President Buhari Hastens Nigeria's Break Up By Bayo Oluwasanmi

President Muhammadu Buhari fiddles while Nigeria burns. The truth of this phrase lies in its evocative description of national chaos, crisis, disaster, and failed leadership that have become permanent features of Buhari's regime. In the history of a nation, each historical moment presents a distinct set of problems for its current leader. Each leader in different ways and with varying degrees of success, sees himself as a protector and provider for his people.

Delta Election As 2019 Guinea Pig, By Jerome-Mario Utomi

For the first time, I witnessed all the participants in a recently held Delta state Local Council polls ( winners and losers)  alike, went  home cold in smiles after the results were announced on Sunday 7th January 2018 by the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission(DESIEC).  The reason for this odd reaction is simple.

While the losers bemoaned their fate in their sorrows and their hardships, the winners on the other hands, suddenly discovered that they won the ballot boxes and the polling units without winning the votes, consciences or enjoy the support of the majority of Deltans. A development that made a feeling of guilt to descend like a pillar of cloud; adding to their moral burden, dividing their peace, subtracting their inner joy while leaving their worries multiplied, making the orchestrated   ‘victory’ inorganic.

Though the LG election has come and gone, leaving the entire deltans as ‘causalities’, not of a civil war but a deformed democratic process occasioned by the will of man. An outcome that has, in turn, left the proponents of disorder praying in their inner selves for courage and stamina to face deltans they have wronged.

 Coincidentally, while deltans were mourning this political regression which has become a reality to worry about, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja released the electoral timetable for the 2019 general election. This development has since shifted our attention to the bigger frame of a challenge but not without the lessons learned from the Delta LG polls.

Markedly, If nothing is done to solve this problem we face, if we have no collective responsibility to finding a lasting solution to impunity and rigging of election, if nothing is done to the mentality of party preference against credible candidates by party loyalists which is fast becoming a native, before 2019 election,  then our journey to nationhood is bleak and  the nation’s restructuring we seek  becomes  a mere hallucination.

For a deeper understanding of this piece,  I am neither for PDP nor APC but to objectively bring to the fore yet another opportunity lost in getting credible people to run the affairs of our councils. It’s also targeted at instructing us that no matter how beautiful or strong an institution such as democracy tends to be, we have deconstructionists positioned to undermine it.

Exiting this state of a vicious political challenge will require on the part of the people, developing a clear expectation from our nation that will shape our demand structure.

 And in my opinion, Winston Churchill, a onetime Prime Minister of Britain seems to have provided an answer to what should be our preoccupation/expectation as we race toward 2019 general election. The answer according to his remark is victory; victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival’.

Truly, for us to survive as a nation and achieve the hoped victory come 2019, Nigerians must learn to seek true  Victory over aggression, a victory that respects the opposition’s basic humanity, rights/freedoms and renders further conflicts unnecessary’. This to my mind should be a very small beginning that will hopefully earn a big breakthrough.

For us to survive as a people, we must understand that democracy will never guaranty development until it is mixed with the needed proportion of discipline on the part of the people.  The discipline needed to vote and monitor the votes. A role that was conspicuously  missing in the Delta LG polls.

Important to realize also is that observing this local council poll availed me the unfortunate opportunity to learn that some of our youths are now self-declared enemies of democracy and the nation, refusing to change neither their minds nor their wrong political belief.

They labored to get voters confused, caused mayhem and openly advertised party preference as against merit/capability. They vigorously argued that since Delta is a PDP state, it will be out of order if another party should be allowed to win in the state. I helplessly watched the leaders of tomorrow educate me with quotes on ‘power’ such as; power being the ‘ability to protect your interest’.

Regrettably, they were medium in vision on some silent points. First, in postulating that Delta is a PDP state, they lost sight of the fact that APC on the other hands controls the government at the centre. Interpretatively, if APC should tow this line of argument come 2019 using the federal myth, the political survival we all seek will again elude us as a nation.

