria has been brought to its current sad state of affairs through many follies and deliberate acts of mischief. From Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s book Reforming The Unreformable, we are told that more than 5,000 board seats existed as sinecure, with political leaders having enormous patronage powers. We are told that a bad public service is certain to produce bad governance, even if the right accountability and other mechanisms are in place. Thus, there is a spiral of malfeasance.
From public service system, to tertiary education, we are told that “a systemic rot has befallen Nigeria”, apart from “inflating the budget by doubling or tripling the allocations…” Even with the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) bill which was approved in May 2007, there was no transparency or accountability in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector. In both physical and process audit there are deficiencies in management and utility.
Okonjo-Iweala advised that “special care be taken to ensure that oil revenues are spent wisely to build up durable long-term assets whose benefits can be shared with future generations”. Nigeria’s great dependence on oil and gas whose vulnerability to global volatility of commodity market are important factors in the country’s need to reshape its economic structure and growth based on diversification. With regards to corruption, Okonjo-Iweala said that “cynicism about the fight against is greatest when allegations of corrupt acts on the part of the elite are not investigated with any vigour even when investigated …”
If human verdict is reflected in the dismal and sad score card available in the public domain, then the verdict of the watchers and weavers of human destinies must also be far worse. There are indications globally that visibly gathering dark storms would surely result in some catastrophes whose true nature no one can tell accurately. For Nigeria as an individual nation in the global family, it is obvious that the shock alluded to by the President is an omen of things to come.
However, no one is in a position to predict exactly the nature and intensity of the shock the president had in mind. Reacting to the President’s statement, a number of Nigerians expressed sadness that it was a warning to agitators who allegedly are trying to destabilise and disunite Nigeria. But the situation obviously goes beyond current activities of political agitators and bandits.
Normally it takes a long time for storms to amass such power that would result in a destructive shock. Therefore, it would be myopic and wrong to judge the Nigerian situation from a one-sided perspective. Across the globe, Nigeria features as one of the delicate zones where some shocks are most likely to arise. Already harbingers of warning signals include activities of Boko Haran and other agitators for Islamic states and sharia laws, spate of kidnappings and demand for ransom, etc. The commando-rescue-style of an American farmer held hostage in Northern Nigeria placed Nigeria as a vulnerable nation.
Prelude to any coming shock usually includes complacence arising from gluttony over loots. The fact that a few highly-placed Nigerians tried to exonerate late General Sani Abacha of accusations of looting, despite exposures of such deeds, is another evidence of a nation which needs a shock to regain sanity. It takes the collaboration of humans through various activities, to serve as agents in the fulfillment of the mechanism of destiny. Such human agents rarely know that they are serving the course of Nemesis.
Unlike the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) with its attendant miseries and woes, SSST comes as mechanism of Divine intervention, to ensure that those who deserve to die, die the death they deserve. It is fast and thorough, with long-lasting effect. It is a weapon of sective elimination.

Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

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Opinion

Corporate Begging In Nigeria

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I went to an office two days ago for a business transaction and at the gate was a well-dressed, cheerful security guard who zealously ushered me into the compound. I wanted to park my car at one end of the compound and he insisted that I should go another direction which truly was more spacious. And in my mind l was like, “what a dutiful staff”.
He was not done yet.  As soon as I switched off my car ignition and was about to open the door to come out, he rushed and did it, smiling from one side of his mouth to another, offering unsolicited information and a guide on my whereabouts in the facility. I sincerely thanked him, hoping all the VIP treatment will not be a subtle way of begging for gratuity.
Behold, I was wrong. As l made to step into the building, he whispered “Madam, no forget the favour way l do you oo”.  I had just encountered another corporate beggar. A day before, l had a bitter encounter with one, a pump attendant, at a petrol station who called me names for refusing to part with my hard-earned money. Having inquired about the well being of my family, admired my car and showered all unasked encomium on me, he expected a monetary appreciation which was not forthcoming and the next thing I heard was “stingy woman”.
They are everywhere. At petrol stations, banks, offices, both public and private hotels, you see a lot of people begging while on duty. At the airport, train station and in practically all-important offices in the country, “anything for the boys, your boys dey loyal oo”, seems to have become part of the official language.
Of course, this shameful attitude did not start today but it has taken a more serious, disturbing dimension in recent times. Many people, particularly the security personnel, front desk officers, customer relations officers have turned their duty posts to begging offices. They would always blame the current economic downturn for their unbecoming attitude which cannot be totally true because, at least, they are working and earning salaries no matter how little.
What about the millions of people who are jobless and have no means of livelihood? Have they all taken to the streets to beg?
One thinks it is a social malaise which has a lot to do with our ethical values. A lot of people in the country value money and other material things far and above integrity, self-respect and self-dignity and so, they will do anything, no matter how shameful, to acquire them.
A teacher once made an analysis of two families, one has four members and the other was a family of 11 people. Both families were given N200,000 each to spend for a month. According to her, half way into the month, the family of four almost exhausted their money and could hardly pull through till the end while the other family of nine comfortably made do with the amount they had and even had some balance. What was their secret? Prioritisation and prudent management.
Therefore, it is not so much about how much we make through our salaries, begging and other means but how we manage the money. There is hardly anybody in the country today that is not feeling the economic bite and the only thing that will help everybody both the low- and high-income earners is to set their priorities right and learn how to live within their income instead of hoping on tips from some “big men and women” and doing all kinds of ridiculous thing to attract their attention and the crumb. And we forget that the so-called big men most times also have loads of financial responsibilities.
On the national level, we also have to consider the damaging impact of officials begging and do something about it. Obviously, taking little tips from people would make officials skimp on their responsibilities, thereby making some unscrupulous elements have their way, exposing the country to avoidable vulnerability.
It is, therefore, imperative we must begin to build a new ethos that places emphasis on self-respect and dignity of labour. As part of the country’s 60th Independence celebration, the National Ethics and Integrity Policy was launched. It contains the nation’s core values of Human Dignity, Voice and Participation, Patriotism, Personal Responsibilities, Integrity, National Unity and Professionalism. All these values and how they will be practised to make for a better country and more cordial relationship among the citizens are thoroughly spelt out.
For instance, section 4.5.2.5, talking about Honour under Integrity states, “We shall at all times maintain uprightness of character, personal integrity and pride in ourselves as individuals, as one community, and as one nation. Therefore, in all spheres of life, we shall do what is demanded by our common values and laws that we hold to be true, in accordance with our national identity and in accordance with the values enshrined in our national laws and practices as one country. As Nigerians, we shall stand up to challenge those vices that impede the pursuit of our existence with uprightness. We shall celebrate those Nigerians who are upright”.
But then the big questions are, how many Nigerians are aware of this policy? What efforts are being made to educate the citizens on these core values? We  have the National Orientation Agency, the Ministry of Information at various tiers of government, what are they doing to educate people about these code of conduct so that the people internalise it and it becomes a true guide for the citizens,
It is not enough that time, energy and resources were spent in packaging the booklet, let adequate sensitisation be carried out, using the media, both conventional and social media and other means of communication to reach to people at every nooks and crannies of the country because many Nigerians are losing it when it comes to integrity and the time to get them back on the right track is now.

