Quick, name the rogue state in the Middle East. Hints: It has an active nuclear-weapons program but conducts it in secret; its security organs regularly kill perceived enemies of the state, bot
How you answer this riddle depends in part on where you sit. From an American perspective, the obvious answer is Iran. Iran seems alone and friendless, a pariah in the world, and deservedly so given its long list of sins. In Washington’s view, Iran poses one of the major threats to global security.
Many people in the world, however, see Iran quite differently: as just another struggling country with valuable resources, no more or less threatening than any other, ruled by a regime that, while thuggish, wins grudging admiration for standing up to powerful bullies. They are angrier at Israel, which they see as violent, repressive and contemptuous of international law, but nonetheless endlessly coddled by the United States.
The way American diplomats have spent the last few days shows how differently the U.S. treats Israel and Iran. After Monday’s deadly Israeli raid on a flotilla of ships bringing relief aid to Gaza, a U.S. envoy, George Mitchell, flew to Tel Aviv and then traveled to Ramallah. He urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to salvage whatever possible from the debacle and look for common ground, even though prospects for peace are remote.
American diplomats at the United Nations, meanwhile, are working intensely to win support for punishing new sanctions on Iran. Their message about Iran is the precise opposite of the one Mitchell is preaching to Israelis and Palestinians: Negotiations are hopeless, oppressive regimes understand only force, and all compromise equals appeasement.
It is always difficult to compare the danger one country poses to global security with that posed by another, and it is natural to treat old friends differently from longtime enemies. Israel is a far more open and free society than Iran. Millions of Americans feel personally tied to its fate. Nonetheless the contrast in American attitudes toward the two countries is striking. Toward Israel the attitude is: You may be rascals sometimes, but whatever pranks you pull, you’re our friend and we’ll forgive you. Toward Iran, it’s the opposite: You are our implacable enemy, so nothing you do short of abject surrender will satisfy us.
This dichotomy is now on especially vivid display. Israel’s raid on the Gaza flotilla, like the Gaza occupation itself, has evoked only mild clucks of disapproval in Washington. But when Turkey and Brazil worked out the framework of a possible nuclear compromise with Iran a couple of weeks ago, American officials angrily rejected it.
Instead of treating Israel and Iran so differently, the West might try placing them in the same policy basket, and seeking equivalent concessions from both.
It is easy to denounce Israel and Iran as disturbers of whatever peace exists in the Middle East, and to lament that the region will be in turmoil as long as they keep behaving as they do. More important is the fact that both countries are powerful, and can upset any accord to which they are not a party. Punishing, sanctioning, and isolating them would be emotionally satisfying, but it is not likely to help calm the region.
Instead of pushing Israel and Iran into corners, making them feel besieged and friendless, the world should realize that without both of them, there will be no peace in the Middle East. This requires a new, more creative approach to the challenge of protecting Israel over the long term. It also requires a willingness to engage Iran. As Lyndon Johnson famously reasoned when he reappointed J. Edgar Hoover to head the FBI, â€œIt’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.â€
Treating Israel and Iran more equally would also mean judging their nuclear programs by equivalent standards. If Israel and Iran are placed under the same set of rigorous nuclear safeguards, the Middle East will quickly become a safer place.
In the same spirit of equality, the world should do whatever possible to encourage higher human-rights standards in Israel and Iran. Ruling groups in both countries treat some honest critics as traitors or terrorists. They rule without the tolerance that illuminates Jewish and Persian history.
Israel and Iran have come to pose parallel challenges. They are the region’s outcastsâ€”yet the region will never stabilize until they are brought back out of the geopolitical cold. Rather than stoke their escalating hostility, the U.S. should work to reduce tensions between them. Holding them to the same standards would be a start.
Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent. His next book, Reset: Iran, Turkey and America’s Future, will be published in June.
The Unspoken Alliance is a provocative book. It has ignited a firestorm in the British press and sparked angry reactions in Israel. Yet the book, which traces Israel’s close and largely secret relationship with apartheid South Africa, has drawn relatively little notice in the U.S. Only a few media outlets have focused on its revelations.
The most intriguing of Israelâ€™s far-flung security partnerships was its long and close relationship with the apartheid regime in South Africa.
At the heart of this book is a richly detailed account of how Israel and South Africa cooperated as they worked to develop nuclear weapons in the 1960s and ’70s. It is especially relevant today, as nuclear rivalries escalate in the Middle East, because it explainsâ€”calmly, methodically, and with full documentationâ€”how Israel and South Africa helped each other build atomic bombs in secret.
The Unspoken Alliance: Israelâ€™s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa. By Sasha Polakow-Suransky. 336 pages. Pantheon. $27.95. According to President Shimon Peres, however, the book slanders Israel. Peres took special umbrage at author Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s assertion that when Peres was defense minister in 1975, he was involved in offering to sell South Africa advanced Jericho missiles, which could be equipped to carry nuclear warheads. In a letter to The Guardian, which reported the allegation, Peres said it had “no basis in reality” and was the result of “selective interpretation of South African documents.” Replying in Haaretz soon afterward, Polakow-Suransky called Peres’ letter evasive.
“The 1975 deal was never consummated,” he wrote, “but there is no doubt Peres took part in the discussions and that the South Africans perceived Israel’s proposal as a nuclear offer.”
Israel has been an exporter of military power for most of its existence. During the Cold War, usually acting with at least tacit approval from Washington, Israel served as unofficial quartermaster to pro-Western regimes around the world. Arms exports became a foundation of the Israeli economy and helped the country win a remarkable array of friends.
During the 1980s, Israel was the chief supplier to the Guatemalan army, trained anti-terror squads in Honduras, and sent hundreds of tons of weaponry to the Nicaraguan Contras. Israelis established private security forces in Colombia that ranchers used to protect themselves and dispatch their enemies, and did the same in the Philippines during the Ferdinand Marcos era. Dictators from Chile to Indonesia equipped their armies with Israeli-made Galil assault rifles and Uzi submachine guns. Israeli advisers trained anti-Marxist rebels in Angola and Libyans fighting Muammar Qaddaffiâ€™s regime.
The most intriguing of Israel’s far-flung security partnerships was its long and close relationship with the apartheid regime in South Africa.
The book opens with what was surely the most jarring public moment in the history of this odd relationship. In 1976, Prime Minister John Vorster of South Africa, who the British had jailed during World War II for his pro-Nazi activities, was given a red-carpet welcome in Israel, laid a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, and heard Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin praise him at a state banquet for creating a â€œprosperous atmosphere of cooperationâ€ between their two countries.
