What’s Amiss In Sokoto? By Rotimi Fawole

After three streams of news reports, it’s still not quite clear what happened in Sokoto last week. Initially, the news was that Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, a senior learned colleague and a Life Bencher, pardoned five ex-officials of the Sokoto State Government currently being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission along with 10 others for allegedly defrauding the state of N15bn. Not only that, since pardoning them, it was said, they had been appointed into various positions in the Sokoto State Government.

Obviously, there were a few jurisdictional and jurisprudential problems with this. Jurisdictional in the sense that even though the accused were being tried at the State High Court, they had been charged under Federal Laws and were being prosecuted by the EFCC, a federal agency. Basic constitutional law teaches that a governor can only grant pardons with regard to offences over which his State’s legislature has jurisdiction. The jurisprudential question lay in the notion of pardons being granted while the accused had yet to be convicted of anything. How do you pardon people who are still innocent in the eyes of the law, observers asked?

The State’s Attorney-General issued a clarification a few days later. Governor Tambuwal had not in fact pardoned them in advance of their convictions, he said. What had supposedly happened was that the Governor had reviewed the findings of the panel of inquiry that indicted the Pardoned 5. He found reasons to question the indictment and therefore pardoned them of the indictment. The Pardoned 5 had thereafter applied to the court to dismiss the charges the against them, as the now quashed indictment was the foundation of the EFCC’s case. Apparently, the court agreed and discharged the Pardoned 5.

This version of events still does not stack up. Section 212 of the Constitution is explicit on the limits of the Governor’s power to pardon. The power exists to grant pardons to convicted people, stay the execution of any punishment imposed on a convicted person, or substitute a less severe form of punishment than was imposed. It remained unclear how these extended to indictments by commissions or panels of inquiry.

However, there was a final attempt at explaining what transpired. There was apparently strong evidence to suggest that a previous governor of the state had set out to taint the Pardoned 5 at all costs. The indictment was a hatchet job, as uncovered by the panel Governor Tambuwal set up to review the indictment. It was based on their strong recommendations that he had quashed the indictment (note the change in nomenclature, from pardon to quashing). There is apparently nothing unusual about this and any hint of the sensational, the state’s officials say, is the work of Governor Tambuwal’s detractors.

It’s a slightly more palatable version but it still leaves a lot of questions unanswered. For one, what is the proper process for quashing indictments? What does it mean for public policy if a Governor can overturn the findings of a panel of enquiry? Secondly, indictments have not traditionally formed the basis for the preferment of charges in the Nigerian Criminal Justice System. While they may have well formed the basis for the investigation by the EFCC, charges are usually substantiated by the ‘Proof of Evidence’ that the prosecution attaches to the charge sheet. Under Nigerian Criminal Procedure, the prosecution must attach a summary of the evidence it intends to rely on during the trial to the charge sheet. This is rooted in ‘innocent until proven guilty’ jurisprudence, allowing the accused the privilege of seeing the evidence the state intends to confront him with and prepare.

If the Honourable Court was happy to discharge the Pardoned 5 on the basis that the Governor had quashed their indictment, one has to question the Proof of Evidence supplied by the EFCC. If they disclosed a strong enough case at arraignment (defence counsel can apply for charges to be thrown out if no case is shown against the accused), surely the existence of the indictment goes to no issue at all and is irrelevant to the substance of the trial. If, on the other hand, the Proof of Evidence was insufficient to maintain the charges at the point the Pardoned 5 were arraigned, why did His Lordship permit the trial to carry on for so long?

Perhaps a fourth version of the events will yet emerge and put all these issues to rest. I remain convinced that the Bar, my constituency, is where Nigeria’s fixers will come from.

Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen By Femi Aribisala

Some people were coming from a mighty crusade along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. Millions of people had been in attendance. There was a big traffic jam that stretched for miles and miles. But the people did not seem to mind. The crusade had been glorious. The power of God was present to heal. The testimonies were considerable. Many had been touched by the power of God.

Suddenly, they saw a man in flowing white robes standing on the side of the road. “What’s going on?” he asked. “What is all this excitement about?” “Are you the only stranger in Lagos?” one of them replied. “Do you mean to tell us that you have not heard about this mighty crusade that has drawn people from all parts of the country?”

The man was not impressed. “One thing I know,” he offered, “out of this great multitude, only two thousand are going to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” As soon as he had said this, he literally disappeared from their sight.

The men were so dismayed by this strange man and his prophecy that, at the next intersection, they crossed over to the other side of the expressway and went back to the crusade grounds. When they got there, they sought audience with the man who God had used to do the miracles and the signs; determined to give him the ominous message of the “angelic” stranger and to see what he would make of it.

But something strange happened when they got to the famous preacher. As they were ushered into his office, they saw seating in front of him, the same strange messenger in white robes who they had met on the expressway. He had come to deliver the same message to the preacher in person. When he finished, he quietly got up and left.

But one question was burning in their hearts. How did the man disappear on the road, and how did he get back to the crusade grounds before they did?”

Dire Prophecy

Lord, are there few that are saved? The answer is yes, only a few are saved. According to the revelation of he who is the Lord God Almighty, “many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14). The testimony of Jesus is “the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10). Therefore, no matter what anyone thinks, relatively few Christians are going to end up in heaven.

Yes, many are now called, but few are going to be chosen. Few are going to spend eternity with God. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit has been saying to the churches. (Revelation 2:29).

From the first time that the gospel has been preached, the message has been the same, but people have refused to listen. Isaiah cried: “Who has believed our report?” People have simply refused to believe the report of the Lord.

The word of prophecy that many are called but few are chosen was in operation before Isaiah and it has been in operation since Isaiah. That word of prophecy is the most repeated passage in all scripture. It is repeated more times than any other scripture in the bible. It is the scripture that the Lord used to call me to ministry: Matthew 13:13-16.

God says in effect: “So many people will hear the gospel, but they will not listen.” Only a very few people will be saved.

Keep On Hearing

When Isaiah volunteered and asked the Lord to send him to preach the gospel, the Lord gave him a strange assignment: He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.” (Isaiah 5:9-10).

Isaiah could not believe this kind of assignment. What is the point of asking me to preach to people when you know that they will not listen? Isaiah had volunteered for a job without knowing its full details. Perhaps if he had known, he would not have been so forward. So he asked the Lord: “How long?” “For how long shall I preach to them and they won’t listen?”

But the Lord’s answer brought no reprieve: “Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, the houses are without a man, the land is utterly desolate.” (Isaiah 6:11).

God prophesied, in effect, that we would not listen until the destruction decreed has been effected. This is powerful scripture. We would not listen until we are destroyed.

How can a man listen after he has been destroyed? He will only listen when he is beyond redemption. Then he will remember all the warnings he heard and ignored. He will remember all the scriptures he overlooked. He will remember all the ones he highlighted in his bible but failed to practice. He will remember reading this article of faith.

Few Are Chosen

In the story that Jesus told the Pharisees, the rich man finally believed the gospel but, alas, only when he was already in the grave. He was then concerned that his relatives should know that hades is real and not just a figment of someone’s imagination. So he pleaded with Abraham that Lazarus should be sent to warn them from the grave:

“Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:27-31).

So determined is the Lord that this prophecy of unbelief is fulfilled that when he came in the flesh, he was often speaking in parables. His disciples wondered at this tendency. They asked him: “Why can’t you speak plainly to the people?” Jesus told them: “I am always speaking in parables because I don’t want the people to understand what I am saying.”

But why does Jesus not want the people to understand? He does not want them to understand because heaven is not for everyone. Heaven is only for a select few. (Matthew 13:11-16).

The gospel has always been rejected and will always be rejected. For one hundred and twenty years, Noah preached the gospel. Nevertheless, only eight people were saved from the Flood. Lot preached the gospel to the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, but only he and his two daughters were saved. Even his wife perished.

Moses also preached the gospel of salvation. A mixed multitude of over two million people left Egypt with Moses, yet only two entered into the Promised Land. Moses himself did not make it.

God would have all men to be saved. (1 Timothy 2:3-4). But alas, only a few will be saved.

20 Years After Fela: Yesterday’s Message As Today’s Reality By Lanre Arogundade

From the second week of this October, the power of the Fela persona will surely resurface as the annual Felabration comes alive.

