The Guardian Newspaper would remind us that the human conscience is like an open wound which only truth can heal. The fact that a great soldier and elder statesman, Theophilus Danjuma and others like him, would rise up now to call upon the United Kingdom’s parliament to intervene in the growing insecurity in Nigeria is a significant omen. The build-up to that state of insecurity, demanding the call for external intervention, started over 50 years ago, and it is significant that Danjuma was a key player in some of the episodes.
Without recounting what gave rise to the Nigerian civil war and the various interpretations given to what happened during and after it, the significant issue here is that the conscience of many people, living and dead, remains burdened with severe guilt. All the shenanigans, intrigues and sanctimonies that anyone or groups of people can cook up, would not clean up the fact that Nigeria, as a nation, is groaning under the burden of severe guilt.
At the end of the Nigerian Civil War, there was a declaration of general amnesty in a slogan of ‘No-victor, no-vanquished’. Yet, there were obvious acts and policies which bore evidence of malice and vindictiveness, along with a process of post-war reconstruction efforts. Without any talk about penalty or indemnity, there was such hypocrisy in the position of state policies and programmes that made late Senator Francis Ellah to resign as a senator. His “Unfinished Motion” spoke a great deal, and its significance is playing out currently.
It is significant that after 30 years, a younger Joseph Okey Ellah is warning that: “Some individuals appear to believe the oil must belong to them, so they have been trying legal tricks and means to acquire ownership …” Therefore, apart from the concern of Danjuma leading to dragging Buhari to U.K. parliament, there is another act of glaring injustice going on in Nigeria currently.
The Nigerian nation should consider giving special National Award to Danjuma, Obasanjo, Ellah, et al as great patriots or whistle blowers.
Nigerians would wish to know the individuals or groups who have been trying legal tricks and means to acquire ownership of oil and gas assets that should belong to the Niger Delta people. As for Islamisation, Fulanisation and the Sharia stuff, Nigerians are aware of where the smoke is coming from. What honest Nigerians would want to understand is the modus operandi of the conversion process which is probably a major cause of current state of insecurity in Nigeria.
To purge the conscience would require some degree of boldness, courage, humility and honesty. In the first place, key players in the Nigerian Civil War who are still alive should, as a matter of urgency, make a clean breast of what roles they played in the past 53 years of Nigeria’s history. At the helm of affairs during the most critical period of Nigeria’s history as a head of state, Yakubu Gowon is a significant figure. It would be necessary that he should play a most vital role in the conscience-purging process.
Whichever way that this necessary national cleansing process would take, it is important that it is a Task that must be done. Fortunately, Gowon is known to be a prayer warrior who should not have aversion towards a conscience-purging suggestion. In a war situation, fair may be foul and foul fair, but we do not need some juggling fiends to tell us that Justice is the pillar of a stable polity. Revisit 1969 Decree/Act on oil and gas.
Any serious student of the Kabbalah version of Jewish scriptures would recognise the fact that Gedulah or Geburah represents Judgement which stipulates that guilt must be balanced. The process of balancing can come by way of purging the conscience before the Reaper, in the hour of Judgment, comes with a hammer or the Sword of Justice. There is an Admonition that a New Nigeria would emerge only through purgation.
Hardly would any acts of bravado, legal tricks, prevarication, equivocation or sanctimony annul the decree of having to purge the conscience.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer at the Rivers State University, PH.
Buhari And Fifth Columnists
According to Wikipedia, a fifth columnist is “any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favour of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth columnist can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilise openly to assist an external attack. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed within defense lines by secret sympathisers with an external force.”
Literarily, it refers to persons who willfully constitute clogs in the wheel of progress within the system for no justifiable cause. Simply put, self-centered persons who allow selfish interests to override public interests. It doesn’t matter heights attained, greed and acrimony will always manifest either patently or latently in their actions.
President Muhammadu Buhari must not allow some politicians constitute clogs in the wheel of his progress knowing that masses confidence on him is at stake. Election is over. This is the time to be strict and focused for service delivery to earn accolades after exit from politics in 2023. Those that preferred conceited interests and ambitions to public interest should be laid off. Second term in office by Nigeria’s Constitution precedes retirement. But the retirement; fulfilled, glorious or otherwise will be determined by some dynamics.
