Oil Subsidy Beneficiaries Revealed
The senate committee probing the controversial petroleum subsidy hasreleased the names of over 100 companies benefiting from the N1.426 trillion (about $8.8 billion) fund between January and August this year. Chairman of the committee Senator Magnus Abe questioned how companies not involved in oil – namely construction firms such as Pinnacle Construction are benefiting from the fund, arguing that the discovery puts doubt on the “participatory process” used for disbursement of funds. The list of companies included recognisable names such as the Wale Tinubu-owned Oando Plc (which received N228.506 billion, about $1.4 billion), Conoil, owned by renowned businessman Mike Adenuga (which receives N37.960 billion, about $230 million) and MRS, owned by Sayyu Dantata (which receives N224.818bn, about $1.3 billion). A further disagreement developed over two different amounts both put forward as the real amount of subsidy paid by government, with the committee providing the figure of N1.426 trillion and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) claiming N1.348 trillion (about $8.3 billion). Since the public hearing started PPPRA has shut down its website, which includes a list of subsidy beneficiaries. The government has committed to remove the subsidy in early 2012.
Sanusi Named “African Person of the Year”
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the outspoken Governor of the Central Bank of Nigerian (CBN), has won the Forbes African Person of the Year 2011 award. The list of nominees included Liberian president and recent Nobel Prize-winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Perdo Veron Pires, former president of Cape Verde, and Nigerian cement mogul Aliko Dangote. Sanusi was praised by Forbes his “determination” and “courage” in carrying out reforms in Nigeria’s banking sector, which included the creation of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria to buy up bad loans from deposit banks. Local and foreign observers credit Sanusi for saving the banking industry from imminent collapse. In his acceptance speech Sanusi attributed his success to the hard work and collective efforts of his 5,000 CBN staff.
Indonesian Consortium Signs $960 Million Investment Deal
The Nigerian government signed off on a $960 million investment deal yesterday Monday – with Indonesian consortium, the Bakrie Group. A government statement outlined that the memorandum of understanding for the deal involved the mining, oil and rubber sectors in Ogun and Akwa Ibom states in southern Nigeria. The investment, which will be made in the next five years, will be managed by Bakrie’s Nigerian affiliate, Bakrie Delano Africa Nigeria Limited. “Nigeria is an emerging market country. Based on World Bank’s report, the country is categorized as a middle income status supported by its abundant supply of natural resources, well-developed financial and legal system, communications, transport sectors and stock exchange, which is the second largest in Africa,” said Bakrie Group chief Indra Bakrie.
Same-Sex Marriage Ban Bill Passed by Senate
The controversial bill aimed at banning same-sex marriage in Nigeria has been passed by the senate, in spite of British threats to withdraw aid. The bill outlaws the practice of same-sex unions, legislating a 14-year sentence for anyone convicted of homosexuality and 10 years in prison for anyone who “abets” a same-sex union. The bill was not objected to by any senators. Last month, British prime minister David Cameron threatened to withdraw financial aid to countries which pass anti-gay laws. Homosexuality laws were introduced during the British colonial period and have remained to date.
University Lecturers Embark on Indefinite Strike
An indefinite strike has been called by university lecturers around the country after what has been described as the federal government’s non-implementation of the core components of a 2009 agreement with the Academic Staff Union of Universities. Professor Ukachukwu Awuzie said the strike would be “total and comprehensive” and there would be no grading of scripts during the strike. The agreement signed included promises of a yearly increase in budgetary appropriation of 26% between 2011 and 2020 in education and the transfer of federal government property to universities. “The ruling class has failed. It cannot provide jobs, education, healthcare, affordable transportation, roads and so on,” Professor Awuzie said.
PDP Wins Kogi, ACN Cries Foul Play
The People’s Democratic Party candidate in the Kogi State gubernatorial elections has emerged victorious after Saturday’s election. Captain Idris Wada defeated his closest rival, former governor Prince Abubaker Audu of the Action Congress of Nigeria, with 300,372 votes against Audu’s 159,913. In the keenly contested election a total of 484,100 valid votes were cast with 34,781 were invalid. The PDP national publicity secretary Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali described Wada’s victory as a clear indication of the PDP’s strength in national politics. But the ACN candidate’s chief strategist Dino Malaye accused the independent national electoral commission of colluding with the PDP to perpetuate electoral fraud.
