Archive for January 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.