Villa war and Buhari’s uncomfortable silence

February 24, 2020

By Casmir Igbokwe

President Muhammadu Buhari’s acolytes and image-makers may have failed in many areas, but they have succeeded in one thing: packaging Buhari as a sincere, forthright man. Unfortunately, this forthrightness goes on vacation during some political and security upheavals in the country. The President either feigns ignorance, keeps mute or transfers blame somewhere else.  

The most recent example is the raging war between the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, and the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari. Monguno had accused Kyari of acting beyond his brief by directly intervening in security issues. In a leaked memo to President Buhari, dated December 9, 2019, Monguno, a retired army general, said Kyari’s undue meddlesomeness threatened efforts to address rising insecurity in the country. Part of the allegations against the Chief of Staff was that he summoned security chiefs to meetings and gave certain directives on issues that border on security, without the input of the NSA.

It is a well known fact that Kyari is close to the President. Hence, he is feared and revered. His word is law. Recall that Buhari had ordered ministers and heads of agencies to get to him through the office of the Chief of Staff. Besides, the continued stay in office of service chiefs despite glaring poor performance is said to be at the instance of Kyari. Apparently, the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, appreciates this fact well. And so, it is not surprising that he is reported to have sided with Kyari in his power game with Monguno. It is in his enlightened self-interest to do so.

Ordinarily, the service chiefs should meet with Monguno regularly, not the Chief of Staff. Judging from the spate of killings, abductions and terrorist attacks on communities, especially in the North, the natural question would be, what is the NSA doing? What are the service chiefs doing? Nobody will ever direct his query to Kyari. He is not a military man and does not understand security language. Why then has the President not called him to order for meddling in security matters?

For a country that is almost in a state of war, this is disheartening. To add insult to injury, Buratai and Monguno reportedly test their powers on their subordinates. One would give order for something to be done. The other would counter it. Soldiers are confused as to whom to obey. Little wonder, our security architecture has almost collapsed. And our Commander-in-Chief has remained silent. This is disturbing!

For many Nigerians, confusion is the name of this dangerous game. They have demanded the sacking of the service chiefs who are overdue for retirement. They have asked the President to rescue them from the traumatic insecurity in the land. Most times, the President has maintained an uncomfortable silence.

The President also failed to take serious action on the occasional outburst of his wife, Aisha, on this Aso Rock power game. Last December, for instance, the First Lady had cause to throw some jabs at the so-called Villa cabal. Mrs. Buhari had accused the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, of taking instructions from the cabal rather than the President who appointed him. Shehu, she regretted, was working against the First Family.

The same Aisha had an altercation with Fatima, the daughter of the President’s nephew, Mamman Daura, in October last year. Fatima released a video showing Mrs. Buhari shouting and lamenting how the Dauras had hijacked the Villa, and even locked her out of a room. Again, the man who brought in Daura to the Villa said nothing. I am not sure if he did anything privately.

Tragically, Buhari presents a facade of ignorance of major happenings around him. Earlier this year, our President said he was surprised at the current spate of insecurity in the country. He also expressed surprise and shock that the immediate past Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, did not relocate to Benue as he instructed him to do in the heat of the killings in that state in 2018.

Last week, someone called me to react to my piece entitled, “Buhari has failed northern Nigeria,” published on this page last Monday. According to the man, Buhari is not to blame for the spate of insecurity in the country. The blame, he says, goes directly to the foreigners from Niger and some other neighbouring countries who invade the country at will and unleash mayhem on our citizens.

So, how did these foreigners with sophisticated arms enter our country unchallenged? Don’t we have security teams patrolling our borders anymore? What has the President done to checkmate the influx of illegal migrants into the country?

Our President should realise that, in a Presidential system of government, he takes the glory or blame for whatever happens in the country. After all, he is the one Nigerians voted for, not Kyari, not Monguno. Or is he no longer the no-nonsense leader his followers presented him to be?

As it is now, his silence is no longer golden. Those who say he is not in charge have a point. But I believe he knows what he is doing. For the sake of millions of traumatised Nigerians who feel the pangs of insecurity every day, he should assert his authority and put his house in order.

Re: Buhari has failed northern Nigeria

Dear Casy, the problem of PMB is his media aides (Shehu and Adesina), even the so-called BMO. Hence they don’t allow him hear the bitter truth. Hoohaa, PMB has failed us, not only the North.

– Iyke, Okigwe, +2349011930799

Senior brother, are you surprised? You don’t have to be because the evil that men do live with them nowadays. This is an introduction! It shows that the people are frustrated, disenchanted and tired of the whole system. Revolution is imminent, if government does not listen to the clarion call.

– Smart, Abakaliki, 08134774884

Dear Casmir, the first agent of socialisation is the family. Because the woman is the most influential instrument, there should be free education for all northern women from cradle to first degree for the next 50 years. At this, their children will see who to look onto to accept education. This will end terrorism in the long run.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, 09095385215

For the sake of truth, northern Nigerians owe PMB a show of profound gratitude for his sincerity and courage to transform their region from wreckage of the magnitude perpetrated by the past military and civilian dealers, not leaders.

– Comrade Femi Dada, Ibadan, Oyo State, +2347084569682

Let’s assume that resignation is in our dictionary, many of our leaders should have resigned from their appointment because of their inability to find a lasting solution to these killings. Nigerians don’t really understand why the presidency is still keeping the military chiefs in spite of their poor performance. There must be a hidden agenda.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348115368466

Casmir, a President’s second term is a period of consolidation. PMB should be progressive in all areas of our lives rather than being retrogressive, especially on security and welfare of Nigerians.

– Mike Mushin, Lagos, +2348161114572

Dear Casy, Buhari hasn’t failed the North. The North has taken over the nation: the Presidency, National Assembly, the judiciary as they have taken over our farmlands. All the hues and cries about insecurity and insurgency is their plot to crush the South. Check the states where the Boko Haram and bandits hold sway. Most of their governors frolic with the Aso Rock landlord except states like Benue, Taraba, Sokoto, Zamfara. All their evil plot to Fulanise and Islamise us must fail. You could recall Gowon’s police action during the war of genocide in the past. Buhari code-named his own, farmers/herders clashes. He collects money from members of the international community to fight the terrorism war only to release the terrorists that kill law-abiding Nigerians and their security personnel. He is working to actualise their hegemonic system that has ruined not only the North but the country.

– Eze Chima C. Lagos, +2347036225495

Good morning. God bless you. He has not only failed his people but Nigeria generally. He should go, please.

– Anonymous, +2348144447373

Re: Fighting corruption with machete

It is now beyond doubt that our civil service, the judiciary, legislative and executive arms of government are where unbridled corruption is brewed. The daily extortion on our roads by the so-called security agents, admission racketeering, certificate forgery and exam malpractices in our academic institutions have since assumed the level of an epidemic. What an agonising and crying shame! There is the recurring rot that now sweeps across the electoral space and its players. The Nigerian voters have been systematically ‘robbed’ through our corrupt electoral process. Their votes don’t count, it’s the courts that now determine who should assume the gubernatorial or presidential seat. Or haven’t we observed with delayed shock how the Supreme Court has turned a ‘man’ into a ‘woman’ in Zamfara and Imo states? What about the very fresh and shocking infection of David Lyon by the coronavirus emitted by Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo’s name-juggling drama? Corruption war is difficult, especially in Nigeria where it’s multifaceted and clothed with double standards, politics, tribalism, class exemption and the like. There are repeated graft allegations against some of our past Heads of State/Presidents, yet none has been tried let alone any conviction in this regard as it’s the case in some countries where the corruption fight is total and not discriminatory. In spite of EFCC’s much-touted convictions, its dragnet carefully avoids these privileged persons. There’s a certain pseudo-transparency group whose job it appears was just to go after Onnoghen and no other person even at the background of worse cases of corruption. Our corruption level is high, the fight also lacks sincerity. Our embarrassing low grading by TI is in order.

– Edet Essien Esq, +2348037952470

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, February 24, 2020

Buhari has failed northern Nigeria

February 17, 2020

By Casmir Igbokwe

President Muhammadu Buhari was a cult figure in northern Nigeria. I am not sure if he still is. Prior to the 2015 general election, he enjoyed the euphoric chant of ‘Sai Baba’ that trailed his campaign movements across the country. Today, ‘Sai Baba’ is gradually changing to a new sing-song. 

Recall that last week, Buhari went to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, on a sympathy visit. It was soon after he returned from a five-day trip to Ethiopia for the African Union summit. On hand to welcome him was a large crowd of Borno residents. But, instead of ‘Sai Baba’, they booed him, chanting in Hausa, ‘Bama so! Bamayi! (We don’t want, we are not interested).’ Ironically, this troubled state gave him the widest margin of victory in the 2019 presidential election.    

What prompted Buhari’s visit was the recent havoc the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents wreaked in a village called Auno. They burnt about 30 travellers to death in their vehicles. Earlier in January, the terrorists attacked Gamboru in the same state, killing no fewer than 30 persons. On January 18, the insurgents killed at least 20 internally displaced persons waiting for assistance at an aid facility in the Ngala area of the state. One soldier and four of the terrorists also died.

In Kaduna, over 100 bandits raided a village recently and burnt 16 members of a family to death. And just last Friday, some bandits invaded Buhari’s home state of Katsina. They killed over 30 people and burnt houses, animals and foodstuff. In Adamawa, Zamfara, Taraba and many other parts of the North, life and death are now in the hands of bandits and terrorists. This is not to say that there is no crime in the South. There is. But it pales to insignificance when compared to what is happening in the North today.

