Monday, February 19, 2018


If it is the matter of desertification occasioned by climate change via global warming that's at the heart of this migration to the South of herdsmen from the North, in search of foliage for their cattle, then a more sustainable solution, other than those already postulated by proponents of grazing reserves, cattle colonies and the likes, without considerations for ranching, is required. To begin with, nothing says that the forests and vegetation of the south wouldn't one day be lost, not only to the forces of nature that had successfully licked up the body of water that used to be where the Sahara desert is today, or that rapidly shrunk the size of the Lake Chad, but also to urbanisation and high population growth rate, besides the fact that wood continues to be a popular source of household fuel amongst the poor due to ever increasing cost of fossil fuels in Third World economies like Nigeria.

There's an ongoing diplomatic conflict between Egypt and her neighbours over issues of rights to the Nile. Under British rule, priority was given Egypt over the other African states through which the Nile also flows. Increased energy demands means that a country like Ethiopia must dam the aspect of the Nile passing through it, with other countries also diverting the waters, sometimes for irrigation purposes, because of existing realities, also because of the realization that not everything the British says or wants is cast in stone, seeing as they don't any longer have dominion, howbeit directly, over these "independent" states.  At one of the meetings organized amongst the affected African countries, Egypt staged a walkout,  but that did very little to change the resolve of the other African countries to insist on their right to do with the aspect of the Nile that passes through their territories as they wish. If the British had always been right, and hadn't done things to suit their own pleasures only, the Middle East would've been at peace, at least to some extent, without the memories of the Sykes-Picot Agreement/Line and the Balfour Delaration for example, in making a case for deflating the notion that just because the British willed something so, it therefore must remain infallible and undebatable, even if it has become illogical and non-consonant with the dictates of our time.

I have raised the above scenario because of the insistence of herder groups like the Miyetti Allah, on grazing corridors allotted

them across Nigeria by the British, a decision that remains doubtful as to how much local input was sought and garnered by the colonising British authorities while they held sway before Nigeria's independence. The reason why those grazing routes have all but disappeared today is because it was never sustainable, and the British aren't gods, that whatever they say, just because it favours a group, must be sacrosanct. The solution therefore cannot be that the farms (to ensure food security) or structures (private or public) or the likes currently sitting on the grazing routes, be removed. It cannot also be that new grazing routes be delineated even if the land is currently being put to no use, seeing as the earlier attempt after many years have failed, and is currently at the root of so much bloodshed, occasioned by constant clashes between farmer and herder communities, many times culminating in attacks on farming communities in Northcentral Nigeria by herdsmen suspected to be of Fulani stock akin to what you find when genocide and ethnic cleansing is committed.

Even that yarn that the breed of cattle in Nigeria and West Africa cannot be ranched holds no water. Are the cattle wild? Does the fact that they can be controlled to move in the direction their herders want not mean that they are and can be domesticated/ranched? The ones been ranched today had ancestors who started off nomadic but had to change their lifestyle to suit the dictates of the time. The only reason I think, why ranching may have not been given the right consideration amongst the stakeholders who currently oppose it, boils down mainly to laziness, as well as that rent-seeking penchant that's almost second nature with Nigeria and Nigerians, that makes improving a product to expand it's value chain, anathema (as typified with the fact that Nigeria currently has no petroleum refinery working to half it's optimum capacity, despite being a crude "oil producing" country). The positives of ranching far outweighs the negative (if any, besides the fact that herders would now be compelled to pay taxes and other dues as a going concern) from ranching, it is even an industry on its own, that is why with all the bloodletting that's associated with rearing cattle in Nigeria via nomadism (which is just scratching the surface of what the whole could entail if ranching is embraced), we aren't even a force to reckon with compared to other nations where ranching is norm and the value chain alone is such that sale of cattle just for the sake of beef consumption (as is with the business in Nigeria) pales in comparison to by-products such as leather, milk, cheese, bone, blood and other derivatives from cattle when ranched, so much so that during one of the episodes of KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS, one of the kids been interviewed by Bill Cosby, erroneously said chocolate is made from cattle, buttressing how so great a role cattle and it's products play in the life of people in the west and developed economies worldwide.

History hardly favours societies that are adamant, unamenable and unwilling to change. If herders in Nigeria, including Fulani, within and outside of Nigeria feel they can have their way by force, and they succeed in wiping out all obstacles till they hit the Atlantic in the south and west of Nigeria and Africa, they will eventually find that they'd still have to ranch, either because the cattle would have eaten up all of the foliage left at some point (at unchecked growth rate, with those who should eat such beef redeemed with the shedding of blood already dead) , or global warming will meet up with them to diminish vegetation in the south. Even in farming, age old culture of leaving land to fallow while moving to another to allow it regain fertility, have given way to fertilizers been used on the scarce resource that land has continuously become, to encourage and promote good yield consistently. The days of depending on nature to guarantee rainfall, has given way to irrigation methods to ensure that even seasonal crops can be cultivated and harvested all year round, capped with storage facilities to assure their all year round availability, so why won't the Fulani and other herders in Nigeria and West Africa change with the times, even to and for their own benefit?



Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Nigerians woke up last New Year's day to horrific stories of killings in Benue and Rivers State. Those killings were preceded, in that short space of time, by the Christmas Day killings in Southern Kaduna (just days after the state hosted dignitaries from home and abroad, in celebration of the centenary of its founding), followed by the killing in quick succession of two district chiefs/heads, one with his pregnant wife, while his son escaped with injuries meted on him by suspected Fulani militia, before they set their abode on fire. Adamawa, Benue and other states in Nigeria's North-Central region were also not left out. The blood letting continued after the New Year was ushered in, with killings in Benue, Adamawa and Taraba States, with the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast, especially in Borno State remaining the ever present denominator of our times in terms of security challenges.

In the New Year Day massacre in which twenty three people returning from a Crossover Night service in Omoku, Rivers State, fingers were quickly and easily pointed to a (former) militant, Johnson Igwedibia, also known as, Don Wani,  known to have submitted himself to the AMNESTY PROGRAM more than once, only to return to his trenches thereafter and continued with his nefarious activities. Within a week, his new location in Enugu (where he was said to be living amongst neighbours, just like any law abiding citizen) was discovered, with the military spokesman stating that Don Wani and two of his lieutenants were shot and killed
when they made to escape through another exit, after they'd been cornered in their rented apartment.

While this is a plus on the side of the security agents, what shouldn't be lost on us, is the origins of the security challenge in Rivers State in particular, and the Niger Delta in general. The unhealthy mix of Resource Control (in this case, crude oil), the Agitation for same between host communities and the oil exploration companies, Cultism (more like gangsterism, that's almost taken in some of the communities to mean a "coming of age" for men), Politics amongst others, makes "Rivers of Blood" an appropriate cognomen for Rivers State, for which unless a holistic view is taken in tackling the issues headlong, the dream of peace in the Niger Delta region will remain but a fleeting illusion. With general elections afoot, the diatribes and counter accusations between the political gladiators (Governor Nyesom Wike and his predecessor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi) in Rivers State, is currently setting a stage for the escalation of violence in the coming days, as both camps strategize to retain or grab power "by all means possible", at state level in 2019.

The other killings besides that in Rivers, is coloured by one factor only and that is the menace that the activities of Fulani Herdsmen have continued to be, to their
hosts, especially in the North-Central part of Nigeria. Sadly enough, it is officially referred to as "Farmers vs Herders Clashes", even when the attackers, have attacked their victims, including women (of which pregnant ones, even had their babies ripped out and killed) and children while they slept, in the night and wee hours of the morning, with subsequent razing of homesteads in the villages attacked. Most Unfortunate was the statement credited to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris that "Communal Crisis" between the different ethnic groups in the area, was responsible for the killings, on New Years' day of over thirty persons in Guma and Logo Local Government areas of Benue State. No mention was made of Fulani Herdsmen, just like the statement from the presidency commiserating with the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, despite a statement credited to the Miyetti Allah cattle breeders association, that the attacks on some villages in Benue State  was revenge for the killings of their cattle by the host communities. Interestingly, the killings continued in Benue State, even after the Inspector General of Police, set up a "high powered" team to beef up security in the "affected areas", with police helicopters overhead to spot movement of armed groups, and act to nip their evil intentions in the bud.

The visibly frustrated Benue State governor, who declared days of mourning prior to giving the victims of Fulani Militia (said to be fourth on the list of terrorist groups in the world) a mass burial, appeared forlorn when he stated his intention to involve stakeholders regardless of political affiliations, to figure out a way forward, seeing that the security agencies have performed miserably in stemming the tide of constant killings in Benue State. To add salt upon their injuries, Benue state indigenes who'd stormed major roads in a peaceful protest, which later turned violent (as it was reported that the governor was pelted with stones), were rewarded with
tear gas and gunshots, that claimed the lives of two protesters (refuted, expectedly by the police), while several others were injured. Many have blamed Governor Ortom (whose convoy was obstructed on his way back to Makurdi after the last Christmas holidays from his village by a herd of cattle, crossing the road he was passing), for trusting security agents he lacked control over even as Chief Security Officer of his state (in one of the warped interpretation of Nigeria's farce of a federation), to execute the "Anti-Open Grazing Law", when in Ekiti State, Governor Fayose set up a task force for the same purpose to some success.

