Archive for June 2008

Kids as witches and commodities

June 30, 2008

 By Casmir Igbokwe

 Published: Sunday, 29 Jun 2008

I was privy to a discussion of two young women recently. One told the other that her menses were causing her stomach upset. She last experienced this some years back when she had not started having children. The other asked her if she had been using contraceptives. She answered in the negative, saying her husband only used condoms. The other woman shrugged and noted, ”My husband does not like condom o!” Even, the two women do not fancy injectables. The assumption is that they have side effects and could make a woman look like an inflated balloon.

In the absence of any form of birth control, two things could happen. The couple could either cuddle their pillows in their different rooms, or sleep together and produce what some people call unwanted pregnancy. Some terminate the pregnancy. Some allow it to run its natural course. Even single girls that play with boys without caution risk this situation as well. When the babies eventually come, they consider many options regarding what to do with them.

One, they may decide to keep them in the family and train them to the best of their ability. When the child grows to a certain level, they either give them out to relations as housemaids or houseboys or they release them to the larger society, where they grow to become social miscreants.

The kids may show some signs of mental retardation or sickness due largely to malnutrition and lack of adequate care. In this case, the parents will likely visit prayer houses or what passes for a church. There, they may label them witches or wizards. Prayer warriors will then start a series of exorcism. ”Holy Ghost fire! Die by fire!” they are wont to chant. They torture, machete, abandon and, sometimes, burn these kids alive.

This is exactly what is happening in Akwa Ibom and Cross River states. Courtesy of a United Kingdom registered charity organisation, Stepping Stone Nigeria, we got to know that over 15, 000 children are suffering this problem in the two states. Abandoned by those who gave birth to them, they roam the streets begging for alms and looking for where to retire at night. Some die off. Some fall into the hands of ritualists and rapists.

The problem is not peculiar to Nigeria. A particular family, which came to London from Congo to seek asylum, allegedly accused a little girl living with them of witchcraft. They tortured her, cut her with a knife, rubbed peppers in her eyes, tied her in a sack for days and finally threw her out of their house. The culprits were later reportedly convicted on cruelty charges.

Kids who escape allegations of witchcraft may end up as articles of trade. Recently, in Aba, Abia State, the police arrested some pregnant girls and their matron, Mrs Grace Erondu (80), for alleged involvement in the illicit trade of trading in babies. At Erondu‘s maternity, a baby boy reportedly goes for N250,000, while a baby girl goes for about N200,000. This woman, who claimed to be a prayer warrior, bathes her girls with alcoholic drinks to exorcise them of evil spirits.

A few days after the Aba arrest, security agents raided another home in Enugu and arrested 22 pregnant girls. Also arrested was the patron of the “maternity,” Dr. Kenneth Akune. The alleged crime blew open when a woman arrested with a day-old baby confessed that she bought it at the so-called maternity for N340, 000.

We are wont to blame poverty for this kind of mindless trade. This is true to an extent. But what kind of poverty will push a parent to sell his baby? Or move him to push her out of his house in the guise that she is a witch? Even wild animals don‘t behave this way. They cherish and protect their offspring against any predator.

Indeed, our society is becoming more conscienceless and savage. And we are the most religious country in the world. The truth is that many of the self-styled prophets and seers in our midst see religion as a big business venture. They trade on the ignorance and feeble-mindedness of people to make their money. You can never visit them without being told of a looming imaginary death, an accident that will soon happen or a child who flies in the night to attend a meeting of witches. Out of panic, the person concerned may offer money to obtain prayers that will seemingly avert the predicted calamity.

We will never progress as a nation if we continue this way. A newborn baby has his own right to life and decent living. Whoever denies him that right should face the full weight of the law. And this is where the government comes in. It must enforce the relevant laws that deal with illegal sale and trafficking in persons, even as it should endeavour to improve the economic condition of the citizens. It should also standardise and publicise the procedure for child adoption.

