Archive for July, 2013

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria

Maj. Al-Mustapha former CSO to Gen. Abacha on the Day he was released from Death-roll

Maj. Al-Mustapha former CSO to Gen. Abacha on the Day he was released from Death-roll

Your Excellency, I bring you good tidings. I want to thank you for this generous gesture of yours which has made it possible for me to breathe the air of freedom again, and to reunite with my family, especially my wife Hafsat, who had dwelt in her own prison throughout my incarceration.

I decided to write you this letter the very first day I learnt that you had made up your mind to set me free. That was weeks before my eventual release. I know some of my words will sound unpalatable; but I am a soldier in whose squadron flattery is hardly a virtue. Obviously, this freedom makes me happy indeed but your motive, at least the perceived it, tore my heart to shreds. I heard it is all about 2015, and not that I was unfairly incarcerated or that a court of competent jurisdiction had acquitted me. However, I maintain even now that I am innocent of the crimes I was accused of and condemned to death for. I am not the only one to rise from the dead. Your wife, Patience, also died and returned, remember?

I am scandalized by the political undertone in the broth of my freedom. I was once the most powerful military officer in this country but now, from what I gather, you have reduced me to a pawn on the chessboard of politics? In the past, generals paid me compliments; but time changes everything.

Mr President Sir, please permit me to call you by your pet-name Jona. I understand that everything you do these days has 2015 imprimatur, but bringing me into the realms of politics is not a wise idea.
Let me refresh your memory a little, if you would let me. I was incarcerated in connection with the murder of Mrs Kudirat Abiola. Of course just as your popular picture as politician who is respected among his neighbours in Otuoke sticks on you like glue, my reputation as a daredevil and fearless intelligence officer precedes me. My creation, the Strike Force, is the deadliest Abuja, has ever known. Oh, I am so proud of its accomplishments. Strike Force made a snake in a garden shudder in fear during our time. Some even said that we had a crocodile pond into which we threw uncooperative people, usually NADECO members or stubborn journalists. But I can assure you no one has pointed out the pond since we left power.

You see, I do not know how many books you have read Jona; but I have even memorised the Holy Qur’an. As a Muslim, it fortified my belief that in spite of the desire of those who wanted me dead, I would be free; may be not as quickly as I was discharged and acquitted but obviously anytime soon.

Why did you release me Jona? Almost all of those who learnt of my release that fateful Friday morning hung my freedom on 2015. They say you are obsessed with it and that you would unchain the devil himself to realize your goal. But I am what the Americans call a goon, you know? I know nothing but soldiering. Forget my grandstanding at the Oputa Panel. It was military strategy. I knew in my military wisdom that a million SANs would not free me if I did not take my destiny in my own hands, with facts and warts. Lawless people don’t change overnight. Without any prejudice to the lawyers in this country, Jona, I can say without fear of contradiction that my tactics hit a chord, with and I believe that is why I am here. But mark you Jona, I Al Mustapha, have no political value in my region, the north, which you are trying to reach out to but which you have also offended in no small measure.
Northerners will hardy forget how you ignored the Boko Haram insurgency until it got out of hand. Unofficial sources claim that close to 800,000 people, most of them northerners, lost their lives and property worth billions destroyed by the insurgents. The insurgency has resulted in northerners losing their positions in the armed forces; mediocrity now reigns. To me as a former Chief Security Officer, your initial inaction depicted a total loss of control. You were a lame duck, even in your first term. So what’s all this elaborate orchestration for 2015?
But don’t mind my position, Jona. Time on death row has taken the winds off my brains. Never mind Yerima Ngama, your minister of state for finance, who told people that my sharp reasoning still amazes him. Ngama is not a psychiatrist. He probably never paid any attention to my behaviour while I marked time in Kirikiri. I had been confused. Sometimes, I greeted people with a clenched fist; while some other times, I smiled, like General Gowon does. At other times, I saluted in military fashion. You would have noticed too, Jona, that my choices since coming out are dangerously flawed. I greeted everyone in sight: TB Joshua, Fashehun, Otokoto, Ganiyu Adams and Tokyo, to mention a few of them. I make no distinction between the living and the dead, just like I have not adjusted to life outside prison. I even sought Abiola out only to learn that he is deceased. In that miasma, I paid first homage to the Kano Sate Government instead of my people in Yobe. It would have served me just as well if I had driven straight to Gashua and shook hands with Shekau!

Mr President, I am saying all these because personally I know that where the north is concerned, I am a political paper tiger. Like Larry Hagman of the famous soap Dallas, I am the man that people love to hate. I lack the political value you ascribe to me, and if you released me to score a political point in my region, you have only taken a fool’s gambit. But I’m sorry; I can’t help your 2015 dream.

Yours faithfully, Al-Mustapha.

Bello Barkindo, author of this imaginary letter, wrote from Abuja,

If you think Men were created to Cheat?
Wrong Dear, I must say, “your man must not cheat on you, and men were not created that way”. Believe me, Dear, if the plan of God was for men to cheat, then God would have created Adam and Eve and maybe 2 or 3 other girls in the Garden of Eden.

