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Opinion

Endsars: An Imo Perspective

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By Ethelbert Okere

Just before the Lekki fiasco on Tuesday 20, October 2020, some Facebook irritants in Imo state posted a picture of three youths, two males and a female, in a pool of mud water. The annotation to the photograph was that it was taken along the road leading to Nekede and Ihiagwa (both in Owerri West local government of Imo state) from the popular Poly Junction, along the Aba Owerri high way. The road leads to two federal institutions of higher learning – the Federal Polytechnic, and the Federal University of Technology.

The photograph was taken during a protest gathering of some youths at that junction. But, according to the youths, it was not part of the ENDSARS protest – by that date, ENDSARS protesters in the state had left streets of Owerri – but against the poor state of that particular road.

Nobody denies that the road in question is in a poor state but it is instructive that the protest by the youths regarding it in particular coincided, roughly, with ENDSARS. The question, therefore, is: Why did the youths, said to be made up mostly of students of the two institutions, wait till ENDSARS to start their agitation on that particular road? The road in question has been in that state long before ENDSARS.

Yes, the youths needed to drive home a point but the timing lends credence to the belief in several qualities that the organizers – or sponsors as some put it – merely wanted to take advantage of ENDSARS first to paint the current administration in the state in bad light: as insensitive to the plight of youths and, second, to orchestrate the allegation that it has deliberately refused to fix roads in the state, generally.

But nothing can be more fallacious than that. Agreed, some roads are in a poor state but to lay the blame squarely on the door step of the current administration is to cheapen the argument. Yes, government is a continuum but we must rightly divide the narrative so as to avoid muddling up of issues. While it is proper and legitimate to draw the attention of a sitting governor to issues bordering on the welfare of the people, it must not be done in a manner as not suggest that once a governor vacates offices, all his misdeeds are forgiven and forgotten and the incumbent made to carry all the blame. That is cheap and can only be the hallmark of a people that lack the level of sophistication Imolites are associated with. Unfortunately, partisanship is gradually eroding the discerning attributes of our people, such that as it is today, some politicians in the state would not mind making a 360-degree reversal on an issue in order to get even with a new enemy.

For example, I had in a previous article I drew attention to what seemed to be a change of mind by some elements in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the party’s earlier stance on the conduct of the Rochas Okorocha administration which it succeeded. Some elements in the party made utterances that suggested that Governor Hope Uzodimma should discontinue with some of the panels set up by the administration of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha – its own administration – on some of the activities of his predecessor, their fear, perhaps, being either that the outcome of some of the panel sittings may no longer favor Ihedioha or enhance Governor Uzodinma’s profile.

Clearly, what those politicians were pursuing were personal, at best partisan, interests and certainly not that of the generality of the people. One is not unmindful of the cliché that in politics, there are no permanent enemies but permanent interests but the quick caveat here is: What type of interest? Self serving interests or that of the generality of the people? Unfortunately, what we now have is a situation whereby individual politicians see their personal interest as one and the same thing with that of those whom they supposedly lead or serve. As far as I am concerned, what Imo politicians, generally, have merely succeeded in doing is to create permanent enemies among themselves and none of interest, whether temporary or permanent.

Going back to the matter of roads, however, I can state without any fear of contradictions that nearly all the commentaries on the state of roads in the state are jaundiced by partisan proclivities, indeed as part of the antics of the so-called opposition to get the Supreme Court reverse itself on its judgment of January 14, 2020. The prospects of that expectation are not the concern here, but the point is that though it is their right to seek ‘redress’, those at the forefront of that “struggle” should do it with the needed decorum.

In at least three previous articles, I had noted that it amounts to an assault on the collective psyche of Imolites to suggest, as some PDP elements do, that Governor Ihedioha “perfected”, to employ their very language, everything in the state and that Governor Uzodimma is now undoing what he did. As I had noted, such an argument at best amounts to making a mockery of Ihedioha’s otherwise brilliant career. I am not sure that His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, would like his so-called supporters to continue to describe him in such superlatives when, for example, parts of some internal roads rehabilitated during his seven-month-long tenure have already collapsed. Even though a tabulation of the areas or spots affected is not within the scope of this essay, I know that Rt. Hon. Ihedioha is humble enough that if his attention is drawn to that, he will admit that that was not what he had expected when he gave out those jobs to the contractors that handled them.

