​Niger and Benué Rivers Critical to Nigeria’s Economic Revival By UMAR ARDO, Ph.D 

Central to the campaign promises of President Mohammadu Buhari is the revival of the Nigerian economy. Time without number the president had happed on this promise. Already, our dependence on oil has now proven how vulnerable the country’s economy can be to the vagaries of oil prices and local politics in the oil-producing region. With the current drastic fall in oil prices, security crises in the Niger Delta, the politics of revenue allocation formula, oil theft and bunkering that have collectively severely reduced the oil revenue, our economy has virtually collapsed. Instead of the economy reviving, it has gone into a recession. This is how bad things have become. In addition, given the current hues and cries for restructuring which fiscal derivation is at the root of, it is obvious that we cannot and should not continue like this. All these, therefore, reasonably call for the diversification of the economy away from oil. The new focus, as President Buhari had said while addressing his Ministers-designate, will be in agriculture and mining. That is commendable!

 

But let me quickly venture to add transportation to the list, without which there can be no economic development of any sort, anywhere. As Lord Lugard, the architect of Nigeria once said, if he was to define the material development of the country in one word, he would say ‘transportation’. It is through transportation that goods and services are obtained and moved from one point to the other. Agricultural and mining products themselves would depend on transportation to find their markets. Employees depend on transportation to get to their work places. Transportation thus is not only key to social mobility but is indeed the lynchpin of all economic growth. Its development is what will stimulate other sectors of the economy.

 

Transportation comprises of four basic elements – road, water, rail and air. This means that if Nigeria is to develop her economy she must have to enhance the development of her transportation sector. As of now, two of the transportation elements, rail and water, are simply non-existent in the country, while air transportation is almost confined to passengers only to the exclusion of domestic cargo services; leaving virtually the entire haulage of goods across the country to road transportation. In a vast country such as Nigeria, it is critical that all the transportation sectors are fully developed if the country is to have any reasonable hope of diversifying her economy and attaining physical development. Central amongst all transportation sectors, and probably the oldest, the largest, the least expensive and the most cost effective, is water transportation. Once the water is there all one needs do is to throw in one’s boat and one is in business. No maintenance is required other than ensuring that the water is sufficiently there. For us in Nigeria, in addition to the Atlantic Ocean on our coastline, we also have the Niger and the Benué Rivers way into the interior of the country.

 

The Niger and Benué Rivers are two important rivers that ordinarily should define the material development of the nations through which they flow. Specifically, they should have been major International Waterways as well as agricultural bases in the West African Sub-Continent. And for Nigeria, Mother Nature has so kindly brought the two great rivers to traverse within her territory, dividing the country almost into half, and converging at the center of the country at Lokoja. There is no other country where both great rivers so traversed. This gives Nigeria the natural advantage of using the rivers maximally both for internal water ways and for agriculture.  

 

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, the Niger River is the principal river of Western Africa, extending about 4,180 km in length. Its drainage basin is 2,117,700 km2 in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in Southeastern Guinea. It runs in a crescent through Mali, Niger, on the border with Benin republics and then through Nigeria, discharging in a massive delta, known as the Niger Delta or the Oil Rivers, into the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. The Niger is the third longest river in Africa, exceeded only by the Nile and the Congo Rivers. Its main tributary is the Benué River.

 

The Benué River, previously known as the Chadda River or Tchadda, is approximately 1,400 kilometres (870 mi) long and was almost entirely navigable for the most part of the year. As a result, it had been an important transportation route in the regions through which it flows. It rises in the Adamawa Plateau of Northern Cameroun, from where it flows west, and through the town of Garoua and Lagdo Reservoir, into Nigeria south of the Mandara mountains, and through Jimeta-Yola, Ibi and Makurdi before meeting the Niger at Lokoja. Large tributaries are the Gongola River and the Mayo Kébbi, which connect it with the Logone River (part of the Lake Chad system) during floods. Other tributaries are Taraba River and River Katsina Ala. At the point of confluence, the Benué exceeds the Niger by volume. The mean discharge before 1960 was 3,400 cubic metres per second (120,000 cu ft/s) for the Benué and 2,500 cubic metres per second (88,000 cu ft/s) for the Niger. During the following decades, the runoff of both rivers decreased markedly due to irrigation.

 

By the International Protocols of the United Nations, before then the League of Nations, and before then the Anglo-French and/or Anglo-German Agreements, no country through which the rivers flow may use the rivers, or their valleys or tributaries in such a way, form or manner that can adversely affect the other. But under broad day light, Cameroun Republic has built the Lagdo Dam which depleted the size and volume of the river and water that adversely affected Nigeria. It has so depleted the water level of the Benué that we no longer use the river for agriculture, especially dry season irrigation, fisheries and aquatic life; and also dried up the water level that it is no longer navigable thereby killing our major internal waterway – all these making Nigeria, particularly Adamawa, Gombe, Taraba, Benué and Kogi states, lose trillions since the Lagdo Dam was constructed about 35 years ago.