If a man cheats on a woman, then the woman should sit down and ask herself this 3 questions:
1. Does this man have the Fear of God?
2. Was I blinded by Love or lust, that I couldn’t see the animal overshadowing him before trusting him with my Heart?
3. What am I doing wron in the Relationship?

Seriously the reasons why men cheat is tucked under the answers to these questions.

For example: A God fearing Man, will not definitely know that Cheating in a relationship is a Sin, and won’t want to be found cheating, not Just because it will hurt his spouse but because it will grief God.

Most people both Men and Women, Usually get into relationships with the assumed Mr/Mrs Perfect because of what they can see, or how much sway, the person has. Well if you were swept off your feet, be ready to stand up with your clothes dirty. Look beyond the physical things, gauge his/her Character and try find the very aspects of their life, they won’t want you to know.

Ask them questions or sooner you will be questioning yourself. And please while asking questions, don’t pre-empt the answers, keep an open mind and expect a sincere answer from your “wanna-be-spouse”. Don’t have the “all guys/gals are the same mindset”, it will precondition your heart to expect untrue answers. With such a mindset, you won’t be able to recognise the truth even if they tell you over and over again. (These happened to me recently, she had a mindset so even my truth was welcomed with “lie-detectors” at the gate of her heart).

When you keep expecting him to do wrong, you will rob yourself off the blessings of God in that Relationship.

This reason in particular has been the very reason for 86% of the failed Relationships you know.

Furthermore, you will have to check, check and re-check to make sure you are doing the right thing in the Relationship, because when someone cheats, in the real sense, they are only seeking for either more Respect, Attention or Happiness that their spouse couldn’t give them. Try being the Perfect Person and your dream Spouse will not have to out to fulfil other peoples’ dreams.

I love you but God loves you More

Ralph Hephzy Freeman.

Many people have been speaking their mind with regards to the connection of First Lady Patience Jonathan to some of the principal actors in the crisis threatening to bring Rivers State to its kneels.

But one man has been watching with keen interest as the drama unfolds until now.

Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon, a Former Member of the National House of Assembly from Edo state, Nigeriaonpoint observed, has finally broken his silence on the raging controversy. See his message to our dear Patience Jonathan below:

“Is the malodorous excrescence in Rivers State, cascadingly oozing out from erebus Dame, all about the satiation of a megalomaniacal presidential termagant?
“Let someone assist me in whispering to the Dame that ‘Alagamus Paret Ai Ai Num, Ai Ai Num Cest Daret, Opotere Alagamus’.”

But who is going to help us whisper this kind BIG grammar to the mama of the nation nau?

Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon

Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon

Nigeria's 1st Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan

Nigeria’s 1st Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan

This may be heresy. It may be blasphemy. At least from the point of view of some people. But considering our dire situation, we can not afford to stick our head in the sand any more. Nigeria and all its septic ulcers should be placed at the feet of the country’s two main stream religion- Islam and Christianity.  Nothing captures the current charade more than the classic, “suffer-suffer for world enjoy for heaven” song by the late Fela anikulapo Kuti.

The imprimatur of Islam and Christianity are stamped on the country like bad designs on a cheap fabric. Twice every working day, millions of Moslems stream from their offices both in the private and public sector for their second and third prayers of the day. It is an activity that must be performed daily and with so much piety. But before then, there is the early morning call to prayer. A solemn cry, subdued and meditative prayers.  But what has this piousness meant for the spirituality of the country and its economic development?

Similarly all across the country, Christians gather together every morning of each working day both in the public and private sectors for morning worship and in some places afternoon fellowship. And this must be done with so much bombast that the foundations of many public buildings may have been unknowningly compromised. There is also the market version of the “shout for Jesus”, courtersy of our brothers from the South East.

Now let us break things down to their component parts. Every one that has been a president or head of state is either  of the Moslem or Christian faith. Ditto for most public officers, civil service and legislators. Those who brought down the banking sectors  and the stock market are also people of the two religions. The two religions have so much penetrated our pysche that every public occasion is preceded by prayers in both faith

Small companies all around the country have been converted into mini churches. Having first shaken their own homes with songs, praises, casting and righteous curses in the wee hours of the day, some Christians move on to early morning worship in their offices. There is no considertion that there are other users in an office complex environement. Everyone, willy nilly must endure the bedlam becuase it is done in the name of the Lord. Our secular communication is gradually being decorated with the trinkets of Christianity. It is well, bless you, it is not my or your portion, double portion, holy ghost fire etc, are phrases now commonly used by non Christians.

Christianity has renounced the “give us our daily bread” simple prayer taught by Jesus. The bread must now come with butter, baked beans, beacon, hot dog, oats, latest models of cars, properties in the chiocest part of town, private jets and a business empire. Why? “Our God is not a poor God.” According to another writer, Oleteju Bamidele Oleteju, Christians have turned God into an ATM machine.

But in the Nigeria, wealth and the good life that goes with it does not come via violent prayers in which God is commanded like a genie. There are about four routes:

1. work hard and pray

2. work hard, pray and steal

3. work a little, pray a lot and steal

4. pray a lot and steal a lot

Now, given that Nigeria by all accounts has been robbed silly since independence and given that Nigeria has been in the hands of people that profess these two religions, how should we share the damage done to the country between the two? Will it be inequitable to simply run the scissors right across the middle of the blame, 50/50, especially in this era of demand for equal  representation in almost everything.