In the Oath of Allegiance in the 1999 Constitution, Federal Republic of Nigeria for public officeholders, it provides for recitation, “….I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability, faithfully, and in accordance to with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…..; I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or official decisions ……; I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will …….”.
These are the social contracts by which anyone; from president down to a commissioner can take up any official responsibility from the Constitution. Unfortunately, whilst the drafters of the Constitution took it seriously, politicians take it as mere recitals or formality. A pity, indeed!
The major challenge facing the country is insecurity which has perceptibly given President Buhari sleepless nights. Economy may never boom as targeted until insecurity is dealt with. The twosome (security and economy) go hand-in-hand. And any government that failed to prioritize them is cruising toward abysmal failures.
Unfortunately, scores of citizens that devotedly enrolled in a government institution – National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) – and graduated since 2013 have been subjected to redundancy and idleness; roaming the streets without vocations by designs of some privileged persons in government. What a contradiction?
How could scores of citizens be kept in such a tight corner for years with all manner of gimmicks, forgetting that the victims have a right to live a comfortable life? How many of the conspirators or schemers can stay without remunerations to justify the years the innocent victimised students have stayed without jobs? And finally, what have the schemers gained from the obnoxious ploys?
Pondering on the unending ugly dramas regarding the admission of NOUN law graduates who had been encumbered from proceeding for their vocational training in the Nigerian Law School for no crimes committed can only make any patriotic persons weep deeply for the nation. The commonest question that must come to mind is; can the country freely move forward with such actors as public officeholders?
The most horrible challenge any government can face is harboring fifth columnists who pursue selfish agenda distinct from the government they constitute. This is, indeed, unfortunate. Lack of continuity, unity of purpose and open-mindedness in government is the major task in governance. Any system where personal interests are placed above public interests will collapse.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu’s efforts on the protracted NOUN/Law School crisis have often met a brick wall. Adversaries within, they say, are the worst enemies. And President Buhari must be mindful of such characters as they can sabotage other government policies mutely. Like corruption, if the government does not deal with fifth columnists within, they will deal with the government.
Anywhere a principal and subordinates pursue different interests is doomed to fail. No doubt, NOUN/Law School crisis was inherited from two previous administrations, but President Buhari must give these oppressed students the anticipated relief. According to Simone de Beauvoir, “All oppression creates a state of war”. And the time to avert it is now.
It is bizarre for a unique innovation which the federal government adopted from developing nations and established with public funds to be subjected to hostility and the pull-down syndrome instead of being strengthened to stand. How could human beings willfully and joyfully cripple their fellow citizens?
Anyway, a fulfilled and glorious retirement after serving the nation is only tenable by remarkable accomplishments and, therefore, any detractors within the system should be discharged in the best interest. Thus, let the needful be done.
Umegboro is a public affairs analyst.
By: Carl Umegboro
As Another Femicide Lurks …
November 25, 2019, may have come and gone, yet its echoes continue to resound in the global environment. At the United Nations (UN), the annual 16 Days campaign, which commences from the 25th day of November, through December 10, mobilizes not only the governments and public alike, it is also enthroning an atmosphere of hope and bright future, devoid of violence against women.
Although the theme of this year’s UN commemoration, “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!” strictly highlights the need to end the “rape culture” that is entrenched in our society, we must not forget that its focal point is on outright elimination of gender-based violence (GBV) or violence against women and girls (VAWG),which has become a global pandemic . Whether in situations of conflict, peace, or in our homes, rape is a fraction of Violence against women which study has revealed, affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime.
Like rape which started gradually and suddenly became a terror that has sniffed away sleep from the eyes of the mighty, as both adult and young females are daily exposed to its menace irrespective of their locations, femicide; the killing of women, is soon becoming another dimension of violence against women which the world government and the society at large need to nib in the bud before it becomes a bug.
While the world was yet urging actions to end violence against women, on November 25, Rivers State was agog with the news of the corpse of a young lady discovered in a well of water at Rumuosi in Obio/Akpo Local Government Area of the State.