In Taraba State, the local response to the Fulani herdsmen issue, is the Bachama Militia, a reaction to government's reluctance to protect the indigenes, leading to unending cycle of reprisal attacks from both sides, while the security agencies stood aloof and watched, as the situation spilled over, extending even to Numan,
Adamawa State late last year, where some policemen drafted to quell the violence in some parts of the states, were butchered by suspected Fulani herdsmen. The introduction of the Nigerian Airforce into the melee, resulted into accusations by the indigenes, that victim communities were targeted by bombings while the Fulani militant locations were relatively free from bombardments. When reports made the rounds that an airforce jet was shot at by Fulani militia, it was clear to the discerning that the continued treatment of the Fulani militia, with kid gloves by the federal government and security agencies have strengthened the hands of the marauders (who seem to have notched up their horrendous activities since their kinsman became president), and unless something drastic is done to stem the tide, like Boko Haram, this will soon blow up in our faces, as it is becoming clear that there just might be more to what is happening than just "violent agitation" for grazing land and space for cattle. Already, in some sections of the Nigerian society, the word "Genocide" and "Ethnic Cleansing" have been used, and a meeting by some Benue indigenes delivered a communique, where they called upon Continental and International bodies and agencies, like the African Union, AU, European Union, EU, as well as the United Nations, UN amongst others, to come to the aid of the people of Benue. This is not without reason, as unlike the case in Rivers State, where the suspect was killed, not one Fulani herdsman has been brought to justice for any act of marauding and destruction of lives and property across Nigeria, yet when cattle rustling became rampant, President Buhari (dressed in full military fatigues)
went to Zamfara State to personally launch a military task force to tackle those making life hard for the Fulani and their cattle last year.

When the government of President Muhammadu Buhari lists security as one of the achievements of his government since coming to power in 2015, they mention the fact that no piece of Nigeria's territory remains under the control of the Islamic Fundamentalist group, Boko Haram. Reality on the ground suggests otherwise, as attacks by the group have continued unabated, so much so that the the same government which said it had "Technically Defeated" the insurgents (even handing over the flag of the group, recovered by the military from Boko Haram's operational base in "Sambisa Forest" to the Commander-in-Chief as evidence), got governors to approve the withdrawal of a billion dollars from the Excess Crude Account, to continue the war against the extremist group, to the chagrin of Nigerians, before the government changed tact by claiming that the funds will be used to stem security challenges allover Nigeria. Add to all the above, Kidnappings, Armed Robberies, Ritual Killings like the Badoo situation in Ikorodu in Lagos, and it will be quite obvious that security-wise, things have largely deteriorated, a reason why it came as a shock to many, when the President extended the tenures of Military Chiefs, when what is needed is the injection of fresh blood, of different faces at the helm of the security and intelligence agencies, with the view to combating the challenges we're currently facing differently, as apparently the current path we are towing seem not to be heading to that place we wish to be in terms of security, anytime soon.



Saturday, November 25, 2017


My personal encounter with the Nigerian Police have been very few and far between. The first time was while I was in the university in 2003, when I was nabbed by members of a task force set up by the Lagos State Government to stop pedestrians from crossing very busy roads, especially where there are already pedestrian bridges provided for the purpose. I hadn't used the bridge, and once I made it to the other side, a man walked up to me, and marched me to a waiting "danfo" bus, where I met some others who'd been as unlucky as I have been. Like me, their pleas to our "captors" with promises always to use the pedestrian bridge was like pouring water on a rock, save for the oldest man amongst us, middle aged, who brandishing an inhaler, claimed that his asthmatic condition worsens when he ascends heights, and therefore was let go, especially as he started to tremble and twitch violently, as he pleaded with the members of the task force to let him go on medical grounds.

The rest of us were taken to a Police Station somewhere in Shomolu, from Onipanu where we were arrested, and herded into a crowded cell, where one could only stand, to wait till Monday when the courts open to be charged seeing as it was a Friday afternoon. I had only ₦250 with me, so I couldn't avail myself of the opportunity to call home because the "official" phone lady of that police station charged ₦50 per minute to make a call to relatives or friends for help (those were the days GSM phones had just been launched and still cost an arm and a leg for a poor student like me to own). About an hour after we'd been in detention, towards evening, one of the policemen came by to ask us what we had so he could see if he could help us, to forestall our being in detention through the weekend. When it was my turn I explained to him that I was a student and gave him my wallet that contained my ID Card as well as money. He took the ₦200 and gave me ₦50, opened the cell and let me out. I was the only one that was let out, while the others who had called family and friends had to wait to be bailed. The only good thing that came out of that experience for me, was that while walking a few distance before getting a bus to my sisters' house to ask for money to return to school, I came upon a makeshift structure where registration for National ID Card was ongoing. Seeing that I hadn't been chanced to do that earlier, I used that opportunity to register and went on my way. I doubt I'd have owned one today if I hadn't been arrested on that day, of which I'm grateful considering that stress applicants undergo today to get the same national ID Card, though with advanced features.