Israelis were conflicted about their relationship with the Pretoria regime. Early leaders, notably David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, were outspoken critics of apartheid. Gradually, however, as the center of gravity in Israeli politics shifted, Israeli leaders came to see South Africa as a kindred state, besieged by an angry ethnic enemy and unfairly stigmatized by a hypocritical world. Blacks in South Africa â€œwant to gain control over the white minority just like the Arabs here want to gain control over us,â€ reasoned one Israeli chief of staff, General Raful Eitan. â€œAnd we, like the white minority in South Africa, must act to prevent them from taking over.â€
According to The Unspoken Alliance, the Israel-South Africa relationship began to blossom in the 1960s and became rich and multi-layered during the 1970s. Israelis trained South Africaâ€™s elite military units, sold tanks and aviation technology to its army, and licensed the production of Galil rifles at a factory in South Africa. What made this relationship unique, though, was that both countries were pursuing nuclear weapons.
They made a simple deal: raw materials for technology. South Africa mined uranium, and sent 500 tons of yellowcake to Israel from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. In return, Israel shared its ballistic-missile technology and sent South Africa 30 grams of tritium, which Polakow-Suransky describes as â€œa radioactive substance that thermonuclear weapons require to increase their explosive power. Thirty grams was enough to boost the yield of several atomic bombs.â€
With each other’s help, Israel and South Africa succeeded in producing nuclear weapons. The United States was not a party to their conspiracy, and in fact sought at several points to monitor and restrict it. American nonproliferation efforts, however, were not vigorous enough to penetrate an operation that both sides worked assiduously to hide. â€œSecrecy about the extent of their ties was paramount,â€ Polakow-Suransky writes. â€œDisguise and denial became the norm.â€
This account of the two countries’ parallel nuclear programs has attracted considerable attention for The Unspoken Alliance in the Israeli press. The author has been widely quoted there, and has made the rounds of public-affairs interview appearances in Washington, San Francisco, and elsewhere. Curiously, though, no bookstore or local media outlet in New York, where he lives, has yet given him a forum.
Israel remains a nuclear power, albeit undeclared, and since details of its programs are secret, it is naturally eager to keep them hidden. South Africa dismantled its arsenal in the early 1990s. Prime Minister F.W. de Klerk’s announcement in 1993 that the job had been completed was the first official confirmation that South Africa had in fact possessed nuclear weapons. It constituted what Polakow-Suransky calls â€œthe world’s first case of voluntary disarmament.â€ The motivation was compelling: De Klerk and his white caste were not about to bequeath a nuclear arsenal to the African National Congress.
During the 1960s, Israel courted African governments, but its cooperation with apartheid South Africa ultimately poisoned many of those relationships. â€œThe people of South Africa will never forget the support of the state of Israel to the apartheid regime,â€ Nelson Mandela said soon after being released from prison. And Polakow-Suransky reminds us that in 1981, the 19-year-old Barack Obama centered his first public speech on a demand that his school, Occidental College, divest from South Africa.
Polakow-Suransky concludes his book with two maps, one showing the isolated South African â€œhomelandsâ€ into which the apartheid regime herded many blacks, and the other showing Israeli settlements on the West Bank. He quotes former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as warning that his country could one day â€œface a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, and as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.â€
In an interview, Polakow-Suransky said the clandestine cooperation that propelled Israel and South Africa into the nuclear club is an instructive model for today’s proliferators. â€œAspiring nuclear powers like Iran probably study the South African case from the ’70s very closely, and also Israel’s case from the ’60s, in terms of deceptively developing a nuclear capacity,â€ he said. â€œBoth are models of covert development with denialist rhetoric on the surface. Both countries faced the threat of sanctions, yet both managed to complete their programs.â€
Can sanctions slow a country’s drive for nuclear weapons? Only at early stages of the program, Polakow-Suransky said. â€œIn the South African case, all of the pressure and total isolation of the late 1970s pushed them further toward full proliferation,â€ he asserted. â€œAny aspiring nuclear power close to the finish line will do anything necessary to get across. Israel did that, and so did South Africa. Whether Iran gets there or not, it’s probably trying to do that now.â€
Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent. His new book is Reset: Iran, Turkey and America’s Future.
Past surveys of salaries and benefits of public office holders from the Baltic to the Bahamas, the Americas and the Far East and everywhere else, has showed that Ministers and Federal Legislators in Nigeria are the highest paid in the world, despite the country being among the poorest in terms of per capita income, security, social provision and living standards. On the other hand, Nigerian workers are one of the lowest paid in the world.
The Nigerian Minister earns more than his American, British or German counterpart, and of course enjoys pecks of office those ones cannot even dare dream of – for doing next to NOTHING!!! This is a wasteful, reckless, licentious and decadent system of governance.
Due to space, I will not highlight the data and facts associated with the earnings of both our leaders and lawmakers, but suffice it to say that this democracy that we practice in Nigeria is really a form of fraud and scam committed against the Nigeria people. No wonder then that, as ex-president Obasanjo put it in 2007, politics is a â€œdo-or-dieâ€ affair for many potential politicians in Nigeria. It is obvious that the reason why most people decide to go into politics is motivated by greed and personal aggrandisement; not to serve the country and the people, but really to serve their pockets, and to be served by the people of Nigeria.
A large chunk of the annual budget ends up as salaries and allowances in the pocket of this small percentage of Nigerians. For example, out of the 2009 annual budget of N3.1 trillion, N1.3 trillion or 42% ended up as remuneration for 17,500 individuals in a country of 150 million people. If this is the case, what is left for social and economic development? What is left for constructing roads, improving education and healthcare, providing water and electricity, regards to the health of the economy and welfare of the people, etc?
And donâ€™t omit various other incomes accruing to these shameless, jobless individuals, law breakers, the 419s, paedophiles, murderers and election riggers. If we add constituency projects (in the US, itâ€™s called PORK BARRELS), add the inflated contracts plus the wheeling and dealings over appropriations, rubber stamps of the executives and junket jamborees. Compatriots, we’re looking at almost 90% of GNP.
According to reports, â€œeach Senator will pocket 720 million Naira in four years, while each House of Representative member will get 540 million Naira. These sums do not include the approved pay by RMAFC which they also collect. Apart from being illegal, it is obscene, in a country where a huge chunk of the population lives on less than 1 US dollar per day. Senate President David Mark gets 250 million Naira per quarter; Deputy Senate President Ekweremadu 150 million Naira; and each of the eight remaining principal officers 78 million Naira. It is no wonder that Nigerians are yet to see the dividends of democracy, over 10 years later! Ours must be the most expensive democracy on earth, and if nothing is done quickly to stem this looting tide, it may come to a time that there will be no money to run the government beyond paying the bloated salaries and allowances of our public office holders,” rightly said the Action Congress party.