 I waited for these lads to educate me more on the major function of power, which in my view is to ‘effect political and socioeconomic changes’, all to no avails. 

To my mind, it is our blank ability as a nation to understand that we cannot achieve good result using a bad formula that is responsible for all these multifaceted challenges we face as a nation. Until we recognize that ‘the end can never be cut off from means’ arguments/ opinions such as these shall continue to litter our political space.

Having perceived the mind structure of our youth and our political adults, having faced the difficulty of the local council polls, it will be gratifying for all Nigerians to again sick real victory as we prepare for the 2019 general election

 Regardless of these temporal challenges we face as a nation, it is my conviction that ‘the destiny of the ship is not in the harbor but in sailing the high sea’’ and so shall our collective responsibility be, not to destroy this great nation but join hands to nurture and sustain it. If we are able to manage this situation come 2019 and other social menaces effectively and navigate out of dangers of disintegration, it will once again, announce the arrival of a brand new great nation where peace and love shall reign supreme.

Buratai: What A Time To Be Proud Of Nigeria 

The last time I visited Nigeria was in 2013. My husband approved my request to visit home to celebrate the Christmas and New Year. I came with our three children, Chidi, Okey and my lovely little daughter, Amarachi.
It was the second time I would make a trip home since we relocated to the United States of America (USA) in 2005 in search of greener pastures and safety. The heightened insecurity in Nigeria, which also exploded more dangerously in the Southeast, the region of my birth and where we were domiciled, compelled the imperative to relocate to safer havens.
Unbridled acts of criminality and violent agitations from separatists movements in the region caused anxiety and unrests too frequently. It crazily caused deaths, tears and sorrows all too often for comfort. So, America was our choice destination.
We have since lived in America and visit home once after a long time. A place of birth has its charm, fondness and memories, incomparable to any other place. Sometimes, the feeling of nostalgia would grip us so strong, but shall dissipate, once you read online news, only to be assailed with more daring, reckless and indiscriminate exploits of armed criminals on hapless citizens.
In 2013, when we last visited home, we spent two days in Abuja and eagerly proceeded to the village, at Abakpa , in Enugu state. We had six weeks to spend at home all through the New Year. But the excitement vanished after the first week. I enjoyed the company of granny, old friends and neighbours.
But we could not endure the horror of attacks and killings. By the second week, senseless and violent armed robberies, kidnappings for ransom, targeted at foreign- based indigenes who came home for the yuletide, cult clashes and other allied crimes gave us enough phobia and psychological trauma. We had to immediately move out of the Southeast.
I cried out to my husband about our fears and restlessness and he advised us to relocate to Abuja to spend the rest of the vacation. I complied instantly. When I narrated our ordeal to him, he was shocked beyond words and almost vowed, it was the last time we visited home again.
But almost five years after, and with a new political leadership in Nigeria, with President Muhammedu Buhari, at the helm, we kept reading about the insecurity situation not just in the Southeast, but the whole of Nigeria has improved positively. And that even Boko Haram insurgents were given lethal blows by the Nigerian soldiers and defeated.
We learnt in the case of the Southeast, like anywhere else, the Nigerian military conducted various operations to flush out armed criminals. It again, revived the home-like feeling in me like no any other time. My husband protested, but I insisted the security situation has improved tremendously, based on what we read in the news and the confessions of relations and acquaintances we sought confirmation back home.
Eventually, my husband again, reluctantly approved my request to visit home for the 2017 yuletide and New Year celebrations. We arrived in the early days of December and had an almost instant passage to the country home in Abakpa. The nearly eight hours journey on the road from Abuja to Enugu-Abakpa were quite revealing especially from Ogbadibo in the neighbouring Benue state to Enugu.
We did not encounter the usual intimidating security roadblocks at every turn of a kilometer on the road. Vehicular traffic flowed much freer with less interruption. Travellers or commuters wore excited and nostalgic faces. No intimidation or harassments from masked criminal gangs. We travelled blissfully until we got to the village. This was the first hint I got that the haunting insecurity of our people has improved for the better.