Some extra flavour to this year’s Felabration should be expected being the 20th anniversary of the passage of the afro beat originator and revolutionary artist. As usual there will be live performances by international and local bands; there will be the rendition of many of Fela’s tunes; and more importantly, there will be turnout of thousands of afrobeat faithful at the epicentre of the celebrations – the New Afrikan shrine in Ikeja – and elsewhere in Lagos and Ibadan.

Also as usual, the dominant faces in the Felabration crowd will be hundreds of youth who had not been born or probably were infants about the time the Abami Eda was taking his final bow from stage and mother earth. Yes, they did not and could not have seen Fela in person, not to talk of ever watching any of his live shows but they will be there all the same because they have come to know him through his many lyrics that speak to today’s reality almost beyond imagination.

My generation shares similarity with the younger generation in the above sense for it was Fela’s lyrics that first connected us with him. The added advantages which some of us enjoyed included the fact that we later got to know him at lectures and live performances on campuses, as well as at the second Afrikan Shrine on Pepple Street in Ikeja. We also met him through journalism pursuits and engagement in common political struggles.

In this regard I do recall that my brother, Ayodele, and I first knew Fela as teenagers while simultaneously working as laboratory attendants and retaking WAEC at Ijebu-Jesa Grammar School. That privilege came our way courtesy of the fact that Bros Dandy, an uncle of ours operated a radio repairs and music shop uptown and we were always there to listen to varieties of music, including that of Fela. Those were the days of record cassettes and anytime we listened to any of Fela’s new albums, we would freely obtain the cassettes to replay and replay on our sound system at home.

Prior to this period, Fela’s Kalakuta republic had been razed in 1977 by soldiers from Abalti barracks in Surulere acting on the orders of the then Obasanjo/Yar’Adua military government, which was obviously infuriated by the record Zombie in which Fela’s made scathing attack on uniformed men. The lyrics that flowed from that brutal experience were full of expression of anger against the injustice in the society, especially as meted to him by the powers that be. And so we listened to “Sorrow, Tears and Blood”, “Run Run” and much later as undergraduates, “Unknown Soldier”, in which Fela’s lamentation about how, “dem kill my mama, 78 year old mama, ideologically mama” won wide spread sympathy for him.

Fela – Na Poi

As young boys, we were also able to energetically gyrate to the danceable beats. Neighbours started thinking that we had really gotten possessed when we started doing so in underwear having seen Fela in pants on the back of his album and in newspapers. Living then at the boys’ quarters of another uncle, late Salau Ojelabi, within his Country Hotel premises we were becoming some spectacle and I also do recall that a Ghanaian teacher who lived upstairs would always drag his wife inside anytime our noisy live performance (in underwear only) of the Ijebu-Jesa version of the Kalakuta show attracted her to the balcony.

Now with the benefit of hindsight, it invariably meant that through Fela we the then teenagers had begun part of the political journeys that would take us into the world of radical and revolutionary activism for the socio-economic transformation of Nigeria.

Indeed, I had become an undergraduate at the University of Ife in the 1980s and was already a students’ union activist when I had my second encounter with Fela by watching him perform live at the amphitheatre on the campus and later by getting involved in the struggle to free him after he had been jailed for alleged currency trafficking offence by the Buhari-Idiagbon military government in 1984.

“You see when I dey compose dis song, dat time those who dey rule Nigeria dey call demselves head of state but as I dey record the song the word president just enter my mouth. I no know say Babangida go come and call himself president. Na so my music be, e fit wait for you for ten years o, hin go just catch you ni pemu”…

At this later stage of the second encounter, I was already president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and it had been the idea of Fela’s Lawyers, late Kanmi Isola-Osobu and Femi Falana (FF) that on the day of judgment over the currency ‘offence’, I would be invited to enter a mitigation plea on behalf of millions of students and youth before the Justice Okoro Idogu tribunal. Preparatory towards this, I was privileged to accompany Kanmi and FF to meetings with the Kutis at late Prof. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti’s Alaka, Lagos residence where I first met Femi Kuti and Keji Hamilton, one of Fela’s legendary key-boardists.

But I never made it to the Tafawa Balewa Square venue of the tribunal on judgement day as armed soldiers forcefully turned me back because I was not a lawyer. There were outbursts of tears once the verdict became public knowledge and there was commotion at Fela’s Ikeja residence where his boys and girls were already giving Prof. Hindu, the Ghanaian magician who had become Fela’s oracle diviner, the beating of his life for allegedly failing to use his black magic to prevent Fela’s arrest and subsequent imprisonment. Our presence saved Prof. Hindu as he rode with us in Kanmi’s car to Ikeja under-bridge where he gladly dropped off.

The struggle to free Fela took off in earnest and we students played major roles in this. I was later invited to deliver a lecture at the Afrikan Shrine as part of the ‘Free Fela’ campaign. That invitation meant that for the first time, I had to attempt a political and social analysis of Fela’s musical messages. I did this by examining about ten of Fela’s songs including the already mentioned “Zombie”, “Sorrow Tears and Blood” and “Unknown Soldier”, as well as “International Thief Thief”, “Vagabonds in Power”, “Shuffering and Smiling”, “Yellow Fever”, etc, explaining in the process how they dealt with the whole gamut of malaise afflicting our society, including police and military brutality, abuse of human rights, social and economic injustice, pervasive corruption, artificial beauty, etc as one would strive to do again in this short series. A copy of that lecture should be lying somewhere among late Beko Kuti’s archives.

Beko was the central figure in that struggle and he became quite disturbed when the military authorities decided to seize copies of Army Arrangeement alongside promotional vests and other materials while Fela continued to suffer in prison. At a stage he decided to seek the assistance of Prof. Wole Soyinka and requested that I travel to Ife to help enlist his support and fix an appointment. Soyinka obliged and a few days later the three of us met over a lunch of Eba and okro complete with bird and bush meat, the products of the Nobel Laureate’s famous hunting expeditions. It was a much relieved Beko that travelled back to Lagos following Soyinka’s pledge to intervene.

The third encounter with Fela came in the post-1984/85 detention period. Now living and working as a journalist in Lagos, one became a fair regular at his Friday night and Saturday ‘yabis’ night comprehensive shows, press conferences and other activities, including album launches. At some point, one was privileged to have witnessed the public launch of Confusion Break Bone (CBB), Overtake don Overtake Overtake (ODOO), etc., sometimes as the Master of Ceremony.

I can recall that it was at the launch of CBB that Fela’s in his remarks humorously attested to the prophetic nature of his own music. “You see when I dey compose dis song, dat time those who dey rule Nigeria dey call demselves head of state but as I dey record the song the word president just enter my mouth. I no know say Babangida go come and call himself president. Na so my music be, e fit wait for you for ten years o, hin go just catch you ni pemu”, he had said to loud cheers. Fela was referring to the verse – “dem come dey hold Shagari, dem say president Shagari him steal, se Shagari alone dem go hold, about the other presidents too” – in the album.

Starting with the immediate post-detention block buster, Beast of No Nation (BONN), Fela’s lyrical narratives at this phase were politically sharper, deeply reflective, highly intuitive, more conversational about the issues of the day and decisively more critical about various manifestations of power abuse. Thus, from “BONN” to “CBB”; from “Overtake don Overtake Overtake (ODOO)” to “Country of Pain (COP)”; from “Underground System (US)” – recorded as a tribute to assassinated radical military leader of Burkina Fasso, late Captain Thomas Sankara – to “Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense”, and from “Government of Crooks (GOC)”, “Chop and Clean Mouth Like Nothing Happen Na the New Name for Stealing” to “Condom Scallywag Nonsense”, the hot numbers came rapidly as if Fela knew the end was near and he had to download for posterity.

Interviews with the Abami Eda, often after midnight, during this period were also livelier and full of more jibes. “Arogundade, you said you dey do human rights and Martins Luther King grandson came to Nigeria. Him no visit me Fela, wey don dey fight government so tey wey Nigeria police, not American police don beat; Nigeria police sabi beat o. Him no even visit Beko who talk say him dey do human rights for Anthony but he come go visit policeman for Benin (jocularly referring to Chief Igbinedion). Me I no understand dis your human rights o”, he once told me during an encounter that would lead to a cover story for the Weekend Concord under the editorship of Mike Awoyinfa in the early nineties.