In any case, some of those contracts were still ongoing when Senator Uzodimma came in and as is well known, he gave the contractors the go-ahead to complete them. I then ask: Should Governor Uzodimma be blamed for the collapsed of those portions or spots? Yes, he is the man on seat right now and government, they say, is a continuum but it is cheap to ascribe to him the failure of those roads, to the extent that some unscrupulous elements expected the highly sophisticated Imo youths to abandon the noble objectives of ENDSARS and to, instead, begin to demonstrate on intra city roads that had been in sordid states for upwards of eight years. Incidentally, the contentious road was one of those that were under rehabilitation under the Ihedioha administration and on which work was allowed to continue by Governor Uzodimma. But as is well known, the contractor abandoned site, after receiving about 1.4 Billion Naira mobilization money from the immediate past administration, and has refused to return despite entreaties – even threats – by the governor, for reasons best known to them. Only a few days ago, the state executive council resolved to retrieve the money from the contractor and re-award the contract to a more competent firm.

Granted that the incumbent administration has the responsibility of ensuring that the roads are put back in order, it is not in the interest of the generality of the people for some elements to use it as a weapon for their struggle for political relevance or rebirth, to the extent of asking youths to protest over it at such a volatile period. Imolites are discerning enough to realize that no serious road rehabilitation or construction work can go on right in the middle of the rains. I have come across commentaries to the effect that the rainy season is not an excuse but that is a crass misconception. It is a well-known fact that big construction firms do not do roads during the rains. Of course, here in Imo, we once saw a previous administration do roads in the thick of the rainy season. But the contractors were alleged make-belief companies hurriedly registered by insiders of that administration and the results are very well known. Is it not high time Imolites began to insist on standards?

I once provided some consultancy services for a candidate for a federal legislative office and who happens to come from Owerri zone and particularly from the Owerri federal constituency. Once, he asked me to draft a speech for him for a meeting with stakeholders from the Nekede-Ihiagwa axis but I told him that he did not need a prepared speech. I told him that all what he needed do was to point out to the people the fact that previous federal legislators in the zone, and federal constituency in particular, failed to draw the attention of the federal government to a road that leads to two big institutions owned by it; and that he would, if elected, make sure that it got into the federal budget the very next season.

Although my client did not make it to the National Assembly, it is an incontrovertible fact that Imo had, before Uzodimma, produced people who held top federal legislative offices and who were in a position to make the federal government partner with the state in building that road; at least on account of the existence of those two institutions in the state. Unfortunately, politics in Imo state is all about who occupies Douglas House.      

It is heartwarming, however, that Imo youths, generally, have comported themselves well in the ongoing crisis and which I have acknowledged in an earlier article entitled, “Salute To Imo Youths.” Yes, some public places were burnt but it was not with the active collaboration of Imo youths. The perpetrators were evidently acting on behalf of some pay masters, going by the cowardly manner they reportedly went about torching those places. Only yesterday, I learnt that the arsonists who set ablaze a police station and two courts in my area did so by throwing petrol bombs from a far distance and then zooming away in motorcycles.

Unlike other states, there have been no records of looting of hidden COVID-19 palliative in Imo state. Apart from that it is a confirmation that the state government did not hoard any, what it means is that the conduct of Imo youths, in general, should be built upon by the state. And His Excellency’s plan to empower 500,000 of them in the next two years is a good starting point. More importantly, it is a clear message from the youths that they are not, generally, available for sordid errands.      

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Leadership

Do not renounce your citizenship, Perm. Sec. to Nigerians

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Do not renounce your citizenship, Perm. Sec. tells Nigerians

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Dr Shuaib Belgore, has advised Nigerians to desist from illegal movement out of the country including renouncing of their citizenship owing to some present challenges.

Belgore gave the advice on Tuesday when the national coordinator of SERVICOM, Mrs Nnena Akajameli, visited him in his office to make formal presentation of SERVICOM Compliance Evaluation Reports (SCER) of Federal Marriage Registries in Nigeria.

Speaking further, he expressed concern over the rate at which some Nigerians were moving out of the country illegally, to the extent of renouncing their citizenship.

Belgore noted that such act could also lead to avoidable death and missing of some citizens as noted across the nation.

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“Protecting citizens’ right is part of what we are saddled with to carry out, we handle marriages, and we handle citizenship issues, people trying to get citizenship into Nigeria, people who want special immigrant status.

“People who want to work in Nigeria, they need permission from us in areas such as expatriate quota, residents permit, and work permit, all that is within our power in the ministry.