On the issue of insecurity in the land, you do not have to strain your neck looking some where else. Islam and Christianity plunged us into the current season of fear. Let us take this claim apart piece by piece.

The country is almost equally split down the middle between the predominantly Moslem north and Christian south. Both religions claim peace and forgiveness as the foundation of their faith.  Logically then, Nigeria should be a country of absolute peace. But that is not the case.

The south is home to kidnapping, ritual killing, armed robbery and crude oil theft. Yet every day, Christians are restlessly stomping their feet and waving their hands in the air, casting out demons and calling down holy ghost fire to destroy all real and imaginary enemies. Yet we are having more of the same social ills instead of less.

Could it just be that all the violent prayers and casting amount to little or nothing. Or, could it just be that the frequent calls for holy ghost fire has inadvertently set the whole country on fire because christains dont really know Christ?

There is a simple story that I found in Bible book of Acts 19 vs 13-16 that was pretty amusing but sadly may be relevant to the Nigerian situation. The story goes like this in the NIV bible,

“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.”

If you are still asking why the country is bleeding on all fronts, read the above story again. Did Jesus himself not warn about the dire consequences of messing around with the Holy Ghost. What do you then make of the situation where children in the play ground call on holy ghost fire on themselves. Or comedians, radio and television talk show hosts calling on holy ghost fire to descend on this or that person? This analysis might be funny to some people, but look around you, see what is happening to our country in the midst of all the display of Christian godliness and attempt a reasonable conclusion of your own.

Meanwhile, the North is home to ethnic violence, religious protest /violence and now Boko Haram. Those who have turned, the temperate climate of Plateau State into Fahrenheit 9/11 and the slaughter house of Nigeria are of the Christian and Moslem faiths. The rest part of the North is mainly populated by people of the Islamic faith. They say Islam is a religion of people. Yet we have had more religious inspired violence and killing in the North than any where else in the country. Every slight “provocation” fills the streets will people screaming “Allah is Great” and causing mayhem. Where is the peace? Where is the forgivessness that the religion preaches? Can there be forgiveness without somebody being wronged.  Or does the forgiveness come only when the wrong doer has been killed?

On boko haram, I have strenously argued with some people that it is not simply about religion. That if it is, considering the number of Moslems on earth, we will all be in some serious trouble. There are some elements of demonism and criminality in the movement, given that adherents also kill people of their faith without reasonable justification.

But then, can anyone sincerely dismiss the presence of religious particles in the boko haram movement. The activities of the movement in Nigeria and else where suggests that it thrives where Islam is present. Therefore, there must be something in the religion that inspires the movement. The fact that those who claim that boko haram does not represent Islam,  but have failed to turn on the heat on members of the set in the same way that they would have if someone or a group of people where to defile the koran publicly or speak insultingly of Prophet Mohammed speaks volume. Even the few and far between condemntion of the activities of the movement is done in measured tones, suggesting some form of sympathy. And this has been somewhat proven with the news that some security personnel and goverment officials have been implictated as abettors.

At the moment, some Governors are busy running around the country shopping for solutions to the country’s maladies. Are these not members of Governor’s forum, a Christian/Moslem callage who could not tell Nigerians the truth about what happened in a 35 votes election?

What are the economic and social costs of the failure of Nigeria’s two main religions? In monetary terms, it is in trillions of dollars. In human terms, it a monumental carnage. In development terms, it is a horrifying bundle of woes and disappointments. In spiritual terms, it is an unwarranted and unending provocation of God.

Those who think they can chant, pray or cast their way out of this stinking mess are fooling themselves and the entire nation. God plugged his ears with his fingers long time ago when he declared Hebrew 3: 10&11

‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways. So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’

Nigeria will not know rest until people of the two main religions rest from their wicked ways and uphold the tenets of their religions.

Al-Mustapha the Former CSO to Late Gen.Abacha waving to the Crowd

Al-Mustapha the Former CSO to Late Gen.Abacha waving to the Crowd

Rumours become chants: Youths scream “Al-Mustapha for 2015″ at their hero. You would be forgiven for thinking that it was a presidential campaign tour.

Hundreds of youth were on hand to receive Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer to the late military ruler, General Sani Abacha, during a recent visit to Kaduna. The youth, got so elated and excited at welcoming the ex-convict turned cult hero, that they started chanting political slogans, including this one that caught our eye – “Al-Mustapha for 2015″

Al-Mustapha, in detention for almost 15 years over the killing of Kudirat Abiola, wife of the late M.K.O Abiola, the presumed winner of 1993 presidential election, was earlier in the month freed by the Court of Appeal.

Al-Mustapha was returning to Kaduna from a visit to the Emir of Zazzau, Dr. Shehu Idris.

Addressing the youth, who gathered under the aegis of the Arewa Youth Forum (AYF), he said, “I was told when I was released in Lagos that youths in Kaduna, Kano and other parts of the north trooped out to celebrate my release. Those in the south I was told did the same thing. I thought I was forgotten, but this has shown me that you love me and I love you all.”

In what could easily pass for a political (read campaign) statement, Al-Mustapha said that “For those of you who believe there is hopelessness in the country, we must all team up to make the direction for change. You may not understand now, but when the direction is defined, when the rail is laid, you will know it.”

