Thursday, 28 October 2010

Protecting The Ugly Duckling

What do you do to a child that has gone deliberately bad? Get a cane, of course, and give them a whacking on the bottom. But a Hausa saying tells you, "Hannun ka ba ya rubewa ka yanke ka yar," i.e. you don't cut off your hand and throw it away just because it is rotten. The saying is rooted in the traditional family system which encourages family members to protect their own even if the person happens to have gone bad or astray. Consequently, if a family member commits a heinous crime such as theft, adultery or even murder, members of their family are expected not to disown them; after all, as a Nigerian parlance says, blood is thicker than water.

Our diplomats who work in our foreign missions have since adopted this blood-tie protectionism of the average Nigerian person as a work to rule requirement. Hence the speed with which they stoutly resist any portrayal of Nigeria as leader in corruption and insecurity. Since last year, three events have happened that showed our distaste for negative portrayal. Let's start with the recent one, which happened only yesterday. Nigeria's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, has sent a letter of protest to the BBC complaining about a billionaire businessman's comment about Nigeria on a television programme. The founder of Amstrad computers, Sir Alan Sugar, had suggested on his own reality TV show, "The Apprentice," currently running on BBC TV network, that Nigerians are not to be trusted when it comes to dealing with financial promises. During a recent episode of the programme, Lord Sugar asked a participant on the programme why he should not fire him, and the latter responded: "If you give me one hundred grand a year, I will deliver to you 10 times that and if I don't - take it all back. A money back guarantee, I'm confident." To this, Lord Sugar answered: "I had an offer like that from Nigeria once and funnily enough it didn't transpire."

Tafida didn't like it one bit. In his letter, he fumed: "It was an unprovoked, damaging remark on a sovereign and independent state of over 150 million people, based on his alleged sordid and isolated deal with a Nigerian individual. It is indeed demeaning and unfortunate." Apparently, Dr Tafida had read in Lord Sugar's comment another attempt to demonise Nigerians through negative portrayal on prime time television. Perhaps if he had ignored the glib comment, the matter would have petered out almost unnoticed, but he fired a salvo to the BBC, which the British press celebrated yesterday, at once putting Nigeria on the world map once again, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

A similar incident had incensed Ambassador Tafida recently, with the BBC caught in its web. On April 15, the BBC broadcast a documentary entitled, "Welcome to Lagos," on its UK network. It was an uncomplimentary portrayal of life in the country's most populous city. After watching it, I was persuaded to believe that the images shown were not false; the BBC's offence was that it showed its viewers an aspect of Nigerian life our leaders would not want the rest of the world to know. And Lagos being a microcosm of Nigeria, the world would now see the country as grossly underdeveloped, a nation where poverty and violence combine to create a monstrosity far removed from the picture our leaders and diplomats are stiving to convey.

After the first of the three-part series was aired, Tafida took up the matter and conveyed a letter of protest to the controller of BBC2, Ms. Janice Hadlow. He expressed "dismay and disappointment" with the "sinister" documentary. "The (high) commission would therefore like to register its strong rejection of this documentary as a deliberate distortion of life in Lagos, and totally unwarranted," he said. He believed that the documentary was an attempt to bring Nigeria and its hardworking people to international odium and scorn."

In a similar incident in September last year, Sony Pictures Entertainment, an arm of the global filmmaking franchise, had released a movie it shot in South Africa entitled "District 9." In the sci-fi flick, Nigerians were portrayed as common criminals and prostitutes and the leader of a criminal gang was called Obasanjo. I remember information minister Dora Akunyili running from pillar to post over the movie, spewing comments similar to the ones Tafida made over the Lagos documentary.
It is easy to surmise that these three incidents have established a pattern of Nigeria demonization. Major media corporations are eager to exploit the notorious stereo-typed view about Nigerians in their bid for a chunk of the entertainment and news market share.

Which leads me to ask: Where are our security organisations when foreign journalists come in and shoot documentaries? It is only in Nigeria this happens without official guides. Secondly, is what they are showing the world the truth and nothing but the truth? The answer is Yes and No. No, because Nigeria has made great contributions to various spheres of human endeavour - in the academia, literature, sports, peacekeeping, administration, business, entertainment, etc. It is, therefore, wrong to categorise all Nigerians as crooks and the country as a nation of scammers as one former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria once did.

But, Yes, these shining achievements are being dimmed by the bad works: the unrelenting pursuit by some other Nigerians to commit various unwholesome acts - from corruption to prostitution, illegal immigration, advance fee fraud (419), fake weddings, kidnappings, religious crises, murder, robbery, etc. This country is a leading member of the corruption league, with many of its leaders being caught red-handed in corruption offences. Look at the mind-blowing revelations in the banking industry and the capital market. Look at Halliburton. Look at the bombing of Abuja by MEND. Only recently, two of our boys were caught with drug use in the 19th Commonwealth Games in Delhi. And Amos Adamu has just proved that our sports administration is also a gold winner in the global corruption index. The actions of our political leaders, who promote the culture of get-rich-quick, are being emulated by other Nigerians. Hence the propensity by young Nigerians to make both ends meet in any way they can, including through acts that would paint the nation black. To many people overseas, the Nigerian is the ugly duckling from Africa. Why should we play the ostrich and pretend, through letters of protest, that these things do not happen?

Anyone familiar with the stereo-typing of Nigerians abroad would quickly link Lord Sugar's comment to the advance fee fraud phenomenon known as '419,' which is perpetrated by young Nigerians desperate to make money. Hundreds of unsuspecting foreigners have fallen prey to criminals who send fake claims via E-mail offering mouth-watering business deals in return for secret payoffs, which can run from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars or pound sterling. Lord Sugar, the 61-year-old British peer who is worth an estimated £830 million, could have been a victim of such scams. His undisclosed experience, which happened only "once," would be familiar to many other Britons who were victims of similar scams.

Nigerian leaders should do more on improving the living condition of their people. They should commit themselves to education, job creation, and good investment climate, including provision of security and electricity. Doing this would help make Nigerian citizens stay in their own country and not force themselves into countries where they are unwanted. This is a more pre-emptive measure in checking the ceaseless negative portrayal of Nigeria by the foreign media and other institutions than sending protest letters.