By: Calista Ezeaku

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Opinion

Helping Local Poultry Curb Protein Deficiency

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The Third National Development Plan in Nigeria (1975-1980) envisaged accelerated agricultural growth as being essential for future nutritional growth and emphasized the need for qualitative rather than quantitative food output. This was followed by the publication of a national food balance sheet by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources which revealed the critical extent of essential foods deficiencies in the country.
The target was the improvement of production management, the breeding and feathering of livestock as well as the provision of veterinary services.
From the period of the plan till date, the dream of attaining the required nutritional growth for the Nigerian populace had remained a far cry as outputs of animal products still fall below the minimum nutritional requirements.
Poultry, which involves the domestication of birds (fowls, turkeys, ducks and geese) kept for egg or meat production, is the quickest source of meat and its production process involves the least hazardous and arduous in relation to other livestock enterprise.
Hence, increased poultry production is one of the surest and quickest ways of bridging the animal protein intake gap in the developing countries of the world and in Nigeria, most importantly.
Although the task of bridging this protein intake gap appears formidable in view of the present economic and technological constraints besetting the livestock industry, its importance and the need to make it a reality must not be overlooked.
Known for its significant contribution to human nutrition and economic development, the poultry sector, according to Alabi and Osifo (2014) constitutes more than 57% of the total livestock production in Nigeria with many going into it for either meat, egg or both production.
With the ever increasing population of Nigeria, the poultry industry has not been able to meet up the animal protein need of the populace even as it has all the potentiality of providing the protein need of man. Many people still find it difficult to eat an egg in a year against the recommended average of 240 eggs in a year per person.
This indicates that despite several actions by both the government and few individuals, the chronic deficiency in qualitative food output still yearns for solution.
However, talking about solution, the problem of insufficient supply of hatchable eggs and day-old-chicks must be addressed. It has been observed that at certain periods of the year, hatchable eggs and day-old-chicks (DOC) go out of supply even with substantial amount of import, a situation that subjects peasant poultry farmers to booking for order and waiting for weeks without result.
Worst still, when these orders are eventually made available, almost all the farmers end up brooding birds at the same time and the result is an eventual egg glot in the market. Therefore, egg production calendar is now marked by glot and scarcity periods, as a result of irregular supply of the source of chicks and eggs.
For farmers in Rivers State, what can be a worse experience and set back than lack of adequate qualitative feed appropriate to the ages of the birds?
While farmers in the West and North, who have the privilege of proximity to source of raw materials are at liberty to formulate their feeds to desired standards, the Rivers State farmers see it as a very critical factor in poultry management.
They remain at the mercy of the commercial feed producers from the West who are more concerned about their profit even when the quality of the finished feeds tends to undermine the health and eventual performances of birds.
Moreso, the transportation cost of these feeds from the west to Port Harcourt, in no small measure, increases their cost of production high above what farmers from other states incure. The result is that the farmer in Rivers State is unable to compete favourably with his counterparts elsewhere .
Port Harcourt thus becomes a dumping ground for poultry products from neighbouring states which must be sold before products from within due to a downward slash in the price of the outside products, because of cost advantage.
Suffice it to say that for farmers in the state to meet up with the protein requirements of the state, a provision of functional feed mill that will formulate standard feed to serve the farmers within the state will be a great boost to the local industry.
Apart from the afore-mentioned, the problem of the poultry farmer in Rivers State, could be purely managerial and skill-based.
Like every field of endeavour, poultry farming is one sector which requires more than any other, a careful application of managerial expertise, if one’s capital investment is to be safeguarded and profitable returns expected.
The usual orientation of backyard poultry predominant in the western region of Nigeria has left many with the psyche that poultry business is an all-comers affairs, that could be started at any time without adequately counting the cost of commitment.
This has not just led to the abrupt abortions of many such ventures, but had in most cases devastated some homes who had put in fortunes, probably their retirement benefits just to make ends meet through poultry farming.
The later therefore, poses great concern as to the right attitude towards poultry farming.

By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

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