These killings clearly show that Buhari has failed his people. Security is the number one thing a government provides for its citizens. Any government that cannot do that loses its credibility. Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto alluded to this last week. In his homily during the burial of the 18-year-old seminarian, Michael Nnadi, recently abducted and killed by terrorists in Kaduna, Kukah said, “Our nation is like a ship stranded on the high seas, rudderless and with broken navigational aids. Today, our years of hypocrisy, duplicity, fabricated integrity, false piety, empty morality, fraud and Pharisaism have caught up with us. Nigeria is at a crossroads and its future hangs precariously in the balance. This is a wakeup call for us.”

Indeed, the protest in Maiduguri clearly shows that most Borno, nay northern people, are fed up with Buhari. It shows that, despite his nepotistic and divisive policies mainly aimed at favouring the North, the people are not happy. It shows that such policies do not bring development. What they largely do is to line the pockets of the appointees and leave the majority of the masses in penury.

Today, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children of primary school age in the world. Most of these estimated nine million children are from the North. They roam the streets begging for alms. People call them almajiri. I call them abused children. When they become young adults, they either migrate to cities where they ride okada or join gangs and begin to terrorise innocent citizens.

Truth is, there is a correlation between poverty and crime. If the majority of the citizens can afford the basic necessities of life, they will most likely not resort to crime. But when they see opulence on display by a few privileged individuals, they take up arms to fend for themselves.

A recent World Bank report indicates that northern Nigeria accounts for 87 per cent of the poverty rate in Nigeria. Buhari’s North-West, according to the report, happens to be home to almost half of all the poor in the country. Poverty rates in the South were said to be around 12 per cent, with little variation across zones.

The World Bank report added that, “the youths used by Boko Haram to partake in the conflict are jobless, without skills, or trades, and are easily susceptible to radicalisation.” Besides, according to the World Bank, only about 25 to 28 per cent of households in the North-East and North-West have access to basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation.

This present government prides itself as having social security measures for citizens. There is TraderMoni, whereby they give N10,000 loans to traders, and there is school feeding programme. These social protection measures as implemented by the Nigerian government, the World Bank noted, have not been able to address the high level of poverty in the country.

By and large, what the people want is action against Boko Haram not sympathy visits or insincere promises. They want real development, not skewed political appointments. They protested from the bottom of their hearts and couldn’t have been hired by opposition elements as presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, would want us to believe.

In civilised countries, most leaders resign when the ovation is no longer loud. Last November, Bolivia’s Evo Morales resigned as President to ease violence that gripped his country after a disputed election held on October 20, 2019. He is currently on exile in Argentina. Morale’s deputy, Alvaro Garcia Linera, and the then Senate President, Adriana Salvatierra, also resigned. Many of the former President’s allies, including Mining Minister, also stepped down.

Morales, who was in power for nearly 14 years, bequeathed strong economic growth rates to Bolivia, and drastically cut the country’s poverty rate. His undoing was his determination to cling to power and seek a fourth term in office. In the anti-government protests that erupted after the flawed election, the police even joined. The military said it would not confront the people over the issue. The Attorney-General of the country ordered an investigation and threatened to prosecute whoever was found responsible for the election irregularities.

When shall we ever witness this kind of action in Nigeria? When will our security forces and other government agents realise that the power of the people is greater than the people in power? Will any Nigerian President ever step down voluntarily? Will Buhari ever heed the cry of his people who have pointedly told him, ‘Bama so’?

Re: Nigeria: Tragedy of a nation

Dear Casmir, I was just bitten by the poetic bug of savagery in your piece on “Nigeria: Tragedy of a nation.” In prose and the art of writing, every writer has a peculiar style. And if President Buhari is not a writer, let no one give us that BS that he wrote an article in a US-based magazine, “Christianity Today,” analysing whether more Christians or Muslims had been killed, butchered, beheaded by Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, infiltrated kidnappers and bandits over time. It is a cinch that the article was written by the President’s honchos, our old friend, Femi Adesina, or Garba Shehu. Since both have a ready caveat of “just doing our job,” such bare-faced lies and false attribution to Buhari as a “writer,” is another half-clever way of attacking their own images. As a fellow Army General, Olusegun Obasanjo once revealed, how can you tell us that a man who has limited “attention span” can be exposed to the world as one helluva writer? Better talk of a rat’s fart!

– Dr. Chuka Nwosu, Port Harcourt, 08085914645

Casmir, Nigeria is in the hands of cabals who respect cows more than human beings. It is indeed a tragedy. In his first four years, President Buhari and APC gave us sorrow in the name of change. In his second tenure, he branded it next level. We have all seen the introduction to the next level. All should ride to fight for our survival, as we can’t trust the government of the day. May our God be greater than theirs!

– Pharm. Okwy Njike, 08038854922

Dear Casmir, the fight against crime should start from the armed forces and police. Criminals can’t wreak havoc without tipoff and protection from security agents. Government should take good care of ex-servicemen and improve on care of security agents.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215

Casmir, the problem of insecurity in Nigeria was compounded after the Maitasinine killings in the 1980s, via the introduction of Sharia into the polity by the then governor. This marked the beginning of discrimination and hatred of Christians in the North by the Muslim fundamentalists/extremists. Nigeria has known no peace since then. To put an end to it, stop the implementation of Sharia in the North and change their orientation towards Western education.

– Mike, Mushin, Lagos, +2348161114572

Dear Casy, the tragedy of this nation started with the British colonial lords that imposed the Fulani feudal and hegemonic leadership at the centre and also the political disagreement between Awo and Azikiwe that left southern Nigeria open for the Fulani political hegemony. The Nigerian tragedy commenced the 1966 to 1970 trouble. Gen. Ironsi’s intervention to restore peace was rejected by Gowon and his Fulani and other collaborators. They murdered Ironsi, hijacked and destroyed the regional governments. Southern Nigerians should come together and speak love to one another.

– Eze Chima C. Lagos, +2347036225495

Any country that loses its citizen in uncertain manner bears the blame for failing to protect the citizens. But seeing our President making analysis that 90% of those he is supposed to protect were Muslims shows that the President has nothing to offer this nation.

– Anonymous, +2349017805102

It is long overdue for President Buhari to do the needful by removing all the service chiefs and bring in fresh ones to take over and find a lasting solution to insecurity in Nigeria.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348115368466

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, 17 February 2020.

Nigeria: Tragedy of a nation

February 10, 2020

By Casmir Igbokwe

Traumatic is the least adjective that qualifies the tragic flow of human blood in Nigeria today. Murder of any type diminishes our humanity. It is worse when the victims are innocent, harmless and defenceless.

That is the case with the recent killing of an 18-year-old seminarian in Kaduna. Michael Nnadi was said to be an orphan. Every Catholic knows how tedious the journey to priesthood can be. That young man could have been the future Bishop of Sokoto, his diocese, or even Awka, the capital of his home state. He was one of the four seminarians some terrorists abducted from their seminary. The other three were lucky to have come out alive. But the terrorists felled Michael. Nigeria failed him.

Nigeria also failed the family of Dr. Philip Ataga. The same bandits reportedly abducted Mrs. Ataga and her two children from their residence in Kaduna. They demanded over N100 million ransom. When that was not forthcoming, they beheaded the young woman. They are still with her children and have demanded N20 million ransom for their release. 

The video of the beheading of the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Rev. Lawan Andimi, sickened me. As the butcher was slaughtering him, the rest of the terrorists stood by chanting some abracadabra.

Simply put, Nigeria has become a huge theatre of the absurd. No one knows who the next victim will be. Any time you embark on a road travel, especially on the Abuja-Kaduna road, you say your last prayers. If you get to your destination intact, you thank your God for the miracle. Only last week, some gunmen attacked a bus and abducted passengers along Piri Kwali Expressway in Abuja. The fate of some of these passengers remains cloudy.

How did we even come to this sorry pass? For one, there is no serious profiling or database of criminals by the police. As rightly noted by the chairman of CAN in Kaduna, Rev. John Hayab, one can commit a crime in Kaduna bearing the name Mohammed and then commit another crime in Benue bearing the name Peter and nobody will know. And we are complaining that the United States imposed visa restrictions on us!

In Nigeria, many people roam the streets without identity. Many others migrate to the country from neighbouring countries without restriction and background checks. Some of them infuse into our communities as herdsmen and begin to cause havoc to the society.

Some of them wield AK47 rifles with impunity. In some cases, bandits carry more sophisticated weapons than the ones security operatives use. Tragically, rather than upgrade our armament and crush all criminal elements in the country, the Federal Government reportedly embarked on the so-called rehabilitation and de-radicalisation of captured terrorists.

What riles one most is the attempt to divert attention from the burning issue at hand. Last week, there was an attempt to bomb the Winners’ Chapel parish in Kaduna. According to media reports, the suspect identified himself as Mohammed Sani when he was apprehended by the church. Suddenly, the name allegedly changed to Samuel Nathaniel after the church had handed him over to the police. The CAN chairman in Kaduna, Rev. Hayab, called for thorough investigation of the matter.

The question is: who changed the name and for what purpose? Recall that Christian leaders had complained that Christians were the major target of attacks by Boko Haram. They actually staged a peaceful protest in different parts of the country over worsening insecurity in Nigeria the same Sunday that the failed bomber attempted to blow up the Kaduna church.

Also, instead of seeking urgent solutions to quench the burning fire, the Federal Government and its agents have continued to pursue rats. Or how does one situate the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari recently wrote an article for US-based magazine, Christianity Today, claiming that 90 per cent of Boko Haram victims were Muslims? What did the President intend to achieve by this comparison?