Publıshed ın LEADERSHIP last Saturday

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Breaking-Out Time For Women In Northern Nigeria

Book: Northern Women Development: A Focus on Women in Northern Nigeria
Author: Hajara Muhammad Kabir
Pages: 455
Publishers: Print Serve, Lagos
Date: 2010

By Ibrahim Sheme

Women are over half of the world's population, yet they do two-thirds of the world's work, earn one-tenth of the world's income, and own less than one hundredth of the world's poverty.
– United Nations

It is no longer news that the lot of women across the world has been a dour one even in spite of their potential as the progenitor of the earth. The facts are startling. It is women who give birth and nurse the children; they take charge of the home front regardless of culture or creed, maintaining cohesion and sanity at the family level, are the mainstay in child upbringing, and generally contribute to the growth of society. Nonetheless, in spite of their numerical superiority worldwide, they have remained backward economically and politically. Worse, they are regarded as inferior species in almost every society.

The relegation of women in the human society was rooted in prejudices dating from time immemorial. Most communities across the globe took the fair sex to be of second class value. In pre-Islamic Arabia, the birth of a female child was considered a disaster; in fact, female children were buried alive because their fathers believed that when they grew up they would not bring anything but sorrow and damnation to the family.

The recently published book, Northern Women Development: A Focus on Women in Northern Nigeria, is a painstaking study of how women fared worldwide across the ages. It arrives at a thought-provoking conclusion about their present-day status, especially in this part of the country. Written by a Kano-based author, Hajara Muhammad Kabir, the book goes down memory lane to the dawn of time, giving a graphic account of the challenges the womenfolk faced in their brave attempt at survival and striking a meaningful co-existence with their opposites. In 10 chapters and 455 pages, it presents a long tale of women’s woes in the various facets of life, and then rounds up with indisputable facts of the necessity for women’s wellbeing in and their contributions to the human society. In doing this, the author is at once a historian, a sociologist, an ethnographer, a geographer, a tale-bearer and an activist who challenges our preconceived notions, portraying them as unsubstantiated, fatuous, and outdated. She reminds us, for example, that women make up 70% of the world's 1.3 billion absolute poor; they are the sole income earners of 35% of the world's households and they are 80% of the world's 23 million refugees.

Hajara Muhammad Kabir’s focus is her native northern Nigeria, but the ethos of her narrative is universal. She draws from a swathe of highly-considered researches that portray the true situation of women as victims of economic miscalculations and cultural misapplications in our patriarchal world. Quoting copiously from findings of United Nations agencies and academic papers, her submissions amplify the message of women's relegation not only in far-flung climes but also in various African countries. "Decades after the world has officially recognised the right to gender equality," she writes, "women have remained largely marginalised from the upper ranks of government and business, earned less than their male counterparts and faced an array of customs, traditions and attitudes that limit their opportunities."

In chapter one, she introduces the problem the book deals with, giving a holistic account of women's unimpressive station, from a bird's view of the world to a tightly focused centring on the African continent. In chapter two, the book examines the status of women in Islam because of the author's area of coverage. This chapter is an interesting one because it dispels the notion many people have - ironically, including Muslim men - about the Muslim woman. It proves, using the primary sources of Islamic law, that women in Islam are not the proverbial "second best" but equal parts of the whole. They are not, as many erroneously believe, the spare tyres of the human wheel but partners in progress who must not be relegated. The fact that women and men shall be judged individually by God on the day of Judgement as shown in the holy Qur'an is proof that men are not more significant in the progression of humanity. Of course, they are biologically different, but that does not remove from their sense of honour, morality or responsibility. They should be loved and accorded respectability as daughters, wives and mothers just as decreed by the Almighty and as exemplified by Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The author mourns the fact that in Muslim parts of northern Nigeria, women are not accorded the rights provided for them in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, but are exposed to "various abuses, ranging from rape, abandonment, sexual harassment, hawking, and unguarded early marriage."

The next chapter examines the rights of women across the world. In doing this, it makes a contradistinction with the status of women in the North. The practices of women abuse, such as the "bride of the Nile" custom in ancient Egypt where the most beautiful young woman was drowned in the river as a form of appeasement to the gods, are somewhat subsumed in our local cultures with variations that only amplify the barbarity in contemporary time. The book shows how some religions help debase the fair sex through institutionalised practices falsely said to have been God-ordained. It shows that as opposed to such imposition, Islam - the religion of the majority population in the North - has returned the rights of women, including the right to go out of their homes in the promotion of the common good, such as going out to the warfront.

Chapter 4 is simply an account of what Nigeria is all about - its geographic location on the world map, peoples and politics, as well as the historical and economic antecedents of its present underdevelopment. It is in the next chapter that we read about the real challenges militating against the Nigerian woman's ability to fully realise her full potential. These include the discrimination she faces in the fields of politics and business; inadequate education, prejudices such as when she cannot bear a male child, and what the author calls the Nigerian men's deliberately "plotting the downfall of the women."

According to the author, this situation runs counter to the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the 1995 UN Fourth World Conference on Women and even our own National Policy on Women. She says even though women constitute 49.6% of the nation's total population according to the 1991 census, majority of women are in the lower rungs of occupations.

Chapter 6 is on the need for educating the girl child. This chapter is of great interest to northern Nigeria. It shows further what "northern Nigeria" is, where and how it is, and the place of its women vis-a-vis the creation and sustenance of a holistic human community. The North, as the region is best known in Nigerian journalese, is the most backward section of the country. Its peoples are largely ignorant because of a crying illiteracy rate, disease and squalor, economic degradation and poor leadership. The women in this case are at the receiving end.

The chapter examines the factors militating against the girl child’s access to education in the region and why Northern women continue to remain backward. It looks at the prejudices that spark the notorious discrimination and objectification of the womenfolk in the region. However, it gives clear examples that show women's potential, such as the unique success of a female teacher in an Islamic school in Kano. The chapter argues that the potentials of the girl child are numerous and shows what the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) can do to further the cause of girl child education. It highlights the problems of enrolment of girls in schools as found out by recent seminars and workshops. It shows that unless the appropriate laws are enforced by state governments in the North, it is virtually impossible to achieve retention of female children in schools in the region.

In chapter 7, the book seeks to dwell on the role of women in peace and security, but it actually concentrates on their challenges in the health sphere. Chapter 8 is the lengthiest, running from page 105 to page 354. It displays the enviable attainments of some selected women leaders in the North, from pre-colonial times to the present day. It is a historical account of the personality of those women in their different fields of endeavour. The first person presented is, indeed, Nana Asma'u, the 19th century Islamic scholar who had to her credit many books of jurisprudence and poetry. A list of her 67 works is given. Next is Queen Amina of Zazzau, the fiery empress who ruled an ancient kingdom in the 16th century, making her the most prominent woman warrior from the North. This is followed by an account of Queen Daurama of Daura, with her fabled encounter with Abu Yazid, the prince of Baghdad and how they allegedly founded the seven Hausa states.

