Archive for February, 2013

NGF: Amaechi and Politicians’ Desperation

Posted on February 27, 2013. Filed under: Opinion | Tags: |

NGF: Amaechi and Politicians’ Desperation

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Politicians live a life of noisy desperation. It is all about how to outsmart, outwit and oust any contrary opposition. Sometimes, what they term as opposition is not opposition in the real sense of the word. They mistake critics or divergent opinions for opposition. This is glaringly what the presidency has taken Governor Chibuiku Amaechi for, because of his unequivocal and unrelenting approach in the business of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), which he heads in the capacity of Chairman. Down home, because President Goodluck Jonathan is Ijaw, and Amaechi is Ikwerre, many uninformed opinions and politicians from the Ijaw extraction have taken Amaechi to be in a war of slow-destruction against the Ijaws, because he addresses the views of the NGF, many times, challenging the stance of the Federal Government on any national issues. Some have likened Amaechi as a University Union President who is always challenging the authority. And you wonder if Amaechi is challenging the NGF that made him its chairman or what. To this set of people, they have ignorantly mistaken the presidency as the authority that Amaechi has been challenging, but this is a biased viewpoint. It could have been said to be a challenge if Amaechi had challenged the NGF, which he has not done, and might not done. So, for now, it should be taken that Amaechi has not challenged and is not challenging any authority no matter the quarter that has been hatching this propaganda war against Amaechi.

It was Amaechi that made the NGF the formidable force it has become today, not to scuttle the presidency, but for the aspirations and objectives of the NGF. Happily, Amaechi and majority of the governors that consist the NGF are members of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). If Amaechi were in the opposition it can be brought home the speculation making the rounds that he is against Jonathan. How can he be against Jonathan when virtually 85% of the NGF’s members are PDP? It will not be out of contest to say that it is not Amaechi or the NGF that is desperate in the on-going politics, but the presidency. The unfolding reports between Amaechi and the risky-in-nature plot by the presidency to oust him as the chairman of NGF are clear indications that the presidency does not want any challenge from any quarters, but loyalists. Juxtaposing to this, one may say that such calculation is despotic, which is not what democracy represents.

It cannot be said that this is democracy, if Amaechi’s opinions representing that of the NGF are termed the enemy’s, because of certain interest group for the 2015 elections. Does anybody think that Amaechi has anything to lose if his purported quest to be re-elected as the NGF’s chair fails? No. He has nothing to lose, but the NGF that will be manipulated to have a stooge of the presidency as chairman. Considerably, the fight against Amaechi started when the news from the rumour mills started to circulate that he was nursing the ambition for the presidency in 2015, as a possible running-mate to Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, which he has rebuffed several times. Somebody might say that before the news started circulating it had been mirrored through the presidency’s intelligence mirror, but why still tag that on his neck when he has declared it public that there was nothing of that kind in his political career, at least, for now.

What Nigerians expect from Jonathan is to be meeting the yearnings of the populaces, and not the supposedly meetings with the PDP on how to oust Amaechi; hence a splinter group named PDP Governors Forum emerged. Would they also throw Amaechi out of this splinter group since he is a member of the PDP? If the presidency is blunt to Amaechi, it should know that it is also blunt to the people of Rivers State that Amaechi governs; no strategy that was meant to dampen any opinion that is not tyrannical!

 

As far as the NGF is concerned, any of its members that is seeking loyalty for the presidency can be regarded as a traitor. The loyalty of any member of any group should be for the group and not the other. In this case, there is no gainsaying the fact that the presidency is also a strong opposition to the NGF, without the later knowing it. What was expected of the NGF’s members to do was to question the right the presidency had in interfering in its matter. If Amaechi will go, it has to be done by the members of the NGF, and not by any wandering aggressors. Anybody viewing the NGF as an arm of the ruling PDP, therefore, the presidency has the right to interfere, is not just being truthful. If this is not true, why have there been speculations that the Czar of the NGF might come from an opposition party if by tomorrow Amaechi did not emerge chairman the second time. Though, as it stands, Amaechi has proved that he also knew how to fight, and not only how to talk. Since Thursday 21 February, when the first ‘political coup’ was staged against Amaechi, his men and him have succeeded in fighting to retain the image of the NGF.

In this stance, it was expected that the objective of Jonathan when he wanted to be elected as president was good governance and not to wrestle power or anybody. Though, the constitution of men, they say, is not written on their faces. Jonathan and the presidency are too gentle be battling Amaechi personally. What did Amaechi do? The presidency should stop creating fictitious stories against Amaechi before the public. The attempt to fool the Nigerians that Amaechi was doing this and that against the presidency should stop. This government should know that it is becoming irritating everyday, while using the media as cover, for its noisy desperation for power.

Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author, is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV). Tel: +2348057778358 (or) +2348032552855

Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com, nirivpol@gmail.com

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Nigeria: A Clime Of The Incongruous –By Nwaorgu Faustinus

Posted on February 26, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Nigeria: A Clime Of The Incongruous –By Nwaorgu Faustinus.

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I just want to add value, says, AVM Femi Gbadebo

Posted on February 25, 2013. Filed under: Interview | Tags: , , |

I just want to add value, says, AVM Femi Gbadebo

Air Vice Marshall Femi Gbadebo (Rtd) is the founder of Benola, a Cerebral Palsy initiative. In an interview with selected journalists in Lagos, the former Air Force Instructor pilot and facilitator  at various Military Training Institutions says he is committed to raising awareness about cerebral palsy and also providing succour to those living with the condition.

Excerpt:

Question: Why are you not in politics or business?

Answer:   I am not interested in partisan politics. I just want to add value to the society. For those that entered the military at a very young age and the country invested on them for thirty five years, the least they can do is to give back. I know a lot of people who complain that too many military officers were retired at the peak of their career, but I have never agreed with that.  At a certain stage, one should move on and do other things, and part of that is to give back to the society that trained and exposed you to so much. That way, the knowledge you have and the experience you have gathered can be brought to bear in other facets of life. My career all along had to do with training. I was first a pilot on military jet fighter aircraft and later an instructor pilot on military jet aircraft. I trained a number of the senior pilots in the Nigerian Air Force today. I later had tours of duty as Directing Staff/Moderator at both Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji and National Defense College Abuja. So you can see that having always been a teacher, I have a passion to impart knowledge, to touch lives positively and to continuously engage others in mental interaction. So I thought the best thing to do after retiring was to find ways in which I could get to be a part of the intellectual community. I made myself accessible to people but found a disturbing ignorance of what the military has to offer the business community.  So I set out to make myself more acceptable by attending a programme at the Lagos business School. I also tried to liaise with institutions involved in organising seminars, workshop and conferences but I was not fulfilled because they mostly wanted to deal with what I regard as safe issues. But then, I have a 16-year son who has been living with cerebral palsy since birth. My family and I have lived with this unique condition all this time and my job which has afforded me the opportunity to travel to several countries made it possible for me and my wife to assess and explore other opportunities of caring and seeing first-hand,  how the issue of disability is handled in the western world. While in service, my wife did most of the management of our son and since my retirement, I have spent all my time with him because I made a commitment that whatever I do after retirement must afford me enough flexibility to spend as much time with him as possible. That is why I have never considered taking up a full time appointment. All along the way, I started to think of how I could use my experience with my son to educate and encourage others through the use of the social media like Facebook, twitter etc. Unfortunately, time and the expertise to set and keep those options running proved to be a problem. I was also mindful of the fact that I did not want to appear as if I was commercializing my son’s condition, so it took a lot of encouragement and guidance for me to get to the stage where I realized that the only way that I can help families that are less fortunate than ours to manage a condition, that is prevalent in our society but which most people prefer not to talk about, is to start this initiative.

