Ring True

with Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com;  07013940521 (text only)

It is heart-warming that genuine elders/leaders in Igbo land have now decided to take charge of the political proceedings in the South-east. For too long, they left a massive gap for an intellectually-bankrupt Nnamdi Kanu to exploit. It’s so difficult to phantom how a region with eggheads sat down for that long to allow a tenderfoot like IPOB’s Kanu to go about misleading the masses of the region. I am not sorry to say this: Kanu lacks the intelligence, finesse and maturity to lead South-east’s battle for justice and equity. His specious exuberance and crudeness will create more problems than solution for this great region. Kanu’s sense of history is also crooked. His hate speeches and conduct are aberrations in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society like ours. Every God-fearing Nigerian must rise and bury this extremist called Nnamdi Kanu.

Great sons of Igboland must take full charge of the South-east struggle. This is a struggle for justice and equity in Nigeria and not the balkanisation of this great country. It is a struggle for true federalism, constitutionalism, freedom, rule of law and not setting brothers against brothers. The great men of this land of the rising sun that I am talking about include: Alex Ekwueme, Ebitu Ukiwe, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Emeka Anyaoku, Mbazulike Amaechi, Sam Egwu, John Nnia Nwodo, Ike Ekweremadu, Uche Okwukwu, Uche Onyeagucha, Prof Anya O Anya, Pius Anyim Pius, Peter Obi, Ike Nwachukwu, Enwo Igariwey, Alfred Achebe, Dozie Ikedife, Maxwell Anikwenwa, Joe Achuzia, Anagha Ezikpe and Ogbonna Onovo.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex-Igbo socio-cultural organisation has already taken a giant step to check this motor park tout called Kanu after the comical IPOB leader called for the stoppage of the November 18, 2017 governorship election in Anambra State.
Ohaneze’s leader, Nwodo, remarked: “Yes, we are not happy with our treatment in Nigeria. Yes, some of us want Biafra. Yes, some of us prefer a restructured Federal Republic of Nigeria, but the fact remains that we are still part and parcel of the present Federal Republic of Nigeria, bound by its laws, no matter how repressive or unjust. Our approach to reforms of our laws, even if it leads to self-determination or restructuring, must be lawful. We must convince other Nigerians of our point of view, we must strive to make others share our convictions.

“Our language must be civil, respectful and lead to consensus building. We must resist any attempt to turn division amongst us, as to which way we must go, to a source of altercations between us. As we speak, very many of our people living in Northern Nigeria are in complete awe and consternation regarding how safe they will be after October 1st. Other Northerners living amongst us are also worried.”
Also, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, in a letter to Kanu remarked: “Biafra’s concept is a metaphor for the demand for equity and fair play in the Nigerian state and not a separatist movement. Nnamdi Kanu’s call for a boycott of elections in the South-east is irresponsible, irredentist and totally devoid of any focus.

“You must appreciate that for different logical reasons and perception, the Biafra concept has attracted favourable comments among our people, ostensibly borne out of the marginalisation of Ndigbo in the Nigerian state. In this popular agitation for Biafra, Ndigbo have not instituted a separatist movement or a terrorist gang as it were. We are more concerned about the continued existence of Nigeria under the present structural arrangement.”
APGA advised the IPOB leader to drop his “emperor” perception of himself and humble himself before the true leadership of Ndigbo for a proper and better articulation of the Biafra struggle.
It is also cheery that Igbo leaders from the South-east zone, including its governors, National Assembly members and leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, rose from a closed-door meeting in Enugu last Sunday, restating the zone’s commitment to a united Nigeria.

“Ndigbo are in support of a united Nigeria where peace, love, fairness, justice, equity and equality of opportunity are paramount, regardless of creed, ethnicity, gender or political affiliation. That we condemn all hate speeches and conduct emanating from any segment of Nigeria,” remarked the Igbo leaders.
The icing on the cake was from the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who appealed for caution among those pushing for a sovereign state of Biafra, and called on Igbo youths to jettison the idea of leaving Nigeria. He remarked: “Having invested across the country, the best option for Igbo is to team up with those pushing for the nation to be restructured. The truth is, times have changed, and so have political interests because 1967 is different from 2017.
“Igbo leaders must set up a committee for continuous engagement and moderation of IPOB, other pro-Biafra organisations and their leaders to avoid hate speeches and reckless statements that would make the South-east lose its friends and sympathisers. Ndigbo need a bigger space to operate. In fact, Nigeria as a country is even a small space for the enterprising spirit of the Igbo, hence our people are scattered all over Africa and are capable of dominating the economic space.”

