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Monday, 27 April 2015


 Is there something in our history or culture that makes us not to seem to value human lives? Could it be an acquired syndrome? It is true that Africa fought several wars with itself and with outsiders which led to the loss of many lives and some wars are going on right now across Africa( including the Bokoharam and the Elshabab wars). But other regions also fought wars in the past and are still fighting wars ( including that in Ukraine, Syria & Iraq). And of course there is the global terror war initiated by Alqueda and sustained by ISIS. Perhaps it could be that Africa has lost and  continues to lose many lives to all manner of diseases, chronic and acute( including malaria,Ebola & 'Ondocide'). It was common and may be it is still common that many African women gave birth to many children hoping that a few would survive the several childhood diseases and afflictions ( including 'abiku'). Have all these numbed our feelings and care for human lives?
   I do not know but I have been troubled in my spirit for a long time that we do not place much value on human lives. Beyond wars and diseases, we consistently show in other ways that life does not mean much to many of us. Look at the way we drive in many of our cities and highways for example. Many drivers do not know or do not care to know traffic rules, those who know fail or refuse to observe traffic rules or obey speed limits. The carnage on our roads is higher than elsewhere. When the roads are bad, they become excuses for frequent accidents and when they get repaired, the rate of accidents increases as many of us have no ideas that tyres have expiration dates. I do not know. Even the way, where and what we eat and drink do not suggest that many of us care about our own lives sufficiently, not to talk of caring about other People's lives. This 'disease' is wide spread through the length and breadth of Africa.
  For more than a year now I have been watching often on global TV networks, the almost daily 'suicide' being committed by the so called migrants, most of whom are Africans and Arabs. Each time I came across the news that hundreds of immigrants have perished on the Mediterranean Sea trying to migrate to Europe from Africa and the Middle East region and traveling on rickety and over loaded boats, I would sigh and say prayers for the repose of their souls, peaceful or not. Thereafter, I would wonder aloud what could be driving normal people into that kind of morbid desperation. Is it poverty or persecution?Then the next day another set of desperadoes would embark on another journey of no return on the same sea on similar boats. And again I would wonder on what could be the motivation for this daily tragedy. And then I would ask my self if this must happen and so repeatedly?Could it not be stopped? Don't these people see, hear or read of what had happened to those who had gone ahead of them. What of the rings involved in arranging these dangerous and illegal trips? No body can bring them to justice. No body can regulate these boats or prevent them from ferrying human beings to their death everyday? Terrible!
  I must confess that for a long time I thought that all these so called migrants were Africans and Arabs from Libya, Sudan, Iraq and Syria, very troubled Nations. I reasoned that they must be running away from the wars ranging in those countries. But I was shocked to my bone marrows to realize very recently, that Africans from other 'more peaceful' Nations were involved in these daily suicidal missions across the Mediterranean. I almost went berserk most recently when I heard that some Nigerians died in one of the boat trips. I even heard that some of them were Christians thrown overboard by Muslims from the over crowded boat. What a painful and tragic joke! What could get Nigerians into this morbid enterprise? Could it be economic? The cost of the trip to death which I hear ranges between 2500-5000 US dollars can be used to start up a decent business in my Country- a land of opportunities. Why would anybody spend such decent sums to go and die on the Mediterranean or at the best to go into 'slavery' in Europe. I am sorry I do not get it.
 All this while I have not heard any African Leader make any comments on this pestering tragedy involving mostly Africans and blacks. Often, it is the European Countries of Italy and Spain and the European Union(EU) itself that have been involved in the daily rescue mission of trying to save Africans who are running away from Africa. At one point, the EU got tired and decided to slow down and allow those who insist on committing suicide to go on,but the recent escalation of the tragedy has compelled them to resume active rescue missions on the Mediterranean. Yet African Leaders and the African Union(AU) are silent. They are neither involved in the rescue missions of their perishing Nationals nor are they doing anything to stop or discourage this most embarrassing and shameful development. Since the news broke that Some Nigerians died in the boats, my country has said nothing and done nothing to the best of my knowledge. What is wrong with us? Have we lost the humanity in us?