The young lady, simply identified as Miss Charity Ohaka, was allegedly murdered and her body thrown into a well by unknown persons.The body of the lady who until her death was said to be a popular money lender in the area was discovered in the well few days after she went missing.
This is in addition to an inexplicable killing of the Kogi People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s women leader; Salome Acheju Abuh, right in her house, and the brutal attack unleashed on the Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s gubernatorial flagbearer, Barrister Natasha Akpoti, in Lokoja, the state capital before the recent gubernatorial election held in the Confluence State.
Of course we cannot be said to have forgotten so soon, the serial killer story that has been on the news for the past few months. For reasons of killing women and girls in hotels in Nigeria, hotel owners in PortHarcourt are now under statutory obligation to install closed- circuit television (CCTV) in their respective hotels, to be able to track the activities of killers.
Jean-Luc Mounier, a French journalist and research engineer, quoting a non governmental organisation, Féminicides par compagnons ou ex, (Femicides committed by partners or exes) reports that as at September 7, a total of 102 women have been killed in France since the beginning of this year.
For this reason, more than 250 anti-femicide posters were posted in the streets of Paris since the end of August. A peculiar feature of this new trend of violence against women as is observed in France, is that it is mostly perpetrated by victims’ partners or spouses.The names of these women — and dozens of other victims — have been meticulously recorded on the cobblestoned wall of Jardin Denfert, a convent-turned-art collective in Paris’s 14th Arrondissement (district) on the French capital’s Left Bank.
Jean reports that since August 30, dozens of women gather there every afternoon in a bid to engage people with France’s femicide problem. Women who want to pay homage to the victims had launched the campaign to”make passers-by and public authorities react”.
Ofcourse, the action of these women has actually paid off. Rebecca Amsellem, a women’s rights activist, penultimate Monday, spoke to France 24 about measures the French government had announced to step up fight against the scourge of domestic abuse. Yet, the NGO reitetates that “Since the government announced its plans to tackle domestic violence on July 6 and the measures having been put in place on September 3, 26 women have been killed.
Despite worldwide mobilizations led by survivors and activists in recent years through movements, violence, especially the ones perpetrated against women continues to be normalized and embedded in our social environments. From the trivializing of rape, victim-blaming, the objectification of women’s bodies in movies or TV, the glamorization of violence in ads, or the constant use of misogynistic language, Violence against women and girls has attracted undue prominence across the globe.
France’s share of this world’s ugly cake differs from the experiences of other countries in this regard and so is the various governments’ attitude towards its arrest.
How about men that had poured hot water or acid on their spouses as sheer expression of misogyny. The ones that use hot pressing iron on patners or female house maids as punitive measure for minor offenses. The list is inexhaustive. Many of these acts go unnoticed and undocumented especially the ones that didn’t culminate to death and the victims were expected to raise alarm. Their lack of courage to speak out for fear of further victimization and public’s stigmatization have not helped matters.
It is not only devastating for survivors of violence and their families, but also entails significant social and economic costs. In some countries, violence against women is estimated to cost up to 3.7% of their GDP – more than double what most governments spend on education.
It knows no social or economic boundaries and affects women and girls of all socio-economic backgrounds. Thus, this issue needs to be addressed in both developing and developed countries. Failure to address this issue would entail a significant cost for the future.
Numerous studies have shown that children growing up with violence are more likely to become survivors themselves or perpetrators of violence in the future.
We may not all be activists, or share the same opinions on other issues, but we can be united in the battle against GBV. It’s an issue that touches all of us, it could happen to anyone; to you, or someone close to you. We all have a role to play. It is petinent that we all be part of the efforts to end all forms of violence against women. This femicide must stop.
By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi
Rivers’ Brotherhood Revisited
Excesses are the uncountable number of syndromes in any governmental sector which can render it to ruin. The White men say that “excess of everything is diabolical or bad”. This philosophical statement seems to be directed at Rivers indigenes and their governments from 1967 till date.
Congratulations to the maiden Governor of the state, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, a Bayelsan who set the pace for others to emulate through the policy of rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation. Also, I thank the present Governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike, for his wisdom in applying the realistic political philosophy to move the state to its present level.