From there, the reader begins to encounter many familiar faces, contemporary women who made a mark in the society, especially after independence in 1960. Most of them are the first ladies who were opportune to have their husbands being in power either at the federal level or the state level to execute empowerment programmes for women and children. In this category, we encounter Maryam Babangida, Maryam Abacha, Fati Lami Abubakar, and Turai Yar'Adua, who were wives of heads of state, and then the wives of all the present northern state governors.

Of course, there are achievers who attained fame through their personal hard work in various areas, such as Ladi Kwali, Gambo Sawaba, Amina Az-Zubair of the MDGs fame, Maria Ajima, Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, Zainab Ujudud Shariff, Amina Isyaku Kiru, Laila Dogonyaro, Hafsatu Muhammad Ahmad Abdulwahid, Zaynab Alkali, Sarah Jibril, Naja'atu Mohammed, Halima Soda, Farida Waziri, Bilkisu Yusuf, and Maryam Uwais. A bio-data of each woman is given, sometimes with full-length CV, and a treatise on what she actually accomplished. Each is illustrated with the woman's photograph(s).

Going through this particular chapter is quite revealing. It shows that in spite of the sob story of the dull condition of women in general, quite many have shone brightly in the tunnel and shown the way to greater things. We see women climbing the ladder of success in politics, business, religious evangelism, the academia, health work, the arts, occupations and the civil service. These are the role models of our society and, in spite of the controversies surrounding a few of them, the younger females who are in school are tasked to emulate them.

The next chapter contains stories culled from newspapers about how certain women achieved particular feats. The stories are meant to inspire; they cast light into just what an individual can do even without support from formal institutions: the woman who unwittingly arrested an armed robber, a woman who drives a commercial bus in Sokoto, and another who owns and runs a herbal medicine "hospital" in Zaria. Other culled write-ups are enlightening pieces on how some women breasted the tape to become beacons of hope in a male-dominated society: Sarah Jibril with her repeated bids to become president of Nigeria; Hajo Sani's rise from relative obscurity as a school teacher in Dutse, Abuja, to her brave breakout to become a federal minister and member of reputable NGOs; Mairo Habib's gubernatorial race in Kaduna; Aisha Lemu's great work in the area of Islamic evangelism; Asma'u Joda's activism for women's rights, etc. In this section, we hear the women achievers speak from the horse's mouth on their experiences and their visions.

There is a speech by Kofi Annan, former U.S. secretary-general, titled "Women: Backbone of the Societies," in which he extenuates on the fact that no effective development can occur without women playing a central role. He laments that two "simultaneous catastrophes" - famine and AIDS - do stand in the way of women. Other write-ups are from some notable women journalists in the North - Rahima Gidado Bello, Zainab Okino Suleiman, Bilkisu Yusuf and Umma Iliyasu Mohammed - all making the point that this country cannot afford to relegate its womenfolk in any design for meaningful development.

Chapter 10 sums up the arguments with an analysis of what transpired in the previous chapters. It is appropriately titled "Prospects of Nigerian Women in Politics," thereby hinting at the fact that women can only affect policy most effectively if they are part of its creation and implementation. They must, therefore, participate fully in the political process and not just remain in the choir. It explores the status of women from pre-colonial times to the present day, taking note of their challenges and relative accomplishments, with particular emphasis on Nigeria. It tells us how activists such as Margaret Ekpo and Gambo Sawaba earned a niche for themselves in the realm of empowerment in the '60s, and how others like Janet Akinrinade, Franca Afegbua and D.B.A. Kuforiji-Olubi, as well as Titilayo Ajanaku, Sinatu Ojikutu and Florence Ita-Giwa, etc., repeated similar feats in the '80s and '90s respectively. The author shows how women's lot improved under successive regimes, with women being appointed as ministers, winning elections and occupying top board positions in corporate bodies.

That, nonetheless, does not presuppose that women have conquered their boundaries. Their status is still limited by the invisible ceiling. They are still everywhere in shackles, as the author shows. Men are still "taking advantage of the women," she argues. Women are also their own enemies. "In a society where women are out competing with one another just because they want to be recognized and honoured only by using what they have to get what they want even when some are married, one should not be surprised to see the women going into prostitution en masse, especially the sisters who believe they owe nobody an apology," she writes.

According to the author, the destiny of women lies in their hands. She advises her fellow women: "Not until the women realize that the pride of womanhood is most important and not to be used for just material wealth and make the men to understand that they are not tools to be used and dumped at will, the women will remain enslaved forever and will continue to use what they have to get what they want. Women must wake up from their slumber, forget about material wealth and be respected."

The work is capped with seven pages of references and a whopping 76 pages of colour photographs. While the other lends an academic veneer to the book, the other provides a tantalising photofest of women in various fields of endeavour; there are mug shots of selected women achievers, from ancient times such as Queen Amina (whose photograph graces the cover of the book), to those making waves today.

The book is well written. Its diction is simple and its style free flowing. This makes it accessible to most readers. It is also well printed and bound on qualitative materials. But it contains some errors - grammatical and typographical - that can be corrected in a subsequent edition. Personally, I also do not consider wives of state governors as achievers as the author of this book wants us to believe; they only clutch the tails of their husbands' coats to be where they are; that's why as soon as another governor comes to power no one talks about the previous first lady. Ditto for first ladies who introduce all sorts of programmes when their husbands are heads of state. True women achievers are those that make a mark in the academia, business, the arts, empowerment activism, health work, the judiciary, defence and security, evangelism, those that run for elections and the like.

However, in spite of this slip, one has no any iota of doubt that Hajara Muhammad Kabir's book is an important compendium for the study of women - and by implication ourselves - in modern times. It reflects the unique configuration of our society, its successes and failures, especially the dangers it faces in holding its women down. It proves that one of the reasons our society is stagnant while others zoom past us is our failure to give our women their well deserved recognition, respect and opportunities to contribute their quota to the development of the society. The penchant to haughtily use customary rites and misapply religious precepts to emasculate women has proved to be ruinous to our society. Holding down women is anti-religion and runs counter to all the international protocols to which Nigeria is a signatory. We must ensure that our women are educated in the modern sense, from infancy to adulthood. It is education that will eventually help break the chains in which they are enslaved by norms and conventions.