“Unfortunately, once in the while some Nigerians want to renounce their citizenship and we don’t want them to do that, except through constitutional rights of such movement,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary, therefore, admonished Nigerians not to use the present circumstance being faced by the country as an excuse to move out illegally but through proper channels.

However, receiving the SERVICOM SCER reports, Belgore reiterated the ministry’s determination to collaborate with SERVICOM for quality service delivery to Nigerians, ensuring that Nigerians are well served across all the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

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Earleir, in her presentation, Mrs Akajemeli explained that the overall objectives of SERVICOM SCER was to ensure citizen-focused service delivery in MDAs, to identify gaps, making recommendation to the ministry to improve on those gaps.

According to Akajemeli, interaction with customers revealed Federal Marriage Registry is not established in all states of the Federation and this has caused a lot of inconveniences for the intending couples and those who stand as their witnesses.

“The Ministry of Interior should intensify its efforts to create at least one marriage registry in all the states to ease the problems of intending couple having to travel far to submit printout of their applications.

“This will create a relief and reduce service delivery gaps especially in the area of cost of transportation,” the SERVICOM national coordinator added.

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Opinion

The ungodly APC National Caretaker Committee gamble with All Progressives Congress – APC Southeast/Southsouth Youth Assembly

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 Love or hate His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, there’s no denying his rightful place as a nationalist per excellence especially on the political firmament of our beloved country Nigeria.

This is the man who led the dismantling of the second republic democratic regime of President Shehu Shagari at the point it became clear that the regime was drifting while Nigerians wallowed helplessly as the lessons and values of the civil war collapsed like a pack of cards under the watch of civilian players of that administration.

With his second in command, Brigadier General Tunde Idiagbon,he strove tirelessly to instill discipline, due process, accountability and uprightness as the culture in governance and general way of life in Nigeria.

 It was such that a few years after his regime was ousted in a bloodless coup in 1985, the world proclaimed that Nigeria had lost a golden opportunity of becoming great again as the nation wallowed ruderlessly in the hands of a self acclaimed “Evil Genius” for eight unbridled years (1985 – 1993)
According to Abraham Lincoln, the US leader of all time, what matters is not the number of times one lost elections, what rather matters, is the ability to rise again after failing an election. General Buhari suffered incarceration after being ousted from power in 1985, but he became a leading light to illuminate the political space from 2003. Three times, Muhammadu Buhari, the democrat contested presidential election and failed on different platforms with the concomitant bitter experiences and lessons arising thereof. In 2014, his party the CPC struck alliance with ACN to become the All Progressives Congress which delivered him in the 2015 presidential election.

PMB has fondly and jealously guided the All Progressives Congress, APC since formation in 2014. He curdles the party like a baby and has always intervened at critical points to save the life of APC. He stood in the gap to ease out Chief John Oyegun when it became necessary to pave the way for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to galvanize the party for the 2019 general elections.

 He was also instrumental to the birth of the present APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) constituted in 2020 to avert a major rift in the party. In addition to the normal day to day running of the party, the Governor Mai Mala Buni led National Caretaker Committee was charged with the major assignment of bringing up to date and standard the party membership list as well as deliver a national convention within six months of its span.

But this was not to be, as the committee requested additional six months from December 2020 to conclude with the membership registration as well as conduct bottom – top congresses leading to national convention to elect substantive party leadership as stipulated by the constitution and electoral act as amended.
CHANGING PARADIGMS OF THE COMMITTEE
we of the All Progressives Congress Southeast/Southsouth Youth Assembly have maintained a studied silence, though with consternation as the uncharitable drama in the apex leadership of the party unfolds.
It can be said here without contradiction that the National Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee has continued to operate in isolation of the state arms of the committee. Decisions are made without consensus as if in a command regime.

The national convention which is supposed to be the highest organ of the party and indeed the primary assignment of the committee is now relegated to the background completely as it is not in any contemplation of the committee.

The committee has rather continued to change paradigms and request extension of stay through the advancement of flimsy excuses intended for nothing but a sit tight. In a recent meeting about a week ago, the committee under the watch of HE Mai Mala Buni sought for the approval of extension of the party registration exercise by a whooping eight weeks in total silence over urgent need for preparation for a national convention for which it was set up in the first place. Over two third of the state caretaker committees were outraged for not being carried along on major decisions to the embarrassment of the party as a whole.

The question begging for answer at various quarters is why so much time should be set aside for membership registration and validation against a continuous process as in other parties and indeed other climes?

