In This Season of Anomie!, By Olawale Olaleye

Perhaps, an excursion into the mind of President Muhamamdu Buhari for a glimpse of his thought process, is the one thing that could help an average Nigerian understand the current state of things especially, the need to survive the deluge of frustrations, which owes largely to the growing insecurity, a wobbly economy and the allegations of corruption flying around, the chunk of which emanates right from the corridor of power.

Nigeria has had too much to deal with in the last few months and weeks, enough to ponder for the rest of the life of the current administration. That each week is now ushered in with its bizarre stories is not speaking to the things that distinguish the country or the peculiarity of her people, but elucidating the potential separator factors and the evident lack of capacity of the government.

Saturday’s gruesome killings of no fewer than 43 rice farmers in Borno State, has again reinforced the reality about the state of the nation, where no premium is placed on lives. The Boko Haram insurgents did not just decapitate the farmers for doing nothing except working to earn a living, they also burnt their farms, so they could make a statement: total decimation.

However, while the economic implications of the destruction of the rice farm would close in very soon, what should confound anyone is how easily and quickly everyone moves on from such horrendous happenings as though they are the new normal.

The Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, had escaped assassinations by suspected insurgents about three times, creating some nerve-racking suspense on the security situation in the state and the country at large. He, quite expectedly, lost a handful of his men in each of those attacks, including the one he was not on the convoy.

But the attacks on Zulum, which came in quick but embarrassing succession, had become suspicious, because the governor had earlier taken on the fight against insurgency, which in his reckoning, had become an industry on its own, despite repeated official claims that insurgency had been technically defeated and the lies that no part of the north was under the grip of the sect.

Yet, the governor’s later claims that the places of his attack were supposed to be terrorists-free, soon elicited insinuations about sabotage. Compounding the unceasing Boko Haram attacks are the continuing banditry and kidnapping in many parts of the country, which had seen even people with name recognition being kidnapped and killed in the process, including a monarch and a party chairman, who paid the supreme price recently.

The denouement of the October #EndSARS protests, highlighted many things about the security situation in the nation particularly, the vulnerability of the police being the first line of defence in the country. Although the protests were against a unit of the police, SARS, following its alleged brutality and highhandedness, the reprisal attacks on the force were almost unthinkable and the aftermath is still very much in play.

Curiously, there had been some precursors to the current state of anomie some months ago, directly identifying some of the worries about the government and situating them against the charge of the fight against the scourge of corruption and the promise to deliver change, five years after.

First, it was the suspension of then acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim, Magu, in July 2020, over allegations of insubordination and gross abuse of office. This development was triggered by a letter from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

Magu was arrested like a ‘common criminal’ and turned in to face the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA). He ended up spending 10 days in detention, whilst the committee investigated some of the allegations against him, the result of which was carried out by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), an agency severed from the EFCC not long ago.

But before Magu eventually regained his freedom, similar allegations of malfeasance had started to fly around also about the AGF, a counter-push believed to have been instigated by supporters of the suspended EFCC boss, confirming Magu’s earlier position that the situation was a matter of ‘dog-eating-dog’.

Documents were also released to suggest that the difference between Magu and Malami was like six and half a dozen. The panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami, recently submitted its report and from all indications, that might as well be the end of the drama that lasted months.

As the dust raised by this was yet to settle, the odoriferous state of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) reared its ugly face again, this time, stoking embarrassing recriminations between the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio and a former Managing Director of the NDDC as an Interim Management Committee, Joi Nunieh. Soon, many other names were dragged into the sleaze.

The stench from that corner, which ranged from stealing to conspiracy to ruin the commission at the expense of development and later sexual harassment, the Niger Delta story is better told again by the gladiators, who seemed to have perfected the capacity to undo each other to the collective detriment of their people. At the end of the day, conspiracy of silence is the order, despite the alleged ignoble roles of the federal lawmakers.

Then enter the Nigeria Social Investment Fund (NSITF), where its suspended Executive Director of Operations, Mrs. Kemi Nelson, accused the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige of allegedly inserting a fictitious N1.2 Billion as commission to be paid to contributors of the fund in the NSITF budget.

Nelson, in a letter to President Buhari over the management crisis rocking the agency, specifically accused Ngige of inserting five SUVs in the 2020 budget of the NSITF among other sundry accusations as if the ministries and agencies were created solely for plundering by the privileged few.

Nelson’s letter was however precipitated by the suspension of NSITF’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer and three Executive Directors by Ngige over allegations of corruption. The suspended ED, in the letter dated July 9, urged Buhari to order an independent investigation of allegations levelled against the management of the agency.

But Nelson described the allegations as unfounded and that the suspension was because they opposed fraudulent activities of the minister, one of the favourites of the president, so it is said. Now, it is quiet everywhere at NSITF.

That had hardly taken off when the story of yet another dirty oil deal, involving some prominent and top government functionaries was uncovered in far away China.

The oil deal, which according to reports was worth some $800 million was allegedly shared by some cronies of the president otherwise referred to as the cabal, who might have deceived the president at the expense of the nation and made away with the money.

Other reports from the oil deal had also exposed the high-handed roles allegedly played by the president’s late Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, who was said to have single-handedly signed off the monies and allegedly supervised the sharing as well.

Apart from denials by those concerned or reportedly mentioned in the sleaze, chief of which is the NNPC, there was no conscious attempt to investigate the weighty allegations. That too has been hushed.