If you go outside Nigeria especially to countries in Europe , America , Canada and Australia, you will not find any physically challenged person on the street begging for alms  because those societies have accepted and taken full responsibility of their disabled citizens  . In some of these countries, they take things to a level where families are recommended or appointed as care-givers to the disabled persons with social workers assigned to monitor these children. But in Nigeria and most African countries, the reverse is the case. It is the incapacitated who feeds their parents through proceeds from street begging. The incapacitated people are also stigmatized and treated as though they are the architects of their misfortune. In my interaction with people, I found lot of those who want to identity with the course of the disabled but the problem has always been who to trust because of the activities of fraudsters parading as directors and trustees in some Non-Governmental Organizations. So people are sceptical as to who to support to get things done, who has the credibility and managerial prowess to do things right. That is why we decided to step to make a difference and we are not alone because I believe that with the large pool of retired Chief Executive Officers and top management staff both in private and public sectors that we have in this country, not to mention the bulk of retired officers and civil servant, Nigeria has the human and material resources to change the face of NGO’s in Africa. And for our budding entrepreneurs, I have this quote by Rick Warren which says, “It is not a sin to be rich but it is a sin to die rich.” So let us reduce the big society events and borrow a leaf from Bill and Belinda Gates, and seriously begin to give back to society. I hope that such people will either come out with their initiative or choose to identify with us because government alone cannot make the difference.

QUESTION: How are you going to source funds?

ANSWER: If you start thinking about funds, you will not achieve anything but if you believe in what you are doing, all you need to show people is sincerity of purpose and commitment along with a well-articulated plan and a clearly defined structure. God will do the rest. Certainly, it may be rough at the beginning but when people see what you are doing, they will surely buy into it and begin to support you.

QUESTION: How are you going to sustain the Initiative?

ANSWER:  Some people like to personalize things but we intend to create a structure that will outlive the founder. What I mean is that as the founder, i am only making sure things get off the ground, Thereafter; a full time chief executive officer will be engaged to run the affairs under the direct supervision of the Board of Trustees. We also have an Advisory Board who will help direct the affairs of Benola. So you can see that we are creating a structure that is will be self-sustaining.

QUESTION: Are you going to synergize with other health related NGOs?

ANSWER:  Issues of disability cut across many groups. We see advocacy for the handicapped as one issue which no individual or organization can handle alone. So we intend to work with other groups and from interactions with people in the industry, the impression is that we are on the right track. When you have this kind of project at your hand, you must reach out to others who share similar views and already know the terrain.

QUESTION: What is your message to physically challenged Nigerians?

ANSWER: My message to families or anybody living with a disabled person is that a disabled person is no different from you and me. He or she is just a unique individual who is unable to do some of the things that we can do unassisted and so what they need is love, not pity . If I am to talk from my own experience, I will say that once you show love and understanding to a disabled person, what you get in return is a whole lot of love.

 

 

 

 

 

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AMAECHI: SECURITY CHALLENGES IN RIVERS STATE, HIS STRATEGIES & SCORECARD!

Posted on February 24, 2013. Filed under: Opinion | Tags: , |

AMAECHI: SECURITY CHALLENGES IN RIVERS STATE, HIS STRATEGIES & SCORECARD!

By

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, 08038199163, ezemediaconcept08@rocketmail.com

PREAMBLE

In my continuous efforts to appraise and review the activities of the enigma they call, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the indefatigable Governor of Rivers State and undisputed Chairman of the Governors’ Forum of Nigeria and having successfully treated his exploits and issues of governance in Rivers State pertaining to areas of Finance, Education, Health, job creation and some other sectors; the challenge of writing on the security challenges or insecurity in Rivers State, I must confess was the most exigent as I was at a loss on how to start bearing in mind that this should be the area of my next consideration. In this regard, Hon. Chief Dakuku Peterside, Chairman House of Representatives Committee on (Downstream) Petroleum came to my aid with his revealing article titled ‘How to tackle insecurity in Nigeria’ in which he stated and I quote, “Security, law and order are the major preoccupation of any Government. Once a government gets this priority right, it has made the very first right step. Growing insecurity on the reverse side is the first sign of a failing state”

Poet and Political Philosopher, Samuel Taylor Coleridge view of security tallies with that of Hon Peterside when he stated, “The three great ends which a statesman ought to propose to himself in the government of a nation, are,-

1. Security to possessors;

2. Facility to acquirers;

3. Hope to all” while Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi concurred by stating that, “Government must not be for one section of the Society. It must be for the rich and the poor, emphasizing the upliftment of the poor…”

With the above, let me therefore state that the main treatise of this attempt is to review the strategies adopted by the Rivers State Government under the watch of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi in tackling the menace of insecurity in Rivers State prior to his assumption of office on 28thOctober, 2007 with the hope that it will serve as a model to other States in any part of the globe in addressing the security challenges in their domain. For matter of clarity, Rivers State is the hub of oil industry in Nigeria and very rich in hydrocarbons from which the nation draws its major revenue and because it was confronted with key security challenges especially the challenges of illegal bunkering, piracy, kidnapping and armed robbery this attempt is embarked upon.

THE TYPE OF RIVERS STATE INHERITED BY GOV CHIBUIKE ROTIMI AMAECHI!

According to records, Port Harcourt, the State capital of Rivers State that Amaechi inherited was more like a war zone or aptly put a jungle where the fittest determines the fate of the lesser animals. It sounds pretty surprising but not unexpected that the city of Port Harcourt, a once very glamorous city, was ranked among the three most dangerous cities in the world by then. The human resources unit of New York-based Marsh & McLennan Cos. had ranked Port Harcourt with Baghdad, Yemen’s capital of Sana’a and Khartoum in Sudan, as the world’s most dangerous cities. Going by the ranking published by Bloomberg, Port Harcourt ranked with Baghdad as one of the world’s most dangerous cities for foreign workers as criminal gangs and militia groups seeking greater control of energy revenue step up attacks.

Ahamefula Ogbu, a Journalist with Thisday Newspapers described one of the scenes in the State at this period in these words ‘Rambo could not have done better. With automatic rifles in their hands and hate, revenge and murder hanging around their necks, warring cultists took Port Harcourt, Rivers State, by storm yesterday for the second day running. Pandemonium broke out as residents ran for safety. It was sorrow, tears and blood. At the end of it all—or, more aptly, at the interval, for no one knows the end yet—15 persons had been dispatched to their early graves’ and true to this unsung prophet nobody knew the end as the next few days saw about eighty innocent souls wasted by an agitation uncommon to our people in the Niger Delta.

While to my late friend and brother, Mr. George Onah reporting for Vanguard Newspaper captured Port Harcourt before the assumption of office by Gov Amaechi in these words; “For many residents, the capital of Rivers State, hitherto the Garden City where life was lived to the fullest is no longer the place to live in as rivers of blood flow ceaselessly following an unending siege by militants, kidnappers, cultists, and criminals of other hue”

“Violence in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has gone full circle and the guns are still booming. The casualties are pilling, even as blood of defenceless citizens’ flow endlessly. Neither the Police nor the government has answers to the brigandage. Security outfits do not have official figures, record or reliable estimates of casualties in the Rivers State orgy of killings”.

“Even the number of deaths during the Nigerian Civil War had a consensus of informed opinion on the number of deaths, on both sides, which hovered, realistically around 600,000 and below. But the rapidity of casualties in the onslaught by gunmen on Rivers State cannot simply be pigeonholed. The currency of killings is alarming and the growth of the economy of the state is heading for the deep”.

“The pattern of the crime ranges from kidnapping of expatriates and children of wealthy parentage, to outright violent robbery. Cultism and political vices equally occupy a frightening position on the crime chart. The volatile atmosphere appears to have annulled whatever achievement of the peace and reconciliation committee of the government”.

As if both Ogbu and late Onah did not capture the picture correctly, Okey Ndibe, a respected opinion leader on national issues in Nigeria in his article during this period published by the Sahara Reporters one of the leading online media on Nigerian political activities titled ‘a blood soaked city’ described the happenings in Rivers State then in these words ‘That the once idyllic Port Harcourt was now a scarred place, a war zone, a city soaked in blood; the city under siege with thousands of citizens displaced; that its once quiescent boulevards and avenues were now ruled by marauding militiamen and by the fierce soldiers deployed to dislodge them. Sudden death by bullet was now a generalized hazard for the city’s trapped and hapless residents’.