In the village, with my family, the usual fun with people was not short-lived by the feeling of fear on what next would happen as was our experience in 2013. We hardly heard of kidnappings, armed robberies and agitations from restive youths and other criminal elements. Alas, the Southeast was from from the siege of criminal gangs? I wondered aloud! We exchanged visits and frisked all corners of the villages and the state without any attack from the armed gangs.
It was at this point it dawned on me clearly that the positive reports I read about improved security in Nigeria was true. I didn’t hear of bomb explosions on Christmas day in any big city in Nigeria, as had been the tradition a few years back. I felt so relieved. And when I made contacts with my kith and kin in other parts of the Southeast, they confirmed similar stories of violence-free twin celebrations in 2017.
This reality ignited my interest and restored my confidence in the Nigerian Army. I was told the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) was Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai. I also learnt Mr. President appointed him some years back. I have never met him physically Gen. Buratai before, but was encountering him through his good works in my region of birth.
It is unbelievable that through him Nigeria has regained its dignity on security. Through these inquiries, I was made to understand the clean tap water we were consuming in the village came from the Abakpa military Cantonment under the 82 Division, Nigerian Army.
I was marveled and pleasantly surprised, to discover a Nigerian Army could project itself with such human face by executing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects in any community in Nigeria.
Abakpa is a community that has never had pipe borne water since its evolution and it is the first time it is enjoying the privilege of being a host community to the Nigerian Army. I got to know, Army Resident engineers at Abakpa Cantonment in Enugu, constructed a gigantic water treatment plant, with a capacity of treating and supplying one million litres of water daily, which has been extended to host communities.
I tried to find out from my people why it appeared too easy and in a jiffy to have such relief, after decades of suffering over water. They opened up into more goodies the current leadership of the Nigerian Army under Gen. Buratai has extended to the Southeast region.
I was informed the Army launched the “Operation Python Dance I & II” to cleanse communities of armed miscreants, hooligans and criminals at different times. And each time, the Python, an ancestral reptile, which signifies peace, came to dance, communities in the Southeast benefitted from water, medical assistance and other numerous CSR projects for the people. They were unanimous that the Nigerian Army has reached new heights in civil/military relations, courting the friendship of communities, but very harsh on armed gangs.
I felt enthralled and had almost resolved within me not to go back to our base in USA anymore. But it was a decision I could not take alone. I needed to discuss it with my husband and obtain his consent. I reached out to my husband and informed him of the changes at home, especially on insecurity, which marooned us away in foreign lands for years.
I told him the armed criminals who erroneously thought Enugu could be their permanent operational base; those who threatened and frightened everybody at sight have been uprooted from the state, including the notorious billionaire kidnapper. My husband was quite happy and shocked at the same time. But relocating back home was not an easy option either. We had all established in America and that sort of movement is planned, before execution.
However, I felt my joy incomplete without contributing my small quota in assisting the Nigerian Army sustain the tempo of its humanitarian works and security in the region. I instantly resolved to reach out to Igbos in the Diaspora to explore the possibility of throwing our support and weight behind Nigerian Army to see that our ancestral places remain conducive homes for all. It’s a message I have taken back to the USA and I pray God to help me actualize this plan.
We look anxiously to when the Python would stage another dance at Enugu again. And if my mission to mobilise Enugu sons and daughters in Diaspora becomes fruitful, the next time the Army under Buratai stages a comeback, our shadows would be right behind him in support to assist us construct roads, build some schools and electrify communities.
This would provide more relief to communities, since it appears some of our State Governors have abandoned their basic developmental obligations to people for politicking. So, when the Python comes to dance again, we hope to dance together. This is a time to be proud of Nigeria and the Nigerian Army.
Obi, a Nigerian based in the Diaspora contributed this piece from New Jersey, USA.