From here, I am appealing to all our leaders in Rivers State to combine the past history with the present and endeavour to create room for adjustments. Rivers State is the Treasure Base of the Nation, but the indigenes are hardly benefitting from the material and physical wealth of the state. It is manipulated by the non-indigenes due to no cooperation among Rivers people. Even though there are cultural differences among the indigenes, languages and tribal sentiments, such must be controlled as is done in other states of the federation.
Rivers State is used as a ‘scape goat’ and becomes victim of circumstance. When such is not practised by other neighbouring states, then why Rivers State only?
Truly speaking and as recounted, the different sectors of the Rivers economy are controlled by the non-indigenes. For instance, at the Civil Service Secretariat in Port Harcourt, some non indigenes claim to be Ikwerres whose language align with Igbo and continue to occupy paramount positions. Such is not happening in our neighbouring states. Evaluating the data of the working population, only 10% of the citizens are amongst the working class. As a writer, I went to the Schools Board of Imo State in Owerri, and was not granted the privilege to go in, being a Rivers indigene. Understanding them was not easy for me. They used their language power (Igbo) so that I would not understand them. In Rivers State, everything is accessible to strangers and they transact business anywhere without limitation. This has continued in the state for a long time.
Rivers indigenes are now treated as strangers and remain alienated from their natural resources. They are now like slaves in their land, looking beggarly and poverty-stricken. No leader wants to hear the hue and cry his people.
Does it mean that Rivers State should always consider others, while neighbouring states cannot consider Rivers people when it is their turn to recruit? If others fail to consider employing Rivers indigenes,why then should Rivers State do hers differently? The neigbouring states use language and cultural differences to wave off all others, and to abide strictly on recruiting their indigenes. Are Rivers leaders invoked to consider non-indigenes leaving out some of their equally qualified indigenes?
What is happening in Rivers State can be likened to the border impasse between Nigeria and her contiguous West African neighbours. For far too long, Nigeria has acted as a big brother to these neighbours at the expense of her economy. In return, she has benefitted very little (if anything).
Rivers State has always accommodated applications from indigenes of other states in Nigeria during job recruitments and contract awards. This is not to suggest that she lacks sufficient number of her own indigenes who are qualified and willing to undertake such duties. It is understandably in the spirit of brotherhood.
But what treatment do Rivers indigenes get elsewhere? Discrimination, intimidation, nepotism, exploitation and outright robbery. It is extremely difficult to identify any Rivers name in the payroll of any of her neighbouring states. To be sure, a few years ago when some South East States attempted to purge their civil services of non-indigenous workers, Rivers State was hardly affected because no Rivers man or woman got pay- rolled in the said states.
Now, there is news of the recruitment of another set of workers in the Rivers State University (RSU), Port Harcourt, leading to the setting up of RSU Employment Committee by the state governor. The mistake of the past should not repeat itself. Consideration must be given to the indigenes first before we can think of non-indigenes. Also, Rivers leaders in public and private positions of responsibility should begin to reconcile and relate well with each other. There should be no political antagonism amongst the ordinary citizens and the elites.
We must sink our social, political and cultural acrimonies for the purpose of establishing good goals and objectives to fulfill the dreams of the founding fathers of this esteemed state.
Only through this realization can we build a virile state ready to curtail the strangers who sabotage the economic development of our state. I was chanced to witness the off-shore work by a certain indigenous oil firm in early 2003. While there, I discovered that all the key positions were held by non-indigenes, while the mean ones were left for Rivers men. No Rivers indigene was granted full rights like enjoying the benefits of an ideal citizen.
A Rivers man is a stranger in his land, and the time has come to put an end to this unreasonable tolerance. The Rivers elites should have constant meetings at youth and elite levels of our rural and urban communities where proper resolutions can be taken on issues affecting the Rivers economy, pointing out reasonable suggestions and the way forward.
We cannot continue to feel that, due to our multi-cultural and language differences, there is no way out. Rome was not built in a day. A single tree cannot make a forest. Both the Rivers indigenes at home and abroad should have a sober reflection on issues affecting the state of our economy.
Anor is a Port Harcourt-based social analyst.
By: Christian Anor
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