This is the same way his spokesman, Femi Adesina, attacked the sensibilities of many Nigerians recently. Adesina argued that the security situation had improved compared to the previous administration “where bombs were going off 10 times a day.” According to him, the people living in the theatre of war “will tell you that the difference between now and 2015 is the difference between heaven and hell.”

He urges Nigerians to be grateful to Buhari and the troops. You begin to wonder whether this government was elected to make comparison with the previous government or to change the bad situation.

Security is one of the three-pronged agenda of the Buhari presidency. Tackling corruption and fixing the economy are the other two. In all sincerity, can we say he has fulfilled his promise? The answer, obviously, is in the negative.

So far, the efforts he is making appear inadequate. A layman like me keeps wondering why it has taken us too long to rout Boko Haram. How can a bunch of criminals hold the entire country to ransom for years? Today, the terrorists control many parts of the North-East. What happens to the billions of naira mapped out as security votes every year? Are the soldiers adequately motivated and equipped?

It is good the powers that be in Abuja are no more comfortable with the situation because they too are not safe. Now, a Nigerian Airline, Misha Travels, has started a daily flight between Abuja and Kaduna, a distance of about two hours by road. This was necessitated by frequent attacks on road travellers by bandits. Even the railway is not safe anymore. Last month, there was an attack on passengers near Kaduna’s Rigasa Station about 8am. The point is, you may dodge the criminals on the expressway, but you may not escape them in the town. Nnadi and Mrs. Ataga were not kidnapped on the expressway.

Concerned Nigerians have called on the President to rejig his security architecture. The Senate and the House of Representatives asked him to sack his service chiefs. Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe went further to ask him to resign. He has not done any of these.

What he has done is to constitute a committee to periodically review the security challenges in Nigeria and help find lasting solutions. Members of the committee are drawn from the executive, legislature and the ruling party. The Federal Government also reportedly agreed to increase the funding of the security services, especially the police, in order to boost their commitment to fight crime. There are plans as well to recruit more personnel in the security forces. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, enthused that Nigerians would soon begin to see changes.

This is hoping that the promised changes will not wear the cloak of 2015 change! There is no need playing the ostrich now. All Nigerians must join hands to help in rescuing our nation from the jaws of terrorists. Let us continue to remember Nnadi, Ataga, Andimi and all the departed Nigerian martyrs in our prayers. Their tragic death will not be in vain.

Re: Fighting corruption with machete 

Casmir, a good attitude is what is needed to fight corruption. APC government uses deceit in governance. Deceit is a form of corruption, with any contrary opinion termed hate speech. The people in government are mostly corrupt. Today, the best houses in the nation’s capital are allegedly owned by people in government. They own the best cars and are highest donors in churches and public functions. Most of them own companies and award themselves juicy contracts through proxies. They embark on white elephants because of financial gain to themselves. Most government policies don’t promote the fight against corruption. For example, a worker who received monthly wage is forced to pay one or two-year rent instead of monthly. Casmir, sir, no amount of committees, policies or grammar can win the war against corruption, unless we tell ourselves the truth and effect a positive attitude towards our way of life.

– Pharm Okwy Njike,+2348038854922

Thanks, Casmir. I am suggesting ‘profiling of citizens’ from seven years upwards. Government should create a portal for all and document terminal and semesterial reports of students and others. INEC should establish eligibility committee in parties to audition aspirants based on their profile. With this, we will produce worthy leaders.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215

EFCC has a lot of work to do in fighting corruption, especially in government agencies, where corruption is their first name. EFCC should go after heads of agencies to end corruption in governance. Corruption has made us a laughing stock in the eyes of the international community and we are not moving forward in infrastructural development and others. We must get rid of corruption before it destroys Nigeria.     

 – Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

Dear Casy, the anti-corruption fight of the APC government under Buhari is a ruse and targeted against PDP members. Some of us know that some APC members who funded Buhari’s presidential campaign in 2015 were corrupt, there are Buhari’s appointments in MDAs, his re-election, the Maina-gate, Ikoyi, Babachir Lawal gate, also the baboon, python, monkey that swallowed our billions of naira. Some APC members installed ATM machines in their homes. May God save us.

– Eze Chima C., Lagos, +2347036225495 

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, February 10, 2020

Fighting corruption with machete

February 3, 2020

By Casmir Igbokwe

Winning any war depends largely on the deployment of superior, sophisticated armament against the opponent. The war against corruption is not different. Rather than assemble the best weapons against the monster, Nigeria merely confronts it with a machete. This is what Transparency International (TI) has been hammering on. 

In its recent 2019 Corruption Perception Index, TI ranked Nigeria 146th out of 180 countries. Thus, the ‘Giant of Africa’ is the 34th most corrupt country in the world and fourth in West Africa. The country moved two places down, compared to the 2018 ranking. This situation, in the words of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is a national embarrassment. 

But, instead of going back to the drawing board to re-strategise, the Nigerian government decided to launch feeble attacks on the global body. Executive director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Rafsanjani, captured it succinctly when he said that any year result was not favourable, government officials would dismiss the index and brand critical citizens and activists as unpatriotic.

That was exactly what the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) did. They not only dismissed the report, but also described it as baseless, appalling, unfair and untenable.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, was also combative. He said the report was inaccurate and based on second-rate data. To him, this administration has done enormously well in the fight against corruption.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, was particularly miffed. The AGF, under whose purview the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) falls, said, “In terms of legislation, we have done more, in terms of enforcement, we have done more, in terms of recovery of looted assets, we have done more, and in terms of political goodwill, we have demonstrated extraordinary political goodwill.”

At the 17th edition of the Town Hall Meeting on the Fight Against Corruption held in Abuja in November last year, Malami had also boasted that the Federal Government had made over N200 billion from financial forfeiture in 2019. At that meeting also, the acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, said his agency secured at least 890 convictions in 2019 alone. There were some other convictions in the previous years. In addition, there were filing of more corruption cases in court, implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS).

However, as TI explained, it is not about how many convictions or prosecutions have been secured by the anti-corruption agencies, “It is about the perception of Nigerians on the Immigration, the Customs, the National Assembly, the judiciary, ease of doing business, getting employment, gaining admission,” Rafsanjani added.

Of course, how many Nigerians, after seeing the frequent extortion on the roads by the police, the customs and sundry security agencies, will have good impression about our fight against corruption? How many of them will hear how National Assembly members siphon money for constituency projects; or witness the shenanigans going on in the judiciary, especially with the recent election petition judgments, and score our anti-corruption strategies high?

Who will pay bribe to get employment or do business with the government or secure admission for his child in a federal college and still believe that we are serious about fighting corruption? How many Nigerians, after seeing how bullion vans operated in a private residence in the heat of the 2019 general elections, and how we shared money to voters, will hail our acclaimed combat-readiness against corruption? How many people will be happy seeing the killings and kidnappings going on in the country despite billions of dollars that have been sunk into defence and security and still feel happy?

How can we blame TI when even the Auditor-General of the Federation, Anthony Ayine, has been shouting about illegal deductions in trillions of naira in major government institutions like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Department of Petroleum Resources and Federal Inland Revenue Service? How can we be talking of fighting corruption when we dispense billions of naira as security votes without accounting for them; when there are serious violations of the Public Procurement Act such as over-invoicing and payments for contracts not executed; and when we cannot properly account for recovered assets and loot?

We need to be honest with ourselves. We need to focus more efforts on strengthening our institutions. We need to thank such bodies as the European Union that funds the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme, which is implemented by the British Council.

All hope is not lost though. Last week, the Federal Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with RoLAC, held a sensitisation roundtable with the heads of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well as the MDAs’ focal persons in Abuja for National Anti-Corruption Strategy implementation. The NACS was designed to provide a holistic strategy for all sectors and stakeholders in the fight against corruption. It is billed to run from 2017 to 2021. This is 2020 and the strategy is still sucking breast.

At the sensitisation programme, RoLAC consultant, Dr. Ada Igbokwe, reeled out the roles and responsibilities of MDAs’ management in the anti-corruption strategy. The chairman, Technical Committee on the Implementation of the NACS, Ladidi Mohammed, gave an overview of the strategy. According to her, NACS is made up of five pillars. The first pillar is prevention. This entails instituting auditable regimes of transparency, integrity and accountability to reduce the vulnerability of public, private and civil society organisations to corruption.

The second pillar is public engagement, which has to do with breaking up the collusion that fosters corruption. The third pillar is ethical reorientation, while the fourth and fifth pillars are enforcement and sanctions, as well as recovery and management of proceeds of crime, respectively.

By and large, much of public sector corruption happens in the MDAs. Many of them, as the Auditor-General of the Federation had observed, make some expenditure without presenting payment vouchers, contrary to the provisions of the Financial Regulation 601. By mid-February, members of the Monitoring and Evaluations Committee of the NACS will begin to visit the MDAs to monitor their compliance with the national anti-corruption strategy. It is hoped that these late efforts will present Nigeria with better weapons to face corruption squarely.

Re: Before Trump announces his visa restriction on Nigeria

Dear Casmir, the visa regulation is a good disciplinary measure. It will assist pressure and interest groups in check-balancing the excesses of functionaries. Thanks to Trump.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215

The restriction of Nigerians and other nations from entering the US for childbirth is a challenge for our leaders to sit up. Nigerian government can also ban US from things they benefit from Nigeria. Why doesn’t President Trump restrict Nigerian politicians from lodging our taxpayers’ money into their banks?

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

The duty of every government is the security of its citizens. US government has come out to do its work. But in Nigeria, ethnic, religious politics overshadow excellence. Hence, mediocrity rules all facets of existence. The attitude of President Muhammadu Buhari to governance qualifies him and his officials to be on Trump’s list.