The book is a clarion call for the women in northern Nigeria to break out of the shackles that hold them down. The women must fight for their rights themselves and not wait for the men to give them privileges on a platter of gold. History is replete with instances where women struggled to free themselves from conventions and jaded notions. It is instructive that the heroine whose photograph illustrates the cover of the book was someone who fought men to a standstill until she won respect and power for her gender. The author deserves commendation and support for teaching us these important lessons and waking us up from a costly slumber. May she follow this up with her own form of activism in this area and not peter out and disappear into oblivion after the forthcoming launch of her book.


The book, Northern Women Development: A Focus on Women in Northern Nigeria, will be launched on Oct. 30 at Arewa House, Kaduna

This review was published in LEADERSHIP last Friday.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Canonisation Of MEND

MEND is not a terrorist organisation- President Jonathan

For a week now, the refrain in Nigeria has been about who to blame for the October 1 bombings in Abuja in which 16 persons were killed. Days before the criminal act, the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) had issued a warning that it was going to detonate explosive devices during the ceremony marking the 50th independence anniversary. Apparently, the warnings were ignored by the government because there was a lot at stake: it would be a gargantuan embarrassment after so much work - and money - had been put into the preparations and foreign dignitaries were already in town for the ceremony. MEND, in its characteristic braggadocio, said effusively after the dastardly act that the government should be blamed for the loss of lives because it did not heed the well publicised warnings.

This admission of guilt by MEND was responsible for the universal shock at Jonathan's hasty exoneration of the militant group. The President's rush to judgement was ill-advised as it was fatuous. His further claim that MEND was not a terrorist organisation was a poor, outrageous attempt to rewrite Nigerian history, given the activities of the group in the last five years. He made a poor portrayal of himself as president giving the impression that he must defend MEND because he is representing the South-South only.

The timeline below, obtained from Wikipedia, shows some of the activities of MEND since 2006. It should remind us that it is absolutely wrong to place MEND on the same footing as the African National Congress as Jonathan tried to do.


•Nine officials of the Italian petrol company Eni SpA are killed in Port Harcourt. MEND militants briefly occupied and robbed a bank near the Eni SpA base, leaving at about 3:30 p.m, about an hour after they showed up.

•May 10, an executive with the United States-based oil company Baker Hughes is shot and killed in Port Harcourt by MEND.

•June 2, a Norwegian rig offshore Nigeria was attacked and 16 crew members were kidnapped.

•Aug. 20, 10 MEND members are killed by the military. The members were working on releasing a Royal Dutch Shell hostage. In an email to Reuters, MEND states, "Our response to Sunday's killings will come at our time, but for certain it will not go unpunished."

•Oct. 2, 10 soldiers are killed off the shore of the Niger Delta in their patrol boat by a MEND mortar shell. Earlier that day a Nigerian/Royal Dutch Shell convoy was attacked in the Port Harcourt region resulting in some people being wounded.

•Oct. 3, MEND abducts four Scots, a Malaysian, an Indonesian and a Romanian from a bar in Akwa Ibom State.

•Oct. 4, 9 soldiers are killed when they attack a MEND camp.

•Nov. 22, a soldier is killed when soldiers attempt a rescue of kidnapped oil workers.


•May 1, at 4:15 a.m., MEND attacks Chevron's Oloibiri floating production, storage, and offloading vessel off the coast of Bayelsa State. After one hour of fighting with security boats, resulting in the death of 10 people, MEND seizes six expatriate workers, consisting of four Italians, an American and a Croat. On the same day, MEND publishes photos of the captives seated on white plastic chairs in a wooden shelter around the remains of a campfire.

•May 3, MEND seizes eight foreign hostages from another offshore vessel. It releases them less than 24 hours later, stating they had intended to destroy the vessel and did not want more hostages.

•May 8, three major oil pipelines (one in Brass and two in the Akasa area) are attacked, shutting down oil production and cutting power to a facility run by Italian oil company Agip, part of the ENI energy group. An e-mail statement from a MEND spokesperson says, "Fighters of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) attacked and destroyed three major pipelines in Bayelsa State... We will continue indefinitely with attacks on all pipelines, platforms and support vessels."

•Sept. 23, MEND spokesperson Jomo Gbomo announces, through a communiqué to the Philadelphia Independent Media Center, that media reports of his arrest and detention were false; and then further informs that MEND has officially declared war, effective 12 midnight, September 23, and that they would be commencing "attacks on installations and abduction of expatriates."

•Nov. 13, MEND militants attack Cameroonian soldiers on the disputed Bakassi peninsula, killing more than 20 soldiers.


•May 3, MEND militants attack Shell-operated pipelines, forcing the company to halt 170,000 barrels a day of exports of Bonny Light crude.

•June 20, MEND attacks the Shell-operated Bonga oil platform, shutting down 10% of Nigeria's oil production in one fell swoop.

•Sept. 14, MEND inaugurates "Operation Hurricane Barbarossa" with an ongoing string of militant attacks to bring down the oil industry in Rivers State.

•In Sept., MEND releases a statement proclaiming that its militants have launched an "oil war" throughout the Niger delta against both pipelines and oil production facilities, and the soldiers that protect them. In the statement MEND claims to have killed 22 soldiers in one attack against a Chevron-owned oil platform. The government confirms that its troops were attacked in numerous locations, but says that all assaults were repelled with the infliction of heavy casualties on the militants.

•Sept. 27, a week after declaring war and destroying several significant oil production and transportation hubs in the delta, MEND declares a ceasefire until "further notice" upon the intervention of Ijaw and other elders in the region.


•Jan. 30, MEND calls off its ceasefire.

•Equatorial Guinea blames MEND for an attack on the presidential palace in Malabo on February 17, which resulted in the death of at least one attacker.

•May 15, a military operation undertaken by JTF begins against MEND. It comes in response to the kidnapping of soldiers and foreign sailors in the region. Thousands of Nigerians flee their villages and hundreds of people may be dead because of the offensive.

•June 18-21, MEND attacks pipelines on three oil installations belonging to Royal Dutch Shell. In a campaign labelled by the group as "Hurricane Piper Alpha", it also warns Chevron that it would "pay a price" for allowing the Nigerian military use of an oil company airstrip.

•June 18, MEND blows up a Shell pipeline as a warning to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, who is arriving Nigeria the next day, and to any potential foreign investors.

•July 6, MEND claims responsibility for an attack on the Okan oil manifold. The pipeline was blown up at 8:45 p.m. The militants claim that the manifold carries some 80 percent of Chevron Nigeria Limited's off-shore crude oil to a loading platform.