Thus, when you sit back to review these situations and realise that they aren’t happening under the presumably ‘clueless’ Goodluck Jonathan but right under the watch of the messiah – the one believed to have come to deliver the nation from the snare of the fowler – then, the shock is beyond comprehension.

If the president was unable talk to self or there was no one around that could look him in the face and speak truth to power, it does not change the fact that the ‘change regime’ of President Buhari, has lost it, considerably or to put it mildly, is mired in confusion.

It does dismiss the fact that the much-celebrated body language was after all some poorly concocted propaganda. It wouldn’t also dismiss the fact that Buhari’s revered mystique had long vanished. Indeed, it addresses the fact that the anti-graft war is compromised already, so to speak, and the president’s credibility, badly dented.

What more, it further speaks to an evidently inept leadership and the picture of the future it presents is nothing but inauspicious. With the country back in another recession, the worst since 1987, the economic imbalance has not even begun to manifest except extra-ordinary steps are taken and quickly too.

Therefore, what is currently happening in the country requires some collective and patriotic reflections, followed by official and organised response, to be driven by responsible and responsive leadership.

The current state of the nation reveals so many things, chief of which is leadership tardiness and its choice aloofness to the things that underscore why it is in office in the first place. Certainly, it’s a season of anomie typified by the business as usual culture of the irredeemably corrupt elite and the ruling class.

Thus, for Nigeria, her leadership and the people, the times are clearly ominous and everyone might as well chorus: it is finished! After all, hope is not a plan.

5th Coronation Anniversary: Obasanjo, Sultan, Alaafin, Emir of Kano, Olubadan, Elegushi, Oniru, Others Celebrate Ooni

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero and the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, Elegushi of Ikateland, Iba Saheed Elegushi, Oniru if Iruland, Oga AbdulWasiu Gbolahan Lawal and Oore of Otun Ekiti who is the paramount ruler of Mobaland, Oba Adekunle Adeagbo, were among the dignitaries who stormed Ibadan, Oyo State capital, to celebrate with the Arole Oduduwa & Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, in commemoration of his five years coronation anniversary.

The event, which was organized by the Ooni’s 5th Coronation Anniversary, signalled the commencing of the two-week activities earmarked for the commemoration of Ooni’s five-year reign on the throne of his ancestors, held at Premier Hotels Tower, Ibadan.

While addressing the cheering crowd, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar described the Ooni as great companion who is committed to the national interest of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The Ooni is a friend, brother and a worthy companion who has performed creditably in accordance with the status of the Ooni within the last five years. Let me also add that he has visited Sokoto five times and I have equally visited Ife.

“One of the unique features of the Ooni is the esteem at which he carries Yoruba culture with huge dignity; this means a lot because anyone who throws away his culture is throwing away his life. I remember when I visited Brazil, I saw Yoruba culture being displayed live; that sends a great message,” the Sultan said.

It was a moment filled with amusement when Alaafin took the microphone, rendering several Yoruba ancient literatures including incantations, to pray for longevity for the Ooni on Oduduwa stool.

Oba Adeyemi who will be commemorating his 50 years on the throne next January, assured the Ooni of his readiness to keep supporting his good moves towards uniting the Yoruba race and Nigeria in general.

Represented at the event, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu said, “In only five years as the Ooni of Ife, you have earned your place in history as a patriot, peacemaker, bridge builder, beacon of unity; a rallying force not just for the Yoruba race, but also for the entire nation and the Black World.

“Your emergence has come at a very auspicious time; an era when our country, states and traditional institutions more than ever before require leaders with a great sense of purpose, intentionality and the ability to carry the people along.

“Thank you for extending your love to us in Lagos State. You have been immensely supportive, always willing to listen to and encourage us, and also importantly, render insightful advice when needed. We deeply cherish our relationship with you.”

Similarly, the Odole Oodua, Sir Kessington Adebutu hailed the Ooni over what he described as the monarch’s strong start, particularly the task of unifying the Yoruba nation worldwide, which he said had earned him great respect across the world.

In his reaction, the Ooni thanked all dignitaries present for their love and support over the past five years, adding that he would continue to work with them for the betterment of all.

“I am so honoured today with your royal presence and I pray that God Almighty will continue to honour you.

“The journey in the last five years has been so wonderful and I give God all the glory and I want to thank all traditional rulers across the country for the love and kindness,” the Ooni noted.

Olugbon of Orile-Igbon, Oba Olusola Alao, Oniru of Iruland, Elegushi of Ikateland, Alara of Ilara-Epe, Oloba of Oba-Ile, Okere of Saki and other Yoruba monarchs attended the event, which was spiced with several traditional performances.

The event continued in the evening at the hotel’s poolside where a dinner/banquet party was held with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and other dignitaries in attendance.

Ooni Names Son After Predecessor Adesoji Aderemi

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, has named his newborn son after the 49th Ooni, Oba Adesoji Tadenikawo Aderemi.

The late monarch, Oba Adesoji Aderemi, was a Nigerian political figure and Yoruba traditional ruler who reigned from 1930 until 1980. He also served as the governor of Western Region, Nigeria between 1960 and 1962.

Oba Ogunwusi made the announcement in a social media post, saying, “In accordance with the traditional rites lasting for 21 days, with today marking the 8th day, and in keeping to my promise of naming our first prince after my predecessor, the 49th Ooni of Ife in the 3rd dynasty of Ife.

‘Our prince is hereby named “Tadenikawo, Adesoji, Aderemi, Eri-Ifeoluwasimi, Adeiwa, Inioluwa, Ademide, Adegbite, Diekoloreoluwa Ogunwusi Ojaja II’. Pray to God to guide and keep him in fulfilment of his destiny”

The monarch welcomed the baby with his wife, Olori Moronke Naomi Silekunola.