– Pharm. Okwy Njike, +2348038854922

Dear Casy, Buhari is the major beneficiary of former President Jonathan’s electoral reforms of 2011 to 2015. Since then, all elections under Buhari’s watch, Ekiti, Osun, Kogi, Bayelsa and the 2019 general election, were marred by rigging, violence, murder, fake results, use of force by the security agents against opposition parties and their members, and the use of court judgements, as in Imo State, where the fourth person became the first. What a shameful and evil act by the APC government. I recommend that President Trump should start the visa ban from Buhari and the Supreme Court judges who presided over Emeka Ihedioha’s case.

– Eze Chima C. Lagos, +2347036225495

Re: So Miyetti Allah now gifts Nigeria’s presidency?

Miyetti Allah or any other group cannot arrogate to itself the prerogative or right of determining who and which geo-political setting should assume the presidency of Nigeria. Your exclamation of surprise, “arrogance has no better example,” clearly captures the extent of your boiling mind. There are also other Nigerians who must have been similarly hurt by the very insulting remarks and level of ‘intransigence’ exhibited by Alhassan Saleh. Nigeria is a country of multiplicity of nations. Therefore, the collaborative arrangement and understanding of all stakeholders, based on justice, equity and prevailing circumstances, should form the basis of who and which geo-political setting should take the presidency at a given time. Nigerians who truly yearn for the unity and continuity of Nigeria as a country should listen to the following patriots: Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Babarabe Musa, Gen. Ishola Williams, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Gen. Zamani Lekwot, Chief Edwin Clark and Alhaji Tanko Yakassai.

These eminent and respected Nigerians, who cut across the length and breadth of the country, are guided by conscience and patriotic zeal. And conscience is the synonym of truth. It should be to the advantage of the South if and when the South-West, South-East and South-South are able to sacrifice their interests on a united platform that is always there to call off the bluff of the North’s purported number. When justice is being preached and propelled to take the centre stage, it is only the guilty that are afraid.

– Edet Essien Esq. Calabar South, +2348037952470

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, February 3, 2020.

Before Trump Announces His Visa Restriction On Nigeria

January 27, 2020

By Casmir Igbokwe

The United States President, Donald Trump, may announce details of his planned visa restriction on Nigeria today, January 27, 2020. Six other countries, namely, Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Sudan and Tanzania, will also be affected. This is to mark the third anniversary of the initial ban placed on such countries as Iran, North Korea, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Reports have it that the affected countries would not face blanket ban on travel to the US but would not be issued certain types of visas. The Nigerian government, nay Nigerians, are eagerly waiting to know the full import of Trump’s pronouncement.

Before Trump comes up with his statement on the visa ban, I wish to suggest the following: One, the US should consider restricting every politician who has a hand in undermining democracy in Nigeria. Although it imposed visa restrictions on some of these politicians last July, it didn’t name them. It is sad that the last general election, for instance, was marred by bloodshed, vote-buying, ballot snatching and violence. Some observers and groups put the election-related deaths in the country at over 600.

Two, all the judges found to have compromised their integrity, especially in election matters, should also be banned. There are obvious and glaring cases of electoral robbery via the courts. The US should send a strong signal to such judges to let them know that it cannot be business as usual.

Three, convicted looters should have no place in a decent society. They should be banned from visiting the US. President Trump should also do us a favour by repatriating their loot to Nigeria.

Four, the US is apparently taking this action against the ‘giant of Africa’ partly because of the security situation in the country. For one, Nigeria is always caught within the axis of terror. The menace of Boko Haram and associated groups is common knowledge. Just last week, the terrorists killed the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa, Pastor Lawan Andimi, for no just cause. They first abducted him and demanded some ransom. When that was not forthcoming, they killed him. Also, 11 Christians were beheaded in Maiduguri by Islamic State in West Africa on Christmas Day 2019. Christians have been lamenting that they are being persecuted in Nigeria.

The continued detention of Miss Leah Sharibu in Boko Haram dungeon appears to give credence to the cry of Christians. Sharibu was abducted together with 109 other girls from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, in February 2018. The terrorists released the girls some years ago but refused to release Sharibu simply because she refused to be converted to Islam. We may not know the members of Boko Haram, but all those who have helped, either by acts of omission or commission, to prolong this insurgency should be banned from visiting the US.

This is not forgetting herdsmen who have dealt a terrible blow to the peace and unity of Nigeria. They have killed and continue to kill thousands of innocent citizens with impunity. Rather than call them to order, the Federal Government sits by and only sends condolence messages with empty threats to deal with the perpetrators. Such a group and their collaborators should have no space in a decent society.

The tragedy of the Nigerian situation is that, even when there is crisis involving certain countries, some Nigerians transfer the aggression here. The other day, the US killed an Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani. Many Shi’ites and members of Islamic Movement in Nigeria trooped to the streets of Abuja and some northern cities to protest. They also burnt American flags in Abuja. You begin to wonder what our business with the US and Iran imbroglio is. We are even lucky that they didn’t kill anyone this time. Recall that there were spontaneous reactions in Nigeria leading to the killing of some innocent citizens over satirical cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper in 2005.

Besides, on Christmas Day in 2009, a Nigerian underwear bomber, Farouk Abdulmutallab, nearly blew up an American airline, flying from Amsterdam to Michigan on behalf of Al-Qaeda. Fortunately, the bomb refused to explode. He is currently serving his punishment in the US.

Outside terrorism, Nigerians have done and keep doing things that make them the object of suspicion in different parts of the world. Recently, we read the heart-rending story of some Nigerian girls who suffered sex slavery in foreign lands. Some agents lured them with offers of juicy work abroad. They eventually discovered to their chagrin that the juicy job was forced prostitution. A certain Omolola Ajayi, 23, Lawal Zainab and some others narrated their ordeal recently in Lebanon, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and elsewhere. Zainab had to sleep with a minimum of 15 men a day just to satisfy her madam. All these agents who have a hand in the trafficking of Nigerians abroad should be included in the ban.

Due to the hardship at home, many compatriots want to migrate to foreign lands. Many of them do this illegally. Some claim phoney persecution at home just to get asylum overseas. Even our next-door neighbour, Ghana, is wary of us. South Africa is pursuing us to go. Almost everywhere you go, Nigerians are ridiculed and persecuted.

President Muhammadu Buhari does not help matters. He de-markets Nigeria in some of his engagements abroad. In one of his visits to the United Kingdom in 2018, he said Nigerian youths were lazy, uneducated and wanted everything free. So, would you blame the US if it restricts some Nigerian youths from coming into the country?

I wish Trump also considers all those encouraging nepotism, ethnicity and complete disregard for the rule of law for the visa restriction. Our President has immunity at home and abroad. Assuming that it is not the case, do you think we should recommend him to Trump to be included on the visa restriction list?

Re: So Miyetti Allah now gifts Nigeria’s presidency?

You are still asking questions about Ahmadu Bello’s speech on October 6, 1960. His death in the coup of 1966 and the civil war that followed prevented him from carrying out his plan. The Fulani North has been looking for such opportunity. With another Akintola helping them, we shall see how it will end.

– Augustine Ukaegbu, Owerri, +2348179430191

Miyetti Allah now gifts Nigeria’s presidency? It is primitive heart of highest demonstration.

– Samuel Adekunle Ige, Ilorin,+2348032174756

Dear Casmir, one should not see two people in a tussle, disarm one and leave the other armed. Leaders should not make remarks that generate crisis. The case of xenophobia in South Africa is an eye-opener.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215

Casmir, the issue at stake is constitutionalism. No state governor should go outside his brief on security, which is on federal exclusive legislative list. Amotekun will soon be declared illegal by the Supreme Court. It cannot be formed without amending the Constitution. Miyetti Allah are playing politics vis-a-vis Ruga. How their welfare is handled would influence who gets the majority of votes in the North, which would decide the presidency.

– Mike Mush, +2348161114572

Dear Casy, the Miyetti Allah now copies from their elders from 1960. Check how some of our Nigerian presidents and heads of state emerged through military coup. It’s not by mere coincidence; the game now is Fulanisation, total jihad, Islamisation and conquest hegemony. Let every Nigerian defend himself and God help us from Fulani war against Nigeria.

– Eze Chima C., Lagos, +2347036225495

Cas, we should emulate South-West people because they are resolute. FG declared Amotoken illegal and they said no, but our people rushed and proscribed IPOB. What an irony!

– Smart, Abakaliki, 08134774884

Casmir, the fact the Miyetti Allah group is missing is that tolerance is not the same thing as weakness. Every tribe has all it takes to defend itself; the Yoruba have done well, other tribes should do same until the powers that be are ready to restructure this country. Anywhere there is peace, somebody has sacrificed his comfort to ensure it, and not because of cowardice.

– Pharm. Okwy Njike, 08038854922

Miyetti Allah should go where they bathed and collect their towel and leave the South-West security operatives alone.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, +2348062887535

Biafra and 50 years of unending war

Nigeria stands on a platform of fraud that is further promoted by greed and inordinate ambition of those who believe in assuming political power even if it is on the altar of life or bloodshed. From 1970 till date, it has clearly revealed a dangerous period of ethnic cleansing principally targetted at the Igbo race. This unfortunate act has occasioned recurring agitations, which usually pits the state against tribal groups like Ohanaeze, MASSOB, IPOB, etc. The moral question is, why is it that a husband who believes and informs the world about his wife’s ‘unmarriagibility’ is also the very husband who objects and blocks with vehemence to the extent of applying arms anytime the wife calls for a divorce? What an irony!