My second encounter was months after the first, and my friends and I were returning back to campus after attending a birthday party not so far from school. Yes, it was late and we couldn't get a bus to take us home, so we trekked. All was well till we encountered these policemen a few yards from the gate of our school. Our explanation to them of nothing but the truth about our situation seemed to anger them such that I wasn't sure if one of them in particular was angry with the fact that we looked too young to be medical students, or that we had no right to be happy and attending birthday parties, while they were on the road working, enough for him to threaten to shoot us, and nothing will happen to him. Luckily, we hadn't been too inebriated at the time to try and question their harassment of us, rather the fear of the guns they had on them was the beginning of our wisdom, but I was quite shaken by the way we were verbally harassed and threatened. Interestingly, after they let us go, and we walked into school, then to the hostel area, and to our rooms, we said nothing to each other, and till date I've never asked my co-travelers from Agbe Davies' birthday party, what was going on in their minds while our ordeal lasted.

Yes compared to what Nigerians go through in the hands of the police on a daily, I count myself rather lucky. But I've also seen friends who'd been served the short end of the stick. In one case two years ago, we had to rally round to raise  ₦100,000 to take a friend away from "SARS" detention at Ikeja, where he'd been detained at the instance of his landlord with whom he had a  misunderstanding at the time. The money wasn't even just so he could walk away a free man, but that he could be detained at the normal neighborhood police station, after he began to fear for his life, as the number of detainees (mostly suspected armed robbers and criminals) he was lobbed in with, continued to decrease by the day, not necessarily because they were taken to court, and from thence to prison, but because such disappearances was usually linked with gunshots heard in the vicinity of the detention area in the nights. On yet another occasion involving another friend, who was arrested during "routine raids", in what appeared to be a fundraising activity of the particular police station that conducted the raid, seeing as it was the past Eid El Kabir a few weeks back, each one of the "unfortunates" were made to cough out between ₦20,000 and ₦50,000 after signing an undertaking, stating even things as ridiculous as promising to stop walking about in the night. We paid  ₦20,000 in the case of my friend because we brought the head of the "PCRC" of our area to plead on his behalf, others paid more, and I shook my head as we walked away with him that afternoon of the last Sallah holiday, while the policemen began to gather in their haul for the day, probably to decide with what exactly they'd make a meal of the big ram that was already tied to a tree within the police station's compound.

There are other instances that I will not mention here, but I mustn't stop without adding this one. I'm sure while you're reading this, you'd probably be wondering why we never contacted lawyers in almost all of the cases that my attention was called to. This is because I have found that there are some lawyers that feed off situations like these. They hang around police stations pretending to try to offer help to those in detention, while working in cahoot with the police to fleece the detainees of all they could possibly. More often than not, when those cases go to court, they put up very weak defences, or fail to help protect their "clients" from outrageous bail conditions, that will end up seeing the detainee become a prisoner "awaiting trial" for years in the many gulags scattered allover Nigeria, and not without collecting their charges to the fullest sometimes with threats to abandon the same case they jeopardized right from the onset. The only lawyers that can bring you out of police detention are the top so called SENIOR ADVOCATES, and they can even effect free bail for their clients, unfortunately they aren't usually available for and to the masses, who are usually at the mercies of extortionist members of the Nigerian Police Force and their collaborator lawyers.

When recently the Nigerian Police expressed their disgust to a recent finding that suggested that that outfit ranks the worst in the world, many Nigerians were left wondering in bewilderment. A friend even said it is wrong to even classify Nigerian police amongst the worst in 2017, because they hadn't even arrived here yet, seeing as their crude tactics is still in the seventeenth century. Recently, the police in Rivers State paraded two suspected killers of a staff of Shell Oil Producing company, stating that they were apprehended using DNA and forensic science. Interestingly, it was a case I got to know about from my host when I arrived Port Harcourt hours after the ugly incident had occurred, and I'd written about in one of my blog posts ( I learnt later that it was detectives hired by Shell that took saliva sample on the head of the victim to Holland, with which they matched the DNA with some staff of Shell and subsidiaries/oil servicing companies before the culprits were nabbed, because if you'd been to Shell R.A. in Port Harcourt and the company, and seen the security apparatus therein, you'd also agree with the investigating team that the killing of that man was an inside job. Had one of the perpetrators not spat on the head of their victim after their dastardly act, they'd probably would've gotten away with it. Sadly, the police in their statements never mentioned nor acknowledged the contribution of the Shell Police and their local and foreign detectives in their statement.