Meanwhile, the Director of Media and Public Affairs to the palace, Moses Olafare, has said that the photos circulating in public of the prince are fake.

He explained that the “Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, who has the sole right to make the face of the baby public, is yet to do so, as essential traditional rites to formally welcome the Prince in accordance to our culture and traditions are still ongoing.”

COVID-19: FirstBank Launches Next-Generation ATM, Spearheads Innovation In Electronic In Banking In Nigeria

In the light of COVID-19, FirstBank has launched the FastTrack ATM, a Next Generation ATM and first of its kind in Africa, designed to promote financial activities on the ATM devoid of any form of physical interaction with the machine. The introduction of the FastTrack ATM which is done in partnership with Inlaks enables customers carry out cash withdrawals without having to touch the interface of the ATM.

With the FastTrack ATM, widely referred to as Touchless Solution, the customer carries out the transaction by using his or her mobile phone to perform the needed steps designed originally for implementation on the ATM. By using one’s phone, the transaction is carried out – in advance – through the Bank’s USSD or mobile banking option. Upon the schedule, the customer visits the FastTrack ATM to complete the transaction by tapping a contactless Near Field Communication (NFC) card on the ATM to withdraw his or her cash. 

FirstBank customers can now leverage the real-time mobile banking capabilities of their cellphone to activate cash withdrawals at the FastTrack ATM. The ATM solution is the Bank’s response to control the spread of COVID-19, whilst promoting the safety of customers that carry out transactions at the ATM.

Speaking on the launch of the FastTrack ATM, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said ‘at FirstBank, we are driven to provide seamless financial solutions to ensure our customers are able to timely carry out their transactions in safe, secured and efficient ways, thereby putting them ahead in digital banking, not just in Nigeria but Africa. We are delighted to set the pace regarding the use of the Next Generation ATM in Africa which enables customers to use their mobile phones to remotely initiate ATM-based cash withdrawals via our *894# USSD banking or FirstMobile application. At the core of our strategy lies innovation which is critical to adapting to the new normal’.

According to Olufemi Adeoti, Managing Director, Inlaks, “given that consumers are more adaptable to mobile technology Inlaks – the Africa’s leading Information Technology Solutions provider together with Hyosung ATM OEM are partnering with FirstBank to introduce the first fully compliant COVID-19 FinTech ATM. This is in alignment with the ‘new normal’ desired customer experience which includes digitalization and delivering a secure contactless cash access to the bank’s FirstMobile customers for better user experience, simplicity, speed and convenience’’

In recognition of its giant strides at promoting electronic banking in the country, FirstBank’s mobile banking application – FirstMobile –  was recently awarded the Best Mobile Banking App award 2020 in the Global Finance Best Digital Bank Awards 2020 as well as 2019 Best Mobile Banking App by Global Business Outlook.

FirstBank has been at the forefront of promoting electronic banking solution in Nigeria. In 2017, the Bank was recognized as the first financial institution in Nigeria and the West-Africa sub-region to issue 10 million ATM cards to customers across the country. The bank was the second in Africa to achieve the milestone.

These feats are achieved through the trusts in its industry leading innovative banking solutions by over 10 million customers on its USSD *894# banking platform and over 4.1 million customers on its FirstMobile banking application, endearing the Bank to process about 30% of card transactions in the entire banking industry in the country.

Paternity Scandal: Soji Alabi Is The Only Father I Know – Tope Alabi’s Daughter

Ayomikun, daughter of popular gospel singer, Tope Alabi, says the only father she knows is her mother’s husband, Soji Alabi.

This is following the recent paternity scandal involving the gospel singer and one Mayegun Olaoye.

Based on online reports, Olaoye claimed to be Ayomikun’s father, while alleging that Tope Alabi had blocked every avenue for him to know his biological daughter in the past 22 years.

Reacting to the allegation, Ayomikun, in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH on Saturday, stated that she was not surprised about the development as her mother had since informed her about the man who claimed to be her father.

Ayomikun, however, stressed that the only father that she has is Soji Alabi, who has been married to her mother for over two decades.

She said, “I will always know that my father is Soji Alabi. I do not know any other person and I have never met any other man. I cannot blatantly deny him because I have heard about him but I have never had anything to do with this man before.”

She added, “My mother never blocked the avenues for us to see. My mother even tried for me to have a relationship with him. I remember when I was about 15 years old, she used to tell me about him but he never tried to reach out to me.

“I am very grateful to God for the kind of mother and father that I have. After God, my parents are next in my life,” Ayomikun said.

Ayomikun also said, “I cannot bear his surname. How can I bear the surname of someone that I have never met? There is no sense in that. I do not even know his surname. How can I bear the name of someone I have never met?

“God knows my real father and everyone knows who my real father is. I did not know this man when I was in crèche, daycare, primary, secondary or during my university days. I graduated and did not get a congratulatory message; absolutely nothing from him.

“So, there is no much story to tell. It is just a story about an irresponsible father and he is trying to cut every relationship he could ever build with his so-called daughter. I genuinely do not know why he is coming out after 22 years.”

Also a sonorous singer like her mother, Ayomikun stated that the only way she can give Olaoye a listening ear is if they meet in court and there is a judgment to that effect.