All the states of the federation should also endeavour to adopt the Child Rights Act of 2003. So far, only 14 states have adopted the law, which is an offshoot of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The convention urges countries to take appropriate measures to protect the child against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions or beliefs of the child‘s parents, guardians or family members.

On their part, couples should ensure they have the number of children they can adequately cater for. Those who cannot control their libido should sit down, like the woman with painful menstruation and her friend, and discuss the family planning method that best suits their belief and condition.

Feedback

Dear Casmir,

I have a confession to make – I love you… Though I am a 54-year-old lady, conservative and proper, I cannot contain myself. Every time I read your piece, I feel like embracing you and pecking your cheeks – Yes! You are “just too much.” I have been “in love” since you were in Cardiff. Your write-ups are incisive and very thorough. Sundays would be incomplete without them. In fact, I read the “last page” first. This goes to show the importance of finding one’s purpose in life. No doubt, Casmir, you were born to write. May your “well” never run dry. Amen.

Mrs. F. Martins, Ifako,

anjolam@yahoo.com.

Dear Casmir,

Thanks for your piece “MTN, free airtime and phone abusers.” It‘s superb. I wonder why our people behave strangely. As a radio and television presenter, I give out my phone number for reasonable clients to book advert appointments. Alas! What do I get in return? Endless flashing, terrible text messages like “are you married?” “Who are you?” “Send me credit” and lots more. They no longer understand simple instruction, “Please call for advert placement only”. It‘s a terrible trend. I think networks should charge for flashing, so that our people can find better things to do with their time instead of disturbing other people‘s peace!

Mrs. Bimpe Atofolaki,

Sango-Otta, 08072324558.

Selling truth down the river

June 23, 2008

 By Casmir Igbokwe

 Published: Sunday, 22 Jun 2008

TO sell somebody down the river is an idiom. It means to betray somebody, especially to one’s own advantage. I find this expression very apt, especially against the background of some happenings in the country today. First, former Heads of State (Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar) openly exonerated their late colleague, Sani Abacha, from the allegations that he looted public treasury. Four days later, precisely on June 12, the erstwhile Chairman of the National Electoral Commission, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, came out with his own truth. At the launch of his book: Laying the Foundation for Nigeria’s Democracy: My Account of June 12, 1993 Presidential Election and its Annulment, Nwosu absolved Babangida of any blame in the annulment of that election. He blamed the annulment on senior military colleagues of Babangida.

My concern here is not about the canonisation of Abacha. Nor is it about Nwosu’s fallacious argument. Many analysts and opinion leaders have adequately tackled those issues. I’m troubled more by the events at the public hearing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the Rivers State Government to engender peace in that state. From the look of things, the commission may have a harder task in reconciling lies and half-truths than in bringing peace.

Between Tuesday and Thursday last week, some prominent citizens of the state gave their testimonies in Abuja. They are the former governor of the state, Dr. Peter Odili; the former Transport Minister, Dr. Abiye Sekibo; and former Governor Celestine Omehia.

In his testimony, Odili, in the name of God, denied all the allegations against him. Prodded on by aso-ebi wearing women and a band of clappers, the former governor noted, “At no time between 1999 and 2007 did Governor (Rotimi) Amaechi advise me against the use of cult groups for election because there was no need for such advice.” Recall that Amaechi, in his opening speech at the inauguration of the commission, said he spoke against using cult groups for elections during Odili’s tenure. As it is, between Odili and Amaechi, one person must be a liar. Hence, truth has not been established in this instance.

Odili said youth restiveness was common in the Niger Delta due to a feeling of frustration among jobless young people. He suggested creating jobs in the oil industry and its subsidiaries to tackle this problem. He spoke of the need for true leaders and elders of Rivers State to unite and plan for the future of the state. Unfortunately, he laid another foundation for mistrust and acrimony when he said he did not believe that the intention of those who set up the commission was to find genuine peace and reconciliation.

If Odili was a little suspicious of the real intentions behind the conception of the commission, Sekibo had no doubts at all. He said he had strong reservations about the nobility of the intent behind the setting up of the commission and its transparency and fairness.