In fact, it was disbelief at their ability to solve the crime the way they said they did that evoked my desire to find answers. How a police that we saw recently stepping over blood and evidence around a dead bank robber in pictures that went viral following that exchange of fire between gallant policemen and robbers, at a Zenith Bank branch, was beyond my comprehension. A Nigerian police that invited the FBI to help it crack the case of the murder of frontline Lagos politician, Engineer Funsho Williams, only to find fingerprints allover his body,  that may have included that of police personnel, as they flippantly desecrated the crime scene like the civilian family members and sympathizers that thronged the home of the late politician, after news of his gruesome killing spread like wildfire. But I digress, because my focus and all I want to say is that despite so called noise by the police hierarchy that bail is free, the reality on ground is otherwise, and even more notoriously dangerous because innocent Nigerians are losing their lives, or having it truncated temporarily because they cannot afford the huge amounts policemen, on the roads and in the stations are demanding from their "hostages" before they can let them go, boasting that nothing will happen to them even if they shoot and kill their victims, as the hierarchy who are also involved in their own mess (if you consider any of the allegations against the Inspector General of Police by Senator Misau to have some truths in it) at their level, cannot then decree to rank and file what they should do when they haven't come to equity with clean hands.

Despite the very few instances of the Nigerian Police Force rising to check the troubling trend, of cases where hapless Nigerians (mostly adolescents and young people, under the guise of combating cybercrime, with their phones and laptops confiscated, and their online privacy violated all in the bid to dig up incriminating evidence, which in the eye of the uncouth policemen, include legitimate online businesses that many Nigerian youths have turned to, because of the absence of physical jobs to employ them) are arbitrarily rounded up on the flimsiest of reasons, and forced to make withdrawals using their ATM cards, or transfers from their mobile devices, or have families run helter skelter to raise funds, as you'd find with kidnappers demanding ransom. The sad reality is that for every policeman dismissed and tried for these acts of extortion, inflicting of bodily harm and injury on their victims, as well as extrajudicial killing of those who dared to question the authority of the armed policeman to dehumanize him/her, there are multiples of such happening under the radar, so much so that when AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL comes up with figures, Nigerians have come to just read them without any outrage, because of the helplessness and hopelessness of their situation. Even the  Public Relations Department of the Nigerian Police have grown a thick skin, and now hardly responds to new findings, except those that have managed to make it into the international media. When they do respond, they offer some of the lamest of excuses that in no way addresses any of the concerns raised by the bodies that have painstakingly offered testimonies (at the risk of the lives of the victims of police mistreatments) and empirical evidences. Admitting wrong done, talk more apologizing doesn't even come up, and therein lies the motivation for the impunity that continues to stare Nigerians in the face in the name of BAIL IS FREE, when it is absolutely not, at the hands of the police that should protect and serve the people.



Wednesday, November 22, 2017


It was reported in the news yesterday, that the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology in Kaduna State had died, just days after returning from hospital where he had been treated for an undisclosed illness and was just about resuming to work after convalescing. Professor Jonathan Andrew Nok was a highly respected, widely acknowledged and decorated biochemist, at home and abroad, for which he was awarded Nigeria's National Merit Award just a few years back for one of his research works. This would've simply passed as just another news, had he not been the commissioner under whose purview the tests, failed by more than twenty thousand primary school teachers was conducted. Not a few Nigerians will be tempted to link the circumstances of his death with the present hullabaloo in the state, occasioned by the desire of the State Governor Nasir El Rufai to sack the so called unqualified teachers and have them replaced with their exact opposites. I wouldn't put it beyond some of these affected teachers and members of the teachers union to hope that this recent unfortunate incident might scare or compel the governor to acquiesce to their demand to reverse his intention of sacking  so called "unqualified teachers".

Till now, I have declined to post updates, comment, or blog about the imbroglio in Kaduna, despite prodding from friends who expected me to say something, or at least react even to their own view of the matter, either in favour of, or against their argument. The truth is that, I haven't been able to totally wrap my head around the situation, while trying really hard to understand the underlying intentions of the governor, who recent history has taught me to query his intentions, considering his unflattering antecedents. However, since it has come to me to write this now, I would simply state my observations, as I see them, and probably you'd also find within it my frustration, which makes it difficult for me to see how this knee-jerk reaction of the state governor is in any way a sustainable approach or way, to turn around the educational fortunes of Kaduna State in particular and northern Nigeria in general.