This Week: Politics
The senate committee investigating the fuel subsidy has surprised many by naming the companies involved in the subsidy and the amount each has received. But when the names were read out, the surprise factor was replaced with a familiar sinking feeling. Companies including MRS, Oando and Conoil were mentioned, and we are all aware of who these people are – they are woven into the political fabric of Nigeria and are at times referred to as “the untouchables”. I initially believed that the cartel was so strong that the senate would not dare name them. But maybe it has got to the point that the companies are so strong that naming them will not change anything anyway. These names have become a recurring fixture since the years of Olusegun Obasanjo and have formed a mafia of sorts, and those at the helm of Nigeria were and are to blame. They are not an outwardly violent mafia, rather they cement their links through deals and kickbacks, and they all had a part to play in the election of Goodluck Jonathan. The political elite have made these people and continues to feed them. Civil society groups are threatening mass protests over the subsidy, moneyed elites will be loathe to lose an easy source of income: how the Jonathan administration handles the subsidy removal – from appeasing financial backers, to appeasing the poor paying more at the pump and building the refining capacity Nigeria so desperately needs – will be the litmus test of its success or failure in government.
Nigeria has embarked on a mass international public relations and investment drive. Last month’s Commonwealth Heads of State meeting was an opportunity for Nigeria to showcase its potential. The business world is slowly waking up to the numerous opportunities that abound in the country, and although some would complain that Nigeria’s infrastructure cannot handle local business, let alone international big business, what the government must focus on is an effective, reliable power supply. The Power Holding Company of Nigeria has demonstrated it is not capable of this; deregulation of the sector is the logical next step. Nigeria must be able to attract deals such as the above mentioned Indonesian investment.
Writers of the Week:
‘When Customs Surpassed Revenue Target’, Juliet Alohan writes for Leadership newspaper. The title speaks for itself, and Alohan gives a descriptive breakdown of the progress made by one of the most consistent revenue earners for government. An enlightening read.
Kola Tobuson writes ‘The Nigerian Prince’ for Nigerianstalk.com. Written in a humorous and satirical manner, Tobuson detailing the rise of the email scam in the early 90’s and the varied forms of underhand tactics used by scammers.
Website of the Week:
Naija Careerist is a website created by American-Nigerian Chika Uwazie. Uwazie is a human resources professional and consistent blogger who uses her website to provide career tips and advice to young Nigerian professionals. The website includes interviews, job openings and general advice on the world of employment. Definitely worth a look.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Method: Does it Make Sense for Nigeria?
Right off the bat, let me say I am no lawyer, but in some matters of national interest or public policy, ‘common sense’, is more powerful than legal knowledge. Some in the field, may now draw the swords, but it’s true nations that have been progressive, have relied on the views and expectations offered by common people to set its agenda.
Take for example, US Mining Laws, were crafted by miners themselves and sent to Congress for approval. In US, the constitution does not place any form of education or professional requirement in the case of appointing Supreme Court justices. In the history of US Supreme Court, there have been justices who did not have legal education.
Nonetheless, the subject at hand is the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution – ADR.
To avoid clogging judicial dockets, societies have elected to seek ways to keep certain disputes out of court systems and as a result, use alternative dispute resolution methods. In Nigeria, certain matters are resolved by village councils or family gathering whereby the allegations are made, evidence tendered and witnesses called. The elders review and deliberate, and pass judgment which is imposed on the guilty party. Back in the day, Eke village home of Onyema n’ Eke, was singled out as the only village in then pre-independence Nigeria that had a lower and an appellate court system. A visiting colonial administrator observed with admiration a village trial and its appellate system, and was so impressed he wrote the London office noting that this people considered ‘primitive’, have an advanced judicial system. It was on the note of such system that Onyema was invited to London, and he met the Queen. It was further followed by his son Byron Onyema going off to London to study law and after Nigeria became independent and there was opening at The World Court at The Hague, it was natural Byron Onyema, following the judicial tradition noted in his village, was a shoo-in. Britain played significant role in Justice Byron Onyema becoming Nigerian first justice at The Hague. A ‘wawa’ man, and I am proud of that.
Societies advanced or primitive, have sought ways to seek redress on civil matters of certain level. In US, there is JP – Justice of Peace Courts, called small claims courts, where depending on each state rules, dispute involving claims of $5,000 or less are heard and disposed of. Judges in JP courts are not trained as lawyer or have legal education. Anyone of good moral character can seek the office of JP by election. Just ‘common sense’ and persons deemed to be fair and equitable in their understanding of matters, whatever those are. Note, the head of County government is called a County Judge with commissioners, and it does not have to be someone with legal education or a legal Judge per se. City government is headed by a Mayor with a council
JP court is served by Constables, not police, who serve court sermons on parties to a matter. A party to such claim, may still go to state or district court. Criminal matters, based on jurisdiction, are prosecuted as felony by the County – through the Office of District Attorney – DA, after a County Grand Jury called by the DA Office, has billed a case, leading to issuance of indictment. The police for the County is called Sheriff. Appearing before a Grand Jury, an accused/suspect, does not have the benefit of a lawyer present; they appear alone, and may elect to use an interpreter to help them convey their position or address the charges. To Bill a Case – indictment, only require a majority of 12 Grand Jurors while in a Trial by Jury, all 12 jurors must vote unanimously for a verdict to be upheld. A divided jury, is a Hung Jury, and such leads to dismal if they cannot all agree. They case be re-tried.