Ethnic Militias And Benue Drama King, By Michael Onoja

I have lost trust and confidence in some states in Nigeria to execute a function,  as basic and fundamental as securing the lives  and properties of their  people. Every State Chief executive in Nigeria is aware of this sacred provision in our laws.
But quite indiscernibly, some state Governors have proven over the months and years they have occupied such prime offices that the oath of office they took was not just a mere routine, but the final rite of passage for them to grab the reins of power.
I feel pained to come back to such basics in the leadership of our people, which some of our Governors hardly give a thought.  Today, Benue particularly is in conflagration; the latest spurred by herders/farmers conflict, leading to deaths. 
I am not so concerned with justifying the lexicology or semantics attached to the different phrases or words adopted in the instance of the herders/farmers conflict. My focus is the extent some state Governors, who are also the State Chief Security Officers consciously deploy such powers against their people.
Perhaps, as you read this piece, Benue is burying or must have buried its dead from that unfortunate encounter. May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace.
However, there is every need to again appraise how some Governors handle security issues.  I am specific about Benue state because it is the rage of the moment.
Quite pleased by the exhibition of the spirit of communalism by Nigerians and the world by the outpouring of emotions of sympathies/condolences with our people over these avertable deaths.  But what else can I say, other than appreciate them for identifying with us in our moments of grief?
Frankly, the killings are condemnable and the acts by the perpetrators and agents, very repugnant and unjustifiable. Those covert and unmentioned forces displaying innocence in public space share in greater guilt.
We know it is damn wrong and traumatic to violently sniff life out of anybody without God’s consent.  That’s the first point where we erred gravely.  But it is also germane to stress, it is the cardinal responsibility of government everywhere and at all levels to hold the protection of lives and property of the citizenry, very sacrosanct for both God and humanity.
But in my country Nigeria, our people have come to strangely believe in the archaic Herbert Spencer’s theory of survival of the fittest. We operate like wild beasts in the jungle and we seem not to care about any consequence. And most irritatingly, even those we have elected to be sentinels over our souls and entrusted with state power get immersed in this game of devaluing our lives to pass the buck of blames. 
The images we see from the incidents in Benue today, or elsewhere in Nigeria are gory, obscene and   too painful. They can melt the hardest of hearts, even made of steel. I am sure the attackers and their sponsors  must have  been drenched in lethargic moments now, with the magnitude it has exploded beyond their control,  by besmirching  all bulwarks towards an early halt.
It should not have been in Benue state. It would not have been Nigerians or any other race in the world. But certain grave mistakes were made. Some persons; I mean, prominent politicians in Benue like the state Governor Samuel Ortom have abused the vulnerability and helplessness of the people they claim leadership into this mess.
Each time of hear or read of  Benue state  in the media  since Governor Ortom assumed the mantle of leadership in 2015, it is all about tales of misfortunes, calamities, bloodbath, natural disasters, power  supremacy scuffles’ in the state and the likes. It’s sad, to say the least.
Since he assumed the reins of power, the people have not been assembled for once to celebrate any positive impact of the government they elected on their lives. The cries have understandably accentuated. And I pity my brethren in Benue state so much for hoping for salvation in the wrong personage and leader like Ortom.       
 But it is precisely, what you get when a “drama king” is the Governor. He plots evil against his own people and wails loudest when the impact descends. When the famed “ weeping “ former Governor, Chief Sam Mbakwe of Imo state  in the Second Republic, wailed at any plight of his people, it stemmed straight from an emotional heart arrested by pains.  This kingly practice is in breach today with Governor Ortom.  
So, during campaigns in 2015, Governor Ortom wept at the slightest opportunity. At his prayers and convocation to dedicate Benue state to God, at the IBB Square  in Makurdi, the Governor dramatized the same action. I regret to say, these religiously moralistic actions by the Governor have not touched his heart. He comes across easily as a leader who plays more to the gallery than a genuine conviction about the fate and plight of his people.   