Okey Ndibe called it â€œA Feeding Frenzyâ€. NEXT’s Musikilu Mojeed and Elor Nkereuwem christened it â€œAn Assembly for Lootingâ€ saying â€œConsidering that Nigeria’s minimum wage stands at â‚¦5, 500 a month, each senator’s quarterly allowance “will pay for 2,909 workers earning the minimum wage.” The reporters offered other tantalizing projections. If Nigerians were to fire the entire membership of the National Assembly, the savings would be more than enough to “fund the N88.5billion” Mr. Umaru Yar’Adua budgeted this year for building power plants. Alternatively, we could “fund hospitals and clinics” all over Nigeria, “fix the Benin-Ore Expressway, which has collapsed, or make a significant down payment on the Lagos-Kano railway lineâ€. The Tribune editorialised this perilous trend as â€œPoverty Inflicted by Profligacyâ€. Whatever it is, Nigeria cannot sustain or afford this waste.
According to Wikipedia, in ecology, a feeding frenzy is a situation where oversaturation of a supply of food leads to rapid feeding by predatory animals. For example, a large school of fish can cause nearby sharks to enter a feeding frenzy. This can cause the sharks to go wild, biting anything that moves, including each other or anything else within biting range. This term is most often used when referring to sharks or piranhas, due to these being some of the most feared predators. Feeding frenzy is also a metaphor often used in a non-biological sense to describe excited involvement by a group over some focal point of attention. I will take the example of our politicians, especially the so-called lawmakers or legislators (read â€“ â€œlegislootersâ€). Their feeding frenzy is a result of their excited involvement over the unregulated wealth and resources of Nigeria. There is nobody to control the wealth; it is there for all (actually a very miniscule percentage of the population â€“ less than 0.5%) to take and put in their pockets.
The fact is Nigerian politicians have turned themselves into instant millionaires just for being members of the National Assembly, paying themselves huge, obscene and unjustified salaries and allowances not commensurate with their very low productivity and without doing anything worthwhile for the country, for you and me, or for humanity. They are â€œLegis-lootersâ€, â€œDis-Honourablesâ€ and â€œExecu-thievesâ€.
Sooner than later Nigerians should march to the National Assembly Complex for a show down with them. I will gladly lead it.
The members of this NASS are of the same ilk…greedy looters of our treasury who are insensitive to the economic situation of the country, and the plight of the general masses.
What visible difference has their representations made in the lives of the represented Nigerians to give them the false idea that they deserve their present salary talk less of a pay rise? Please, someone tell me: how many bills have these odious, greedy and lazy thieves passed into law since 1999? Do we actually know what they are doing except some of them using big vocabularies? What are we getting in return for their large obnoxious salaries and expenses? Why are Nigerians funding their expensive lifestyles, and getting zero in return?
And to top it all, look at their shameless behaviour in the House while trying to remove their Speaker, who is also accused of gross corruption. These are common thugs, mediocre and thieves, men and women, and even the reason for their behaviour was based on the loot. Are these lawmakers we should be proud of? Do we really need these types to make laws for us? No, and this is why Nigeria is going backwards everyday. We have vagabonds in power. We have mediocre in power. And when that happens, no country like that will ever progress.
Reuben Abati in his write-up â€œNigerian Legislators!â€ wrote â€œI believe that they over-paid and underworked. It is members of the Lower House that are in the news this week, but the Senators are no different. N27.2 million per quarter, and now they want more! And what do they do? The only time Nigerian MPs suddenly become vocal and creative is when they are hustling for jumbo pay and allowances. This is the case not only in Abuja but also in the states, where the members of the Houses of Assembly are perpetually fighting the Governor to give them more money. They insist that no one should blame them because they can see the Governor and other members of the Executive taking â€œtheir own share,â€ so why should they be excluded? In states where there is peace between the House and the Executive, it is usually the case that the Governor, to put it in their language, â€œknows how to settle.â€ This is the sad Nigerian story. And yet, so much money for what? What kind of legitimate work can anybody do in Nigeria that will fetch a salary, the type the MPs are asking for in three months? These are the same lawmakers who are mostly absent. Their standard lie is that they are busy with committee meetings, but in reality most of them are busy chasing contracts in government departments or peddling influence around town, or busy harassing companies and MDAs over which they exercise oversight functionsâ€.
â€œThe statistics can be easily worked out with the result that the amount of public funds that has been guzzled by Abuja MPs alone in the last three years, not to talk of since 1999, is enough to fix Nigeriaâ€™s comatose railway lines, the federal universities and a number of hospitals (assuming the money does not also get stolen by inefficient contractors!). Nigeria is in a financial mess. The foreign reserve account, according to one report quoting the Minister of State for Finance, which used to be as high as $62 billion in 2008 is down to $38 billion, while the excess crude account which in 2007 stood at $20 billion is down to zero. But our MPs do not careâ€
There is an unwritten consensus that politicians are only interested in looting the treasury. But Nigeria cannot make progress that way. There must be sanctions for this kind of conduct, particularly from voters in the next election. Where lies Nigeriaâ€™s future? Whence cometh the change that we seek?
Nigeria is paying a price continuously for the hijack of the political space by hungry men and women. I align myself with the old suggestion that parliamentary work in Nigeria should be a part-time engagement. Only persons with a visible means of livelihood should be allowed to become lawmakers, and the various legislatures do not have to sit so often. In the alternative, legislative work should attract very minimal remuneration in form of sitting allowances only, with a proper accent on service. That should shut the â€œlegis-lootersâ€ out.
This has got to stop. One way it can stop is to reduce very drastically the remuneration of lawmakers and other political offices such that it will be unattractive to potential thieves and looters and that only people who sincerely want to serve will see such small remuneration as enough motivation to contest elections to these office and be committed to good governance and delivering desired results. Right now, we have only self-serving politicians â€“ executives or lawmakers. The obscene salaries and perks are what is attracting thieves to the serious business of governance and lawmaking, and this is why these thieves will always rig elections, commit murder and assassinations to position themselves where they will steal, shutting out genuine and sincere democrats who want to do well for the welfare of their people.
This phenomenon is replicated in the Statesâ€™ Houses of assembly down to the Local Government Council Chambers.
Secondly, Nigeria does not need a full time bicameral legislature (In government, the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a parliament or legislature which consists of two Chambers or Houses); in other words, we do not need full time lawmakers or two assemblies â€“ Senate and House of Representatives. What is needed is a unicameral legislature (the practice of having only one legislative or parliamentary chamber) that will meet for a maximum of 30 days a year and afterwards, they would go back to whatever their various professions are, if they have any at all. Lawmaking should NOT be a full time career, as we have it in Nigeria. I am proffering a solution which is a part -time National Assembly that sits for no more than 30 days a year. Thereâ€™s no reason why a country half the size of the State of Texas will have as many legislatures as big as the whole of the United States. Ideally, legislators should be paid sitting allowances and work on a part-time basis. This is what obtains in several states in the U.S, whose system of government we claim to be copying. If the attraction of effortless money is removed, we’re certainly to see an enhancement in the quality of lawmakers. The leeches who are in it for the cash will take their game elsewhere.