  The most recent incident where over 800 so called immigrants died on their way to Italy has raised so much furore across the globe, yet the voice of Africa has been only a hush. One would have expected the AU to call an emergency meeting to discuss this Mostly African problem, yet it is the EU that has called an Emergency meeting as if it was an European problem. Yes in a way they are the ones who are bearing the brunt of the failure of governance in many African and Middle East countries, but it is Africans and blacks that are drowning everyday on the sea. Should we not be ashamed of this. Must Africa remain a burden to the World even in the 21st Century?
   Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR

Sunday, 19 April 2015


I believe the campaigns are over and the elections done. Yes, some elections will still be held in a couple of polling units in Abia, Imo and Taraba States were the governorship elections were declared inconclusive but by and large, we are done with the longest electioneering period in Nigeria's political history. Indeed for the first three and half months of this year, except in the political arena, not much work has been done else where. Many businesses and investment decisions were put on the pause mode as we all pondered where the elections would land us. When we add the loss from the low level of investment and productive activities in the economy to the impact of the fallen oil prices, it is reasonable to understand why the World Bank has down graded our growth prospects for 2015 to less than 5%. Therefore it is urgent that we return to work now.
 First, the campaigns must end. Those who have won elections must stop campaigning. The fact that they won, means that the constituents expect them to come in and improve things. It makes no sense reminding us any more how bad things are or who made them bad. Nigerians are tired of that and they rather will want to be given hope of the emergent future than painting pictures of the past. We must be magnanimous in victory. And all forms of propaganda must cease and the propaganda machinery dismantled. We are sick of Publicity and Media campaign officers assaulting our sensibilities with press releases or press conferences. The media focus must change to other important issues in the economy. Those who lost, must also follow the golden example of President Goodluck Jonathan and be sports-manly, knowing that it is not the end of the World. He has put his focus on ensuring a seamless transfer of power to the incoming President in the interest of the Country and its citizens. True, electoral rejection can be painful but Incoming President Muhammadu Buhari has proven that there can always be another day. If they have reservations or complaints, the contestation should now be taken to the tribunals and courts. Complaining to the Public, misinforming the electorate or issuing contentious press releases will not help as most Nigerians will prefer to be left alone to resume work and pursue their objectives for 2015.
   Second, the Media, being a key National Agenda setter, must try and steer us away from campaigns and elections and refocus on key economic and social issues. Whereas we will not want to gag the press, but it will be patriotic if we focused on issues that will unite the Nation than cause further divisions . Of course there will be postmortem reviews on the elections on why people won or lost and why some parties did better than others,but such discourse must be done with the objective of creating enlightenment than ridiculing any one or any party. The media must help to heal wounds and reunite the Nation and not to stoke further divisions.
  Third, the National Assembly must resume work in earnest. The 2015 budget can not wait for the incoming team as that may mean that we may not have a workable budget for this year. The impact of the Federal government budget on the National economy is enormous and we can not grope in the dark much longer. Governance is continuous and the incoming government can always send a supplementary  budget when the 8th National Assembly settles down. There are other critical bills which had gone through advanced legislative processes and must be put to bed before the end of term. Otherwise, such bills like the Petroleum Industry Bill( PIB) and the Railway bill may go back to the starting blocks and that can be very injurious to the good governance of our Nation.
  Fourth, the reason we have a civil service that is apolitic is that the government machinery must continue to run even in transitions. Ordinarily the tenure of civil servants is secure and many appointed positions have secured tenure. So this is not the time to freeze up government business because a new government is coming into power. For several weeks since the campaigns intensified, it was difficult to get any business done in the government offices but with elections over, work must resume. It is in the interest of our economy that things do not slow down so much. Yes, at the Federal level, this is is the first time in sixteen years that we have a change of President and ruling or governing party at the same time. But it is still the same Country which is owned by the same citizens. Neither has changed. So the civil and Public servants must not allow themselves to be paralyzed by fears of change.