Wise men of Igboland have spoken. No right-thinking person will recommend secession as a solution to any problem in any region. Immoderation destroys. Let us all learn from the tragic story of Republic of Southern Sudan. Prior to the country’s independence, the late John Gerang’s Sudanese People Liberation Army and other so-called freedom fighters regaled the people with stories of prosperity and justice once it became an independent country. They got the independence, but few months after, Southern Sudan is worse than what it was in the bigger Sudan. Massacre, hunger, disease, poverty and malnutrition now pervade the land, no thanks to a gruesom e fratricidal war that cropped up few months after independence. Suddenly, they are no longer brothers. This is food for thought for all of us this morning.

Plight of the University of Maiduguri
Boko Haram bombers again attacked the University of Maiduguri yesterday. In the last six months, these terrorists have attacked the university nine times, killing innocent people, including a professor of veterinary medicine, Aliyu Usman Mani. Never in the history of this institution has this much pain been inflicted on its staff and students. It is even more disheartening that no single top official of the federal government deemed it necessary to pay a solidarity visit to the university. Where is the Education Minister, Adamu Adamu? He is simply sleeping while precious human lives are being wasted at this university. Adamu’s inaction on the precarious security situation in this school is giving a boost to Boko Haram’s ideology. The Buhari administration has clearly failed the staff and students of the University of Maiduguri.

It should be noted that the terrorists did not even stray into the school during the peak of the insurgency between 2009 and 2015. So, what went wrong? I guess government and the managers of the university did not prepare for this eventuality. There was nothing like perspective planning despite the raging insurgency around the school. They unwisely thought that the terrorists would never get to them. The FG has also not been proactive in responding to the challenges. It is depressing to note that the FG refused to provide funds needed to procure modern security equipment and build a perimeter fence at the varsity. The borders of this university are wide open. As a result, Boko Haram bombers stroll in with ease and kill people. A bigger accident is waiting to happen. Honestly, this university should be shut until the FG provides all the necessities for protecting life and property. Dr. Dani Mamman, Chairman, Academic Staff Union of the university noted: “The FG has been insensitive to the plight of students and parents that lost loved ones.” Senator Baba Kaka Garbai’s motion on Thursday, calling on the FG to do the needful for the university is soothing. Our Education Minister must swiftly make amends.

Aregbesola and Osun State Pensioners
Osun State pensioners spent most of last week protesting huge unpaid gratuity and pension. They also accused Governor Rauf Aregbesola of diverting bailout funds meant for payment of salaries and pensions. The chairman of the retirees, Omoniyi Ilesanmi revealed that more than 2,000 retirees had died waiting for pension and gratuity, while many others are down with various ailments. “Many of our members are married to their wheel chairs till God knows when. Their children are out of school because of inability to pay fees. The untimely and avoidable deaths continue unabated among us because of non-payment of our benefits,” remarked Ilesanmi.

Instead of addressing issues raised by these retirees, the government mischievously sponsored a faction of the Union to counter the protest. Aregbesola has also been pushing out a lot of falsehoods about payments to these senior citizens. This is the height of man’s inhumanity to man. The situation in Osun State is terrifying. Few weeks back, medical doctors in the state health institutions were on the streets demonstrating against payment of incomplete salaries. Both serving and retired civil servants are going through hell here. Aregbesola represents pain. The leadership of the NLC and TUC must step in to save these hapless people from further anguish.

Sleaze Allegations: Waiting for Governor Yari’s Response
Wonders will never cease in Nigeria. Many of those who promised us “change” are now enmeshed in corruption allegations. One of such is Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari. The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered an interim forfeiture of N500 million and $500,000, suspected to be bribe given to Yari by the consultant engaged for the Paris Club refunds by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum. According to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, huge sums of money were fraudulently diverted from the bank account of the NGF on the instruction of Yari. How did the funds get into the NGF account in the first place? Very simple; fees due to the consultants engaged by the NGF to verify refunds due to all the states were paid into NGF’s account. The fees were subsequently disbursed to the specialists in a manner not transparent.

In an affidavit by the EFCC, it alleged that the N500 million was diverted to offset Yari’s personal loan obtained from the First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited. It also alleged that another firm, Gosh Projects Limited, got $500,000, which was allegedly used for the purchase of building materials for Yari’s 100-room hotel project in Lagos. Gosh Projects was also suspected to have used part of the looted funds for the purchase of treasury bills and transfers to offshore accounts.

The sums had already been recovered from the two firms, before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba gave the interim forfeiture order on June 30. I am earnestly waiting for what this Zamfara governor has to say about these sleaze allegations. He has refused to disclose his relationship with the two companies the funds were seized from by the EFCC. The two affected firms are also not protesting. So, who owns the seized money? I am shocked that all we have been hearing on this issue are humdrum explanations from the spokesman of the NGF, Abdulrazaque Barkindo. When will Yari speak up? This is clearly not the “Change” Nigerians voted for.