According to him, his release is a victory for democracy, adding that he would meet with all youth bodies and organisations in both North and South in order to chart a new course.

List of Senators that support Paedophilia in Nigeria.
List of Senators, whose vote in the last Senate session has now legalised Paedophilia in Nigeria. (Marriage with underaged girls).

1. Sen. Abdulmumin M. Hassan (Jigawa South
West, PDP)
2. Sen. Abdullahi Danladi (Jigawa North West,
PDP)
3. Sen. Adamu Abdullahi (Nasarawa West, PDP)
4. Sen. Ahmed Barata (Adamawa South, PDP)
5. Sen. Akinyelure Ayo (Ondo Central, Labour
Party)
6. Sen. Alkali Saidu A. (Gombe North, PDP)
7. Sen. Bagudu Abubakar A. (Kebbi Central,
PDP)
8. Sen. Dahiru Umaru (Sokoto South, PDP)
9. Sen. Galaudu Isa (Kebbi North, PDP)
10. Sen. Garba Gamawa (Bauchi North, PDP)
11. Sen. Danjuma Goje Mohammed (Gombe
Central, PDP)
12. Sen. Gobir Ibrahim (Sokoto East, PDP)
13. Sen. Gumba Adamu Ibrahim (Bauchi South,
PDP)
14. Sen. Hadi Sirika (Katsina North, CPC)
15. Sen. Ibrahim Bukar Abba (Yobe East,
ANPP)
16. Sen. Jajere Alkali (Yobe South, ANPP)
17. Sen. Jibrilla Mohammed (Adamawa North,
PDP)
18. Sen. Kabiru Gaya (Kano South, ANPP)
19. Sen. Lafiagi Mohammed (Kwara North,
PDP)
20. Sen. Lawan Ahmad (Yobe North, ANPP)
21. Sen. Maccido Mohammed (Sokoto North,
PDP)
22. Sen. Musa Ibrahim (Niger North, CPC)
23. Sen. Ndume Mohammed Ali (Borno South,
PDP)
24. Sen. Sadiq A. Yaradua (Katsina Central,
CPC)
25. Sen. Saleh Mohammed (Kaduna Central,
CPC)
26. Sen. Tukur Bello (Adamawa Central, PDP)
27. Sen. Ugbesia Odion (Edo Central, PDP)
28. Sen. Umar Abubakar (Taraba Central, PDP)
29. Sen. Usman Abdulaziz (Jigawa North East,
PDP)
30. Sen. Ya’au Sahabi (Zamfara North, PDP)
31. Sen. Zannah Ahmed (Borno Central, PDP)
32. Sen. Ahmad Rufai Sani (Zamfara West,
ANPP)
33. Sen. Ahmad Abdul Ningi (Bauchi Central,
PDP)
34. Sen. Bello Hayatu Gwano (Kano North,
PDP)
35. Sen. Ibrahim Abu (Katsina South, CPC)

STOLEN LIVES

“ELHAM MAHDI AL ASSI WAS A YOUNG GIRL WITH GREAT PLANS FOR HER FUTURE. THOSE PLANS CAME TO A CRUEL END WHEN SHE MARRIED A MAN WHO WOULD LATER BECOME HER MURDERER. ONE DAY AFTER HER MARRIAGE, ELHAM WAS TAKEN TO HOSPITAL DUE TO EXCESSIVE BLEEDING. THE DOCTOR WHO EXAMINED HER SAW THAT HER INTERNAL CANAL WAS RIPPED AND ASKED FOR HER TO BE ADMITTED. HER HUSBAND REFUSED TO ADHERE TO THE DOCTOR’S ADVICE AND INSISTED IN TAKING HIS WIFE HOME. TWO DAYS LATER HE BROUGHT A MOTIONLESS ELHAM BACK TO THE DOCTOR IN AN EMERGENCY. SHORTLY THEREAFTER, THE DOCTOR PRONOUNCED HER DEAD FROM SEVERE HEMORRHAGING RESULTING FROM THE RUPTURE OF INTERNAL ORGANS CAUSED FROM INTIMACY WITH HER HUSBAND… ELHAM MAHDI AL ASSI WAS 12 YEARS OLD AT THE TIME SHE WAS MARRIED OFF AND 12 WHEN SHE DIED.”

“FAWZIYA AMMODI WAS A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG GIRL, WHOSE LIFE CAME TO A TORTUROUS END WHEN SHE WAS FORCED INTO MARRIAGE WITH AN ELDERLY MAN. SHE BECAME WITH CHILD ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AND BORE THE COMPLICATIONS PREGNANCY PUT ON HER VERY SMALL FRAME. DURING CHILDBIRTH, FAWZIYA WENT INTO BRUTAL LABOR AND SUFFERED FOR THREE DAYS STRAIGHT. TOGETHER WITH HER BABY, SHE DIED OF SEVERE BLEEDING AND SHOCK. FAWZIYA WAS 11 WHEN SHE WAS GIVEN OUT IN MARRIAGE AND 12 YEARS OLD WHEN SHE DIED.”