Concerning 2023, we have so far been fed with some laughable and very dishonest submissions as opposed to the reality of accepting, encouraging and actualising a Nigerian president of Igbo descent. Before now, did we not have Dr. Ekwueme, who, after a courageous fight and enthronement of democracy, being abandoned and or replaced at the last hour by a man who had no business assuming the high office? The same Dr. Alex Ekwueme was to assume the presidency but the military wing of the then National Party of Nigeria aborted that dream with their 1983 coup.

– Edet Essien Esq., +2348037952470  

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, January 27, 2020

So Miyetti Allah now gifts Nigeria’s Presidency?

January 23, 2020

By Casmir Igbokwe

Nigeria is an epitome of irony. It is a nation peopled by great men and women but ruled by puppets and nitwits; a nation rich in natural resources but it remains the poverty capital of the world; a nation where some groups and individuals are threatening a region that decided to take measures to protect itself amid serious security challenges.

Or what do you call the vomit that came out of the mouth of the national president of the Northern Youths Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Alhaji Isah Abubakar, and national secretary of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhassan Saleh? Abubakar said the recently launched South-West security outfit called Operation Amotekun was the military wing of the Oodua People’s Congress in disguise, and that it was not different from the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Saleh, on his part, reportedly called on the Yoruba nation to “give up on this idea because it may affect the chances of the South-West to produce the President in 2023.” What impudence!

So, it has become the prerogative of Miyetti Allah, the umbrella body of Fulani herdsmen, to gift the presidency to anybody and any region it deems fit? Arrogance has no better example. This flippant talk is even surprising considering that the security outfit was established to help combat crime. We have not been told that it is to fight the Fulani.

Recall that what fuelled the quest for this regional security was the failure of the nation’s security agencies to adequately protect life and property of citizens. A few months ago, former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), not only accused the Nigerian Army of ethnic cleansing, but also urged his people to defend themselves because the military, as presently constituted, would not defend them. Also, the chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, Paul Unongo, recently threatened that they would mobilise and train their people (the Middle Belt) into an army to defend themselves, if government couldn’t protect them.

In practical terms, the South-West governors and other stakeholders in the zone conceived the idea of Operation Amotekun last June. It was when incidents of kidnapping and killings became rampant in the region and elsewhere. Thousands of innocent Nigerians had perished in the hands of sundry killers in such places as Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Katsina and many others. Just last week, some bandits slaughtered no fewer than 31 people in Zamfara. For the South-West, the last straw that broke the camel’s back last year was the killing of the daughter of a chieftain of Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, on the Ore-Sagamu Expressway, by suspected herdsmen.

After each of these atrocities, what we normally heard were condolence messages and the usual refrain that the perpetrators would be brought to book.

Perhaps, that is the tradition the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, wants to continue with. The other day, he announced that the establishment of Operation Amotekun was illegal. According to him, the Federal Government was not carried along in the planning of the regional outfit. Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State countered him on this. He said they had met with the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, before the launch of the security outfit penultimate Thursday.

Malami and some other champions of northern interests failed to realise that Kano, Sokoto and some others have an equivalent of Amotekun. Hisbah is a good example. Recently, Hisbah Commission in Zamfara arrested a policeman for being in a hotel with three women.

There is the other group called Civilian Joint Task Force. They operate principally in some theatres of war in the North-East. They are known to have done a marvellous job in the fight against insurgency. This is possible because they know the terrain very well. Sometimes, the police dread going into the forests where kidnappers operate. But these local security operatives don’t have such fears.

Last week, the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, contemplated strengthening the existing community policing strategy in his state. Even in the South-East, different communities already have vigilance groups.

Thus, it is curious that Malami did not find the operations of these groups illegal. It was also curious that the powers that be proscribed the IPOB in 2017 but deemed the herdsmen, who go about with AK47 rifles, kidnap and sometimes kill innocent citizens, a legitimate group.

It is good that the South-West leaders and senior lawyers have faulted Malami on Amotekun. Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, Lagos laywer, Femi Falana, and many others said it didn’t breach the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. Akeredolu, who is the chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, said they would pursue it to a logical conclusion.

The question is: what are the opponents of Amotekun afraid of? Could it be part of what the Sarduana of Sokoto, the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, reportedly told his people in October 1960, to use the minorities of the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory, that they must ruthlessly prevent a change of power and never allow the South to have control over their future?

In the same token, Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, was quoted to have said in October 2017 that Igbo caused the civil war and so he did not understand why they turned around to demand presidency. With every sense of entitlement and authority, Mohammed asserted that the Igbo “will never get any hope for presidency because democracy is a game of numbers.”

Mohammed and his ilk forgot that Goodluck Jonathan from a minority tribe was the President of Nigeria between 2010 and 2015. They forgot that Buhari only succeeded in becoming president in 2015 after three previous attempts. The only reason such characters vomit nonsense all the time is because the South has refused to close ranks.

Until the South-West, South-South and South-East unite to pursue their common interests, until we serve divorce letters to treachery, double standard, ethnic hubris and nepotism, and until we restructure this country to give every region a sense of belonging, Nigeria will not have genuine peace.

Re: Biafra and 50 years of unending war  

Good narrative, editor. But I observed the following: 1. Some Yoruba leaders were also killed in the 1966 coup and not only the northerners listed. We list Western Region Premier, Akintola. Also, the South-East has not played politics very well with other regions. The presidency was not handed over to Obasanjo as a gift. The South-West paid for it with June 12 and fought for it. On political appointments, Yoruba suffered the same fate under Jonathan. So, aspiring and getting the presidency is a game of numbers and not zoned by law. So, 2023 is still open to all Nigerians, including your humble self. You should also give it to Obasanjo, a South-West leader, that he ran an inclusive govt. Also, Igbo senators and House of Reps members should be more vociferous in confronting the present administration on the short-changing of South-East in political appointments.

– Moshood Isamotu, +234 802 321 9696

Casmir, injustice breeds unrest.  The Biafran war cannot end until justice is done. And justice can only be done by granting a free Biafran Republic or, at worst, restructuring this country, where each region can grow at its own pace. You cannot stop a progressive group because you want other groups to catch up with them. Biafra is in the spirit, 50 years or 100 years, it will re-echo until justice is done. Biafrans should not lose hope. Rather, let them embark on massive development of their area so that there will be food, good health, shelter and jobs for every indigene.

– Pharm. Okwy Njike, 08038854922    

Casmir, power won’t go naturally to the Igbo in 2023. Enough of sentiments and unnecessary emotional displays! Igbos worked for PDP. They should go to PDP and plead their case. Yorubas were smarter and would take it ultimately through APC. Buhari won’t work for an Igbo presidency. It will be payback time. Power is not given on a platter of gold. In politics, you reap what you sow. Be wise in 2031 to have it in 2047.

– Mike, Mushin, Lagos, +2348161114572

Thanks, Casmir. It is unfortunate that the Igbo are faced by not just marginalisation but also stigmatisation. The January 1966 coup was plotted to bring Obafemi Awolowo to power but was misunderstood as attempt to institute Igbo domination. Igbos are the major taxpayers in Nigeria; the best footballers and academics. If presidency eludes the South-East in 2023, it will tell on the status of social justice.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215

I think they told us, “no victor and no vanquished,” but why are they treating Ndigbo as second class citizens in Nigeriam, 50 years since the civil war ended? Federal Government has not been carrying Ndigbo along in governance. They are pushing us to the wall, which is not good. Nigeria belongs to everybody; why must they treat Ndigbo like this?

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348115368466

Dear Casy, all the issues you raised in your last treatise were the indices that the Biafran war has not ended. Gowon signed the famous Aburi accord and returned home and jettisoned the accord and invaded Biafran territory. His army killed more than three million Biafrans. Ever since then, the war has been on. Recently, in his message to our people for Biafra’s 50-year unending war, in Lagos, Gowon blamed Ojukwu for the war. The man who killed three million unarmed civilians in Biafra is a saint but the man who defended his people is a villain.

– Eze Chima C. Lagos, 2347036225495

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, January 20, 2020

Biafra and 50 years of unending war

January 13, 2020

By Casmir Igbokwe

Sir Warrior is a Biafran war veteran based in Enugu. He calls me from time to time to comment on national issues. Sometimes, he goes emotional whenever he talks about Biafra. What happened before, during and after the Nigerian civil war still troubles his heart.

What gave birth to that battle is still fresh in the memories of many Nigerians. Some army officers of Igbo extraction had staged a coup in 1966. Unfortunately, they killed the then Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, and some northern leaders. In retaliation, northern officers staged a counter-coup that led to the killing of the then military Head of State, Aguiyi Ironsi. There was also a pogrom against innocent Igbo in the North. This precipitated the proclamation of the Republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967, by the then Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. The war followed on July 6, 1967. Over three million Igbo lost their lives.

Immediately after the war, the government of Nigeria gave every Igboman 20 pounds. This is not withstanding if you had 20 billion pounds in your bank account. In a state like Rivers, many Igbo lost their properties to the so-called abandoned property saga.

As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the end of that conflagration on January 15, 2020, the question arises: has the war actually ended? The situation in Nigeria today does not indicate so. This is despite the so-called three R’s of Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.

One of the weapons of the current war is the systematic decimation of the South-East in the hierarchy of the country’s security agencies. The Igboman is not found worthy to occupy the position of the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Minister of Defence, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, National Security Adviser, Inspector-General of Police, etc.

The situation is worse in the Nigeria Police Force. Out of a total of 36 Assistant Inspector-Generals of Police, for instance, the North-West has nine; North-East has 14; North-Central has four; South-West has five; South-South has four and South-East has none. The situation is the same in the other senior cadres of the force.