There's no gainsaying the fact that education in Nigeria is on tenterhooks, if the situation in the south is bad, in the north using the word "worst" will be a gross understatement. Sadly, even in the so called better days of education in Nigeria, the north was still way behind the south. Northern leaders also did not help matters when they felt that the way to make up for the imbalance was to lower the bar for admission into schools for their people at all levels, while ensuring that these same products from such schools compete with their counterparts from the south, in education, government and careers especially in the civil service and in the private establishments in which they have influence (either because of location, ethno-religious or political exigence), with requirements skewed to their advantage. Part of the result is what is evident in the kind of teachers that is produced in the north, to teach the tabula rasa of the "leaders of tomorrow", from that region.

Therefore the problem may not necessarily be the teachers themselves (viewed in isolation), but the kind of system that produced them in the first place, and then the system that found them worthy for recruitment as the shapers and framers of the hearts and minds of young ones in public primary and secondary schools in the north especially. The dirty linen that Governor El-Rufai deemed fit to wash in public wouldn't have been, if standards in the so called EDUCATIONALLY LESS DEVELOPED STATES in the north were not lowered, not only for the students but even for the teachers in contrast to what is obtainable in the EDUCATIONALLY MORE DEVELOPED STATES in the south.

Another issue is that of priority. It is true that there's no state in Nigeria, talk more the federal, where the budgetary allocation to education is the UNICEF's minimum of 26%. Many of them barely make it to 10% and even that is further whittled down by corruption and other  challenges that contribute to low implementation of items in the budget in Nigeria. In the south however, education is a tool of and for political propaganda, and each succeeding government strives to outdo the other in showing off investments in education (Chief Obafemi Awolowo, became a demi-god in the southwest because of his free education policy when he was premier there, while he lived, though present situation in the southwest will cause him to turn in his grave), though largely ignoring the human capital aspect of it for infrastructure mainly (as evident in Osun State where Governor Rauf Aregbesola is building model schools  allover the state, while owing teachers, as well as other civil servants, backlog in salary arrears), but even that goes some way in impacting positively even if minimally, to the education of children there. In the north, the converse is true, as religion is the tool of propaganda, from building of mosques (in some towns and villages, the mosque may be the most  magnificent building therein), to sponsoring pilgrimages to Mecca, amongst others, while education receives far lesser attention, that it should ordinarily and necessarily deserve.

This is why this move by Governor El-Rufai is commendable, but only to some extent. For starters, what he's done isn't novel as same was attempted by former Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, who eventually had to capitulate and compromise his stand, with labour unions in the state after grandstanding and threatening to sack unqualified teachers. Interestingly, even some of the questions thrown to the teachers to answer, were themselves wrong, though some of those papers shared on twitter by the governor exposed some of the teachers as not exactly brilliant. Another source of concern to be noted, is the fact that even as a layman I could tell that some of those questions didn't follow any particular pattern, that may suggest that some standard or standardized text was employed in coming by the tests.

Because everything in Nigeria is political, even this hasn't escaped political scrutiny, especially by those wary of El-Rufai's shenanigans, such that prominent persons from southern Kaduna now claim that most of those penciled down for sacking are from that part of the state. The teachers union is challenging the power of the chief executive of the state to fire teachers by fiat, while the political opponents of the governor are milking the chaos in the education sector of the state for all that it's worth. The state government on the other hand have put out a paid advertisement in the media, beckoning on qualified teachers regardless of tribe, state of origin, and the likes of all that is usually considered in Nigeria as favourable and unfavorable to job applications and applicants in Nigeria, to apply for vacant primary or basic teacher positions in the state.

In my view, restoring education, public education for that matter, in Nigeria should be more holistic, over just the "hire and fire" kneejerk reaction policies of Governor El-Rufai, and Kayode Fayemi (which cost him his reelection in Ekiti State), as well as Adams Oshiomhole in Edo State before him. All states, including the federal government must raise funding for education to as close as the UNICEF recommended 26% of budgetary allocation. They must then go beyond building physical structures and infrastructure of schools to developing the human capital that is the teachers, and other essential staffs of basic educational institutions in Nigeria. The lowering of standards so that more northerners can go to school, is the wrong way of looking at education, because even if these manage to get to high positions like Judges, Justices of the federation and the likes (for instance), or government jobs like prosecutors, they easily get floored in court by savvy and educationally more developed southerners who end up as defense councils (because they couldn't easily get government jobs), even of the most notorious in the society, and go further to help get them off the hook many times using legalese and technicalities that the not so savvy, government employed prosecutors would easily overlook to their dismay and chagrin (as we have often seen with the now wobbly war against corruption being waged by President Muhammadu Buhari's government presently).