“NUJOOD ALI WAS A GIRL WITH THE AMBITION OF ONE DAY BECOMING A DOCTOR. HER DREAMS WERE HALTED ABRUPTLY AND HER TROUBLES STARTED WHEN SHE WAS TAKEN OUT OF SCHOOL AND MARRIED OFF TO A MAN OVER TWICE HER AGE. HER HUSBAND BEAT AND RAPED HER CONTINUOUSLY, BUT A DETERMINATION WITHIN HER PROMPTED HER TO ESCAPE TO A COURT HOUSE, WHERE SHE DEMANDED FOR THE JUDGE TO GIVE HER AN ANNULMENT. NAJOOD WAS 10 WHEN SHE WAS MARRIED OFF AND 10 YEARS OLD WHEN SHE SAID “NO” AND SURVIVED.”

The case of angels like Elham, Fawziya and Nujood are a stark reminder of the increased risks placed on young girls who are married off too early and are clear examples of the justification for limits and enforcement of such limits on the age of marriage.

In several Islamic countries such as Yemen, the trend of very early arranged marriage, where girls as young as 8 and 9 are pawned out to much older men are common. In such societies there is a preference for child brides because they are considered docile, submissive and subservient to a husband. Usually the parents of the girls are agreeable to such union because the marriage of the girls lessens the financial burden on the family. In some instances, the parents insist on an undertaking from the husband that the marriage would not be consummated until the girl gets older and is mature. But from the accounts of the girls, the husbands hardly ever adhere to this arrangement. The high rate of underage marriage is generally attributed to economic reasons and largely takes place in Middle Eastern countries or rural areas of third world countries.

This week’s news that the Nigerian senate reversed a vote that appeared to outlaw underage marriage despite a senate policy that prohibits repeat votes on clauses was not only outrageous but disturbing and injudicious.

The calamity of abject poverty, sheer ignorance, sordid influence, appalling desire and absolute disregard of liberty personifies the atrocious case of the senators or anyone else for that matter, making a case to permit the marriage of minors.

Cases where andropausal men in the midst of their mid life crisis endeavor to purloin the innocence and childhood of a girl young enough to be their granddaughters, all in the name of matrimonial bliss are simply thoughtless, unfair and scandalous. Although the age at which a child assumes majority varies in different countries, depending on the jurisdiction and application, it would be difficult for anyone to make a case that a girl yet to reach the age of 13 has in anyway reached maturity or is any way near the threshold of adulthood, let alone view such a minor as a wife. It really is a contemptible catastrophe and a desecration of common decency for any adult Nigerian in this day and age to openly justify the rationality and humanity of such an unfortunate union. To take a young girl and treat her as if she were a woman is in all definition nothing short of child abuse and pedophilia.

The distaste of the senators who are justifying the concept of child marriages is made even worse by the fact that the senators are senior member of a legislative body that is meant to make laws that protect every citizen of Nigeria, including young girls. What happened in the hallowed chambers last Tuesday is outrageous to the very highest level and a huge embarrassment to the Nigerian Senate. Under the Child Rights Act 2003, the rights of every child are categorically outlined. The statute provides “a child’s best interests shall remain paramount in all considerations” and they shall be given the care and protection that is necessary for their wellbeing. Such laws were made in order to shelter children, especially young girls, from the transgressions of elements in the society. As leaders, one wonders what kind of example the senators justifying underage marriage imagine themselves to be setting, especially in the light of numerous cases of child abuse that the government is fighting.

One wonders where the Nigerian senators place the concept of maternal mortality, which is so much higher in societies that fail to protect prepubescent girls from exposure to the dangers that come with being a child bride and the medical safety of young girls. It is absolutely medically unsafe for a child to be exposed in a way that makes them candidates for Vesico-Vaginal fistula (VVF). When a young girl, whose pelvis is too narrow to give birth, is exposed to carnal acts or carrying and bearing a baby before her body is ready, pressure from the baby’s head blocks the circulation in her anatomy, destroying her tissue and forcing a gape which allows for involuntary urine flow. These and other pregnancy and labour complications are the fatal and painful realities faced by young girls who are forced to marry before or as soon as they reach puberty.

Every child should, at the very least have the right to grow up and every child should, in its most basic form, have the freedom of innocence. Regardless of any opinion, culture or religion, the issues regarding what values represent the right of a child to care, education, protection against violence and so many other basic liberties, are one and the same. This can certainly not be an un religious, western or imperialist viewpoint, but one of humanity.

Elham Mahdi al Assi, Fawziya Ammodi and Nujood Ali were all beautiful young girls, who deserved to have a childhood that prepared them for adulthood, but it was stolen from them. And while Elham and Fawziya didn’t survive their ordeal, Nujood stands as a beacon of hope for all the pre-adolescent child brides who are the unfortunate victims of stolen lives.

As the Nigerian National Assembly resume in voting for the laws that will eventually make up a revised new Nigerian Constitution, they should step up to their responsibility of protecting the rights and freedoms of the young by addressing this issue of such ridiculous early marriages and completely outlawing it.