DA is a lawyer who must run for the post and be elected. Only in the case of the federal attorney general, is it by appointment by the president and confirmed by the US Senate. In all the states and counties, it’s by election. And in Texas, except in the case of municipal judicial officers, all Judges and Justices of the state’s Supreme Court, are elected. At the state level, it is State’s Attorney General, who is also elected, that handles felony cases and again, after an indictment has been obtained from a Grand Jury, the same for federal cases done through the US District Office of US Attorney General in the jurisdiction the crime occurred. All cases of public corruption are tried in federal courts after FBI investigation and a federal indictment has been issued.
The police is never the prosecuting arm but serve as the first line in felony cases and other matters because they write the offense report and maybe called as witness. Bankruptcy is a federal matter tried in federal courts with laws of each state considered. For instance, Florida has liberal and favorable bankruptcy laws.
ADR is not a new concept but something of value to deploy to free resources that may be otherwise tied on matters of less value. Nigeria at a time, had Customary Courts, which served as the lowest level of the court system but that level has been done away with. There is no limit as to what a Nigeria trial court cannot hear. In US, there is what is called court of competent jurisdiction, meaning a court is legally authorized to hear such matter. In most cases where ADR is used, a court must have sanctioned the parties to use such method and the agreement becomes binding subject to certain conditions and requirements. Some states regulate who can offer such service while in some, as long as the disputing parties elect such method and agree to the resolution, they are free to engage.
In some divorce matters, a family civil judge, may order mediation between the parties, and appoint a mediator, and whatever agreement reached by the parties, is then signed onto and the judge will on the basis of such issue a divorce decree. Note, divorce is a civil matter and handled at the county level of the state’s district court. Enforcement of certain provisions such as child support is handled by the state’s attorney general’s office through its Child Support Division.
The US judicial set up is complex and convoluted and each state is different. The practice of law in US is granted through each state bar, and because one is a lawyer say in Texas, does not mean they can just go to Oklahoma and practice. Reciprocity is sought and granted to lawyers depending on whether the state s/he is called to the bar has reciprocity with the state they want to practice. In federal court, it is different because appearance is granted by license to practice in a federal court. There is no federal bar in US, all are states. Each state has a state appeal court and a supreme court while in Nigeria there is only one Supreme Court.
In my experience, I have served as a Grand Juror in Dallas County in 1996, and reviewed more than 1500 cases for indictment. It was a 3 month exercise. A few years ago, I was called in as a juror on a federal case but was not selected. The selection process is different. Another experience has included appointment as a Special Commissioner by a District Judge as one of 3 to decide on a condemnation case. I have also served on City of Dallas Permit and License Appeals Board, one of few quasi-judicial boards in the city whose decision cannot be overturned by the city council but by a district court.
Time and space are not enough to discuss the merits of ADR usefulness in Nigeria versus what it is in US. In terms of freeing Nigeria courts using alternative dispute resolution, it is worthy and must only be for minor civil matters. The challenge though is, if one cannot obtain reasonable judgment in Nigeria courts and judgment is hardly enforced, what sense does it make to use ADR? ADR makes sense in a civil and civilized society where parties to a dispute seek to obtain resolution, at lower than typical legal expenses/costs and free the court system. In Nigeria, with the undue sense of entitlement arrogated by and to persons by class or title, I wonder how someone of lesser class and or title, can obtain enforcement against those of timber and or caliber? A nightmare just thinking of it.
It is back to square one, with double whammy and deeper jeopardy.
Neither Obasanjo Nor Jonathan Deserves Achebe’s Honour
By BENARD OWOBU
Nowhere has our government displayed intelligence in the recent past than in the area of according selected Nigerians State recognition by way of National Honours Award.
The modus operandi adopted by different administrations remains essentially the same. A list is drawn up comprising particularly of politicians and wealthy persons whose material wealth and relevance were corruptly gained.
To ensure that the morally empty individuals are accorded respect, few morally upright men/women are added to the list to procure the looters unearned and unmerited worthy consideration in the eyes of the public.
That is the very aim Obsanjo’s administration wanted to use Chinua Achebe to achieve in 2004 when on October 14, the administration announced a list of 191 recipients of Nigeria’s National Honors with Prof. Chinua Achebe name included. The next day, on October 15, in an open letter, Achebe totally rejected the award on account of the regretful situation of the Nigeria State in general and the situation in his home state, Anambra, in particular under Obasanjo; noting that Nigeria’s condition under OBJ watch was too dangerous for silence.
Achebe was 100 steps ahead of OBJ in a show of smartness. Chinua denied him the honour of lending credence to the ritual of National Honour Award, which has been reduced to a child’s play, when he rejected the award.
Goodluck’s administration, known for it laziness to embark on meticulous exercise, did not embark on serious search for other people with impeccable honour and unimpeachable integrity to lend credibility to the exercise. He went again for Achebe. Again, Achebe rejected the offer noting that “The reasons for rejecting the offer when it was first made have not been addressed let alone solved.” And that “ It is inappropriate to offer it again to me. I must, therefore, regretfully decline the offer again.”