Today, the heads of the three arms of government are all from the North. President Muhammadu Buhari is from the North-West. Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, is from the North-East. Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, is also from the North-East. Also from the North-East is the president of the Court of Appeal, Mrs. Zainab Bulkachuwa.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, is from the South-West. Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, is from the South-South. Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, is from the North-Central. The South-East is completely left out.

Nigeria essentially stands on a tripod – Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. Since the end of the war, the Hausa/Fulani and the Yoruba have ruled the country at various times. Even the minority has also ruled. In 2023, when it should naturally shift to the South-East, some people wish that such does not happen.

Like a conquered territory, South-East plays host to a horde of security agents who routinely harass, extort and intimidate travellers and road users in the region. The Igbo continue to suffer the indignity of being killed and their property burnt and looted for any misunderstanding in any part of the country or even abroad. If someone desecrates the Koran anywhere in the world, the Igbo stand the risk of instant death for what they know nothing about.

In admission into federal unity schools, Igbo children suffer discriminatory admission policies.

It is this type of situation that fuelled the emergence of such separatist groups as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and many others.

But the Nigerian security agents are bent on suppressing these groups. The Federal Government banned IPOB and declared it a terrorist organisation. Some three years ago, the army launched Operation Python Dance in the South-East. They manhandled many Igbo youths and thoroughly dealt with anybody found with any insignia of Biafra.

In November last year, the Nigerian Army reportedly embarked on indiscriminate arrests in Aba and environs in Abia State. According to the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), the army arrested, tortured and dehumanised over 45 people, labelling them kidnappers and IPOB terrorists. The victims were mainly truck pushers, newspaper ‘free readers’ and vendors, tricycle riders, artisans and passers-by.

The case of one Chinedu Okenmmiri, an Aba-based petty trader/hawker, was regrettable. According to Intersociety, Okenmmiri was making calls by the side of his wheel truck parked by the roadside along Union Bank Junction in Okpu-Umuobu area of Aba. Pronto, a patrol team of police Special Anti-Robbery Squad attached to Eziama Police Station sighted and allegedly swooped on him and seized his phone.

“On illegally browsing his phone, they saw the screen saver bearing the face of a white lady. He was instantly branded ‘419’ or advance fee fraudster and accused of ‘severally duping white foreigners.’ He was clamped into detention at Eziama Police Station and asked to pay ‘N2 million cuts.’ In the end, when his captors found that he was a pauper, they forced him to cough out N10,000 as ‘bail fee’,” the group alleged.

To people like Citizen Okenmmiri, such slogans as Go On With One Nigeria (GOWON); one nation, one destiny; and Nigeria, good people, great nation are a ruse. Today, January 13, Nzuko Umunna and Ndigbo Lagos, in collaboration with Civil Society Organisations, will most likely highlight some other Nigerian problems in a conference tagged ‘Never Again’. The theme of the conference, which will hold at the MUSON Centre in Lagos, is “Nigerian Civil War: 50 Years After.”

To achieve genuine unity, Igbo leaders, together with some other nationalities and groups, had consistently called for the restructuring of the Nigerian federation. The South-East has particularly demanded an additional state for the region.

It is high time President Buhari apologised to Ndigbo for the past and current injustices meted to them. He did so for the Yoruba when he tendered a national apology to the family of the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola in 2018 for the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election. He vowed that the country would no longer tolerate such perversion of justice.

People like Sir Warrior and Okenmmiri deserve nothing less!

Re: Beauty Of Igbo Communal Life

Dear Casmir, the Christian dogma of “what more can a man give…” challenges the apocryphal assumption that the “average Igboman believes that Igbo people do not love one another”. How so very untrue. I would rather that the average Igboman is so proud, republican, and self-reliant, that he can easily ask a big man, who just stood him a beer, at a watering hole, “bia nwokem, ina enyem nri.” (Do you feed me?)

Please, tell me, isn’t it difficult to find any other town or province in Hausa, Fulani or Yorubaland, where the people had organised themselves to build a multi-million-naira sports complex, like the Chidozie Age Grade of Umueze-Isuofia in Aguata LGA, Anambra? Or the two-storey health centre and town hall, built by the Oganiru Age Grade of Umueze-Isuofia, and Chidera Age Grade of Ozalla-Isuofia?

Ahoy, I doff my hat for the communal spirit and love by great Isuofia people, the kingdom peopled by the old and new rich personalities like the Ubas, the Soludos, the Igwe Ezeabasilis, and the pugnacious but kind Pokobros Ltd. However, as Igbo’s sense of love, philanthropy and kindness come in shades and colours, I know a young man in Owerre-Ezukala Town, near Isuofia, who gave out about 10 flats in his houses in Enugu, free of rent, to poor tenants and widows since 1987, and at N10,000 per flat per month, this has worked out at N3,840,000 for one tenant in 32 years. And counting!

  • Dr. Chuka Nwosu, Port Harcourt, 08085914645

Casmir, one thing is certain. The God of Ndigbo is a special one. Just like He favoured the Israelites amid enemies, He protects Ndigbo anywhere they are. From £20 after the civil war, many billionaires are in Igboland due to communal life. The envy, which other tribes have for them, has led to their exclusion in national polity. Just as I said in last week’s reaction, let Ndigbo pay more attention to developing their territory instead of no man’s land.

  • Pharm. Okwy Njike, +2348038854922

It isgood to give back to the society, if you are blessed by almighty God. There is a popular saying that givers never lack. It has been the lgbo tradition that, every December, individuals, communities and groups will be launching some projects. Kudos to everyone that remembers his people for infrastructural development.

  • Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

Dear Casy, Igbo communal life is closely linked with their cultural heritage. Igbo culture is one of the best, not only in Africa but all over the world. Igbo culture is anchored on love, peace, hard work, justice, cooperation, honesty and resilience, and that’s why their communal life is sine qua non. The sand used for my house built in the 1970s was brought by my village women. Food and drinks were provided by both men and women in the same village. Those of us who hold false opinion about Igbo love and milk of kindness didn’t meet members of older generation that shared palm wine with one cup. “Ala Igbo di mma; hu nwanne gi nanya.” God bless Ndigbo.

  • Eze Chima C, Lagos, +2347036225495

First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, 13 January 2020.

Beauty of Igbo communal life

January 8, 2020

By Casmir Igbokwe

An average Igbo man has this belief that Igbo people don’t love one another. He tells whoever cares to listen, that Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba exhibit better traits of love towards their people. To an extent, this appears to be correct. But on a closer look, the situation is not as bad as being painted.

Igbo have a unique system of communal life, which manifests fully during festive periods. Most families do not joke with it. Of course, weddings, house warming, chieftaincy title taking, launching of age grades and masquerade displays are routine. Children particularly like the masquerade aspect of Igbo culture even though some Christians now frown on it because of past fetish practices. But whether they like it or not, some pub operators in some Anambra communities hire the ‘spirit beings’ to perform at their arena. This attracts fun seekers who do not mind paying higher for drinks just to relax and listen to the guttural voices of the ‘spirits’.

Now, beauty contest is also creeping in. On December 30, 2019, a young girl, Miss Angel Ezeabasili, won the Most Beautiful Girl in Isuofia contest. She went home with a Mercedes car. Isuofia is a town in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.

If people are not watching one entertaining event or the other, they are on social visits to friends and relatives. Yes, everybody has food in his house, but it is that one that is eaten communally that nourishes both body and soul. Even bachelors find this season a veritable time to hook up with some spinsters. This could lead to consummation of marriages.

Beyond the ceremonies, there are serious developmental projects that different communities and groups undertake to make living worthwhile. Let’s use Isuofia in Anambra State as a case study. The six villages that make up the town embarked on major rehabilitation of their various roads within this Christmas period. Nobody waited for the government to do it. Some levied themselves. Some depended on donations from wealthy indigenes. Akulu village, for instance, mobilised the citizens through the social media and within a short period of time, raised huge sums of money with which they repaired all the major roads in the village.

Different age grades tried to outdo one another in erecting structures in the town. Chidozie Age Grade of Umueze-Isuofia built a multi-million naira sports complex to the delight of all and sundry. That edifice was handed over to the town on December 30, 2019. Chidera Age Grade of Ozalla-Isuofia built a standard one-storey hall which was inaugurated on January 1, 2020. On its part, Chidera age grade of Umueze-Isuofia installed solar energy streetlights in Umueze. Oganiru age grade also of Umueze built a two-storey health centre which was unveiled and handed over to the town on January 2, 2020. This age grade also offered free medical treatment/eye glasses that same day.

Some philanthropists also built some projects in the town this season. An industrialist, Chief Paul Okonkwo, popularly called Ojih, undertook to rehabilitate all the roads in his Ozalla village. He also undertook to repair one road each in the other villages of the town. Chief Aloy Ezesinachi Okoye and his siblings tarred a major road at their Ozalla village. Chief Uche Obiakor installed solar streetlights and also rehabilitated a road in his village, Umueze. Chief Marcel Ofomata also installed solar streetlights at a major road in his village, Ozalla. He is also planning to build a mini stadium in the centre of the town. Chief Okey Umeano contributed immensely in the rehabilitation of major roads in his Akulu village.

In some family kindred called ‘umunna’, the story is the same. Some students are able to go to the university courtesy of scholarship schemes initiated by their family kindred. Some are able to start a business venture because of some help from family and friends.

No doubt, Igbo thrive in business partly because of their apprenticeship scheme. In this case, a successful businessman takes up the challenge of training a youngster in his line of business. The boy serves him for some years ranging from five to seven, depending on the agreement. After the apprenticeship, the master settles his boy with some money to start off his own. If he is wise and prudent, he becomes successful and begins his own cycle of training others. If he is not successful, society does not reckon with him. That is why every Igbo man struggles to make it in life.