She said, “If the man wants to reach out to me to patch things up, it will be in court. I do not think that I want to patch things up with him but I know that I will definitely meet him in court if he ever wants to talk. It cannot be a civil matter because he did not make it a civil matter when he went to social media to talk.”

Despite the occurrence, she said her family is fine and everything is normal as they were not shocked by Olaoye’s actions.

“I have spoken to my mother about it and we are all fine. It was not something that shocked us. He is not blackmailing the family but he is an example of a very terrible father,” Ayomikun said.

Source: Punch

EndSARS Protest: MD Names Lagos Commissioners For Justice, Finance, Others As LCC Directors

The Managing Director of Lekki Concession Company (LCC) Mr Abayomi Omomuwasan,has told the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) related Abuses and other Matters, that the directors of LCC are employed by the Lagos state government.

He named the directors of LCC, as commissioner for finance, submissive for transport, attorney general and commissioner for justice, budget and economy planning, special assistant world and infrastructure, two independent directors and himself.
Omomuwasan disclosed this while he was being cross examined by a counsel to some #EndSARS Protesters, Mr Adesina Ogunlana.

He also mentioned the names of Obafemi George and Mrs Olushola Oworu as the two independent directors.

The LCC MD, said that the company is into infrastructural development and toll road management.
On whether part of his business is to collect money from people for passing a federal government road, he said a toll is the money you pay for passing the road.
He said he doesn’t know if there are other tolls apart from Admilralty adding that LCC is the only one that he is in the business of collecting toll.

Omomuwasan said he is not aware if there was previous protest and demonstrations against his company collection of toll prior to October 2020.
He said ” I am aware of the protest of 2010 and 2011, against the Lekki toll gate, I read it and I wouldn’t know the number of days the protest lasted”.
The LCC MD stated that he was not aware whether soldiers were used for intervention in the previous protest.

” Asked how much the company lost, he said this is the business of the company”
On further probe of figure he said he doesn’t know the figure but said “It is is obvious when tolls are not collected revenue is lost”,.

When Ogunlana asked the LCC MD, for the camera that was taken by the minister of works and housing, popularly known agent fash, on October 25, when the government brought some people to visit the toll gate

Omowuasan said ” I was not aware and I was not there. I read it on the paper, I don’t know what you are talking about”.
He also said that he was not aware that some #ENDSARS Protesters were at the toll gate.
” What I know is that around 8 October some people made passage to and fro from the toll gate. I became aware on October 11 because some people made some allegation against me that the LCC MD and CSO, under the instruction of Lego state were trying to bring in SARS in Police uniform to come and arrest the #ENDSARS protesters”.

” I noticed that on 21, a day after the incident that they were no longer there. When the toll gate was occupied, I was indifferent”, Omomuwasan said.

Bianca Opens Up: What Ojukwu Told Me About Biafra, Nigeria

+ Blasts gov. Obiano for deriding her late husband
+ Reveals why Biafra agitation won’t die

Mrs Bianca Ojukwu, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Spain and widow of the late Igbo leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, has sensationally revealed how his husbsnd would have felt about Nigeria were he to be alive today.
Bianca in a chat with Sunday Sun during the Ojukwu Day memorial held on Thursday, November 26, in Owerri, Imo State said that all the challenges starring Nigeria in the face were what her late husband saw many years ago, saying that Ojukwu would, therefore, feel vindicated in the spirit world, particularly with the rise in the clamour for restructuring .

She, therefore, expressed worry over the precarious state of the nation, lamenting that the legacies of her husband,  the legendary leader, were being eroded, particularly in Anambra State while berating Governor Willie Obiano for deriding Ojukwu and not living up to the expectations of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) as a party. Excerpts:

Every November 26 is celebrated as Ojukwu Day in memory of your late husband, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu; what do you imagine would have been his reflections on the state of the Nigerian nation today?

I believe he would feel vindicated.  He always bemoaned the fact that this nation seemed incapable of lifting itself out of mediocrity and degeneration to the sterling heights and greatness it deserves, but merely obsessed with churning out communiques, resolutions and sanctimonious injunctions while paying lip service to national unity and constructive development. The country is stumbling from one crisis to another, and today we are witnesses to the situation he anticipated and warned against so long ago. He always maintained that the unity of any country that is guaranteed solely by force of arms cannot be sustained and that Nigeria’s unity can only be assured if oppression and marginalization of certain of its ethnicities is addressed and resolved. Since those who are continually denied justice have no interest in peace it goes without saying that in a matter of time pent up frustrations erupt and explode like a keg of gunpowder. Dim Ojukwu has come to be known as the man who saw ahead of his time. Not much has changed since his predictions. He was one of the earliest advocates of restructuring. He was also firmly convinced that the independence package which Nigeria accepted in 1960 was a distorted and unbalanced package of federalism in which one federating unit was designed to surpass the other units put together in every aspect. The existing federal structure has meant two diametrically opposed experiences to the component units.  For some, it is an arrangement which guarantees them a large share of the nation’s resources, the levers of control as well as the right to acquire resources not located within their own domain. For others, this brand of federalism remains a debilitating situation whereby they are denied equity in allocation of administrative positions, federal appointments, industrial development, infrastructural development, and even more pathetic, the continual hemorrhage of their precious national resources. Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu till death kept reiterating the fact that in order for Nigeria to survive as one political entity, she must equitably accommodate all its federating units, and also articulate a guiding philosophy to which all her various peoples are committed.

Again on  every November 26, Ojukwu Day is celebrated here in Imo State, why has the APGA government in Anambra State not deemed it fit to organize a befitting memorial event in honour of Ojukwu like this one held in Imo?