What both Obassanjo and Jonathan administrations failed to realize is that they cannot honour Achebe. It is Achebe who would have honoured them with acceptance. It would have been a big and unmerited honour for the both administrations if Achebe had glorified the process with acceptance.
I am proud of Achebe for rejecting the offer. It is an encouragement for all positively minded youths. It has shown that hard work is the only source of true honour and that honour earn is far better than honour received. That when in possession of earned honour, one can choose to reject artificial award that bear no real significance.
Most times, it is people whose work cannot earn them award that go about coveting it. There was one man I know who go about calling himself Medical Doctor. He owns a clinic and I actually thought he was a doctor, though I was not thrilled with the way he announce it to any person willing to listen. He moves about with his stethoscope. One day I was reading a national daily and I saw the name of his clinic and the story that followed show that he was arrested for impersonation. So, he was fake. I later discovered that the man was actually a qualified nurse who chose to be acting as a Doctor. Most technicians call themselves Engineers louder than the real engineers would. It is always a case of if I can earn it, I will receive it.
What I found funny in this year’s list of recipient is the inclusion of IG and Chief of Army Staff. That this administration chose to honour these men at a time insecurity has enveloped Nigeria so much so that our president himself hide to mark the last independence, show how the National Honours Award have been trivialized. The security chiefs should have display wisdom and at least for once suppress greed and humbly tell the president with due respect this is not a ripe moment for us to be honoured. We know in Nigeria people in position of authority don’t resign even when they can no longer cope with the demand of the office. This opportunity would have, however, give the security chiefs opportunity to express to Nigerians – who are daily threatened, killed and maimed by Boko Haram, Armed rubbers, Ethnic chauvinists, religion extremists, etc. etc. – that they are concerned and worried with the nation’s appalling slide into anarchy.
It is also funny that the National Honours criteria which, in the words of Mr. President, suppose to be “based on what an individual has contributed to his community, his state, his country and how you have projected this country outside” will also reserve positions like the GCFR for anybody who becomes the President of this country or the GCON given to anybody who becomes the vice president or the head of the National Assembly or the head of the Judiciary. Is it all presidents that will meet the above criteria? Has any president actually contributed much to the country as much as they take from the country?
On a final note, let men/women who toil day and night to earn a big name not to easily give it away for any government to use to lend weight to a process far from transparent. I am not against receiving the award but I am against a process that lump both the good and the bad, morally empty men with moral purist and trustworthy individuals with those who rape our treasury day and night, inflict injury on the system at will, abuse position of trust and adopt the principle of ‘all is fair that earns me money’. If your name is listed and you believe you thoroughly merit it, check through the list if others in it are men and women that you will love to associate with? Are they men and women you can proudly announce to friends that you are with them in the same club? Are they men and women you will proudly have as father/mother or children? If there are many in the list whose public conduct will shame you, please politely reject the offer. If the government offering it is spreading pain and poverty like the present government and not doing the work the masses voted him to do, you can politely reject the offer.
Our leaders in this country are shameless. We must use every reasonable means to let them know that we are not comfortable with their leadership. It is not by accident that we are still in darkness, without clean water, no good roads no accountability, insecurity everywhere and the only robust industry is politics.
“Africans are the Most Superior Race”, – Says White Men
By RAMSES OSIRIS
In the heat of the European edition of the African Holocaust and the atrocious Slave Trade – which, from the 16th. century on, ran concurrently with its even more blood-chilling Islam-Arab predecessor and successor, a white man made a startling discovery in Africa: Africans, as the Ancient Egyptians, were ruling the world at a time the Oyinbos themselves were “veritable savages“!
Not that the white folks of Antiquity didn´t know that already: Herodotus – the so-called Father of History, from the European point of view – Aristotle, Pythagoras, Plutarch, Diodorus, for example, knew and wrote about it. Back then, it was common knowledge. But this fact had been concealed, distorted and almost completely obliterated since Africans lost their global power some 2000 years ago.
So, this is actually very old news – perhaps, the oldest news, never heard by most Africans! And when they do hear it from their own people, most of them simply refuse to believe it, waving it off as the hallucination of some self-deluded Afrocentrics! It is primarily for the benefit of these individuals that we therefore present the testimony of some men with straight hair, a white skin and a pointed nose. That would hopefully make this irrefutable fact most credible and acceptable to this group of brainwashed, self-hating people, infected with what we could term the ICS – the Inferiority Complex Syndrome!
Essentially, we have two smoking guns:
1) the evidence presented by the Ancient Egyptians themselves – which would automatically nullify all those silly, racist theories that attempt to deny their Africanness;
2) the eye-witness accounts of Oyinbos.