In this healthy competition for development, women are not left out. The major group for women include ‘umuada’ (daughters of the soil) and ‘ndi inyom’ (women married to sons of the soil). ‘Umuada’ are a no nonsense group. The way they instil discipline in their members and in the larger society is a story for another day.

These women are more powerful in the churches. In the Catholic Church, for instance, you have the Catholic Women Organisation (CWO). In many towns in Anambra State, these women are known to have built halls and some other projects that mark them out as agents of development.

Arguably, the greatest beneficiaries of this community development are the churches. Within a short space of time, St Joseph Catholic Church Ekwulobia in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra witnessed a huge turnaround. It was largely due to the efforts of well meaning sons and daughters of the town.

Yes, Ndigbo may be largely individualistic and republican, but they also know how to show love when it is necessary. As I prepare to return to Lagos, I already look forward to 2020 Yuletide. My banker friend and neighbour, Chief Chinasa Chile, wishes to be in my shoes. But the nature of his job does not give him such opportunity. To people like him, I can only say, ask the village returnees to bring fresh fruits and local delicacies for you. It’s all part of the communal life.

Re: Police should stop harassment, discrimination against South-East

I think the civil war was a great benefit to a lot of military officers from the north and southwestern Nigeria because as many of them that held sway in the leadership of Nigeria wouldn’t have had it so. So I think the time has come for as many of them that are still alive and in that same opportunity to stop marginalizing the Igbos as in the recent promotions and offices in the police force and other military organs in Nigeria. Their attitude rubbishes the sacrifice of great nationalists of Igbo extraction like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and others. Nigerian leaders of today from the north and southwest should stop promoting wickedness, inequality, nepotism and ethnicism behaving as if the Igbos did not contribute to the emancipation of this country. They will pay dearly for it.

• Daniel Oparah, +2348142670500

Casmir, it is clear that the Federal Government of Nigeria does not have good plan for the Igbo nation. Our people should tell themselves the truth that this country called Nigeria is not going to relinquish power to them as they don’t trust them. The South-East Governors’ Forum through their economic summit should lure rich members to come and invest in the zone. They should stop massive investment outside the zone. They should also have a way to buy properties of indigenes outside the zone who want to return to invest in the zone and ensure no ‘divide & rule’ from FG who will want to stop them.

•Pharm. Okwy Njike, +2348038854922

Dear Casy, the Nigerian state has a history of invasion, occupation and impunity using the police since Gowon’s military genocide of 1967 to 70. But the latest is terrible. Gowon failed, Buhari must fail. All the Fulani jihadist herdsmen; all the security forces sent to Igbo land must fail. All the Ahabs, Pharoahs, Buharis of this world must fail. We the Igbos haven’t offended anybody. Almighty is with us and woe unto those Igbos who connive with the vandals and cause harm to our land. They must repent now. ‘Ala Igbo di aso, onye ruala oji isi ya buru.’ God bless you.

•Eze Chima, Lagos, +2347036225495

The rate at which police checkpoints is in southeast region is embarrassing.

•Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348088412165

Re: Anambra 2021 governorship zoning deceit

The political space is a theatre of intrigues, surprises, shocks, etc. Therefore, any player therein must necessarily develop his survival strategy to wade through the murky waters of politics or gain undue advantage over others, even if commonsense, laid down procedure and principles are sacrificed. No ‘saint’ exists here: anyone who claims or pretends to be one knows, as we all know, that one is involved in a grand deceit. Desperation appears to be the watchword! Before our last general elections, don’t be deceived that President Buhari failed to sign the amended electoral law because he loved Nigerians more than we did. It was strictly for his political survival. America’s Donald Trump dangled the conditional military aid carrot before Ukraine all because of his personal political interest as opposed to America’s. In the same vein, Gov el-Rufai gleefully believes that zoning must die for his vaulting ambition to be Nigeria’s president, even if founded on a fractured or non-existent Nigeria. In politics, it is more or less a necessary evil for its players to bend rules or convention and sacrifice normalcy in a normal situation in order to gain personal ascendancy.

Casmir, learn not to be shocked by the unfolding scenario of Anambra 2021 guber zoning deceit. The Anambra experience merely adds weight to the rule, not the exception.

•Edet Essien Esq., Calabar South, Cross River, +2348037952470

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, January 6, 2020.

Police should stop harassment, discrimination against South-East

January 8, 2020

By Casmir Igbokwe 

South-Eastern people of Nigeria are becoming endangered species. The police, the customs and the military use them to show off their strength at every given opportunity, especially at festive seasons. When you add this to the marginalisation of the region in the country’s security forces, the intimidation is complete. The question remains, what have the people of the South-East done to deserve ill treatment in Nigeria?

The answer may still be blowing in the wind. An average Igboman does not depend on government, or anybody for that matter, to provide for him. He struggles all through the year to put food on his table and provide for his family. At the end of the year, he wants to visit his ancestral home to relax and enjoy the fruits of communal life.

Some of them return from abroad and drive home in exotic vehicles. This is part of what attracts the security agencies. They mount roadblocks in the guise of checking crime but, in most cases, it is to extort, intimidate and harass innocent travellers.

On the Ore-Benin expressway, there is a police checkpoint at almost every pole. If you are lucky, they smile and ask you to do Christmas for them. If you are not too lucky, they stop you to ask for all manner of car particulars. No matter how current your particulars are, they must find one reason or the other to delay you and extort money from you. If you are about two or three young men travelling together, your case is worse. They will search your bags and phones looking for real and imaginary things they will use to nail you.

The customs problem is the worse. When they stop you, you must “scratch their hands.” They don’t collect anything less than N1,000. That is if your papers are genuine. Otherwise, you must part with huge sums of money to regain your vehicle. A brother of mine who travelled last week gave customs operatives at Benin N200 when they stopped him. They scoffed at him and said it must not be less than N1,000 or he should park for them to thoroughly examine his vehicle papers. And this is not a new car. Not wanting to be delayed, he gave them the money and moved on.

When you consider the number of roadblocks on the route to the South-East and the ones in the North, you begin to wonder if there is a sinister motive behind all this. There are more security challenges in the North. Terrorists, kidnappers, armed robbers have made the Abuja-Kaduna road a nightmare. Most people now prefer to travel by train to avoid the road marauders. But you don’t find the number of checkpoints there as in the South.

In civilised societies, you hardly find police stopping people at random. If they stop you, there must be a reason. They only patrol to ensure there is peace and order in the society.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, actually warned police personnel, especially those on the highway during the Yuletide, to stop the harassment and intimidation of motorists. He also warned against abuse of rights of Nigerians, calling for adherence to laid down rules and standard operating procedures of the force. According to the IG, reported cases of unprofessionalism such as extortion and intimidation of road users would be investigated and punished. But has the extortion stopped? Has any police operative been arrested and punished? Will the extortion ever stop?

Could the intimidation of South-Easterners be because they lack influential people to speak for them both at the hierarchy of the force and the Police Service Commission (PSC)? Senior police officers from the region, as a civil society group calls it, now face extinction in Nigeria. The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), recently, sent strong protest letters to the chairman of the Police Service Commission, Musliu Smith, IGP Adamu, the Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, and the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, over what it called gross lopsidedness in the recent promotions in the Nigerian security forces.

Intersociety reminded the police authorities of the stipulations of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution. This section states that “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character (sectional balancing) of Nigeria and need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or any of its agencies.”

From the detailed findings of Intersociety, the South-East may not produce the country’s IGP in the next 10 years, if not permanently. The zone also stands the risk of being wiped out of existence in the senior ranking cadre of the Nigeria Police Force.

Here are a few examples: IGP is from the North-Central state of Nasarawa. He is to retire February 1, 2021. There is regional balancing in the Deputy Inspector-Generals of Police allocation. All the six regions produced one DIG each except the North-West, which has two, making it a total of seven. Even, the DIG from the South-East, Celestine Okoye, retires in December 2020.

But in the other ranks, there is a serious problem. In the Assistant Inspector-General of police cadre, for instance, the South-East is totally absent. Out of a total of 36 AIGs the North-West has nine; North-East has 14; North-Central has four; South-West, five; South-South, four and South-East, none.

Of 37 serving state commissioners of police, North-West has 12 (Katsina, four; Kebbi, three; Sokoto, two; Zamfara, one; Kano, one; and Kaduna, one). North-East has eight (Adamawa, two; Taraba, two; Borno, one; Gombe, one; Bauchi, one; and Yobe, one). South-West has seven (Osun, three; Lagos, two; Ogun, two; Ekiti, one; Oyo, one; and Ondo, one). South-South has three (Cross River, one; Akwa Ibom, one; and Edo, one). SouthEast has only one who is from Imo State. His name is Uche J. Anozia (CP, Bayelsa State). He retires on September 19, 2020.  Thus, the South-East is constitutionally deprived of five additional state commissioners of police. In the other senior cadres of the police force, the situation is the same.

The PSC had, at its seventh plenary meeting held on Friday and Saturday, 20 and 21 December, 2019, respectively, approved the promotion of 40 Deputy Commissioners of Police to Commissioners of Police. There were other promotions. Out of the 40 promoted CPs, Intersociety claims that 17 came from the South-West region, where the PSC chair comes from. The South-East got only five. With this, South-West now has 29 serving CPs in the country.