Well, it’s essentially a problem of leadership. The leader of any political party needs to understand the ethos and the bedrock on which the ideology of the party he seeks to lead is built. Governor Willie Obiano who assumed the position of APGA party national leader, and who ought to have championed this initiative to host a remembrance ceremony for Ojukwu, the pioneer national leader of APGA, and to all intents and purposes, the icon of the party, has deemed it not worthwhile to do so. The last remembrance event that was conducted in Anambra State to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu by APGA-led government was in March 2013 under Governor Peter Obi and Chief Victor Umeh as party chairman, but it still doesn’t stop this Anambra State government from rolling out his pictures for campaign purposes whenever the elections come up. The Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University holds an annual lecture on the occasion of his posthumous birthday, an initiative of Prof. Greg Nwakoby.
Though the family holds a remembrance mass, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike has consistently and single-handedly staged a mega event each year on the anniversary of the death of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu tagged ‘Ojukwu Day’. You can see the number of people here today, and that this is a carnival of sorts featuring traditional dance troupes with the major masquerades in Igboland, cultural performances, drama presentations, parades, live band, lively speeches as well as an interdenominational service. Each year, this ceremony takes place on the expansive grounds of this Ojukwu Memorial Library and Conference Centre, built by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike (Okenwa).  This event is attended by people from all walks of life and from all over the country, even by delegates representing major socio-political groups in the country like Afenifere, Odua People’s Congress, Arewa Forum, Niger Delta Consultative Forum, Alaigbo Development Forum etc.  It gives me great joy to see him honoured in this way, not just by his devotees, but other ethnic nationalities. Ojukwu’s personality transcends a political party. He means much more to the Igbo nation. He is the son of the ‘Rising Sun’.  So, you will agree with me that in spite of the fact that, as has been rightly observed, the current APGA government has been found wanting in this aspect of honouring him appriopriately, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu is well remembered, especially in the hearts and minds of our people.

What do you believe is responsible for this nonchalant attitude of the APGA national party leader, Governor Obiano?

Well, our people have this saying that a person who was not present when a corpse was buried starts to exhume the corpse from the wrong end. The fact, if one has to be candid, is that Governor Obiano was a stranger to our political party who knew next to nothing about APGA’s founding principles, ideology and history. This is also the case with the current national chairman of the party (Chief Victor Oye). As a result, managing this political movement has proven to be a difficult task for the governor who also doubles as the party leader, especially in his second tenure as he continues to perpetuate the politics of divide and rule whilst exhibiting scant regard for the key political figures and factors in the party that made his emergence possible. The iconic status of Ojukwu as party symbol also happens to be one such casualty and I will use a simple example with regards to party branding which exposes the mindset of this current APGA governor to buttress this point. Obiano declared that he had his own ideas regarding re-inventing APGA as a major political force, but I expressed grave reservations concerning his approach and strategy.  For starters, there is hardly anybody in Anambra State and beyond, who doesn’t know that APGA, as a political party, is inextricably intertwined with the personality of Ojukwu as its brand.  It is a party for which he laboured right to his twilight hours, hence he is generally referred to as APGA’s eternal leader. You can then imagine how dumbfounded I was, when, a short while after he won re-election for a second term as governor, having campaigned with  Ojukwu’s pictures blazing through every billboard in the state, as well as on APGA campaign buses, party uniforms and other paraphernalia, Obiano casually informed me that he would be phasing out  all APGA party uniforms that displayed Ojukwu’s image as had been the normal tradition with APGA apparel and would be replacing them with party uniforms that would be branded solely with his own image or with a cockerel as symbol, since according to him, Ojukwu was no longer relevant to the party and (I quote him), that he could “no longer continue to tie the fate and fortunes of APGA to the memory of a dead man.”

What did he actually mean by that statement?