I will admit that this latter solution is a bit tough because many countries with unicameral legislatures are often small and homogeneous unitary states and consider an upper house or second chamber unnecessary. Nevertheless, we should not make either bicameral or unicameral legislature a full time activity for our politicians.
Those leaders in transient, political power, who had tried to usurp Godâ€™s authority on earth, have often faced occasional deprivation. Their regimes were either overthrown or their term of office would eventually end anyway. They become expired politicians, with wrinkles and gray hairs to show for it. Jetting from one political event to another, they pontificate on what should be done; now that they have become â€œwiser and humblerâ€ (Babangida is an example)
Nigerian politicians do not seem to know that they owe their people economic well-being and good life on earth. Unfortunately, many of our politicians actively and openly corruptly enrich themselves at the expense of the state and the people they are supposed to lead and rule. Through administrative fiats and legislative props, they racket the economy.
A new, strict regime against political, economic and cultural corruption must be put in place: otherwise the â€œsmall peopleâ€ will rise up and overthrow their fake and small kingdoms of evil.
In my article â€œIn A Lighter Mood: The Way We Seriously Feel About Our Leadersâ€ 29th August 2007 (http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/akintokunbo-a-adejumo/in-a-lighter-mood-the-way-we-seriously-feel-about-our-leaders.html), I wrote â€œTherefore, any new political reform should address this. Legislators must be paid expenses only for their service to the country. The current system is very profligate, expensive and attracts thieves and mediocre. Expenses must be for attendances, cost of keeping constituency offices open, and if they have to be give car, housing and transport allowances, these must be properly allocated, scrutinized, monitored and commensurate with the service provided by these people. Judging from recent revelations on the wastefulness and profligacy of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Senators, etc, the cost of running Nigeriaâ€™s democracy is too high, and especially given our penchant for lack of accountability and corruption, this has to be brought under rigid and strict control. Our unscrupulous political class should be discouraged and deterred from going into government to make money. Hence make it unattractive to them.
THIS WASTE AND ILLEGAL DRAINING OF OUR RESOURCES BY A FEW NEED TO STOP NOW.
Let the Truth be told always
Conversely, many Nigerians regard the amount budgeted for the celebration as outrageous, unnecessary and a misplacement of priority. They feel we do not have any good reason to roll-out the drums. Their opinion is that our current and past rulers should rather mark the anniversary by soul-searching and self-assessment, mindful of our dismal performance over the years as a nation. They argue, and very rightly so, that the N10 billion naira will serve a worthy purpose if judiciously and conscientiously deployed to the provision of basic amenities and infrastructures which are starkly lacking in the country. I pitch my tent with this group.
Every past Nigerian ruler claims to have performed excellently well during his regime, yet we are still in the doldrums. Contrariwise, successive administrations always blame previous ones for our woes, yet no past Nigerian ruler has been convicted and jailed for mal-administration. Rather, these past rulers continue to dictate the fate of Nigeria and the pace, shape of her politics. Is this part of our reasons for having a lavish 50th independence anniversary?
Should we celebrate the fact that Nigerians have over the years received epileptic electricity supply despite the many hydro-electric power dams, gas turbines and power stations in the country and billions of naira spent in the sector? Is it justifiable that Nigeria supplies steady and reliable electricity to neighbouring countries while its citizens enjoy blackouts always? Is Nigeriaâ€™s status as the worldâ€™s largest importer of generators a thing of pride? Are we happy that many companies hitherto located in Nigeria (and even Nigerian businessmen) have relocated to Ghana and other neighbouring countries which boast of steady electricity? Is it fair that Nigerians pay through their noses for electricity that is never supplied or consumed? In the face of these, how do we justify the planned hike in electricity tariff? Now, the same lame arguments for the hike in the prices of petroleum products are being used for the planned hike in electricity tariff. So, as with petroleum products, poor Nigerians must pay exorbitantly for items with which God has bountifully blessed our country?
Are we happy that potholes and gullies litter all the roads in Nigeria, continuously resulting in daily loss of uncountable human lives and damage to vehicles? What happened to the billions budgeted or realized through tollgates which were not applied towards the repair, maintenance and reconstruction of our roads? What of contractors who, though substantially or fully mobilized, abandon the road construction jobs and go away scot-free? Should we celebrate these or the planned re-introduction of tollgates in spite of our ugly experience or that new and reconstructed roads in our country have a lifespan of just few months?
Perhaps, we may brandish our collapsed educational system as part of our numerous â€œachievementsâ€ as a nation. Pray, are the brain drain in our academic sector; the recurring examination malpractices; the yearly churning out of half-baked graduates; the irrepressible monster of cultism; the use of nepotism, ethnicity and religion in the appointment of administrators, recruitment of lecturers and admission of students in tertiary institutions; the politicisation of boards of tertiary institutions; the commercialization of academic certificates; and governmentâ€™s apparent abandonment of public primary, secondary and tertiary schools worth celebrating? How do we see the touted planned privatisation of public schools? Is it worth celebrating that countries with less than 10% of Nigeriaâ€™s gross national product provide free education for their citizens up to university level, while â€œgovernment alone cannot fund educationâ€ in Nigeria? Do we also celebrate the shame that Nigerians now seek quality education in Ghana, Cameroun and other African countries?
Should we beat our chests over the recurring decimals of unresolved assassinations, armed robberies, kidnappings, ritual killings, electoral malpractices and violence, menace of fake drugs and adulterated products, politically-motivated sectarian crises and the ever rising unemployment level? Do we celebrate our successive governmentsâ€™ apparent helplessness in the face of all these? Yearly, governments at all levels in Nigeria allocate huge sums of money for capital projects which end up in private pockets, leaving the targeted projects unexecuted. Are we to showcase the many communities ravaged by gully erosion over the years, apparently abandoned to their fate?
Are we ecstatic that the quickest route to stupendous wealth in Nigeria is by getting â€œelectedâ€ or appointed into political posts? Do we rejoice that since 1999, almost all the state governors, legislators (Federal and State) and Local Governmentsâ€™ Chairmen have been taking the electorate for a ride, channelling public funds into their private pockets? Does the fact that many of them see their positions as opportunities for self-service and enrichment thrill us? Should we dance that our legislators, most of whom do absolutely nothing, periodically approve huge emoluments for themselves while denying same to civil servants?