•In a separate action on the same day, the group says that three Russians, two Filipinos and an Indian were seized from the Siehem Peace oil tanker about 20 miles from the port city of Escravos.

•July 11, MEND carries out its first attack in Lagos. Rebels attack and set on fire the Atlas Cove Jetty on Tarkwa Bay, which is a major oil hub for Nigeria. Five workers are killed in the strike.

•Oct. 17, Jomo Gbomo says MEND will resume its hostilities against the oil industry, the Armed Forces and its collaborators with effect from Oct. 16.

•Oct. 25, MEND announces unilateral truce and accepts the government's amnesty.


•Jan. 30, MEND calls off its unilateral truce and threatens an "all-out onslaught" against the oil industry.

•March 15, Two bombs explode at Government House, in Warri, during the Post Amnesty Dialogue, killing eight people and injuring six more. The explosion damages the Government House and other buildings in the area. MEND claims responsibility.

•October 1, Two bombs explode in Abuja during the 50th independence anniversary parade, killing 16 and injuring 17.


Published in LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Controversy Over Book Dedicated To Adamu Yusuf

By Ibrahim Sheme

The creme de la creme of the Northern society is expected to grace the launch of a book written in honour of well known BBC Hausa reporter in Nigeria, the late Alhaji Adamu Yusuf, in Kaduna on Sunday, October 3, 2010. Authored by a journalist, Kabir Haruna Alfa, the book is titled Broadcast Media and Development in Northern Nigeria: A Tribute to the Life and Times of Adamu Yusuf, and was published this year by Skill Concepts Limited, Kaduna.

It has 305 pages.

However, a university lecturer in Katsina is claiming that the author of the book played a fast one on him by stealing ideas for the book from his own unpublished biography of Adamu Yusuf.

The launch, to be accompanied by a memorial lecture on the late journalist, has been scheduled to take place at Arewa House in the morning. Former military president, an associate of the late Adamu, is scheduled to chair the occasion.

Alhaji Musa Ujah, chairman of the governing board of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), is the chief launcher.

Other dignitaries expected at the venue include Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, former national security adviser Gen. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau; the Galadima of Kano, Alhaji Tijjani Hashim; chairman of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Alhaji Abubakar Jijiwa, and the Danmasani of Kano, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule.

The Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris, will serve as the royal father of the day while the governor of Kaduna State, Mr Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, is the chief host.

The book of six chapters dwells largely on the role the broadcast media played in the development of Nigeria from the colonial times to the present-day. It traces the history of broadcasting in the country and the evolution of radio and television, as well as other media, in the northern part of the country. There is a chapter on contemporary electronic media of communication brought about by the coming of the internet and how this revolutionised the nation’s media system. Another chapter takes a look at the role of the print media, especially after independence in 1960, in the North.

The book is an important contribution to the study of the media system in Nigeria, especially its transformation from being a government-controlled tool to a liberalised one in which the larger populace could have a say. It also shows us how the modern media of communication as exemplified in radio and television was used in mass mobilisation for government’s developmental programmes.

Only one chapter is dedicated to Adamu Yusuf, a very popular Kaduna resident who became kind of iconoclastic in the area of philanthrophy. Before his sudden death on August 2, 1997, he was like a one-man army of goodwill, rendering help to people of every class, creed and gender.

Born in 1961, Adamu had worked at the New Nigerian Newspapers, Kaduna, where he cut his teeth as a journalist on the staff of the vernacular Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo. He later became a hard working and talented reporter for the BBC Hausa service. By the time of his death, he had become a well-connected power broker and a wealthy person who always remembered his grass to grace rise and was keen to render assistance to those who needed it - the high and the low. His death was a big blow to all those who knew him.

Sunday’s gathering is expected to attract many of those whose paths crossed that of the late Adamu.

The silver lining in the cloud of the elaborate arrangement for the book launch, however, is the claim by a former confidante of Adamu Yusuf, Dr Aliyu Ibrahim Kankara of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina, that Alfa’s book is based on his own biography of the late broadcast journalist. He says that he had a deal with author Alfa, who collected his book, which was completed during Yusuf’s life time, under an agreement that a single volume would be produced.

In a strongly worded appeal to Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and those supporting the book launch, Kankara requested them to back out because the project is based on an injustice meted out to him. He calls his letter, “Using Adamu Yusuf’s Tribute To Double Deal: An Urgent Letter To Gen. IBB, Tijjani Hashim and Others.” Excerpts:
“It is high time the authorities enacted laws to stop gathering people for book launchings. It doesn’t pay today because we are destroying our youths, depriving them of their intelligence and creativity, we are rather training them to be thieves and corrupt leaders. Book launch today is a crime because it is only meant to enrich somebody without passing through some stages to experience bitter life. How can our youths then think of bringing a better society?

“I could recall this nascent book launch gathering began in the IBB era, and even the rubbish and not-up-to-standard, unnecessary write-ups are today publically presented, thus killing the literature.

“In 1998, the late Adamu Yusuf BBC invited me to write his biography. Initially, I rejected the offer, but later I discovered it was really a good enterprise, considering the philanthropic nature and messianic appearances Adamu had in his society. I moved to welcome the venture. The very day I started interviewing him was the date General Abacha died; that was on Monday, 8/8/1998, I can never forget. Hajiya Hauwa, his wife, served us breakfast while we were in his office. From thence, it took me about 9 years to complete the biography, almost 19 days to the fateful day when we lost him.

“Shortly before he died, I saw Badamasi Burji (Concern magazine publisher) in (Adamu’s) house twice, and was told that he was my co-author, who was also writing an English version of the same biography. When I confronted Adamu, he replied that initially he had me again in mind to translate the book into English when I finished, but since Burji was interested he allowed him.

“After Adamu’s death, I struggled to publish the book but was asked by Burji to hand over the book to him, saying there was somebody, Kabir Haruna Alfa, who was also interested in our merging the three works together into one. Without any hesitation, I accepted. Burji sent Alfa to Katsina and collected my book.

“I came to know nothing about the book again, but occasionally called Burji to know what was going on. Unknown to us, Alfa was using us to reach out to Adamu’s people, whom we had interviewed some years earlier and already established contact with the like of General IBB, Hajiya Laila Dogonyaro, Musa Uja, Col. Habibu Shu’aibu, Galadiman Kano, General Buhari, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Saifullahi Muntaka Coomasie, Sule Kofar Sauri, etc. Many others are now dead, like Alhaji Garba Dan Shagamu. In fact, Alfa was introduced to Adamu’s wife and other members of his family by Burji. What split them was when Alfa asked Burji to give him introductory letters to Adamu’s men to seek for money for the printing of the book. Burji refused.