Well, whatever he meant by it, I considered the remark to be rather unfortunate and to say the least, laughable. I had no problem with his solo images on our party uniforms – this is every governor’s right – but I thought his reasoning was acutely flawed and I considered his contemptuous reference to Ojukwu, before me, merely as a ‘dead man’ who was no longer relevant to APGA deeply offensive and disrespectful. It became obvious to me that Obiano (a relatively unknown banker living out his retirement in America) had forgotten so soon how he went about from community to community, pleading with the people of Anambra State who have great sentimental attachment to the Igbo hero, to vote for him in deference to Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. This raises several questions. Was he now saying that he was not aware of the fact that Ojukwu was deceased when he was using the man’s image to canvass for votes? Even more, did he not visit the same Ojukwu’s grave to pour libations and pray for a favourable outcome for his elections? Are the pictures of that visit not there for all to see?  Was this not the height of hypocrisy and opportunism – and even more puzzling, did he not consider it rather insensitive to be making this derogatory statement before the widow of this same Dim Ojukwu, and someone who also happens to be a principal member of the party’s Board of Trustees? I was even more baffled as he continued to unfold his strategy to make the party more national in outlook. There would also be another set of party uniforms, he indicated,  branded solely with the image of a cockerel, which he said was necessary because he wanted to ‘export’ the party to Kano, Kaduna, Zamfara, Lagos, and a host of other states in the country and that he would not want to ‘offend’ the sensibilities of prospective party members in the North or in the Southwest of the country by having Ojukwu’s image on the party uniforms. Whilst I concede that party branding is his prerogative, but must he denigrate the value, memory and history of the man who breathed life into the platform that facilitated his emergence as governor? Did any person or group in the aforementioned states ever indicate to him that they were offended by the inclusion of Ojukwu’s image on APGA uniforms? The fact is that anybody wanting to join APGA regardless of state or geopolitical zone already knows that Ojukwu is linked with the party and, therefore, this kind of reasoning by the governor is, in my opinion, irrational. Why must he continue to live up to the reputation of someone whose major stratagem for elevating himself is to diminish the stature of his benefactors? Why should he not accord Ojukwu the honour he deserves? There is an old proverb which says that no reasonable man ever engages in a power tussle with a spirit. Even more pointedly, how could Obiano, as our party leader be vaulting towards clinching the governorship of states in other geopolitical zones when he hadn’t done the groundwork necessary for APGA to secure even one additional state in the Southeast, the party’s home base, in the entirety of his 11 years as party leader? Doesn’t charity always begin at home? At least, it is on record that under Ojukwu’s leadership of the party, APGA was at various periods, in control of three states in the Southeast:;Anambra State under Peter Obi, Abia State for a short while under T. A. Orji, and Imo State under Rochas Okorocha. On his own part, how has Obiano as party leader influenced APGA short of running it to the ground? Judging by these facts, the reason for the governor’s apparent nonchalance is clear. With this type of attitude, why would he deem it worthwhile to celebrate Ojukwu by hosting a memorial ceremony or even by attending an event that other individuals or groups have organized in his honour? His consistent refusal to attend the annual Ojukwu memorial lectures hosted by the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University to celebrate this man whose political platform catapulted him from obscurity to the number one position in the state is public knowledge. When I raised this issue at the last memorial lecture, he was so offended to the extent that he mandated his media aides to rain an avalanche of abuse on me. He claimed my admonitions were purely a consequence of being upset at having been denied the party’s senatorial ticket during the last primaries. Any criticism of his attitude is met with invocations of thunder, a flurry of rebuttals, baseless accusations and outright denials. But I have a sacred obligation to the memory of my husband, and all he stood for in this party, to call a spade a spade, regardless of whose ox is gored. Like I stated from the onset, one cannot give what he doesn’t have.  Obiano was a banker living out his retirement years in America. He knew nothing about politics, and we share collectively the blame for believing that it is possible to bleed a stone. He may have been a good banker, but the reality is that being able to navigate through corporate boardroom intrigues is one thing, but having the capacity to provide sound party leadership, and having political sagacity is another.  Incidentally, the 2021 Anambra State gubernatorial election is around the corner, and he will be expected to produce his own successor under our party, APGA. It is a project that we all, as party faithful are committed to, for the sake of survival of the party. It remains to be seen whether Governor Obiano, with the massive erosion of goodwill that has dogged his administration, will eat his own words and yet fall back on the same ‘dead man’ to solicit votes from the Anambra electorate. If he fails in his succession plan, then he will most certainly be leaving behind a legacy of wasted years.

How are those legacies of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, both tangible and intangible, being sustained in spite of these lapses?

Chukwemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu will best be remembered for his unwavering commitment to justice, equity and fair play, as well as his resistance to all forms of oppression and marginalization.  He never erected any monument in his own honour during his lifetime, but requested a memorial to be erected in honour of a 20-year-old boy named Bruce Mayrock who gave his life by self-immolation in front of the UN building in New York in 1969 to draw world attention to the desperate situation of the war-ravaged people of Biafra. The Bruce Mayrock Centre which is nearing completion is a tribute to that young man’s heroic sacrifice.  This was Dim Ojukwu’s concept, and I consider it a privilege to have been able to bring it to fruition. The Ojukwu memorial lecture which gives distinguished speakers and notable personalities an opportunity to expand and interrogate his ideas and philosophy takes place each year on Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’s birthday anniversary at the former Anambra State university which was renamed the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University by ex-Governor, Peter Obi shortly before he left office. This remembrance ceremony at the Ojukwu Memorial Library, Owerri, is also another channel and medium where his principles and philosophies are discussed by an array of speakers. The political platform, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, of which he was leader, is a broad-based party, firmly rooted in the Southeast. His concepts, his ideas, as embodied in such iconic documents as the Ahiara Declaration continue to be the focal point of every political and social discourse on the principles of the Biafran Revolution, and these doctrines, though intangible, transcend all.  Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu often said that ideas have wings, and no force can stop their flight. What he stood for has largely found justification just as potently in today’s circumstances as it did through yesterday’s course of events.  Today, there are so many issues bedeviling our polity which have placed the country on the cutting edge of a precipice.  The clamour for an all-inclusive nation and the fuller recognition of the diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria without the seemingly perennial dominance by one group over the others has become deafening.

How in your view, can the various issues facing the country as a whole should best be addressed?

We can begin to talk about this from sunset to sunrise, and we would only just have succeeded in scratching the surface, but in simple terms, the one fundamental requisite is equity.  There is an incongruous imbalance inherent in our polity that screams up to the heavens for justice. This federation, as it stands today, presents an unbounded opportunity for some groups whilst for others it presents a crippling erosion of their aspirations and collective possibilities, and we need to tackle this self-evident truth instead of chasing shadows and burying our heads in the sand like the proverbial Ostrich. It is obvious to all that Nigeria is ailing and nobody will cure Nigerians if Nigerians fail to cure themselves. We cannot continue to delude ourselves that we are one united nation whilst the various peoples that make up the country have not, and still do not share the same or similar benefits and privileges. We keep moving from meltdown to showdown, manifest in the unending frustrations and all-pervasive sense of hopelessness prevalent among the populace, most especially the youth, and which gave vent recently to the #ENDSARS movement. We talk of people’s power when in reality, as a people, we have more faith in our bribes than in our rights; we shout of marginalization and deprivation when in actual fact, the political considerations of our so-called leaders and representatives are tied to a revolving circle of party affiliations that are solely aimed at securing their own political ambitions or executive offices, or even ‘amnesty’ when they vacate office, not necessarily any commitment to safeguard the welfare of the people.  For this reason, our leaders are constantly on a merry-go-round within the political playground, moving from one party to the other.  But at the end of the day, political parties in themselves cannot solve the Nigerian problem. It still boils down to equity and justice.