Are we elated that we lack functional and equipped public hospitals in Nigeria? How do we rejoice that insecticide-treated mosquito nets â€“ supplied by the World Health Organisation â€“ do not get to the targeted poor Nigerians but are sold in open markets at exorbitant prices? What do we say about agricultural inputs â€“ fertilizers, insecticides, etc â€“ subsidized by the government for use by farmers, never get to them but find their way to the open markets? Is it hilarious that the daily refrain in Nigeria is governmentâ€™s plan to abandon the provision of social amenities â€“ schools, hospitals, housing, pipe-borne water, electricity, motorable roads (for which we pay taxes) â€“ to the faceless and amorphous private sector and investors?
So, we want to imitate Ghana and India which, at different times, celebrated their 50th independence anniversaries? Comparatively, in what sphere can Nigeria hold candle to any of these countries? Sometime ago, Ghana celebrated 10 years of having had uninterrupted electricity supply! Let us also imitate this. Despite its enormous size and population, India has functional and well-equipped schools, hospitals, potable water, dependable electricity supply, good roads and a people-oriented government. Its government has reduced maternal and child mortality by offering financial incentives to pregnant rural women to have their childbirth in hospitals. Canâ€™t we have such in Nigeria? Can we bask in euphoria regardless of our rating as one of the most corrupt countries in the world?
The litany of things which yawn for urgent attention in Nigeria is very long. Public office-holders spend so much public funds and time to theorize on â€œhow to move Nigeria forwardâ€, but in fact work against that end, because they are not committed to same. Frankly speaking, Nigeria is lagging far behind, and has a lot of catching up to do. There is so much work for us to do. Let the government work sincerely towards closing the gap between Nigeria and her peers between now and 2020, and then we may celebrate our 60th independence anniversary.
President Goodluck Jonathan is renowned for his humility and indisposition towards ostentation. He should discountenance the urgings from selfish advisers, politicians and unpatriotic Nigerians who desire to milk the country through a flamboyant 50th independence anniversary celebration. The fact that the project was initiated by late President Yarâ€™adua does not make it binding on him. Experience has shown that whenever Nigeria organizes any money-gulping ceremony, some persons utilize the opportunity to rake in millions of public funds into their private pockets. This was so with COJA, CHOGM and all the FIFA games held here. The N10 billion should be channelled towards providing social amenities what will better the lot of hapless, poor Nigerians.
Ikechukwu A. Ogu, a legal practitioner, writes from Central Business District Abuja. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Preserving Unity And Sustaining Democracy In A Multi Ethnic Nigeria . Date 19th June 2010.
This speech is dedicated to the Nigerian masses, whose pains, sorrows and hardships were occasioned by government neglect. Your plight has necessitated my continued campaign and struggle for good governance. To you I pledge my loyalty.
Great Sons and Daughters of Edo ,
Other Distinguished Guests.
I am humbled to be invited, to come and speak in your Edo Global Organizational Annual Conference in Barcelona , Spain . Please permit me to express my gratitude to the organizers of this event, for considering me worthy, to be made a speaker in this special gathering. When I realized that I will be speaking at the same event with John (Prof) Ebohon, I immediately sent him a text message, asking for his permission to accept the offer to speak. The reason for my action is simple. John (Prof) Ebohon is a man I consider as my father, and he also consider me as his son. I consider myself too young to speak at the same forum with him, hence my request for his permission. As a father he obliged my request. Unfortunately for John (Prof) Ebohon, his mother passed away on 28th May 2010. May her soul and other departed souls rest in peace.
Let me start my speech by referring us to the few words written on the Nigeria â€™s coat of arms; Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress. From these few words, our founding fathers realized the importance of preserving unity, in our multi ethnic society. Ironically, our â€œrulersâ€ have intentionally or unintentionally used various policy instruments, to sow seeds of disunity in Nigeria , hence the numerous threats to our unity and our democracy. They (our rulers) simply uses the divide and rule methods. On our part, Nigerians also have their own share of the blames. Regrettably, time and space will not permit me here, to list all the government actions and inactions which have disunited us. But I will mention few and discuss them briefly.
Post Civil War Policy of Awarding 20 Pounds To All Igbo People/Abandoned Properties Saga.
While the Gowonâ€™s government declared no victor, no vanquish policy and launched his 3Rs (Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, and Reconciliation), his administration also implemented the policy of awarding every Igbo person, 20 pounds, in exchange for any amount of money the Igbo person(s) had in the bank. What this policy did was to seize all the money that Igbo people had, and in return pay them only 20 pounds. This was implemented immediately after the war ended. One can only imagine the pains and hardships this would have caused the Igbo people, after suffering economic and food blockades during the war. Nigerians should ask Gowon, what this policy was meant to achieve, unity or disunity? Integration or disintegration? Lets remember the issue of abandoned properties in Port Harcourt where the government failed to act. Please note; the above is not intended to reopen the wounds of the war.
Federal Character/Quota System.
Personally, I think this is the worst constitutional provision any country can have in their statute books. Federal Character principle was adopted during the 1977 constitutional Drafting Committee and it became part of the 1979 constitution. The federal character principle was established to solve the problems of (a) â€œinequality and marginalizationâ€ as expressed by certain part of Nigeria , (b) because of differences in the socio-economic development of different parts of Nigeria , (c) because of disparities in the levels of educational developments in different parts of the country. But since its adoption, the question of merit and competitiveness among Nigerians, have been replaced with quota system. The system (federal character/quota system), chooses mediocre in place of merit.
This policy does not support equal opportunities. I am yet to see a multi ethnic country that has similar policy. America is a multi ethnic country, established on the foundation of liberty, freedom, equality, human rights, and democracy. Quoting the former President of United States, late John F. Kennedy, â€œLet every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of libertyâ€. Because America is a free a society, the emergence of Barack Obama as the United States President became possible.
The European Union is multi ethnic, with freedom, equal opportunities, human rights and democracy as its basic principles. Quota system gave rise to zoning formula being used by the ruling party (PDP) in Nigeria . Zoning formula gave rise to the emergence of Obasanjo and late Yarâ€™adua. (I will leave you to judge how far this zoning formula has united or disunited us, and whether itâ€™s sustaining or threatening our democracy).
Many of us do not agree with the resource control formula being used by the federal government. All the regions producing mineral resources should retain 50% and remit 50% to the federal government. The present formula used by the federal government is retrogressive and a serious source of conflicts, particularly in the Niger Delta. Letâ€™s remember that our government hanged Ken Saro Wiwa in 1995 for issues relating to resource control and environmental pollution by oil companies. Any further crises in the Niger Delta will not only be a threat to our unity, but also to the international oil prices. Japan has no mineral resources but only human resources. Today Japan is a united country, with strong economic and political foundations.
