PATRICK NSIONU ONLINE – 2002 UPDATES.

When you hear News, wait for the sacrament of confirmation

– Pat Nsionu.

He who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears

Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia.

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~~~~~~~~<<<Ok, Let’s Give It A Push First>>>~~~~~~~~~~

A man is in bed with his wife when there is a rat_a_tat_tat on the door.

He rolls over and looks at his clock, and it's half past three in the morning. "I'm not getting out of bed at this time," he thinks, and rolls over. Then, a louder knock follows, bang!-bang!!-bang!!!

"Aren't you going to answer that?" says his wife.

So he drags himself out of bed and goes downstairs. He opens the door and there is a strange man standing at the door. It didn't take the homeowner long to realize the man was very drunk.

"Hi there," mumbles the stranger. "Can you give me a push??"

"No, get lost. It's half past three in the dead of night; and I was in bed," says the man as he slams the door. He goes back to bed and tells his wife what happened. The wife says,

"Honey, that wasn't very nice of you. Remember that night we broke down in the pouring rain on the way to pick the kids up from the baby sitter and you had to knock on that man's house to get us started again? What would have happened if he had told us to get lost?"

Then the husband replies,

"But this is different; this guy is damn drunk right now!"

"It doesn't matter," says the wife. "He needs our help and it would be the Christian thing to help him." So the husband gets out of bed again, gets dressed, and goes downstairs.

He opens the door, and not being able to see the stranger anywhere he shouts, "Hey!!!, do you still want a push?"

And he hears a guttural voice cry out, "Yeah, please."

But, still being unable to see the stranger the house-owner shouts,

"Where are you?"

And the stranger replies, "I'm over here, on your swing."

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In response to one extra credit, someone remarked:

I am, may be the shortest sentence in the English language,

 but I do, is the longest.

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!!!BREAKING NEWS FROM HOME!!!

Explosions rock Nigeria's commercial capital

By GLENN McKENZIE
The Associated Press
1/27/02 10:00 PM

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- An accident at a munitions depot caused a series of large explosions Sunday night in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, military officials said, sending fireballs and plumes of smoke into the sky. The blasts rocked the northern part of this sprawling city, shattering windows and causing panicked residents to flee the streets. State and military officials went on national television to assure the population that the blasts were not an indication of military unrest and to appeal for calm. They blamed an accident at the Ikeja military base. "Let me assure you that it has no political connotation at all," base commander Brig. Gen. John Anda said. "This is an old ammunition depot, which has high-caliber bombs in there." Residents were evacuated from the area, he said. There was no immediate word on casualties. The first explosion occurred shortly before 6 p.m. and was felt in surrounding neighborhoods. More than 20 blasts followed, and Anda said they were likely to continue "for some time." Windows were shattered six miles away at the international airport, where officials briefly canceled all flights and airport services. Arriving passengers huddled nervously for several hours as they waited for their baggage. A police officer, who gave his name as A.E. Odikaesieme, said the blasts had apparently been touched off by an explosion at a nearby gas station. This could not be independently confirmed. Army spokesman Felix Chukwumah said a fire spread to the munitions depot, but had no details on where the fire started. Anda said the army had planned to improve the storage facilities at Ikeja, but "unfortunately this accident happened before the projects could be implemented." Soldiers and police cordoned off the blocks surrounding the depot, where witnesses said at least two houses were burning as pieces of flaming debris fell from the sky. Despite the danger, some area residents decided to stay behind to protect their homes and businesses from looters. "I will stay until we can get our stock out," said Pius Okigbo, who spoke by telephone from his computer dealership, about two miles from the blasts. All the windows in the six-floor building were blown out by the aftershocks, he said. The oil-rich nation of Nigeria is Africa's most populous country, and Lagos -- with more than 12 million residents -- is its largest city. The election of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 ended 15 years of brutal military rule. But the country continues to suffer widespread poverty and dangerous ethnic and religious divides that regularly flare into violence. Obasanjo was informed of the accident and all elected officials were safe, Lagos State Governor Bola Linubu said on national television.

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Before you read the rest of the News Update: Something to think about.

There once was a man named George Thomas, pastor in a small town. One Easter Sunday morning he came to the Church carrying a rusty, bent-up old bird cage, and set it by the pulpit.

Eyebrows were raised and, as if in response, Pastor Thomas began to
speak ... "I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy
coming toward me swinging this bird cage. On the bottom of the cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright. I stopped the lad and asked, "What you got there, son?"

"Just some old birds," came the reply.

"What are you gonna do with them?" I asked.

"Take 'em home and have fun with 'em," he answered. "I'm gonna tease 'em and pull out their feathers to make 'em fight. I'm gonna have a real good time."

"But you'll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do?"

"Oh, I got some cats," said the little boy. "They like birds.

I'll take'em to them."

The pastor was silent for a moment. "How much do you want for those birds, son?"

"Huh? Why, you don't want them birds, mister. They're just plain old field birds. They don't sing. They ain't even pretty!"

"How much?" The pastor asked again.

The boy sized up the pastor as if he were crazy and said, "$10?"

The pastor reached in his pocket and took out a ten dollar bill.  He placed it in the boy's hand. In a flash, the boy was gone. The pastor picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot. Setting the cage down, he opened the door, and by softly tapping the bars persuaded the birds out, setting them free. Well, that explained the empty bird cage on the pulpit, and then the pastor began to tell this story.

One day Satan and Jesus were having a conversation. Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden, and he was gloating and boasting.

"Yes, sir, I just caught the world full of people down there. Set me a trap, used bait I knew they couldn't resist. Got 'em all!"

"What are you going to do with them?" Jesus asked.

Satan replied, "Oh, I'm gonna have fun! I'm gonna teach them how to marry and divorce each other, how to hate and abuse each other, how
to drink and smoke and curse. I'm gonna teach them how to invent
guns and bombs and kill each other. I'm really gonna have fun!"

"And what will you do when you get done with them?" Jesus asked.

"Oh, I'll kill 'em," Satan glared proudly.

"How much do you want for them?" Jesus asked.

"Oh, you don't want those people. They ain't no good. Why, you'll take them and they'll just hate you. They'll spit on you, curse you and kill you. You don't want those people!"

"How much? He asked again.

Satan looked at Jesus and sneered, "All your blood, tears and your life."

Jesus said, "DONE!" Then He paid the price.

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GUARDIAN ONLINE - Saturday, February 9, 2002.

Protests in Port Harcourt, Jos Over CNN Report

From Kelvin Ebri (Port Harcourt) and Isa Abdulsalami (Jos)

NIGERIANS showed further yesterday their resentment of military rule in the country as thousands of people in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, took to the streets to protest a Cable News Network (CNN) report alleging that there was a clamour for the return of the military.

The Plateau State Government in fact urged the Federal Government to close down completely the Lagos operational office of the television network for its "satanic" report on Nigeria.

The government strongly believed that the anti-democratic reports are capable of derailing democratic experience and tempt the military in a bid to come back to power.

In a protest march to the Government House, Port Harcourt, protesters with placards said the views expressed by the CNN did not in any way represent that of the people of the Niger Delta who were subjected to indescribable degree of neglect despite the fact that the region was generating the lion share of the country's earnings.

The group comprising women, youths and even the elite said CNN's anti democratic position in the report was that of a devil's advocate and smacked of an invitation to the military to return to power in Nigeria and continue to foist difficult, obnoxious economic, social and political agenda on the masses.

They said the report could not in any way be a representation of the feelings of any sane people because it has been universally acclaimed that successive military regimes in Nigeria had been the cause of the country's underdevelopment.

They stressed that the nation's nascent democratic experience had indeed provided some remarkable benefits thus it should be allowed to flourish.

Student leader and president of the National Union of Ogoni Students. Mr. Kpobari Grami said Nigerian students were satisfied with the democratic governance in the country. The present democratic dispensation, he added, has been a blessing to the entire students population as he called on CNN to concern itself with identifying the location of the world's most wanted man Osama bin Laden instead of fanning embers of disunity and military interest in the of Nigerian polity.

The protesters called for immediate apology by the CNN to the people of Nigeria as the said news report was designed to smear them.

Rivers State Commissioner for Information Mr. Ene Dateme who spoke to the protesters on behalf of the State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili described the report as mischievous, malicious, fruitless and a useless analysis of the true picture of democracy in Nigeria.

He explained that Nigerians were resolved to defend democracy against any unnecessary military incursion into the political scene.

The position of the Plateau government was articulated yesterday by the Deputy Governor, Chief Michael Bot Mang when he received members of a group, Coalition For The Defense of Democracy in Nigeria, who protested at government House over constant alleged negative reports by the television station.

Bot Mang who alleged jealousy, argued that people outside the shores of Nigeria were not happy about the country's rapid development.

He said anytime CNN had cause to focus on President Olusegun Obasanjo, he was often spotlighted him side-by-side with one form crisis, or the other adding that he was happy because the protest cut across ethnic and religious divides. He promised them that the secretary to the State Government Mr. Ezekiel Gomos will carry their protest letter to the appropriate quarters.

The protesters, led by one time Commissioner for Tourism in the dissolved cabinet in Plateau State John Bala Magaji, lamented that CNN has consistently carried stories that only divide Nigerians, giving the wrong impression that it is only violence that can be found in the country.

According to them, "CNN has not reported a single positive thing about Nigeria since the return of democracy. Ironically, it is the return of democracy that made it possible for CNN to open an office in Lagos."

The letter said Nigerians are shocked that instead of helping the growth of democracy in the country, CNN is encouraging anti-democracy plots.

The protesters were irked by CNN's report on February 5, 2002 on the recent Lagos riot which they said gave the world the wrong impression that Nigerians want a return of military rule.

The group said Nigerians had fought hard for democracy stressing that they are willing to defend it with their blood. It condemned CNN for deliberate falsehood and incitement of the Nigerian people against the legitimate and democratically elected government. "In other parts of the world, many people see the CNN as the voice of democracy but in Nigerian CNN is behaving as the voice of anti-democracy."

People Democratic Party stalwarts in the state and senior government functionaries used the opportunity to campaign seriously for the governor chief Joshua Dariye.

C:\Gnlhtml\Saturday\Protest P1 09_02 Irabor

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Comment: CNN and African mercenary journalists   GUARDIAN - Friday, February 15, 2002.

CNN and African mercenary journalists

By Levi Obijiofor

FOR the first time in recent months, the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has spoken publicly about the dangerous misrepresentation of events in Nigeria by mercenary African journalists working for western news organisations. NLC president Adams Oshiomhole, a man whose name has become more compatible with industrial strikes than the protection of our national image, expressed last weekend disappointment that the Cable News Network (CNN) has been misrepresenting events in Nigeria to the international audience. The harebrained conclusion by the CNN reporter that recent events in Nigeria are indicative of the disintegration of Nigerian society and a yearning for the return of the military is another form of junk journalism designed to satisfy the "pictures in the heads" of the American audience. It says a lot about the reporter's depth of knowledge (or the lack of it) about Nigeria.

One of the things that foreign correspondents do when they are assigned to a country is to read as much as they could on the country and its people. Proper knowledge and understanding of the socio-political environment of a country is crucial to successful reporting and well-informed commentary about that country. As the editors of the US-based Media Studies Journal acknowledged, international news reporting is a major challenge to experienced and inexperienced journalists because it involves interpretation and explanation. The challenge is particularly daunting because "journalists' portraits of another country are usually influenced by the questions, concerns and conceptions they bring from their own land." The CNN reporter in Nigeria has shown his inability to interpret and explain events in Nigeria. He has also displayed unprecedented ignorance about events in Nigeria, including the psyche of the Nigerian people. This form of negative reportage and exaggeration of events in Africa by western news media is not new. It is part of the factors that fanned the acrimonious debate in the 1980s for a new world information and communication order. Part of that new order would involve African journalists reporting Africa for Africa and the rest of the world. It now appears that even when Africans are given the opportunity to report African events, they tend to do so from western filters and the interests of their employers.

In his book  Communications and the 'Third World'” Geoffrey Reeves captured the argument of the developing world during the debate over a new world information and communication order. "The information from 'Third World' countries which does get into the world news system emphasizes their fragility, instability and corruption, and serves to provide the erroneous view that their economic backwardness is due to internal failure rather than their subjection to European colonialism and neo-colonial forces." The CNN and its reporter in Nigeria are trying as hard as they could to convey the impression that Nigeria is an unstable country that could benefit by returning to military rule. To achieve that objective, the CNN reporter constantly depicts Nigeria as a country riddled with corruption, violence, strikes, demonstrations, inter-ethnic strife and political upheavals. Yet Nigeria has a much better record in terms of corruption, socio-economic development and political chicanery than this reporter's East African fatherland. It is an insult to Nigeria's intelligence and national pride that an African journalist should suggest to Nigerians what form of government they should adopt.

In their eagerness to present the kind of news that fit into the mental picture of their audience in the United States, the CNN reporter in Nigeria and his organisation ignore positive or development news in Nigeria. Positive news about Nigeria can't make headlines on the CNN because they won't attract the audience, they won't boost ratings and they won't attract the crucial advertising revenue. There can't be anything good coming out of Nigeria because the CNN and western news media have fed their audience for so many years with the nonsense which their audience has come to believe - that Africans are savage people who live on tree branches, feed on wildlife, and engage in rituals. I enjoy listening to uninformed westerners who use CNN news reports as their reference point about life in Africa and other parts of the world. Unfortunately some people in the west use images of the world shown on the CNN as a measure of the level of civilisation in Africa. By presenting negative reports about Nigeria based on his poor analytic skills, the CNN reporter in Nigeria unknowingly demeans his African heritage, insults his racial group, and exposes his ignorance and limited education.

What we are witnessing now from African journalists working for western news media is a form of neo-colonialism. Colonial dominance of Africa may have ended many years ago but colonial mentality still manifests itself in certain African journalists. Colonial mentality, according to Godwin Sogolo, former member of The Guardian editorial board and dean of arts at the University of Ibadan, is the categorisation of African ideas and social institutions as backward and inferior to western institutions and ideas. In this sense, whether or not Africans report Africa, the same negative image of Africa would be relayed to the international media audience. The new world information and communication debate may have been described as a "dialogue of the deaf" but there remain clear justifications for that debate.