People who have had the academic or education bar lowered for them all of their lives, including recruitment qualifications, cannot all of a sudden be better than those who toiled for every opportunity with sweat and blood in the main. No man was created lesser in ability to learn and assimilate, than others, and if Nigeria's northerners think the converse is true, then it should also apply in terms of available positions for employment. Have we not seen how the private sector employs more southerners than northerners? How have government and civil service positions, dominated by northerners truly fared in comparison to the private sector?

Only and until, the north begins to tell itself the truth, nothing will change. Governor El Rufai can change these teachers now, but what will happen tomorrow? Will the recruitment process be able to screen out undesirables? Will we not be back to square one, even if he succeeds now, but leaves government tomorrow? That is why this must be holistic, and the root cause of educational backwardness in the north of Nigeria, and by extension Nigeria addressed systematically and institutionally, with the view to reversing this ugly trend. Anything short of this, can and will only throw that sector into more jeopardy than it is in presently. I rest my case.



Monday, October 16, 2017


Nigeria's webosphere was on fire over the weekend on the issue of the unveiling of statues, though one garnered more attention for its odium, over the other laudable one. I've been to Imo State severally, last time been just last month; and though in the beginning of Governor Rochas Okorocha's administration more than six years ago, when Imo turned into a construction site, I felt it was a good development till further visits exposed the man for the megalomaniac he is. And how every thought of his, concerning the state was all about him, then going on to turn a whole state into his personal property. Even when he demolished markets (his newest pastime), he rushes to put up big billboards with the picture of his head taking up more than fifty percent of the space, while the picture of the proposed replacement so called ultramodern market pales in comparison.

Severally, on Saturday I was catching snippets of the charade organized by Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, for South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, especially on AIT (though I was much more interested in seeing Liverpool knock the breath out of Manchester United to no avail on Super Sport, while Tony Elumelu with his Foundation on CHANNELS TV I think, was empowering youths to become entrepreneurs), and some other channel, that bothered to showcase the event, which included a so called Eze Imo (who I suppose should be the head of traditional rulers in the state), dressed like a Zulu chief, and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo walking in tow. I only heard about the unveiling of a statue in honour of Zuma on Sunday via twitter, then saw pictures of him been given a chieftaincy title, and also having a street named after him.

Then I thought to myself, "Zuma?" The South African president who just last week had a court rule against him in a corruption case, for which he's now to refund to the state's coffers, monies diverted from state funds into expanding his estate to accommodate his ever growing harem of wives. This Zuma whose country is notorious for targeting Nigerians, especially Igbo people (including those from Imo State) during  xenophobic attacks on black foreigners, for lynching by civilians, and arbitrary arrests, detention and extrajudicial killings by the police, with little to no response by the Zuma government, which then goes on to reap political capital from it, by not claiming responsibility for the shameful conditions of black South Africans, as long as the people can continue to blame and turn on their African brothers for being responsible for their woes. It is this same Zuma that now has a larger than life size statue in his honour in Owerri, the Imo State capital?

Sadly, from the look of things, there are more statues to be unveiled, erected with funds that could've easily paid workers currently going months without pay, many times over, to the further disgust of Imo people if this last unveiling is anything to go by. As if it wasn't bad enough that nepotism is the official game of government in the state, this man continues to run his pet foundation, while in power, going ahead to sign an MOU with the Zuma Foundation while in office, making you wonder where the EFCC that's disturbing commissioners in Ekiti State because Governor Ayodele Fayose is in opposition are, and further fueling the assertion that the so called anti-corruption war by the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government is a sham and one-sided.

While Governor Okorocha was embarrassing his people in Imo State like that proverbial king dressed in invisible royal attire, elsewhere in Lagos, another statue was been unveiled, this time of the Music icon and Afrobeat Legend (Social Crusader and National Conscience, whose words remain truism and prophetic for Nigeria and Nigerians, decades after his passing), Fela Anikulapo Kuti,
to mark the end of this year's FELABRATION on Allen Avenue, Ikeja by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, days after goofing with an earlier updated statue (considered by critics to look more a caricature than a work of art, in that the face might not have looked like that of the Great AWO, besides the fact that he was made to wear shoes with laces with Agbada- akin to fashion riot, in a sitting position) of the Yoruba demigod, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Ambode got it right with FELA,  but I won't go further on this subject (especially in trying to understand why the statue is headless, save for the reason that once again the sculptor may have messed up like the  last one did with the recently unveiled Awo statue) in order not to draw away from Okorocha's shame, besides just to mention how in one weekend a statue insulted the psyche of a people, while another further elevated a people respectively.



Tuesday, October 3, 2017


I couldn't be bothered by the fear expressed in some quarters of an ongoing Islamization agenda in Nigeria's financial system. SUKUK BONDS and the likes are all reactionary experiments that can be, and have easily been exploited by capitalist tendencies. As long as Nigeria hasn't, and can't shed her reliance from the Bretton Woods' institutions, all of these shenanigans will in no single way impact on the way, and who Nigerians worship. The British know this, hence they allow it in their financial institutions, ever the exploiters that they've always been, developing their land, entertainment and sports with interest-free Arab money, while keeping the financiers at arm's length from their prized possessions.