In 2009, the Director General of the State Security Services (SSS), Afakriya Gadazama, revealed publicly that information about numerous religious crises (Boko Haram, Jos crises etc) and other crimes such as kidnappings in Niger Delta, armed robberies in South East was passed to the appropriate quarters. However, actions were never taken to prevent these crises. In conformity with the above statement was the fact that, the father-in-law to Boko Haramâ€™s sect leader (Mohammed Yusuf), had before the crisis alerted the Borno State governor of Mr. Yusufâ€™s activities, but actions were never taken.
Let us remember that, the primary responsibility of every government is security and welfare of its people. To show his insensitivity to the security and safety of Nigerians, late President Yarâ€™Adua embarked on a two day state visit to Brazil , the day Boko Haram crisis started. In July 2009, the Chinese President (Hu Jintao) left the G8 Summit in Rome Italy back to China , the moment riots broke out in Northwest part of China .
Perhaps, this is among the greatest source of disunity and instability in Nigeria . Our chief electoral fraud officers are usually the government and her agencies, example Independent (Dependent) National Electoral Commission (INEC). Obasanjoâ€™s government conducted the worst election in the history of Nigeria . In Edo State , it took the present governor (Adams Oshiomhole) 18 months or so to reclaim his mandate to govern. We saw the mess in Anambra State . A sitting governor (Dr Ngige, ex governor of Anambra State ) was even abducted. Joy Emordi from Anambra North Senatorial District, remained at the Nigerian Senate (upper legislative chamber) till May 2010 with a stolen mandate. June 12th 1993 presidential election was annulled by the then head of state (Babangida). June 12 saga almost destroyed the unity of Nigeria . Many people were killed during the June 12th 1993 protest in Nigeria . In Algeria , the cancellation of election in 1992 led to war that claimed over 150,000 lives.
Genocide (Odi and Zaki Biam Massacre).
No amount of provocation can justify governmentâ€™s (Nigerian Armed Forces) massacre in Zaki Biam, Odi, Ogoni communities etc. Am doubtful how relatives of innocent people killed in Odi, Zaki Biam, Ogoni, etc will embrace the issue of Nigeria â€™s unity.
â€œThe World Bank estimates the countryâ€™s generals and gangster politicians stole $300 billion in the three decades to 2006â€(Time Magazine, May 3rd 2010 Edition, Page 42). Over 80% of corrupt cases emanate(s) from top government offices/officials. Corruption has simply set the quest for the scramble and partition of the national cake. No one is interested to bake the national cake. The level of corruption in Nigeria will continue to pose a serious threat to our unity and democracy.
The lists of our governmentâ€™s atrocities are endless. These confirm my main argument, which is that, our government has been the greatest source(s) of disunity in Nigeria . Unfortunately Nigerians have offered little or no resistance to our government actions and inactions. However, to reverse the trend (preserve unity and sustain democracy) will be a very difficult task.
Preserving Unity and Sustaining Democracy.
There are prices to pay in order to preserve our unity. But we will have higher prices to pay for disunity. Remember, the reason federal government did every thing to stop Biafra from seceding was to maintain the â€œunityâ€ of Nigeria . In the Biafran war, over 1 million people died. Sudan , Congo DRC, Somalia , Rwanda , Angola , former Yugoslavia etc are examples of countries where there were, or are still serious issues of disunity. United we stand, divide we fall. A house divided among itself cannot stand. Democracy itself cannot flourish in a disunited country. I have the following suggestions.
As a matter of necessity, the federal government must apologize to Nigerians for her past evil deeds, and also pay adequate compensation for all the wrongs done to Nigerians. The Australian government under Prime Minister (Kevin Rudd) apologized to the Aborigines for, laws and policies of previous administrations that inflicted pains, grief, and sufferings on them. The British government under Gordon Brown also apologized for child migrants sent abroad by previous governments before him. A government of true national unity should be constituted. Genuine and transparent reconciliation processes should be commenced.
Shadow Sovereign National Conference.
Various ethnic groups, NGOâ€™s, CSO,s and pro Nigerian groups in Nigeria need not wait for government, but rather should convoke a shadow sovereign national conference. The Nigerian people should decide how to be governed. The people must also produce the constitution of how they should live in unity. True federalism or confederal system is preferable. Unity should not be at the detriment of any tribe, region or state. In addition, I suggest a coalition of all the groups mentioned above to strengthen the opposition parties in order to safeguard and sustain our democracy. Every democracy needs a strong opposition to function properly. Shadow government/cabinet will be a fantastic idea and it has my highest recommendations.
Leadership means a lot to a society like us, and we have seen how our past rulers have sowed the seeds of disunity amongst us. Therefore it makes sense for us all to participate in the process of election to avoid electing the wrong people. To that extent, I suggest we vote the right candidates, guide our votes, monitor elections and make sure our vote counts. Let us ask questions/do proper investigation before voting any candidate. Let us ask political aspirants/parties to make public a list of requirements, set by the Save Nigeria Group ( UK ) Branch.
The Holy Bible said in Hosea 4 verse 6 that, â€œMy people are destroyed from lack of knowledgeâ€. Therefore, various cultural, community, states, regional, ethnic and pro Nigerian groups should commence awareness programmes/political evangelism to educate our less educated folks. We need to propagate voter education, opposition/civil resistance to bad governance/policy. We also need to educate our people to realize the dangers of disunity. Knowledge is power, let share knowledge and empower each other. As we do the above, may God continue to bless Nigeria .
Chinedu Vincent Akuta.
An activist and leader of â€œSupport Option A4 Groupâ€ Leicester-UK
The reason why so many elements in Nigeria sustain a high voltage of resentment and crude antagonism against him baffles my mind particularly. To my political awareness, El-Fufai is among the reformers that Nigeria has been craving for since independence. He is surgical, fearless, focused and very revolutionary in administration. Only these kinds of folks can transform Nigeria. Who actually can talk about the face of the New Abuja without talking about the revolutionary leadership of El-Rufai. Before him, the Federal Capital Territory was a mess. Military dictatorship and civil corruption had turned the master plan of the city like any other city in Nigeria–unorganized, unplanned, rowdy, spontaneous, unkempt, careless, neglected, dirty and disgraceful. It was this manâ€™s dreams and commitment that rebuild Abuja to what it is today. Perhaps, FCT would have remained the way it was had El-Rufai not appointed minister.
It was a paralyzing shock to so many individuals and families in Nigeria. The demolition (of illegal structures) that went on under El-Rufai made national headlines. And for me, this is one of the channels thought which mass resentment welled-up tremendously against him. Lots of hardworking Nigerian lost everything they have labored hard to achieve–homes, offices, businesses and landed properties. Many left Abuja during the period and went back to the village unemployed and disenfranchised. Who would loose all these and not complain? I would too. But the fact remains that it was a necessary evil that needed to happen before FCT could be clean and dissent.