Proffering an answer or rather solution out of this madness, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, an elder statesman and a onetime Federal Minister of Information in the first Republic advocated that the only solution to the lingering security crisis in Rivers State, ‘I implored President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua not to dilly-dally in imposing a state of emergency on Rivers State, not doing so would be tantamount to postponing the evil day’ He continued, ‘Omehia was not fit to be governor of Rivers State in fact he is a major part of the problem and an unserious and insensitive personality; where is the seriousness in Omehia? If he is a serious governor or politician, why should he abandon Rivers State when the state was still boiling to go and take part in a birthday bash in Abuja for his godfather, Peter Odili? We can’t fold our hands as elders, and continue watching situation degenerate.”

Affirming the unfortunate state of Rivers State then, an icon and Prince of Niger Delta Politics, Prince Tonye Princewill in a recent interview stated thus, “Rivers State, when Amaechi took over was a garrison state. Now that things have changed, people refer to him, like they do to Fashola as a performing governor though the only difference between the two is that Fashola had a foundation in Tinubu but in the case of Amaechi, it was not so!”.

THE CHALLENGES AND CAUSES OF INSECURITY IN RIVERS STATE

One of the major forces behind the menace of insecurity in Rivers State was class challenge and Lady Dorothy Alison captured this aptly when she stated, “The horror of class stratification, racism, and prejudice is that some people begin to believe that the security of their families… and communities depends on the oppression of others, that for some to have good lives there must be others whose lives are truncated and brutal”.

Affirming the truism by Lady Alison, Governor Amaechi enthused, “When we took over the reins of governance in the State we met a situation where people were being given cash, but we decided to take the extreme position of not giving money to people, but doing projects that would impact positively on the lives of the majority of our people”. This stand of the Governor to stop the method which was the practice hitherto of sharing State funds to some seasoned politicians and groups who in turn use it to sponsor militia groups that constitute security challenges in the State.

Apart from class challenges as postulated above, insecurity in Rivers State was occasioned by greed for power; empowering and arming our youths with sophisticated arms in order to undo political opponents in the State. Another great influence of insecurity was the wickedness of the politicians in undermining the future of the youths and misuse of public and the common patrimony of the State. Instead of investments that will create jobs for the teeming youths, the funds are distributed amongst friends and relations

According to Governor Amaechi who viewed insecurity in wider perspective stated, “Insecurity in Nigeria is caused by politicians and poverty pervading the country”. He stressed that armed robbery; kidnapping and Boko Haram insurgency were all products of the poverty occasioned by rapacious rulers. Accordingly, he said issues such as religion differences among the citizenry would only come to the fore when the political class had differences with one another in their sharing formula of the national cake, declaring that “when you see difference in religion, there is a particular political undertone. The governor noted that the situation in the country currently had been made worse by the mono-product status of its economy; a development he said had pitched the various regions and states against one another. He stressed that it was even worse that the Federal Government wielded enormous power and “made the centre a dispenser of patronage and rent.”

To Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi, “inability of elected leaders to provide adequate security for the citizenry is an impeachable offence. The first offence governors commit is when they are unable to provide adequate security for the people. This is because the first oath taken by elected leaders is to protect life and property. It is the responsibility of the government to provide security for the people.”

STRATEGIES ADOPTED TO ADDRESS THE MENACE OF INSECURITY

According to Noam Chomsky, “the U.S. international and security policy … has as its primary goal the preservation of what we might call “the Fifth Freedom,” understood crudely but with a fair degree of accuracy as the freedom to rob, to exploit and to dominate, to undertake any course of action to ensure that existing privilege is protected and advanced”. The fact remains that it seems that Governor Amaechi on assumption of office adopted this US security policy in tackling the menace of insecurity in the State as he went out exploiting every means humanly possible to arrest this ugly trend. Apart from declaring war on all the militia groups in the State and refusing any form of dialogue or negotiations with them, he ensured that the security organs in the State were well motivated and trained to tackle the menace of insecurity in the State.

Explaining further on how Governor Amaechi handled the security challenges of the State at this period, an influential member of Amaechi’s Administration, former Commissioner of works and present member of the Nation’s House of Representatives, Hon. Dakuku Peterside in his article on insecurity in Nigeria stated as follows, “When I had the privilege of serving in the government of Rivers State under the leadership of Governor Amaechi, I observed that he placed high premium on security because he believed that security was the foundation upon which progress in every other facet of development depends. This is aside from government’s proactive disposition which drew substantially from intelligence gathering, surveillance and the fact that law enforcement agents could reasonably predict potential crime with near perfect accuracy.

Another interesting aspect of the Rivers model is the deployment of technology. Without sounding immodest, I can confidently say that the state’s security network is driven by excellent modern technology. Rivers was the first state to acquire a mobile scanning van known as back scatter. Around the Port-Harcourt metropolis, there are Gantry Scanners at strategic entry locations in Onne- Eleme Road, East-West Road, Choba Road, Oyibo Road, Ikwere Road, Aba Road and Mbiama Road among others”.

Throwing more light on the postulations of Peterside, a security expert and CEO, MPD Security Systems, Engr. David Meyer stated as follows, “The first step we took in Rivers State was to raise capacity among selected police personnel, over 200, through local and overseas training in Israel and other parts of the world on modern crime fighting techniques and intelligence gathering,” Meyer explained. Working with modern gadgets and substantial logistics including an Israeli trained concealed weapon detecting dog, these crossbred police team had since been strategically placed at main outskirt check posts witnessing mass movement in and out of Port Harcourt City. Others lead a number of metro patrol teams responding to security emergencies around the town and environs. These are far as the public can see.

Beyond public view, as part of Rivers current long term vision of security, Meyer pointed to underground application of ICT aided security hardware and software helping the police to sense and react to security situations with dispatch. This network of technology managed by experts from a hub which Meyer would not disclose its location for security reasons, employs the C4I urban surveillance cameras watching over the city and active 24hrs of the day in Port Harcourt and environs.

The interactions between the seen and unseen infrastructures, according to Meyer, account for the recent security operatives swift bursting of some of failed organized crime operations, including an attempted raid of a bank in the Mile 4 area of the city last year. “These measures have been working well and while the public may not know, it has lead to several arrests and we have gained convictions against suspects on account of the improved network”, he emphasized.

Supporting the views of Hon. Chief Peterside and Engr. Meyer, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Chibuike stated,. We have done a lot about security. We are doing more. Before we came to office, kidnapping was a serious challenge. We have dealt with it substantially. We are finishing December, 2012 without a single report of kidnapping or armed robbery. We have specially trained policemen handling security. Barring any unforeseen circumstance, any moment from now, the Rivers State Government’s security web would be two surveillance helicopters stronger, laying foundation for a standing air wing to give the state 24-hour security coverage.. He said the helicopters; costing $30m (N4.5bn) with surveillance cameras to fly all over the city of Port Harcourt and other parts of the state would arrive at the end of December and commence operations in January, 2013. He stated that Rivers now has in place a technology reliable for tracking criminals and their hideouts.

The Governor who is a major proponent of State Policing postulated, “
If we have State Police, Rivers would be able to train its police the way it wants. It would not have suffered the loss of those 500 policemen it trained. Most states are spending a lot of money improving the police which are not under their control. States can use the same resources to fund their own police. Only those with something to hide are afraid of State Police.