While they do that, in the interest of all the young girls in Nigeria, Egypt, Yemen and beyond, those who have the opportunity should please ask the senators and those adult men who forage on the innocence of other people’s young daughters, if they truly believe that marrying a small, little, preadolescent girl is a right, positive or fair act. If the answer to that question is in the affirmative, they should then ask those same senators and men whether they would be ready to accept such early marriages for their preteen daughters. If the answer to that second question is nothing less than an ecstatic yes, then they have conceded that marrying a girl at such a tender age in these times is not right; it’s taking advantage of a girl and rendering her life… stolen!

Those of us who choose to stand on the side of the girl child and protect her from the dangers she will be exposed to as a child bride must all lend our voices in urging the senate to reconsider its position and resolution on child marriage. We must also pressure the House of Representatives and Houses of Assembly to reject any clause that gives life to underage marriage… And before they cast their votes, I urge the legislators to take a minute to think about their own preadolescent daughters’ best interest…. Because whatever is in the interest of their own prepubescent young daughters is also in the best interest of another person’s preadolescent young daughter.

Written By Hannatu Musawa
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Let’s start with this quote::

“Leadership is always somewhat mysterious. Leadership can be summed up in two words: intelligence and integrity” – John Brademas c1984

Just a little over two years ago, My Fellow Nigerians went to the poles to elect a candidate called Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan as our president – by a wide margin. He won in all the six zones of Nigeria; in what, in my opinion, was the second free and fair presidential election since 1979 when we started experimenting with the presidential system. Given the position and the strangle-hold a president has over our lives, one would have supposed that we considered the matter carefully before casting our votes.

 

Thousands of people including members of the PDP, as well as ACN, canvassed for votes for Jonathan. Presumably, they did so in the belief, based on God-knows-what, that the man could provide the leadership which this country needs at the present time. But, today, the coalition which brought Jonathan to office apparently had disintegrated. Like sleep-walkers, many of those who, only two years and two months ago, were urging Nigerians to usher in the “breath of fresh air” now talk as if the air they breathe is putrid.

 

The question which must bother all of us, especially those who voted for GEJ and who now regret is: what went wrong? The question is important because the president will, and should, present himself for the second term in 2015 and this time around, nobody will vote without some idea of the sort of leadership the man can offer Nigeria.

 

However, before trying to answer the question, permit one observation. Jonathan stands generally exonerated from whatever had gone wrong. First, the man became president by virtue of being Vice-President when the former President died as stipulated by the 1999 constitution. Having found himself in that position, he decided that he could handle the job if elected on his own. Let us forget for now the issue of zoning. He offered himself for election and the majority of voters agreed that he could indeed do the job.

 

As they said in the WILD WILD WEST of America, during the frontier days, “It is not the seller’s fault if the buyer does not notice that the horse is blind”. In politics, as it is in commerce, the golden rule remains caveat emptor – buyer beware. Whether voting with our money or ballot papers, it is our duty to examine what is on offer carefully. We have nobody, but ourselves, to blame if we buy the wrong product or vote the wrong candidate. So blame not GEJ; let us accept our collective responsibility for this situation in which we find ourselves.

 

Having said that, the most urgent matter now is, why is our leader finding difficulty in getting most of the people, especially within his own party, or, what should be his natural constituency, to follow where he leads? The National Assembly treats his bills the way a pride of lions will deal with a young calf which wanders into its midst. Despite the obvious fact that an amendment to the 2013 Appropriation Act is urgently needed to avert Nigeria’s own fiscal cliff or shutting down the federal government by September, the leaders of NASS would rather go on recess. Yet, his party has over sixty per cent majority – more than enough to pass the amendment. Still, no deal.

 

The Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, which had come to his rescue in the past, is also standing aloof and some are even hostile to any initiative by the President – however meritorious. And, few measures by Jonathan had deserved so much attention and support as the amendment to the 2013 Appropriation Bill which was flawed in many respects. NASS and the NGF are clearly demonstrating hostility to the President, and getting away with it, for reasons not too difficult to imagine. Jonathan certainly has my sympathies; he appears to have been deserted by the very people who pushed him on the stage of our history.

 

Just last week, the Northern Elders Forum announced, well in advance of 2015 elections, that “the North will not support him(Jonathan). The South owes us a moral debt and they should pay”. That was according to Professor Ango Abdullahi. Given the perceived marginalisation of Yoruba people by the Federal Government, it is unlikely that Jonathan will sweep the zone as he did in 2011. At any rate, the opposition is now thoroughly enjoying the humiliation of the President by his own party members.

 

Neither the Board of Trustees, nor the National Working Committee Chairmen seem to have the sort of pervasive influence on members to whip dissenters or rebels into line on anything. Even the dissolution of the NWC, which the president ordered, is meeting with resistance virtually everywhere. The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, C-I-C, appears increasingly like a General or Field Marshall, without troops. Why, then, are they getting away with it?

 

The answer is leadership, or more precisely the stuff of leadership which forms the bedrock of the president’s power base. Almost invariably, it involves a tiny minority of followers, who are devoted to the point of fanaticism, to the leader and the principles or ideals for which he stands. Given the extensive literature on the subject of leadership and the constraint of space, this is not an attempt to cover the subject.

 

Rather, the aim is to narrow it down to some of the aspects which concern us and our president – Goodluck Jonathan. Even the most casual look into history, recent or past, will help to illustrate the predicament in which Jonathan, and by extension Nigerians, find themselves. As much as possible, I will draw my examples from Africa.