Sekibo further told the commission, “You have been called a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but any fair minded observer who has listened to, and seen all that has been shown on television will wonder if the truth indeed is being told and if so, if it is possible to achieve reconciliation bearing in mind the utterances of the unelected Governor Amaechi and several others who have appeared before this panel.” He alleged that Amaechi had told him that he would destroy him, wondering if the commission was not one of the contraptions the governor intended to use to destroy him.

These are weighty words spoken out of extreme bitterness. And like Sekibo and Odili, Omehia made his own allegations, denied the ones levelled against him and added some drops of tears in the process.

What this indicates is that the reconciliatory part of the public hearing is heading for the rocks. In the first place, real truth has remained elusive. And in the absence of truth, reconciliation cannot take place. Many individuals and groups fingered Odili and Sekibo as the architect of the crises in the state. Yet, these former leaders of the state have denied all the allegations. Obviously, truth is on trial here.

The public hearing in Abuja also transmitted some troubling signals. One, why couldn’t Odili and Co. come to Port Harcourt to testify? What are they really scared of? What purpose did those who came to Abuja to clap intend to achieve? Is the public hearing a circus show or a moment for sober reflection? Though we do not know what the commission will recommend, the conduct and utterances of testifiers have unwittingly provided grounds for condemning its report.

Without internal peace in Rivers and the entire Niger Delta, there will not be peace in Nigeria. Just as the commission wound up its sitting in Abuja on Thursday, militants attacked the Bonga oilfield, which produces about 200,000 barrels of crude or 10 per cent of Nigeria’s current daily output of about 2m barrels. This forced Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria to shut down production at the oilfield. Similar attacks on oil facilities have reduced about a quarter of the nation’s total oil production.

Some leaders of the Niger Delta had recommended provision of jobs as a way of rehabilitating gang leaders and dousing tension and restiveness in the region. Providing employment is only a step. It will not significantly change the situation. Or what type of job will satisfy somebody who, apparently, is making millions from kidnapping and some other illegal activities?

For a start, the Federal Government should increase the revenue allocation to Niger Delta states to at least 25 per cent. It is only after this that it could have the moral basis to attack criminality in that region.

I had commended Amaechi for setting up the TRC (SUNDAY PUNCH, 8 June 2008.) I had also advised him to be ready to pardon remorseful gang leaders since he modelled the commission after South Africa’s TRC. Similarly, I wish to plead with Odili, Sekibo, Omehia and all the characters in the Rivers crises to sheathe their swords and embrace genuine peace and reconciliation.

MTN, free airtime and phone abusers

June 16, 2008

 By Casmir Igbokwe

 Published: Sunday, 15 Jun 2008

I GOT a queer text message from a reader of this column last Sunday. It reads: “I love you, from the Deputy Governor of Lagos State. Call me for further details. This is my number: 07057410198.” Knowing that the Deputy Governor of Lagos is a woman, I first alerted my wife about the suspicious message. Together, we agreed to call the number. We tried many times. But the owner permanently diverted all calls to voicemail, without giving any allowance to drop a message.

I believe that the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Sarah Sosan, will not want to send a message in that fashion. When contacted, one of her aides could not identify the number as madam’s. I wanted to expose some other funny messages I have received from readers to keep your Sunday lively. Unfortunately, phone thieves stole my two phones last Wednesday night.

The incident happens to be the second I have experienced this year. The first time was in February on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway by Dopemu Bridge. It was along a traffic jam. This second one was at Orelope and Idimu Road intersection at Egbeda area of Lagos. The pattern was the same. A young man would emerge from nowhere and tap you, saying some senseless things to distract your attention. His partner in crime will stretch his hand from the passenger’s side and take your phone. I never ever imagined that I would fall a victim the second time. I became less security conscious because there was no hold-up since it was past 10pm. The incident happened just as I slowed down at Orelope end of the road intersection.