Consequently, while  Benue is eclipsed on the development radar and completely shut against all indices of prosperity under Ortom, his regime has not winked for once in advertising officially that life in the state is  an exercise of  crudity, very  nasty and brutish.  
The unanswered question quivering on many lips in the state is that, “where do we go from here?” Should people of the state continue to wallow in poverty and misery or bearing the pains and agonies of a government which delights in creating either more IDPs camps or burial graves for its citizenry?  But the Governor is the least concerned and consciously initiate actions likely to deepen the dilemma of the people. 
Perhaps, some other more experienced persons may know better. But I cannot decode the essence why Governor Ortom handles issues of state security with a numbing levity. This is a government which shouted to high heavens about restiveness in rural communities in the state because of prevalence of arms and ammunitions in the hands of youths.
It proceeded to launch the disarmament policy it tagged “Amnesty programme.”  If  the government dwells in truth, Governor Ortom would admit that the implementation of this programme failed midway, with the escape from its compass  of the main  gangster kingpin identified as Terwase Akwaza  (Gana) pulling out of it.
A conscientious government would have channeled efforts to tame Gana and his clan of polarized boys first, before thinking of arming another set of youths in any guise. But Governor Ortom dilly-dallied over it and the matter fizzled out, as soon as public focus on it waned.      
Surprisingly, what Governor Ortom considered indispensible was the reconstitution or revival of another sect of youths under the auspices of  Civilian JTF and Livestock Guards for community policing.  Reports oozing out indicate that the  Benue State Government  founded, warehoused, armed  and funded these deviants, ignoring conventional security.
The reprehensible actions of the Governor amounted to unleashing rival armed sects, with arms on Benue communities. So, inter-sect rivalry, mischief and uncontrolled madness became inevitable. And today, Benue communities are experiencing invasions and killings, which source has remained conflicting, as government’s position opposes the findings of conventional security deployed to curtail the menace of violent invasions and deaths.   
Governor Ortom must necessarily be reminded of this misstep, which many believe was a conscious move to protect and  in masked forces,  secure his political ambition in 2019.  Many will dispassionately agree with me that Benue is not the first state to launch Vigilante groups in conflict zones. But I have not seen a State Governor who sealed such assemblage without the inputs and support of security agents in his domain, as traditional means of combating crimes.
In Borno state, the CJTF is assisting the military battle insurgency. Though established by the Borno State Government, but it has been registered and closely monitored by the military.  They have not deviated from their mandate and from time to time, members of the CJTF are briefed by security agents as partners on security.   
 The contrast is that the traditional vigilante groups created by Governor Ortom are independent of security agencies. Even the military operating in the axis they were arrested with arms and the burst into their secret camp, housing nearly a thousand of them, if not more are not aware.
 Obviously, the strange bedfellows on security were arrested by    the military like common criminals. While not jumping into hasty  conclusions, but some investigations still needs to be done to establish the basic facts about these armed vigilante groups and also, Governor Ortoms intention for concealing their existence from the prying eyes of security agencies. 
It is  good, but not enough reason for the Benue State Government to argue that the State Assembly has passed a law, establishing the Vigilante Groups. But at the point of domesticating the law on Vigilante Groups to the extent of arming the members, security agencies ought to have been brought into the picture.  
But Ortom failed and felt contented to unleash them into the field and could no longer even pay their monthly stipends.  This approach was extremely faulty and dangerous ab initio. It is the wrong way of handling a youth, empowered with a gun or arms in whatever guise. But this is another script handed down to us from the “King of Comedy” himself, Governor Ortom. If Benue communities are robbed of peace and respite from restiveness, these are worthy contributory factors.
Onoja , a political scientist wrote from University of Abuja.