What is irritating the NLC leadership and perhaps surprising to people unfamiliar with the ideology and politics of international news reporting by western media is not just the negative quality of news about Nigeria on the CNN but in fact the background of the CNN messenger/reporter in Nigeria. He is African, indeed East African by origin. People expect him to know something about the Nigerian political environment and to be able to make informed analysis based on that knowledge. However, it is ideologically not in the best interest of the CNN and its messenger/reporter to present accurate reports about events in Nigeria. This ideology stinks. It stinks because accuracy is one of the cherished professional values in journalism and many editors and reporters claim to aspire to present accurate reports to their audiences. However, in CNN's reportage of Africa, accuracy has been consigned to the waste paper basket in their newsroom.

It is not in Nigeria that CNN started to practise gross misrepresentation and misinterpretation of events. During the Persian Gulf War, CNN presented Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi people as enemies of the world. Anyone who followed dispassionate reports of the war by other international media organisations would recall that that picture was not quite accurate, at least in the Middle East. I recall, in my analysis of CNN coverage of the war soon after the end of hostilities, how certain CNN reporters aboard American warships presented reports that suggested they were members of the US defence force. Not only did they present the American troops as invincible, they ignored or downplayed the contributions of the coalition forces to the success of the Gulf War. Again during the battle for Kosovo truth was quarantined in most reports by the CNN.

Over the years, the battle cry of African nationalists was the need for western media to employ more African journalists for in-depth and balanced reporting of the African continent. Those who argued for change and commended the growing number of African journalists working for western news media in Africa do not as yet understand that, in many cases, these journalists work as mercenaries because their reports about Africa are tailored to meet the criteria established by the western news media that hired them. That is the context in which we must understand the role of the CNN reporter in Nigeria. As an old clichŽ puts it, it is not the hood that defines a priest.

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Friday, February 15, 2002

David Asonye Ihenacho
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ANNOUNCE THIS ARTICLE TO YOUR FRIENDS

THEORY AND PRACTICE OF PREJUDICIAL JOURNALISM:
BBC & CNN EXAMPLES


 

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The recent flap over CNN's Jeff Koinange's report on the recent tragic disturbances in Lagos has in my judgment blown the lid off the practice of hypocritical and prejudicial journalism by the media conglomerates of the world. Koinage, a Kenyan-born chief of the new CNN Bureau in Lagos was alleged to have claimed in one of his reports recently that Nigeria had become a place "where mob slaughter rules." According to reports, the CNN Lagos Bureau Chief suggested in the process that Nigerians "are tired of democracy and now want the military back."

Koinange's report, which was a major news feature on CNN International but hardly earned a mention on CNN America, sparked off a swirl of protest in many parts of Nigeria. In Lagos, Jos, and Port Harcourt, there were demonstrations calling on foreign media organizations not to sabotage Nigeria's democracy. The secretary of Plateau State Government Ezekiel Gomos came down hard on Koinage's report describing it as "condemnable, despicable and horrible. It does not reduce my respect for America as a people rather it calls into question the integrity of some of the western media. What do they really want? Do they want the country to remain a united one or do they want confusion?" (ThisDay, Feb 10). Along the same line, the leader of the Nigeria Labor Congress, Adams Ashiomhole claimed that the CNN news report "is doing a grievous harm to its hard-built reputation of fair reporting, including the coverage of popular democratic struggles in the country" (Guardian, Feb. 11). Barrister Bala Magaji of the Plateau State Coalition for the Defense of Democracy in Nigeria accused CNN of having "embarked on a serious campaign to destroy our nascent democracy which is less than three years old ... they have consistently carried stories that only divide Nigerians and give the impression that there is only violence in Nigeria" (ThisDay, Feb. 10). A leader of one of the pro-democracy groups, League of Democrats, Victor Uwajeh, declared "it was rather unbecoming of a prominent international media organization with a high level of credibility to begin to speculate stories that are capable of bringing down a sovereign state" (ThisDay, Feb. 13). But nothing seems to indicate how much the report had shaken the foundations of the Nigerian nation than the recent demand on CNN corporate headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, to withdraw Jeff Koinange as its bureau chief in Nigeria. The Nigerian minister of information Jerry Gana was reported to have made the demand to CNN during an interview with a reporter from ThisDay Newspaper (Feb. 13). The Lagos State Government has equally jumped into the fray. It is contemplating taking the matter to the courts alleging that the negative reports from CNN had cost the state and the nation actual and potential investments up to the tune of two billion dollars. To show its seriousness the government had dispatched its commissioner for information, Dele Alake, to Atlanta to lodge a formal complaint with CNN headquarters (Vanguard, Feb. 13). Although these reactions appear reasonable and in fact deserved, they also reveal how little the Nigerian populace, the present Nigerian government, and in fact, governments of the developing countries know about the underlying theories and principles of modern media practices.

It is universally known that media reporting like many other enterprises of its kind is not an exact science. Journalism is no calculus neither is it geometry. It is not endowed with the precision of a rocket science and is never practiced with the diligence of say modern surgery. Journalistic efforts are not based on truly objective principles such as 1+1 = 2, or, on an experimental practice like when water is heated to an observable boiling point it steams. It is not that journalists do not take their profession seriously, or, do not work hard enough to achieve excellence in it. In fact many modern journalists work as hard or even harder than some practitioners of the exact sciences. But after all the hard work in sourcing and gathering informational materials, their delivery to the public comes down to such primordial and pre-scientific human actions as choices based on issues as tenuous and fickle as impressions, beliefs, biases and ideologies.

Reporters usually claim to tell what they experience and perhaps how and when they experience them. But they scarcely ever reveal the lenses through which they perceive them notwithstanding that such senses may be diseased, defective or hampered by a rabid ideology and/or prejudice and hate. Journalism is a profession that leans heavily and unfairly on individual discretions, prejudices, ideological preconceptions and preoccupations. What is usually touted as great journalistic standards are largely unrealizable in practice. Good journalism is like a woman's beauty. It is in the eye of the beholder. Hence they are all great journalists whether they represent the sleazy, gossipy and rumor-peddling tabloids or they are in the editorial boards of the New York Times and Washington Post. Journalistic reporting is overly susceptible to the ever-buffeting wind of public opinion. Despite the modern frantic efforts to improve the scientific outlook of the profession describing it as Mass Communication, Information Science, etc. journalistic enterprise right from its days of yore has been dogged by inexactitude, arbitrariness, idiosyncrasy, sycophancy, malice, hatefulness and politics. A media report is not usually subjected to a lab test over its truth claims neither does the reporter have to go through a lie-detecting machine each time his/her piece of report is delivered to the masses via a media organization. In fact a media outfit like its gullible clientele, the public, only trusts and hopes that a reporter in the field is a trustworthy representative of the organization reporting accurately the facts as the ideological lenses of the organization permit, or, as factually as they are perceived not only by the reporter personally but by those who may have interest in the use of the information conveyed, or, those who may want to satisfy themselves of the reality and accuracy of the information by cross-referencing with the other sources.

Also the people on whom a report is based or being made can only hope that the outcome of such a media venture does not emerge a total misrepresentation of their situation and a distortion of their values. Their fate is totally dependent on the moral quality of the individual reporter, his integrity or lack of it, as well his/her professional constraints as envisioned and upheld by the establishment he/she works for or the body the reporter is affiliated with. Ordinary people do not normally have any viable leverage to hold the reporter from becoming overly mischievous if he/she so chooses, as is perhaps the case more often than not. The only option people seem to have in a situation of a looming media report on them or their values is a passive resignation and hope that all turns out well.

There is hardly any scientific mechanism to prevent a journalist from carrying out an ill-motivated and ill-conceived reporting, or, to protect innocent people against the foibles and malice of prejudiced reporters and their mostly ideology and/or vendetta-driven organizations. What are available many a time are some strings of laws and codes of ethics that nations and media personalities/groups put in place to encourage reporters and media organizations to be fair with the so-called facts they administer to the public. But even such laws and codes are not usually based on science. They are heavily dependent on ideology, internal politics and collective aspirations of a nation, a group or a race. Besides this moral nudge to be fair so to speak coupled perhaps with some strictly crafted legislation to guide against gross irresponsibility on the part of some careless journalists, the field of media reporting is open. Most journalists are relatively free to do almost whatever they choose. And more often than not they easily get away with unfair and prejudicial characterization of peoples and even with the instigation of rioting and insurrection in a nation.

But the whole theory of a multi-national media organization reporting especially on foreign governments, their peoples and cultures with foreign journalists is a different ball game altogether. The whole situation is far murkier than people in the developing countries will ever know. It stretches from a blatant mal-intention to craft reports aimed at undermining and subverting a sovereign government to a determined choice by a prejudiced foreign reporter to overlook all reports that will be beneficial to the host country. With regard to CNN in Lagos there are at least two factors that could account for the current situation Koinange has found himself. First is the usual pressure on new bureau chiefs to justify their exalted positions, and second is the pro-western ideology of the parent media organizations of the big bureaus. For new bureau chiefs struggling to make their marks and perhaps carve a niche for themselves in their new territories objectivity seems in fact the very least of their considerations. They are working hard to create a scenario that would benefit their careers and their organizations. They are intent on impressing and commending themselves to their bosses at home. Their primary duty is to report events of their liking in the most sensational way they are capable. In the case of a crisis-ridden country like Nigeria, the interest of such reporters like Koinange is to report such crises with as much drama as possible. But where their favored crisis-events are not forthcoming, or, are not in the manner they would like, they create them so as to tell them to their audiences in foreign countries in the manner and language they enjoy. The whole interest of foreign reporters of the media conglomerates in a developing country is to tell the big wigs of their corporations only what they care to know or what they find impressive to their home audiences through their random news polling. They know that not every event in a poor country like Nigeria will sell in the media markets of the developed world. For instance, the news of a stable government in Nigeria is too boring to the developed countries. They want action or at least rumblings of imminent actions. They love theatre. They look on the developing countries to provide them some theatre to hold their attention on international news. So a new bureau chief like Koinange lacking the celebrity-status of the bureau chiefs of say London, Washington and Moscow will have to find a way to prove himself as capable of his exalted office by giving his bosses and their people what really interests them about his location. Even when such events appear not to be forthcoming they are tempted to insinuate and create them. And what ultimately captures the interests of these celebrity-lusting new bureau chiefs will have a lot to do with the political climates of the homelands of their organizations. The big media corporations are usually owned and run by people with unflinching interest in preserving the order that fosters the growth of their organizations and their ways of life. In other words, the primary interest of such corporations is not any different from those of their home nations. What ultimately determines the substance and color of a particular report comes down to the expectations of the people being served in foreign countries by the organ.

Second, the big media organizations tend to establish a bureau of newsgathering with a specific agenda in mind. A bureau usually has some interest in the outcome of certain situations of the territory it serves. The belief that a bureau establishes to report objectively about a particular territory is an illusion. Nearly every multi-national media outfit has an ideology, which it pursues with vigor and zest. The kind of reporting Jeff Koinange was alleged to have engaged in recently, which was believed to have been perhaps aimed at inciting the military into seizing power and/or weakening the ability of the democratic government to rally and organize its peoples has been the trademark of many of the media corporations and their reporters over the years. It was perhaps long ago invented and perfected by the BBC before CNN was born. The British Broadcasting Corporation almost single-handedly invented the method of using the media to influence the outcome of a political situation in a foreign country. As a matter of habit, their foreign bureaus seem to report mainly their prejudicial expectations rather than the events as they unfold on the ground. It had been rightly speculated that immediately the British colonialists began to lose their colonies to the different pro-independence nationalist movements, they founded or refocused their propaganda organ the BBC to serve as a vehicle for influencing and perhaps controlling the destinies of the newly independent nations. A fact that seems to reinforce this belief is that the reports they transmit to the audiences of their interests are rarely heard in their home countries. They tailor-make news reports to achieve the socio-political purposes they had a priori designed for these countries. It may surprise many Nigerians to know that the BBC and VOA African services are hardly ever heard in their home countries of Britain and the USA. Those are services for the third world African countries designed exclusively to influence their internal dynamics. But the BBC seems to have invented all those prejudicial systems of news reporting. During the Nigerian civil war for instance, the BBC decidedly threw objectivity and journalistic ethics to the wind. To pre-design and determine the outcome of the civil war, the British media outfit decided to present only the overly skewed side of the war story in favor of its allies in Nigeria. It refused to represent the two sides of the conflict preferring instead to inflate the successes of the Nigerian army while adamantly refusing to report their strategic losses and setbacks. Even when it hired the veteran journalist, Frederick Forsyth, an Irish Catholic and a very objective man, it had to fire him because the award-winning Forsyth wanted to help the posturing propaganda organ strike some balance in its stories of the civil war. BBC's main interest was to call the war in advance in favor of its eventual winners, the British and the Nigerian governments. In Biafra the BBC was seen as the propaganda arm of the Nigerian and British governments. The organization was despised in the Biafran enclave as a vehicle of rumors, propaganda and untruths because people found exactly the opposite of what it was reporting as facts on the ground. Sometime the British organ would report for instance that Aba had fallen to the Federal Forces even while the ever-busy Aba market was buzzing with activities. The news organ became so discredited in the defunct Biafra that people who peddled rumors and told lies and half-truths were nicknamed BBC. It is known that over the years the BBC has hardly changed its method of reporting events in Africa. The recent uprisings in Nigeria have not been an exception. The company has always managed to sensationalize crises in Nigeria to the extent that they have contributed immensely in instigating reprisal attacks in many parts of the country. But journalists who work for the BBC in Africa easily acquire a legendary status in their home countries even when they had only delivered innuendoes and half-truths to their people.

Nearly twenty-two years ago when the media outfit of the American Cable Network News debuted as a global news outfit, it was almost taken for granted in the media world that Ted Turner the visionary founder of the outfit was both trying to copy BBC's global news dominance as well as challenge it. But one thing that appeared also certain to nearly everyone was that Turner was in no way going to copy the ideological vision of the BBC. He was such an independent and original thinker to copy sheepishly from the once highly ideological media organization like the BBC. Turner, a globalist per excellence and a man gifted with a tremendous global vision of the universe and its stories, founded CNN for the sheer joy of introducing the world to America and vice versa. One can almost say for certain that Turner was not interested in influencing the socio-political situations of other countries. He just wanted to report them as news stories and have fun with them. Turner had been the journalist of journalists who was fired by the zeal to report news wherever it existed on the planet. And for many years CNN maintained very religiously the vision and the image of its founder. But as it became a corporate baby of the powerful behemoth Time Warner which later became the bride of the internet conglomerate AOL thereby emerging a global media force eclipsing the BBC in television journalism, and as competition from other media empires stiffened, CNN began to show some afflictions of the other big media corporations. First it borrowed the BBC and the other big media corporations' methods of keeping and maintaining a stark difference between two streams of broadcasting, one that is for its home country and the other for its international audience. Hence there were the CNN America and the CNN international. A lot of what was being reported on the international channels was completely blocked on the domestic channel. Gradually the international channels became dedicated to serving the international audience while the domestic channel served the home audience. Perhaps that situation was necessitated by the need to attract income from home advertisements than from any other thing. But it was a very big setback for an outfit that had geared itself to engineering the world into a global village.