The irony of the situation is that after the incident, the journalist in me took over. Instead of mourning the loss of my phones, I started constructing a story in my mind, a story that will best illustrate my painful losses vis-à-vis the poor phone etiquette of Nigerians and the exciting free airtime noise that MTN Nigeria Communications Limited is making of recent.

Recall that MTN came out recently with an advert, which says, “MTN excites subscribers with free airtime.” The GSM giant said it was its own way of saying “thank you” to its customers’ friendship. In a text message sent to my MTN line on Friday, June 13, the mobile phone operator further noted, “You will receive free N175 airtime on 14th June. This is MTN’s way of showing appreciation for your support and loyalty. Do enjoy it at your leisure. Thank you!”

As a Nigerian, I know that there is nothing exciting about the so-called free airtime. It happens to be a penalty the National Communications Commission mandated MTN and Celtel Nigeria to pay customers for poor services. When NCC imposed this sanction, the cost of compensation was about N4bn.

The mobile phone operators first went to court to restrain the NCC from implementing the sanction. They lost at the court. Hence, it became compulsory for them to pay the penalty. Celtel was the first to set the timetable within which it intends to pay the compensation. Then came MTN with its exciting free airtime.

The Senate Committee on Communication sees this free airtime message as deceptive. The Chairman of the Committee, Sylvester Anyanwu, reportedly said the operators had presented the sanction on them as if they were doing Nigerians a favour whereas they should be remorseful for rendering poor services. He demanded that the operators should retract the messages to reflect the true position. He also noted that the sanctions would continue pending the time operators improved their services.

The relevant question to ask at this point is: is the NCC justified in meting out this punishment to the GSM operators? Yes is my simple answer. Personally, I have had to contend with calling people only to be told “error in network connection”, “the number you have dialled is not available at the moment, please try again later”, “the number you have dialled is incorrect, please check your number and dial again,” etc. These programmed voices will continue echoing these messages, even when the number you are dialling is just in front of you.

Everywhere you go, subscribers also complain of drop calls, non-delivery of text messages and inability to recharge their lines. On at least two occasions, I have had to visit MTN friendship centre at Akowonjo, Lagos, to complain of my inability to recharge. Even after their intervention, I still had to wait for about five days for my recharge to be credited.

In all fairness to the GSM operators, they have their teething problems. Poor infrastructure, especially erratic power supply, is a major headache. But they compound the problems by selling more lines that will further congest their networks.

Out of frustration, some people dump their old lines for new ones. A report in THE PUNCH of 2 June 2008 quoted statistics from the NCC as indicating that out of about 57.72million lines connected by the four GSM operators in the country, 43.79million were active while 13.87million were dormant as at March this year.

This, perhaps, is why MTN’s current customer-focus is geared at achieving what it terms “next generation customer care.” In a recent advertised message, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Ahmad Farroukh, introduced his new Customer Relations Executive, Akin Braithwaite, and enthused that in the past nine months, the company had embarked on an aggressive network capacity expansion programme.

Since Farroukh expressed his desire to receive comments and suggestions, may I suggest that they do something about free midnight calls. I understand the free call is from 12.30am to 4.30am. Mainly students particularly find this free call very rewarding. A few days ago, a phone call from a close relation woke me up at 3.30am. Fear gripped me when I saw the call as I thought something terrible had happened. As it turned out, nothing happened. She just called to say hi. I was furious, but I later learnt that she only took advantage of MTN’s free calls.

In all, the NCC should continue to protect the interest of Nigerian consumers as it’s done in civilised societies. In India, for instance, telecom regulator, in 2001, ordered cell phone operators to compensate millions of subscribers for overcharging them. The United Kingdom’s industry’s watchdog also fined a mobile phone company, Moby Monkey, £50,000 in 2002 for sending misleading text messages to customers.

The NCC could engender more competition and better services if it could fulfil its promise to introduce number portability in the services of the GSM operators. With this service, customers can migrate from one network to another and still retain and use their numbers.

