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Thursday, December 14, 2017

My regrets as head of state-Gowon

Written by Henry Umoru
~Vanguard Nigeria. Wednesday, December 13, 2017.

Gen. Gowon
ABUJA-TWENTY Six years after relocation of the seat of government to Abuja, former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, retd, said yesterday that his only regret was that he did not use his power and position as the head of state to appropriate land for his personal use.

He also said as the Commander-in-Chief, he had powers to make Jos, and not Abuja, the capital of Nigeria but refused to do so.because he was not prepared to be clouded by sentiments and selfishness.

He said he took these decisions because of his conviction that personal interest should not override national interest.

Gowon, who spoke at the 26th anniversary exhibition and commemoration of the movement of the seat of government from Lagos to Abuja, organized by the Federal Capital Territory Archives and History Bureau in Abuja yesterday, said he did not make Jos the capital because he was also afraid of being accused of parochialism, given the fact that Jos was close to his place of birth.

According to him, the idea of moving from Lagos to Abuja was conceived by his government in 1974, and that those who were passionate about the ideas, such as the late General Murtala Mohammed, continued with the project after he left government.

He noted that the first place he found that looked strategic and beautiful for the capital of Nigeria was Jos in Plateau State, adding, however, that he could not sustain his thought on it because he didn't want to be accused of parochial and favouritism.

He said: "One of the places I saw that attracted me was somewhere in Plateau, those of you who know the place, especially close to Jos forest, will agree that the area is beautiful and I thought that place was beautiful for the capital city.

Benin people 'owned' Lagos, Aworis paid royalties to them -Erelu Abiola Dosunmu

~Vanguard Nigeria. Tuesday, December 12, 2017.

Erelu Abiola Dosunmu
Her Royal Highness, Erelu Kuti IV of Lagos, Erelu Abiola Dosunmu, in this interview, shares her
perspective on the controversy over the 'ownership' of Lagos and declares that the former federal capital was an extension of Benin Kingdom. She explains that there are no ambiguities regarding the ancestry of the aborigines of Lagos, saying they are predominantly Benin. Abiola Dosumu maintains that the Awori ,after settling in Lagos, paid royalties to Benin people. Excerpts:

Are you not concerned about the controversy over the true aborigines of Lagos?

I would not say I am concerned because I know the truth. The history of Lagos is not obscure, it is very clear. If people are going to say the truth, we all know what the truth is.

A friend was saying to me if I was not sure there is no third party trying to take the rights of Lagos through this raging controversy. We all know the story of Lagos from childhood.

Even a play was staged about the beginning of Lagos last year. I just know that the truth will surface after this raging controversy because a lot of the gladiators are being miserly in some of their discussions.

Can you give clarity on some of the things you consider not to be factual among those that have been said so far?

The territory of Lagos has always been an extension of the Benin Kingdom in the sense that they used it as a passage to the port for their trading and interaction with foreigners. We all know that foreigners visited the Benin Empire long before colonialism and signing of the treaty of Lagos. This is their passageway and hunting ground.

As soon as strangers came to settle down, they would pounce on them and make them pay royalties. Like all human beings, when you settle in a place for a long time, it is expected that you will have the right of ownership.

And the foreigners were not ready to be subservient and refused to pay Isakole (royalty) and the Benin king did not take kindly to that. He sent an expedition and subjugated the foreigners and set up his own administration in form of a kingdom.

Therefore, when I say that we are purely and predominantly Benin, it is the truth. The royalty of Lagos is predominantly Benin.

But we have all intermingled and have since inter-married with people from Yoruba land and people from other places. And we are enjoying the two cultures. We are even enjoying more because we now have Igbo, Hausa and other tribes settling in Lagos. We are not enjoying the Yoruba influence alone, we are also enjoying other influences.

Prior to the institution of the royalty with Oba Ado as the first king, who were the people that the Benin met on the ground?

The Benin has always known about Lagos because they considered it as part of their territory and they used it for many purposes. And when the Awori came from Ife to settle in the areas of Lagos, the Benin quickly got them to pay royalties. Benin was landlocked but, as Benin Empire, they were interacting with people from other parts of the world.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Slave Trade: The 21st Century menace

Written by Chioma Gabriel
Vanguard Nigeria. Sunday, December 10, 2017.

One of the 164 returnees from Libya facilitated by International Organisation on
Migration  and National Emergency Management Agency on arrival
at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos on Thursday
Nearly half a decade ago, the funeral of a promising young man who died in the desert was held somewhere in the southeast. Obumneme, that was his name, was travelling to Europe in search of greener pasture after an HND in Civil Engineering and five years of unemployment in Nigeria. He was the only child of his parents and his death quickly claimed the life of his father. The old man died of a broken heart.

Obumneme had joined legions of Nigerians heading to Europe through the Sahara Desert but he was not as lucky as they made him believe. The challenges were not as surmountable as they made him believe. So, he died.