Intersociety then avers, “The PSC chair and the IGP are by their condemned discrimination in ‘the recruitment, promotion and posting of senior police officers in the Nigeria Police Force,’ dangerously undermining the 1999 Constitution and the Acts of National Assembly establishing the PSC and the NPF. The actions of the duo also threaten the country’s peaceful coexistence as a country with multiplicity of ethnicity and religion, with over 370 tribes, dominated by three major tribes of Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani and multiple religions dominated by Christianity, Islam and traditional worshippers.”

There is nothing more to add. For equity and peace to reign in the country, authorities of the police should correct the anomalies already identified here. You cannot harass and unjustly cage a group of people and expect them not to agitate for their freedom and self-determination.

Reactions to Anambra 2021 governorship zoning deceit

Dear Casmir, I concede that brilliant writers like you can and do amuse and amaze their readers. In paragraph four of your last article on the above subject, you graciously mentioned someone from near me, Dr. Godwin Maduka, a billionaire philanthropist, among candidates interested to run in the Anambra 2021 governorship election.

But in your tacit summary in paragraph 11, this name, and few others, disappeared from your radar of six serious candidates. The reason for this omission may not be lost on us as the movers and shakers of politics in Anambra South Senatorial Zone, whose turn, in no legal order, it is now to produce Anambra governor in 2021.

Zoning or no zoning, Anambra politics is so dynamic that, even if PDP or any party zones the office to any zone, it does not guarantee victory or stop strong candidates from other zones from making a stronger run in the primaries, campaigns, and the shenanigans of voter victory. As it is said back home, let all the guys file out for us to inspect their anus. Or anuses!

– Dr. Chuka Nwosu, Port Harcourt, 08085914645

Casmirmost Nigerian politicians are ‘bread and butter’ politicians who are destined to enrich their pockets and not the electorate. They do not have ideologies and are always to be branded as ‘any government in power,’ AGIP. I believe in zoning, as it decreases rancour and acrimony. Every zone can produce quality candidates in each party. It is easier for the zone to produce a good candidate in each party and present to the entire state to choose on election day.

– Pharm. Okwy Njike, Nawfia, Njikoka, Anambra, +2348038854922

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, December 30, 2019.

Anambra 2021 governorship zoning deceit

December 23, 2019

Casmir Igbokwe

It is no longer news that the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has zoned the 2021 governorship position to Anambra South. Presumably, this is to achieve equity, considering that the incumbent governor, Willie Obiano, is from Anambra North. Thus, different southern candidates are at home with this idea and are gearing up for the big contest in 2021. 

The snag here is that, even in Anambra South, there are subdivisions. People from the Old Aguata Union (OAU), comprising Aguata, Orumba North and Orumba South local government areas, want the governorship position to come to their side. People from Old Nnewi Forum, comprising Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo local government areas, want the position as well. 

Leading the agitation for a governor from OAU is former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife. Recently, he hosted stakeholders, including traditional rulers and president-generals of the 45 communities in old Aguata, in his country home, Igboukwu. Supporters of different candidates from the area were there in full force. They all want their candidates to be the preferred choice of OAU.

Some prominent aspirants from the zone include the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Soludo; an industrialist, Chief Godwin Ezeemo, and billionaire philanthropist, Dr. Godwin Maduka. Ezeemo, who is from Umuchu in Aguata Local Government Area, was the governorship candidate of the Progressives People’s Alliance (PPA) in the 2017 election in the state. In that election, he condemned zoning and declared that Anambra had no zoning formula on governorship poll. Today, the man is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and has no problem with zoning anymore. All he wants now is for the OAU to ensure fairness in its choice of a candidate. This is deceitful.

Also playing a deceitful and chameleonic game is Senator Uche Ekwunife. She is currently romancing the OAU and has vociferous supporters who champion her interests in the group. A native of Igboukwu in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra South, Ekwunife is married to an Nri man from Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra Central. She and her supporters have thrown a dice. They can either claim South or Central, depending on where the bread will be better buttered.

True, women have dual citizenship. Daisy Danjuma, for instance, is from Taraba by marriage but represented her native Edo in the Senate, between 2003 and 2007. Also, Stella Oduah is from Anambra but married to Edo. She currently represents Anambra North in the Senate. These women chose to represent their native states in the Senate. There is nothing wrong with that.

But, Mrs. Ekwunife has chosen to represent her husband’s place, Anambra Central, in the Senate. Coming back to claim her native zone in the governorship contest because she feels it confers a better political advantage on her shows signs of unfaithfulness and unreliability. In American politics, such double talk would be seriously held against her and she would be seen to be untrustworthy. She is either Anambra South or Anambra Central. Period! Since the PDP has discountenanced zoning, she should stand firm and contest as a candidate from the Central constituency. It does not stop her from campaigning in the South. She has the pedigree and capacity to win, irrespective of where she comes from.

It is important to note that zoning has not been in the lexicon of Anambra State. It was when former governor Peter Obi was about to leave office in 2014 that the ruling party felt the position should go to the North because nobody from that zone had been governor. Hence, APGA sold Obiano to the people of the state. The verdict on the governor’s performance will come after his tenure.

Until then, the people of Anambra South should stop cutting off their nose to spite their face. They should remember that candidates from the South have always contested governorship elections in the state, zoning or no zoning. In 2014, some of them contested against Obiano even when APGA had zoned it to the North.

Ordinarily, being from Anambra South myself, I ought to support zoning the governorship to the South. But I cannot, because it will favour me today, agitate for what will ultimately be to my disadvantage. I want to support a candidate from the South because of his pedigree and competence, not because he is from the South. Anambra State is homogenous. It should do away with zoning. Otherwise, it will further polarise the politics of the state. It is already happening with the old Aguata and old Nnewi dichotomy in Anambra South.

This is why the PDP should not succumb to the zoning agitation by some of its members. The doors of the party should remain open for a good candidate from any part of the state. Such aspirants as Ezeemo, Chris Azubogu, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, Osita Chidoka, Oseloka Obaze and Ekwunife are good and can turn the fortunes of the state around. Let these candidates woo the delegates with their manifestos and good programmes and not with sentiment.

One other character flaw of our politicians is jumping from one party to the other. Today, they are in PDP because they feel the party is better organised. Tomorrow, they are in APGA because they feel the party is popular in the state. There is no ideology, no principle and no shame.

By and large, the critical instruments for any election in Anambra State are the grassroots, the church and traditional institutions. The 2021 election will not be about party. It’s about the force a candidate is coming with. If the relatively unknown Young Progressives Party (YPP), represented by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, could beat the All Progressives Congress (APC), PDP and APGA in the last senatorial election, then anything can happen. There could be serious upsets in the election. The concern of the parties should be to present good and bankable candidates, not on account of zoning but on merit.

Re: Mixed grill over national anti-corruption war

Nigeria’s fight against corruption has merely assumed the movement of a crab, one step forward, one and a half steps backward! This is so because the fight is unarguably founded on witch-hunting, deceit, tribalism, sectionalism and politics: politics of 2023 inclusive. The legislative arm of government is bereft of its true voice, lacks the required bite of robust and independent legislation.

Under the judiciary, the courts (inclusion of the apex court) even in the face of weighty and overwhelming evidence, are always in a hurry to dismiss obvious corruption charges and political cases against government-anointed individuals “for lack of merit.” The executive, which controls the army, police, DSS, EFCC, uses these ever-willing agencies to trample on the other arms of government or cross its territorial boundary.

How would Nigeria be equated with Algeria, Israel, Egypt, etc, where the corruption fight blasts and convicts past corrupt leaders? Or is our corruption fight not bugged by an unwritten law that shields past corrupt heads of state/presidents from trial and conviction? It is no longer news that only ex-governors, whether corrupt or not corrupt, are brought to book or convicted. A good fight that has eyes and is woven in intrigues will always remain a successful failure.

– Edet Essien Esq., +2348037952470

Dear Casy, APC-led federal government is not fighting corruption holistically. My reason is that 90 per cent of the people who funded Buhari’s campaign in 2015 were corrupt. How many of them have been jailed? Oga Buhari’s appointments in key MDAs are full of corruption. Some former APC governors who ruined their states financially are still enjoying their loot under Buhari’s watch. It is under this APC that python, gorilla and monkey stole our money and none of them was caught.

– Eze Chima C. Lagos, +2347036225495

Cas,the most important message is that the fight has gained vigour. That is what it should be, and the president should not relent, but should fight the war to the next level. There is corruption in every aspect of our national life. The war should be total. Cas, please, do something about a hundred fake professors discovered in Nigerian universities by the executive secretary of National Universities Commission. This is the highest level of corruption in the land. Our citadels of learning should not be left to die like that.

– Pastor Livy Onyenegecha, Ibeku Okwuato Mbaise, Imo State, 08036174573

Dear Casmir, I guess it is no hate speech to say that President Buhari’s so-called fight against corruption now amounts to dressing the windows of some unlucky fall guys like our friend, Senator Orji Uzo Kalu. In his first outing as military leader in 1983/84, he gleefully hauled a large number of governors then into jail for as much as 120 years, because he decreed a convoluted jurisprudence of “firstly you are guilty, now prove your innocence, before a military tribunal.”

– Dr. Chuka Nwosu, +2348037254371

Casmir, the war against corruption can’t be fought by pretenders. It’s not won by proliferation of committees or on the pages of newspapers/TV stations. It’s not won by deceit and propaganda. Winning the war against corruption needs willpower and change of attitude. It is a subconscious, in-built facility that empowers one to do good and reject bad.

– Pharm. Okwy Njike, +2348038854922

Ouranti-corruption agencies are trying their best to eradicate corruption. But their effort is not enough because there are some corrupt, never-do-well leaders who are supposed to be in jail, but they are walking free.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348088412165

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, December 23, 2019