 

Ahmadu Bello, Awolowo and Azikiwe died several years ago. Yet, there are people who, till today, will drop everything to attend memorial lectures organized for those three – especially the first two. No three leaders could have presented three such contrasting styles, at the same time, in a nation. Ahmadu Bello, as Premier of Northern Region, had to integrate the interests of over 170 ethnic groups and create a powerful political organization which compensated for the North’s relative educational backwardness.

 

He spoke few words; but they were weighty in effect. Azikiwe, was not only the most good looking, he was the most spell-binding speaker; a gifted orator. My father, a Yoruba, was so fanatical about Zik, he would probably have sacrificed any of us his three sons if Zik had asked him. Awolowo was the ideas man and a painstaking executor of any programme he undertook. In the 1950s Nigerians were “worshipping” three “gods” – each with one strong characteristic which made him a leader of millions who followed willingly….

Opinion: Simon Kolawole: We’d soon start drinking our oil

I am not interested in who is the chairman of governors’ forum or Speaker of Rivers House of Assembly. That will not reduce the price of garri. In my list of priorities, I am more worried about the looting and incompetence going on at all levels of government.

 

Did you watch the thugs in the Rivers State House of Assembly last Tuesday? I later learnt that they were, in fact, legislators. A group of five, led by Babakaya Bipialaka, had ridiculously tried to remove the Speaker, Otelemaba Amachree, with a fake mace. Bipialaka is an opponent of the state governor, Chibuike Amaechi, while Amachree is pro-Amaechi. Shortly after Bipialaka was “elected” Speaker, a group of 27 pro-Amaechi lawmakers entered the chamber. In the videoed fracas, Amaechi’s loyalist, Chidi Lloyd, grabbed the fake mace and began to use it as a weapon of mass destruction. He later narrated how he was eventually given the beating of his life. In the “movie”, Amaechi’s security aides also contributed some useful punches and whiplashes to the show of shame. And so on and so forth.

 

Well, fellow Nigerians, you don’t have to panic. Our salvation is nearer than we thought! If everything goes according to plan, crude oil could soon be selling for $10 per barrel and there would be little or nothing for the politicians to kill themselves over. These clowns have eaten too much and are belching recklessly into our faces. While the Rivers State branch of the thugs misruling Nigeria were busy with boxing, wrestling and judo, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was raising the alarm over the looming oil doom. The discovery and production of shale oil by the United States – and the United Kingdom – will begin to considerably hurt oil-exporting countries from next year.

 

Oil revenue accounts for roughly 80 per cent of what the three tiers of government spend in Nigeria. Of course, most of it ends up in the pockets of the politicians, their fronts, top civil servants and other high-profile bandits. All those private jets, all those mansions in Banana Island and Abuja, all the militancy and assassinations and political thuggery fuelled by oil boom… just wait and see what will happen when the price of crude oil mightily tumbles. I am hoping, against hope, that this looming scenario will bring these pot-bellied gangsters in power to their senses so that we can begin to tackle the real development issues facing Nigeria. The Nigerian condition is so critical that you would expect these trigger-happy politicians to spend their energies on something more productive.

 

Oil boom has pulled the wool over our eyes since 1973. But the threat to crude oil has always been there. More countries are discovering oil, which means our exports will begin to drop at some stage. In addition, all the talk about fossil fuels and climate change is leading to the development of alternative fuels – and that has always been bad news for crude oil producers. The Nigerian case is even worsening because of frequent production outages and unprecedented oil theft despite the billion-naira contracts awarded to militants to safeguard the pipelines. We are already in trouble. That is why we are taking loans every day. The debts are piling up again. And the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, keeps educating us that we have a robust debt-to-GDP ratio!

 

As if all these are not enough trouble, the world’s biggest consumer of crude, the US, has now found a formidable alternative in shale oil. I wouldn’t mind if the alternative would take 30 years to develop. We could brace up for it. But it is developed already! So, the demand for our oil has fallen and will only continue to fall. In two to four years, the picture will be very clear to us. The new reality is that crude oil is no longer a monopoly! We are losing our swagger. Demand is falling and will continue to fall. As demand falls, the price will fall. As the price falls, production will fall. Many oil fields will become unprofitable to operate. They are likely to close down. You see, we may soon start drinking our oil for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yes, you heard me right.

 

In the event of an oil doom, expect these: One, the naira would crash. Oil brings in most of our forex. A fall in forex inflow will hurt us since we are rapaciously import-dependent. Two, we would deplete our external reserves trying in vain to protect the naira. Three, a falling naira would impact negatively on the general prices of goods and services. Four, there would be less money to build infrastructure. Five, there would be less money for government overheads, leading to retrenchment and salary cuts. Six, there would no more money to fund fuel subsidy and petrol price will be increased. If petrol price goes up, there would be mass unrest as cost of living rises. I can go on and on.

 

Indeed, if crude oil revenue were to dry up today (July 14, 2013), only Lagos State would be able to pay workers’ salaries from its internally generated revenue. The other 35 states do not generate enough non-oil revenue to pay wages, much less meet other basic obligations. Most states are in debt, in any case, as they have taken loans or bonds. They will begin to default on the repayment and penalties will set in. The immediate option for the government would be to take more foreign loans to meet mounting obligations. Our children would inherit such a debt burden that they will curse us for enslaving them. And Okonjo-Iweala would not be around to explain to them our fantastic debt-to-GDP ratio.