  Fifth, Nigerians know how to jump into the wining train. They are adept at joining the winning camp. Right now everybody is sending congratulatory messages. That is fine. But everybody trying to pay a congratulatory or courtesy visit may overwhelm our new leaders. They need time to recover from the fatigue of the very long campaigns and then to begin to put their thoughts and plans together so they can hit the ground running on May 29th. So let's not clog them with this frenetic show of affection and goodwill. Our votes have already done so. I know that the objectives of some of these visits is to show our faces, tell stories of how we campaigned and fought for them (true or false),indicate our interests and drop our curriculum vitae(CV).That's normal I presume but let it not become a problem to our incoming leaders and disrupt their preparations for the new jobs we have hired them to do. I am sure many Nigerians can be gainfully employed in several other productive ventures and support our new leaders without necessarily getting government appointments. Let us know that it will not be possible to reward all persons who supported or voted for them with appointments or with any direct benefit. Our rewards will come from effective representation and good governance of our States and the Nation.
 Sixth and lastly, may I caution against opening 2019 campaigns now. It just won't be fair to our psyche and economic well being. We have been battered from all sides and need time to recover and recoup.Those who have eyes on 2019 can begin putting together their strategies together if they want and if they  must, but that must be done quietly and privately. We need to return to work and create the wealth that is required to pay some of the debts incurred in the just concluded elections, service the 'IOUs', redeem the promissory notes and rebuild the reserves before talking of 2019. I beg.
  Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

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Monday, 13 April 2015


  An old man said a prayer for me and some of my friends many years ago. That is the prayer I wish to say for Nigerians today. On our way to this old man's home, we had a great need in mind and did our best to fill that need but failed and it bothered us. When we arrived, he presented us with kola nuts. As he prayed before breaking the kola nuts as is our custom in Igbo Land he added: " God, what ever anybody is looking for, please let him see it or have it, but when he gets it or sees it, may he not run away from it". We all chorused "isee", meaning amen, ate the kola nuts and moved on. We did not tell him anything concerning our unfulfilled need and did not quite make anything of the prayer. On our way back to our base, we ran into that thing we sought after earlier on. We took some of the stuff and decided we have had enough, but the suppliers of the service wanted us to have more but we refused and trouble started. They seized our car and took other measures to ensure we did not continue the journey. They complained that they could not go to the great length and expense to get what we said we needed badly, only for us to just take a few and said we were satisfied. As we groaned and complained, one of us quickly reminded us of the prayer of the old man. We calmed down. And then began to argue if that was a good prayer or bad prayer and concluded that it was a 'dangerously' good prayer .
   During these elections, we were asked to make a Choice between 'Continuity' and 'Change'. From the Presidential Elections result, it is apparent that the majority of Nigerians voted for change. So Change we will have. Perhaps some of those who voted change, had little understanding of what they were asking for. But that would be a shame because the long period for campaigns should have afforded all the opportunity to understand what Change or Continuity meant. Change is an encompassing phenomenon with wide ramifications, sometimes beyond the immediate precincts of the instigator and could work against subsisting interests of the protagonists. And so having campaigned for change, having voted for change, it will be dangerous and counterproductive to begin to either reject, resist or fight change.