To go back to the beginning: If Fela’s music connects generations, if his music fills the air during mass movements as witnessed during the anti-fuel price hike protests and rallies of January 2012 and if his music would dominate the airwaves again this October, it is because in the final analysis he remains the ultimate prophet that saw our tomorrow and perhaps beyond, as we shall seek to demonstrate in our own little way through the re-visit of one or two of his numbers.

Issues Arising From Dr. Ibe Kachikwu’s Leaked Letter By Femi Falana

The people of Nigeria were surprised last week to read the embarrassing petition of the minister of state in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, addressed to President Buhari pertaining to his inability to consult with the president and substantive minister of Petroleum Resources, and the unilateral award of $25 billion contracts by Mr. Maikanti Baru, the group managing director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Although it was reported that Dr. Kachikwu has since been given access to the president, the details of the discussions between the duo have not been made public. However, apart from sanctioning the officers responsible for creating the wide gulf between Dr. Kachukwu and the president, the allegation of the unilateral award of contracts worth $25 billion by Dr. Baru ought to be investigated in line with the anti corruption policy of the Buhari administration.

In order to conduct a thorough investigation into the grave allegations of the reckless contravention of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, Mr. Baru should be placed on indefinite suspension while the Presidency should refer the case to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. And once it is confirmed that the said $25 billion contracts were awarded without the approval of the NNPC Board they should be revoked while the recent appointment of the heads of the parastatals in the oil and gas industry should be reviewed in line with the Constitution and the Federal Character Commission Act.

Curiously, the Presidency has demanded for the minutes of the meetings of the NNPC Board. This demand has confirmed that the meetings of the Board, which are statutory required to be chaired by the minister of Petroleum Resources have not been held as and when due. More importantly, the demand has corroborated that aspect of Dr. Kachikwu’s petition alleging that the powers of the Board have been usurped by Dr. Baru. Therefore, the petition should provide an opportunity for the president to reorganise the NNPC with a view to ensuring that it is publicly owned in a manner that the Board is constituted by accredited representatives of the oil producing commnunities and credible civil society groups, including the trade unions in the oil and gas industry.

Having regard to the enormous responsibilities of the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources and chairman of the NNPC Board, President Buhari is advised to relinquish the ministerial position in view of his busy schedule and appoint another Nigerian of proven integrity and competence to superintend the affairs of the Ministry. If this advice is accepted in good faith and acted upon without any delay, it would remove undue pressure on the health of the president and allow him to attend to other urgent matters of State.

Decisions Aspiring Entrepreneurs Must Make Before Starting Out By Osayi Alile

Each year, talented and creative individuals establish thousands of businesses. A business can be a wonderful thing; watching an idea blossom and the impact it can make in people’s lives or the change in an industry.

There are always risks in everything that we do, but with the advent of start-up culture, many beginners have been able to pick vital tips on lessons and training on acquiring the right mind-set, planning and self-development. Although there is a lot of literature out there on helpful tips for aspiring entrepreneurs, there can never be enough. Depending on the nature of the individual—the person can move to quickly or move to slow—no one is the same, but what remains is that there are fundamental steps, or call them decisions, to consider going ahead.

We have seen examples of successful business people with small beginnings that inspire us. This year alone five Nigerians were listed on the Forbes Africa’s 30 Most Young Promising Entrepreneurs list such as Aigbe Omoregie, founder of Intercontinental Paints, who started his business with an initial capital of N18, 000 (less than $100) in 2006, but who currently hires 50,000 people today.

So the beginning before the launch of a venture is important. Today, more people are more qualified than ever to run businesses: they are educated; some even have advanced degrees; they are experts in their fields, and they are ready to transfer this experience and knowledge to pursue their interests or passions.

Therefore, for the aspiring entrepreneur, preparation is key as a quote from Mark Caine states: “Meticulous planning will enable everything a man does to appear spontaneous.” Here are thoughts on what to consider while making decisions that can shape your business life, and maybe your success.

To act on an idea or not
The life of an entrepreneur is all about creating ideas to create businesses centered on their interests or passions. These ideas can turn a lot of profit or make a dent in the world. Entrepreneurs recognize that not all ideas are viable because it’s a big decision, and a risk. Though the preliminary preparation is important—business plan and adequate research, an aspiring entrepreneur must understand that a business on paper is very different than its actual operation. The actual operation requires a dynamic personality, a person who can shape shift to adapt and be spontaneous, quick thinking, make tough decisions, and be comfortable with uncertainty. It is a tough decision to make when deciding to act out that idea or not.

To partner or not
When you decide to act, you may wonder if you should have a partner, after all two heads are better than one. Also, there is value in working with someone who complements your skill-sets – handling aspects of the business that you would regard as your weakness. A partnership can be fruitful, for instance the fashion designer duo, the Okunuren twins; and the notable media moguls of Red Media, Chude Jideonwo and Adedebola Williams. But it can also be problematic; there could be constant friction between you and a partner. Can you deal with the possibility of a fall out? In that case, you may consider getting legal advice and entering agreements to define the partnership and its operation. Otherwise there is collaboration as another option to explore. These are decisions that require refection. Like someone said: “Business is easy, but people are difficult.”

Products, Pricing and Competition
Another tough call is pricing the products to be competitive. What will be the value of your offering? This is important because pricing could be your first test on becoming competitive with others in your space. Quality and other kinds of value given to customers matter, but the price of your products or services can make or break you, especially at the beginning as you build your brand. Customers are always appreciative of quality products that are on offer, but the price is most times the definitive factor that determines if they will keep coming, for instance the supermarket retail business. Research would be appropriate at this point. Pricing should be competitive enough with the standards in your industry space or categories of what you offer (luxury or mainstream), and the caliber of customers that you hope to attract. It’s important because if people do not buy your products, you will be out of business soon.

To hire or not
If you have a big budget or start-up capital, hiring would definitely be on your agenda, especially if you are working in an industry that requires collaboration such as technology. Hiring may involve only a single employee or more. But it’s a critical decision to make because its one of the first recurrent expenditure/overhead that you take on—that is remuneration for staff members. The other option is to outsource tasks until you are ready to hire. But, a word of caution: being a new business, you may hire down, that is, not hire very experienced people to keep your payout low; however, it is important to acknowledge that people are not perfect, and you will have to train to the standards that you have set for yourself and business.

To borrow or not
There is the case of money. You will always need money to keep things going. But if you require a huge amount of capital to start your business, then step back, revaluate your plans and scale back. A loan may not be right at the beginning. The cost of money you want to borrow could be too high—30% to 33% interest rate from the banks. That would be an un-necessary burden if you could pull it off and get a loan from a financial institution without proving your worth first. Family and friends first— that’s a good option instead.

In all, when making tough business decisions, be prepared with adequate information to make your decisions. There is no blue-print on the perfect way to start a business, there is no crystal ball that can tell you if you will be successful, but you can be prepared on the things that matter; things with a high chance of affecting you, so you can make those decisions that can shape your business life, and even maybe your success.

The Memo Ibe Kachikwu Did Not Write By Emmanuel Ugwu

The leaked memo of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, to President Buhari is a shorthand exposé on the superfluity of corruption in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

In the memo, a downcast Kachikwu pleads for the restoration of the dignity of his person and authority of his office. The humiliated cabinet minister laments that his subordinates are paradoxically lording it over him.

First, Kachikwu makes the point that he is writing against his will. He had to resort to the medium of the memo because he ran into a brick wall every time he attempted to meet one on one with the president. The gatekeepers of Aso Rock repeatedly blocked him from securing audience with President Buhari. He was writing as a persona non grata.

It’s amazing that Kachikwu is served the ancient embarrassment reserved for lepers seeking entry into the palace. It shows that he is no longer that respected technocrat with rare shtick in the corridors of the Buhari administration: he is now an unwanted entity. And that’s the root cause of his problem at NNPC.

Buhari appointed himself the Minister of Petroleum Resources and ipso facto, Kachikwu’s direct boss. This means that the junior minister who is the one at the coalface should regularly sit down with the president, brief him on developments in the ministry and discuss policy. He should enjoy the privilege of a more open door with Buhari because of the preeminence of the oil portfolio in their shared trust.

But the reverse is the case. It is evidently as hard for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle as it is for Kachikwu to see the president and acquaint him with the happenings in the most crucial federal establishment in Nigeria. He is shooed away as an interloper, an outcast.

For Kachikwu, a brilliant man tapped from his safe executive perch in ExxonMobil, this is double humiliation. He resumes in Nigeria and finds himself being bossed by his more connected juniors. Worse, he is denied a chance to present himself before the president and request his intervention. The bouncers keep turning him away.

Buhari himself initiated the demystification and disgrace of Kachikwu.  Not long after he settled in as a minister and started to enunciate bold ideas for reforms in NNPC, Buhari removed him as Group Managing Director of the NNPC and reconstituted the NNPC board to reflect Northern dominion. I had cause to hazard that that unapologetic nepotistic reconfiguration which also featured Buhari’s power-grabbing Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, as a member of NNPC board, represented the official demotion and deflation of Kachikwu to a nonentity.

That evaluation has proved true. Kyari runs the NNPC.  He manipulates the system through Maikanti Baru, who is like putty in his hands. This explains why Baru singlehandedly awarded 9 trillion naira contracts and made high cadre appointments as if Kachikwu did not exist.

Kachikwu is an unwelcome stranger. He cannot see Buhari to register a complaint on the violation of “due process’’ in NNPC because the Chief of Staff won’t let him. He is told that he doesn’t belong. But he misses the memo and goes ahead to pen a memo.

The identity of the characters that control NNPC cash flows and contracts gives the true picture of which group wields the ultimate political power in Nigeria. As a rule, when a new president takes office, he installs his cronies in NNPC to consummate his rise. In the case of Buhari, a proud tribal chief, he released his ethnic folk to occupy the bastion as in a conquest.

Buhari improved on a precedent. Since crude oil became the veritable lifeblood of the Nigerian economy, the NNPC has been the country’s most coveted crown jewel. And every sitting head of state appropriates it and uses it to enrich his loyalists.

It’s noteworthy that Kachikwu’s memo is dated August 30, 2017. It has sat on Buhari’s desk for five weeks. He ignored the grave matters of abuse of office and corruption raised therein. He said no word or took any action in response to the contract scandal. He even declined to save himself from any potential accusation of complicity.

Did he authorize Baru to award contracts against the rules? Did he instruct Baru report directly to him? Did he undermine Kachikwu’s powers?

The objective of the leak is obviously to reveal Buhari’s ownership and cover-up of the scandal. Had the memo remained a secret communication, it would probably have languished forever in some file. But now that it is in the public domain, he cannot smother it with neglect. Or spin the fable of the rodents in his office eating it up.

Still, knowing Buhari for the hypocrite he is, Kachikwu’s memo is a waste of paper and writing time. Buhari’s apocryphal corruption allergy will not drive him to get out the guillotine. Heads will not roll.

It is Buhari’s policy to apply double standard in dealing with criminality. When he perceives the odor of the fraud of a stranger, he goes into overdrive to hunt. But when he smells the stench of the scam of his ally, he relaxes and pretends a sweet fragrance is wafting in the air.

Buhari protected Tukur Buratai when whistleblowers exposed the mansions of the Chief of Staff in Dubai. He ‘suspended’ Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, for awarding himself a fictitious grass-cutting contract and Director General of National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, for banking $289 million in a private flat in Ikoyi and swept Osinbajo’s report on the duo under the carpet.

Buhari tags self-determination activists “terrorists” and calls his kinsmen, the Fulani herdsmen, who massacre hundreds of innocents, petty criminals.

Kachikwu presumed that Buhari would be scandalized by goings-on in NNPC. No, no, no. Buhari is never outraged by the wrongdoings of his favorites. They count for nothing with him. His love covers a multitude of sins.

He will sit out the trending of Kachikwu’s memo on Twitter. And that will mark the end of its history.

However, I find it rich that Kachikwu is whining about nepotism which created the atmosphere for the Baru contract bazaar. He remonstrated with Buhari about the people who were taking advantage of their consanguineous relationship with Buhari to subvert due process. Kachikwu is only crying out because nepotism injured his self-esteem and fortune this time.

As recently as last year, Kachikwu sneaked his son into the employ of the Central Bank of Nigeria during an unadvertised, nepotism-based recruitment of kids of the rich and powerful.

He had mastered the art of memo writing long before CBN secretly ‘awarded’ jobs to his son and others. But it didn’t occur to him to send Buhari a ‘leakable’ memo on that execrable assault on due process.

He didn’t denounce a nepotistic selection that he actively participated in for his personal benefit. He didn’t feel offended by his involvement in the rape of “due process.” He did not protest that the recruitment process was conducted like a conspiracy as he now says of Baru’s contract award?

Kachikwu’s real grievance is that nepotism worked against him in his own very domain. He was sidelined in an all-important multi-billion dollars contract. He was cheated.

He should have said so in his memo.

NNPC Serial Contract Scams: Kachikwu And His Naive Letter To Buhari By Ifeanyi Izeze

ow else can one describe the letter of lamentation by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, to President Muhammadu Buhari on the contracts scam and the serial misdemeanor of the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Maikanti Baru, if not to say it was not only childish but outrightly naive?

Is there anything in government that makes even our brightest minds think and act like dullards once they join the cult? What made Kachikwu think the NNPC boss had been acting unilaterally without the full backing and approval of the substantive Petroleum Minister who also doubles as the President of the Federal Republic? Who was supposed to receive this letter and appropriately advise the President? Is it not the Chief of Staff, the same man that removed Kachikwu and installed Baru as the NNPC helmsman? So what was the rationale in taking the case to this same man?

Let’s look at it: in what looked like deterioration of the supremacy tussle between the Minister of State for Petroleum and the NNPC Group Managing Director, the minister wrote a letter to President Buhari accusing the NNPC boss of flagrant violation of due process in the award of contracts and acts of insubordination.

In the letter, titled ‘Re: Matters of insubordination and lack of adherence to due process by the GMD NNPC – Dr. Baru,’ written on August 30, 2017, with reference number HMS/MPR/001/VOL.1/100, Kachikwu alleged that the NNPC boss had repeatedly sidelined and disrespected the board of the national oil firm, which is chaired by the minister of state.

Listing his prayers to the President, the minister noted among other things that “we save NNPC and the oil industry from collapse arising from the above non-transparent practices and empower the board you inaugurated to do the needful.”

He continued, “That you save the office of the minister of state from further humiliation and disrespect by compelling all parastatals to submit to oversight regulatory mandate and proper supervision which I am supposed to manage on your behalf.”

Did Kachikwu need a reminding to have known that the moment Buhari relieved him of the Chief Executive Officer  position of the NNPC and appointed Baru, and then appointed the NNPC Board of Directors with his Chief of Staff as member, that he has been made completely useless and a mere rubber stamp figure in the entire setup?

To Ibe Kachikwu, good morning! Are you just realizing you’re just a figurehead? Are you just realizing your brain was being picked by the “real Minister of Petroleum” who not only has a different mindset but also running a completely different agenda from whatever good intention you think you have for both NNPC and the nation’s entire oil and gas sector? Are you just realizing that the party you are working for is a massive fraud and that the corruption perpetrated by this government is likely to be unmatched in our short history of democratic experiment? Diokpaanm, if you’re just waking up, then “a very good morning” to you. The tragedy of your situation is that “chi ewegea eshishe jikpudoi!”

Most Nigerians’ reactions to the Kachikwu’s disclosure actually fell short of informed understanding of where the real problem lies. Without mincing words, the NNPC issue is one of the fallouts of the dangers of an authoritative and, worse still, an incapacitated President doubling as minister of a critical sector like petroleum. The other military General in our democratic history, General Olusegun Obasanjo, tried the same concept of doubling as the petroleum minister in his first tenure; however, the glaring difference is that he totally relied on a seasoned technocrat, Dr Rilwanu Lukman. But even at that what did we get? Serial complicity in awards of lucrative oil contracts including ownership structure of OPL 245 (Malabu), Right of First Refusal contracts and Oil for Infrastructure frauds with Chinese and Indian companies amongst others!

Look at it: The Group Managing Director of NNPC got Ministerial approval (from the President in his capacity as the substantive Minister) for each of those mega billion dollars contracts. The question we should ask is: Did whosoever that approved the contracts not know that the NNPC boss did not follow due process to run the contracts that required Board Approval through the NNPC Board?

Whether it was the President or the Chief of Staff that approved the contracts is immaterial in our peculiar case, as our President has operated so far on absentee basis for the better part of his two years in office due to his health challenge though there’s no way Abba Kyari could have acted on such matters without getting the President’s approval.

How did Kachikwu come to conclude that he can successfully accuse the Honorable Minister of Petroleum Resources of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (who also doubles as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) of approving contracts without following due process? You see where the naivety came in!

Buhari rode on our backs into Aso Rock based on the grossly trumpeted high moral ground of integrity, impeccable and incorruptible character. However, from day one, impunity, indiscipline and disregard for authority and due process which are the mothers of all corruption in government have remained his government’s defining characteristics. It is a well known fact that with impunity, the very cardinal pillar of anti-corruption, which is entrenchment of transparency and accountability in conduct of government’s business, has been completely eroded by officials of this government including, President Buhari himself.

Anti-corruption is not about handcuffing the opponents and critics and parading them on televisions. Arrogating powers to an office and disregard for due process is a most virulent form of corruption in the public service. Over $30 billion dollar contracts awarded by Buhari and Baru without the knowledge of NNPC board. Do you know that this amount is the size of our entire foreign reserves if it’s not even bigger?

So what’s the difference between the immediate past Petroleum Minister and the current one (Buhari himself)? Is this not an exact replica of Diezani Alison-Madueke’s “Strategic Alliance Agreement” approvals which she gave without following due process? Why, then, do we demonize Diezani if it is going to be business as usual? What is the essence of NNPC board when all critical decisions at NNPC are taken between Buhari and Baru?

Now, those justifying the unilateral and one-sided appointments of top NNPC management staff completely missed the point. In serious business organizations even in the private sector, there is no way a chief executive officer of an organisation can carry out a full business structure transformation, with appointments of executive directors and chief operating officers without full Board of Director discussions and approvals – not to talk of a directly combustible and political organization like the NNPC.

There are certain appointments above certain levels that require board approval. The GMD is supposed to run them through the board before seeking ministerial approval. It is very clear that the current setup is disjointed because the minister who is supposed to chair of the the board (the President) delegated that responsibility to the Minister of State (Kachikwu). The GMD made the mistake of sidelining Kachikwu. Kachikwu is blowing his whistle against both Buhari and Baru. Forget all the nice grammar in the letter. Kachikwu is accusing Baru of not following due process and Buhari of negligence at the minimum. This is clearly intellect/merit versus mediocrity as usual on one part and whistleblowing on the other part.

Add these stinking incidents to the infinitely delayed actions on Osinbajo’s report on the grass-cutting SGF fraud case and cash-stashing DG-NIA among several others, no one will be left with the conviction that Buhari’s so called anti-corruption war is a hoax.

We may be tempted to give the benefit of doubt on this issue to the President for now as all these scams may be the scheme of the so called “cabal” (or, “the hyenas and the jackals”) while he was ill. However, the response of the President in the next few weeks will determine whether by omission he is culpable. God bless Nigeria!

The Travails Of Ibe Kachikwu And A Lesson For The House Niggers By Femi Fani-Kayode

I have little doubt that Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Energy, regrets the day that he left the relative comfort of the private sector and entered the stormy waters of Nigerian politics.

I am sure that he curses the day that he met President Muhammadu Buhari, that he opted to join the APC and that he accepted the long-awaited and much sought-after invitation to be a member of his troubled cabinet and fast-sinking government.

As the saying goes, “not all that glitters is gold” and as the fiery and courageous black American civil rights leader and cleric, Malcolm X, once said, “in the final analysis, whether he be a house nigger or a field nigger, a nigger remains a nigger and one day ‘masser’ still gonna give him a damn good whoppin!”

Today Kachikwu has finally come to understand and hopefully accept the fact that no matter how much he tried to be a loyal and true member of Buhari’s kitchen cabinet and inner circle and no matter how much he considered himself to be a key and indispensable member of the tyrant’s feared and dreaded cabal, he remains nothing but the proverbial “house nigger” who is at best tolerated by his “masser” and owner and who is being played and upstaged by a very small boy and a relatively junior member of the Hausa Fulani ruling elite by the name of Maikanti Baru that has been mandated to run the affairs of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The golden rule is as follows: all slaves and house niggers must know their place and they must never venture to cross the line or to join issues or cultivate the nerve and temerity to challenge the authority of ANY of the “masser’s” sons, including the most truculent, impudent, obnoxious, objectionable and stubborn ones.

The “masser’s” son may know next to nothing and he may be rotten and vile in all his ways yet his bloodline and race still sets him apart: he was “born to rule” and remains the head whilst house niggers like Kachikwu and the rest of us were “born to serve” and remain the tail.

And that is the story of Nigeria. That is why a fine and upstanding Governor like Willie Obiano of Anambra state will sit before President Muhammadu Buhari, remove his beautiful fedora hat and place it on his lap like a pliant puppy and obedient little schoolboy and pay homage and obeisance to the maximum dictator.

He knows his place. He knows how to behave in front of “masser”, he knows never to look him in the eye and he knows that “masser” is to be feared, revered, worshipped and loved by every good house nigger and slave as if he were God.

It is in this context that one must ask why Kachikwu should be in the least bit surprised that he has not been granted access to President Buhari and that the northern Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has completely usurped his functions and undermined his authority?

Did he really expect things to be any different in a Buhari administration? Has he forgotten that he is Igbo? Has he forgotten that his people are part of those that the President once disdainfully referred to as the “5 percent”?

When I said that Buhari hated the Igbo some time back many were shocked, many disputed my assertion, many were in disbelief and many were in denial even when the evidence to prove and substantiate my assertion was incontrovertible and compelling.

Today a good number of hitherto and erstwhile doubting Thomas’, cynics and sceptics have seen the light, finally agreed with me and voiced their observations and concerns loudly and publicly.

The President himself affirmed our grave allegations and confirmed our worst fears during the course of his reprehensible, uninspiring and downright shameful Independence Day speech in which he insulted the Igbo elders and leaders and basically told them to go and control their children and wards.

This is bad enough but permit me to share something with you today that is even more disconcerting and troubling: the truth is that deep down Buhari has nothing but contempt for southerners, Middle Belters and Christians.

As painful as it is for some to hear and as difficult as it is for others to accept, there it is. That is the BITTER TRUTH!

Sadly Ibe Kachikwu jumped in the sack with the wrong set of people. He got into bed with a brood of vipers and a horde of vampires who secretly hate and despise his own.

He chose to wine and dine with an insatiable and rapacious set of self-seeking, self-serving, flesh-eating, blood-drinking, spirit-crushing, destiny-destroying and soul-wounding demons and devils and now the chickens have come home to roost.

He chose to overlook the fact that to Buhari and his tiny cabal of ethnic and religious supremacists ALL southerners and Middle Belters are second-class citizens and dispensable slaves.

And neither will his mouthwatering and earth-shaking revelations about the monumental fraud, graft and corruption that is going on under his watch at the Petroleum Resources Ministry in any way help or protect him.

As a matter of fact, his singing and spilling the beans will rather make things worse for him because sooner or later those he has courageously chosen to expose will hit back with all the force and fury of a wounded lion and with the venom and spite of a cuckolded husband and a cheated wife.

From what I have seen and heard the truth is that the EFCC is already in the process of a detailed investigation and are closing in on him.

These people are blackmailers and gangsters.

To them syphoning 24 billion USD from the coffers of the Northern (sorry I meant “Nigerian”) National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by awarding questionable and fake contracts outside of due process means absolutely nothing. As a matter of fact, that is what is expected of their cronies and agents.

Where else will they get the money for Buhari’s 2019 presidential campaign from?

My friend and brother Reno Omokri captured the situation rather well when he wrote the following:

“the first time Muhammadu Buhari was Petroleum Minister in the 1970s, Fela sang ‘2.8 billion Naira missing’. Now he is Petroleum Minister again and Kachikwu is singing $26 billion missing! Why is it that huge billions tend to go missing or spent without due process whenever Buhari is Minister of Petroleum? However, Kachikwu was naive for writing that letter to Buhari! He does not know that Baru was brought in to do exactly what he is doing!”

Omokri is absolutely right. What a messy and stinking cesspool and pit of poisonous snakes Ibe Kachikwu has found himself in.

And quite apart from all that it must be a living nightmare and pure hell for an intelligent, well-educated, enlightened, cosmopolitan, Harvard-trained former Shell executive and Federal Minister to have his powers curtailed and usurped and to be treated with contempt and disdain by the Chief Executive Officer of a corporation that is under his own Ministry!

This is made even worse by the fact that Chief Executive Officer probably, if at all, went to some fourth-rate rodent-infested “school” or “university” near the borders of Chad or Niger Republic or some other dubious institution of “higher learning” not too far from the dusty, dry and barren sand slopes of the Sahara desert.

Poor Ibe Kachikwu! I guess that he has to live with the consequences of the choices that he has made. His situation reminds me of the verse in the Holy Scriptures that says it is “a great evil under the sun when the sons of slaves ride around on horseback whilst the sons of the King are walking around on bare feet”.

This goes against the natural order of things and something ought to be done about it. My first prayer for him is that he does a thorough spiritual search and attempts to discover who and what his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, really is and what he seeks to achieve in our country.

My second prayer is that he finds the decency and courage to resign from the government that he serves before it is too late, before they turn on him and before he is thoroughly discredited and rubbished out of office by his traducers and powerful adversaries.

And finally, my third prayer is that he restores his confidence, his self-respect and his dignity, that he stops walking around barefoot, that he finds and puts on his royal shoes and that he mounts and rides his horse.

Gone are the days that he should be running behind the carriages and horses of slaves and working for those that do not have ten percent of his wisdom and knowledge. He is far better than that.

Yet whatever he chooses to say or do one thing is clear: in Nigeria, the keepers of wealth are not the keepers of compassion.

They are cruel and relentless and their greed and wickedness know no bounds. They hate more than any other yet they accuse others of hate speech.

They steal more than any other yet they accuse others of stealing and corruption. They kill more than any other yet they accuse others of killing.

They engender and enthrone modern-day apartheid, fascism and slavery more than any other yet they accuse others of espousing and enunciating their very own deep-seated and insidious intolerance and racism and their unbridled and perfidious religious bigotry.

They are a government of double standards, lies and deceit. A government that uses its army to commit mass murder, genocide and ethnic cleansing against its own people.

A government that protects, encourages and supports the barbaric activities of evil and deadly Janjaweed ethnic militias that slaughter and dispossess innocent souls, including defenceless women and children, in the name of herding cattle.

A government that cannot stomach strong opposition or critical and consistent criticism. A government that is so terrified of its own shadow and that is so averse to righteousness, wholesomeness, equity and truth that it is ready to wipe out a whole race of people simply to deny them their right of self-determination and silence their voices.

They are a government of the corrupt, for the corrupt and by the corrupt: a government whose sole purpose and not so hidden agenda is to re-establish the hegemony of the core Muslim north and turn the Nigerian people and state into a colony of servile vassals, gutless quislings, broken serfs and hopeless slaves.

Yet they shall fail because, like the brilliant, beautiful, dazzling and passionate American Amazon, Dana Loesch, recently said, “we will shatter their violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth”.

They shall fail because history testifies to the fact that no matter how unyielding, brutal, savage, relentless, deceitful, mendacious and bloodthirsty they may be, the agents of Satan and the forces of darkness have NEVER been able to conquer, defeat or overwhelm the children of God and the spirit of the people.

It shall be no different in our shores. It is only a matter of time.

The notion of a united Nigeria after the 2017 genocide against the Igbo and state-sponsored terrorism coupled with the wholesale rejection of the idea of restructuring by the core north is absurd and far-fetched.

There cannot be peace where there is no justice. There cannot be tranquillity and harmony where there is inequality. There cannot be love and peaceful co-existence where there is hate, condescension and fascistic philosophies. There cannot be camaraderie and fellowship where the tyrant unleashes the full force of his tyranny against the people.

The fact of the matter is that if he continues to send his army to kill innocent civilians, if he refuses to bring to justice the military personnel that slaughtered the Shiite Muslims two years ago and that have been murdering young Igbos and IPOB members since he came to power and if he continues to condone the mass murder of northern Christians and Middle Belters by his Fulani kinsmen and herdsmen the resistance and opposition to his administration will continue to be relentless and the agitation for restructuring and the quest to exercise the right of self-determination by the various ethnic groups in our country will continue to increase and become far more aggressive and pronounced.

Many may suffer. Many may be killed. Many may be detained and incarcerated. Many may be wrongly accused, vilified and in bondage. Many may be dispossessed, humiliated and scattered.

Many may be tortured, brutalised, maimed and scarred and many may suffer all shades and manners of indignity, shame, poverty, lack, deprivation and hunger.

Yet despite all these deep, harrowing and seemingly endless travails, one thing is sure: our liberation shall eventually come because no matter how dark the night, joy comes in the morning. The Bible says “many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him from them all”.

In the end, God’s glorious light shall bring the tyrant to his knees, dispel the darkness and break the chains of servitude, subjugation and evil.

In the end deliverance, freedom, joy, peace, justice, abundance, vindication and the victorious lamp of liberty shall rise from Zion as the freedom bell rings and our nation is healed and restored.

In the end, the Lord’s will shall be done, His counsel shall stand, His purpose shall be established, His name shall be glorified and we shall prevail.

Seeking Home In The Midst Of Cameroon’s Chaos By AB Mambo

My teeth chatter and my knees quake. I’m sitting in a dark movie theater while my little one watches The Lego Ninja Go movie. A tyrant has a dysfunctional relationship with his protagonist superpower son who hates him for abandoning him as a child or trying to destroy the city. Something. The green Ninja, Lloyd, is grappling with an identity crisis even as he struggles to fight evil – his own father, albeit unbeknown to him.

Of course I may be missing key pieces of the plot. It’s Sunday, October 1, 2017 and between sitting here indifferent to onscreen Lego characters in whom my child revels, and reading an article a friend has circulated on Chimamanda Adichie’s brave exploration of depression, I decide to share the latter via twitter. That’s when I see the hashtags:

#BringOurInternetBack

#FreeSouthernCameroons

#Ambazonia

Someone tweets about being a dog, no, a bulldog who will fight for his people. Another presses that the government is suppressing speech to propagate genocide. Others yet lament the government shutdown of the internet in the Anglophone North West and South West Provinces, and announce solidarity with Togo. Ambazonia rings in my ears like Biafra. It’s the first place I go, heart thumping, whenever I hear a call for secession. I can’t seem to separate the two. I don’t know if reading Adichie’s article, which reminds me of Half of a Yellow Sun causes this Ambazonia/Biafra collision in my mind. But they’re there – interwoven – which is why my teeth chatter, my knees quake.

A few days ago, I fretted to my deeply concerned cousin about the strangeness of watching and reading what’s happening at home in Bamenda from the outside, as a diasporan. I have relatives and friends in Cameroon, in Bamenda. When I was in Cameroon for work last Christmas, I wanted to go home – home like where Pa was buried. Where Mama strapped a toddler me to her back as she sold bags of garri in Bamenda Main Market months before she slumped to the ground and never arose. Home like St. Joseph’s Cathedral where I took First Holy Communion, its towering statue of Jesus overlooking the bustling city. Home like where I danced in the rains that thumped against the ceiling-less roofs of cement houses from Old Town and Savannah Street to Commercial Avenue, Metta Quarters and Hospital Roundabout; where we washed clothes and pretend swam in “Ayaba wata”; where, as kids we trekked for seemingly endless miles to the farm in Njimafor and upon arrival, often ate guavas, mangoes, banga, and for lunch, ripe buttery avocados with boiled or grilled cassava. Home as in the place where the nuns of the Holy Rosary tried to show me the confluence of science, math, literature, their version of woman-ness and a distorted history where European explorers discovered a country that had been in existence for thousands of years. That home where I had my first crush at Atuakom Primary School and my first kiss as a teenager – a sensation which reminded me of the supple sweetness of mid-season fresh Number Four mangoes. The place where Pa, a lorry driver met and married Presbyterian Ruth whose name he changed to Rose upon their marriage in the Catholic Church. From them came my mother and her siblings.

See, I’m a graffi child – born of the grasslands and of graffi parents, but birthed in the capital city of Yaoundé, which is also home. But in a different way. In a way that challenged my French, that sometimes called my graffi people “Anglo-Fou,” that unwittingly perhaps, introduced me to trilingualism. It was also the place that gave me space to run free under the drying lines in Cite Verte, to shop second-hand clothes in Marche Mokolo, to lean closely against my aunt as she fried puff-puff on the roadside, to sit in Cinema Abbia staring at Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in that frigid water with the wide eyes of an imaginative teenager. It was the home that taught me difference – Anglophone and Francophone, who knew people and who didn’t, who had what and how much and who didn’t. It also gave me a taste of the libertine, teaching me to live with the urgency of my last day on earth. But that birthplace was an adopted home – as though I first shrieked out of Mom’s womb there, but my umbilical cord was carried across the River Sanaga to graffi land, to Bamenda and buried there. And with it, my me-ness.

Last December, I could go to my birthplace and to Douala, but not home. Roads were blocked and travel banned I was told, even though it was only a few days before Christmas – a time when families across the country unite in communion. Cleverer, more determined, perhaps braver people risked the journey. The more cautious like me obeyed. I was there for work after all, I reasoned, and we had no office in Bamenda. I had a child to protect too. During times like these, you tell yourself things, truth or otherwise, to self-preserve.

Still, I wanted to see the old house on Savannah Street again, visit my alma mater, pray at the grotto of our Lady of Fatima on the cemetery grounds behind St. Joseph’s. Mostly, I wanted to reunite with relatives I hadn’t seen in nearly two decades, and put wreaths on the graves of everyone I’d lost since I left home. I wanted to smell the eucalyptus trees near Queen of Peace Catholic Church and tear off their peeling backs just to watch the brown liquid slide down its sides. I’d always imagined my roots sank as deep as those trees and I’ve dreamed of hearing the roar of the Mezam falls underneath the bridge on the road to Mankon. Because I couldn’t go home, I visited my birthplace. Strolled up and down Boulevard du 20 Mai, ate suya at Briquetterie, danced in Sanza, rode around the city so I could remember which roads led where, which corner streets I’d played on, whether women still sold grilled corn with plums and poisson braises at Chapel Nsimeyong, whether my childhood house, blue but disguised in brown dust still overlooked the valley between Nsimeyong and Biyem-Assi.

My teeth chatter and my knees quake because that homecoming was only partially so. I vacillated between the thrill of being back on Cameroonian soil and dismay as I watched people and myself eat out, drink, prepare for Christmas as though black smoke wasn’t rising to the skies in Bamenda. As though the reports of students and young people being shot by soldiers in Buea had nothing to do with us. Nothing to do with me. Life went on as protests resulted in murder, maiming, imprisonment. Life went on while thousands of Anglophone children sauntered between the house and yard wondering when they’d be back looking up at chalkboards from their wooden desks; while silence crept into town, and streets lost their music and marketplaces their magic. I read about these things from newspapers, Whatsapp, Facebook and felt like I’d been there. Like I knew it. Because I did know it. I had been there. 1992. I’m reminded: Past is prologue…

In 1992/93, as Bamenda called for multipartism and a National Conference, I watched Takembeng, their sagging, warrior, other-worldly, dare-you-to-move bodies fan out across the street to prevent soldiers’ trucks from riding through town. I remember the smell of tear gas peppering my nose, its whiteness sometimes merging with the vast skies, dispersing crowds of angry youngsters demanding change. I remember the hush that befell the loud city on curfew days and how the clanging of the 5 p.m. bell at St. Joseph’s sent people rushing home before the 6 p.m. curfew. I remember the bush lamps and candles around which we gathered in the kitchen or parlor of Pa’s compound, telling stories in hushed tones, restraining laughter, hoping there would be no knock on Pa’s door.

They say Lagos danced while Biafra quaked. The world ate while Rwanda bled. Brazzaville drinks while Po disappears. It is not necessarily cruelty or hate – those command too much energy. It is indifference – a kind of willing unknowing. It is watching the neighbor’s wall collapse, thinking, at least it’s not mine. Douala, Yaoundé, Ngaoundere, Bafia rise with the cock crow. They wash their faces and greet the day. They may even listen to the news and shake their heads or nod while Anglophone Cameroon fights a chokehold. The origins of which are foreign – the languages foisted upon us by man adventurers seeking thrills and conquests. So my teeth chatter wildly and my knees quake up a storm.

While blood stains color alleyways and groans fill the dense prison air, I search for my voice, wring my hands, lie in the comfort of my bed and sipping Sauvignon Blanc, shrug. What can I even do I say – a complicity to be sure – even as a mightier wrath than ’92 sweeps over my home, and black smoke kisses the sky from myriad streets in Bamenda and Buea and Kumba.

Teachers’ Empowerment: Beyond Lip Service By Tayo Ogunbiyi

World Teachers’ Day is celebrated annually worldwide to bring together governments, multi- and bilateral organizations, NGOs, private sector, teachers and experts in the field of teaching. Held annually on 5th October since 1994, World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers.

In commemoration of this year’s World Teachers Day, governments across the country once again, and characteristically so, waxed lyrical about the need to empower teachers with the requisite tools and training. Leading the pack in this annual ritual of smooth talking is the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu who while relating to the theme of this year’s World Teachers’ Day, “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers” said teachers deserved to be appreciated for their role in nation building. ”Irrespective of any sector, whether formal or informal, everything depends on teachers,” he said.

The truth, however, is that there is really nothing new about all that was said about the value and status of teachers in the course of this year’s Teachers’ Day celebration. They are all stale stuffs. Sadly, nothing has been done to actually bring about a fundamental change in the teaching profession as well as the status of teachers. If we are to move beyond the annual rite of merely uttering niceties about teachers, we swiftly need to soberly reflect on the status of Nigerian teachers and the conditions under which they work.

To this end, all stakeholders need to place priorities on major issues facing the teaching profession and how they can be urgently addressed.  Considering the overall relevance of teachers to nation building, much still needs to be done to uplift the profession.  It is an open secret that nowadays every child wants to be something else but teacher which is a sad reality on current the low esteem of the profession.

Now that the euphoria surrounding the World Teachers Day event is over, it is pertinent to properly address matter concerning education in the country.  For any nation to attain lofty heights, close attention must be paid to the teaching profession. Teachers hold the key to the future since they help to mould future leaders. They don’t just teach, they nurture the younger ones to mature, to understand the world and to understand themselves.

Hence, every investment in teachers is a worthy one. According to 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousefzai: “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen, can change the world”. A society that refuses to empower teachers will only be promoting ignorance. Ultimately, the price that a nation might have to pay for encouraging ignorance almost often exceed what it needs to do to uphold education. This is why every nation of the world must fully come to term with the need to further enhance the competence of teachers at all levels. It is in doing this that the critical issue of nation building, especially in Third World countries, could be effectively tackled. In other words, building in a nation without first building teachers would basically amount to chasing shadow.

Therefore, beyond the pomp and pageantry of this year’s World Teachers Day, all stakeholders in the education sector need to reflect on the state of teachers and education. This is the time to go beyond paying lip services to capacity building for teachers. Concerted efforts should be made by appropriate authorities to improve the working conditions of teachers. We need to do everything to restore the dignity of the teaching profession. The private schools, in particular, must stop the dehumanization of teachers. Some of them pay peanuts to teachers as salaries. Perhaps, more hurting is the fact that some teachers even work without any clear cut terms of engagement with their employees.

A nation that toils with the well being of its teachers inadvertently puts her future in serious jeopardy. Without putting in place the proper machinery to improve the working condition of teachers, all efforts to bring about the realization of the national mass literacy project would simply go down the drain. Consequently, the successful execution of the mass literacy project could only be made possible with the active participation of a well motivated, properly trained and competent teaching force. Appropriate governmental and non-governmental organizations, therefore, need to intensify efforts towards developing the competence of teachers across the country.

Undoubtedly, the destiny of every nation is shaped, reinforced and actualized in the classrooms. The quality of lawyers, doctors, accountants, engineers, politicians, administrators and other professionals that a country has is determined by the worth of what transpires in the classroom. According to Confucius : “To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; To put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; To put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; And to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right”. Since a well nurtured teaching force lies at the heart of every societal progress, to get our hearts right, we need to get our teachers right.

It is, however, important that teachers do not desecrate the integrity and dignity of the teaching profession by getting involved in indescribable acts that could easily dent the image of the profession. Globally, teaching is regarded as a noble profession. Ours must not be an exception. A nation could cope with half –baked engineers or lawyers. But, no nation desirous of making meaningful progress could survive with mediocre teachers.

Sagay, You’re Caught Between A Rock And A Hard Place! By Biodun Jeyifo

[Being an open letter to Professor Itse Sagay]

Comrade, greetings! You finally gave a piece of your mind to the bosses of the ruling party, the APC, this past week. The disappointments, the frustrations of serving as the Chair of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) finally erupted into a heady verbal and moral faceoff with the leadership of the APC. From the ruling party itself, the work of yourself and the other members of the PACAC was being undermined and “wasted” and you couldn’t take it any more. You are a man of tremendous moral energy and unstinting dedication to principle. But, obviously, the party bosses did/do not know you as those of us who have been your colleagues in the academic and legal professions know you. Dem no know say you be no nonsense man!

 

At first, you were restrained and even wily in your criticism of the party bosses. You called them “rogue elephants” who were gradually and inevitably destroying the APC. You also said they were “weak” and “unprincipled”. It is a great moral and political condemnation to be described as “weak” and “unprincipled”, but apparently, that was not what got under the skin of the party bosses in your criticism. What got to them, what angered them was being called “rogue elephants”. Now, this is rather funny because that idiomatic phrase does not mean being a thief, a rogue; it means being wild, uncontrollable and aberrant. The phrase comes from the world of nature in which an elephant or any animal that naturally and typically belongs to a herd breaks away from the group and begins to act wild in pursuit of its own impulses and desires. Not understanding this, the party bosses thought that a “rogue elephant” is a rogue and therefore you, the Chairman of PACAC, was calling them rogues! And in great umbrage, they unloaded all manner of accusations and assaults on you and your character. In particular, they said you were an opportunist who was ungrateful and disrespectful to President Buhari who had made you the Chairman of PACAC.

 

I do not wish in this open letter to go point by point or blow by blow over your imbroglio with the APC party bosses. I admit that I found the exchange very colorful and indeed somewhat very close to political theatre of a high satirical order, even if it was not pre-scripted and happened in real time. “I am an accomplished man, not a ‘come and chop’ politician like you” you said in what I considered the coup de grace in your counter-attack on the party bosses. But let us leave all this aside and go straight to the main point of this open letter to you. And what was this? It is the fact that you mentioned names and took sides in what you take to be a raging internal battle within the APC for the soul, the conscience of the party. In the interest of those who might have missed this encounter between you and the APC party bosses, permit me to give a brief outline of the cast of characters and the battle lines that you indicated in your ersatz dramatis personae. I might also add here before giving an elaboration of the point at the end of this essay, that I disagree almost completely with how you characterize the internal battle within the APC.

For now, here’s how you line up and characterize the forces in contention within the APC today. On one side, the side of the good guys, the heroes, the protagonists, are Buhari, Osinbajo and Tinubu. Of Buhari in particular you are unrestrained in your praise, your glorification: “a man of great honour and integrity and who I admire and who inspires me.” And you add, with respect to the Vice President, Osinbajo: “I took this job because of Buhari and Osinbajo, who I admire greatly.” On the other side, the side of the villains, the traitors and turncoats, the antagonists, are Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, John Odigie-Oyegun, the Party Chairman, and ‘one’ Bolaji Abdullahi. In this lineup, you cast Saraki as evil and treachery incarnate, one whose goal is to destroy the APC in the pursuit of his unbridled ambition, an ambition in the pursuit of which he is willing not only to destroy the APC but the country itself.

 

To provide a resonant historical support for this stunning plot outline, you invoke the example of the wartime British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, whose appeasement policy toward Hitler led to the invasion and bombardment of his homeland by Hitler. Your point, Comrade Itse, in making this analogy is unmistakable: all the tolerance of corruption, all the broken electoral promises, all the indecisions and outright lack of moral imagination and political will that we are seeing in the APC today, all are aspects of a serial concatenation of appeasements of Saraki, the evil genius who is biding his time and will strike and destroy the APC when the time is ripe for him to do so. And for good measure, here’s what I think you’re suggesting, you’re hinting as the “moral” of this symbolic and cautionary demonization of Bukola Saraki: appeasement never works with evil and megalomaniacal power brokers; the more you appease them, the more they wax stronger and bolder in their nefarious schemes and ambitions.

 

Am I fair and accurate in my summation of your vision of the internal battle within the APC today, Comrade Itse? I hope so. At any rate, based on that summation, I now wish to make a few comments that will hopefully demonstrate the relevance of the essential component of the title of this essay: the condition, the dilemma of being between a rock and a hard place. The dilemma in this condition lies not in the fact that a rock and a hard place are virtually identical; rather, the dilemma lies in the fact that you cannot not choose between them. In other words, I am arguing that if, like you, we must choose Buhari and his faction over Saraki and his gang, we must at least recognize that one side is not a soft, lush place while the other side is a hard, hard place; they are both hard, very hard, Comrade!

 

Of Odigie-Oyegun and Bolaji Abdullahi, I have little to say beyond the fact that everyone who knows what is going on within the APC knows that right from the formation of the party to the present time, Buhari has had little or no respect for the Party Chairman. This is bad enough, but the matter gets even more onerous because it is also well-known that Buhari does not have much respect for the party itself. Since I cannot believe that you do not know of this fact, Comrade Itse, I must say that it surprises me that you leave it completely out of your account, your profile of the battle for the soul of the party. In other words, Comrade, APC has no soul; or, perhaps more accurately expressed, its soul is still uncreated because no political party comes into existence with its soul, its humanistic conscience, already in place. Buhari had and still has a big role to play in the creation of the soul and the conscience of the party, but how in the world can he play this role when he thinks so little of the party, never mind the fact that it finally fetched him the presidency after three previous and totally hopeless attempts?

 

I suspect, Comrade Itse, that the tolerance of or for corruption of which we see so much in the APC is what troubles you the most in your critique of the problems with the leadership of the party. If your point was only and exclusively the observation that Bukola Saraki and the legislature over which he presides together constitute the most arrant manifestation of this great tolerance for corruption, I would have been totally in agreement with you. But isn’t it the case that tolerance of corruption is to be seen everywhere in the ruling party and in the federal administration that the party supervenes? Wasn’t it from the presidency itself, acting in concert with Saraki’s legislative stronghold, that opposition to the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as the substantive Chairman of the EFCC was mounted?

 

What of the case of the brazen act of corruption against the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal? Did Buhari himself not tolerate it by the inordinate circumspection with which he shielded the SGF from swift and equitable justice? And the appointment of Abubakar Malami as the Attorney General of the Federation? Nothing, absolutely nothing in his experience and character gives the slightest hint that Malami has the will, the wisdom and the cunning to direct the war on corruption on the legal front, the most crucial of all the redoubts of corruption in our country. The only excuse that can be offered in exculpation of Buhari’s appointment of this man as the AGF is the probability that the President himself had little understanding of what it would take to effectively fight corruption in our judicial order. But that excuse is not good enough, Comrade!

 

In bringing this open letter to you to its conclusion, let me add, Comrade Itse, that it seems to me that the real basis of your righteous tirade against Odigie-Oyegun and Saraki is the suspicion that in the coming presidential elections of 2019, Saraki will do to the APC what he did to the party in his seizure of the senate presidency in 2015, that is betray the APC by linking up with elements of the floundering former ruling party, the PDP. Most political commentators and pundits in the country think so too. As much as I think that this hunch is correct and needs the critical attention of all truly progressive and patriotic Nigerians, I don’t think that it should be the focus of our attention and energies in the months and years ahead of us.

 

I shall be completely frank with you on this matter. We are between a rock and a hard place. More correctly, we only seem to be so. In reality we are between many diverse rocks and hard places. This is because there are not two but possibly four to six major factions within the APC. And not one of them is truly and genuinely progressive enough to warrant our tying our fates, our destinies with it. If I am wrong in coming to this conclusion, do let me know. You have spent most of your adult, professional life struggling for a just, egalitarian and truly democratic order in our country. I salute the humility with which you talk about those you respect and admire within the APC. But I ask you to think of those that YOU have inspired, within and beyond the APC. Please, Comrade, protect and safeguard that hard-won integrity and independence!