He was not the only victim. Stories abound of Nigerians who died in the desert everyday and those who died across the Mediterranean sea. Many of these victims were violated and deliberately killed.

In Nigeria today, many secondary school graduates and University graduates who are frustrated due to inability to either get a job or a good paying job, often, believe that it is better out there. Some do not seek the necessary information before getting out of the country. So, they fall victims to push and pull factors.

Nigerian governments have failed Nigerians and for many, there is very little hope of things improving. This push factor has sent many into their early graves.

It is often believed that reducing public corruption and providing efficient social services will go a long way in reducing the exodus of young Nigerians. A major 'pull factor' for many Nigerians leaving the country, especially the financially capable is the efficient infrastructure, governance and orderliness they may enjoy abroad that is lacking in Nigeria. Nigeria has the human and material resources to reproduce this state of affairs but capable and good leadership is required.

Everyday , we hear stories of the suffering of young African migrants seeking better opportunities in Europe through illegal routes. The ordeal that many go through either in the transit countries such as Niger and Libya or during the perilous journeys on rickety boats across the Mediterranean is heart-wrenching.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Phenomenon of father of the Igbo race

The SUN Nigeria. Thursday, November 30, 2017.

It's just the right season to bless the world and ourselves with the gifts of goodwill. As writers, there are perhaps no greater gifts than the word, and in the word. So we bring to readers and the world excerpts of our latest work: Nigeria: The Unreported Genocide Against the Igbo – The Generals Olusegun Obasanjo-Murtala Mohammed Diktats. Published by The Stone Press Publishers, 2017. Kindly read and enjoin others:

Let's begin with a tale. A young boy, who is now grown up, Dr. Agu Smart, once called me to inquire whether there was a king called Eshi in Nkwerre history or mythology. What is the matter, I asked? And he told me there is a signpost opposite his old father's country home at Nweke Nkwerre saying Kamgbe-Eshi Palace. I was alarmed. First of all, there is nothing un-Nkwerre as a palace. Nkwerre are free and proud republican peoples to repeat and have no need for palaces, kings, princes and subjects. Or fools.

Anyway, Kamgbe-Eshi metaphorically means before or since time immemorial in Nkwerre. However, for a philologist, there are other hints. One of which is that Nkwerre people say Oha-Eshi, meaning the crowd/community (of Eshi). Also, Nkwerre people would praise sing or name themselves Nkwerre okwara-eshi, meaning Nkwerre firstborn/male of Eshi.

But the matter is not as simple or exhaustive as this. The other facts are: a neighbouring town bears the name Umueshi, meaning children/descendants of Eshi. However, a little furtherer away at Oguta, the Oguta people take pride in their group cognomen; Oguta nwa amaeshi, which translates roughly as, Oguta, princes and princesses or scions of the Household of Eshi. Nkwerre, Umueshi and Oguta are all in Imo State.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Alexander Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme (1932-2017)

~The Guardian Nigeria. Friday, December 1, 2017.

Late Dr Alexander Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme
Alexander Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, the cerebral, quiet, urbane and quintessential statesman who died in a London clinic the other day, was no ordinary politician. To term him a politician, as many tributes have done, is to demote him to the category of vainglorious power seekers who criss-cross the country for self-gain and clannish privileges. Beyond the man and his actions, Ekwueme was an enriching but unwittingly inadequately acknowledged concept in Nigeria's political lexicon.

His demise has further depleted the dwindling number of great political thinkers and leaders in the country. From the moment he was sworn in on October 1, 1979 as the first elected Vice-President of Nigeria, Ekwueme made the unity, stability and development of Nigeria his lifelong project. He was one political leader who worked underground for the stability of democracy in the country, by weaving together the scarce qualities of patriotism, loyalty, consistency, in a very sacrificial manner for the national cause.

As the running mate of former President Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, he maintained utmost loyalty, even to a point of dignified subservience, notwithstanding his cerebral endowment and professional success. Despite his unjust incarceration by the military junta of the then Major General Muhammadu Buhari that toppled the Shagari government in 1983 and his subsequent release by the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida, Ekwueme remained undaunted in his service to the fatherland.

Two things, it seems, could have made this possible: one was his gift of serenity and the other was his incorruptibility. Whilst the report of the Justice Samson Uwaifo-led judicial tribunal established by the Babangida regime detailed his incorruptibility, his serenity was demonstrated by his commitment, focus and sincerity of purpose which knew no bounds. It was these attributes that drove his formation of the group of 34 eminent Nigerians (G34) that firmly opposed the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. They also demonstrated his positive influence at the 1994 national constitutional conference to deliver Nigeria from the shackles of military rule. In furtherance of this resolve, the G34 became the nucleus of democratic idealists that formed the People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Femi Fani-Kayode: The angel of death that stalks the corridors of power by Fani-Kayode

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The angel of death that stalks the corridors of power by Fani-Kayode
Written by Femi Fani-Kayode
~Vanguard Nigeria. Sunday, November 5, 2017.

“O grave where is thy victory? O death where is thy sting?”- The Holy Bible.

In the early 1960€²s Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the first Premier of the Western Region, lost his first son and years later his second son and second daughter were cut short in the prime of their lives.

Chief S.L. Akintola, his bitter political rival and the second Premier of the Western Region also lost his first daughter in the early 60€²s and a few years later lost his third and youngest son. His second son was also cut short in his prime a number of years later.

Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode, the Deputy Premier of the Western Region, who was a close ally and second in command to S.L. Akintola, lost his second son.

Sir Adesoji Aderemi, who was the Ooni of Ife, a close ally of Awolowo and the first ceremonial Governor of the old Western Region, lost his first son.

Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Premier of the old Eastern Region and Nigeria's first and only ceremonial President, lost his first wife.

President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria's second democratically-elected President lost four wives and one son many years ago whilst Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of the Northern Region, lost two sons and one daughter. Awolowo and Obasanjo went to jail for three years each whilst Ahmadu Bello went to jail for three months.

S.L. Akintola was killed in the prime of his life just as were Ahmadu Bello and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria's first democratically-elected leader and Prime Minister. As a matter of fact they were all killed on the same night- the night of January 15th 1966.

President Shehu Shagari, Nigeria's second democratically-elected leader and first executive President lost four children whilst he was in power and was locked up for over two years after he was toppled.

Chief MKO Abiola, the winner of the June 12th 1993 Presidential election, lost two wives, was locked up for 4 years and was eventually killed. Chief Bola Ige, the first democratically-elected Governor of Oyo state and the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of the Federation lost his first son and he himself was later murdered.

Chief Bisi Onabanjo, the first democratically-elected Governor of Ogun state lost his first son. Alhaji Lateef Jakande, the first democratically elected Governor of Lagos state, lost his first daughter. Dr. Omololu Olunloyo, the second democratically-elected Governor of Oyo state lost his son.

Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, the first Minister of Finance of Nigeria was killed. Chief Alfred Rewane, one of the founding members of the Action Group and a leading figure in NADECO, was killed. The list is endless and I could go on and on.

Alhaji Musa Yar'adua was Minister of Lagos Affairs in the First Republic. He was blessed with a long and peaceful life. However two of his sons were not so lucky.

His first son, General Shehu Musa Yar'adua, who was number two to General Obasanjo when he was military Head of State and who for many decades was one of the most powerful men in the country, was murdered whilst he was in prison.

His second son, President Umaru Yar'adua, was cut short in his prime by a strange and inexplicable ailment after he had been President for only three years.

He was succeeded by his number two, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan lost his brother and his mother-in-law one year after the other after he became President.

After losing the presidential election in 2015 he lost his Special Advisor on Political Affairs and his Chief Security Officer within a matter of months.

Worse still those that he had been deputy to throughout his political life, either as Deputy Governor or Vice President, always suffered one form of misfortune or the other, whether it be death, shame, incarceration or impeachment, and he would end up stepping into their shoes and taking their place.

When it comes to our military rulers the story of consistent tragedy is no different- General Aguiyi-Ironsi, our first military Head of State was killed.

General Yakubu Gowon, our second military Head of State, was toppled from power, exiled, lost his brother and his first son was jailed.

General Murtala Mohammed, our third military Head of State, was killed and lost both his son and son-in-law. General Olusegun Obasanjo was our fourth military Head of State and we touched on his misfortunes earlier.

I should, however add this. In the case of Obasanjo every single one of his official ADC’s since the civil war right up until the time that he left office as President in 2007 except for two was cut short and died a mysterious and inexplicable death.

Sadly it did not stop there. Every single one of his spokesmen between 1999 and 2007 also died before their time except for one.

General Muhammadu Buhari, our fifth military Head of State, was toppled from power, locked up for three years, lost his mother whilst he was in detention and was not allowed to attend her burial, lost his number two (General Tunde Idiagbon) in very strange and suspicious circumstances and later lost two daughters.

General Ibrahim Babangida, our sixth military Head of State, was eased out of power and compelled to "step aside" amidst massive controversy and turmoil and later lost his wife.

His number two, Rear Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, lost his first son, Chief Ernest Shonekan, our first and only Interim Civilian Head of State, was badly humiliated and toppled from power.

General Sani Abacha, our seventh military Head of State, lost his son, was removed from power and was killed. General Abdulsalami Abubakar, our eighth military Head of State, as far as I am aware is the only exception and appears to have escaped any misfortune.

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Femi Fani-Kayode: The angel of death that stalks the corridors of power by Fani-Kayode

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