The Ancient Egyptian evidence itself – just one out of many – was found on bas-reliefs on the tomb of Sesostris I (18th. Dynasty, 16th. Century BCE) by the French man, Jean-Francois Champollion, during his visit to Egypt in 1828-1829. Written in the Africa-invented hieroglyphics, it is the oldest, most complete ethnological document available to date.
Without the knowledge of hieroglyphics – having been destroyed by the Romans about 1300 years before – it was at first practically impossible to make head or tail of the finding. But fortunately, the lost art could be reconstructed again – thanks to the decipherment of the famous Rosetta Stone by the same Jean-Francois Champollion about seven years earlier. Thus, in a series of letters to his elder brother, Jacques Joseph Champollion-Figeac, he reported on what he saw and read in Africa. We shall quote his 13th. letter verbatim – which should be enough to cure our ICS-infected people once and for all:
“Right in the valley of Biban-el Moluk, we admired, like all previous visitors, the astonishing freshness of the painting and the fine sculpture on several tombs. I had a copy made of the peoples represented on the bas-reliefs. At first, I had thought, from copies of these bas-reliefs published in England, that these copies of different races led by the god Horus holding his shepherd´s staff, were indeed nations subject to the rule of the Pharaohs. A study of the legends informed me that this tableau has a more general meaning. It portrays the third hour of the day, when the sun is beginning to turn on its burning rays, warming all the inhabited countries of our hemisphere. According to the legend itself, they wished to represent the inhabitants of Egypt and those of foreign lands.
Thus, we have before our eyes the images of various races of man known to the Egyptians, and we learn at the same time the great geographical or ethnological divisions established during that early epoch. Men led by Horus, the shepherd of the peoples, belong to four distinct families: the first, the one closest to the god, has a dark red colour, a well proportioned body, kind face, nose slightly aquiline , long braided hair and is dressed in white. The legends designate this species as Rôt-en-ne-Rôme, the race of men par excellence, i.e. the Egyptians.
There can be no uncertainty about the racial identity of the man who comes next: he belongs to the Black race, designated under the general term Nahasi.
The third presents a very different aspect; his skin colour borders on yellow or tan; he has a strong aquiline nose, thick, black pointed beard and wears a short garment of varied colors; these are called Namou.
Finally, the last one is what we call the flesh-colored, a white skin of the most delicate shade, a nose straight or slightly arched, blue eyes, blond or reddish beard, tall stature and very slender, clad in a hairy ox-skin, a veritable savage, tattooed on various parts of his body; he is called Tahmou.
I hastened to seek the tableau corresponding to this one in the other royal tombs and, as a matter of fact, I found it in several. The variations I observed fully convinced me that they had tried to represent here the inhabitants of the four corners of the earth, according to the Egyptian system, namely:
1. the inhabitants of Egypt which , by itself, formed one part of the world…..; 2. the inhabitants of Africa proper: Blacks; 3. Asians; 4. finally (and I am ashamed to say so, since our race is the last and most savage in the series), Europeans, who, in those remote epochs, frankly did not cut too fine a figure in the world. In this category, we must include all blondes and white-skinned people living not only in Europe, but Asia as well, their starting point.
This manner of viewing the tableau is all the more accurate, because on the other tombs, the same generic names reappear, always in the same order.
We find there, Egyptians and Africans represented in the same way, which could not be otherwise; but Namou (the Asians) and Tahmou (Europeans) present significant and curious variants.
Instead of the Arab or the Jew, dressed simply and represented on one tomb, Asia’s representatives on other tombs (those of Ramses II, etc.) are three individuals, tanned complexion, aquiline nose, black eyes, and thick beard, but clad in rare splendor. In one, they are evidently Assyrians; their costume, down to the smallest detail, is identical with that of personages engraved on Assyrian cylinders.
In the other, are Medes or early inhabitants of some part of Persia. Their physiognomy and dress resemble, feature for feature, those found on monuments called Persepolitan. Thus, Asia was represented indiscriminately by any one of the peoples who inhabited it.
The same is true of our good old ancestors, the Tamhou. Their attire is sometimes different; their heads are more or less hairy and adorned with various ornaments; their savage dress varies somewhat in form, but their white complexion, their eyes and beard all preserve the character of a race apart. I had this strange ethnographical series copied and colored.
I certainly did not expect, on arriving at Biban-el-Moluk, to find sculptures that could serve as vignettes for the history of the primitive Europeans, if ever one has the courage to attempt it. Nevertheless, there is something flattering and consoling in seeing them, since they make us appreciate the progress we have subsequently achieved.“
(Champollion-Figeac, Egypte ancienne. Paris: Collection l’Univers, 1839, pp. 30-31. ) (Bold types mine.)