 

It is not all bad news, though. We have shale oil too, somewhere in Ebonyi State, and we should concentrate efforts on finding more wherever it is buried. We can also choose to develop alternative energy sources as a matter of urgency. The best bet, however, is to invest heavily in infrastructure to grow industry, spur real economic growth and get off the fake petrodollar life support. We urgently need roads, power and railways. States need to fast-track the development of solid minerals and agriculture. We have to industrialise. These are what we should be spending our energy and time on. That is what will promote us out of underdevelopment, create jobs and sustainable wealth.

 

I repeat: I am not interested in who is the chairman of governors’ forum or Speaker of Rivers House of Assembly. That will not reduce the price of garri. In my list of priorities, I am more worried about the looting and incompetence going on at all levels of government. I am worried about the future of my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. Is this the country they are going to live in? None of these political thugs seems worried about that. They are just playing politics at our expense, manipulating the highly vulnerable media for their selfish agenda.

 

Nevertheless, let the thugs continue to break one another’s head. I’m sure they have stolen enough petrodollars to treat their wounds in Germany or Dubai. That, fortunately, is not my headache.

 

 

 

Jonathan Must Reform NDDC Now

 

What should President Goodluck Jonathan do with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)? In my view, the commission has been less than effective since it was established by former President Olusegun Obasanjo 13 years ago, primarily for infrastructural intervention in the Niger Delta. If NDDC had been a success story all along, the Niger Delta would have become a better place by now – especially as the state governments also have their own mandates to deliver.

 

However, the huge financial resources available to NDDC might have been the source of its problem as politicians have often swooped on it to the detriment of the region. Curiously, key positions in the commission are always filled by political appointees. The chairman, managing director and executive directors are brought in from outside the commission – and this may be affecting the commission more than we know. I can understand if the chairman is a political appointee – after all, it is not an executive position.

But appointing the MD from outside may be a stumbling block that we have often ignored in the whole analysis. Minus the high turnover of MDs, obviously for political reasons, most of them have also lacked administrative experience. They spend too much time trying to understand the inside dynamics of the organisation and by the time they get a hold on it, their focus shifts to how they can use the position to get funds to pursue their political ambition, since they are politicians in any case.

 

For a change, maybe we should start looking inward. It does not make sense to me that people will be working in an organisation without any possibility of rising to the top since the chief executives would always be brought in from outside. It not only damages morale, but it also discourages people from putting in their best in the hope of attaining the most senior position in the organisation. It’s a weird tradition that political appointees always get the top positions.

 

In my opinion, too, I think President Jonathan should get rid of the Ministry of Niger Delta. I don’t know what that is all about. I am aware that it was set up by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as part of his development initiative for the oil-producing region but I still don’t know what the ministry does that cannot be done by the NDDC. For me, efforts should be focused on getting the best out of the NDDC. President Jonathan must seek to do things differently if he wants to achieve a different result. That is my candid advice.

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Mixed reactions have trailed the Court of Appeal ruling in Lagos yesterday, which discharged and acquitted Major Hamza al-Mustapha, the former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the late General Sani Abacha, and Lateef Shofolahan, ex-aide to the late Kudirat, who were sentenced to death over the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola on June 4, 1996.

 

[Read: Breaking: Appeal Court frees Al-Mustapha]

 

Fred Agbaje, a human rights activist and lawyer, said he was not surprised by the ruling.

 

Agbaje said: “The level of evidence in that case left too many loopholes for the defence counsel to take advantage of and that is exactly what they have done.”

 

“It is good for the development of the rule of law in this country. The innocent shall not be unjustly punished. I hope the matter will now rest, except the Lagos State Government wants to pursue an appeal. Lagos State must not only be ready to pay damages for unlawfully and unconstitutionally detaining and prosecuting an innocent citizen for 15 years, but must be ready as well to offer apology to Al-Mustapha and co.”

 

However, Gani Adams, the National Coordinator of the Yoruba socio-cultural organsation , the Oodua  People’s Congress (OPC), said the judgement was a bad omen, and would encourage other governments to do evil.

 

He said: (This judgement gives) “an impression to Nigerians and the whole world that justice in the country has been defeated and therefore needs urgent reform. This judgment will in no small measure discourage the will of Nigerians to stand against injustice and oppression in Nigeria.”

 

Otunba Adams also said the judgment “has defeated the hope of the people who feel that whatever injustice that befell them can be redressed by the judiciary.”

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Prof. Itse Sagay’s only words on the matter were a caution against impunity.

 

He said, “That principle must be established in this country that anybody who infringes on a person’s right, particularly the right to life, must pay fully for it under the law. That is what I want to say.”

 

And another SAN, Ladi Rotimi-Williams, reacting to the judgement said the ruling was shocking because there was more than enough evidence linking the men to the case.

 

“I don’t know how they arrived at their conclusion. The law is an ass, I must say. It is surprising; very surprising and shocking. I believe the state will appeal that judgement. The facts are there,” he said.