Nigerians should also learn some things about phone etiquette. What we call flashing contributes to the problems of the phone operators. If you don’t have money to call, send a text message. But not like the one who says she is Lagos Deputy Governor. If you wish to make a call, it should not be like the girl who called me last week and said, “Hello, I saw your number in the newspapers. I want to know if you have somebody who wishes to adopt a baby?” I saved her number with the name “baby seller” so that I can contact her for further details. Unfortunately, the number has gone with the thieves who stole my handsets.

Home truths about treasure base of militants

June 9, 2008

By Casmir Igbokwe

 Published: Sunday, 8 Jun 2008

IN those days when Port Harcourt was still the Garden City, many good things came out of Rivers State. From Bonny Street to Aggrey Road; from D/Line to Borokiri; and from Mile One to Mile Four, Port Harcourt residents had a good time. There were good eateries, which, most times, could not find enough space for lovers of such delicacies as fresh fish and isi-ewu. Nightclubs were not in short supply even as expatriates had upper hand in the game of wooing ladies. Many parents reflected the mood of the time then by giving their children such names as Gold, Precious, Finecountry and Fineface.

Today, there is nothing fine about the face of security in Rivers State, nay Nigeria. The state is nicknamed treasure base of the nation. But from the activities of militants and sundry criminals that currently hold sway there, one can rightly call it the treasure base of militants/bandits.

Disturbed by the negative trends in the state, the governor, Chibuike Amaechi, set up Truth and Reconciliation Commission on 29 November 2007. He gave the commission a seven-point agenda. Parts of the agenda were to identify the nature of the discontent in the state, its remote and immediate causes and the extent of damage that has been done to the people and to peace in the state. The commission is also to identify the various factions and people who have been involved in fostering the discontent and to advise on ways to reconcile the factions with a view to bringing peace and concord in the state.

The governor deserves commendation for this action. Before the emergence of democracy in 1999, the unrest in the state revolved around pockets of communal disturbances as well as protests by the Ogoni people against Shell Petroleum Development Company. After 1999, the situation changed. Such cult groups as Deybam and Deywell began a rein of terror. They killed and maimed. At a point, a supremacy war erupted between the Niger Delta Vigilance Group led by Ateke Tom and Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force led by Asari Dokubo. Allegations were rife that some powerful politicians in the state armed some of these groups to help in prosecuting their political wars.

In September 2004, the then President Olusegun Obasanjo invited Tom and Dokubo to Abuja for a peace meeting. The following month, the two groups signed a peace agreement. Thereafter, they began to hand over their “weapons of mass destruction.” Over 3,000 of such weapons were publicly destroyed. But no sooner had this exercise ended than other forms of insurgency surfaced. In 2006, militants began kidnapping foreign oil workers. This, ostensibly, was to bring international attention to the plight of the Niger Delta people. But now, a large dose of criminality has enveloped the struggle as fellow citizens, toddlers, wives and mothers are targets of the kidnappers. Attacks on oil installations and police stations have also heightened.

This has led to a jump in global oil prices, a surge in military offensive and a cut in oil production. The President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Dr Ignatius Adaji, was quoted to have said last week that between 2006 and 2007, the nation lost about 500, 000 barrels of oil per day at an average price of $60 per barrel. In monetary terms, this approximates to about $26.9bn. This is besides the huge losses in human and material capital.

With regard to identifying the nature and characters involved in the Rivers crises, the TRC appears to be on the right track. As its Chairman, Justice Kayode Eso (ret), put it, “We have already received over 200 memoranda…The context of the memoranda, which we have received has gone a long way for any one to come to a conclusion that all is certainly not well with the Delta, the economic pivot of the nation and except something is done drastically and urgently, this country is sitting on powder-kegs.”

Since last Monday when the commission started its sitting, it has been allegations and counter-allegations. The governor himself released the opening salvo. According to him, “I personally had to take refuge outside the shores of this country for the fear of being assassinated when I was pursuing my political ambition to be the governor of the state…Throughout the period of Dr. Odili’s tenure I was considered to be independent-minded. This explains why I later went through all my tribulations. I spoke against using cult groups for election; that was why in my local government area there were no cult groups even up till now.”