I cringe when I look at cities in Nigeria. How did we come all these way only to realize we have been on a wrong route? How did we come to building cities, erecting gigantic infrastructures that are out of order with the true master plans of national development? Cities like Onitsha, Aba, Kano, Jos, Port Harcourt, and so many others, that boom with excessively high population density, but with little or no government infrastructural plan in place to sustance the population surge are time bombs waiting to explode. The brilliant governor of Lagos state is already taking up heat for demolishing illegal structures to create a sanitary city worthy of the 21st century.
Nigeria would eventually get out of its present political, social and economic quagmire and development would start happening. And a time would surely come when the greater percentage of all these illegal structure would need to go. People would cry, threat, hate, complain and most of all loose millions of naira on the process. These are the pains that go before healings. And they are surely necessary to occur.
I do sympathize with the new generation of Nigeria reformists. Folk like Nuhu Ribadu, life is by no means easy. Accusation after accusation were pilled up against him. He once stated thus: â€œwhen you fight corruption, it fights backâ€. This is a simple fact.
Does the Nigeria people actually understand that the like of El-Rufai is not the enemy but rather he is a man with a transformative agenda. And this is what he did: he â€˜disturbsâ€™ the present in order to change the future. Nigerians say they want change, but how many want the present to be DISTURBED? That is the real question. If the Nigerian government today enact a Total Land Reformation Act as a way of fostering socio-economic and infrastructural development, how many Nigeria are ready to fight against such reforms. These are what obtains in developed nations. Government bureaucracy injects orderliness and moderation though regulatory laws, policies and programs. And those who are appointed to bring such implementation to life should not be hunted down with vindictive and bogus accusations.
I believe sincerely that El-Rufai should be ready and willing to answer questions on corrupt practices and misuse of office as the minister of the Federal Capital Territory as he is being accused. If he is found guilty, let the law take its full effect. And on the other hand, shady-minded elements in Nigeria, who are anti-reform, should give way in order for Nigeria to grow. It is obvious that there are ill-will citizens who were benefiting financially with the laxity of property development laws in Abuja before El-Rufai was appointed. I am also sure that these folks, having being stripped of their shady powers, were angry and would do whatever it takes to ruin him.
Mr. El-Rufaiâ€™s political image has been in a downward spiral. And I see a man who is highly distresses and fighting for a political re-emergence in the Nigerian political scenery. He has resorted to sporadic use of the internet as a modus operandi for a political come-back. And one wonders if dropping comments here and there on the internet would serve him any good. As far as any form of political come-back in Nigeria is concern, this is my theory. I do not think that El-Rufai can genuinely contest and win any office based on â€˜the peopleâ€™sâ€™ elective power. The ordinary people, who do not understand his job as the FCT minister, might not vote him into any office. They simply see him as the enemy who ruined their livelihood. Even though, this is by no means the case.
And this is the major line-divide between El- Rufai and his exilic contemporay, Nuhu Ribadu. The people of Nigeria tend to lean toward the camp of Ribadu than they are to Rufai. The reason, ordinary Nigerians see Ribadu as going after the big men in power and cracking down on their corrupt practices. But they think of El-Rufai as destroying their homes and businesses and forcing them out of the Federal Capital Territory.
El-Rufai can only come back to government through special appointment. This is the only way he can regain his fame. Anything else is a mirage dream as far as the present Nigeria mass consciousness is concerned. But I have no doubt in my heart that if he is given a official appointment, he will make a best job out of it.
Certain Facts : Hopless and rejected because they are Blacks.
This background provokes a lot of diverse sentiments. I intend to focus on the aspect of the evident hatred and marginalisation of race. Imagine how someone â€“ a human being, with a complete human biological composition is discriminated against because he or she is Black ? Legal structures are set-up, laws are promulgated to make more miserable and unliveable his or her already underprivileged and impoverished condition.
In this film le piÃ¨ge, youngmen and women are seen, who are not sure of living the next minute because they are Blacks and are forbidden the basic fundamental human rights under pain of arrest and imprisonement, ending up in deportation into the desert. As such, they cannot even come out openly to look for means to live on. This is happening in Algers â€“ Algeria, yet an African country, where the majority of the citizens are white in complexion. One sees the account of the daily life of these subsaharian migrants who are rejected by the society. For them, it is a daily practise of the government authorities to invade the mountains where they hide to chase and pack them up in trucks, and then transport them into the plane desert frontier. The society simply does not want to see them because they are Blacks and are called names like negroes, slaves, monkeys, etc. They have no rights to live ; they have practically no rights to come out in public, not even to look for job, as they are chased around by the state`s police force. They live daily, weekly, monthly and yearly in the rocks, under a temperature between 8 â€“ 12 degree centigrades. The rains beat them, the sun hits them, and the cold of the night freezes them. They have no means of survival, not to talk of means of medical attention when they unfortunately fail sick under these deplorable conditions. These are human beings that God created, but dehumanised and marginalised by men in our modern society because they are black-skinned. When arrested and chased away from the rocks they are abandoned in the sahara desert, where they wander aimelessly and die. Many Black migrants are dying right now in the deserts of Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Morrocco down to Mauritania.
Le piÃ¨ge reveals migrants of the nationalities of Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Senegal, Cote d`Ivoire, Congo. Also from Algeria and Morrocco, who suffer these similar harzards in attempt to reach and work in Europe. Many of them have skillful occupations but are outrightly refused occasions of services through which they could gain their daily bread. A youngman from Nigeria introduces himself as a carpenter by profession. He went looking for job in the streets of Casablanca in Morrocco. The answers he received at several points were that he cannot be given any job because he is Black. For a young Cameroonian woman, who managed to get a job of a cleaner in an algerian home, no one cares to address her by her name, but rather “slave girl“ or “negro girl“. With this kind of condition, she does not have an option rather than bear and continue to earn a salary below 20 dollars per month. Oftentimes, many of them are used equally as sex-girls, talkless of the ones that survive through prostituting themselves. All these, because they are poor, our society`s disadvantaged and, then Black.
Pourquoi nous voulons tous partir ?
Why do we all want to leave for Europe, as asked by a malian migrant. There are millions of reasons. You are a youngman, all around you is poverty. Your aged parents are sick and poor. There is no food in your home on daily basis. The younger ones cannot go to school because there is no means to sustain them in schools. You are not sure of the next day. You use all your energy in craftwork and agricultural works under the heat of the sun, but nothing to show for it at the end of the day in the face of these hard realities. Then you decide to take the bull by the horn and do whatever it takes in order to survive. Seeing the counterparts of the white race, the impression is simply that life is better in their own country, since you could gain better resources and in turn help to liberate the poverty that dominates in your family.