“Later, Alfa went personally and met them one by one... He suddenly came out with a skeletal, handy and foolish pieces of writing, attributing them to the late BBC correspondent.

“Were the three of us writing a book on Adamu for future Nigerians to emulate his reputation or are we writing just to grab money from people?

“General IBB, Col. Habibu, Musa Uja and others should know that I, Aliyu Ibrahim Kankara, and Badamasi Shu’aibu Burji were the only writers authorized by the late Adamu to write his biography. Alfa did not know Adamu or anything about him.”

In his response to Kankara’s charges, however, Alfa has dismissed them as untrue. He told LEADERSHIP that he was aware of the university lecturer’s claims but that he had the full backing of Adamu Yusuf’s family to write the book. He said he did not have any deal with Kankara, but admitted that he had worked on the book with Burji who sent him to Katsina to collect the manuscript produced by Kankara.

Alfa added that he spoke with Kankara only once since he collected the manuscript. According to him, when he and Yusuf’s family noticed that both Kankara and Burji had lost interest in the project, he was permitted by the family to forge ahead alone.

The author emphasised that he did not use any material from Kankara’s manuscript and that he gave the manuscript to Burji.

Both parties have threatened to take legal action against one another – one to enforce rights on copyright infringement and the other to claim damages for character assassination.

Burji, the publisher of Kano-based Concern magazine, also spoke to LEADERSHIP on the matter, arguing that what Kankara says is the truth. He said Alfa, who is the magazine’s Abuja correspondent, requested him to support his desire to write a biography of Adamu Yusuf. Therefore, he took him to the late journalist’s house and introduced him to Hajiya Hauwa, Adamu’s wife who had known him as her husband’s friend.

According to Burji, Hauwa eventually signed an agreement with the three authors – Burji, Kankara and Alfa.

Burji said he was the one that collected the necessary documents and CDs from Adamu’s wife and handed them over to Alfa. “But it later dawned on me that he had never intended to write the book in collaboration with us,” he said. “Because ever since he got hold of those documents, he bever allowed me to see them again. He kept giving me excuses.

“I was the one who introduced Alfa to Adamu Yusuf’s family, Alhaji Musa Uja and Col. Habibu Shu’aibu who facilitated our visit to Gen. Babangida, as well as to Sa’idu Sanusi (editor of Kano-based Freedom Express newspaper), who edited the book for him.”

He dismissed Alfa’s claim that Burji and Kankara later lost interest in the work. He also denied that Alfa had given Kankara’s manuscript to him.

Burji alleged that Alfa’s sole motive for writing the book was money-making, hence his rush to produce the book within a short period of time and launch it.


Published in LEADERSHIP, on Friday, October 1, 2010

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Malam Turi: Ba rabo da gwani ba...

A ranar 17 ga Satumba, 2010, Allah Ya ]auki ran Malam Turi Muhammadu, a Kaduna. Shekarun sa 70 a duniya. Kafin rasuwar tasa, ya ta~a ri}e mu}amin editan jaridar New Nigerian sannan daga bisani ya zama manajan daraktan kamfanin da ke buga jaridar. Malam Turi fitaccen ]an jarida ne wanda ya ba da gagarumar gudunmawa ga ci-gaban aikin jarida a }asar nan. Sai dai kash! yawancin mutane, ciki kuwa har da wa]anda su ka san shi, farin sani, ba su kula sosai da nasarorin da malamin ya samu a wannan fagen ba har sai da ya koma ga Mahaliccin sa. Da ma akwai irin wa]annan mutanen jingim a garuruwan mu – wa]anda su ka yi abin a zo a gani amma ba a damu ba har sai wani abu ya faru gare su, musamman ma mutuwa.

Kamar yadda mu ka gani a makon jiya, ’yan jarida da dama a Nijeriya sun ci moriyar tarayyar su da Malam Turi. Da yawa, ya kasance uba a gare su a lokacin da ya ke aikin jarida da kuma bayan ya bar aikin. Daga rubuce-rubucen ta’aziyya da ’yan jarida irin su Sam Nda-Isaiah da Mohammed Haruna da Clem Baiye da Adamu Adamu da wasu su ka yi a jaridu, za mu iya fahimtar cewa Malam Turi babban masani ne a wannan fage, wanda ya yi amfani da }warewar sa don ciyar da aikin jarida gaba, sannan mutum ne mai son ganin cewa an ci gaba da ya]a }udirorin dalilan kafa jaridun New Nigerian da Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo, ba kawai ga kamfanin ba a yau, a’a har ma ga maza da matan da su ka ta~a yin aiki a kamfanin amma yanzu su na rubutu ko gudanar da wasu kafafen ya]a labaran na Arewa. Don haka ne ma ya ke sa ido kan mutanen da ke aiki a wasu jaridu ko ko gudanar da jaridun da ke da ala}a ta asali da kamfanin New Nigerian, wato jaridu irin su Daily Trust, Leadership da Peoples Daily. Na tabbatar da cewa ’yan jarida da dama da ke aiki a wa]annan jaridun – da kuma wa]anda har yanzu su ke a New Nigerian a yau – za su shaida cewa Malam Turi ya na daga cikin dattawa }alilan da su ka damu da yin mu’amala da su, su na tuntu~ar su, ba don komai ba sai don ganin cewa sun ci gaba da yin aiki a bisa turbar kyakkyawar tarbiyya da bin }a’idojin aikin jarida. Wasu daga cikin su, ya ]auke su kamar ’ya’yan sa a aikin, yayin da wasu kuma ya ]auke su jikokin sa.

Ni ]in nan ina daga cikin irin wa]annan mutanen. Na fara ha]uwa da Malam Turi shekaru 13 daidai da su ka wuce, lokacin da ya aiko mani da wata wasi}a da ya rubuta da hannun sa ya ce ya na so ya gan ni. Na yi mamaki }warai, tare da jin da]e, a ce babban mutum kamar sa ne ya ke so ya gan ni. A takardar, ya ce ya samu labarin cewa ina }o}arin rubuta tarihin sarkin mawa}an Hausa, Alhaji Mamman Shata, kuma ya na so mu sadu don ya fa]a mani wasu abubuwa wa]anda }ila su taimaka mani a aikin. A lokacin, ban ta~a ganin Malam Turi ba, illa iyaka dai na kan ji labarin sa a matsayin fitaccen ]an jarida da ake girmamawa. To amma dai na san cewa ’yan jarida su kan yi sha’awar abubuwa da dama a rayuwa, wato ban da aikin su, ciki kuwa har da son ka]e-ka]e da wa}e-wa}e. Da ma tun kafin lokacin, wani tsohon manajan daraktan kamfanin buga jaridun New Nigerian ]in, wato Alhaji Tukur Othman, ya ta~a kira na ya yi doguwar hira da ni kan dangantakar Shata da wasu manyan ’yan bokon Arewa da ke zaune a Kaduna a lokacin da Shatan ya ke kan }ololuwar tashe, irin su Alhaji Sani Zangon Daura.