There you go. This was the original letter (not these other edited ones), first published in 1833. That´s the shocking truth – right from the horse´s mouth – from the mouth of a representative of our present day detractors, whom our self-denigrating, ignorant, inferiority complex-laden people from all walks of life worship like gods – from illiterates to pseudo-intellectuals, from the poorest to the richest, from the ordinary folks to the mindless rulers. That is the truth that has refused to go away despite more than 2000 years of destruction, history falsification, most brutal Holocaust, slavery and colonization.
That is the truth that is still staring us in the face by way of the Sphinx, the numerous Temples and the colossal Pyramids in Egypt, the other Sphinx in Turkey, the Holy Trintity of Osiris, Isis and Horus in the Louvré Museum in Paris (the Trinity that the white people fraudulently changed to God, Mary and Jesus), the Osiris-Isis-Amun Temple in Parque de la Montana, Madrid, the plagiarized and disguised stories in the Bible and the Koran.
That´s the truth you´ll discover even in China – in the Xia Dynasty (1900-1700 BC) and the Shang/Yin Dynasty (1700-1050 BC) before the Mongoloid Chinese took over later – during the Zhou dynasty.
That´s the trurh you´ll find in Cnossus in Crete, Greece, the obelisks all over Italy, the documents in the Vatican, the African regalia of the Pope – the triple crown (tiara), crook and all (compare Osiris), the Muslim Hajj, the impressive monuments in Sudan (Ancient Nubia) and all other innumerable works of art and science strewn all over the five continents, visible in all the major museums of the world.
That´s the truth, despite the horrible Islamization and Christianization by our former inferiors – who by their own admission and submission – were “veritable savages“, when we Africans as the Ancient Egyptians were calling the shots. “Veritable savages“ that we Africans civilized! This is the truth that has survived the unholy Jihads and Crusades to this day! Without Africans, the rest of the world would have been reeling in barbarism and darkness!
Africa is the cradle of civilization, NOT Greece. That is what true, unfalsified history teaches us.
But the tables have turned. Today, it´s hard to imagine that we Black people – and that would, believe it or not, include Nigerians! – are the descendants of the Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs or the Nubians for that matter! It´s hard to imagine that we invented everything – until others came along to learn from us, to copy and plagiarize : from religion through philosophy to the arts and the sciences.
So, what happened along the line? The answer should be obvious by now! If not, let´s hear what another white man, C.F. Volney, said about 230 years ago (you know, what they say is always the “gospel truth“! I dey laugh o ) :
“Just think that this race of black men, today our slaves and the object of our scorn, is the very race to which we owe our arts, sciences, ana even the use of speech! Just imagine, finally, that it is in the midst of peoples who call themselves the greatest friends of liberty and humanity that one has approved the most barbarous slavery and questioned whether black men have the same kind of intelligence as Whites! (C. F. Volney, Voyages en Syrie et en Egypte. Paris, 1787, I, p. 77.}
Indeed! And if we may add: just imagine if every Black child would grow up with this mother of all truths!
Just imagine if this knowledge were taught in every village and every city in Africa. Just imagine if all our brainwashed academics, indoctrinated religious fanatics, clueless and subservient rulers – who seek salvation in Mecca , Jerusalem and Rome, in Washington D.C. and in all the European capitals – knew these facts about our past glory!
Imagine that – for a short moment!
I don´t know about you but I´ll say it loud and clear like our inimitable Soul Brother No.1, James Brown – the music legend, whose rhymes and rhythms are still being copied and sampled
The Quiet Death of Environmental Justice in Niger Delta
By CHURCHILL OBINNA OKONKWO
Ken Saro-Wiwa on my Mind: The Quiet Death of Environmental Justice in Niger Delta
There was a recent report in London Daily Mail about a Russian woman who was declared dead but woke up at her own funeral. She then had a heart attack and died after seeing her family and friends mourning her. The second death of the woman is analogous the second death of environmentalism in Nigeria with the acceptance of the so called ‘amnesty’ by the Niger Delta militants. The first death was the brutal execution of environmental right activist Ken Saro-Wiwa by Sani Abacha’s administration on November 10, 1995.
According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. This means that most people are better off in the casket than doing the eulogy in a funeral. It thus follows that the militants that accepted the amnesty prefers the casket to doing the eulogy. This is further confirmed by images of abandoned and stranded so-called “fighter for environmental justice and resource control” on the roadsides of Cape Town after a misadventure on a “training course” at the Cape Town school of marine engineering. The former militants were lured in, disarmed and dumped to South Africa.
The initial notion for Niger Delta militancy was premised on saving the environment from degradation of pollution from activities of oil exploration and exploitation. The fact that the Niger Delta militants got involved in the amnesty program raises the question of their level of intelligence and notion. Do they understand that amnesty means ‘a general pardon for offenses, especially political offenses, against a government, often granted before any trial or conviction.’ It they do, does fight for environmental justice and resource control connote political offence?