Second in its choices of bureau establishments especially in the developing nations, CNN began to use criteria that could not immediately lend themselves to both logic and common sense. The African situation was most glaring. Shortly after its founding in the early 80's CNN opened bureau outfits in South Africa and Egypt. It also opened a bureau in Kenya. The South African situation was clearly understandable. There was the apartheid that generated a lot of news for the international community. It was necessary that a world media organ be based there to report situations as they evolved on a day-to-day basis. The bureau in Egypt was also understandable. The country had and still has a lot to offer the human race in knowledge and culture that to have a CNN bureau located there early enough made a lot of sense.

But that of Kenya made no sense at all at least from my point of view. Kenya had a booming tourism industry. The British and the Americans had and still have an enduring interest in her. But those were not pressing reasons to hurriedly locate a bureau there ahead the vast regions of the central and West Africa with enormous populations and newsworthy issues. But CNN had a bureau in Kenya many years before remembering to open one in the West African sub-region. Kenya is a small mountainous country without much political action. It had had only two rulers since all of its history - Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi. Unlike Nigeria, it hardly ever enjoys political theatre. Its population is less than one-third of Nigeria. In fact the combined populations of the three countries that got their bureaus ahead of our country could only amount to a little higher than three-quarters of the total population of Nigeria. The economies of those countries individually and collectively are not far ahead that of Nigeria. The lack of a CNN bureau in Nigeria defied all logic and reason. Nigeria has a population that is about one-fifth of the whole of Africa. It was under successive repressive military dictatorships that incessantly made news by their heinous repressions. Nigeria was such an explosive place that generated mountains of news stories everyday yet CNN refused to go there. It did not make any sense at all. The line that was always given was that the military would not let them in. But that was a half-hearted reason. Journalists are usually people who do not normally wait to be invited before they find their way into countries of breaking news. They are normally the uninvited guests of most countries. But they usually find a way to go in even when it proves very risky for them to do so. Moreover CNN did not try to recruit indigenous journalists to work for them even if surreptitiously in order to cover such a huge news-sourcing area like the ever-volatile Nigeria. Consequently the whole territory of Nigeria and in fact West Africa that bears a large chunk of the black population was left uncovered for about two decades by CNN that was claiming to be serving the whole wide world as menu to the American and European peoples.

Thank goodness the democratic administration became a reality in Nigeria. President Obasanjo came to New York and Atlanta and held meetings with the officials of CNN in which he allegedly invited them formally to Nigeria. Some of us interested in media watching calculated a few scenarios we believed the new bureau of CNN in Lagos would operate on. Either the CNN would recruit a Nigerian journalist already practicing in Nigeria to serve as its bureau chief or they would elevate one or two of the powerful Nigerian-American journalists already serving quite successfully with them in America or elsewhere. In fact I had calculated that whenever the Lagos bureau of CNN would come on stream it would naturally go to Michael Okwu, a brilliant television journalist of Nigerian descent who has been making waves in America. I believed and still do that Mr. Okwu is one of the most brilliant journalists currently working for CNN even though he is often relegated as an entertainment reporter. But every now and then he shows that he has the stuff to be among the very best anywhere in the world. He made more than a one-hundred-meter dash getting the Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs (now, P. Diddy) verdict to CNN far ahead every other journalist beating in the process all competitions from the other news organizations in America. And during the 9-11 tragedy Mr. Okwu gave such a brilliant and professional account of his prowess that I was very proud of him. Each time I saw him prior to the take-off of the bureau I thought I was looking at a strong candidate to serve as the Lagos bureau chief of CNN. In fact I had calculated that such other people as the wonderful Steve Osunsami of ABC News or the great Adaora Udoji of ABC News London were all in the running for the CNN bureau chief's job in Lagos. Even till today people like Rosey Edeh, the scintillating weather woman of Paula Zahn's American Morning on CNN and the many other Nigerians on CNN international channel have what it takes to serve as CNN bureau chiefs in Nigeria who could report about our volatile country with minimum hiccups of bias and ideology.

But in the last analysis I was proven wrong. Jeff Koinange, a Kenyan international journalist was recruited instead from his post elsewhere and made a bureau chief of Lagos CNN passing over the many Nigerians who have distinguished themselves with the corporation. According to Koinange's Bio on the CNN website, he worked for "Reuters Television covering the majority of the African continent from 1995 to 2001. In 1999, he was promoted to chief producer for the Southern African region, where he was responsible for news coverage in 15 African countries…. Before being appointed to his (current) position, he was senior producer for West Africa, where he oversaw television coverage for 24 nations and documented the vast changes in Nigeria following the date of Sanni Abacha." Ideally speaking there was nothing wrong with Jeff's recruitment and elevation. But the problem was, can he overcome the triple prejudices that could attend his position in Lagos? Under the circumstances he finds himself now in Nigeria, can he present objective reports of events in the country? First, it is no secret that many African journalists and intellectuals harbor a terrible grudge against Nigeria for reasons best known to them. Many of them seem not to be able to outgrow the impression they have that Nigeria is excessively domineering in Africa and enjoys disproportionate wealth, talents, recognition and freedom that are meant perhaps for the whole of Africa. Second as a new employee of CNN Koinange would necessarily try to impress and by so doing overplay his hands by creating scenarios that would not favor the image of the volatile Nigeria and enable him to report objectively about her. Third, as a new black bureau chief in a corporation dominated by celebrity white bureau reporters of legendary pedigrees, he would most likely take literally the ideological mission of his parent Media Corporation, which often tends to work against the aspirations of those in the developing countries.

It is very unfortunate that our fears on a Jeff Koinange anchorage of the CNN bureau in Nigeria have come true. But I do not think that he sinned more than the many other foreign media reporters who have been reporting negatively about our country since her independence. In fact many Nigerians seem to be overreacting against that single negative report on CNN. The whole stage-managed reactions against CNN seem tending towards being carried to a ridiculous end. Over the years the BBC had made a living carrying out all sorts of negative reports on Nigeria. How many times have their reporters been threatened with expulsion, or how many times have we staged demonstrations against their unfavorable reports? Both the minister of information Jerry Gana that is trying to expel Koinange from Nigeria and the Lagos State Government that is threatening to sue CNN for a whopping two billion dollars for phantom business deals lost in the events of the so-called negative reports are way out of line. In fact they are on the verge of embarrassing themselves and the whole nation. What are they afraid of and what are they trying to hide? Who is really afraid of the threat of another military rule? In fact it is my guts feeling that a military clique that is eyeing an opportunity to disrupt the current democratic government in Nigeria is actually seeking out a way to embark on a mass suicide. Military government is forever out of fashion in Nigeria. This, in and of itself, has become a self-evident fact. The action against Koinange should have ended and must end with people registering their protest over his report. To threaten Koinange or make it uncomfortable for him to discharge his journalistic duties in Nigeria over that singular report appears totally unreasonable. He may in fact have reported the genuine expressions of some Nigerians in the face of the strings of crises that caused monumental losses of lives in Lagos. After all Nigerians are notorious for clamoring for military rule whenever things do not pan out as they expect. Koinange may have done all the advocates of democracy a holy duty by alerting them to what is simmering at the grassroots. Considering the obvious lapses of the present administration that have resulted in monumental losses of life and property, is it any wonder that some fickle Nigerians would sooner than later begin to romanticize about the messianism of a military rule? Nigerian leaders are famous for always insisting on papering-over cracks than mend them. We are a people who would prefer to paint-over boiling lava that may soon burst into major volcanic eruptions than find a way to save lives. Perhaps it needs a daring journalist like Koinange to get down to the ordinary people of our country so as to unveil the mountains of their pent-up feelings and frustrations. No matter whatever anybody may say about Koinange and his reports, his message seems pretty clear, ordinary people in Nigeria are hurting. Obasanjo's democracy has not delivered for them especially along the line of security. Some of them are understandably in the market searching for alternative governments to the type of democracy being delivered to them at the present moment. Let us try to address the message of Koinange's report and not kill the messenger. Let us give Nigerians a good democracy. Democratic government is fantastic when it works for the people. But when it becomes a vehicle for a few elite to feed fat while the populace goes hungry, when democracy endangers the lives of the common people, the masses have the right to express their frustrations with whatever language they find appropriate and journalists of whatever nationality have a duty to report them.

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THISDAY NEWS  -  Feb. 17, 2002.

Nigeria Wants CNN Reporter Removed
From Samuel Ajayi in Abuja

The Federal Government has asked the American Cable News Network (CNN) to withdraw its correspondent from the country over perceived bias in his reportage on Nigeria.

This was disclosed yesterday by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Professor Jerry Gana in Abuja.

He said a demand has been made that the CNN correspondent in Nigeria, Jeff Koinage, be transfered from the country with immediate effect.

Speaking during an exclusive interview with THISDAY in Abuja yesterday, Gana said that following the incriminating reports on the recent crisis in Lagos during which the Kenya-born journalist said that Nigerians now prefered military rule to democracy, the correspondent was invited by him and was told in clear terms why his report was quite inimical to the well-being of the country.

"The cards were laid on the table for him and he became sober," Gana said.

"I asked him to give me the direct number of his boss in Atlanta in the United States and I told him (the boss) point blank that the image of CNN was at stake in Nigeria if this correspondent was not transfered," he added. Gana said the decision of the Federal Government initailly was to declare the reporter persona-non-grata and then be deported. Gana said that he was the one that advised the government to soft peddal, and let him invite the correspondent, which he did.

Gana said that by the demonstrations that followed the report of the CNN in Port Harcourt and Jos, it was obvious Nigerians wanted democracy and were ready to do anything to support it.

Asked if there was any substance in the reports making the rounds that perhaps some Western powers were behind the negative publicity the country has been getting lately, Gana said it could not be ruled out.

"You have to bear in mind that since the advent of democracy, the image of the country has been rising in the international community. It is therefore expected that some powers might be uncomfortable with this," Gana explained. He however said that the real threat to democracy is within the country. He said it is the activities of disgruntled politicians who wanted power at all costs.

"We know that there are those fanning the embers of ethnic clashes in the land as 2003 approaches. But I think they should wait till next year to face us," he stated.

Speaking further, he said these "anti-democractic elements" have been feeding the international media false reports about the country and using their clout to cause disaffection in the land. He however said government is aware of their activities and would take appropriate measures in due course.

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When you hear News, wait for the sacrament of confirmation

– Pat Nsionu


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Rudolf Okonkwo – [One of the Nigeriaworld Columnists]

Friday, January 25, 2002

20 HOMEWORK QUESTIONS FOR WADA NAS

Few days ago, I requested an e-mail interview with Alhaji Wada Nas. He wrote me back presenting the conditions for such an interview. One of his conditions was that he would not send the answers to me. He would answer me in his column on Weekly Trust newspaper and gamji.com. Wada Nas wrote, "This in my small mind is how to boost the northern based media that are already dominated. I fear that if I allow you to publish my interview in your column, you may withdraw the Al-Jazeera award you gave me. Since I value that award so much, I will not disappoint you by publishing in your column because this is not a place for a bad satire."

Since there is no hope of getting a response to the questions from him, I hereby make available to you, my readers, the questions to Wada Nas.

Q1: Do you consider yourself first an African and then an Arab or is it the other way round?

Q2: Suppose you and I agree that we Nigerians have a very serious problem, that we have a common enemy, a common oppressor, and a common exploiter. What to you is this serious problem? And who is this common enemy, common oppressor or common exploiter?

Q3: What can't you stand about Northern Nigeria?

Q4: Americans have affirmative action aimed at helping Blacks and women who have been discriminated against for over 300 years. Nigeria has a similar system known as quota system. In America, over the last 10 years, affirmative action has led to the emergence of the so-called angry White male who feels discriminated against. How do you justify the practicing of quota system in Nigeria? Do you consider the anger in most Nigerians who believe in merit legitimate?

Q5: During a speech you delivered at the 8th Annual Convention of Zumunta Association USA in U.S.A, you used what many considered selective statistics. What were the sources of the statistics you used in that speech?

Q6: If your critics claim that, publicly, you appear sad that Nigeria has continued to deteriorate but that privately you seem happy that it is happening under Obasanjo's watch. Would that be a good characterization of the thrust of your commentaries?

Q7: Many have suggested that in the North, there is a severe scarcity of the character and personality of Ahmadu Bello. If you agree, what could be responsible for the scarcity? If you disagree, why has the North made little progress since the days of Ahmadu Bello?

Q8: Some of your critics are of the opinion that, rather than condemn non-performance of past leaders of Northern extraction, you find good alibi for them. How does that help advance the society?

Q9: Whenever the name Sani Abacha is mentioned, you are ready to single-handedly challenge whatever opinions of him there are out there. Has it ever crossed your mind that Abacha might be in a bad place and may wish that you backpedal? And have you ever lied for your own ideals?

Q10: Looking at the territory now called Nigeria, in the last 200 years, enormous changes have taken place. Before 1804 when the jihad began, Hausa states like Gobir, Katsina, Zamfara, Kano, and Zaria were in control of what is now known as Northern Nigeria. In 1808 when Usman dan Fodio and the Qadiriyah brotherhood predominantly made of Fulani Mallams who arrived in Northern Nigeria some 700 years ago, overthrew these Hausa States, they forced various Hausa Dynasties to flee. The Zaria Dynasty ran to Abuja, the Kebbi rulers ran to Argungu, the Katsina Dynasty ran to Maradi in present day Niger. What changes do you think will occur in the current territory called Nigeria in 100 to 200 years from now? Who will be in and who will be out?

Q11: You are opposed to resource control. You are opposed to a National Conference. Yet, you represent the strongest advocates for one indivisible nation called Nigeria. Are you currently getting what you want from Nigeria?

Q12: The President of Pakistan recently said that he rejects terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. He said that the time for the kind of Jihad the Shariaists of Northern Nigeria are pursuing is over. The jihad that is needed today, he stated, is the one that will remove illiteracy and poverty. Do you share such a view? If yes, why? If not, why not?

Q13: "Marriage" an Hausa proverb says, "is friendship if there is no child". What to your mind is the child of Nigeria's 1914 amalgamation?

Q14: Arewa People's Congress once said that, "We are committed to the preservation of Nigeria as one indivisible, sovereign nation as bequeathed to Nigeria on October 1, 1960. We make this proclamation conscious of the subterranean efforts by certain ethnic and political interests bent on disrupting our Nigerian project, though isolated but definitely projected schemes to precipitate anarchy". Do you share this sentiment? What to you is the Nigerian project?

Q15: Do you know what the British and the Americans told Gowon and the coup plotters of 1966 that made them abort their plan to pull the North out of Nigeria?

Q16: It is generally believed that the North is the only part of Nigeria that can secede from Nigeria and nobody will raise a hand against such move. Why is that so? Given the same privileged position, many other groups would have walked out of Nigeria. Do you know why they feel that way?

Q17: In "Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie, Gibreel's girlfriend, Allie, observed that, "The worst thing about him. was his genius for thinking himself slighted, belittled, under attack. It became almost impossible to mention anything to him, no matter how reasonable, no matter how gently put." Why shouldn't observers of Nigeria say the same thing about your viewpoint of the North, which you have consistently portrayed since you ceased to be a minister?

Q18: Writing in his book, THE PURIFICATION OF THE HEART FROM KIBR (Pride), Usman dan Fodio warned of the danger in being proud and arrogant. He wrote that self-exaltation does not make anyone arrogant as long as one sees that another person is greater than him or his equal. What makes one arrogant, dan Fodio wrote is when, "he exerts his own value in relationship to someone else, he despises the one below him and put himself above others' company and confidence." To this kind of people, dan Fodio warned, "You own neither your heart nor yourself. You desire something while your destruction may be in it, and you detest something while your life may be in it. You find some foods delicious when they destroy and kill you, and you find remedies repugnant when they help you and save you. You are not safe for a moment, day and night. Your sight, knowledge, and power may be stripped away: your limbs may become semi-paralyzed, your intellect may be stolen away, your ruh may be snatched away, and all you love in this world may be taken from you." When you hear admonitions like this, what does it say to you? Do you see in it the trouble with the Fulanis?

Q19: Prof. Khalaf, a professor of Sharia at Cairo School of Law stated, "all Sharia rules are based on their reason and the existence and non-existence of a rule depends on the existence or non-existence of its reason." He also wrote, "Sharia rule is applicable if its reason is present, even if the wisdom of the rule is not understood but that a rule is inapplicable if its reason does not exist, even if the wisdom of the rule is clear." Based on this, why must Safiya Huseini die?

Q20: The history of ethnic and religious riots in the North began as far back as the 1940s. The number of deaths suffered by various Southern groups over those years when tabulated must be an embarrassment to humanity. The Igbos have particularly paid a very huge price for their illusive belief in their right as Nigerians to live freely in any part of the country they choose. Why has the North remained unsafe for Southerners? What will it take to make the North safe for Southerners?

 

When you hear News, wait for the sacrament of confirmation

– Pat Nsionu

 

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CHICAGO TRIBUNE  -  INTERNET EDITION – Feb. 1st 2002.

U.S. charges traveler smuggled in heroin
All things must pass and drugs do, authorities say

By Matt O'Connor
Tribune staff reporter
Published January 31, 2002

An airline passenger who had swallowed 120 condoms filled with heroin was caught last weekend at O'Hare International Airport as he tried to smuggle the narcotics into the country, federal authorities said Wednesday.

The smuggling effort failed because the suspect began passing the pellets of heroin before he reached a U.S. Customs Service checkpoint at O'Hare, authorities said.


An inspector discovered 15 of the heroin-filled condoms in the carry-on luggage of the defendant, identified as Akindele Rotimi, according to charges filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court. Rotimi was taken to Resurrection Hospital, where he passed 105 more condoms, authorities said.

The heroin ingested by the slightly built Rotimi weighed more than two pounds, the charges alleged.

Rotimi had flown from Nigeria to Amsterdam and arrived in Chicago on Sunday, authorities said.

Investigators believe the heroin was destined for the Chicago area, said Larry Dennelly, who is in charge of investigations for the Customs Service at O'Hare.

At a court appearance Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Atty. Eric Wilson said Rotimi is a U.S. citizen but is believed to have been living in Nigeria for about seven years.

Prosecutors are seeking to have him detained. U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Ashman scheduled a detention hearing for Tuesday.

If he is convicted of the narcotics charge, Rotimi, 20, faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to life imprisonment, Wilson said.

Dennelly said it took Rotimi from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning to pass the pellets at the hospital.

"Obviously, it's very dangerous," said Dennelly, who leads a task force of investigators from the Illinois State Police, the Chicago Police Department, several suburban departments, the Cook County state's attorney's office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in addition to the Customs Service.

"The balloon can leak or burst inside the courier. Given the purity level of the narcotics, that could result in serious consequences or death."

It usually takes a couple of days before the pellets pass, Dennelly said. The couriers typically swallow the heroin-filled pellets a few hours before their flight to the United States, Dennelly said.


Copyright © 2002, Chicago Tribune

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Want to go to UK?
NIGERIAN professionals longing to live and work in the United Kingdom are now at liberty to fulfill their dreams as the British government on Monday launched its version of the American visa lottery.

In a message posted on the website of the programme tagged:  The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, the British government said the scheme was aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the United Kingdom in the global economy.

“This programme is a new way of allowing individuals to migrate to the United Kingdom. It aims to provide an individual migration route for highly skilled persons who have the skills and experience required by the United Kingdom to compete in the global economy”, a statement on the programme read.

Unlike the US Diversity Visa Lottery programme where any applicant can be chosen by chance, the UK programme is restricted to highly skilled individuals.

Although the UK government said any individual could apply for the programme, it went ahead to advise whoever could not score 75 points  in five areas to shelve the idea. The areas include educational qualifications, work experience, past earnings, achievement in one’s chosen field and HSMP priority applications.

In the area of educational qualifications, Ph.D holders are awarded 30 points while 25 points is given to those with   Master’s degrees. First degree holders are given 15 points.Any individual with five years work experience, or three years for Ph.D holders, will score 15 points.

Additional 10 points is obtainable by those with two years work experience at a senior level or in a specialist position within the person’s chosen field.

In the area of past earnings, applicants are required to demonstrate minimum earned income in their countries of residence.

The minimum income level differed from country to country to reflect the disparities in living standard.

The minimum income level for applicants from Nigeria is £15,000 per annum and the scores from this area ranged from 25   to 50 points.

Individuals with exceptional or significant achievements in their chosen professions can also score between 25 and 50 points. Achievements are viewed from the perspectives of awards won by the individual applicant or inventions such applicants would have made.

The HSMP priority applications field is restricted to general practitioners.

There is a maximum of 155 points out of which applicants are expected to score at least 75 points.

In addition to scoring 75 points, applicants must also demonstrate an ability to continue in their chosen field in the UK, must have enough savings to support themselves and their families and must be willing to make the United Kingdom their main house.

The applications are to be made to the nearest British Embassy or High Commission and they are processed within one week of receiving them.

Successful applicants are given a visa for 12 months in the first instance. This can be renewed for a period of three years followed by a permanent residence arrangement if the applicants so desire.

The applicants’ spouses and dependant children are eligible to accompany or join them.

 

VANGUARD - -- Thursday, 31st January, 2002

7,500 Nigerians get Belgian visas in two years   --  By Samuel Udeala

THE return of Nigeria to democracy has been described a positive development that has contributed in changing the perception of foreigners about Nigeria.

This positive remarks were made by the Chancellor-Consul, the Embassy of Belgium, Mr. Oswald Grantois, in an interview with Vanguard in Lagos, last week.

He said that the positive development has been reflected in the increase in trade volume between the two countries and the number of Nigerians who have applied for visas to travel to Belgium.

Mr. Grantois said that since May 1999, approximately 7,500 visas have been issued.

According to him, this is a positive development, considering that in the past, especially, during the military regime, the number was very small.

On the visa application, so far, he said: "we receive visa applications three times a week this moment, which means that on a weekly basis, we interview on the average some 150 applicants. For our people at the Visa Section, it remains a stressful and time-consuming activity. Most of the applicants do not take sufficient time to go through the visa application instructions, files are presented in disorderly manner, documents are lacking and applicants try to substitute the missing documents with a torrent of words".

Real businessmen and genuine traders should not meet with any problems at the Visa Section, and one of the embassy’s goals is to further encourage commercial, cultural, scientific, etc., exchanges. But what do you do if approximately 60 per cent of the submitted bank statements, after checking with the banks, appear to be forged, at least 40 per cent of the memoranda or articles of association, certificates of incorporation, income tax clearance certificates, bills of lading, etc., are false or unrealiable.

You just ask for more documentation trying to find elements that confirm or weaken the genuiness of the applicant. What do you do if entire delegations, sports teams or other cultural groups, sometimes sponsored by official bodies, simply disappear once arrived.

The plague of forgeries is so serious that banks, in fear for their reputation, are asking and are actively cooperating with the embassy to have the applicants in question arrested. In view of this situation, we will soon be obliged to take a stance of zero intolerance in cooperation with our Schengen partners.

On the other hand, we vividly wish to work with the Nigerian authorities, but only in a serious way. On the recent initiative of Busworld Africa to revamp the Nigerian auto sector, he said:

"It is a superb initiative. Busworld Africa creates a forum in which people from the public sector, as well as from the private sector, from different parts of the continent meet and can exchange their knowledge and experiences in many domains: technical, infra-structural and organisational".

"Also, it enhances the competitiveness amongst the manufacturers. Nigeria, and Lagos in particular, needs to rethink and revamp its public transport system in order to make it smoother, safer and more comfortable for the passengers. But this means more than just introducing new buses. Over the past few years, new agglomerations have come to life, and the present road infrastructure has become obsolete".

Many areas of Lagos have become all too congested. This congestion, though, is not only caused by the saturation of the existing roads. There are also other elements in play: roads in bad state of repair, ubiquitous breakdown of cars, lack of discipline on the part of the drivers, lack of respect towards law enforcement officers; lack of road signalisation. Studies have been made in the past, but have unfortunately been put aside. Also, more of maintenance culture and respect for property should be fostered. Another question is if mass transport belongs to the domain of the state or to the sector of private investment, or can they work hand-in-hand?

But above all, we should not loose sight of the fact that the transport sector, as it is now, has a huge social dimension.

In short, Busworld Africa will be an opportunity to nurture ideas of how society could benefit from a transport system that relieves stress and chaos.

==============++++++++++++++++====================

ThisDay News  -  01/02/2002   (Feb. 1)

Prices of Tokunbo Vehicles Go Up Again
Maritime watch
By Francis Ugwoke

Prices of fairly used vehicles, otherwise known as tokunbo, have gone up  again at both the ports and sales depots, even as govenment appears to have suspended its earlier decision to ban some categories of the items.

A survery conducted at the ports and sales depots showed that the increase is between N40,000 and N200,000 on most of the vehicles, depending on the models.

The increase is seen as a reaction to the government announcement that vehicles above five years of manufacture will not be imported into the country.

But the development is seen as a surprise since government may have listened to criticisms against its announcement to ban some of the vehicles.

At the Roll-on-Roll-Off (RORO) port, prices of the items and clearing charges have all gone up.

For instance, a padded 230 V-Boot Benz car now costs N800,000 with clearing charges of N180,000, as against N600,000 and N150,000 respectively, as at October last year.

Other cars include Opel Omega, which sells for N250,000 , and clearing charge of between N95,000 and N100,000, away from its October price of N180,000 and N80,000 for clearing charges.

Another car which price has gone up includes Toyota (2 doors), which is now N200,000 instead of N160,000, although the clearing charge, N85,000, has remained the same.

Others include Golf (2 doors) - N160,000 instead of N140,000; Golf (4 doors) - N210,000 as against N180,000.

The clearing charges of the cars are between N75,000 and N80,000.

For Mercedes Benz 190E class, the price is N240,000, instead of N180,000; Audi '80, '92/'93 model - N260,000 as against N240,000, and Honda '90/'91 - N390,000, instead of N340,000 about four months ago. The clearing charges range from N90 to N120,000.

The prices of the items are not fixed, so that buyers may pay more than the prices quoted here depending on the neatness of the car.

However, at the Berger car depot, a popular spot in Lagos noted for the sale of vehicles, THISDAY gathered that Honda, '86 model, sells for N450,000 instead of N350,000 which was the price a few months ago.

For '90 model Honda, (Allah) the price is N750,000, away from N650,000, while Nissan Bluebird now sells for N380,000, instead of N350,000.

For Toyota, '86 and '90 models, the prices are N450,000 and N700,000, instead of N400,000 and N650,000 respecively that they were sold earlier.

Our investigation also showed that Mercedes Benz V-Boot (padded) now sells for about N1.2million instead of N900,000, while the price of V-Boot, '88 model is N750,000, from N650,000.

Car dealers whose views were sought on the reason for the rise in prices, explained that it was as a result of the rush for purchase of the items last December.

According to them, prices of cars always go up every December, and they hardly come down.

It was also gathered that another reason was because of the statement credited to President Olusegun Obasanjo that government was going to ban importation of vehicles over five years of date of manufacture, effective this year.

Many thought that the government was going to effect the decision in January, and had rushed to buy their cars before the ban, believing that it would impact on the prices of the items.

At the ports, the Nigeria Cutoms Service said it has not received any circular banning the importation of any Tokunbo vehicle, a development which industry watchers have interpreted to mean that government may have decided to suspend its decision on the issue, apparently because of its wide condemnation

==============++++++++++++++=================

 

VANGUARD  -  Tuesday, 29th January, 2002

Obasanjo stuns Lagosians with nonchalance

Says "Shut up. I took the opportunity of being here to see what could be done. I don’t need to be here"

By Kingsley Omonobi & Prince Osuagwu

LAGOS— PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday stunned thousands of displaced Lagosians including soldiers and their families who suffered the consequences of the bomb explosions at Ikeja Cantonment when he said "I didn’t need to be here to see anything because my being here will not solve anything."

Apparently angry at what he called the unruly behavour of the displaced persons who refused to listen to him, the President said, "shut up. I took the opportunity of being here to see what could be done. I don’t need to be here."

"Afterall, the Governor of the state is here, the General Officer Commanding Two Division and the Brigade Commander as well as the Police Commissioner are all here. These set of people could between them do what needs to be done. I really don’t need to be here."

The President who arrived the Cantonment as early as 7.30a.m from Ota in Ogun State where he had gone for an undisclosed function was without his Defence Minister, National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defence Staff or the Chief of Army Staff.

President Obasanjo promised food relief for the displaced and affected residents even as he denied knowledge of any loss of life in the incident.

His words, "we need to get emergency food relief available to the displaced and affected people. Policemen and other security would be sent out so that children would be collected and re-united with members of their family."

To Lagosians, he said, "we would try to learn not to allow these kind of things repeat itself. Right now we don’t know exactly what happened, the actual cause or who to blame, but we must thank all those who acted and tried to see that the situation did not get worse than what was witnessed."

"So far I have not heard of any loss of life in the incident" the President claimed.

=================+++++++++++++++++==================

I was misinformed on tragedy —Obasanjo
•Would have shelved Katsina trip
•Cancels US visit
•Donates N200m to victims

Yemi Giwa, Abuja
PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday apologised to Nigerians over his comments and subsequent actions over the bomb explosions that occurred last Sunday, explaining that he was not informed of any casualty figure when  he visited Lagos on Monday.

As a mark of respect for the victims of the bomb disaster, the President has also cancelled his trips to the United States and Venezuela.

At the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, the President and his colleagues also observed two minutes silence in memory of the departed innocent souls.

The President,  inaugurated an 11-man Lagos explosion disaster relief led by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Uffot Ekaete.

Describing the incident as a “tragedy of monumental proportions”,  Obasanjo explained that when he visited the site of the tragedy he was not fully abreast of the real situation and the extent of the calamity.

Remorseful Obasanjo said that if he had known the extent of the disaster he would have cancelled his scheduled trip to Katsina and remained in Lagos for the entire day to mourn with the bereaved.

Meanwhile, Vice President Atiku Abubakar today leads a Federal Government delegation to Lagos to visit the sites of the tragic deaths and as well condole some families of the deceased.

The President’s spokesman, Mr. Tunji Oseni, explained that the President’s cancellation of the trip was voluntary and not as a result of pressure from anybody or any quarter.

According to him, “he decided on his own to cancel his proposed trip to the United States. He did not do it because of pressures from any quarters but because of the feeling he has and the proportion of the tragedy. The attention of the President has been prompt and deep.”

The House of Representatives had on Tuesday   passed a resolution urging the President to shelve the trip.

Mr. Oseni, however, cautioned against politicising the disaster unnecessarily.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Lagos Explosion Disaster Relief Committee, Obasanjo said the directive was aimed at forestalling future occurrence of the kind of explosions which rocked Lagos last Sunday from the Ikeja Cantonment of the Nigerian Army. He further expressed government’s resolve to investigate causes of the explosions as part of efforts to avoid future occurrence.

On his utterances when he visited the scene of the explosions on Monday, Obasanjo said his comments were guided by the fact that he did not know there were loss of lives. “When I visited the site of the tragic explosion at the Ikeja Cantonment on Monday morning, no loss of life was reported to me and my comment then was to thank God that no life was lost,” he stressed.

Obasanjo also said, “If I had received any reported case of loss of life, I would have cancelled my trip to Katsina and would have remained in Lagos for the day.” He explained that the magnitude of loss of lives and property could melt a “heart of stone”, adding that news on the number of people that died as a result of the mishap reached him later same day after he had arrived Katsina for an official visit.

Obasanjo also said that he had cancelled a proposed visit to New York where he would have attended the world economic summit, adding that Vice-President Atiku Abubakar would visit Lagos on Thursday to condole  families that could be seen.

He said the committee had five terms of reference which were to establish the identity of victims, the nature of losses, receiving and administering all contributions and donations, identifying other sources of relief and submitting report to the government.

The committee, which has three months to conclude what Obasanjo described as “bringing immediate relief to victims”, has Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette, as chairman. The committee also has the Minister of State for Defence (Army), Lagos State Commissioner for Special Duties, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency, publisher of  ThisDay Newspapers, Nduka Obaigbena, Emmanuel Ijewere of the Nigeria Red Cross, as members.

Other members are Mr. Dolapo Atekoja, who will represent the civil society; Mr. Akinpelu of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria; Chief Odeyemi of NACCIMA and a secretary to be appointed by Ekaette.

Obasanjo, who announced a Federal Government donation of N200 million to the fund, appealed to Nigerians to donate to the fund as well as assist the committee in identifying genuine victims for purposes of recording losses and bringing  relief.

==================++++++++++++++++++====================

VANGUARD  -  Friday, 1st February, 2002

Ex-GOC faults Obasanjo's apology

By Kingsley Omonobi

LAGOS— RETIRED Major-General Emmanuel Abisoye erstwhile G.O.C. of the 3 Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army yesterday faulted President Olusegun Obasanjo’s apology over comments he (Obasanjo) made when he visited the Ikeja Cantonment. He said the President would not have been misadvised if he had gone to see the level of damage and destructions himself.

"He was here, so he should have gone round. If he had spared the time to do that, nobody would have advised him wrongly. He would have appreciated the magnitude of the problem and understood the feelings of the soldiers."

Describing the calamity as an eye-opener, General Abisoye who was at the Cantonment to see how Retired Military Officers could assist the displaced soldiers, stated that "we should now begin to plan for situations like this.

"Honestly, this devastation is an eye-opener to the need to prepare for proper emergencies like this. We have forgotten that we are an expanding nation and things like this must always happen whether we like it or not."

The retired general further said he was distressed by the suffering of soldiers who were moving about unco-ordinated and complaining of maltreatment adding that "if I see your commanders, I will let them know what you are going through. But you must understand that they are going through a lot of pressure too."

*HE WHO FEARS SUFFERING IS ALREADY SUFFERING FROM WHAT HE FEARS*

VANGUARD - Thursday, 31st January, 2002

Obasanjo apologises, cancels US trip lOgohi allays fears over Naval Base, Ojo

By Rotimi Ajayi, Kingsley Omonobi & Kenneth Ehigiator

LAGOS — IN a rare show of remorse, President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday, withdrew the statement he made Monday while on a sympathy visit to the Ikeja Cantonment, scene of last Sunday’s bomb explosions in which over 700 people lost their lives.

He also cancelled his planned trip to the United States of America (USA) today for an economic summit.

However, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi assured Lagosians that there was no cause for panic over the arms depot at the Naval Base, Ojo in Lagos following rumours that its contents might also explode possibly with more devastation.

President Obasanjo had, during Monday’s visit, snapped at thousands of people displaced by the explosions: "Shut up. I took the opportunity of being here to see what could be done. I don’t need to be here.

"After all, the governor of the state is here, the General Officer Commanding, Two Division and the Brigade Commander as well as the Police Commissioner were all here. These set of people could between them do what needs to be done. I really don’t need to be here."

He had thought the people were unruly in their conduct on the occasion of his visit.

The President remarks immediately triggered strident criticisms from Nigerians who said he should have shown some restraints in his comments on account of the circumstances surrounding the incident.

But inaugurating the Committee on the Administration of the Lagos Explosion Relief Fund in Abuja, President Obasanjo said his comment on Tuesday was "occasioned by apparent belief that no life was lost."

The President announced a donation of N200 million from the Federal Government and another N100 million from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the fund.

He said: "When I visited the site of the tragic explosion at the Ikeja Cantonment on Monday morning, no loss of life was reported to me and my comment then was to thank God that no life was lost.

"Whatever other remarks I made at that time was occasioned by apparent belief that no life was lost. Indeed, if I had received any report of loss of life, I would have cancelled my trip to Katsina and would have remained in Lagos for the day," adding that he was informed of loss of life only on his arrival in Katsina.

Continuing, he said: "With such magnitude of losses of lives and properties, a heart of stone would melt and nobody can be more human and humane than me in reacting to victims of any disaster as I have proved in peace time and war time."

He said the establishment of the fund represented Nigeria’s barometer of compassion.

"The scale of the disaster which faced and continues to face our fellow country men and women is immense but we can assure them that we are with them in these trying times and help them back on their feet as quickly as possible by the manner in which we respond to this fund," he said.

He directed all military formations in the country to review the military policy on storage of explosives and military wares with a view to preventing a re-occurrence of the Lagos explosion.

The fund headed by Chief Ufot Ekaette, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), will among other things establish the identities of victims, establish the nature of loss, receive and administer in collaboration with some relevant bodies all contributions and donations made to the relief fund.

It has three months to handle its assignment.

On the cancellation of the President’s visit to the US, his chief spokesman, Mr. Tunji Oseni said it had nothing to do with Tuesday’s resolution of the House of Representatives that he (Obasanjo) should stay at home in sympathy with the victims of the explosions.

Information Minister, Prof. Jerry Gana told State House correspondents that yesterday’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) deliberated on the Lagos explosions.

lOgohi says no cause for alarm

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi yesterday in Ikeja reassured millions of Lagosians that the main arms depot at the Naval Base, Ojo stocking the largest number of bombs in the country would not go up in explosions.

Those expressing such fears were doing so out of ignorance, he said on a visit to the metropolis.

His words: "I have been to the Naval Base. I saw the ammunition myself. They are well kept and protected. There is no cause for alarm. Nothing like that would happen.

Admiral Ogohi who arrived the Ikeja Cantonment at about 10.15 a.m. in company of his Chief of Training and Operations, Maj.-Gen. Onu, Air Officer Commanding, Logistics Command, AVM Sam Odesola and the Director of Defence Information, Col. Ganiyu Adewale dismissed suggestion that the explosions might have been the handiwork of saboteurs.

"Right now and from what I have seen, there is a very remote possibility of sabotage. I will not say there is sabotage now. There is no trace of sabotage. However, a board of inquiry has been set up to look into the matter and that should unravel the cause of the explosions."

Asked whether the Nigerian military had the capability to evacuate the unexploded bombs and relocate the dump as directed by the Defence Minister, the CDS said, we have the capability to take care of the unexploded bombs. As you can see yourself, soldiers are now trying to remove the debris. We have our soldiers working round the clock."

But he did not rule out any foreign assistance in the evacuation of the bombs.

"Before seeking assistance, we should be able to do the evacuation ourselves. But if any assistance comes we would accept. But let us make use of what we have in this country first," he said.

To the officers, other ranks and their families, Admiral Ogohi who was visibly concerned about their condition said, "I sympathise with you all, I want to assure you that everything will be done within available resources to ameliorate your situation."

lTinubu, Ogbeh want national awards for divers

Gov. Bola Tinubu of Lagos State and the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Audu Ogbeh, yesterday recommended for national awards, volunteers involved in the recovery of corpses of victims of last Sunday’s bomb explosion.

Both parties made the recommendation when Chief Audu Ogbeh led the PDP executives, three ministers and women leadership of the party on a condolence visit to Gov. Tinubu on the incident, even as the state government received no less than N7 million and other relief materials donated for the victims.

First to speak on the recommendation was Chief Ogbeh, who said the volunteers deserved national award for their heroic deeds and sense of patriotism.

According to him, "those volunteers did what some of us (politicians) have not been able to do. We were at the Oke-Afa Canal, Ejigbo, where they were still recovering bodies."

Chief Ogbeh, who expressed regret at the high death toll created by the incident, said politics should be completely de-emphasised from the incidence of the exploitation because, according to him, "tragedy unites humanity."

He, thereafter, donated N2 million to the relief fund created by the state government to provide reliefs for victims of the explosion.

Internal Affairs Minister, Chief Sunday Afolabi, who was on the entourage of their PDP national executives, did not agree less with the party boss.

He, indeed, said the volunteers should be compensated for the wonderful job they did without prodding.

Chief Afolabi commended the governor for the manner he rose to the occasion of the bomb explosion, adding that the death toll could have been higher, but for his (Tinubu’s) tactful handling of the situation through his television broadcast.

That move, Afolabi added, helped a great deal in calming frayed nerves.

Gov. Tinubu did not also agree less with the PDP Chairman, Chief Ogbeh, saying the action of the volunteers was a demonstration of the love Nigerians have for one another.

"Those volunteers were wonderful. They did everything on their own. It’s only yesterday (Tuesday) that we asked the Navy to give a helping hand in the rescue efforts," he said.

He lamented the absence of rescue equipment in the country, stressing that no Federal Government fire service in the state was functioning, except the one at the airport.

In this respect, Gov. Tinubu re-stated his call on the Federal Government to accord Lagos State special allocation from the federation account for maintenance of its infrastructure, especially considering its status as the economic nerve centre of the country and former Federal Capital.

He contended there was no reason the state should not enjoy the special 1% allocation Abuja is currently enjoying because of its Federal Capital status.

Tinubu pleaded the need for the Federal Government to divorce politics from what was the legitimate demands and rights of the state, with respect to what was due it from the federation account.

The N5 million donated by Ondo State Government brought the monetary donation to the relief fund floated by the state government to N7 million.

Other personalities in Chief Audu Ogbeh’s entourage were the Special Duties Minister, Mr. Yomi Edu, Communications Minister, Chief Haruna Elewi, Chief (Mrs.) Roseline Anenih, who is the party’s Women Leader and Chief Olabode George, Chairman of the South-West zone of the party.

================++++++++++++++++=================

 

 

VANGUARD  --  Wednesday, 30th January, 2002

Why many drowned at canal, by survivor

By Victor Ahiuma-Young & Innocent Anaba

LAGOS — A TWENTY-eight-year old indigene of Enugu State and motorcycle (Okada) operator, Mr. Sunday Eze yesterday narrated how he escaped being drowned at the Ajao Estate end of the canal that claimed hundreds of lives during the stampede following the bomb explosions at the Ikeja Military Cantonment Sunday night.

Mr. Eze who spoke at the premises of Ikeja General Hospital Lagos, also gave insight into why many people died at the canal.

The motorcycle operator who had come to look for his sister Miss Okamaka Martin at the mortuary, was very elated when he was told that Miss Martin also survived and was recuperating at her boy friend's house.

His words: "I was riding my machine (motorcycle) when the sound became too much I had to park my motorcycle and locked it up. Then, I saw people running into the canal. There was nothing I could do. So, I remove my slippers and jumped inside. In the water there is something like grasses (water hyacinth) to swim is not easy unless you force and struggle very hard.

"When you enter, people will fall on top of you and press you down. If you are not strong you will not get out. Again, I was lucky that many people did not fall on me to weigh me down because that was what happened to most of them who died.

"I just struggled to come out. Even when I came out, I fainted and lay in a corner where I rested for over five minutes, before I got up again.

"I was carrying my sister on the Okada. When we got to the canal, before I could lock up my bike, she had already entered into the water. Since that Sunday, we have not seen her. That is why we came here (Ikeja General Hospital Mortuary). We divided ourselves (relatives and friends) into two some went to Ladipo to check her boy friend’s place."

"They have come now to tell us that the boy friend said the girl is at his place. The boy friend said she was able to swim across. That she is alive and resting. I have not seen her. I will go there now to confirm."

"We jumped into the canal at Ajao Estate. I have not been to that area before. We live in Mafoluku. It was the explosions that we were running away from. Some part of the water (canal) was covered with grasses (water hyacinth). Some people did not even know there was a canal there. They were just running anywhere they see people moving to".

"If it is true that my sister has survived, I thank God. I will go and see her first before I will know what to do," he added.

====================++++++++++++++++====================

GUARDIAN  -  Friday, February 1, 2002.

Nigeria receives world sympathy, helping hand

IN its time of distress occasioned by last Sunday's bomb blasts in Lagos which claimed hundreds of lives and invaluable property, friends of Nigeria from all over the world, have been sending condolence messages in torrents.

And they have also been backing their expression of compassion with material aids.

From the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan came a message to President Olusegun Obasanjo expressing shock and grief over the losses resulting from the incident.

Annan in the message also expressed his feeling of sorrow to families of those who lost their lives or were reported missing.

The UN chief gave an assurance that the UN would provide any assistance that it could to Nigeria.

In response to the request by the Nigerian government, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has announced that a three-member disaster assessment and co-ordination team would be deployed to Lagos to determine the needs arising from the disaster.

OCHA has also authorised the disbursement of $30,000 (N3.36 million) in grant to assist in recovery efforts in Lagos.

The UN indicated that relief needs would be determined after the affected populations were settled in two camps being prepared to receive survivors.

Also, South Africa has offered to assist Nigeria in getting over the tragic incident.

In his condolence message to the people and government of Nigeria, President Thabo Mbeki said "South Africa stands ready to assist Nigeria in this hour of need within its limited resources."

He expressed his country's deepest condolences to the bereaved families as well as support and encouragement to the people and the government.

The South African president noted with sadness, the tragic loss of lives following the accidental explosions and prayed for the repose of the souls of all those killed in the tragedy.

South African foreign affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa has said that the country's promised assistance would be based on specific request from the Nigerian government.

Tunisian Embassy in Nigeria was not left out in the show of concern over the disaster.

In a statement through The Guardian, the Embassy bemoaned the "dangerous burning" in Lagos which caused the death of several hundreds of people and the loss of property.

The statement also prayed that the Almighty would give the President and the people the strength to bear the losses, and the families of the victims the patience and comfort to overcome their affliction.

Algeria and Ghana also expressed their grief over the bomb explosions by sending separate delegations to Abuja.

In a statement, the press secretary to the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ikechukwu Ani said that Prof. Abdel Moumen, the country's Minister of Works and Social Affairs, led the 35-man Algerian delegation, which included a 20-man medical team that arrived the country on Wednesday.

Receiving the Algerian delegation on behalf of President Obasanjo, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Chief Dubem Onyia extended the appreciation of the government and people of Nigeria to President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika for the donation of humanitarian and relief materials to the victims of the incident.

Onyia said the Federal Government and the victims, for whom the relief materials were meant, "are highly touched by the swiftness and spontaneity with which their brothers in Algeria have reacted to the calamity."

He noted that the gesture bears good testimony to the excellent relations that exist between the peoples of Nigeria and Algeria, adding that the show of solidarity, "demonstrates Algeria's adherence to our African tradition of solidarity in good and in bad times."

Onyia who received the delegation in company of Prof. A. B. C. Nwosu, the Minister of Health, said the relief materials would go a long way in complementing the current efforts of the Nigerian government to cope with the enormous task of providing relief to the many victims of the explosion.

Earlier, the leader of the Algerian delegation said the gesture was an act of solidarity and in the spirit of the new partnership. Moumen said the delegation came to translate into action, part of the vision of the leaders of the two countries.

He said 20 of the 35-man delegations were of the medical team led by a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. The leader of delegation said the team also came with 10 tons of equipment and medical supplies and would work in close collaboration with the Nigerian team.

Also receiving the Ghanaian delegations, Onyia said the incident would not dampen the spirit and determination of President Obasanjo to move the nation forward.

Onyia said what Nigeria needs now is prayer for peace and stability in the country and in the West African Sub-region.

General Hamidu who delivered a letter of condolence on behalf of President John Kuffor of Ghana said the government and people of Ghana share in Nigeria's grief. "It is difficult to express our sentiments on such tragedy," he said.

====================+++++++++++++==================

Nigerian leader sorry he told mothers to shut up

LAGOS, Jan. 31 — Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has apologised for telling the distraught mothers of children missing after a huge armoury fire in Lagos to ''shut up'' when he visited the site.
       Many Nigerians expressed shock after television pictures showed Obasanjo berating the wives of soldiers at the Ikeja army cantonment on Monday, a day after an ammunitions store blew up there.
       More than 600 bodies, many of them children, were found afterwards in a nearby canal, and aid workers say more than 1,100 people are still missing since fire and explosions from the arms dump triggered mass panic on Sunday.
       The women besieged the president, demanding that he go closer to their devastated homes.
       ''Shut up,'' stormed Obasanjo, a retired army general known for his quick temper.
       ''I took the opportunity of being here to see what could be done. I don't need to be here, after all the governor of the state is here.''
       Obasanjo went ahead later that day with a visit to northern Katsina state, helping to fuel widespread anger against him.
       ''Whatever other remarks I made at that time were occasioned by apparent belief that no life was lost,'' Obasanjo said in a statement released by his office on Wednesday night.
       ''Indeed, if I had received any reported case of loss of life, I would have cancelled my trip to Katsina and would have remained in Lagos,'' a contrite Obasanjo added in the remarks made while launching an emergency relief fund for blast victims.
       The army has not reported any deaths at the barracks, although many Nigerians suspect people were killed there. the hundreds of bodies of stampeding people who drowned in the canal were discovered only after Obasanjo had left for Katsina.
       Officials said the president's apparent retraction was prompted by his deep regret for the wide condemnation of his comments at the barracks.
       Presidential officials said Obasanjo had decided himself to cancel a scheduled official trip to the United States and Venezuela, not because parliament ordered him to do so.

+++++++++++++++===========+++++++++++++++

A tale of two Matthews:

Obasanjo and Kukah

By David Asonye Ihenacho

 

Don't be fooled by this title! This is not the beginning of a novel that I am planning to do. I do not have enough information about the two Matthews to create a literature out of their mutual affection or, should I say lack of it. Moreover I do not have the skills to embark on a tale-tell Cinderella story that will be solely based on speculation. However the story I am about to tell could qualify for a tale of a mutual buddy-fest that has perhaps gone or about to go awry. But I hope you would not be disappointed to learn that every segment of it is fed by a speculative reconstruction. Sorry I can't do any better. I do not know how to track down the two Matthews for an interview.

Once, there was this rising star from the often repressed but ever-resurging Christianity of Northern Nigeria. Matthew Hassan Kukah was his name. He was better known by the religious title that usually prefixed his family name, Fr. Kukah. The "uncapped" Hassan Kukah then was a highly gifted young Catholic priest from the Zangon-Kataf district of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna in Kaduna State. He first presented himself to the entire nation with his penetrating weekly column in the New Nigerian Newspapers. He was blazing a trail that priests could be journalistically efficient and socially relevant. When I was embarking on learning the art of writing topical commentaries, I always wanted to emulate the writings of Fr. Kukah. He was so good that I told myself that if I should become a writer I would have to use Kukah's writings as my yardstick. For that his writings became a must-read for me every week in the New Nigerian Newspapers that would not otherwise impress me if not for his writings. Nearly everybody I knew looked forward to reading Fr. Kukah's weekly columns. They were extremely incisive, penetrating and to the point. Fr. Kukah exhibited such a mastery of topical issues in his writings that he was acclaimed nationwide as a man specially endowed with wisdom and courage.

Then fame and challenges began to knock at his door. Fr. Kukah was appointed to the position of a deputy general secretary of the Catholic Secretariat in Lagos by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria [CBCN] but assigned to man its subsidiary office in Abuja. There his path began to cross with the rich, the famous and the powerful in Nigeria. But Kukah, to his credit and true to his vocation as a committed Catholic priest fastidiously maintained the prophetic nature of his writings. He remained as incisive and fearless as ever. He spared no one including the powerful and intimidating junta who roamed around Abuja like the king of the universe. Kukah was always very forthright in his writings. People, especially the Catholic Church, began to take notice and to love what they were seeing in the man Kukah. He was complementing quite well the work of the once fiery Archbishop of Lagos Anthony Okogie, then the president of the Catholic Bishop's Conference, in fulfilling the prophetic role of the Church in a land festering with monumental corruption, repression and persecution. Their voices were absolutely indispensable in the task of challenging the repressive military and the corrupt elite of Nigeria who fed fat while the general populace went about hungry. The Nigerian Church needed a very strong voice and the two men stepped on to the plate to give theirs on behalf of the Church. We were extremely proud of them. Reading news stories from Latin America and the Philippines at that time, it was quite refreshing to find some of our own leaders of the Nigerian Church rising up to the occasion to take up the causes of the poor and challenge our corrupt elite. Kukah and a few others symbolized all that. His profile was rising quite fast and almost everybody felt that it was deserved.

When Monsignor Anasiudu's tenure as general secretary of the Catholic Secretariat in Lagos ended, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria had hardly any other place to look for a worthy replacement than to Fr. Kukah. He was promptly promoted to the office of the secretary general of the influential Catholic secretariat of Nigeria. Subsequently he transferred his residency to Lagos. His arrival in Lagos coincided with the terrible period of the Abiola election annulment, the interim government confusion and subsequently the military coup that precipitated the ascendancy of the dictator Abacha in the political scene of Nigeria. Kukah braced up to continue his prophetic mission on behalf of the masses of Nigeria. As the voices of his former sidekicks in the struggle began to wane and apparently disappear, Kukah became almost the lone fiery voice actively challenging and daring the very intimidating dictator to a showdown through his blistering writings. On many occasions he found himself on a collision course with the dictator and his allies. But Kukah held out. He was a man on a mission and in fact, the type Christianity in Nigeria had needed to give it some zip and bite. In his own limited way, he epitomized for Nigeria the vision of the martyred archbishop of El Salvador Oscar Romero who counseled that whenever and wherever the poor masses of God's people were being exploited and maltreated by their governments and the elite in general, the Church should and must raise a voice of protest.

From almost a parallel universe the profile of another Matthew was rising in the struggle against corruption and the Abacha-brand of dictatorship in Nigeria. General Matthew Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo, a Baptist and a former military head of state, had of late come on his own to pose as a real threat to Abacha and his repressive government. He had begun to sharpen his criticism of the ironclad regime, and the dictator Sani Abacha had begun to grow impatient with him. Abacha being a junior officer in the military Obasanjo had commanded was not hoping to be able to silence his former boss. So the barrage of criticism continued to pour from both the Obasanjo's and Kukah's ends aimed exclusively at Abacha and the repressive government he ran. Somehow the two Matthews from two different worlds were becoming buddies even perhaps without knowing it. They had seen themselves sharing the same vision that Nigeria deserved better than Abacha could offer. And in a way they had also become buddies in making and topping the enemy list of the repressive regime. Gradually they began to see themselves as the real Matthews to Nigeria. [From its original roots in the Hebrew language Matthew seems to imply God's gift to God's people].

Being a veteran of so many coups in Nigeria, Abacha had a quick answer to Matthew Obasanjo's "ranting" against his regime. He immediately concocted a phantom military coup, yoked it around the neck of Obasanjo and got him convicted with it. Having become Abacha's coup convict, Obasanjo was immediately dispatched to jail for years that would outlast both Abacha's and Obasanjo's remaining life spans. Hence his critical voice was completely and comprehensively silenced. With one down and so many more to go, including the powerful voice of Hassan Kukah, Abacha knew that there was still a hefty task ahead of him to get all his diehard critics silenced. But he had no quick answer to the threats posed by the blistering pens of Kukah. Being a Catholic priest in a nation with a strong Catholic population Abacha knew that hardly would anybody buy it and it would never be a popular idea if he perhaps accused Kukah of an involvement in a military coup so as to imprison him as he had done to his namesake and the many others in their league. So he kept pondering and trying out many other surreptitious tricks to get Kukah into trouble. But being a very savvy and smart man, Kukah played it safe remaining focused on his prophetic ministry and his challenging job of running a highly complicated secretariat of the Catholic Church.

The death of Abacha, which was followed immediately by the release of Obasanjo from jail, seemed to have galvanized all the former critics of the regime of Abacha into embarking on helping to foster a solid democratic culture that would not allow the likes of Abacha to usurp power and use it to oppress everybody. Both Matthew Kukah and Matthew Obasanjo seemed to share the desire to help ensure a new beginning for Nigeria. Perhaps at the beginning of their dream of a democratic Nigeria both thought that they would make their contributions through their usual critical and prophetic roles. But hardly did they know that fate was going to bring them even closer as key operators in the whole task of fostering a new Nigeria.

Meanwhile the fresh-from-jail Obasanjo was singing a different tune that would soon win him the hearing and respect of the Catholic priest Kukah. Obasanjo was now talking much about his faith in his religion, the divine miracles that helped him to survive his jail term, the religious and moral values that would save Nigeria. In fact Obasanjo was sounding more like a church pastor than an ex-military head of state and a politician soon-to-be. Obasanjo's morality-laced language was music to the ears of Kukah who was running a secretariat dedicated principally to efforts at achieving all such wishes and more for the whole country. He thought he could use some help in this regard from a crusading ex-head of state. Gradually Obasanjo and Kukah began to see themselves as people sharing the same vision and goal for Nigeria. And this was the beginning of what would later blossom into a little friendship between a priest and a president.

When the military succeeded in persuading Obasanjo to come back and run for the presidency for the second time, Kukah was perhaps one of the very few who lent their silent support to him. Kukah had believed that the new Obasanjo with deep roots in the Christian faith could be trusted to practice what he often preached to Abacha. As Kukah would later claim, Obasanjo "waxed lyrical" with his vaunted mission to stamp out and destroy corruption in Nigeria. He sounded every inch like the longed-awaited champion against all the ills of the Nigerian nation. Kukah became in fact one of the earliest converts to Obasanjo's messianic program for Nigeria. Moreover Obasanjo had made his own all the issues Kukah had been writing about all of his career in public life, the evil of corruption in Nigeria, the need for equity and fairness for the populace, neutrality of the national government in religion, secularity of the Nigerian state and the need to provide improved social amenities for the people. Obasanjo began to sound as if all those issues were what would dominate his presidency if he were elected. Of course he knew before hand that he would be installed as the next president of Nigeria whether elected or not. Surprising most of his former admirers, the usually critical Kukah appeared instantly and uncritically sucked into the religious zeal and political commitments of Obasanjo to lift Nigeria from her decades of harrowing history.

But being a very tactful man it would only be after Obasanjo had been declared elected that Kukah would begin to solicit public support for him. However that was in line with the post-military government mood in Nigeria. Nearly everybody was soliciting support for the success of the new administration. However, Kukah seemed to have gone a little far in his articles to procure support for the new administration. He seemed to have done all that innocently though in the spirit of all hands being on deck to make the new attempt at democracy successful in Nigeria. But the way his articles started to slant in favor of Obasanjo surprised many of us. People wondered loudly what had happened to the golden voice of reason that challenged most corrupt leaders of Nigeria. At certain points in time we thought that Kukah was going way overboard in his support of the man Obasanjo. In fact he was using languages that bordered on declaring Obasanjo as a God-sent and messianic president of Nigeria. That was not sitting well with the many of us who had previously looked on him as the trailblazer of our journalistic engagements. We thought that Kukah's with Obasanjo's zealotry was a very risky investment in a fallible man whose history does not hold much promises for democracy in Nigeria. But since we did not articulate most of our concerns in writing, it was obvious that Kukah hardly ever got to hear us out. But our anxiety was nonetheless growing with Kukah. We often wondered what he was up to hobnobbing around the powerful in the way that had not been previously associated with his critical lifestyle. But life went on, and Obasanjo continued to chant his war songs about the impeding battle he was about to wage against corruption in Nigeria. He was winning so many allies and Kukah was obviously one of them. Kukah believed that Obasanjo meant every bit of what he was saying. He thought that he had found a warrior that would champion the war he had been advocating on Nigeria's social and moral life through the pages of newspapers.

And in a move everyone seemed to interpret as giving teeth to his promised apocalyptic war against abuses and corruption in Nigeria, Obasanjo promptly set up a Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission. He modeled it after the South African Truth Commission, which the legendary Mandela had impaneled in order to resolve some lingering pains and distrusts of the apartheid years in his country. Obasanjo believed that Nigeria after decades of military dictatorship needed a similar kind of mechanism to heal the wounds of repression in Nigeria. Like his friend Nelson Mandela, he appointed into his human rights panel people who could be considered among the best in Nigeria including his newfound friend Fr. Matthew Hassan Kukah as well as an eminent jurist and retired Supreme Court judge, Chukwudifu Oputa. Fr. Kukah, being a Catholic priest, a famed moral crusader, a social critic and more, and Justice Oputa, an impeccable legal luminary and a retired justice of the Nigerian Supreme Court who had emerged as a poster to the presumed excellence of Nigeria's justice system, brought an amazing credibility to Obasanjo's human rights panel and its mission. Hopes were high that Obasanjo was up to something serious in his moral crusades in Nigeria. Appetites were wet when the real big fish of Nigeria's moral turpitude would be made to take responsibility for all their reprehensible crimes against the Nigerian people. Giving the impression that he wanted the panel to do a thorough job, Obasanjo gave the Oputa panel broad powers to investigate everything from every time in Nigeria's history, declaring that nobody would be considered a sacred cow. As Kukah would later recall, the fire-eating Obasanjo declared.

But if in cleaning out the stable, we find cesspool of rogues, we will go after them recover the money belonging to the nation and bring the full weight of the law on them. This will be the case for anybody found to be corrupt regardless of whose ox is gored during the process. There will be no sacred cows. In an attempt to demonstrate his seriousness with the process of cleansing Nigeria of all traces of corruption as well as give signal to all former leaders that nobody would be spared by the process, Obasanjo presented himself as a test case for the human rights panel. He submitted to all their questionings and probes concerning his first term as a head of state of Nigeria. The whole situation looked absolutely unprecedented in Nigeria. And people like Kukah might have congratulated themselves for making the right choice of believing in the man Obasanjo.

Buying into what would later prove almost like a dummy sold to them by the Obasanjo administration, Kukah and his co-panelists focused themselves on doing a thorough and the best possible job that they were capable of. Responding in kind to President Obasanjo, Kukah, the famed social critic almost ceased from his habit of providing critical commentaries on contemporary issues. He was focused on uncovering all that was needed to be uncovered in the checkered history of Nigeria since independence perhaps hoping to write about them when they had finished their assignment.

For many months the panel released bombshells upon bombshells on the horrendous happenings in Nigeria in the last several decades. Most Nigerians were relishing and in fact cheering the unprecedented revelations of the panel about the unbelievable cesspool that was the Nigerian political scene. But when it appeared that the panelists would eventually get to the root cause of Nigeria's historical problems, they ran into a brick wall. The walls had been erected by the northern ex-military heads of state that feared that the panel had been an ambush laid to decapitate them politically and socially through the unveiling and airing of their horrendously sordid pasts. So they mounted what could be considered the most unprecedented force in Nigeria's history to derail the course of justice. They refused all summons and all efforts to get them to respond to the outrageous allegations made against them in the course of the panel's sittings. Their intention was to completely frustrate and derail the works of the human rights panel. They dared President Obasanjo and his administration to live up to their boast and come get them. Obasanjo flinched and started to exhort the ex-leaders in parables to follow his personal example and make themselves available to the panel. Kukah and his panelists wanted more from the man who held the ultimate power in Nigeria. Kukah in particular looked on his buddy and namesake, President Obasanjo, to provide the legal and moral force to compel the ex-heads of state to honor a legitimate judicial process. But Obasanjo buckled and preferred to abandon the panelists in a lurch. The once fire-eating and corruption-fighting president became cowered and started to plead neutrality thereby leaving the panel to fight it out with the powerful ex-leaders in the media. Of course if there was anything the ex-heads of states had learned since their days as dictators of Nigeria, it was to be impervious to media scrutiny and chastising. The first skill dictators of all ages try to acquire is how to muzzle the media when they can or be impervious and indifferent to it altogether when necessary. So the ex-heads of state of Nigeria from the North chose the latter. And the work of human rights panel was derailed in the process.

When Obasanjo abandoned the panel to fight it out with the powerful heads of states alone, it became a terrible embarrassment to the panelists. They had expected to have under their wings the force of the presidential might. They had hoped that Obasanjo would find a way to encourage the ex-leaders of Nigeria to honor judicial summons or as a last resort compel them to appear before the human rights panel, if anything, at least for the credibility of Nigeria's legal system and for the benefit of his own reputation as a strong democratic leader of Nigeria. But when the president appeared to have "chickened" out allowing the former heads of state to have the last laugh, Kukah and his people felt betrayed. It appeared as if they had wasted their time for nothing. Obasanjo had hung them out to dry. Kukah, once a very strong believer in the messianic mission of Obasanjo in Nigeria began to question whether he was actually the long-expected messiah or we are still to wait for another.

The recent "confrontation" between Obasanjo and Kukah seems to suggest that the latter has come full circle and has made his final judgment on the messianism of the president. If the words of the Vanguard reporter on his speech were anything to go by, Kukah has adjudged President Obasanjo to be a false messiah for Nigeria. And this is a monumental turnaround for Kukah personally and a major setback for President Obasanjo. It must have been very humbling for Kukah to go that route in the glare of the prying press. It must have been very painful for him to have to recant in his heart all the encomiums he had lavished on the man at the beginning of his administration. Also it should be very embarrassing for the president to see one of his premier allies break ranks only to start accusing him of hypocrisy. In other words, the relationship between these two political buddies has clearly gone south. There is hardly any doubt that Kukah is now feeling disappointed and embarrassed on the inability of the president to live up to his promises..

The stage was the ceremony to mark the conclusion of the National Media Tour in Abuja. A major item of the occasion was the launching of the second volume of the collected speeches of President Obasanjo. And Kukah had perhaps been invited as a special friend of the president to give his work a positive review. As usual Kukah had his script written in advance. He was undoubtedly expecting to speak to the president in person. But unfortunately the president did show up. The vice president, Abubakar Atiku had been detailed to sandd in for him. But Kukah, trying to put back the coat of his former self as a social critic would not be deterred. He decided to release his bombshell anyway. According to the Vanguard reporter, Kukah "accused President Obasanjo of not keeping to his words." According to Kukah quoted by the Vanguard, "we need to ask some very fundamental questions about the president's speech-making, the texture and quality of his speeches and the extent to which the president considers speech making a tool for politicking or communication." According to Kukah, the objectives outlined in the speeches of the president had not been followed up in his actions. He charged, "we hear the president waxing lyrical, (claiming that) there will be no sacred cows…. The speech had the rather ambitious title. No longer business as usual and for all we know and hear, it is indeed business as usual in many respects…. We know that as far as corruption is concerned everyone except the president believes that nothing has changed."

This seeming turn-around of Kukah against Obasanjo has contradictory implications for the president and Kukah respectively. It shows how the president's agenda against corruption has completely collapsed. Obasanjo will never leave a legacy of corruption fighting in Nigeria. The human rights panel set up to cleanse Nigeria of corruption and reconcile the wounded has woefully failed. The big fish of Nigeria's moral turpitude are walking free on the streets. And the rogues of the previous administrations according to Kukah have been incorporated into Obasanjo's government. How much worse can things get for Obasanjo's anti-corruption program?

However for Kukah this turn-around is quite redemptive. His ability and decision to separate himself from the sinking ship of Obasanjo's anti-corruption program can only help him in the short and the long term. Obviously Kukah now realizes how wrong he might have been to trust and identify with a politician that personally. To be a great politician is to learn and perfect the art of duplicity and deception. People of strong religious consciences trust politicians to their own peril. I always believe that a church or a religious person becomes most efficient when s/he limits his/her function to serving a prophetic role rather than usurping a royal mantle for the sake of changing things. Moreover Kukah's courage to perhaps indict Obasanjo in his presence tends to show that he has lost nothing of his former daring and prophetic vocation. He appears to be still that same old Kukah who has the courage of a tiger to fight corruption with his pens and to dare any leader who is not leading our nation in truth and justice. And it is wonderfully refreshing to recover the old Kukah for our nation. Nigeria still needs people like him a whole lot. He has a very strong role in a democratic Nigeria. As one of my colleagues in the Nigeriaworld columns, Alfred Obiora Uzokwe wrote recently, we must continue to hold the feet of the enemies of the progress of our nation to the fire until perhaps they learn to deliver for our people.

 

 

 

 

 


Nigeriaworld Columnist  -  Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Okey Obineke  (EMAIL)  O.Obineke@chello.nl
Noord Brabant, The Netherlands

Anambra State set to explode:
Another side of the cube


y immediate reaction on reading Mike Ozulumba's "Anambra State set to explode" was to ignore the piece. I decided on this rejoinder however to put the record straight and to redirect his readers who may not be conversant with the issues he raised. I write because I believe we should avoid the temptation of choosing our own particular fiction and using the past to endorse it like Ozulumba did wittingly or not.

Ozulumba was right when he stated that 'there is tension all over the state' and that it has affected the morale of the people. Subsequent paragraphs in his writing and his conclusion fall within the realm of ' wrong diagnosis, right prescription'. One would have expected Mr. Ozulumba to enlighten his readers better on the real reason for the tension he described, as one who has just returned from a trip to Nigeria and Awka.

The tension he refers to is the direct result of Governor Mbadinuju's misrule, tyranny and lack of vision. Ozulumba's piece clearly depicts the use to which Mbadinuju has put the Bakassi Boys- agents of political violence. When Nnewi traders and later OMATA (Onitsha market amalgamated traders association) acting together with the chairman of Onitsha North LGA, Barr. Chuks Anah invited Bakassi into Onitsha; Dr. Mbadinuju waged a formidable opposition to the boys and refused their coming into Onitsha. When he realized it is not a war he will win, he established a counter force ' Anambra state strike force' which still exists till today. Like the man of many ways that he is, Dr. Mbadinuju turned around months later on the pretence of now supporting Bakassi and 'gradually ' like Fela will say he hijacked this credible non-political vigilante group. The result is what we now see, an instrument for intimidating (and even murdering) his political opponent. Anambra people await the return of the original Bakassi Boys.

Here is a governor who revels in crisis. 'If you oppose me, I will remove you' he once told trade union executives in the state. When he is not fighting one association, and imposing his own executives on them, he is busy dismembering the other group. No group has escaped the wrath of Mbadinuju whether it is the State house of assembly (an extension of the state house where articulate members have been repressed and critics opposed to the Governor suspended from deliberations), Local government Authorities (we still remember his failed attempts to sack the chairmen of Onitsha North, Idemili North and Awka North), Town unions (Awkuzu and Abagana are still fresh) Market unions (the removal of Odife as the president of OMATA), Motor park unions (as seen in the struggle for supremacy between NARTO and NURTW ), professional bodies etc the list is endless. The governor is at loggerhead with virtually all sectors of the economy and these are the people you are supposed to be governing. Did I hear you say that the fear of Dr. Mbadinuju is the beginning of wisdom?

After Dr. Mbadinuju succeeded in foisting his own executives on OMATA who helped him take over Bakassi, he moved into the motor parks and encouraged the newly formed NARTO (National Association of Road Transport Owners) to fight it out with the existing NURTW (National Union of Road Transport Workers). By so doing, he ensured that both groups outbid themselves in making weekly "returns" to him to the tune of millions of naira with the hope of securing the Governor's recognition. By so doing, the Governor elevated the status of motor park unions in Anambra state. It is instructive to note that his junior brother James Mbadinuju, a miscreant who was disrobed and disgraced as a pastor with the Grace of God's mission Onitsha for embezzlement, manages this branch of Mbadinuju's govermenent. Does that sound familiar?

The Governor who claims to be a preacher calling God's name in vain has a ritual cum fetish priest Chief Nkwo Nnabuchi as a ranking member of his Cabinet. The high priest is now the chairman of the Governors own Odera organization (which they claim is a faction of PDP in Anambra state). Birds of the same feather flock together. It is at Nkwo Nnabuchi's shrine in Mgbakwu that top functionaries in Mbadinuju's government go for oat of allegiance to the Governor. There is a devil let loose in Anambra state and this is why there is tension.

At the inception of Dr Mbadinuju's administration and for three months thereafter, Anambra state received a little less than 300 million naira monthly from the federation account. Following the dissolution of Gen. Buhari's PTF and subsequent adjustment in the allocation of federal revenue, Anambra state by the sixth month of Dr. Mbadinuju's administration collected over 700 million naira every month and the figure has not declined since then. For the sake of argument, let us assume that the Governor was going through a learning process in the first six month and so cannot really figure out what he did with our money. What can we say for the other 24 months when Anambra state received over 16.8 billion naira from the federation account? IGR (internally generated revenue) and commercial loans that nobody can account for are not included in the calculation.

The important question to ask is what is Governor Mbadinuju doing with our money? Today, civil servants in the state have not been paid their salary arrears, Secondary school teachers are on strike because Governor Mbadinuju has not paid them for the past five months, Pensioners have not been paid for over twelve months, (thanks to Emeka Offor who at Christmas gave away a bag of rice to each pensioner including some money to go with it). Today in Anambra state, new entrants into secondary school are forced to sell 1000 naira worth of lottery for the government with sixty percent of the proceeds going to Mrs. Nnenne Mbadinuju's our daily bread organization. If you cannot sell, your parents must produce the 1000 naira whether they have it or not. Today in Anambra state, there is no good road worthy of mention, no government organized portable water, no rural electrification, no functioning state owned industries etc. Dr. Mbadinuju claims he is constructing the so-called Oba international market, but the record shows that this is a contractor financed and managed venture. The much advertised Sir Odumegwu Ojukwu industrial complex at Nkwelle Ezunaka is a sand dredging terrain. Our Governor has sold off virtually every available land within the state capital territory at Awka. Onitsha where the Governor had his law office for over fifteen years is in a deplorable state, infrastructure and sanitation wise. Are you aware that in Anambra state, the catch phrase is 'government of Uli man by Uli man for Uli man'. Anambra state university located in Uli (Mbadinuju's village), Anambra state polytechnic is in Uli. By the last count, of the thirty-four political appointees in the state government that went to Ihiala LGA, Uli has twenty-six while the rest of LGA shared six appointments between them. Do you know that all the major contractors and suppliers to the state government are from Uli. Today in Anambra state, you cannot get anything done under the state government's watch unless you come from Uli. This is why there is tension in Anambra state and it is a shared tension.

A wise government can minimize these tensions with measures aimed at improving public works, provision of living education, good health care, portable water, and provision of infrastructure. Not Governor Mbadinuju, he will rather spend millions in billboards dotted all over the state advertising his face. Our people now know better. The issue is corruption, non-performance and tyranny. It is about good governance in Anambra state. Governor Mbadinuju is stealing us blind while daring anyone to challenge him. Mr. Ozulumba, maybe you are conversant with issues around contracts and projects in the state that never saw the light of the day yet money was disbursed for them. For more on how Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju may be 'privatizing' the state's finances despite posturing as an anti-crime advocate read the Source magazine cover story vol. 9 No. 21 September 3, 2001 The looting of Anambra: How Gov. Mbadinuju mismanages the state's finances. The adjoining essay in the same magazine " Mbadinuju: Anambra's Clever Rogue" may instruct you better. The present government in Anambra state is beyond redemption. We must therefore deal radically with the radical problem - that is be organized because there is no force however formidable that a determined people cannot overcome.

Resistance to tyranny is a patriotic act. As has happened before in history, the sadism, delusion and tyranny of leaders have sometimes succumbed to the superior moral strength, passion and conscience of those heroes who carried all before them in the advance to higher truth. We must thank God for Sir Emeka Offor - the arrowhead of opposition against Dr Mbadinuju's misrule. This man deserves our support and encouragement not condemnation. We must salute the courage of people like Senator Mike Ajaegbo whose Minaj radio and television have made it possible for the good people of the state to know the truth. Senator Nnamdi Eriobuna whose efforts and sweat brought rural electrification to his constituents, Hon. Minister Dan Chuke, Hon. Minister A.B.C Nwosu,, Representatives F.C Okeke, Jerry Ugokwe, Obiajulu Anosike, Celestine Ughanze, Chudi Offodile, Prince Nick Mbaezue, Group Capt. Nnoruka, Chief Annie Okonkwo, Joy Emodi, Chief Martin Igbokwe, numerous LGA chairmen, members of the state house of Assembly and others too numerous for individual mention. We salute your efforts and courage in organizing against Dr. Mbadinuju's misrule.

The point in making is that this is not an Emeka Offor fight. One may have the best intentions like Emeka Offor yet end up with rocks in his Halloween bag. It is a fight for good governance, a fight for the liberation of the good people of Anambra state from tyranny and sadism that Mbadinuju has unabashedly unleashed on them. I am not a lover of fiction (for that is what Mike Ozulumba's piece is) that not only wastes our emotion but also jaundices our feeling in the sight of real events. The best historians notes Mokwugo Okoye " are not those who have withdrawn to a perch above the heat and passion of life, but those who mixed and mingled in the fray of duty that life entails"

Prof. Wole Soyinka reminded us that the man dies who keeps silent in the face of tyranny. The struggle must go on until the likes of Mbadinuju are banished from government. We must not stop or falter because of an earlier mistake. Dr Mbadinuju was given a second chance to prove himself irrespective of his record in 1979 / 80 when he through embezzlement single handedly liquidated the Daily Star group of papers as the general manager before he was sacked by the then Gov. Jim Nwobodo. If it smells from the beginning, it is probably rotten inside. This is our governor's balance sheet. Dr Mbadinuju came to the people of Anambra state with his bible little did they know that he is actually an incorrigible rogue masquerading as a preacher.

We can no longer sit down and pretend that all is well while thugs are at the helm of affairs in the state.. This is the reason for tension and it will not stop until good men come to power. When we find ourselves in another circle of mistake because we elected bad men to power, the resistance will start all over again al a Philipines. We shall no longer wait for 'one day' because today is one day and charity begins at home. These "Igbo leaders and charlatans of today" must be discarded today not tomorrow. Indeed, where is Ukpabi Asika and his 'nattering nabobs of negativism'. To some generations, much is given, of others much is expected. This generation is wild awake and are willing and able to resist tyranny and sadism exhibited by the likes of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju. This is why there is tension in Anambra state.

====================++++++++++====================

Reuters Jan. 30th 2002

Mob lynches three policemen in Nigeria-witnesses

LAGOS, Jan 29 (Reuters) - A Nigerian mob lynched three policemen with burning tyres on Tuesday after two bus passengers were shot dead at a police checkpoint in Lagos, witnesses said.

Irate bus passengers joined by bystanders attacked the policemen, who were accused of demanding bribes from the bus driver, a routine at Lagos police stops.

"The bus driver refused to pay and the police opened fire, killing a man and a woman on the bus," said a witness at the scene of the incident in the Gbagada district of Lagos.

Passengers and other people on the street who saw the incident then overpowered the police and burned them alive with flaming tyres placed over their necks, he said.

A Reuters reporter saw the charred bodies of the three policemen as they were brought to Ikeja General Hospital mortuary.

But the police driver who brought them said the men were pursuing armed robbers when neighbourhood thugs or "area boys" allied to criminal gangs pounced on them and lynched them.

Lagos motorists complain daily about alleged extortion by police deployed across the crime-ridden city of over 10 million people supposedly to hunt armed robbers.

Countless numbers of people have been killed by police at checkpoints.

====================++++++++++====================

Africast.com   -  WEST REGION NEWS

Nigerians nabbed for $3.1m scam

LAGOS, January 26 - Two Nigerian conmen who duped a Saudi businessman out of $43.1 million have been arrested and are to be charged, police said here on Friday.

Peter Okoli and Isaac Oduh were arrested in Lagos by a special fraud squad after a complaint was laid by a Saudi national, Mufleh Abdulazeez Al-Mufleh, the head of the police fraud unit, Ade Ajakaiye, told reporters.

The two Nigerians approached Al-Mufleh purporting to be related to the late Nigerian military ruler Sani Abacha.

Claiming to be seeking to transfer $1billion out of the country illegally, they conned Al-Mufleh into paying $3.1 million into an account in Taiwan, as a down payment to facilitate the transfer.

Money and Nigerians disappeared

As soon as the money was paid, the money disappeared as did the two Nigerians, until their arrest this week, Ajakaiye said.

The Nigerian authorities, which are being assisted by US government anti-fraud agencies, have pledged to step up the fight against such advance fee and other frauds which are rife in Nigeria.

They also criticise people who enter into agreements they know to be illegal to make transfers of money out of the country.

No charges are to be laid against the Saudi in this case, the police said. - Sapa-AFP

 ===============+++++++++++=====================

This Day News  -- 

Boy, 16 Charged for Robbing Coca-Cola N105.9m

·  Two conmen also nabbed
By Viofor Efeizomor

A 16-year old boy, (name withheld) and five others have appeared before an Ikeja Chief magistrate court over alleged conspiracy to commit armed robbery and robbing Coca-Cola of over N105.9 million.

The teenager was docked last week along with Michael Godfrey (18) Chinedu Amb-rose (20) Isaiah Nwangu-lahum, Ifeanyi Osefoh (27) and Ndon Nwaese (22).

On a five-count charges, the suspects were accused of arming with dangerous weapons and robbing Coca-Cola of various sums totalling N105.898 million.

According to the prosecution, the accused persons, on October 3, last year, conspired with others now on the run and made away with the whooping sum in breach of section 4(5) of the robbery and fire arms special provision Decree No. 5 of 1984.

The prosecution stated that the accused persons on the same date at about 8.00 p.m. at the Coca-cola Bottling Company in Apapa Lagos robbed one Aliya Yahaya, N99.370 million, Shola Akanji, N73,000; one Udoh, N6.45 million and Job Ekwebo, N5,000 belonging to the Coca-Cola Company, breaching section 1(1) (a) of the Robbery and Fire arms special provision Decree 5, 1984.

They were also alleged to have snatched a Volkswagen Fedeco Bus with registration No. LA4482 MY from one Azeez Popoola at the same time and place while armed with dangerous weapons.

The trial magistrate, Mrs. O. A. Ogala declined jurisdiction to entertain their plea but ordered that the accused persons be remained in prison custody pending the out come of the advice of Lagos State Directorate of Public prosecution (DPP). the matter is adjourned till March 1, 2002.

Meanwhile, Two Nigerian conmen who duped a Saudi businessman out of 3.1 million dollars have been arrested and are to be charged, police said here Friday.

Peter Okoli and Isaac Oduh were arrested in Lagos Tuesday by a special fraud squad after a complaint was laid by a Saudi national, Mufleh Abdulazeez Al-Mufleh, the head of the police fraud unit, Ade Ajakaiye, told reporters.

The two Nigerians approached Al-Mufleh purporting to be related to the late Nigerian military ruler Sani Abacha.

Claiming to be seeking to transfer one billion dollars out of the country illegally, they conned Al-Mufleh into paying 3.1 million dollars into an account in Taiwan, as a downpayment to facilitate the transfer.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

A preacher went to his church office one Monday morning and discovered a dead mule (jackass to the knowing) in the church yard. He called the police. Since there did not appear to be any foul play, the police referred the preacher to the health department.

 

They said since there was no health threat that he should call the sanitation department. The sanitation manager said he could not pick up the mule without authorization from the mayor.

 

Now, the preacher knew the mayor, and was not to eager to call him. The mayor had a bad temper and was generally hard to deal with, but the preacher called him anyway.

 

The mayor did not disappoint. He immediately began to rant and rave at the pastor and finally said, "Why did you call me anyway? Isn't it your job to bury the dead?"

 

The preacher paused for a brief prayer and asked the Lord to direct his response.  He was led to say, "Yes, Mayor, it is my job to bury the dead, but I always like to notify the next of kin first!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This grandmother, who lived in Townsend, was well-known for her faith and lack of reticence in talking about it. She would go out on the front porch and say, "Praise the Lord!"

Her next door neighbor who was an atheist would shout back,

"Shut up ol’ lady! There ain't no Lord!"

During those days, my grandmother was very poor, so the neighbor decided to prove his point by buying a large bag of groceries and placing it at her door.

The next morning, Grandmother went to the porch and, seeing the groceries, said, "Praise the Lord!"

The neighbor stepped out from behind a tree and said, "I brought those groceries, and that proves what I’ve told you, that there ain't no Lord."

Grandmother replied, "Lord, you are indeed great; for, you not only sent me food but you made the devil pay for it."

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©PATRICK NSIONU ONLINE  2002.

Email: PatNsionu@Juno.com

MEMENTO:

*WHEN YOU HEAR NEWS, WAIT FOR THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION*

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*HE WHO FEARS SUFFERING IS ALREADY SUFFERING FROM WHAT HE FEARS*

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

TRUST IN GOD, BUT PLEASE LOCK YOUR CARS FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There is no fear in love;
but perfect love casts out fear.

1 John 4:18 

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 CHRIST’S SERVANT, AND STEWARD OF THE MYSTERIES OF GOD . . .  1 Cor. 4:1f

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Thanks for visiting, kindly GO BACK & SIGN THE GUESTBOOKS:
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Sealed with Love & Prayer - Patrick Nsionu - New York.

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Now Relax & Enjoy the following joke-story with  your loved ones: 

FINAL EXAMS + BUSTED STUDENTS’. . .

At one Duke University, there were four students in their second year, taking Organic Chemistry. They were doing so well on all the exams & quizzes, midterms and labs, etc., that each had an "A" so far for the semester. These four friends were so confident that the weekend before finals, they decided to go up to the University of Virginia to attend a party with some friends there. They had a great time, but after all the hearty dancing/partying, they slept all day Sunday and didn't make it back to their university until early Monday morning. There were final exams that morning. Rather than taking the finals then, they decided to find their professor only after the exams to explain to him why they missed it. They explained that they had gone to the University of Virginia for the weekend with the plan to come back in time to study and take the exams with their course mates. But, unfortunately, they had a flat tire on the way back, and didn't have a spare one, and couldn't get help for a long time. As a result, they missed the final exams.

The professor thought it over and then agreed they could make up the final the following day. The guys were elated and relieved. They studied all that night and went in the next day at the time the professor had told them. He placed them in separate rooms and handed each of them a Test booklet, and told them to begin. They looked at the first problem, worth five points. It was something simple about the composition of water (H2O) and free radical formation. "Cool," they thought at the same time, each one in his separate room, "this is going to be easy." Each finished the problem and then turned the next page.

On the second page was written: (Now for the remaining 95 points): "Which tire?"

(And, as you can well guess, the rest was history).

=====-------© 2002 Patty Nsionu On-line------======= ++++++++=======*********####@@@####*********======+++++++++++++

There is no fear in love;
but perfect love casts out fear.

1 John 4:18 

GOD IS LOVE - 1 John 4:8
 

&&&&&&&@@@PatNsionu Online@@@&&&&&&&

Thanks again for visiting my websites; kindly GO BACK & SIGN THE GUESTBOOKS:
http://www.millenniummovers.homestead.com/patswebsite.html
http://www.agnesnsionu.homestead.com/agnesnsionu.html
Sealed with Love & Prayer - Patrick Nsionu - New York.