The scenario won't be so much different in Nigeria, despite the fact that Muslim faithfuls will be particularly drawn to the idea that financial instruments, such as Sukuk, and  Islamic Banking such as practiced by a few banks so licensed to so do, will bring them to the utopia of sharia-compliant Nigeria they've always dreamed of. When it was tried in Osun State a few years back, it was administered by a Christian commissioner for finance, though one can easily adduce that the prompting must've been at the instance of the Muslim and still Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, a Muslim zealot to the kilt.

In my estimation, the greatest undoing of pipe dreams like the Islamization of Nigeria, via the allure of interest-free financial instruments and banking, will not be from, and by antagonist Christians and other Nigerians, rather the elite Muslim Nigerians, who are not going to temper their unquenchable desire for acquiring wealth, seeing as Islamic financing as yet is a lake, compared to the mighty ocean that capitalism, with foundations steeped in Judeo-Christian traditions, swim in, and is where the big players play in. If you doubt me just look at where Alhaji Aliko Dangote turns to, each time he seeks a loan for another investment that interests him.

Christians who berate their leaders for not setting up something akin to what Muslims are doing, forget easily that  what presently obtains is Christian, or better still, as I've already stated, Judeo-Christian and nothing they'd set up will be anything different from what is on ground, and what the mega-churches have already set up in their private capacities. Interestingly, some Christians have even gone along to exploit interest-free loans in the Islamic banks in Nigeria, either by themselves or using proxies who are Muslims, to avoid "scandals".

The schools, churches and other edifices that churches are building today, with the surrounding communities they cultivate around them, with constant electricity and water supply, with other infrastructure the Nigerian government and democracy is finding difficult to provide, will not always be so expensive to access in future. They will be testament to the foresight of these church leaders (with whom I do not always agree with), besides birthing in upcoming ones (pastorpreneurs, Christian religious leaders and Christian entrepreneurs) new and more inclusive ways to do the same things, leaving others (proponents of Sukuk Bonds and Islamic banking) to play catch up.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017


My visit to Imo State last weekend left me totally hollowed out with governance in Nigeria, especially as regards social contact between the rulers (because "leaders" isn't a word that should loosely be used to describe any Nigerian in government or power) and the led/ruled. It brought to life the many things I have heard and seen online, and on the very few TV stations like "Channels TV" in Lagos, that's not partisan and unafraid to speak truth to authority, in for instance, shedding more light on the circumstances surrounding the shooting to death of a boy,

allegedly from a stray bullet from random fire by security operatives accompanying the bulldozers set to the work of demolishing one of the markets in Owerri, the Imo State capital.

Away from Owerri, where churches and hotels compete for space with their  magnificent edifices, which was what I did when I visited Amaraku in Isu-Nwangele Local Government Area, and Umuawam, Amauburu also in Imo State, you'd find what seems like an attempt to knock food outta the mouths of already impoverished masses of the people of Imo. I couldn't ignore the hisses and sighs of disgust, a sense of resignation even, amongst the fellow passengers I shared a bus with as we made for the hinterlands of Imo, and passed by one market and the other demolished or under demolition by agents of the state government, with huge billboards hovering over the ruins, with Governor Rochas Okorocha's face taking much of the space in it, intimating those who care to notice, of his intention to put in place of what formerly obtained, an "ultramodern" market.

The kind of ultramodern, my friend MJ once assumed to appear to mean only in terms of "money expended, but not in structure erected" as evidently displayed, not only in Imo State, but allover Nigeria, especially since the return of civil rule in 1999. A return to democracy that seem not to be able to afford massive infrastructural development, as witnessed under military rule, save for the so called "ultramodern" markets, public toilets and flyovers. So what have the the traders done? They simply moved back to the sites of the demolished markets, put up tables with umbrellas and other makeshift apparati, to continue with business as usual in plain site.

Interestingly, touts saddled with the responsibility of collecting levies from the traders, haven't ceased their activity. If anything they appear to be encouraging further encroachment into roads away from the market just so they can multiply their takings exponentially. It is left to be seen if all of these demolished markets will be rebuilt by the time the governor hands over on May 29, 2019. If however one considers that he intends to push a relative or an in-law of his into power after him, that should be enough motivation for him to complete the market projects (with of course the people turning their back on his anointed, if feelers are anything to go by, in the event that their votes count). If not, then these demolished markets may have just been returned to what they used to be pre-independence eastern Nigeria, for no just cause.