What about the agitations for secession, most especially the pro-Biafran movement?

Well, as Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu once said, ‘Secession is not like cocaine … it isn’t addictive’. No ethnic group ever thrives in perennial turmoil.  However, it is now crystal clear to the entire world that the provocative factors that led to the declaration of Biafra have not faded; even the post war issues are still prevalent…the blatant marginalization of the Southeast and some other geopolitical zones, issues of insecurity of lives and property, unwarranted killing by security forces, inequity in the allocation of national resources and amenities as well as the lopsided pattern in the distribution of federal appointments. These and so many more are still very much with us.  You see, agitations for a separate state are to be expected and are likely to be relentless in a situation where the general polity does not accommodate the legitimate aspirations of its component groups. A country, as a concept, is only an artificial construct and is designed for the benefit and harmony of its citizens.  It then follows that the happiness and security of the citizen is more important than the structure and design of the state.  For a people whom the state seems not willing to protect, to accommodate and even denies the benefits reasonably accruing to bona fide citizens, what is the point of citizenship of that nation?  They have every right to question the unity or oneness of that country since their existence within it is suffocating.  For this reason, the clamour for Biafra will not abate. So, what we are saying is, if Nigeria is unwilling to grant us the freedom to go our own way peacefully, then the country must be restructured in a way that can enthrone the practice of true federalism so that all its component units can thrive and each ethnic group within it can have a sense of belonging. It is when this is done that this nation can stand any chance of survival, and only then can we have the possibility of bequeathing a more accommodating space to our children and generations yet to come.

Source: The Sun on Sunday

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: A Personal Testimony, By Bianca Ojukwu

It’s generally said that women are their own worst enemies but I found the reverse to be true in the case of two extraordinary women who amongst other things, were instrumental to my stellar accomplishments during my tenure as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Kingdom Of Spain.
Prof Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who I barely knew, was Minister of Finance who I approached for help in order to present our case regarding the derelict and pitiful state of our Embassy building as well as the Ambassador’s Residence. This was because the then Minister of Foreign Affairs had frankly informed us that there was nothing much he could do to help our situation and suggested we bring the matter to her attention.
Prof Ngozi Okonjo Iweala swiftly granted us an appointment, warmly welcoming us into her office which was a beehive of activity. She patiently listened to us, and personally took up our matter to the highest authority. It is to her credit that the reconstruction and massive renovations of both our chancery building and Residence were facilitated, making the Nigeria Embassy building in Spain, the most magnificent edifice on the prestigious Calle Segre and a subject of pride and joy to our citizens. In appreciation of her immense support, she was the Honoree at our spectacular Centennary Ceremony in Madrid.
The Spanish capital Madrid came to a standstill when the ‘New Look’ Embassy Building as well as the Magnificent Residential Building were unveiled in two separate ceremonies by none other than another acclaimed destiny helper, First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan, a woman whose passion for the upliftment and empowerment of women, especially in governance, is legendary.

In our own environment where many women in powerful positions…most especially those who find themselves in such positions by proxy…constitute themselves ‘Osochiegbu’ (and even unashamed to claim that title), consumed with envy, bitterness, resentment and flaming jealousy towards dynamic women and employ all within their power to become obstacles in their path of progress, these two women stand out as a sterling example of what can be achieved when women sincerely commit to being their sisters keepers.
I join millions of women worldwide in celebrating the emergence of Prof Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, a woman with a heart of gold, not only as the first African, but most significantly, the first woman DG of the World Trade Organisation.
Wonderful Sister, it will surely end in praise. CONGRATULATIONS !!!! you have made History. Your Integrity and good works will ever speak for you.

Amb. Bianca Odumegwu Ojukwu.

MAMAs Returns With Uganda As Host Nation

MTV Africa and MTV Base recently announced the return of the continental flagship award show in 2021. The Iconic MTV Base celebration, MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA), which showcases the ultimate in African culture, music, and creativity, will be held in a re-imagined virtual format in partnership with Uganda, The Pearl of Africa on February 20, 2021.
The MTV Africa Music Awards Kampala 2021 will be broadcast on MTV Base (DStv Channel 322) and MTV (DStv Channel 130). The repeat show will also be aired on BET Africa, BET International and MTV channels across multiple continents as one-hour MAMA-themed MTV World Stage feature.

The ultimate celebration of local African and international talent and achievement, MAMA 2021, in partnership with Uganda, The Pearl of Africa, recognises and rewards musicians, trailblasers and those who are shining a light on the continent’s diverse talent and creativity by instilling positive impact on African music and youth culture over the previous year. The awards ceremony will feature vibrant performances from leading African and international artists and will also showcase some of the biggest cross-genre and cross-border collaborations.