Thus, it becomes clear that major cracks are appearing on the erstwhile cohesive matrix of the party.
We are pained that the major opposition parties, the PDP and others have consequently capitalized on the lack luster disposition and indiscretion of the CECPC to barrette the All Progressives Congress at any given opportunity especially on the mainstream national television networks and it is truly logical to assume that a party lacking in capacity, will and cohesion to organize itself as in national convention is apparently unfit to seek mandate to lead the nation.

THE 2023 NATIONAL ELECTION
The year 2022 is almost here with us whereas our great party the APC is yet in a rudderless sail through self contrived troubled waters.

Should it continue in the present indefinite motion ostensibly on the mission to reinvent itself, we of the APC Southeast/Southsouth Youth Assembly take the lead to bid it farewell over a great but messed vision at the behest of unserious party administrators and political quacks.

HE Mai Mala Buni should see himself as the luckiest politician in the entire universe. This is a man who from nowhere became secretary to a winning national party and in a straight wave contested and won the governorship of a state as important as Yobe.

This is the same man considered good enough to lead the National Caretaker Committee of the same winning party.

Like the proverbial Blackman’s leadership syndrome of ‘sit tight and never vacate office’ Buni is now cut in the web of high profile fog and trappings of high offices at national and state levels and he has forgotten his modest beginnings.

 I wonder why he should forget that an incoming Exco of the party would require time to get acquainted with the workings and flow of the party from bottom-top. What does it take for him to understand that a stitch in time saves nine. Are the challenges at Yobe not enough for him to contend with ?

Wouldn’t he have preferred a more robust APC delivered by his committee than a party in tatters and too disorganized and weak to run elections in 2023 should his committee insist on using the space of time between now and 2023 for a rollercoaster jamboree??

We use this medium to urge those in the  true spirit to lead the party beyond Buni to begin on their own to undertake familiarization tours of the States’ APC formations with a view to grasping the inherent challenges than wait for the vacation of the slow pacing Buni & Co.  

WELCOME MR PRESIDENT
Welcome Mr President, you are welcome our own PMB. In spite of ill-health for which the Almighty Allah has decisively intervened, you are an elixir.

You have always been the catalyst that quickens chemical reactions but in the human sphere of life, not in the labs.

As party faithfuls, we look up to you to step in and arrest the budding drift in our great party.

 Moses played a similar role in the Holy Bible when it became necessary to deliver Israel from the house of bondage.

We beckon on you to once again step into the shoes lest our party, the APC sink like the great titanic.

Read Also; Presidency 2023: We Can’t Zone Presidency, Others Without Buhari, Governors – APC

Hon Stanley Chuks Nwachukwu
PRESIDENT APC SOUTH YOUTH ASSEMBLY

Hon McDonald Ita Ekpenyong
SECRETARY APC SOUTH YOUTH ASSEMBLY

Hon Godspower Bennett Briggs
PUBLICITY SECRETARY

Hon Felicia Nene Akoma
WOMAN LEADER

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Culture

Yoruba self-determination rally begins in Ibadan

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The Yoruba self-determination rally organised by the Ilana Omo Oodua is underway in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

Hundreds of members of the group whose leader is an 86-year-old Emeritus Professor of History, Banji Akintoye, had initially scheduled the take-off of the rally for the ancient Mapo Hall but the heavy presence of armed policemen forced them to change the venue.

They are addressing people at Mapo Roundabout but they were not disturbed by the police in any way.

The agitators are armed with banners and Yoruba nation flags while leaders of the group addressing the people are saying Yoruba people are tired of staying with Nigeria.

Also Read: Iran nuclear talks set to resume in Vienna

One of the leaders of the group, Basorun Kunle Adesokan, said Yoruba were no longer part of Nigeria and the people want to be an independent nation.

He condemned the insecurity in Yorubaland, saying the people could no longer stand the injustice in Nigeria.

Adesojan said, “We are no longer part of Nigeria. Yoruba people are determined to stand alone. We are starting the rally here in Ibadan because this is the capital of the Yoruba nation.

” Our brothers in Kwara, Lagos, Kogi, Edo, Delta and other states are here. We are not going to use violence, we want the Yoruba nation. No retreat no surrender. Let Hausa go their way, let Fulani go their own way and Igbo people should also go.

“The rally has taken off, we won’t stop until we achieve our aim.”

One of the leaders of Itsekiri youths present at the rally, Isaac Ajatitan, said Itsekiri people were part of Yoruba and would support them to achieve this aim.

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