PRACTICAL SOLUTION TO INSECURITY CHALLENGES IN RIVERS STATE

All the above commendable steps totally unique by any other segment of governance in Nigeria, the fact remains that to Gov Amaechi the panacea to insecurity or stoppage of any form of crime in the State is to provide employment to our youths, according to him, “The first step to solving economic crisis especially crime is to provide people with source of livelihood. The challenge here therefore is to provide to the reader the steps and means through which this enigma who is misunderstood by some unprincipled politicians who want to pull him down using every means possible intends to handle the creation of job and reduce insecurity in Rivers State

1.      EDUCATION

To Horace Mann the great Educationist, “Education is our only political safety. Outside of this ark all is deluge”. Mann cannot have a better disciple better than Gov Amaechi who probably because of what he suffered to be educated due to lack of fund has sworn that he will not allow any Rivers State child to go through the hell he went through to be educated. In this regard, the Governor stated, “We flagged off the free education on 1 October 2010 – free text and exercise books are distributed every session to pupils in all state primary and secondary schools. Free education in the state’s standard educational facilities is expected to give children from Rivers State an edge in academics, particularly those from poor homes who ordinarily may not have been opportune to have such educational upbringing. Out of 500 new model primary schools being built across our 23 local government areas of the state, 254 are 100 percent completed, 92 are fully functional while the others are being furnished and equipped. Our initial plan was 750 primary schools by 2015. We have had challenges with getting land to build; there has been an increase in the number of pupils. We would do 500 schools, but a storey-building with 25 classrooms, instead of 14 and not more than 30 students per class. These primary schools are each equipped with ICT facility, modern library, science laboratory, football field, basketball pitch, volleyball pitch, a sick bay, nursery playground.

To arrest the sad wave of unemployment in the State the Governor has authorised employment of over 13, 000 Teachers apart from supporting staff to man all these schools.

2.      Health

160 model health centres are operational in our 23 local government areas. The free health care programme has contributed to a decline in the mortality rate of Rivers people particularly maternal and child mortality as the health centres are located to serve every part of the state. All indigenes and residents of the state are beneficiaries of the programme. People in the remote villages or coastal areas no longer have to visit the city for medical care. For secondary health care, there are three new hospitals all completed. They include the ultra modern Rivers State Dental and Maxillofacial Hospital on Aba Road. This facility is completed and being furnished and equipped. The Kelsey Harrison Hospital, formerly known as New Niger Hospital on Emenike Street, Diobu, is fully equipped and ready to take off. The General Hospital at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology is also completed. Doctors and supporting staff are employed to man these hospitals thereby reducing unemployment in the State.

3.      Agriculture

According to the Governor, “We have four fish farms-Buguma, Andoni, Opobo and Ubima. Banana Farm in Ogoni-100 hectares have been done out of the total 250 hectares. Therefore is among the big farms we have started to create jobs for rural dwellers. It will employ about 500 workers. Rivers Songhai learning initiative has a centre for training, agricultural production, research and development of sustainable agricultural practices. The farm project sits on a 314-hectares land in Bunu-Tai, an agrarian community in Tai Local Government Area of the state. It is about 20 times the size of the Songhai model in Porto Novo – an integrated farm which combines livestock, arable farming, fishery, snail farming and poultry. There is a 2,000-hectare farm in Etche with a total available land space of 3,000 hectares. The farm is projected to cost $140 million. The state is investing $100m; the foreign partner $40 million. The farm would have 300 farming houses, agro processing and 3,000 hectares for cultivation. The 300 houses would accommodate 300 farming families who would live and work on the farm.

All the above efforts not withstanding the Government of Rivers State based on the much she has done in the area of Power generation, the Governor has promised that by March, 2013 the residents of the State can be assured of at least 20hours of steady public power per day thereby resurrecting small scale industries and major industries in the State that will revolutionise and p[rovide employment amongst our people.

CONCLUSION

The results of the peaceful state of Rivers State under the watch of Gov Amaechi has resulted not only attraction of foreign investments but today Port Harcourt is now the haven of both International and National championships. Apart from hosting one of the best organised National Sports Festival ever in Nigeria, the just concluded School Sports was hosted by the State. The Police Games coming up by March is billed to be hosted by the State. Port Harcourt apart from Abuja and probably Lagos is the only State to have hosted US-Nigeria bie National Conference. The city has hosted the Miss ECOWAS Beauty Pageant, Pan African Parliamentary; Garden City Literary Festival, hosted CARNRIV involving several foreign countries to showcase the rich culture, potentials and beauty of her people, the 2nd Dr Claude Ake Memorial Lecture, Rivers State Investment Forum and Governor’s Interactive Session with Rivers State Youths amongst several other meets the city has hosted to prove its acceptability as the most peaceful and progressive city in Nigeria.

Kudos of course must go to Alh, Suleiman Abba the then Commissioner of Police now AIG for his commitment and no nonsense approach to crime in the State; the Brigade Commander, the Air force Commander, Director of SSS for their commitment in ensuring that Rivers State was recovered from the hands of these hoodlums! My commendation can’t be concluded without mentioning the then Secretary to the Rivers State Government now a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dist. Senator Magnus Abe whose office then was coordinating and spearheading this onslaught against insecurity in the State.

If all these do not show that Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is a committed, patriotic and visionary leader then I must be ignorant of what a true leader is all about and if Rivers State is not the peace haven of Nigeria now then I maybe at loss on what security is all about!

In conclusion, the bottom-line of this review exposing the revolutionary strategies adopted by Gov Amaechi in arresting the security challenges in Rivers State which was a war zone at the time he took over the reins of governance comparable to what is currently occasioned by the menace of Boko Haram in the Northern Nigeria is if the Federal Government can be wise and magnanimous enough to learn from these strategies and probably consult with Gov Amaechi to assist them  put an end to the menace and embarrassment Boko Haram activities have inflicted on our nation then the exercise of carrying this attempt may have been achieved!

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt

 

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The Fascinating Story of the Uzuakoli Leper Colony

Posted on February 23, 2013. Filed under: Culture/Religion | Tags: |

The Fascinating Story of the Uzuakoli Leper Colony

By Emmanuel A. C. Orji

I have been moved to write this article as a follow-up to my last article entitled ONCE IN A WHILE in which I drew the attention of Nigerians to the selfless services of the University of Port Harcourt and its Vice Chancellor, Prof Joseph Ajienka, made manifest through the recognition of the musical genius, Ikoli Harcourt Whyte who, but for them, may have been left to blush unseen as depicted by Thomas Grey in his elegy in a country churchyard as follows:

“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen

And waste its sweetness on the desert air”

The dawn of the 20th century marked the insurgence of British imperialism in what came to become a country called Nigeria. This same period witnessed the spread of Leprosy in Eastern Nigeria.

From time immemorial, Leprosy has been a dreaded disease. Among Ndi Igbo, for example, Leprosy was seen as a disease that ended with death. Ndi Igbo feared Leprosy so much that its sufferers were isolated from society and regarded as living dead.  Even the bible did not help matters in this regard, for, in Leviticus 11, 12, 13, Leprosy and its sufferers were also isolated and humiliated until the priests declared them cured. Imagine a patient using a bell to announce as he walks the street to warn other road users to keep a safe distance from him because he was a Leper and so was unclean. Such was the faith of many people in Eastern Nigeria of the historic time.

The first Leper Colony in Eastern Nigeria was established at Itu in present Akwa Ibom State by the then Church of Scotland Mission (now Presbyterian Church) in 1928. There, Leprosy patients were assembled and efforts were made to cure and care for them. They were mainly Leprosy sufferers from the old Calabar province.