Na samu Malam Turi a gidan sa da ke unguwar Malali, Kaduna, a ran 22 ga Yuli, 1997, kamar yadda mu ka aje. Ba zan ta~a mantawa da wannan ha]uwar ba. Na farko, na yi sha’awar rashin girman kan sa da }o}arin sa na faranta mani rai. Malamin ya ce lallai in tashi daga }asa inda na zauna na har]e don girmamawa, in koma kan kujera kusa da shi. Sa’annan ya sa aka kawo mana abinci. Da }yar na samu na ]an ci abincin domin gwarzantakar sa a fagen da na ke fafutikar yin nawa sunan duk ta miskile ni.
A tattaunawar mu, Malam ya nuna mani cewa ya na biye da abubuwan da na ke yi a fagen aikin jarida. Ya san cewa na ta~a ri}e mu}amin mujallar Rana da mujallar Hotline shekaru biyar da su ka gabata, bayan na yi wasu shekarun a kamfanin jaridar The Reporter, na kuma samo digiri na biyu a aikin jarida a }asar Birtaniya, sannan yanzu kuma ina aiki a New Nigerian a matsayin ]aya daga cikin }usoshin gidan. Ita ma tattaunawar da mu ka yi a kan Mamman Shata, ta karantar da ni abubuwa da dama. Ni a da na ]auka na san duk wani abu game da Shata ta yadda ba wani sabon abu da wani zai iya fa]a mani kuma, ballantana kuma wani Banufe. To amma Malam ne ya fa]a mani wani abu da ban sani ba: wato yawan wa}o}in zambo da Shata ya yi bai kai ko cikin cokalin wa]anda ya yi na yabo ba, wanda hakan ya taimaka masa wajen samun }arin farin jini da kuma ]aukaka. Da na dubi wannan magana da kyau, sai na ga gaskiya haka ]in ne. Wa]annan bayanai da Malam Turi ya yi mani su na cikin littafin da mu ka yi mai taken Shata Ikon Allah! mai shafi 604, wanda aka wallafa a cikin 2006, kuma mun nuna cewa shi ne ya fa]a.

Mu’amalar mu da Malam ta ci gaba ne kwan-gaba-kwan baya; sai a jima ba mu ha]u ba, wanda laifi na ne. Ya kan so mu ha]u a kai a kai, to amma sai in kasa kamar yadda na ke so. Na kan la~e da cewa saboda ina da gida biyu ne, ]aya a Kaduna ]aya a Kano. Amma yanzu idan na tuna baya sai in ga cewa wannan ba }wa}}warar hujja ba ce, kuma na yi nadamar rashin kusantar Malam kamar yadda ya ke so. Na yi nadamar rashin yin kiwo sosai a cikin faffa]ar gonar ilimin sa don in }aru da basirar sa, wanda a shirye ya ke ya }osar da ni daga gare ta. Na kan ]an yi }o}arin ganin sa jefi-jefi. Kuma a koyaushe ya kan kar~e ni hannu biyu-biyu, tare da tambaya ta, “Shin wane ya fa]a maka cewa ya gaida mani da kai lokacin da ya zo nan gidan?”

Ba shakka, idan abokai na sun je gidan sa su kan ce mani, “Na je gidan Malam Turi kwanan nan, ya ce in gaida kai.” Da zarar na ji haka, sai in ji kunya ta rufe ni. Nan da nan na kan yi al}awarin cewa lallai zan ziyarce shi don mu ci gaba da wata tattaunawa da wata}ila mu ka fara a zuwan da na yi gidan sa can a baya.

A koyaushe Malam ya na so in ci gaba da zama ]an jarida, ya kan ce Arewa ta na bu}atar mutane iri na a aikin. Amma bayan na yi aikin shekara hu]u a New Nigerian, inda na ri}e mu}amai daban-daban kamar su editan ma}aloli, editan labaran }asashen waje, editan adabi, sakataren kwamitin editoci, har zuwa mataimakin edita, sai na aje aikin. Dalili shi ne an yi wata shida ba a biya albashi ba, wanda ya sa na fara tunanin irin makoma ta idan na zauna a aikin da ba zai iya ba ni damar ci da iyali na ba. A }arshe dai, na dawo aikin jaridar, kuma na ji da]in hakan.

Malam Turi mutumin }warai ne wanda ke son ganin ci-gaban Arewa. Abin ba}in ciki shi ne bai yi tasiri a siyasa da ya shiga ba, bai samu cin za~en zama sanata ba bayan ya bar aiki a New Nigerian a cikin 1980. Ya yi la’akari da cewa siyasa mugun wargi ne, wanda bai kamaci mutane irin sa ba. Na san dai cewa ]aya daga cikin abubuwan da bai ji da]in su ba shi ne koma-bayan da jaridar New Nigerian ta samu a matsayin babbar jarida daga Arewa. A rubutun ta’aziyya da Malam Mohammed Haruna ya yi a Daily Trust ta ran Larabar makon jiya, ya yi nuni da cewa rugujewar }imar jaridar da koma-bayan ta ya fara ne daga lokacin da Malam Turi ya bar aiki a kamfanin, domin shugabannin kamfanin da su ka zo bayan sa sun sauya turbar da wa]anda su ka kafa kamfanin su ka ]ora kamfanin a kai. Ni ma na yarda haka ne. Manufar littafin da Malam Turi ya rubuta na tarihin jaridar, mai suna Courage and Conviction, ita ce a isar da wannan sa}on ta hanyar bayar da cikakken tarihin jaridar a cikin shekarun ta ashirin na farko inda ta cimma gagarumar nasara. Ka dubi dai jaridar da ke buga kwafe 250,000 a kullum lokacin da ta ke tashe, sai da ta koma ta na buga kwafe 2,000 a wani lokaci. Duk da yake an sha yin ho~~asan dawo da martabar jaridar a baya, abin ya }azanta a cikin shekaru kamar goma da su ka gabata. A gaskiya, babbar karramawar da za a yi wa Malam Turi (Allah Ya ji}an sa) har ma da mutane irin sa da su ka yi aiki tu}uru don gina New Nigerian, ita ce a yi dukkan abin da ya dace a yi don dawo da }arfin jaridar kamar yadda ya ke a da.