 

As children in of the Benue valley, we used to see vessels carrying containers ply the river to discharge goods at the harbour in Ibi, Lau, Numan and Yola for the most part of the year; and even proceed to Garua in Cameroun. We used to see serious agricultural activities being carried out by our people throughout the days of the year, not only on the Benué valley but also on its main tributaries of Mayoine, Tsikakiri, Gongola, Taraba, Donga, Katsina Ala and Ibi rivers. Today all these are gone, not just because of climate change which no doubt affected the river’s ecosystem but mainly as a result of the construction of the Lagdo Dam. And, to add salt to injury, every year when there is high rainfall and the dam becomes over full, the dam’s valves are opened to release excess water causing serious floods and destruction to our people. This has been going on year in year out since 1983.

 

For any economic diversification policy to succeed it must be based amongst others on two critical sectors – Agriculture and Transportation; and these two are dependent on water, especially the former. It is against this backdrop that the issue of returning the Niger and Benué rivers to their natural sizes and water levels must take a center stage of policy initiatives of the Nigerian government. To this end, I think it will do well for this government to initiate some discussion with the Camerounian government with the objective of getting this serious issue resolved amicably. The bottom line is that the Niger and Benué Rivers must be made to return to their natural sizes and water levels. They are the source of life to our people in agriculture and internal waterway. In a world where countries build artificial canals to create water source, we must not allow our natural canal be blocked unlawfully.

 

To me, given the present and immediate future development of technology in which the usage of oil by combustion engines is increasingly being faced out, it is more reasonable to concentrate in developing agriculture than exploring oil in the Chad Basin or elsewhere in the country. Unlike oil, food and transportation can never be faced out in the existence of mankind. To this end, therefore, prioritizing the development and usage of the Niger and Benué rivers in agriculture and transportation is more useful to the country’s future than prospecting for oil and gas. I think the government will do well for the country if it turns its attention in this direction.

Rich Thief, Poor Thieves and A Burglary By Emmanuel Ugwu

In recent past, the Igbos had a way of denouncing a steward or guard who committed the treachery of stealing the very thing he was hired to manage or secure. They called him the proverbial dog that ate the bone hung around its neck.

That barbed censure fits the policemen that burgled the Gwarinpa home of President Goodluck Jonathan. They stole the very goods they were charged to protect. They vandalized the property left in their care, emptying it of all transferable valuables.

Police authorities have dismissed four of the six culpable officers following the guilty verdict of an orderly room trial. Sgt Musa Musa, Sgt John Nanpak, Sgt Ogah Audu, and Sgt Gabriel Ugah lost their job for coveting ‘’furniture sets, beds, electronics, toilet and electrical fittings, doors, and frames’’.  

In true Nigerian fashion, the two most senior officers involved in the crime, Inspectors Lengs Satlakau and Usman Wuduki , were not shunted out of their job with same dispatch. The Police say the proceedings of their orderly room trial had been forwarded up the ladder ”for further action”.

Nevertheless, I am shocked that the case of burglary and stealing made it to the public domain. I would never have imagined Jonathan would run to the police to complain that he was robbed. As the head of the government of Nigeria, he seemed to be constitutionally indifferent to stealing.

Jonathan was defiantly apathetic when his kleptomaniac cronies were looting the House of Lugard, under his watch. A sense of outrage appeared to be alien to his nature. It’s ironic that he felt offended when his private house was sacked.

Going by his statement, the looted house was a ‘’modest four-bedroom duplex.’’ It contained small creature comforts.  Not the ‘’36 Plasma television sets and about 25 refrigerators’’ as speculated.  

It’s hard to figure out why he chose to make the trivial evisceration of his house a national headline? Why did he raise hell…like a pauper rendered weightless, in a crowded bus terminal, by a pickpocket?

Ordinarily, President Jonathan should be one of the last Nigerians to cry about being robbed. He ran a crazy kleptocracy. He presided over a stealing orgy whose intensity and reach anti-graft accountants have been unable to ascertain even after two years of labor. He licensed his aides to loot with impunity as though the overarching objective of his administration was to bankrupt Nigeria.

Ex-President Goodluck JonathanWhen Jonathan’s attitude to corruption was interrogated, he answered that he could not stop the plague. He whipped out a dispiriting Barn Theory to rationalize and legitimize the hollowing out of the national treasury by his sidekicks. He postulated that if you put a barn full of yams in the custody of a goat, the goat would violate duty and obey instinct.

Under Jonathan’s watch, $20 billion of Nigerian oil revenue went missing. The Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi, raised the issue with the president. Jonathan fired Sanusi …for daring to blow the whistle.

Under Jonathan’s watch, his Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, stole $6 billion. She bought multimillion dollar properties all over Nigeria and the world. She collected enough jewelry to mold the Golden Calf all over again.

In recognition of her high stealing quotient, Jonathan appointed her the head of the finance committee of his second term bid declaration event.

The lady would later go on to attempt to buy the election. She organized a widespread bribery operation that compromised electoral officials and obligated them to inflate the ballot figures of candidate Jonathan and rig him to victory.

Jonathan made the office of the National Security Adviser an annex of the Peoples Democratic Party. He permitted the funds earmarked for resourcing the fight against Boko Haram to be funneled to his political campaign. This caused the well-armed terrorists to take over a significant part of Nigerian territory and hundreds of Nigerian soldiers to die in the unequal war.

By the end of the election, Jonathan and his gang had raped the economy into a crisis.

After he departed office, his wife, Patience Jonathan, was found to have salted away $15 million in her bank accounts. She claimed that the money was savings dedicated to her medical treatment. The fortune couldn’t be reasonably explained by her inheritance or work history…or a jackpot she has never won.

Further moves by state agencies to understand Mrs. Jonathan’s other curious assets saw her complain of being witch-hunted. She recently petitioned the House of Representatives, alleging ‘’persistent, consistent, unwarranted personal and physical attacks” on her by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other agencies of the federal government. She thought that the security agencies should have left her in peace because she rejoiced in the nickname, ‘’Mama Peace.’’

Her henpecked husband obviously copied her alarmist whining. Goodluck saw the break-in and looting of his house as an opportunity to whip up public sympathy. His ‘leak’ of the burglary to the press was about narcissist victimhood and pity party.

Truth be told, the Jonathan who looted the Nigeria he was elected to govern had no moral right to protest that his private home was spoiled by the policemen assigned to guard it. The policemen merely micro-mirrored the plunder Jonathan perpetrated against Nigeria. He should have been grateful to be served a gracious dose of karma. Those ‘’modest’’ trivia stolen from his home is nothing compared to the staggering portion of the Nigerian patrimony he and his band of looters expropriated.

The policemen who sacked Jonathan’s house are petty thieves. If he felt outraged that they were so unscrupulous as to strip bare a house they were assigned to safeguard, that’s gross self-righteousness. He has no reason to indict people for the same wrongdoing he did on a monumental scale: he looted the treasury the Nigerian people mandated him to administer.

The policemen who abused their trust have been punished with a job loss: it follows that Jonathan, who committed the heinous crime of weaponizing the Nigerian presidency for treasury banditry, should receive a judicial recompense commensurate with his high treason.

Jonathan lived his early life without shoes. He is now a man of wealth. He has many houses. He can replace the stuff stolen from his Gwarinpa address with ease.

Many Nigerians live in reduced circumstances. Jonathan robbed them. He pushed them further below the poverty line.

The poor policemen robbed one rich man. The rich Jonathan robbed one hundred million poor Nigerians. He is the greater thief.

He was relieved of an infinitesimal fragment of his excess possessions. Yet, he was so pained by the loss that he forgot ‘pardon’. The kind he bestowed on the rich thief, his role model, Alamieyeseigha!

Nigerian justice system is rigged against the poor. That’s why the dismissal of the low-ranked rogue policemen was ”immediate” and that of the senior policemen is imminent.

And the punishment of Jonathan will forever be impossible.

 immaugwu@gmail.com

@EmmaUgwuTheMan 

Jonathan And The Uniformed Burglars By SOC Okenwa

Former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ), remains a big man with multiple problems and scandals. Ever since his historic defeat at the presidential election of 2015 he has been in the news for (mostly) bad reasons. For one, his stewardship in power for close to six giddy years was nothing to write home about. For another, when one considers ‘Dasukigate’ and ‘Diezanigate’ we come to the conclusion that GEJ did more damage to the system than one could have ever imagined. The incarcerated Sambo Dasuki, his ex-National Security Adviser (NSA) had distributed millions of Dollars criminally (funds meant to procure arms and ammunitions for the army waging war against Boko Haram) to cronies and political leeches — whoever was engaged or involved in the ill-fated GEJ re-election bid was handsomely rewarded by the generous son of the late deposed ex-Sultan of Sokoto. Alas after throwing millions of Dollars and billions of Naira into the presidential project it was lost soundly as the APC opposition coalition triumphed in grand style producing the ailing President Muhammadu Buhari.

The fugitive Jezebel, Diezani Allison-Madueke, the former Petroleum Resources super-Minister, had the ears of the failed President having conquered his libido! She became untouchable and stole billions of Dollars with GEJ incapable of calling her to order. Diezani was monumentally corrupt both morally and sexually and GEJ was found to be under her amorous ‘spell’! Regrettably, the scarce resources of the state that should have served other developmental purposes were diverted and squandered ‘servicing’ executive sexual indulgences. What a connubial presidency!

Today, Jonathan is one ex-President whose inability to account for his stewardship is as comparable as asking the late Idi Amin of Uganda how he managed to turn the east African ‘Musevenied’ country into a jungle where anything went. Or the late Mobutu Sese-Seko of how he became richer than the entire former Zaire and now DRC Or better still, the late bloody dictator, Gnassingbe Eyadema, of how Lome became a developing town during his decades in power, a glorified city where the importation and selling of ‘Tokunbo’ vehicles became the only viable economic venture that yielded revenue to the state!

Goodluck Jonathan is a Nigerian presidential tragedy. His cluelessness is as broadly defined as his aloofness, his mediocrity! But the Aremu of Ota, the erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo, bears certain responsibility for pushing GEJ indirectly to Aso Villa. The Ota veteran farmer must have had his reasons for doing what he did but the Nigerian national interest was not served by such imposition devoid of class. In any nation where merit or competence is sacrificed on the altar of godfatherism then such society is bound to experience developmental retardation akin to ours.

Recent reports online had it that the Abuja home of the former President Jonathan was burgled with everything stolen! But the burglary was reported to be a ‘special’ operation involving insiders, the mobile policemen stationed there and charged with providing security for the imposing property. The uniformed thieves simply went inside the house and helped themselves raking in millions of Naira in the process. The theft began since last year according to the report culminating in the ‘cleaning’ of whatever valuable a property that was found within. These included scores of plasma televisions, expensive suits with name of GEJ imprinted on them, traditional Ijaw clothes, exorbitant women wrappers, executive furniture, fridges, air-conditioners etc. 

Those behind the theft were arrested after an alarm went out and GEJ himself came calling and discovering the systematic dispossession of what could probably be said to have been gift items donated to him by political contractors during his tragic reign as President. He reportedly informed the Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris and the top cop immediately ordered his boys to fish out the culprits. The three or four security men attached to the house were promptly arrested and detained. The ‘kparawos’ are still cooling their heels in a police detention facility awaiting a date with a judge. Breaking news had it that they have been dismissed from the force after a trial that found them guilty.

But the question raised by this bizarre incident and the swift action of the police in apprehending the uniformed burglars is this: If the Abuja property were to have been owned by an ordinary Nigerian without police connections would Idris have swung into action in record time and speed? The major problem with policing in Nigeria is that a whole lot of crooks abound within and abuse the system by abusing their uniforms and/or commissions. They treat ordinary Nigerians with disdain and produce poor performance professionally. Many are content with abusing motorists and taking bribes in broad daylight. 

For others still, their meagre salaries are inadequate leading inexorably to the abuse of the corrupt system with impunity. Some frustrated ones among them aid and abet crimes by hiring out their uniforms or even guns to criminals! Others never saw anything wrong engaging in armed robbery, oil bunkering or even terrorism. Abubakar Shekau is audacious and boastfully arrogant because he must have had some informants in the system supplying him with classified information and even ammunitions! That is probably why today Shekau and his gang of marauders continue to torment villages and towns up north meeting little or no resistance. 

They violently rob, rape, kill, burn down houses and abduct anyone at will! The much-vaunted claim by the federal government that Boko Haram had been defeated “technically” has somewhat become mendaciously obsolete. As long as Shekau (the green snake living dangerously) is not caged with his head bruised or better still chopped off the battle against the terrorist organization he leads would be a military (mis)adventure without end. 

Following the celebrated capture of the notorious kidnapping kingpin, Evans, in Lagos a few months ago it was revealed that his military collaborator, one Victor Chukwunonso, had been apprehended and was helping the police with their investigations. The bad egg in the system made huge fortunes providing cover, information and even personally assisting Evans in his nefarious activity. And when the late Lawrence Anini alias the Law, the dare-devil Oliver Twist-like armed robber, was nabbed and charged to court many years ago in Benin City he had shocked not a few by naming one George Iyamu, a senior police officer, as his point-man, nay hitman, in the police. The late convicted Iyamu gave out vital pieces of information, arms and ammunitions to Anini and his gang as they went about town terrorising banks and citizens!

IGP Idris has a huge task ahead of him given the rot in the system. That the police central command he heads is in dire need of a radical reform is an understatement. There are a lot of criminals inside the force daily denting the image of the police, an image that was at best dented already over time. Idris cannot, in good conscience, claim ignorant of this odious fact. Therefore, he urgently needs to get cracking by undertaking a holistic overhaul, nay restructuring, of the police in tune with the best standard global practices. Otherwise, the situation would remain ever hopeless!

The uniformed burglars that broke into GEJ’s compound in Abuja (that they ordinarily should be protecting) were just exhibiting the typical Nigerian malady of cupidity and indiscipline. They must have felt that by gaining access into the edifice perhaps they would stumble on ‘abandoned’ safe box filled to the brim with foreign currencies. They knew that the EFCC had not too long ago stormed a residential apartment in Ikoyi Lagos and serendipitously discovered staggering millions of Dollars! They must have read in the newspapers or read online about the millions and billions in some bank accounts the EFCC and Dame Patience Jonathan are still fighting over! They must have heard about how politicians now hide their loots in pit latrines, ceilings, water tanks and elsewhere in their grandmother’s homes! They knew, for sure, about the two ‘gates’ that chiefly defined GEJism in terms of heist.

Corruption has effortlessly affected every sector in Nigeria. Stealing whatever is found belonging to the public has since become a hobby for workers and government functionaries at state and federal levels of government. The Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was right when he recently declared that when it came to stealing the resources of state the divisive issues of the region, religion or tribe did not always matter. He had said this while delivering a lecture. According to him:”There is complete unity in this business of stealing”. Can anyone afford to disagree with him?

 

SOC Okenwa
soco_abj_2006_rci@hotmail.fr

Seven Deadly Sins Of Nigerians By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s independence movement, is famous for many reasons. Most people remember him for employing nonviolent civil disobedience in India’s fight against British rule. Some remember him for his dedication to the ‘discovery and pursuit of truth’ in a movement that he called “satyagraha.” As revered as he was, he argued that the most important battle that he had to fight was the battle to overcome his own demons, fears and insecurities. In pop culture, however, he is famous for articulating the seven deadly sins: “wealth without work, science without conscience; science without humanity; knowledge without character; politics without principles; commerce without morality; and worship without sacrifice.”

Thinking along that line, there are seven deadly sins killing Nigerians. They are: generalization, stereotyping, grandstanding, narcissism, hypocrisy, greed and lack of curiosity.

1. Generalization.

Oh, this one kills me. And it is the single most important thing killing Nigeria. People generally generalize. But Nigerians generalize to a grievous fault. For a multi ethnic and multi religious country still learning the ropes of establishing a modern state, it is a very dangerous trait. Alexander Dumas wrote that, “all generalizations are wrong, including this one.” When you start a statement that says, one group is… you are already generalizing and already wrong. There is nothing that you can say after that that would be right. The Yoruba are not behaving one way. The Igbo are not reasoning the same. The Hausa are not reacting alike. Neither are the Urhobo or any other group. Eliminate that and see how your perspective changes about any group – even if it is the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Nigerians who claim not to generalize are those who usually pull out random figures from their heads. For example, they will say that 80% of Igbo people supported the sit-at-home ordered by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Meanwhile a scientific study may take whatever figure they quote down or even further up. It is okay to say that we don’t know, rather than hide our ignorance in stark generalization.

2. Stereotyping.

Closely related to generalization, is stereotyping. In fact, generalization is the fountain from which stereotyping emerges. China Achebe wrote that, “Stereotypes are not necessarily malicious. They may be well meaning and even friendly. But in every case they show a carelessness or laziness or indifference of attitude that implies that the object of your categorization is not worth the trouble of individual assessment.” That laziness, that lack of generosity, cost us more than corruption. In fact, it is a form of corruption of the mind. There is nothing that all Ijaw people are other than distinct individuals in their own rights. There is nothing that Igala people are other than uniquely created children of God. I bet you, all Igala people don’t even eat Ogidigbo. Even self-selected groups do not share common characteristics.  For example, not all Redeem Christian Church of God pastors are humble. We know this because the general overseer of the church told us. Never mind that he said that those who are not humble were not ordained by him.

3.Grandstanding. 

Because of the mix of people in Nigeria, the environment is very competitive. And because we have strangled fairness, merit, and humility, we have elevated the next logical alternative to the top – grandstanding. Everyone wants to be important. In a society where premium on importance is high, exaggeration follows. The struggle to stand out in the midst of the multitude therefore depends on false presentation of false premise. Most of the noisemakers in Nigeria’s social-political scene are mere experts in grandstanding.

4. Narcissism

Let us not go into undiagnosed mental health issue rampant in Nigeria. But what is clear is that the league of narcissists in Nigeria is enormous. They are not just running around free, they are running things all over the country. In other parts of the world, the enforcement of law and order puts a check on them. But in Nigeria they run amok. If you can imagine a house full of kids armed with scissors without an adult in sight, that is Nigeria

5. Hypocrisy

We all are guilty of this. Now that is a generalization. That is wrong, even though it sounded so true. But hypocrisy is one so common. Hypocrisy is when you see the sawdust in another person’s eyes but not the log of wood in yours. In fact, the moment you don’t see anything wrong in your group but everything wrong in the other group, you are a hypocrite. Those who are not hypocrites- free quickly identify that “there is a lot that is good about the worst of us and a lot that is bad about the best of us.” The same way no one can achieve a state of nirvana, no one can also achieve a hypocrisy-free existence. The blatant display of hypocrisy in Nigerian life betrays a society that places low value on moral authority. On the other hand, false moral equivalence is often brandished as a justification for hypocrisy in Nigerian life. More than anything else, hypocrisy erodes trust needed to partake in honest engagements and productive discourse.

6.  Greed

Greed is good. The Hollywood movie, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” declared that “Greed is Good.” It got internalized in Nigeria. Because of the screwed up value system that recognizes “wealth without work”, the quest to acquire unlimited wealth has near universal acceptance. Since this wealth is also devoid of any responsibility, it is an open season for millions of people who have no way of distinguishing the different levels of the Abraham Maslow’ s Hierarchy of Needs. So in Nigeria it reigns, in a state that has not figured out how to use tax policies to control runaway human instinct to accumulate endlessly. We see this everyday. It is the reason why former NNPC Group Managing Director, Andrew Yakubu, hid millions of dollars in a house while people all around him suffer. It is the reason why former Goodluck Jonathan accumulated personal items he did not need and would never use, locked them in a house where they were stolen without his knowledge. It is the reason why the Sultan of Sokoto accepted N700million from Sokoto State government for the purchase of a guest house in Abuja when he owned a big mansion in Abuja and is fully aware of the better use that money could be put to if spent on the poor people of Sokoto state.

7. Lack of curiosity.

Why? Why? Why?