The event will celebrate African talent across 20 award categories, including Best Male, Best Female, Best Song, and Best Collaboration. The contribution of artistes from Portuguese and French-speaking Africa will also be recognised in the Best Lusophone and Best Francophone categories. Additional new categories included are the MAMA Generation Change Award, Best Fan Base, Alone Together Best Lock-down Performance and Personality of the Year. These new categories seek to demonstrate MTV Base’s commitment to supporting the youth of Africa.
The MAMA Generation Change Award will recognise the inspiring, young changemakers of the continent who are tackling some of the world’s most challenging social problems. The Alone Together Best Lock-down Performance recognises outstanding performances that took place virtually by celebrating artists who took to streaming services to share their music and unite society during the unprecedented 2020 Lockdown. The category selection criteria is from October 1, 2019 to October 1, 2020. The nominees will be announced in December 2020 and music lovers will have their say by voting for their favourite stars online.
The news was revealed recently via a virtual press conference broadcast from Johannesburg and Kampala by Monde Twala and Craig Paterson, Senior Vice Presidents and General Managers at ViacomCBS Networks Africa (VCNA), The State Minister for Tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda at Ugandan Ministry of Tourism and the CEO for the Ugandan Tourism Board, Lilly Ajarova. The engaging question and aqnswer discussion included accomplished Ugandan artiste Bebe Cool, highly skilled songstress Sheebah Karungi together with talented South African rapper Nasty C.

According to Monde Twala, Senior Vice President & General Manager, VCNA, “It is an incredible honour to announce that the seventh MTV Africa Music Awards Kampala 2021 will be hosted by the vibrantly diverse Uganda, The Pearl of Africa for the first time on February 20, 2021. We are excited to bring this amazing showcase to audiences across the continent and globally with innovatively re-imagined awards show and celebration. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, content production has embraced innovation as the new gold and we are excited to take Africa to the World and showcase its immense talent and culture as we stage the biggest music awards show on the continent.”
The Honourable Godfrey Kiwanda, State Minister for Tourism Uganda commented, “It is an incredible achievement for Uganda to host the continent and International stakeholders for the MAMA Kampala 2021 for the first time. The awards are an extraordinary African cultural experience, and we understand the important role it plays in driving awareness, cross culture education and profiling the continent’s rich leisure tourism offerings on the international stage.”
“This is a wonderful opportunity for global audiences to experience Uganda’s magnificence, the profusion of brilliant life and diverse natural wildlife, and the vast scale of entertainment, events, art, culture, cuisine, history and shopping. We are also so proud to be able to highlight Uganda’s musical richness and give our talented artists the opportunity to showcase their immense talent, and the diversity of Uganda’s sounds, to music fans beyond this continent. This is indeed a momentous occasion for audiences to experience Uganda as truly “the Pearl of Africa.”

This edition of the award is brought to you by Uganda, The Pearl of Africa in an effort to promote tourism, wildlife and cultural heritage conservation for the socio-economic development and transformation of Uganda. Sustainable tourism, wildlife and cultural heritage will contribute to transforming Uganda into a modern and prosperous nation.
Craig Paterson, Senior Vice President & General Manager, VCNA, continued, “The latest edition of the MAMA promises to be our biggest and most innovative yet. Millions of fans worldwide will enjoy the digitally re-imagined celebration and African music via multiple broadcasts globally. We are excited to partner with Uganda to bring viewers a unique format and experience that positions Africa’s diverse heritage and digital innovation.”
Always celebrating the pan-African scope of the MAMA, the awards will encompass three pulsating Road to MAMA broadcasts featuring MAMA nominees from across the continent. The MAMA Kampala 2021 brings the much-anticipated music industry workshops in a virtual format for the continent’s aspiring musicians, youth upskilling and development.
First staged in 2008, the MTV Africa Music Awards has recognised the talent of musicians, achievers and personalities from across Africa, rewarding iconic artistes and gamechangers such as 2Face Idibia, AKA, Anselmo Ralph, Big Nuz, Cassper Nyovest, Clarence Peters, Cabo Snoop, Davido, D’Banj, Diamond Platnumz, Flavour, Gangs of Ballet, HHP, Fally Ipupa, Liquideep, Lira, Lupita Nyong’o, Mafikizolo Nameless, P-Square, Sarkodie, Tiwa Savage, Toofan, Trevor Noah, Uhuru, Wahu, Wizkid, Yemi Alade, Zebra & Giraffe and others.

Amotekun, Hunters Secure Release of Wife of Akeresolu’s CoS From Kidnappers

Mrs. Sade Ale, wife of the Chief of Staff to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, reunited with her family on Saturday after spending 48 hours in the dungeon of gunmen who abducted her.
She was rescued by a combined team of local hunters, members of the state security outfit, Amotekun, and security agents.
Mrs. Ale was abducted at Owena on the Ondo- Akure on Thursday night while returning from Lagos.
The Nation gathered that her release was secured early on Saturday after the hunters and other security agencies located the den of the kidnappers.

Sources said some suspects were arrested in connection with the kidnapping.
Said one source: “I can confirm to you that the wife of the Chief of Staff has secured her freedom and she is on her way to Akure. She was released without paying ransom as she was rescued by Amotekun and local hunters.”

Commandant of the Amotekun Corps, Chief Adetunji Adeleye, who confirmed the release of Mrs. Ale said it was too early to disclose how the rescue operation was carried out.
Mrs. Ale was kidnapped a few hours after gunmen shot dead  the Olufon of Ifon, in Ondo State, Oba Isreal Adeusi, at Elegbeka community on the Ifon-Benin Highway.
The Olufon was returning to his domain from Akure, the state capital where he had attended a meeting of traditional rulers in the state.