By this submission, Amaechi indirectly confirmed that prominent politicians in the state sponsored cult groups to achieve their political ambitions. Some witnesses have accused former Governor Peter Odili and former Transport Minister, Abiye Sekibo, of being the godfathers of some of the cult groups. For instance, the people of Okuru Ama, last Wednesday, alleged that Odili and Sekibo masterminded the destruction of their homes during the 2001 crisis in the state. The crisis reportedly took the lives of over 40 people. They demanded N1bn as compensation from the Rivers State Government.

As the commission awaits the response of Odili and Sekibo, it is imperative to note that the reconciliation part of the public hearing appears to be emitting negative signals. The animosities are so deep-rooted that even the governor, while responding to the plea to forgive some gang leaders, reportedly said, “If you were to be the son of a man whose father was brought out and shot in his presence, would you ask me to forgive the man, who killed your father?” He said people must be made to answer for their crimes.

If the governor had named the commission, Truth and War Crimes Commission, I would have supported him totally.

It has always been my position that criminals must be made to face the full wrath of the law. But as long as the body handling the public hearing is called TRC, the governor should be ready to pardon any remorseful gang leader. Since he modelled the commission after South Africa’s TRC, he should emulate Nelson Mandela who pardoned his white adversaries in spite of the atrocities they committed against him and his country. He should also be ready to pay compensation to those who have genuine need for that. He should not deviate from his promise to seriously consider the recommendations of the Commission and take such decisions as would help restore peace in the state.

But whoever is caught again for criminal activities after the reconciliation must be made to pay for such crimes. The major consideration for any action should be restoration of peace. Without internal peace, the struggle for equity in the Niger Delta will continue to present a variegated and ugly face. Criminals will continue to hijack it. Local and international businesses will suffer. Expatriates will leave in droves. And the ultimate losers will be the Nigerian economy, hotel and nightclub owners, company executives, market women, fresh fish and isi-ewu lovers, tourists and sundry fun seekers.

Reception for Obasanjo-Bello

June 5, 2008

Casmir Igbokwe

Published Sunday, June 1 2008

 

Many people seem to be courting Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello at the moment. Penultimate week, her estranged husband, Akeem Bello, visited and prayed with her at Maitama Police Station, Abuja. She was in brief detention there. Also, some of her colleagues in the Senate were delighted to see her again after about three weeks of evading arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. To crown it all, members of Ward 11 of Abeokuta North Local Government Area of Ogun State held a reception for her in Abeokuta.

 

According to media reports, the reception was to celebrate the air of freedom the woman breathed again after the face-off with the EFCC. Hundreds of her supporters reportedly thronged the streets of Abeokuta, drumming, dancing and singing the praises of the Senator. There were banners welcoming the beloved bride of the Owus at strategic locations in town. Prior to this reception, members of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ward 11 had gone to Abuja to show solidarity during her appearance in court. Obasanjo-Bello, who expressed gratitude to her people, assured them that she was not a thief.

 

Recall that the woman was embroiled in the controversy surrounding the sharing of the N300m unspent budget of the Ministry of Health. President Umar Yar’Adua had directed all ministries and government agencies to return all unspent 2007 budget to the treasury. Instead of complying with this directive, the Ministry of Health allegedly decided to share the money. The House of Representatives Committee on Health and its counterpart in the Senate got N10m each. But while the Reps returned their own share, the Senators under the headship of Obasanjo-Bello, allegedly used their own for a capacity-building trip to Ghana. The EFCC had since prosecuted the former Minister of Health, Prof. Adenike Grange, and some others. Obasanjo-Bello’s eventual arraignment happens to be one of the major highlights of the incident. There are other scandals allegedly hanging around the neck of this woman. It is left for the courts to either convict her or declare her innocent.