Even when the amnesty appears as a compromise on paper, in reality it is surrender. Gandhi said that compromise is based on give and take but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. The fundamental of the Niger Delta struggle was based on environmental degradation and later resources control. In the amnesty, what the militants got was mere monetary handouts and ‘job training.’ Job training that presented another avenue for sycophants and government cronies to embezzle. The militant’s compromise on the fundamentals is tantamount to surrender and amounts to second death of environmentalism.
As the Niger Delta environment continues to be degraded, the leaders of the militants have joined the political elite in looting the national treasury at the expense of the impoverished and weak men and women on in their communities. They have suddenly abandoned the struggle and are currently benefiting from the confusion and corruption in the oil sector by amassing wealth.
They said that the life of man is a struggle on earth. But without a cross, without a struggle, we get nowhere. It was Ken Saro-Wiwa’ struggles that made the dangers associated with environmental damage from oil exploitation in Niger Delta to gain traction. Sixteen years after his death, the scavengers and opportunists masquerading as environmental militants are quietly killing Environmental Justice in Niger Delta. Unlike in 1995 when Ken was killed, the present ‘slow-motion’ hanging of Environmental Justice and whatever Ken stood for is being masterminded by enemies from within Niger Delta – President Goodluck Jonathan and Militants that accepted the ‘amnesty’.
Having lived in Nigeria and studied the mechanism of political activism and electoral process, common sense has lead me to the conclusion that one of the necessary conditions for reactivating the struggle for Environmental Justice is localization of right issues.
To prevent utter disenchantment setting in, common sense warrants that the ethnic nationalities, environmental right activists in oil producing states that truly believe in the ideals of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the militants that refused the disingenuous amnesty have only one option: embark on political and social re-engineering leading to the emergence of a political wing of the environmental movement in Niger Delta.
With a political wing ready to contest for election at all levels, they will push environmental and resource control issues to the forefront of electioneering. They will start wining local council elections and seats at the state house as well as government house. The only way forward for environmental justice in Niger Delta is the raising of a generation that is not just environmentally conscious but one that can manoeuvre the rough political terrain in Nigeria to the position of influencing policy decisions. That’s common sense.
On the militant and activism front, rather than going to Abuja to protest against the poor infrastructure in oil producing communities, militants should rather first threaten and when necessary make the local council and state ungovernable if the resources accruing to the them continues to be embezzled. Believe me, the war with the local council and state government will be won much easily than that with the Federal Government. With a strong political wing too, the environmental movement can easily win elections at the local and state level. That’s the best way to guarantee true dividends of democracy in the form of job creation, security of lives and property, cleaner environment and corruption free local councils and states.
These are the common sense approach that will strengthen the economic security of those who feel alienated from the system. The road to preventing a complete death of Environmental Justice in Niger Delta is still long and will be onerous but not impossible. The victory will be ours if we continue our efforts courageously, even when at times they appear futile.
Okonkwo can be reach at Churchill.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rwanda: The Corruption Free Zone of Africa
By CHIKA EZEANYA
“You are Nigerian? Aaaah you will love it more in my country than here” my Ugandan co-worker enthusiastically advised upon my arrival in Rwanda, to work on a donor funded project.
I was intrigued by his comment, so I prodded.
“Really? Why so?”
“I have worked in your country and the system is very much similar to what we have in Uganda. Things work as they should. There are no bottlenecks; you get what you want, how and when you want it.”
Is he talking of another Nigeria, or the very land of my birth and nurture? He must be implying the opposite in a subtle manner, I concluded.
“You are very funny,” I courteously offered in response.
Hurt at the fun being made of my admittedly beleaguered pedigree, I was eager to change the topic to the project we were both hired to work on.
“My sister,” he continued before I could interject; “I have been here in Rwanda for 2 years, and I cannot tell you how much I want to return to my country. I am tired of all the processes, rules and regulations that abound here. It is too much. Are we not in Africa?”
“Are you really serious?” I asked. Something is being said in sincerity here.
“In Uganda, you have your money, you get what you want exactly the way you want it and at the exact time you need it. I am used to that life. Here, no matter how much you have or even who you know, you must follow some annoying rules and unnecessary regulations. The system is too rigid. I don’t know how they survive here.” He complained bitterly, throwing both hands open in visible agitation.
“Since this is a long term project, I would have moved my family here, but I cannot endure this kind of regimentation for long. Uganda is my country, any time, any day,” he said, as smiles of endearment brightened his countenance.
I was only a few days old in Rwanda and did not really understand him. Now, I have stayed long enough, and traversed the system deeply enough for my colleague’s words to make sense.
You cannot bribe or influence your way through any system, organization or institution in Rwanda. It is that plain and simple.
My first shock, apart from the extreme cleanliness and orderliness of the city of Kigali, (see my article A Tale of Two Black Cities – http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/chika-ezeanya/a-tale-of-two-black-cities-i.html) was when I had cause to visit the immigration office to clear some outstanding documentation issues.