The young African/Black man struggles daily in the history of a cruel world â€“ of slave trade, of Europe`s underdevelopment of Africa (as asserted by Walter Rodney), of racial politics of the past years like Aparthied and the policies of Assimilation, of colonialism, of cover-up policies of neo-colonialism under the guise of helping Africa`s development. In his mind there are constantly these memories of historical realities, and he/she asks, does God hate me because I am African ; because I am Black ? Why can I not be like my counterparts from other continents of the world like Europe and America ?
I had an experience recently, when as missionaries in Nouadhibou Mauritania, we wanted to take the car and go for a weekend in the neighbouring Morrocco ; a journey of about 100km. We, comprising various nationalities : Nigeria, France, Poland, Ghana, India. Since it requires a visa to make cross-border travels, we went and applied in the Morroccian embassy for the visa. Do you know that the french colleague â€“ an European, a White, did not even need a visa to enter Morrocco, an african country ; but we, Africans, Blacks, were obliged to apply for visas in order to enter into another African country, where an European did not need a visa to enter. We applied for the visas and still we were refused because of our colour ! This is still in Africa ; one could imagine then the catastrophic situation that takes place in embassies all over Africa. As migrants in these maghreb regions of africa, one sees the White migrants, Europeans as well as Americans travel freely in their cars, motorbikes and bicycles, aeroplanes and ships, in and out of African countries on daily basis, but the Black people are never allowed even to travel with their valid visas and hard-earned money.
Therefore, the rhetorical question continues, does God also conive with the White race to dominate and reduce to slavery conditions the black race ? This is because he is aware of everything ; he sees the injustice, and he is all-powerful as our faith tells us, yet he allows this injustice to thrive. Is he not again the creator of the Black people who suffer this marginalisation for so many centuries now ?
For example with Mauritania as a case-study. Before her colonisation into a nation, Mauritania was inhabited by negro Africans who owned the land originally so many years ago. From the independence into a republic, the White race of the Moors started to dominate every meaningful sphere of life. These original owners of the land â€“ the negro Africans, only have the privilege of being their slaves as the only means of survival. Is it in the government, like the present administration of president Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz, no single black-coloured person is in the Cabinet. In the sectors of public life, hardly can you find the Black Mauritanians at the head, no matter what qualifications you have.
I once listened to the lamentation of a Black Mauritanian who works as a techician in SNIM â€“ the Iron Company that generates a great percentage of the countries principal resource. He bemoaned this racial discrimination and injustice, adding that as a Black, you do not have a place in Mauritania. Even with your qualifications, hardly can you be promoted to the top of affaires. Most annoyingly, before your very eyes, your colleagues of the White skin, who did not even do better than you in school are employed and made directors over you. As it is, you are therefore created to be a slave â€“ their perpetual servant, if you must survive.
And so, we all want to leave and go to anywhere that is possible to look for greener pastures. Apparently, Europe becomes the target in search of a better life ; and in some cases, in search of a means to change our seemingly cursed and forbidden black skin, into the also seemingly blessed and accepted white skin. Of course, this is not and can never be a solution, talkless of the condition.
Can anything be done ?
Yes ! First of all, an open letter is needed to be addressed to racial discriminating societies all over the world in the light of this sin against the black humanity. However, we need some practical steps to be put forward. Why are frontiers closed up by international immigration laws of the white-dominated International Community ; can anybody answer me ? It is clear that these laws are put up against negro-Africans. If not, why then do young Europeans and Americans travel all over the world freely, while young Black Africans cannot ? They are refused entries and the frontiers are closed against them. I remember when I went for my Mauritanian visa in Dakar Senegal, November 2008. I arrived at the embassy before a british youngman. There and then, I was told I cannot be given visa with no definite reason irrespective of my genuine and complete documents with diplomatic recommendations. To my greatest amazement, the british youngman was given visa right there. It took the intervention of the Mauritanian Minister of Internal Affaires, who gave an automatum that I should be given visa within 48 hours before I was granted entry visa the next day. I inquired to know why I was denied visa initially, and I was told is because I am a Nigerian. One can then imagine what people who cannot get access to a minister`s office pass through in order to travel around. Unfortunately, when they go out of there own way to hide and travel, the same structures that discriminate against them will qualify them as clandestine migrants.
Let us tell ourselves the truth for once !
Are there justifiable reasons to keep closed the frontiers of nations ? The whole world is at the moment clamouring for Israel`to open up the Gaza Strip. In the same manner, frontiers should be opened. Open up the frontiers, just like African frontiers were opened in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries of the world`s discovery of the continent. It is never a crime to travel around our world. It is never a crime to migrate in order to change life conditions. It is never a crime to travel to another race because you are not of that race. It is never a crime to desire to emancipate one`s impoverished family through seeking a better life in another economy. On the contrary, it is a crime to chase people around, causing them to die because they want to travel from one country to another. It is a crime to refuse some people entry into countries that are not their own based on the colour of their skins. It is a heinous crime to put up laws which make races find unnecessary difficulties in travelling around the world today no matter the reason. It is a grave sin against humanity to deny right to life to a fellow human being, in whatever disguise, and most unfortunately because he/she is black-skinned.
World mentality, which discrimainates against the black race must be changed.
Chimaobi Clement Emefu,
Nouadhibou â€“ Mauritania.
Dr. Okwuonu gave the challenge while receiving on behalf of the Governor, the Speaker and the Zonal leaders of the Nigerian Youth Parliament who came on interactive session at the Government House Owerri.
She regretted that the involvement of youths in cultism and other anti-social activities are giving parents sleepless nights, charged them to be concerned with how the nation would be in future if these problems were not addressed.
The Deputy Governor stressed that the State Government has mapped out a number of Youth programmes while 25% of the salaries of political office holders is being reserved for the revamping of the Educational sector in addition to the Ten thousand job opportunities to be created by the State Governor aimed at preparing the Nigerian Youth for the future.
She commended the parliamentarians for their efforts to come together with focused programmes for the Youth in the State promising that the State Government would continue to play her role for the youths.
Speaking, the State Commissioner for women affairs and social development Dame Anagam Ononuju said that the move toward addressing the problems of the youth is a welcome development.
The commissioner for Youth and Sports, Chief Tony Uzoukwu said that the Ministry had a lot of Youth programmes including scholarships from Donor Agencies that would take care of the education of some youths in the state, had been initiated.
Earlier the speaker of the Youth parliament, Luke Unofiok representing Akwa-Ibom South-South zone explained that they were in the state as part of their legislative function of addressing Youth problems in the homes.
The Speaker explained that the Youth parliament inaugurated in 2008 is a platform where people are framed for leadership responsibilities and commended the Governor for his efforts at addressing the problems of Youths in the State as well as other records of achievements.