But in the case of leprosy patients from the old Owerri Province, made up of the old  Ahoada, Bende, Degema, Okigwe, Orlu, and Owerri Divisions/Districts, nothing was done until a young British Doctor volunteer, Dr. Fergurson, had the permission of the British colonial government to carry out research to find the cure for leprosy. This volunteer, Dr. Fergurson, who chose Nigeria as his field of study, arrived Port Harcourt and the Resident of the old Owerri Province caused a ward to be opened in the Port Harcourt General Hospital for leprosy sufferers. The District Officers of the various districts of Owerri Province were instructed to advise Warrant Chiefs to send known leprosy patients from their areas  to Port Harcourt for treatment.  The rush to Port Harcourt was great, the facilities at the General Hospital could not meet the demand for treatment and soon an area of the town called Gborokiri became quarters for leprosy patients.  Prominent among the early arrivals to Port Harcourt for treatment were the famous musician from Abonnema, Ikoli Harcourt Whyte and Isaac Nwohu from Ikwuano, in present Abia State. At first, there was neither care nor cure. The overwhelming number of leprosy patients posed serious problems of accommodation, security, care of expectant patients etc for Port Harcourt that its clean residents protested against sharing the town with them. Government was compelled to decide to use force to rid the town of lepers. A police unit under the command of Chief Inspector of Police J. O. Njemanze was constituted to enforce the eviction order. Owere people have a parable that says no one would dare slap a yaws sufferer because such a person would risk becoming a yaws sufferer too( aka nti anu onye ekpechu). So it needed a lot of caution to handle the eviction of leprosy sufferers. The leprosy patients, under the leadership of Ikoli Harcourt Whyte, resisted government eviction. They marched to the Manse of the Primitive Methodist Missionary Society in Port Harcourt and submitted a petition to the Rev. Banham to appeal to the government not to send them away to suffer, but to persuade the Methodist Church to open a leper Colony for them as the Church of Scotland Mission(now Presbyterian Church) had done for leprosy patients from the old Calabar province at Itu, in present Akwa Ibom State, in 1928, through the efforts of one Dr. MacDonald. The Rev. Banham, after whom the Banham Memorial Church was built on Aggrey Road, Port Harcourt, quickly intervened and appealed to the Resident of the old Owerri Province not to send the lepers away from Port Harcourt while he consulted with the Methodist Mission in London and Nigeria for the establishment of a leper colony somewhere in the old Owerri Province to take care of and cure them. Before long, replies came confirming that the Methodist Church could help out if the Resident would provide the initial infrastructure while the church provides medical personnel, medicine and general welfare. The Methodist mission started looking for land. The first bid for land was made at Ishiagu but failed. However, H. L. O. Williams, then Principal of Methodist College, Uzuakoli, taking advantage of his good relationship with the people of Umuimenyi, secured the site for the building of the Uzuakoli Leper Colony. The Resident quickly sent Taylor Woodrow, Provincial Engineer, to start putting up the initial infrastructure of the Leper colony which was ready by 1932.  On August 5, 1932, the leprosy patients at Gborokiri were evacuated to Uzuakoli, including Ikoli Harcourt Whyte and Isaac Nwohu.

It is remarkable to note that the most loyal and effective Public Works Department (PWD) staff who assisted  Taylor Woodrow in building the initial infrastructure in the Uzuakoli Leper colony was one  Daniel Meziobi from Nekede near Owerri. After the first houses were built by PWD at the Uzuakoli Leper Colony, the PWD, impressed by the patriotism and missionary spirit exhibited by Daniel Meziobi, transferred his services on secondment to the Methodist Church where he worked until his career in the civil service continued when government took over the leper colony on April 1, 1945 (government financial year then began on 1st April of one year and ended on 31st March of the following year). It must be emphasized that Daniel Meziobi was never a leprosy patient. He was rather a sympathetic Nigerian patriot who admired the humanitarian services of European Doctors etc and wished to join them in serving humanity to eradicate leprosy. What a rare Nigerian!

The Primitive Methodist Church, London sent Dr. J. A. K. Brown to work at Uzuakoli. On arrival, he first stayed with other missionaries at the Methodist College, Uzuakoli before he went to Itu Leper Colony for orientation after which he returned to Uzuakoli with such remarkable pioneer Nigerian Staff as Eze Agha and Ebeke Inyang. Dr. Brown’s first tour was to last for four years, in the first instance, and he said, ab initio, that he would not seek a renewal. This situation created expected anxiety for the Methodist Church. At a synod of the church held in London at this psychologically most unfavourable moment, the problem to be posed by Dr. Brown’s exit from Uzuakoli Leper Colony was discussed. A synod delegate called Mr. Davey on reaching home after the synod meeting discussed the issue with his family at lunch.  His son, Thomas Frank Davey, then a student in the University of London, where he was studying for a Master’s Degree in Biology with the aim of teaching Science in Methodist College, Uzuakoli, upon graduation, was so deeply touched by the plight of leprosy patients that,  on the spot, he decided to change to the study of medicine not only to replace Dr. Brown, but to engage in research that will provide the cure for leprosy. And T. W. Davey became a Doctor at the time Dr. Brown was to leave Uzuakoli and indeed took over from him in 1936. That was how the most remarkable leprosy worker of all time in Nigeria came into action.

It is interesting to note that when Dr. T. F. Davey took over the administration of the Uzuakoli leper colony in1936, he inherited Dr. Brown’s staff among whom were some very beautiful girls, incharge of the colony babies home (there babies born by leprosy patients were carefully kept away from their mothers to assure their safety from leprosy infection).These beautiful girls were carefully selected from Calabar, Opobo, Bonny (there was only one Igbo among them). For Dr. Brown, these pretty girls served the purpose of attracting young men to the colony and so made the public to feel that the colony was not a place of isolation to be dreaded by people after all. Dr. Davey saw Dr. Brown’s policy as hypocritical, sacked the beautiful damsels, and replaced them with ugly girls, arguing that it was better to educate people to understand the truth that leprosy is a communicable disease that can only be contracted through prolonged person to person contact with a leprosy patient, and that it was curable as well. So, people had no need to dread and avoid the leper colony where Europeans and their family and supporting African staff and their family lived, not only comfortably but confidently. Dr. Davey also terminated the appointment of male staff that did not show demonstrable Christian commitment to Leprosy eradication work. And as we shall see later in this article, Dr. T. F. Davey did all in his power to make the leper colony an attractive place to live in through the creation of social activities.

In 1938, Dr. T. F. Davey attended a World Conference on leprosy. His paper on leprosy was so well received that the University of Manchester gave him an award for his masterly presentation. It was at this conference that he debunked the idea of calling a centre for the treatment of leprosy by the derogatory name, COLONY. He preferred the name SETTLEMENT. That same year, he opened out-patient clinics in segregation settlements near homes of sufferers so that they may be in close touch with their homes. The reason for this was that patients in the Uzuakoli settlement were written off by their people who often appropriated their homes and wives because they regarded them as dead. Even some cured patients on discharge from the settlement returned to their homes to find them appropriated by their relatives who presumed that the leprosy patients had died. Not all communities accepted the segregation village idea advocated by Dr. T. F. Davey. For example, Nekede near Owerri rejected the idea but Alai and Ibeku in old Bende division accepted the idea.  Dr Davey mounted propaganda across Eastern Nigeria for leprosy sufferers to come forward for early treatment to avoid deformities that made sufferers look ugly. Dr. Davey raised a lot of money in Nigeria and outside Nigeria in particular, from charitable organisations such as British Empire Leprosy Relief Association (BELRA), The Oxford Group, churches etc. At the Uzuakoli settlement, he founded primary school for children where properly trained lepers and ex-lepers became teachers. These teachers were assisted by volunteer wives of expatriate staff. Children produced by this school were among the best in Nigeria. In fact, one of them went to University and rose to become a professor of English and Drama before he died.

In 1944, the then Governor of Nigeria visited the Uzuakoli Leper Settlement officially. Following this visit, the Nigerian government took active interest in missionary activities to eradicate leprosy in Nigeria by taking over the Oji River Leprosy Settlement from the Church Missionary Society (CMS now Anglican) as well as the Uzuakoli Leper Settlement from the Methodist Mission. It also built a Leprosy Control Centre at Oji River. Because of the efforts of Dr. T. F. Davey, Uzuakoli also became a Leprosy Research Centre headed by one Dr. John Lewe, a Leprologist of repute who was assisted by European technologists, who also trained Nigerian technologists, some of who were lepers and ex-lepers as well. Here it is interesting to note that the first effective standard drug, DDS, used to treat leprosy was perfected at Uzuakoli before the death of Dr. Lewe.

Dr.Davey knew that ex-patients, especially those with obvious deformities, would be handicapped to help themselves and would also be rejected by their own people so, he persuaded the Methodist Mission to take over the after discharge matters of the ex-patients through the creation of a Welfare Department that I understand is still operational today.