  Just before the last set of elections, the Peaceful Nigerian Political environment was agitated by the unbecoming and troubling speech credited to the the Oba of Lagos  where he threatened to drown in the Lagos Lagoon all non indigenes( especially the Igbo) who did not vote for his personally chosen gubernatorial candidate for Lagos. When the news broke, I did not believe it was true. Such statements can not be made by our respected traditional custodians, not even by radical politicians . Such statements were not made even during the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War. I searched all the media and when I saw that it was a front page news in Major Nigerian newspapers I was stung but still hoped it would not be true until I saw the video which was later carried on Channels TV. I have tried to fathom the cause of his anger which led him to make such an inciting speech. My findings show that the Kabiyesi who is partisan and in favour of a party that is preaching Change seems unhappy with the change that is coming to Nigeria, Lagos inclusive . This change has already begun with three so called non indigenes winning House of Representatives seats in Lagos. The change is coming with upsets in several constituencies and states across the Nation. I believe that some seats will also be won by 'non indigenes' in the Houses of Assembly in many States where they have commanding residency as in Lagos,  Portharcourt and Kano. And this is only the tip of the change that will come to the Nation. I noticed that many Nigerians from several parts of Nigeria including the Yoruba speaking have boldly crticised that kind of hate speech. That is part of the change that has begun in Nigeria. What is bad is bad and what is distasteful is distasteful, no matter where it comes from or from who it comes .The younger Nigerian population, many of whom have dual citizenship, can not understand this'non-indigenes' classification of residents in any part of Nigeria. And they will no longer accept the prejudices of the older Nigerian Population, some of whom think and speak like the Oba. They think they own Nigeria! But this Nation belongs more to the Youth and they are poised to possess it . That is the change that is imminent and this does not respect party affiliation.
  Let me state that this change is coming irrespective of the government in Abuja or in Alausa. In my recent despatches I had harped on the theme that the 2015 elections have changed Nigeria in several respects. For example God fatherism is about dead in Nigeria and its foundations in Lagos have been badly shaken in these elections. The days when a governor would do what he liked and got away with it are about gone. Why? Because we now have a very virile opposition in the Country and in most States. Every Governor, whether APC or PDP or APGA will face strong criticisms for virtually every action and unparalleled scrutiny of every contract and project. So it can no longer be business as usual. Therefore all those who are used to having their ways without any questions being asked should know that change has come. Those who hitherto thought that they could hoodwink us or felt that they were ' okwucha ogwu'( when they say it, it is finished) or carried on as if they were untouchables, should know that this election has destroyed all immunity. No one is outside the radar.
 Secondly, we now have an active civil society that has learnt to yell and shout and who are no longer ready to keep quiet or suffer any cheats or abridgements of their constitutional rights. The social media has given the civil society such space and empowerment than ever before. Sequel to this, is an emboldened media. The liberalization of media ownership and the rise in the operations of online media have opened the political space and there is no where to hide any more.  Let it therefore be known that all those who benefitted from  the free press will be the same ones who will be hunted by the same press. That is the other side of change. And yet the change is only about to begin. The centrifugal and centripetal forces to be generated by the changes at the centre and at the sub-national levels will cause whirlwinds.
  So we had all better be prepared to deal with the ramifications of the change we wanted so badly. All those who do not have the liver to stand change, should find some ways to adapt now before the wind begins to blow full time. I may suggest to them to consider emigration, abdication or to go into hiding. It will be worse for those who preached change to try to fight the change they asked for, because they might end up saying or doing the unthinkable as the Oba of Lagos did last week.
 Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR

Monday, 6 April 2015


 Two weeks ago, I suggested ten things Nigerians must keep in mind as they went to the polls last week. From all indications, it seems that most Nigerians heeded that advice or similar ones offered by other writers and opinion leaders. Last week, just as the polls were being cast or being counted, I opined that however the elections went, I was already excited in my spirit that Nigeria would win big time, emerging from the elections better than we entered. I am thankful to God, that my prediction seems to have been proven right.
   As I closed in my piece last week, I had said that this election had elicited more international interest than ever before. From the USA, Europe, Asia, Latin America and our own Africa, came scores of admonitions and even veiled threats. INEC had more international observers than staff( permanent & adhoc). For once every international TV station was focused on Nigeria and when you tuned to China's CCTVN, you would think, you were listening to Channels TV, because they carried news about Nigeria every half hour. Every Media House, major and minor had sent news crews to Nigeria. What were they expecting to report about Nigeria? A free, fair,credible and Violence- free elections?, an orderly transfer of power from one President to another ? Zebrudaya Nwogbo alias four thirty would say: 'far- far- far...foul'
  Off the coast of Accra Ghana, ships were moored carrying American Marines and emergency workers ready to ferry over to Nigeria to rescue American Citizens still in Nigeria. The Europeans made similar arrangements. The United Nations was on standby and the RedCross had piled up emergency supplies in readiness to fly in relief material to Nigeria. Some American 'seers' had long 'prophesied' that Nigeria would disintegrate in 2015. And then a  formidable  Party called APC was born from a coalition of the long suffering opposition and a chunk of angry dissidents from the establishment Party - PDP.  The new amalgam sounded very desperate to snatch power from the ruling party and the ruling party responded with even fiercer counter offensive. The Bush was set on fire!. The rhetorics was aweful sending fear to all directions.