This, my friends, is the most heart breaking. It probably goes back to the theory that Africa, being the cradle of civilization, has been one of the most hospitable places on earth and as such there are no natural pressure for Africans to be curious. But Africa is quickly becoming uninhabitable. Climate change is at the heart of most crises the continent is facing and will face in the next 100 years. The tight grip of superstition has severely limited Africans’ ability to ask questions and show desire to know why things are the way they are. Of recent, superstition has been replaced by an even stronger grip of religion. In Nigeria, even the universities have become closed space where students and professors regurgitate old ideas that have since been abandoned for emerging knowledge. This lack of curiosity in some cases is instilled in the young ones by parents who give preference to obedience to the old order rather than advance the virtue of adventure, critical and independent thought. Social media is forcing Nigerians to come face to face with a world different from theirs. The generation coming behind will hopefully find a back door from which they will escape their restrictive environment that stunts growth and limits imagination.

 

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo is the author of “This American Life Sef.

What is wrong with our president? By Umar Sa’ad Hassan

The rumour mill has been agog with stories that President Buhari could be returning to the country any time soon. This is coming shortly after photos of him with some visiting governors were greeted with wild excitement by his supporters. On the other hand, there couldn’t be a more rueful time for the patriotic Nigerian who places the nation first. That Nigerian is more concerned with the unanswered question: What exactly is President Buhari suffering from? Over the last week, that Nigerian has had to contend with imbecilic comments about how Buhari is overcoming death and how those who have dared to ask questions will die in his place.

We already know his medical costs are expensive enough to be tagged a “matter of national security” by Lai Mohammed, the minister of information. The same Lai Mohammed who demanded daily updates on the late President Yar’Adua’s health from the ministry of information when he was receiving treatment abroad. The country reportedly pays as much as £4,000 daily for the presidential plane parked in London while £1,000 per day is been bandied around as the official sum and even at that rate, we have spent over N43 million on just having a plane ready for him alone.

While the nature of the President’s ailment is serious enough to be kept secret, it bothers the true Nigerian with the best interests of his nation at heart whether he is coming back to stay indoors, sit out FEC meetings and take pictures with files in his office in an attempt to hoodwink us before heading back to his doctors or if he is coming back to face the rigorous job we voted him to do.

His performance while on seat has been lacklustre at best and it baffles me why anyone would overlook the extra burden we have had to contend with. The man simply isn’t fit to be in office.

I still can’t seem to get my head around how a man would plunge his people into hunger,run the country to the brink of disintegration, have them cover his medical expenses and yet return home to a thunderous ovation.

Our number one priority when and If he does get back is to have him disclose to us what he is suffering from. If he conveniently justified his incessant trips abroad in the early days of his administration with claims that he was courting foreign aid and investments, then it is important to know not only if he is going to be around, but also strong enough to do things as “important” as that.

If the federal government thinks medical costs are “matters of national security”, then it would be sheer madness to classify the nature of Buhari’s ailment as such. We need to know in emphatic terms, not only if he is capable of carrying out his duties but also exactly what we are spending our money on. No one expects him to resign any more like he once said he would if he fell very ill because of the luxury of having to treat himself with taxpayers money.

A medical report surfaced online before the 2015 presidential election indicating President Buhari was battling prostrate cancer and some of his photos, especially ones taken since his last return have shown vivid signs of a man undergoing chemotherapy. But all these have stayed in the realm of speculation, we need to be told unequivocally exactly what our ailing president is suffering from.

Follow us on twitter @thecableng

The Search For Oil And Death In Shekau’s Backyard By Emmanuel Ugwu

Nothing proves Nigeria’s status as an oil alcoholic like the 50 dead bodies of the NNPC oil exploration team to Maiduguri. The scent of oil had us staggering into the killing field, with our eyes open; hence, the slaughter at the tryst of the country’s thirst for oil and Boko Haram’s blood thirst.It’s an open secret that the death cult is holding out in the Maiduguri axis. Their bestial predation in that zone is a staple of the news and a travel advisory in its own right. They are vigorously contesting the single story of their extinction.

They launch expeditionary raids. They dispatch suicide bombers. They perpetrate cruelty to shock.  

Yet, Abuja decided that the task to beard the lion in his den could not wait. The spoil of oil must be sampled even if the occupied enemy territory that harbors it is one of the most dangerous spots in the world. It had to be done now.

Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ‘embarked on the venture despite the risks in order to grow the country’s crude oil reserves’.

Affecting the demeanor of grief, he proceeded to announce the suspension of the fool’s errand, a fait accompli already imposed by the terrifying death toll. He said: “Certainly, we will not go back unless the military give us a clearance, just like we didn’t go in before they gave us a clearance.”

The “we” Kachikwu in that remark, mind you, is the royal we: the self-exaggerating plural that is the preserve of the proud nobility. Its invocation did not imply that the minister was eager to rush into the frontier where the 50 were slain. He was not part of the flock of sacrificial lambs that went into Maiduguri. If he were part of the ‘’we’’, he would have partaken of the massacre. And it’s precisely because he was not a physical casualty in that bungled essay that he could afford to threaten to try his luck again based on another military ‘’clearance.’’

Kachikwu abandoned his discretion and authorized the Maiduguri (mis)adventure because his own life would not be on the line. He knew he would watch the doomed safari from a safe distance. He would relax in his gorgeous office while the lesser mortals venture out to taunt Abubakar Shekau.  

Now, if the oil seekers had managed to make reasonable progress under gunfire and returned safe, Kachikwu would have appropriated their sacrifice and owned the success. But he has refused to take responsibility for his misjudgment and their resultant massacre. He explained away the tragedy as if it were a trivial loss.

Kachikwu is the typical Nigerian Oga-at-the-top. They regard your human value as inferior. They conceive of you as a guinea pig, born to serve the experiment of their fantasies. You are the means to their end.

Kachikwu neither resigned nor apologized. Instead, he promised to repeat the foolish attempt. “Certainly, we will not go back unless the military give us a clearance, just like we didn’t go in before they gave us a clearance.”

Ibe Kachikwu has blood on his hands. If he is normal, he should have murder on his conscience.

The man in the street knows that, under the circumstances, traversing Borno state involves a high element of risk to life. Kachikwu cannot claim not to know that Maiduguri and environs are not congenial to oil exploration activities. The odds were that the team would be ambushed by Boko Haram.

But he chose to embrace a go-ahead that flied in the face of facts on the ground.  

For over a year, the Nigerian military has been beating its chest over the “degradation of Boko Haram.” They tout “degradation” as ‘obliteration.’ They talk dismissively of Boko Haram as a vanquished rebellion; defeated, demoralized and demobilized.

The ‘clearance’ they issued to Kachikwu was consistent with the tenor of that evidence-free propaganda.  

Kachikwu should have had enough common sense not to suspend his disbelief. The reality he saw on the television every day affirmed that that part of the Lake Chad basin consumed people like the Bermuda Triangle. And he knew the Nigerian military better than to put much stock in their boast.

This is the same military that rained bombs on the IDP camp at Rann. It had presumed the sanctuary of the hapless refugees to be the hideaway of the terrorists. The erroneous bombardment wasted 54 persons.

Six months and an inhouse inquiry later, the Defence Headquarters confirmed that the error was indeed due to “lack of appropriate marking.” In order words, they bombarded on a wing and a guess: they unleashed death on the off-chance it would hit the right target.

Nigerians deserve to know the real reason why Kachikwu signed off on that suicide mission. Was he really motivated by the need to grow Nigeria’s crude oil reserves at a time when production level has climbed to 2.2 million barrels per day? Or was trying to ingratiate himself with President Buhari? Was the junior minister too desperate to report good news to his boss who ordered him to “intensify” the exploratory work in the inland basin on the Chad Basin and Benue Trough areas?

The Maiduguri mission reeks of sycophancy. Kachikwu, the first class grade graduate, seemed to be scrambling to win the prize of the highest performer in the class of ministers. The oil of the Niger Delta is at the crux of the chaotic “restructuring” altercation troubling the polity. A token of success from the oil search in the North would have sufficed to calm down the agitation.

He wanted to perform the miracle of sensual pacification. The murmurs of the Israelites ceased when Moses struck the rock and water gushed out. Likewise, the agitations of Nigerians would cease if he struck oil in Shekau’s backyard.

The daredevil stunt has sadly created a new set of widows and fatherless children.

Nigeria hung the Ogoni Nine for the sake of oil. Nigeria fed the Maiduguri 50 to Boko Haram for the sake of oil. Nigeria would rather shed blood to gain oil.

Nigeria is that country that defines itself by its crude capacity. Our existence is validated by oil. Nigeria is an oil arrangement just as a river is a body of water.

The rest of the world is weaning itself of oil and transitioning to a green economy. The west is racing towards the normalization of the electric car. Nigeria, the spoiled and retarded adult suckling, wanders off on a different track, searching for another virgin oil reserve to suck, another Oloibiri to rape.

Acting President Yemi Osibanjo ordered the same generals who manufactured the fake clearance to relocate to Maiduguri. He mandated them to effect real clearance of the area.

The carnage that had been going on in that place for a long time did not elicit a presidential directive to relocate. But the generals must redeploy now. Because we need to win the tug of war and get crude flowing from that place as soon as possible.

We can’t have enough of crude oil. Though, the more of it we drink, the more we perish like the broke village drunk.

Too bad there is no Oil Alcoholics Anonymous to help Nigeria! 

 

You can reach Emmanuel at immaugwu@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EmmaUgwuTheMan.

Osinbajo/Buhari Vs. Niger Delta: Who Handed OML 11 Back To NPDC? By Ifeanyi Izeze

BY IFEANYI IZEZE

 

There is no doubt that the Oil Mining Lease (OML) number 11 covering the Ogoni area of Rivers State will remain an arena of controversy and crisis unless Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) and its joint venture partner, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), can muster enough political will to be sincere and honest in dealing
with the concerns and interests of the people of the area.

The United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) – sponsored Ogoni cleanup exercise is still neither here nor there despite the ceremonial flag-off over a year ago by this same government. Now, a company owned by the same government is conniving with the accused rogue Anglo Dutch Shell to re-enter the crisis area and commence oil production. What is wrong with our government that each time they act, you only see insensitivity and tactlessness?

While Shell and the upstream subsidiary of the NNPC, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), have refused to make their contributions for the Ogoni cleanup as agreed in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)- sponsored peace deal, the joint venture continues to make irresponsible maneuvers to restart oil production in the area through the back door. Is this not government-supported impunity by the oil companies against the people whose interests the government should be defending?

There is a way you keep telling a group of people to go to hell that they actually decide to embark on the journey and see what would happen. How long can the indigenous people of the Niger Delta continue to take Shell and the federal government’s impunity and nonchalance against their concerns and interests?

Curiously, it seems not to occur to Shell and NNPC that the re-introduction of the controversial issue of restarting oil production in Ogoniland by the joint venture at a time the Ogoni people and indeed the entire global community are expecting the federal government to move with some deliberate speed in the implementation of the monumental remediation and restoration of the already over-polluted Ogoni environment, will be perceived as assaulting the collective sensibility and interests of the area and the wider Niger Delta.

Whether anybody wants to hear this or not, already, the present attempt by Shell and NPDC both of whom are joint venture partners to damn the community and even the global concerns as raised in the oil lease area, is being interpreted as a deliberate ploy by Shell in collaboration with the federal government to cause violent crisis in the area aimed at derailing the remediation and restoration process where both parties are supposed to make tangible contributions as major stakeholders in the mess.

If almost every interest group in Ogoni is unanimous in rejecting the forceful re-entry and resumption of oil production in the area and saying that neither Shell nor the NPDC is accepted in Ogoniland for any activity in OML 11, is it when a new wave of bloodshed and mindless killing returns in the area that the federal government particularly the Ag President, who inaugurated the yet-to-start cleanup exercise, would act and ask both Shell and NPDC to withdrawal from the area while dialogue continues with the people?

Is the government feigning ignorance of the fact that re-commencement of oil production activities under whatever guise or even the talk of it at this time in Ogoniland could be provocative and likely to incite protest against whoever is scheming to come in to mine oil? It was actions like this that pitched the communities against the oil companies and led to gross human rights violations and the current crises in the entire Niger Delta. By the way, who actually ordered Shell and the NPDC to commence the laying of pipelines in Ogoni against the agreed terms for the United Nation’s sponsored peace deal that culminated in the Ogoni cleanup program? How can we take one step forward and ten steps backward? Is
it not self deceit?

Was it not this same federal government in what seemed like the ultimate solution to the over two decades of sustained enmity and total loss of confidence between the Ogoni people and Shell, decided that the oil giant should divest all its operations in Ogoniland for a new oil firm to come in? And as said, the company’s operating license in the area would be revoked and new operator (s) would take over the company’s oilfields and facilities in the area. The government believed the best solution would be to allow another operator acceptable to the Ogonis take over exploitation activities in the area as nobody was gaining from the conflict and stalemate.

Has Shell actually divested (hands-off) its interests in OML 11 covering the Ogoni area of Rivers State? If yes, is NPDC the new investor/owner of Shell’s divested interests from OML 11? This is a very crucial issue because there are so many issues that are not very clear in the present rush by the NNPC upstream subsidiary to work for Shell’s interest in OML 11 towards restarting production in the controversial area.

Shell was supposed to be the operator (owner) of the Oil Mining Lease (OML 11) covering the Ogoni area of Rivers state. The company has 98 oil wells in about seven oilfields in the area. It also has five flowstations in Bodo West, Bomu, Yorla, Korokoro and Ebubu. Daily output from the area, according to Shell statistics, was at 28,000 barrels per day before the shut-in in 1993 after the killing of Ken Saro Wiwa et al.

First, it is very crucial to ascertain who now actually owns OML 11? Has Shell actually divested from oil mining lease? Does the lease now belong to NNPC/NPDC that was hitherto in joint venture partnership with Shell as the operator? When was the divestment done and how did the NNPC that was a co-culprit in the bastardization of Ogoniland acquire the lease?

If the federal government actually ordered Shell to relinquish its operational rights in Ogoni oil fields to a new operator (which now seems to be NPDC), how is the government going to get Shell to pay its counterpart funding for the clean-up and remediation exercise as proposed by the United Nations Environmental Programme for the Ogoni area? Is the NPDC as the new operator going to inherit only the assets of Shell in the oil concession without the accompanying liabilities or both? Would the NPDC agree or rather be able to raise such money for
the cleanup?

It is unacceptable not only to the Ogonis as already said by the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) but to the entire oil producing Niger Delta area that many sensitive issues in the UNEP-sponsored cleanup program and the entire Shell’s asset divestment and acquisition plans are shrouded in much secrecy. This is counter- productive because it is outrightly suspicious.

Shouldn’t it have better for the federal government to have allowed the UNEP-proposed clean-up and remediation exercise to be completed or even record some tangible milestones before any talk of asset takeover by a new firm? Shell cannot pretend to be running away now because the company has serious obligation assigned to it in the cleanup exercise and if it is allowed to hands-off the acreage now or pretend to, the entire effort by both the federal government and UNEP at cleaning the massive oil spillage in the area would definitely run into a hitch.

This is the truth!

Ifeanyi Izeze writes from Abuja. You can reach him at iizeze@yahoo.com