 

But rather than await the verdict of the courts, some individuals are falling over themselves to humour her. It’s just like some party stalwarts, friends and indigenes of Bayelsa State who humoured and warmly received the former Governor of the state, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was convicted for looting the treasury of his state.

 

At the root of this kind of perfidy is poverty. For instance, the PDP Vice-Chairman for Obasanjo-Bello’s ward, Alhaji Akanni Oyeleye, wanted to go to Abuja to show solidarity with the Senator. As he reportedly put it, “I even got to Lagos until I was told that the transport fare was N5, 000. So, I backed out of the trip and we continued to pray at home.” Oyeleye turned a prayer warrior at home because he could not afford N5, 000 transport cost to Abuja. And to compensate people like him, Obasanjo-Bello donated N100, 000 to support the empowerment programme organised by an official of Abeokuta North Local Government.

 

We always blame our leaders for Nigeria’s woes. But it is the followers who are stoking the fire of corruption for them. If you are in government and you fail to steal from the public till, your own people will be the first to condemn you and call you a buffoon. This is partly why the war against corruption has yielded little dividend. Until we begin to ostracise looters; until we stop worshipping ill-gotten wealth; and until the government begins a campaign to make people change their wrong values, we may never move forward as a people.

 

Re: Hunger, anger and strategic food security

 

Casmir,

You are extremely too frank and humourous, else you won’t contemplate selling of wives. Can’t husbands be sold too? I Love your write-up.

Mrs Sola Sobande

08056633341

 

Casmir,

Your article on strategic food security is indeed a true Nigerian reflection of current global food crisis. In fact, it has exposed the weakness of our system as it relates to food strategy. It is laughable that the Fed Govt is just reacting to this. It shows the myopic nature of govt policies…

Barth Az. Okonkwo

08033019205

 

Casmir,

Those at the villa are too egocentric to think about food security. Casmir, you deserve a national honour, MON, for your write-ups.

Akinleye Adepitan,

UNAAB.

08075576801

 

Casmir,

Your write-up on food security should be another challenge for a focused and serious government with genuine concerns for its citizens. Unfortunately, what we have at the moment is a government that lacks vision, with a lot of confusion. I doubt if they will address the food crisis issue correctly…

Lai Adeyemi, Lagos.

08058988580

 

Casmir,

I read your article on strategic food security. As an agricultural economist and extensionist, I totally agree with your “permanent solution to boost local production”. Keep up the good job.

Essien Antia-Obong.

Calabar. (08055622455)

 

Casmir,

My suggestion is that government should invest in farm communities that will employ the army of unemployed Nigerians trading in traffic, touting and doing 419 activities. The farms should provide simple accommodation and a guarantee of three meals/day for the workers. Government after establishing the farms and working capital should divest from ownership by converting the capital to shares that will be sold principally to the workers through loans payable over five-10 years deducted from salaries. This way we will ensure good management and realise the objective of providing food for Nigerians.

Gbola Oshodi

08023133398

 

Casmir,

You are a fearless writer. Keep it up. But I believe the solution to the problems is to stand against these crooks by every means, even if it involves lives. That is if we are ready to die (poverty is a curse/disease).

Pastor Sunday A.

Ilorin (08035759592)

 

Casmir

Hard for me to choose who is the best between you and Ishiekwene. But I am in no doubt that you are a simply great stuff.

Barrister Jerry Llimezekhe.

08033311290

 

Casmir,

I buy THE PUNCH on Sundays only to read your column. I have not seen any columnist that chooses words like you so much that my elementary school children make sense out of your write-ups. Believe it, you write for every Nigerian…

Taiwo Akande

Ibadan (08055684174)

 

Casmir,

I am a Catholic. Anytime we are asked to recite the prayer for Nigeria in distress, I do so with a passion, most especially the part where we say, “Spare this nation (Nigeria) from chaos, anarchy and doom.” I believe that Nigeria needs this prayer for it not to end up a failed state.

Olumide Soyemi

Shomolu (08034977903)