An buga wannan makalar a LEADERSHIP HAUSA ta ran 1 ga Oktoba, 2010

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Bombing Jonathan's Ambition

Yesterday, Nigeria celebrated its 50th anniversary as an independent nation. Born 46 years before 1960, it was formed by the British colonialists when they amalgamated their Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and Protectorate of Northern Nigeria. Since 1960, the country has witnessed a lot of things to be happy about, warts and all. At least, it is still one nation in spite of a debilitating 30-month civil war, military dictatorships, ethnic and religious crises that claimed thousands of lives, corruption and insecurity. Bad leadership has stunted its progress, forcing it to remain a Third World entity despite the huge human and natural resources God has endowed it with, and made it impossible for its citizens to enjoy the fruits of their labour. Life in Nigeria is short, brutish and violent.

Yesterday's bombing incident in the otherwise serene city of Abuja was another crude symbol of our backwardness as a nation and a challenge in our desire to drag ourselves out of the shackle that has held us back in the past five decades of nationhood. According to reports, two explosions, which took place a stone's throw frm Eagle Square, venue of the colourful ceremony to mark the 50th independence anniversary, killed about 16 people, injured over 10 and destroyed many cars. Like America's 9/11, it has left the nation's psyche scarred once again, resurrecting the ugly spectre of violence, divisiveness and criminality. It proved that ours is, as Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka said, a wasted generation.

The question is why did the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) have to carry out this attack at this time? Hours before the attack, the group had dispatched e-mails to selected media houses, threatening that they would bomb the anniversary venue. MEND spokesman Jomo Gbomo had claimed that several explosive devices had been "successfully planted" in and around the venue, warning guests to leave the area by 10:30 a.m. The warning, which some newspapers posted on the websites, was apparently ignored by the security agencies.

It is easy to surmise why MEND committed this atrocity. Obviously, they wanted to draw attention to their struggle for a share of the oil revenues frm the Niger Delta and government to address the environmental pollution in their region. In making their grievances known, however, MEND has demonstrated readiness to commit any act of terrorism, including the kidnap of expatriates and Nigerians, bombing of oil facilities and robbing innocent people.

Before his death in June, President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua had bought the nation some respite frm such criminality after a futile effort, including military action, to force the militants to capitulate. Apart frm treating leaders of the uprising to red carpet reception in the presidential villa and paying stupendous bribes to the militants in order to tempt them to lay down their arms under an amnesty programme, he had created the Ministry of Niger Delta to address the genuine grievances of the ordinary people. Under the amnesty programme, former militants are being trained for a more meaningful life in the society, and they are paid salaries. Many people were angry with Yar'Adua for giving in to this cheap blackmail, arguing that instead of wasting scarce resources on criminals and bandits calling themselves freedom fighters, the government should rather tie to the stake and shoot anyone identified as a militant. But the president's gesture was hailed by others who saw in the amnesty package the most sensible road to achieving peace and tranquillity in that beleaguered region.

Amnesty is still on course. But the damage done to the nation by the so-called militants is incalculable. They, with government collaboration, have bequeathed to the nation the violent culture of kidnap-for-cash which has since become a lucrative industry for other criminals, including would-be armed robbers and assassins. The coming of President Goodluck Jonathan was supposed to assuage the feelings of the militants and end all forms of criminality. For, under our type of ethnic politics, the militants ought to have heaved a sigh of relief and recognised that at last somebody frm the creeks is now in the driver's seat. I have it on good authority that Jonathan did not stop or reduce the entitlements and other mouth-watering perquisites the militants have been enjoying since the amnesty deal began; if anything, he had even increased them.

So, why detonate bombs in Abuja at a time when the president was enjoying probably his best moment as Nigerian leader - in the presence of dignitaries frm all over the world? The president's spokesman, Ima Niboro, said the bombing was meant to scuttle the anniversary celebrations. Hence their warning that people should evacuate the venue before 10:30 a.m. That, indeed, was only the apparent reason. The real reason must have been MEND's desire to once again capture the imagination of the world after a lull forced by the amnesty deal and eventually collect huge payoffs frm the government. Should they waste innocent lives in order to achieve that? MEND are being myopic. The implication of their current action is that apart frm succeeding in refreshing the world's memory about the appalling insecurity situation in Nigeria, they have also shot themselves in the foot. The message they brought home through their cowardly act, which Mr. Niboro appropriately described as "a low, dirty and wicked act of desperation by criminals and murderers," is that no one should have confidence in the ability of President Jonathan to deliver on his promises. They are telling the world that their own "son of the soil" is incapable of solving the nation's problems, including that of environmental pollution in the delta and, by extension, oil supply frm Nigeria to the rest of the world. Creating this impression just when Jonathan is facing stiff opposition frm the North to his 2011 election bid is more damaging than the campaigns of calumny the PDP presidential candidates are waging against one another in the mass media. And to prove that MEND is crime-bound, they were the same group that promised hell and brimstone if the president is "denied" his constitutional right to vie for the top job in the ruling party.

They are telling Jonathan himself that they are blackmailers who engage in cheap tricks in order to rake in as much money as they can, and under any regime - be it one headed by a Northerner or by a South-Southerner. If that is the case, why should anyone wish to vote for the man who tries to sell his candidature on a platform of freshness, newness and peace in the creeks?

Jonathan should do all he can to retrieve his stamina by tackling yesterday's challenge with all the seriousness it deserves. It was, indeed, a litmus test for his desire to rule Nigeria as a democratically elected president, not one who merely got the position by chance. The militants have tossed a challenge on his laps, tasking him to find them if he can and show the Nigerian people that he can really hold the nation together. Already, he has the dubious record of the last deadly Jos crisis taking place under his watch, and so far no one has been punished for it. If by this latest incident - and more that might come the nation's way in the coming months - it is proved that Jonathan cannot handle this country very well, let him not ask for our votes. It'd rather be good for him to find a teaching job in a university or simply go home and enjoy his cool millions.

Above photo is of Henry Okah, leader of MEND, who is based in Johannesburg. Nigerian officials have accused him of having a hand in the blasts.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Bombing scene in Abuja

Charred bodies beside two cars bombed in Abuja today as Nigeria celebrated its 50th Independence anniversary. It is sad and wicked.
Read the story at: