Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nigeria is home to over 250 tribes and 140 million people of various religious leanings. Over the years, sectarian violence has broken out between Muslims and Christians, especially in the northern part of the country. The last few years have been relatively free of significant violence but all that changed on Thursday, November 27th.

Dozens of bodies brought to a mosque in Jos after fighting in the Nigerian town
As the world renowned Dalai Lama gave a speech about religious tolerance in Lagos, the northern city of Jos, in Plateau State, was set ablaze with sectarian violence. The irony is that the violence and deaths began on the same day the Dalai Lama was praising Nigeria and saying,
“[b]asically here in Nigeria, I think the large number of Muslims, the large number of Christians, I think basically remain very harmoniously, this is wonderful, please keep this type of harmonious relationship.”

Read more!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Far too often, those who stand up and do the right thing end up being severely punished. So many have been destroyed for stepping outside the status quo, even though doing so is the honorable and proper thing to do. While such is not germane to Nigeria, it does appear that punishment for a job well done is increasingly becoming a Nigerian trademark. One need look no further than the rise and incredible fall of Nuhu Ribadu to confirm that in Nigeria, when it comes to doing the right thing for the country - no good deed goes unpunished.

Read more!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Those that follow Nigerian politics know that former President Obasanjo apparently sought to amend the Nigerian Constitution to grant him a third term. However, that attempt sparked outrage in the National Assembly and general public, in general. Despite that, many like retired General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma allege that Obasanjo handpicked Yar'Adua to fulfill his third term ambitions and maintain control over the nation.

However, in the current undemocratic atmosphere in Nigeria where bloggers are being detained, independent news channels and political programming is being shut down and journalists are being thrown in jail, the Joint Committee on Constitution Review (JCCR) is set to consider a proposal seeking a third term amendment to the Nigerian Constitution.
Nigeria's National Assembly has taken great strides what with the probe that exposed the deep rot in Nigeria's power sector. However, the National Assembly increased its pay by over 100% earlier this year in a country where over 90% of the people live on less than $2 a day. This same National Assembly also gave President Yar'Adua a pay hike earlier this year, gave 380 cars to the members of the House of Representatives and despite their 'objections' were powerless to prevent Nigeria from taking a risky $3 BN loan from the World Bank.

It is, therefore, difficult for me to see how the National Assembly can objectively decide for Nigerians that Yardy should get a third term as President. This is simply a matter of credibility based on the facts. So, unless there is an outcry similar to what occurred during Obasanjo's 'Third Term Agenda', it is quite possible that the 'Rule of Law' democracy that is Nigeria could end up with Yar'Adua as President until 2019. I would recommend a national vote on the issue but considering the fact that the Independent National Election Committee's leader, Maurice Mmaduakolam Iwu, criticized America's recent historic elections by saying amongst other incredible things that,
"They should learn to keep a voters' register and they should learn to hold elections in one day,"
I, unfortunately, have absolutely no faith that such an act would produce a verifiable mandate upon which the JCCR could proceed.

The challenge remains whether Nigerians will succumb to PPP and allow the democratic dream to completely give way to democratic delusion.

Thanks to N.I.M.M.O. for the Iwu name correction.

Related Article of Interest:
- Nigerian Curiosity of 2008 (Fashola and the 2011 Election)

AddThis Feed Button

Read more!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nigeria struck the black gold jackpot in 1956 when oil was discovered in a small village called, Oloibiri. Nigeria soon became a heavyweight in the oil market, dominating as the top African producer of crude (until Angola briefly stole the 'King of African Crude' crown) and the 8th largest producer of oil in the world.

According to IMF estimates, Nigeria made over $300 billion since the 1970s from the sale of oil. But, rampant corruption and theft left the nation with little to show for the oil wealth but poverty and incredible debt. Although penalties and late payments forced the country's debt to reach $35 billion in the 1990s, in 2006, Nigeria became the "first African nation to settle with its official lenders" when it arranged to have most of its debt erased by the Paris Club. Nigeria went on to create a plan that allowed it to pay off its debt and has steadily kept its debt low ever since. According to the CIA, Nigeria's debt accounts for only 14.40% of national GDP, in comparison to countries like Zimbabwe (218%), the U.S. (60.8%), Ghana (58.5%), the U.K.(43.6%) or South Africa (31.3%).

Read more!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I can now confirm that Emeka Emmanuel Asiwe, the owner of, has been released from SSS detention. Asiwe was arrested on October 28th. Unfortunately, like fellow Nigerian blogger, Jonathan Elendu, he is not allowed to leave the country and return to the United States, his country of residence.
This, no matter how small, is good news.

Now, all that is left is to get the likes of Asiwe and Elendu their freedom to actually leave Nigeria.
AddThis Feed Button

Read more!


Monday, November 17, 2008

The fallout from the Leadership's "Yar'Adua Sick Again" article continues.

Apparently, "[i]n keeping with his commitment to upholding the rule of law at all times," Nigeria's President, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, had publishers and editors from the Leadership paper arrested. They were arrested by the police less than 24 hours after they had been interrogated by the SSS who in the recent past, shut down and arrested the journalists at Channels TV in September, arrested Nigerian political bloggers Jonathan Elendu (who cannot leave Nigeria) and Emeka Asiwe (who has not been heard from since his arrest in October).

Prior to the arrests, the editors and journalists at Leadership Newspaper were interrogated by the Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro, who 'invited' them to police headquarters in Abuja. The journalists were then also 'invited' by the SSS, which reports directly to the President, for further interrogation over the course of several days.

It is curious that a President who fashioned himself around a "rule of law" mantra upon entering office a year ago, now has the Police and his security agents at the SSS, interrogating and arresting journalists over a story that has nothing to do with national security but merely his health. This action by the administration is simply one of many that suggests that Nigeria is not a democracy and not even pretending to be. In truly democratic nations, when journalists make mistakes, they retract their errors, provide public apologies and are then dragged to court to defend defamation challenges when the publication's error negatively impacted an individual/organizations character and maybe livelihood. Considering the fact that Yar'Adua threatened to sue the newspaper already, and apparently has that option, these arrests are an unnecessary show of undemocratic force.

Reacting to the arrests, Festus Keyamo, a lawyer in lagos, aptly said,

"[This is] the latest ... intolerability displayed by President Umaru Yar’Adua's administration towards the Press.
Not long ago, we witnessed the unjust closure of Channels T.V, ... [t]he recent arrest and detention of Jonathan Elendu and [Emeka] Emmanuel Asiwe, both on-line journalists, is still fresh in our memory.
Their offence(s) have not been made known. They were not charged to court...[and] a popular programme on A.I.T, ... Focus Nigeria, has been proscribed by the Federal Government.[sic]
The irresistible conclusion we can draw is that the Yar’Adua administration has refused to be an Open Regime where the flow of information is always guaranteed, leading to all kinds of speculations by the Press."
Yar'Adua's draconian measures are also unconstitutional. The freedom of the press is a guaranteed right and it applies even when the press makes mistakes. None of this would have been necessary if, as I have suggested in the past, the President simply gave the public the truth (or some version of it) about his health condition. Then, the press would not have to do its job and search for information on that topic and of course, the administration would not be so defensive about the issue.

But, apparently in a "rule of law" democracy, the press can be shackled, citizen journalists like Elendu and Asiwe can be made to disappear and constitutional and human rights can be infringed upon with abandon. Hopefully, Nigerians did not sign up for that type of democracy and will encourage Yar'Adua to rethink his recent undemocratic actions for the betterment of Nigeria and the people.

Please read Reporters Without Borders 2008 Annual Report on Nigeria. Apparently, Leadership Newspaper is a constant target by the SSS and Yar'Adua administration. Very disturbing...

UPDATE: Nigeria's federal government is now charging 4 journalists over the Leadership article. Please read the report at Reporters Without Borders.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Yar'Adua To Sue Nigerian Newspaper
- Channels TV Shut Down By Yar'Adua
- Yar'Adua And The Continuing Heath Issue
- The Consequences of Yar'Adua's Mysterious Health
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime
- Nigerian Blogger Arrested
AddThis Feed Button

Read more!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On November 8th, Leadership Newspaper's lead story was titled "Yar'Adua Sick Again" and it alleged that the President had missed certain events due to health matters. The newspaper also stated that doctors were flown in from Saudi Arabia on his behalf. The following day, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Olusegun Adeniyi, announced that Nigeria's President will sue Leadership Newspaper for libel. According to Adeniyi,

"In keeping with his commitment to upholding the rule of law at all times, Yar'Adua has directed his lawyers to take appropriate legal action against the Leadership newspaper...
There is no truth in the entire report ... the only reasonable conclusion is that the publishers ... ran the report ... to embarrass the President and destabilise his administration. [sic]
The truth is that the President is in good health and has been attending to all his official duties in full view of the media in the past week"
This announcement resulted in an immediate public apology from Leadership Newspaper. According to a Daily Trust report, Leadership's publishers stated,
"...portions of the lead story carried yesterday ... did not meet the standard we have set for ourselves as a newspaper. Having taken a second look ... we can understand the concerns of the Presidency and therefore sincerely apologise...

That mix-up does not suggest, however, that we have been working in alliance with any person or group or party that does not mean well for our president or our country."
Yar'Adua has every right to sue anyone who defames him or his character. Clearly, Leadership Newspaper has retracted some of its report and admitted that its article, "Yar'Adua Sick Again", was not entirely factual, thus furthering any libel case the President might have against the publication.

If this were a perfect world, however, two crucial things would have happened.
  1. As soon as he became President,Yar'Adua would have told the nation exactly what was/is/might be wrong with his health. That, coupled with Nigeria's fervor for religion, would likely have endured the public to him, forcing most to pray for him and defend him from any further discussions about his health.
  2. Upon being upfront with the people, he would have sued the first publication to then print untruths about his health instead of shutting down Channels TV and arresting bloggers like Jonathan Elendu and Emeka Asiwe (who has been missing for over 2 weeks).
Granted, hindsight is 20/20, but had these two things happened, there would be little need for the President to respond to rumors about the condition of his health this late into his presidential term, especially as there are other important matters that he must deal with such as establishing his cabinet (which was recently dissolved) and addressing the myriad of issues Nigeria faces. Of course, there will always be detractors, but by sharing a personal issue with the greater public, Nigerians would more than likely defend him and squash political opportunists who try to use his health as a divisive issue.

Additionally, I must confess that I am turned off by Adeniyi's accusation that Leadership Newspaper was attempting to "destabilise"[sic] Yar'Adua's administration. While that might be true, it sets an unhealthy precedent when a democratic government publicly makes general accusations that it in turn does not butress with further evidence. This is not the first time those close to Yar'Adua have accused others of trying to undermine the government. In fact, it seems to be a recurring refrain from those in power right now and that is dangerous in a nation that has seen many dictatorships and is struggling to gain a true democratic footing.

Finally, I must highlight one more statement shared by Adeniyi on behalf of the president.
"While Yar'Adua fully believes that a free and unfettered press is essential to the growth and entrenchment of democracy in Nigeria, he is equally of the view that the propagation of spiteful and malicious falsehood must not be allowed to become an acceptable weapon of political opposition in our country."
I completely agree with the sentiment above and thank God that courts are best equipped for dealing with defamation cases. However, I must remind the president that 2 bloggers were recently detained and accused of everything from treason to money laundering. They are yet to be charged with any crime even though their characters have now come under question and they are not free. I must also emphasize that although spiteful and malicious falsehoods can have legal consequences, the freedom of speech and expression by average Nigerians and especially bloggers and citizen journalists is a universally accepted right that should never be suppressed particularly in a democratic nation. Consequently, I repeat my call for Jonathan Elendu to be given his travel documents so he can return to his wife and child, and that Emeka Asiwe be released from SSS detention so he can as well return to his family. Or, do we want to add the following to the growing global ideas about what kind of country Nigeria is -
"It looks like Nigeria isn’t any nicer than China when it comes to dissenters and blogs."
It could be, if we aren't truly committed "to upholding the rule of law at all times."

**If, for any reason, the original Leadership story becomes unavailable, I have a copy and can make it available, when necessary.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Channels TV Shut Down By Yar'Adua
- Yar'Adua And The Continuing Heath Issue
- The Consequences of Yar'Adua's Mysterious Health
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime
- Nigerian Blogger Arrested
- Turning Away from Democracy

AddThis Feed Button

Read more!


Monday, November 10, 2008

In the aftermath of Uzoma Okere's violent assault at the gun butts and horsewhips of Arogundade's men, Nigerians have reacted with outrage that a young woman could be treated like an animal. The internet has proven to be the main forum for young Nigerians to discuss Uzoma's situation and advocate justice for her. I congratulate every Nigerian and non-Nigerian that has taken the time to think about what happened to Uzoma and spoken up in her defense.

Read more!


Friday, November 7, 2008

UPDATE: Ms. Okere just won a N100mn judgment against her assaulters. To learn more, click here.

Nigeria is an interesting place and there are interesting updates on Uzoma Okere's case. These updates raise serious issues that every Nigerian should be concerned about.

FASHOLA STEPS IN: Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, apologized to Uzoma, saying,
"Those of us who exercise authority in the state who owe it a responsibility to protect you have actually turned against you. I am sorry.
This matter has been brought to my attention by e-mails, well placed on the internet on what took place. I can assure you that our democracy will protect you, you will get justice....
Whatever legal assistance you will require, the state government will provide it for you. I will make representation to his Excellency, Mr. President and all the reports I get from the Ministry of Justice, I will pass it to him. I am sure that he will do justice to it."

Read more!


Thursday, November 6, 2008

As a Nigerian who grew up in Lagos, I have seen everything. Consequently, the video below does not shock me. What shocked me is that people were brave enough to approach the officers, all be it from a safe distance, and that an individual was brave enough to film and share this atrocity with the world. It is unfortunately common for men in uniform to use their military power and authority to force fear upon the populace and abuse the rights of citizens via brute force. This opinion of mine is in no way an attempt to condemn the entire armed forces, after all Nigeria's soldiers have consistently sacrificed their lives, with far too little credit, for peace initiatives all over the African continent from Liberia to Darfur.
However, no accomplishments will overcome the reality of the footage below - average Nigerian citizens are at the mercy of military officers. In the clip, you will see the public violent assault of a young lady, Uzoma Okere, on the streets of my hometown, Victoria Island, Lagos. According to Nigeria's Punch Newspaper,
Six armed naval ratings attached to a Rear Admiral identified as Harry Arogundade, went wild on Monday on Muri Okunola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, beating and stripping the lady naked.
According to eyewitnesses, the naval ratings hit the lady with their gun butts and beat her with horsewhips.
She was accused of not quickly giving way for the naval officer‘s convoy on her way home in her Mitsubishi Colt car.
By the time the rage ended, Okere, who was forcibly handcuffed and dragged into a private residence on the street in a humiliating assault, was left with a battered face, blood-shot eyes and bruises all over her body.
She was [later] admitted at Kamorass Hospital on Victoria Island.
This treatment of a human being is absolutely unconscionable. Okere is someone's daughter, someone's sister, someone's friend and above all a human being who should not have ever been treated like an animal. In fact, many animals around the world get better treatment. Her assault at the butts and horsewhips of those military officers, in addition to the recent SSS detention of Jonathan Elendu, Emeka Asiwe (whom we are yet to hear from) and countless faceless Nigerians who have lost their freedom and even lives at the hands of Nigeria's military officers simply reinforces that democracy and its ideals continue to struggle in Nigeria. The Nigerian people and the Nigerian government must realize that freedom is the birthright of every human being, even Nigerians. As such, we must all work together to protect the rights and freedoms of the nation's citizens.

In this age of modern technology, enlightened ideas, and even the achievement of the previously impossible - the election of a Black man with a funny name as President of the United States, the rights and freedoms of the people must be paramount. It will be interesting to see what, if any, will be the response from President Yar'Adua to, yet again, another gaffe on the part of security services. Nigeria's Armed Forces, charged with defending the union of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, must not resort to attacking the citizens they serve, like Uzoma Okere, simply because her Mitsubishi Colt didn't move quickly enough for their liking.

Hattip to reader, Webround, for sharing this clip with me.

A concerned citizen created a Facebook page to start a petition for justice for the victim of this assault. Visit it here.

UPDATE: Per Reader Archiwiz's request, I am including the contact information for the head of Nigeria's Ministry of Womens Affairs, Saudatu Usman Bungudu. She can be reached
Via email:,,
Via telephone: +234-095237115, 09-523-7279, 09-523-9883, 09-523-7278
Via fax: +234-095233644, 095237112, 095237113

You can find the Minister's CV here.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Turning Away from Democracy
- "Free Jonathan Elendu Now!"
- Blogger, Jonathan Elendu, Still In Custody
- Nigerian Blogger Arrested!!!
- Channels TV Shut Down By Yar'Adua
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime
AddThis Feed Button

Read more!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The first Black President of the United States of America.

This is a historic moment.

Remember where you were when this happened.

And for the rest of the world, Nigeria in particular, YES WE CAN!


AddThis Feed Button

Read more!



This article was published in Nigeria's Vanguard newspaper on Sunday. It makes a detailed case for why Obama, and not McCain, must become America's new President.

Today, the American sense of self, of security, self-assuredness and invincibility, all once the hallmark of being American, is very battered. Therefore, this election, the challenge is not how to choose who responds to the whims of the people more, but rather whom the people and the nation desperately need to take the helm of a hurricane-battered national economy and psyche. On November 4, Americans must choose a President who can chart a new course for America to sail into the future, refitted or rebuilt, reinvigorated, and restored to a more than minimally wholesome functional condition.

From this perspective, the candidacy of Senator Barack Obama becomes very significant. It offers a bold and compelling opportunity for the American people to find the wisdom and courage to pick the president that America badly needs. Searching for a President in sober times is a completely different affair from picking one from the hat as it were, in good times. The question before the American electorate in the next few days is: Who Needs Whom More: Barack Obama or America?

America’s new leadership must pursue the new or renewed American dream while committing to fair and equitable room for the competing dreams of other nations and peoples rather than being constantly in conflict partly as a result of a single-minded pursuit of one national ambition that dismisses the dreams and passion of others. Having the courage, integrity and persuasion to guide the American people to understand this new global dispensation in which power and military might have become virtually obsolete, will be one of greatest challenges of the new President. And yet it is a task that must be done if Americans are to better understand the world they live in. The very idea itself of Americans having to fit into the world, rather than the other way round as they have always understood it, is itself, the core of the challenge.

In all of this, what then exactly are the necessary and compelling qualities and attributes required in the man whose task and responsibility it will soon be to lead in building this new America, and how does Barack Obama fill the ticket? There are twelve of them: The new President must be a profound visionary; possess exceptional intelligence; be inspired and inspiring; exemplify decency, honesty, integrity, transparency and candor; have extremely good judgment; be competent, diligent, and be in vigorous and robust health; be a team player, not a maverick; be calm and cool under fire, and yet have a will of steel and the guts to act quickly and decisively when compelled to; have a profound mastery of the art of listening; possess an informed and enlightened global perspective; have profound humility; and enjoy maximum confidence, trust and goodwill at home and abroad. Fortunately, he need not be a good dancer.

Of the two candidates, only Barack Obama possesses the totality of these critical attributes. Tried and tested by one of the most rigorous scrutinies of any candidate in America’s history, by the public, the media and his opponents alike, Barack Obama has demonstrated these attributes beyond dispute. If there is also a striking attribute that has won Barack Obama the respect and support of millions of once hesitant Americans, it is his remarkable fortitude, and the manner in which he has stayed the course, unwavering and undaunted in the heat of battle, and in the face of quite unprecedented assault. This is an important quality for a leader who not only must stay level headed in dangerous circumstances as these are, but must avoid reckless brinksmanship, being armed with so much destructive power.

Barack Obama is an all-American and a child of the world at the same time. He embodies the dreams and hopes of not just America, but of the world at large. That is why he is so much embraced by the world, an important asset because Americans love to be loved, and what better way to restore being loved than through the world loving their President?

What about the candidacy of Senator John McCain? Surprisingly, McCain has made much of being a maverick. A good President must, by purpose and definition, be a team-player---the captain of the team. The notion, therefore, of a maverick as an American President, even in good times, is an oxymoron, a woeful contradiction in terms. One cannot lead and be contrary. Put differently, a maverick is essentially anti-social, having little use for compromise. A maverick cannot be a political leader, and certainly not the kind of President America needs. There are a couple good examples of contemporary genuinely maverick heads of state, and one suspects that John McCain would not be too thrilled to be counted as one of their fraternity. In fact, he would be scandalized by the comparison. Artists, writers, athletes, performers, stand alone intellectuals, and private individuals have the priviledge of being mavericks, because the lives and fortunes of others, let alone of an entire nation, do not depend on them.

Through the primaries and a little into the general elections, John McCain’s campaign had substance, integrity, style, appeal and decency. That was until it lost its mind and focus, and deteriorated into a desperate struggle to win at all cost. His subsequent recklessness in not curbing the frenzy of dangerous outbursts amongst his frustrated supporters who have not learned how to lose with dignity and grace, but rather threaten public peace and security, and his mind-boggling abandonment of good judgment in selecting a running mate of less than acceptable intellect, no matter how smart, conspire to forfeit for him, the right to a job so critical and that he wants so badly.

As for this matter called “the race factor’, perhaps the time has come for every American of voting age to come to terms with this long overdue distraction. Barack Obama happens to be a black man, and that will not change. Even if it could, there is hardly enough time to do so. The candidacy of Barack Obama continues to be a bargain for Americans. They will be getting so much for the price of one. Americans have come a long way, and as the smart people that they are, they have the uncanny ability to rise above themselves to acts of courage when the occasion calls for it, and the opportunity lends itself. Barack Obama and his candidacy present America a great opportunity to offload the burden of the dark side of America’s history. November 4, 2008 has become the World Cup Finals of National and Global Politics. Billions of people will be watching and praying for a young man who embodies their deepest dreams. With Barack Obama as President-elect, America, and indeed the enlightened world, could not ask for a better present this Holiday Season.
Dr. Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., a noted scholar, author and expert on development and strategic studies, is a founding and senior member of the Billion Minds Foundation. He is also the founder and publisher of Third Press Publishers, and the President and CEO of the Telecom Africa International Corporation, in New Rochelle, N.Y. Dr. Okpaku, a Nigerian, holds a B.Sc. Degree in Civil Engineering from Northwestern University, an M. Sc. Degree in Structural Engineering from Stanford University and a PhD in Dramatic Literature and Theatre History, both from Stanford University. This Article is an excerpt from a “Barack Obama and the Renewal of the American Dream”, a book in progress.

Read more!


Monday, November 3, 2008

Nigerians have lived through some interesting political times. In the past, a specific military regime took the time to publicly flog civil servants for arriving to work late. Under various dictators, independent thought was punished, some, like journalist Dele Giwa were blown apart to bits. And, of course, no reasonable Nigerian can forget the distinctly dark terror that was the Abacha regime, although some would rather rewrite that part of Nigeria's history. Then, Nigerians spoke in hushed whispers about the various rumors surrounding the late General and the many who crossed his path, only to never be heard from again.

Read more!