We cannot end this presentation without recounting Dr. T. F. Davey’s extra humanitarian contributions at Uzuakoli. He once came back from a synod meeting looking very angry because one Rev. Roberts in charge of Methodist Church, Ovim was being transferred to Port Harcourt and Dr. Davey thought that  his transfer would kill the motherless babies home  established at Ovim by Rev. Roberts and his wife. A woman had died after child birth at Ovim and Mrs. Roberts, then a nursing mother, took over the motherless baby. About the same time, five other mothers around Ovim died after child birth and Mrs. Roberts took over their motherless babies.  These unfortunate events led Rev. and Mrs Roberts to open A Motherless Babies Home at Ovim, with funds raised by them from friends and relations in England. Dr. Davey feared that with their transfer to Port Harcourt, the motherless babies’ home founded by Rev. and Mrs Roberts at Ovim would run into trouble, hence his concern.  To save the situation, Dr. T. F. Davey urged the Methodist Church to allow the Uzuakoli Settlement to add the six motherless babies from Ovim to its non-leprosy children of leprosy patients. Dr. Davey did not stop there. He approached one J. C. Okeke, a contractor at Uzuakoli and native of Atani in Ogbaru near Onitsha, who had just opened a maternity at Uzuakoli, to accommodate all the motherless babies referred to above in his new maternity, thus taking them out of the leprosy settlement. J. C. Okeke graciously granted the wish of Dr. Davey. But Dr. Davey took further steps. He appealed to some German organizations for funds with which he built a Motherless Babies Home at Uzuakoli in1958.

Dr. T. F. Davey was also an accomplished musician. He played the piano well, composed music and promoted the musical work of Ikoli Harcourt Whyte by putting them in Tonic Solfa to simplify things for Harcourt Whyte who he helped to organize the Settlement Choir otherwise known as the Harcourt Whyte choir. Dr. Davey wrote and conducted drama for the Leper Settlement staff and patients thus enhancing community life in the settlement.  The Harcourt Whyte Choir performed all over Eastern Nigeria in schools such as Methodist College, Uzuakoli; Archdeacon Crowder Memorial Girls College, Elelenwa, Port Harcourt; Women Training College (WTC) Old Umuahia; Union Secondary School, Ibiaku Ikot Oku in Ibiono, present Akwa Ibom State; Shell Petreoleum Development Company Port Harcourt etc. As a Biologist, he was fond of catching butterflies and once succeeded in catching special specie that provoked a lot of interest in Britain. Dr. Davey promoted sports in the Uzuakoli Settlement by encouraging residents to participate in the game of tennis with racquets and tennis balls provided by him. In particular, he took part in the games himself with his wife. He was a man who was not only humble but had the knack of meeting people on their level without any loss of dignity.

Dr. T. F. Davey and his wife left Nigeria in 1959 because their mothers had become very old and needed their personal care as they had come to admire the Igbo social security culture of families taking care of their aged members – they believed that the Igbo system of caring for the aged was better than the British approach of sending them to an old people’s home. While in England, Dr. Davey was appointed Medical Secretary of the Methodist Church. He served in that position for 5 years and it afforded him the opportunity to still serve the people of Nigeria because, as Medical Secretary, he continued to oversee the work of Methodist medical institutions in Nigeria at Ituk Mbang, Uyo; Iquita in Oron; Amachara near Umuahia. Even in his work as Medical Secretary, Dr. T. F. Davey found time to continue his Leprosy research effort. When his mother and mother in-law eventually died, Dr. T. F. Davey went to India to work as a leprosy doctor for 5 years.

Dr. Davey’s interest in church work led him to build a large chapel at the Uzuakoli Leprosy Settlement. And the first church became converted to a civic centre. The church built by Dr. Davey was damaged during the Nigeria/Biafra war. When Dr. Davey learnt of this, he raised money in England, sent the money to Miss Rosalind Collwell of the Amodu, Itu Mbuzo mental welfare project of the Methodist church welfare department, who caused the damaged church to be rebuilt.

Dr. T. F. Davey was a linguist who spoke and wrote Igbo so well that the Methodist Church commissioned him to write their ‘Ekpere Na Abu” (Prayer and Hymn book in Igbo) for use by Igbo congregations.

Dr. T. F. Davey had hoped that he would, after defeating leprosy, face the scourge of tuberculosis in Nigeria and work for its eradication as well. But time and circumstances did not permit him to do so.

A serious country would have conferred national honours on Dr. Davey but not Nigeria. It is not yet late. It is hoped that people in government who read this presentation would promote such a ‘thank you’ initiative to give honour to a man who served Nigeria so selflessly with all his efforts of head and heart and hand. Be that as it may, the British government recognised and admired his work in Nigeria and awarded him an O.B.E.

Dr. T.F. Davey, in his bid to develop a good and enlightened community in the leper settlement at Uzuakoli, became a teacher in addition to being a medical doctor. In 1938, he started a class in his house for the African staff of the leprosy settlement every Tuesday from 7pm. He taught them Religion, Philosophy and History to enlighten them and prepare their minds psychologically for the difficult task ahead. Among staff who benefitted from this education project were P.A. Nwokoro, I.E. Duruoha, J.E. Ezereonye and Isaac O. Onoh. At one of these classes, Dr T.F. Davey revealed to his students that formal study of medicine began in Africa. He also taught them the Hippocratic Oath.

Dr. Thomas Frank Davey died in 1983. In his will, he requested that his body be cremated, that no wreaths be laid on his coffin or grave and that any amount given by people during condolence visits to his family be sent to Uzuakoli and used to maintain the church he built there.

We saw how much Dr. Davey was concerned about the care of children. But it must be noted that Dr. and Mrs T. F. Davey had no biological children of their own.

Given what is happening today in our country, from the above account, we can appreciate the difference between a missionary and a mere proprietor of a church that Bishop Ochiagha prefers to refer to as  small scale industry. Indeed, these churches have graduated beyond small scale industries because proprietors of small scale industries cannot afford to buy private jets. So let us all become missionaries and like Dr. T.F. Davey and his ilk, carry out our Christian obligations to one another, in the belief that Christianity is not about the survival of the fittest, but the protection of the weakest. And that is why, we should, all and sundry, brave all odds, by going out into arena of service, combining with others, to convert labour for the benefit of humanity into a feast of love.

Emmanuel A. C. Orji, Senior Citizen

Email: eacorji@yahoo.com   Phone:08034447729

 

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Nigeria: A Clime of the Incongruous

Posted on February 23, 2013. Filed under: Opinion | Tags: |

Nigeria: A Clime of the Incongruous

 

By Nwaorgu Faustinus

 

Call me whatever you like after reading this piece. Since the advent of the 4th republic on May 29, 1999, I have continued to watch developments, trends, situations, actions, inactions and events with particular reference on how the affairs of the Geo-political entity called Nigeria is being piloted by our rulers, politicians, government institution among others and have arrived at a conclusion that Nigeria is regrettably, unfortunately and pitiably a clime where absurdity dwell.

 

My view on this is not far to seek given recent issues that have continued to rear their ugly heads in our body polity. It is in this country of ours that you will see political, institutional, government; ministerial criminals etc. who are hand-in-glove with the government in power, use their position to launch economic rape on public fund or our collective patrimony. Today you see high-powered criminal politicians celebrated – undeserving awards of this or that is now being extended to such people who should hide their face in shame for the public odium which their kleptomaniac disposition has caused them as well as the nation. However, the reverse is the case.

 

It is still fresh in the minds of many how an Ex-convict – Olabode Georg fresh from jail was given not only heroic welcome, stupendous party but also an award. The Kwame Nkrumah Africa Leadership Prize award which came from a student leader of a decidedly leftist organisation – National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), according to reports was given to Mr Bode George for his impressive efforts in youth development and education based on the recommendation of its parent body – AASU, an abbreviation for All Africa Student Union. According to the student leader, this is a man who has awarded over 1000 scholarships and grants to indigent students, he deserves to be honoured. Chief Bode George was selected from among the many nominees for the 2012 award based on his commitment to youth development and his defence of democratic institutions. This is incongruous to say the least. The body should not have given such an award based on the fact that he was a criminal and not the other way round. The leadership of the student union should review its constitution and put in place a clause where a prospective awardee will forfeit his or her award hinged on the ground of criminal conviction no matter the great contribution the individual must have made to uplift indigent students in order to bring integrity into its body and not public condemnation.