 The World remembered what happened in 2011, how hapless Nigerians were murdered and property worth several millions were destroyed by rampaging miscreants who had been primed to reject any result that did not favour their candidate. Of course the escalation of the Terrorist insurgency in the last three years or so to make governance difficult, all added to create an environment of siege and potential cataclysm. Infact, there was even this prediction,that head or tail, Nigeria would erupt into violence and may be civil war. So all the scenarios tended to indicate violence and destruction. But alas, Nigeria disappointed the World. This turned out to be the most peaceful election we have had in recent history. Some have even said it was the most free, fair and credible. Well?
 How come that Nigeria 'disappointed' the World ? First is the determination of President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that there is peace in this Nation. No matter what other faults the man may have, he was first and foremost a man of Peace. He fears God. Truly he made unquantifiable sacrifices for the Peace of this Nation, more than any other living National Leader. If he was not a man of peace, he would have pursued the issue of the qualification of General Muhammadu Buhari to an end which could have disrupted the peace of the Nation to his own electoral advantage. A few days to the election, the Nation was on edge regarding the impending court declaration on General Buhari's eligibility. I can imagine the pressure by party hawks  which he shook off .  Second, Dr Goodluck Jonathan is the greatest Democrat of our time. The freedom he allowed democratic precepts to reign  in our Nation was unprecedented . Infact, this was counted as weakness for him. When the mega Party APC was being formed, he refused to oppose it. When his party governors were decamping in droves, he refused to stop them or fight them. Aminu Tambuwal organized a coup against his party to become speaker and Jonathan allowed him to stay till today. In the last five years or so since Jonathan came to power, we have not heard of any political hostage, or murder. No body has been driven out of town or forced into exile. Such examplary Political leadership is rare in Africa.
  And to cap it up, Dr Goodluck Jonathan called to congratulate General Buhari , even when the final result had not been released, and even when some had misgivings as to how the elections were conducted in some States. Without prejudice to the rights of his party to raise any issues concerning the conduct of the Elections especially INEC's mid game change of rules, Jonathan did what no National Political leader had ever done in the history of Nigeria. He bettered Dr Kayode Fayemi's record in EKITI who called Fayose to congratulate him and concede defeat after INEC released the results of EKITI gubernatorial election result last year.
 Third is the unequivocal determination of Nigerians to see that their votes counted in the elections and their equal desire to see Peace reign in Nigeria. Most Nigerians conducted themselves peacefully during the Presidential elections and did their utmost to obey the electoral rules. Many were unceasing in praying and preaching for peaceful elections. Fourth is the impartial conduct of the security officers. They lived up to the expectations of Nigerians and did their utmost to prevent any deviant or violent Behaviour.
  Fifth, is the notable learned democratic Behaviour of General Muhammadu Buhari. He wanted to become Nigeria's democratically elected Presiden. He tried the first time and failed, tried a second time and failed, he tried a third time and failed with disastrous consequences for Ordinary Nigerians. He refused to give up and despite every effort to discourage him from trying again, he endured, changed his tactics, allowed himself to be remodeled and moderated his rhetoric and finally made it. That is a great lesson for all political actors. To believe in a cause and to pursue it determinedly and then make the necessary sacrifices to attain it legitimately.
  Nigeria has emerged from these elections better than we entered. There was a change of President and change of Party. A sitting President has lost elections and a ruling party has been dethroned. And blood is not flowing and everybody is going about their business all over Nigeria. A rarity in Africa. It could be that our Democracy has matured at last. Thanks be to God.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR