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Thursday, October 6, 2016


Written by Nnanna Ijomah 
New York, New York, USA

As a young kid during the Nigerian civil war years who experienced first-hand the anguish, deprivations and frustrations occasioned by that war and having had the rare privilege of serving as a Special Assistant to the late Biafran Warlord, the venerable Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Emeka Ojukwu in my adult years, my attitude towards the renewed quest for Biafra has been one of ambivalence and somewhat indifference not so much because I oppose or approve the idea of an independent Biafran nation but rather because I doubted and still doubt a universal agreement amongst a majority of the Igbo's on the issue as well as its possible realization under the present political environment and under this President. Now any discerning mind who has examined the views expressed by the President on this issue since his assumption of office, or the social media comments and opinions made by many Nigerians from the two other major ethnic groups, it will not be difficult to understand or agree with the reasons for my ambivalence.

For starters, it is not only regrettable that the President had made and has continued to make a series of unfortunate comments on the issue including a recent one in New York during the just concluded U.N General conference in which he said he will never allow a referendum on the subject, a comment borne out of sheer ignorance of the limits of his executive powers but also the fact that with his comments he has succeeded in setting the tone for the level of opposition and resentment that now prevails on the issue.. Like the saying goes, "the fish rots from the head", which presupposes the reason for the increased level of acrimony, ethnic hatred and divisiveness that has constrained our ability as Nigerians to have a rational discussion and debate on the Biafran issue. Some have questioned the sudden upsurge in the quest for Biafra since the advent of the Buhari administration as opposed to the Jonathan era. And the answer is simple. It is the president who has set the tone for what is happening today by his unbridled comments before and after his election on the subject,, vis-à-vis his actions.

He first set the tone prior to his election by stating during a BBC Hausa service interview that he did not regret killing a lot of Igbos to keep Nigeria one and would do it again if the need arose. He followed it up by also stating that he will not bother with the 5% of Nigerians, referring to the Igbo's who did not vote for him and actually carried out the threat with his choice of federal appointments which was skewed towards the North. He failed to take action on the numerous vicious attacks by Fulani herdsmen on innocent citizens in the middle-belt, Western and Eastern states , condemn the burning of the Sabon Gari market in Kano populated by Igbo traders or restrain soldiers from killing IPOB demonstrators who were exercising their right to public assembly. Not too long ago while addressing a group of Youth Corpers who paid him a courtesy call in his hometown of Daura, the President again sought to resurrect the ghost of the civil war by reminding the Igbo's of what happened to them during the civil war and how millions of them died. A comment who have perceived as a veiled threat. So when people ask to know why the sudden agitation for a Biafran state, they should look back at the aforementioned comments. The truth is that as the President of a country, it is safe to say, words have consequences. It is also a question of judgment and temperament, two key qualities for leadership.

Now should the President shoulder all the blame? Of course not. Nigerians of all tribes in general and the Igbo's to some extent share some of the blame. After 56 years of independence and at a time when one will think we as a nation have achieved a degree of enlightenment, of acceptance of others, we revert back to the dark crevices of our past history. In doing so we have failed to hold tight to the values and advantages of pluralism and diversity, thereby discarding our sense of humanity, acceptance and tolerance. Our social fabric as a nation has consequently been eaten up by the cancer of tribalism with the cancer itself not being as virulent as the metastasis of the disease. We have become so polarized as a nation that it is now acceptable to express both implicitly and explicitly our dislike and distrust for the other and there is abundant evidence that the Igbo's have borne the brunt of such distrust. Amongst some Yoruba's and Hausa's there is a new word for Biafra and those who clamor for it, "Biafraud". For some the agitation for Biafra is akin to acts of criminality which begs the question when did the principle of self- determination which is one of the guiding principles of the United Nations become a crime of the century to generate so much hate, opposition and angst? At a time when countries like Britain, Somalia, and Ethiopia, just to mention a few have resolved their secession issues peacefully through referendums, one wonders why some in Nigeria belief it would take a war for the Igbo's to achieve their desire of self- determination. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Offodile's new book x-rays the politics of Biafra

Written by Luke Onyekakeyah
~TheGuardian Nigeria. Tuesday, October 4, 2016.
Chudi Offodile

American athlete, Shaun Alexander says "time heals all wounds, unless you pick at them". Alexander must have spoken from practical experience as an athlete, who is prone to sustaining injuries. Athletes sustain injuries on different parts of their bodies. Shaun's consolation is that no matter the kind of injury sustained and where, it is bound to heal over time on one condition that it is not picked at. Just give the injury the needed treatment and allow it to heal. Those who have wounds are advised to keep off anything that could hit or come in contact with the wound accidentally. In medical parlance, a wound that refuses to heal is called chronic wound. Chronic wounds may never heal or may take years to heal. The wounds cause severe emotional and physical stress in addition to creating considerable financial burden on the patient.

Against this backdrop, Chudi Offodile's new book, The Politics of Biafra and the Future of Nigeria, makes profound reading and I recommend it to everyone who wants to have a fresh perspective on the Biafra question vis-Ã-vis the Nigerian conundrum. The book has come at a most auspicious time when agitation for self determination is raging in the defunct Biafra with massive street protests across all the states in the South-East and part of South-South and stone resistance from the Federal Government.

The name Biafra evokes a deep wound that was inflicted on a section of the Nigerian people living in the defunct Eastern Region of the country from May 1967 to January 1970, with the Igbo at the centre. The ugly events of those years, which history now records as the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War, culminated in the loss of over a million lives mostly on the Biafra side and the destruction of infrastructure and economy of the once vibrant and fast-moving region. The survivors of the pogrom and the resultant civil war in the defunct Biafra Republic were devastated and impoverished and had to start life afresh. Nearly 50 years after the Biafra debacle, the wounds have refused to heal, meaning that someone is pricking at it. As a matter of fact, the wounds have become chronic with tense psychological trauma on the Igbo.

The question to ask is, why is it that decades after the end of the Biafra War, the wounds have not yet healed? Five decades are enough time to heal the wound if it had been treated adequately. Why is the wound not healing? Who is pricking on the wound? These are some of the critical issues that Offodile addressed in the most informative book that has added to the Biafra discourse. The book goes further to look into Nigeria future vis-Ã-vis the depressing state of political leadership, economic mismanagement and crass underdevelopment syndrome. What future is there for Nigeria under the weight of insensitive leadership and lopsided political framework with no enduring vision for a united country?

Obi of Onitsha berates South-East govs, Ohanaeze over stagnation of zone

Written by Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
~The SUN Nigeria. Tuesday, October 4, 2016.

Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, yesterday, berated the South-East Governors' Forum and Ohanaeze Ndigbo for showing little interest in the growth of the zone.Achebe, who delivered a lecture with the theme, "Think Nigeria, Invest in Anambra (Aku ruo uno)" at the Dora Akunyili Women's Development Centre in Awka, as part of the Anambra at 25 celebration, expressed worry that selfishness had put the two bodies in disarray.

The monarch regretted that the Governor's Forum, which was meant to be a unifying force for Ndigbo, has failed to play that role because of selfish political interest of Governors, while the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation (Ohanaeze Ndigbo) had been enmeshed in series of controversies.

On the political and economic development of Nigeria, Igwe Achebe reiterated the call for restructuring of the country in a manner that would make for true fiscal federalism

"I truly believe that the long term interest of Ndigbo will best be served in a Nigeria that is just, fair and equitable and provides adequate safeguard as scope for individuals and ethnic nationalities to freely realise their aspiration and contribute their quota to the overall development of the country.

"Such a situation will best be achieved by restructuring the country into a true political and fiscal federation based on the existing six geo-political zones at pre 1996 Constitution. Such an arrangement will afford the best platform for Ndigbo to actualise their character."

At the function where the state Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, his Deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke and his predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi were absent, Achebe also said Ndigbo should not neglect investing in their homelandjust as he called upon oil magnats in Anambra State, led by Prince Arthur Eze, come together and unsure that the state-owned Orient Petroleum does not go under.

In the lecture, he enjoined people of the South East zone to revive the moral and cultural values that were high in the region before now, stressing that Ndigbo needed urgent attitudinal change and must learn to respect one another and their host communities anywhere they reside. Noting that Anambra had what it takes either in human and economic resources to be like Japan, Malaysia, Israel, China, India among other developed climes, Achebe advocated that Nnewi, Onitsha and Aba in Abia State, be transformed to become industrial hubs in Nigeria.

"Ndigbo must think home and act home, in the spirit of Aku-ruo-uno to evolve a philosophy, ideology, strategy and action plans for self-sufficiency, self-reliance and contentment under any circumstance."

Achebe commended Governor Obiano for driving out criminals and making Anambra conducive for investment. The event was attended by prominent citizens from the state including former vice president, Dr. Alex Ekwueme; Constitutional Lawyer, Prof Ben Nwabueze (SAN), former President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife; Senator Joy Emodi; the first female governor in Nigeria, Dame Virgy Etiaba; Chief Cosmas Maduka (Coscharis) and Anambra State House of Assembly Speaker, Rita Maduagwu, amongst others.

Travelling to Onitsha/Benin by road

Written by Patrick Dele Cole-OFR
~TheGuardian Nigeria. Tuesday, October 4, 2016.

We travelled from Lagos to Onitsha by road. We thought we would get a better feel of Nigeria. Living in Lagos, we had seen the tremendous progress Lagos had made: Ogudu, Ogba, Egbe, Ikorodu, Festac, testify to the vibrancy of Lagos. On the way to Badagry, nearly every acre is built up. On the way to Ikorodu the experience is the same. Travelling to Ibadan from Lagos, there is hardly any piece of unbuilt land between Lagos and Sagamu; the same is true on the Otta road. But it is in Banana Island, Park View, Lekki that the development is even more outstanding.

It is now fashionable to travel to Benin via the Lekki Expressway through Epe before turning right to the junction of the major expressway leading to Benin via Ore. For nearly 35 kilometres of the Lekki road, there was not a single unbuilt area on both sides of the road. This is visible, tangible development. Further developments are due in the area when the Lagos Free Trade Zone is opened, Dangote Refinery is built and the airport and new sea ports are opened. Before these gigantic projects are completed, the road and other infrastructure must be put in place now.

The Lekki express road must be widened to take about eight lanes otherwise the whole of that development would be marred by massive gridlock. Already the road is crowded and portions of it are in a terrible state. Coscharis, Globe Motors, Eleganza and a host of others have massive establishments there. There are about three universities, including the Pan African University which houses the monumental Lagos Business School. There is a plethora of expensive schools, like Atlantic Hall and so on there.

But at Epe, the landscape changes from urban to rural. This continues until you hit the expressway at Epe-Ijebu-Ode junction. This rural topography is rather depressing because there are no large farms - only small farms which characterise our agriculture in Nigeria. Someday, Nigeria will again wake up to its agricultural obligations. Presumably then, more land would be cultivated, bringing more jobs and food security.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Nigeria at 56: What Education was like before independence

Written by Dayo Adesulu
~Vanguard Nigeria. Thursday, September 29, 2016.

A UN student teaching pupils in Wuro Hausa Primary School in
Yola, Adamawa State with tablets in local languages
AS Nigeria celebrates its Independence on Saturday, it is imperative to recapitulate the role education played in gaining our freedom from Britain 56 years ago.

Foremost nationalists like the late Chief Anthony Enahoro, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, who fought for our independence did so not through arms and ammunition, but through the power of the pen which they derived through education.

The aforementioned nationalists had were brave enough to challenge the colonial masters due to their access to quality education.

Anthony Enahoro, who moved the motion for our independence was educated at Government School, Uromi, Government School Owo and King's College, Lagos. He was not educated in any private school, all the schools he attended were government schools. With quality education, Chief Enahoro became the editor of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe's newspaper, in 1944 at the age of 21. Thus, becoming Nigeria's youngest editor ever.

Constitutional conferences

His education, coupled with being a member of House of Representatives, he successfully moved the motion for self governance in 1958 which led to Nigeria’s independence in 1960. He was also a delegate to most of the constitutional conferences leading to the independence.

For Obafemi Awolowo, his father who was a farmer and a sawyer died when Obafemi was about seven years old. Nevertheless, because access to education was not as difficult as it is today, he was able to attend various schools and became a teacher at Abeokuta, after which he studied and qualified as a shorthand typist.

African salad (Abacha) reduces heart disease, blindness risk

Written by Chukwuma Muanya, Assistant Editor
~TheGuardian Nigeria. Thursday, September 29, 2016.

Studies indicate ingredients could easily be contaminated

The much sought after local delicacy, Abacha, was in the news last week for the wrong reasons. Contaminated preparations were believed to have induced cholera, which led to the death of six persons and hospitalization of 39 of others in Isolo, Lagos.

But scientific studies show that a meal of well-prepared African salad could help prevent and treat heart diseases, poor sight, obesity, microbial infections including Staphylococcus aureus, colon cancer and other chronic diseases.

African salad is popularly called "Abacha, Abacha Ncha, Abacha and Ugba" by Igbo tribe of Nigeria. It is an exotic delicacy and a special salad recipe native to Nigeria. The name African salad is thought to have originated from the Igbo's ideology that salad contains lots of fresh and raw vegetables and some other ingredients consumed without further cooking, therefore it is a salad and of African origin.

African salad is widely accessed for its composition of food ingredients known to be rich in protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals. It can be eaten on its own or in combination with other snacks like coconut, palm kernel and groundnut. Though it can be as filling as any other main course meal, African salad is usually eaten as an in-between meal or as a side dish to the various Nigerian rice recipes.

African salad is also regarded as a special delicacy during traditional Festivals. Abacha is processed by harvesting cassava tubers; after which they are peeled, washed and cooked. These are then shredded into fine thin slices, and soaked overnight for fermentation so as to thoroughly reduce the starch and hydrogen cyanide from the cassava. The shredded and fermented cassava is again thoroughly washed the following day before drying it for two to three days.

The preparation of African salad takes great efforts and the ingredients needed to prepare African salad vary according to ones taste and availability. The key to making a good African salad is to make sure that all the ingredients are well incorporated. It can include ingredients such as Ugba (Pentaclethra macrophylla), palm oil, potash, onions, nutmeg, crayfish, salt, pepper, maggi, ogiri (Ricinus communis), garden egg, garden egg leaves, Utazi leaves (Gongronema latifolium), Okazi (Ukazi) leaves (Gnetum africana), Uziza leaves (Piper guineense), kpomo (cow skin), meat and stockfish/fish. These ingredients are mixed thoroughly with the shredded cassava (Abacha). The ingredient added is dependent on one's choice, purchasing power and availability. African salad can be served with fried fish/meat over a cold drink (palm wine, beer, stout or Wine).

Can a meal of Abacha lead to death or cause cholera?

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The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.

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