I must shamefully admit that coming from the background of my beloved country Nigeria, I prepared myself well for the journey. I pre-packaged enough cash in my bag – neatly folded in a way to conveniently change hands discreetly – not because there was anything illegal about my business, not at all. It is common knowledge in several sub-Saharan African countries that even the most legitimate transaction has a high probability of being stalled by an official who smiles at you, expecting you to return the smile in cash.
I informed my office that I was going to the immigration office for the day. The last time I renewed my passport in Abuja, Nigeria (2009), it was a whole day’s work. I had to wait outside with several others for several hours, while people who came much later, but knew how to play the system were quickly attended to.
I arrived the immigration office at Kacyiru, Kigali and could not believe my sight. First, the electronic customer service at the entrance gave me a tally that showed I was number 5 in line. Incredible. I got up and went to the very polite, lone and unarmed security officer at the door. I must be in the wrong office; where is the queue? Where are the customs officers loitering around the area soliciting for “customers” to assist in processing their immigration documents? Where are the touts, the peddlers of passport holders, passport photos and even visas? Where are the numerous roadside hawkers making brisk sales of soda, bread and sundry “gourmet” appetizers, entrees, and desserts to frustrated and fatigued patrons? Where is everybody?
“You are in the right office, madam” the officer assured me with a smile.
It was my turn already. I sat down to be attended by an amiable young lady who took her time to listen to my challenges, taking notes, entering data into the computer in front of her, engaging me in the most respectful conversation about my stay, so far, in Rwanda. In less than ten minutes after my arrival, I was handed a sheet of paper with clearly spelt out instructions on how to address my situation.
“Thank you very much, madam. Please do not hesitate to contact this office should you encounter problems following the instructions given.”
I was stunned. The last time I received such impeccable service from a public institution was earlier in the year when I had to register an organization in Washington D.C. Has the immigration office in Rwanda been privatized? I could not help but inquire of my Rwandan colleagues. Privatize the immigrations office of a country? They asked, their faces showing signs of reassessing their initial valuation of my intelligence. Forgive me for asking, but unusual sights birth unusual questions. What is going on in this part of Africa?
I was soon to get used to Rwanda. The country where things work as they should, where you are informed of the rules and regulations and it works for you if you follow it. The country where you can register your business online within 24 hours (http://org.rdb.rw/), without having to engage the expensive services of an attorney who will take weeks, sometimes months to travel to Abuja (in the case of Nigeria) to bribe his way through the corporate affairs office to get you registered. Stories abound of lawyers who collect money from clients without fulfilling their own side of the bargain. Such appalling scenario is impossible in Rwanda.
Rwanda. The country with steady supply of electricity – admittedly for the electrified areas as there are still challenges with electrifying the mountainous rural parts. For over three months of my stay, I cannot recollect more than three incidences of power failure, with none lasting longer than five minutes.
Electricity is cheaply available and easily accessible in Rwanda. With “Cashpower” equivalent of $15USD procured by sending a text message to your preferred vendor, a family of six need not worry about electricity for a whole month. There is no cheating or bribing of electricity corporation officials; there is no need for that.
During my last visit to Lagos (two months ago), I had opportunity to visit with a household where I was gleefully informed that electricity bills had not been paid in the past four years.
“We are very lucky to have a guy on our street who works with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). We give him small money to keep us connected through the backdoor.” The head of the household informed me triumphantly.
“What is the need paying all the money when you do not even get to have light?” He continued. “I would rather use the money to keep my generator serviced than give it to some thieves.” He pointed out, stabbing the air with his fingers in a self righteously emphatic manner.
Working with civil servants on a project in Rwanda was another eye-opening experience for me. Having worked with civil servants in other parts of Africa, I must confess that the commitment of Rwandans is exceptional. 7:00 a.m. is resumption time for all civil servants and the work day ends at 5:00 p.m. Lateness is rare and frowned upon by all. Never for once did the people I had to work with miss out on work for one day, for any reason. There were no staff coming in to the office to sign-in and leave for home. People are motivated, interested in their work, forthcoming with ideas, excited about their job, dedicated, and willing to help.
In the Ministry where I worked, I was very much involved in the contract awarding process. The transparency of that process and the unconcerned attitude of the officers involved, in trying to influence the outcome were new to me. With my experience working with civil servants in other parts of Africa, I have learnt to become quite eagle-eyed about contract awarding processes, which most often than not, devolves into life and death confrontations between vested interests; it is not unusual for threats of witchcraft, voodoo, poisonings and assassinations, to be made openly. But I did not need to worry in this instance; the established system ensures that the most qualified company always gets awarded the contract in Rwanda.
No country in the world is corrupt free, but Rwanda ought to be ranked among the most “developed” countries in the corruption perceptions index, if there is any sincerity in that exercise. Whatever the case, the fact is that doing business, living and working in Rwanda could be one of the most validating experiences an African can have about the optimistic future of the continent and its people.
Dr. Chika Ezeanya blogs at www.chikaforafrica.wordpress.com