 

It is in a Nigerian court that criminals like James Ibori would be found guiltless but convicted in London on the same charges brought against him in a Nigerian court. Some other governors apart from Ibori have in the past been charged with corrupt practices but what do you hear and see? They were given clean bill of health by way of discharging and acquitting them. Some do go extra miles to secure injunction that would make it impossible to prosecute them on corrupt practices and the injunction will be granted. A good example is that of Ex- governor Peter Odili of Rivers State.  Mrs. Cecilia Ibru and former MD/CEO of Oceanic Bank now Eco Bank was jailed for a paltry of 6 months for pinching 54 billion Naira. Again, Tafa Balogun a former Inspector General of Police was sentenced to only 6 months in prison for N20 billion naira frauds. The duo of Balogun and Cecilia served their prison terms at well-furnished home or hospital where they were adequately taken care of. Recently, former boss of Police Pension Board, Yakubu Yusufu was jailed two years for stealing N39 billion Pension Fund with option fine of N250,000. When one juxtapose the prison terms given to the big thieves in relation to the term given to petty robbers the words of Mr. Chinedu Vincent Akuta comes to mind, ‘What is worrisome is that poor Nigerians are left to rot in Nigerian prisons, for little or no offences, compared to what the “big and mighty” Nigerians are doing’.  Are we really comfortable with these odious trends?

 

As long as these sentences together with the option of fines are concerned, the Nigerian Judiciary should be reminded that it is setting a dangerous precedent.  If our justice system continues to give such miserly prison terms to these unrepentant and conscienceless rogues who have made it a habit to ravage or despoil the commonwealth of Nigerians, what is it then telling the future leaders of this country? May be, go you out there – in the political, banking, educational, agricultural sector, among other areas of endeavour which you prefer, use your position or connection to amass breath-taking wealth either by hook or crook, we are here to protect your interest by reducing your prison term as long as you settle us with part of the loot. We can grant you injunction stopping or restraining EFCC, ICPC, any person or group that tries to investigate arrest or arraign you in the court. We can also give you a clean bill of health thus – you are hereby acquitted and discharged on all the corruption charges brought against you by your accusers (as it is in the case of Mr. James Ibori). Go ye therefore to your family, wife and children and enjoy your toil. Is this what the judiciary is telling us to do with the encouraging sentences and fines given to these rogues?

 

No I do not think so but it seems to be what they are telling us to do. I therefore call on the Nigeria justice system to look inwards by reviewing the prison terms and fines given to those who have sworn with their life that they would continue to convert, steal, ravage, and plunder our commonwealth for selfish, greedy and avaricious ends at the slightest opportunity they get. The Nigerian judiciary should henceforth refrain from granting injunction that would likely stall investigation, arrest and arraignment of persons with charges of corruption no matter who the person is. Capital punishment and freezing of bank accounts would not be a bad option for those who have been found guilty of charges bordering on corruption. They should also confiscate and sell the proceeds of such ill-gotten wealth (public fund) in terms of landed property, companies, and vehicles, etc. which should be proportionate to the amount they stole. The above recommendation if implemented to the letter will definitely serve as deterrent to others who might try to enrich themselves corruptly via public fund and thus restore the hope Nigerians have in the judiciary.

 

Nwaorgu Faustinus wrote in via ngorokpalaresearcher@gmail.com

 

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Nigeria Governors Forum And The Plot To Remove Amaechi

Posted on February 22, 2013. Filed under: Opinion | Tags: |

Nigeria Governors Forum And The Plot To Remove Amaechi

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Dr. Dennis O’Grady tells us in “Bottom Line – Personal” that change has a bad reputation in our society. But it isn’t all bad — not by any means. In fact, change is necessary in life — to keep us moving… to keep us growing… to keep us interested…. Imagine life without change. It would be static… boring… dull. And Max Planck tells us in “The Philosophy of Physics” (1936) that an important scientific innovation rarely makes its way rapidly winning over and converting its opponents; it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out and that the growing generation is familiarized with the idea from the beginning.

With the news that Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers who is also the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) was able to thwart a coup that was plotted against him by persons from certain quarters in the NGF, is an indication that Amaechi should look beyond the mere foiled coup and watch that there are people who do not want to make their threats open to remove him as the NGF’s chairman, but are silently on revenge mission for only reasons best known to them.

It could be recalled that in September last year, when the NGF said that it was about to find a lasting solution to the country’s security challenges and unanimously agreed on what to do, the suggestion gradually widened as the Northern governors opposed to the decentralisation of the Nigerian Police Force. We learnt then that in a communiqué reportedly signed by the Northern governors on this issue of state police exposed the height of betrayal of persons to the position of the Amaechi as the chair of the NGF. The NGF sang with discordant voices at that stage, with the authentic refusal of the Northern Governors for the creation of state police.

I contributed a piece on that issue and warned that Amaechi should read the handwriting on the wall in the NGF’s house and know that it would be very hard to reduce the pains and inflammation the state “Nigeria” is causing us, because some people hardly would agree on what Dr. Dennis O’Grady had told us in “Bottom Line – Personal” that change has a bad reputation in our society. But it isn’t all bad — not by any means. In fact, change is necessary in life — to keep us moving… to keep us growing… to keep us interested…. Imagine life without change. It would be static… boring… dull.

 

Nigeria is one, but different Nigerians. I told him that he is the chair of the NGF does not mean that he is loved by all in the NGF. I said that how else would we not agree on this if the Northern governors had the effrontery to thwart a decision the NGF agreed upon and perhaps was nailed by the NGF’s chair, which was always the norm in every meeting. I asked if the renegades would not be expunged from the meeting. But Amaechi in his charismatic self told the world after, that the NGF was intact – there were no qualms to quake about the discordant voices.

 

As we have also read in the news that Amaechi was seeking for a second term in the NGF’s fold, it is a good development owing to his fundamental rights. But the idea to scheme him out by some forces believed to be outside the NGF’s fold, hinging their point that NGF does not allow a chairman to run for a second term in office, is the ugliest side of the group’s politics, instead they would tell us that there were people who are not happy with the height Amaechi has attained in the politics of the country.

 

In leadership, you do not expect the leader to be championing the cause of others other than those he or she was elected to head or spearhead. In my estimation, I think Amaechi has done well in this area. Initially, the NGF was not all this known, except as Amaechi becomes its Chair. He has shown how a servant-leader can credibly perform. Amaechi became a servant first in the NGF, which compelled the anti-Amaechi to first see him as its leader and later want him booted out. Why?

Amaechi has shown in the NGF what was written in the Christian Bible, precisely in the book of Matthew 20:25-26: Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. But those seeking for Amaechi’s removal remind me of what was contained in the book of Philippians 2:3-5: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same…

If Amaechi had become a stooge of the presidency in his position, Nigerians would have condemned him. Now, he is not against the presidency, but working with the dictates of the NGF, detractors are at his jugular, as if there had been any personal agenda of his other than that of the NGF in adding voice to the dictates of the Executive. I can’t remember anywhere that Amaechi is leading in the NGF by hitting people’s head; rather, he has been coalescing his counterparts around a shared vision.

It is time the anti-Amaechi forces in and outside the NGF should beware. You can’t weaken truth by killing the truth-bearer. It is grateful that some members in the NGF saw the reason Amaechi should continue and eschewed those forces that wanted to impose a chairman on the Forum. It is however noteworthy of Amaechi who had shown in the NGF what Richard Petty and John Cacioppo instruct in the book, “Attitudes & Persuasion” that the nature and structure of belief systems is important from the perspective of an informational theorist because beliefs are thought to provide the cognitive foundation of an attitude. In order to change an attitude, then, it is presumably necessary to modify the information on which that attitude rests. It is generally necessary, therefore, to change a person’s beliefs, eliminate old beliefs or introduce new beliefs.

Amaechi has brought about transformation and reformation in the Nigeria Governors Forum, and this could be why those who suffer from the Old Order and Beliefs do not want him. However, Dr. Dennis O’Grady had told us in “Bottom Line – Personal” that change has a bad reputation in our society. But it isn’t all bad — not by any means. In fact, change is necessary in life — to keep us moving … to keep us growing … to keep us interested…. Imagine life without change. It would be static… boring… dull.

 

Odimegwu Onwumere, is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV). Mobile: +2348032552855.

Email:apoet_25@yahoo.com

Website: odimegwuonwumere.wordpress.com

Books: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0089WYSVS and http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008223IBG

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APGA: Karma Has Finally Caught-up With Victor Umeh

Posted on February 19, 2013. Filed under: Politics | Tags: , |

APGA: Karma Has Finally Caught-up With Victor Umeh

By Odimegwu Onwumere

In “Reincarnation and Karma”, Stephen Knapp  educates us that Karma is one of those topics that many people know a little about, but it is often more complex than most people realize. The second law of thermodynamics is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. On the universal scale, this is the law of karma. The law of karma basically states that every action has a reaction and whatever you do to others will later return to you, either in this life or a future life. Furthermore, ignorance of the law is no excuse. We are still accountable for everything we do, regardless of whether we understand it or not. We cannot escape it, even if we do not believe it. Therefore, the best thing is to learn how it works. If everyone understood the Law of Karma, we would all be living a happier life in a brighter world.

I was too sure that a day like this would come against the embattled and estranged All Progressive Grand Alliance’s (APGA) National chairman, Victor Umeh, because the founder of the party, Chekwas Okorie was hounded out by those he brought to the party. Okorie was crying and shouting above his voice, but the powers that felt they were in the party did not care to listen. All they cared about was ‘politics’. Nothing more! They could say that Okorie was removed as chairman by the court of law. But in ernest, was the court not adduced?

I don’t know Umeh neither Okorie except as I read about them in the newspapers like other Nigerians. One person that is conspicuously in the scenario that I have met one-on-one is Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State. It was during one of the Press Conferences that he held at Government House Awka, and I was among the invited pressmen.

 

Umeh reminds me of how people in our country talk about religion so much, but hurl the word Karma around nonchalantly, as if it belongs to the Traditional Believers they regard as fetish, periscoping through the self-acclaimed Godly people’s inadequate and prejudiced lens.

There would always be karma! Umeh who is a Knight in the Catholic Church had in different interviews talked about how “God” has helped him to the ‘level’ he is today. He rather forgot that there are always the principles of Karmic Justice, which provides deep lessons to learn. The God of Justice (pls, not Jehovah or Yahweh) but Karma, has given Umeh a wonderful gift to use as he was disgracefully chased-out as the national chairman of APGA, by the same court they used against the good-natured Chekwas Okorie, whose tears of how they intimidated him has not dried from the ground the fell. How I wish that Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu is alive today! Remember? Okorie brought Ojukwu to APGA and made him the Leader of the party and latter, the founder of the party was made the feeble.

 

It was a long encounter between Okorie and the forces that hijacked the party he founded from him. In an appeal instituted by the former National Chairman of the party, Chief Okorie, challenging the decision of an Abuja High Court, which validated his ouster from the Party by the Umeh faction, the tussle came to an intimidating end on 13th January 2010, as a Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, delivered its judgment against Okorie.

The stubborn confrontation for the Chairmanship of the party didn’t start in 2010; it started in the year 2004. Umeh faction met and sent out Okorie from the party. They gave a good dog a bad name in order to hang her, mouthing that Okorie was shooting to sell out the party’s mandate. Governor Obi was then seeking to retrieve the state from Dr. Chris Ngige, who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Umeh and his splinter group gave all sorts of names to Okorie. Apart from their shamefaced claim that Okorie wanted to sell the party, when they saw that that was not saleable, they said that Okorie embezzled the party’s fund, and converted same to his private use. How true was it that Okorie was the sole signatory to the then party’s accounts? They even expelled Okorie from the party that he founded! Humiliation, upon humiliation!!

Umeh did not remember Karma or respect the “God” he has always boasted of serving. Upon that the National Working Committee of the party latter met and ratified Okorie’s expulsion before he moved towards an Abuja High Court, to challenge his eviction, Umeh and co was busy playing ‘politics’. But still Okorie has face to present today in Nigeria than Umeh. Okorie was able to file an action before the court seeking to have his expulsion quashed and sought for an order of the court dismissing this Umeh.

It is today palpable that the victory that Okorie could not get then, Umeh has finally gotten it but in the opposite and is disgraced out of the party. Even though that Okorie failed in his pursuit at the High Court and talked to the appellate court to set aside the lower court’s judgment, Umeh is straight away disgraced, not only by the court that he used against Okorie, but by the same forces that he was boasting with against Okorie, and Maxi Okwu has replaced him in acting capacity.

 

Umeh is today suffering in the APGA that his team suppressed Okorie in, and the latter’s matter suffered series of adjournment including applications for stay. Umeh was then thanking the judiciary for the unanimous decision reached by the court, which upheld the decision of the trial court and held that Okorie’s ouster from the party was authentically done, in line with the stipulations of the party.

 

While a cost of Seventy Five Thousand Naira was awarded against Okorie in favour of Umeh then, the case is different today. A national shame has been awarded against Umeh in favour of Okorie. Not even the Supreme Court can save Umeh, as he has started to talk ills of the judiciary that he was once full of praises for. How I wish that this Victor Umeh could lay hand on the work entitled “Eckankar: Ancient Wisdom for Today” by Todd Cramer, he would understand that Karma applies itself in the most exacting and clever of ways. If we deprived another human being of freedom in a previous life, we’d probably have our freedom curtailed in this life. This experience would give us time to reconsider our views and learn the Law of Love.

Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author, contributed this piece from Aba, Abia State. Call: +2348032552855. E-mail: apoet_25@yahoo.com

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Imo State Government: Save Amala/Ntu Secondary School from Total Rot

Posted on February 17, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Imo State Government: Save Amala/Ntu Secondary School from Total Rot.

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The Unveiling of Benola, a Cerebral Palsy Initiative in the offing

Posted on February 15, 2013. Filed under: news | Tags: , |

Nigeria will become the centre of the world on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 as high-profile experts from different fields gather in Lagos to educate the public as well as public policy makers about the problem of cerebral palsy, what legislation is needed to address the problem in Nigeria and the funding required to provide facilities.

A statement released on Friday said the unveiling of Benola, a cerebral palsy initiative would take place on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at the Sun Room, Four Points by Sheraton, Oniru Chieftaincy Estate, Lekki, Lagos beginning from 9:30 am.

The   statement signed by the founder, Air Vice Marshal Femi Gbadebo (rtd) OFR, and made available to newsmen by Mr Henry Ovie, said the unveiling would be followed by a nationwide campaign.

“Benola Palsy Initiative, a non- governmental organization has concluded plans for a nation-wide sensitization campaign aimed at evolving proactive steps to help parents and guardians of those living with the condition to have access to better management techniques and counselling. The Initiative intends to create a resource base and accurate data of people living with the condition which will then be used to determine the best location for facilities and research centres” the statement said.

The organization frowned at the general state of stigmatization of certain ailments in the country and government’s insensitivity to the plight of those living with limitations, pointing out that what such people needed from society was not pity but a measure of love and understanding.

According to the statement “If you visit countries outside Nigeria especially Europe, America, Australia or Canada, you will not find any physically challenged person begging for a living. In those countries, society has risen to its responsibility of caring for such citizens. Families of those living with limitations are recognised as care –givers to the disabled persons and given the necessary support to devote their lives to caring for them”.

The founders of the organization, according to the statement, were motivated to set up the Initiative because of their knowledge of the plight of parents and victims of cerebral Palsy.

On the source of funding for the initiative, the statement said the founders would rally the private sector as well as well-meaning individuals to key in and help sustain the project.

Femi Gbadebo

AVM (Rtd) OFR

Founder/CEO

Benola: A Cerebral Palsy Initiative

www.benola.org

+234-803-314-7653

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