Ethnic Militias And Benue Drama King By Michael Onoja

I have lost trust and confidence in some states in Nigeria to execute a function, as basic and fundamental as securing the lives and properties of their people. Every State Chief executive in Nigeria is aware of this sacred provision in our laws.

Benue: A Satanic Affliction Upon A Race By Audu Entonu

Certainly, these are not the best of times for Benue people. There is pain, sorrow and lamentations on the land. A land once purified by the blessings and peace of our ancestors has become a killing field. The bloodbath is abhorring and the cries so loud and trenchant. Everybody is feeling the pains now, especially, in Tiv land and indeed, all Benue.

The Need To Rescue Our Decaying Reading Culture By Timothy Ifedioranma

Back in the days of our fathers, reading was part of the learned, such that those who were not well educated strived to go to college in order to acquire more knowledge. Reading then was bedrock of greatness in every individual, regardless of age and gender. It is however alarming how this practice is fast eroding in our society.

Reading stimulates imagination, encourages quick learning, curiosity and expands horizons. It also enhances acquisition of skills for handling complex issues and it is the mother of strategic planning. It hurts however to know that the sharp decline in our reading culture is attributed to a number of factors.

Social Media is one of the problems. People have devoted more time chatting, uploading photos and commenting on irrelevant posts on the new media than seeking materials that will enhance their knowledge. It is worse that people hardly read serious articles online to make comments. Students have converted their reading time to surf the internet. The result is promotion of examination malpractices, which has become a norm in our education system. This has degenerated to an extent that students and parents look out for ‘miracle’ centres.

Poverty is equally a great challenge to the poor reading culture in Nigeria. In a country where about seventy per cent of the population lives with less than one dollar per day, it means that a larger population cannot afford the basic educational foundation that will enable them read and write. Such people are more interested in what to eat rather than seeking materials to get knowledge.

Moreover, most of our schools are associated with noisy environment and full of distractions that are hindrances to the smooth flow of learning and reading to understand. In the past, schools were built in isolated places. But the reverse is the case today as schools are mostly found in the Central Business Districts of towns and cities. This is because school owners see the institution more as a business venture, hence the location where it can be accessed easily.

To stem the tide, schools should inculcate library periods into their timetable and also ensure that the time table is strictly adhered to. Government should ensure that every school is equipped with a good library, even down to the nursery where children enjoy picture story books. In fact, federal and states’ ministries of Education should declare a state of emergency in the education sector.

Additionally, the pursuit for material fame and fortune among Nigerian youth and paying lip service to education has contributed to the drastic fall in the reading culture. Our youth now attach undue importance to fame and wealth such that the place of reading has been relegated. Youths now prefer to venture into the lucrative world of entertainment where their intelligence quotient would hardly be tested and parents are also now encouraging children to toe this path because everyone wants to be the parent of a super star or celebrity.

The society is not helping matters. People now celebrate mediocrity at the expense of intellectualism. This is manifest in our quest for materialism; many Nigerians have abandoned their educational careers for the pursuit of ‘quick money’, which they believe can be faster through business and politics.

If all these are not checked, the present and future generations in Nigeria will be at the risk of losing much to knowledge acquisition. One of the most common places where one can find knowledge is in books and articles. If we allow the ugly trend of non-reading culture, it is certain that we are at the verge of raising a mediocre generation. This will spell doom for the country because there will be a huge vacuum for technocrats who will pilot the affairs of our society.

Reading is the supreme light-giver that opens eyes to the past and then gives an insight to the future. Reading adds quality to life, provides access to culture, empowers and emancipates citizens as well as brings people together. We need to re-integrate the reading culture in our people as the gains of a reading citizenry cannot be over emphasized. This will help to prove the white man wrong when he said, “If you want to hide something from a black man, keep it in a book.”

Don Waney: Still Too Early To Celebrate By Walter Duru

One of the biggest stories about the Niger Delta region of Nigeria today is the killing of a dreaded cultist, Johnson Igwedibia, also known as Don Waney, by a combined team of men of the Military and Department for State Services- DSS.

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