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Monday, 23 May 2016

THE DEREGULATION OF THE DOWNSTREAM OIL SECTOR: MATTERS ARISING

The Federal Government surprised most Nigerians last week, with the sudden deregulation of the down stream petroleum sector. After preaching, cajoling, persuading and even begging President Muhammadu Buhari to deregulate the downstream since the day he came to office, many of us- diehard proponents of deregulation were beginning to give up hope. I almost gave up hope after the global oil price came below 30 dollars per barrel, extinguishing all forms of subsidy and nothing happened. That was a perfect time to deregulate and yet government stubbornly stuck to its position. Instead it took the ill-advised cosmetic step to reduce the price of PMS from 87 to 86.50 Naira per liter.                                                                                                                  The only reason, I did not give up hope completely was my understanding of the potent power    of economic realities to punish misguided stubbornness and unrealistic policy options. With the projected recovery( often cyclical) of the global oil prices, with the continued dwindle in Revenue, the sustained supply gap and with no provision made for subsidy in the deficit-laden 2016 Budget, I was certain that the government would be 'forced' sooner or later to let go. Though I was worried about the size of the economic damage that would have been caused before then, given the growing suffering of Nigerians at filling Stations due to the sustained scarcity and the sharp practices at the NNPC Depots and filling Stations. So when it happened last week after wasting one year and after further damaging the economy, even  I was shocked by its suddenness and steepness. Though I will like to congratulate the government for finally seeing the light and making a U-turn, the way and manner this happened has caused several questions and matters to arise.  TOTAL DEREGULATION OR  MERE REMOVAL OF SUBSIDY. 

The government needs to be categorical on what it has done, because removal of subsidy does not automatically translate into full deregulation . We have even heard people call what has happened-Guided deregulation. When we argue that it is full deregulation, some ask why the price cap? Why will the government be fixing prices, 135-145 Naira per liter? Should not the market be allowed to fix its price like it is for diesel and other essential products in the market- Food & Medicines? . Many people feel that in a fully deregulated and free market there should be neither minimum, nor maximum price. Is this therefore for real or an interim measure? Should this change in policy not be backed by legislation to grant comfort to all stakeholders in the industry?

 SUBSIDY REMOVAL OR A NEW FORM OF TAXATION 
NNPC is expected to source its foreign exchange to import PMS from the official foreign exchange market where the dollar still sells at about 199 Naira to the dollar and then it will sell its products at about the same price as the independent marketers who will buy forex from the interbank or parallel market at a minimum of 285 Naira per dollar. That will result in a huge profit for NNPC and the Government. So have we moved from subsidy to taxation? Is this a smart way to fund the deficit?

 HAVE WE INDIRECTLY DEVALUED THE NAIRA OR CREATED A THIRD FOREX MARKET
When the government uses a different exchange rate(different from its official rate) to calculate official transactions and enact policy change, what does that mean? By announcing that the new price of PMS was based on an exchange rate of 285 Naira to the dollar, the government to all intents and purposes has devalued the Naira without admitting it . Alternative view is that Government has created a new forex market, bringing the total to three- official rate, fuel import official rate and parallel( Bureau De change) market rate. How do these multiple rates promote Macroeconomic and market stability?

 HOW SOON CAN WE RAMP UP LOCAL REFINING 
Ordinarily, this deregulation( If it is exactly it) should remove a major obstacle to local refining. Asking businessmen to sell their product below cost and or limiting their margins is a major disincentive to investment. So we expect the refineries that have been on the drawing boards for years to move to the construction sites. Also with NNPC making huge profits from this new arrangement, it should be in a position to service its existing refineries regularly and carry out Turn Around Maintainance ( TAM)  on due dates, without waiting endlessly for subsidy repayments which never come on time. All things being equal, soon we shall bring this chronic fuel scarcity and all the fraudulent activities associated with subsidy administration to an end in our Country. Emphasis being on all things being equal, because of the notorious "Nigerian factor"

  HAVE WE SEEN THE END OF THE POWER OF LABOUR TO LEAD CIVIL DISSENT
From the military days until now, the organized labour represented by the Nigerian Labour Congress( NLC) and the Trade Union Congress( TUC) have provided the major bulwark against government excesses, unpopular government decisions and tyranny. The June 12 resistance that led Babangida to step aside was led by the organized labour and its associated unions( PENGASAN and NUPENG ). We recall the bravery of the Kokoris of the time. All efforts since Babangida, Abacha, Obasanjo and recently Jonathan to remove subsidy or to deregulate the downstream oil sector has been challenged by the organized labour. At each point, they organized strikes supported by the civil societies that grounded the Nation for days and some for weeks. Adams Oshiomhole shot to National lime light because of these strikes. Almost always, they succeeded in reducing the governments initially announced prices and also obtained relief measures for workers and agreed on what the subsidy savings would be used for. Abacha's PTF and Jonathan's SURE-P were two far reaching efforts to cushion the effects of the partial subsidy removals. 

All these while, the labour unions were united and they spoke with one voice. But for the first time in recent history, the Labour has been divided and so could not take a united action, therefore the General strike called by the Ayuba Wabba- Led faction of NLC was largely ineffective, while government reached an agreement with the Ajaero-led faction, as TUC withdrew from the strike arrangement, destroying the unity of Labour and its power to lead civil dissent. Is this good or bad? As a pro-deregulation enthusiast and business man,this is good, because the labour unions could not disrupt businesses and further cause injury to the struggling economy. But as an Activist and Nationalist with a sense of Justice, fair play, and history,I am not quite sure. With no valid opposition from a largely disunited PDP, there is no more deterrence for the Government in power. It seems to have conquered labour, with the active connivance of Adams Oshiomhole, a one time labour leader and so can enforce its policies without fear of any strong opposition or dissent. While this may have served the Nation well this time, the consequences of this divide & rule may hunt us in the future. Only Time will tell.
  Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR

Monday, 16 May 2016

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SAM OHUABUNWA'S PARADIGM : FANTASTICALLY CORRUPT?...Probably an Understatemen...

SAM OHUABUNWA'S PARADIGM : FANTASTICALLY CORRUPT?...Probably an Understatemen...: Last week the British Prime Minister, David Cameron,described Nigeria as one of the most fantastically corrupt Nations in the World, sharing...

FANTASTICALLY CORRUPT?...Probably an Understatement.

Last week the British Prime Minister, David Cameron,described Nigeria as one of the most fantastically corrupt Nations in the World, sharing honours with Afganistan, and some Nigerians, including the President's spokesman, Garba Shehu went up in arms. And I am wondering why? Are we quarreling with being called one of the most corrupt Nations in the World or is it the 'fantastic' that we are unhappy about?

Indeed, if you ask me, David Cameron was being very 'kind' to us and I have not seen any one as 'kind 'to us when it comes to stereotyping Nigeria with corruption. 'Fantastic' is ordinarily a very positive word or adjective which confers exceptional ability or exceptional performance to any noun to which it is attached. I ask, is it not more distinguishing to be called a fantastically corrupt Nigeria than just a corrupt country? We must be exceptional in something. One of my late uncles, Mazi SOK used to respond to greetings as follows" Minus dough, I am alright. If you no know me for good, you know me for bad". After all We are always encouraged to do what ever we do very well! It just happens that we are doing very well in corruption!

Why are we angry with David Cameron? Are we not a well known corrupt country? When Chukwuma Nzeogwu and his gang decided to overthrow the Civilian Government in January,1966, was corruption not one of the main reasons they struck? When General Muhammadu Buhari and his own gang took over power in Dec 1983, was corruption not the major reason? During that Period, Generals Buhari and Idiagbon's greatest achievement was to jail corrupt politicians, some to 250 years imprisonment, terms which made the Guinness Book of Records. When General Obasanjo returned to power in 1999 as a civilian democratically elected President, his major focus was fighting corruption, leading him to establish the ICPC and the EFCC. And when President Buhari returned as a Civilian and democratically elected President in 2015, what did he find? According to him, speaking to Amanpour on CNN last week, he was "shocked". In effect, despite his effort in 1984-86 and all the hullabaloo about Obasanjo's EFCC and ICPC, corruption in Nigeria had gotten progressively worse. How do you describe such performance? If fantastic is out of place, then may be fantabulous will be more appropriate .

Any one who has checked the Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in the last twenty five years from the Military to the Civilian regimes, will notice that we have virtually remained around the bottom of the league, beating most of the Nations of the World in corruption. Why are we angry? Is it because it was said by a foreigner? We say and write worse things about ourselves everyday. Any body who reads our newspapers regularly and there are many who do so (on line & off line)can not but come to the same conclusion that Nigeria is very corrupt

(fantastic or not). This hypocritical outcry is embarrassing to me.

And that's why I am relieved that President Muhammadu Buhari agreed with David Cameron that we are fantastically corrupt. I would have been surprised and sad, if he had demanded for an apology from the British Prime Minister as some people had suggested. To me this confirms his rating as a man of integrity. Since PMB came to power a year ago, he has used every opportunity he has found to describe the Nation as being rottenly corrupt, more so at international fora. In New York, London and Germany, he had announced to anybody who cared to listen that "If we do not kill Corruption, Corruption, will kill Nigeria". This led some people to accuse him of de marketing the Nation, while at the same time foraging for foreign investments. You can not call your basket broken and still expect that your neighbors will not put their refuse in your 'Nkirika ' basket.

My only worry is that this characterization as fantastically corrupt will remain with us for a very long time. Nigerians can disagree on many issues, but one area, we all seem to agree is that Nigeria is corrupt, though everyone pretends to be innocent. Corruption is everywhere in Nigeria, especially in the public space. Corruption in the Police walks on the streets where, Bus drivers can be shot for not parting with 20 Naira, Corruption in the Military is very entrenched and goes to the battle field without ammunition while private houses are built ;in the Civil service, corruption leads to the padding of Budgets,the award of contracts to the least qualified and delay in the issuing of licenses and permits; corruption in the Customs causes government efforts to protect local industry to fail; corruption in the Immigration allows illegal aliens to enter our Country to cause mayhem; corruption in NNPC & PPMC causes economic sabotage and disruptions in fuel supply; corruption in the legislative houses cause delay in budget approvals and unproductive oversight of MDAs; corruption in the judiciary keeps cases going for ever and gives justice to the highest bidder; corruption in the States causes security votes to be used to buy private aircrafts and shipping lines while armed robbers and kidnappers have their way. Corruption in the local governments lead to the death of pregnant mothers who can not have access to maternity services; corruption in our educational system allows parents to ' buy'admission for their wards and parents to 'pay' 'for free education'; Corruption in the Private sector leads to bribing of government officials and the production of uncompetitive products 
(some fake or substandard) and services.Corruption is even living in our Holy Temples where tithes are accepted from armed robbers & fraudsters and Priests embezzle Church funds. I do not think it is different in our Mosques where hate speeches radicalize young people.There is no Nigerian or even visiting foreigner who is not daily assaulted by corruptive practices by taxi drivers, plumbers, electricians, security personnel, journalists, petrol station attendants, and even Mortuary attendants. In life or death, you can not escape corruption in Nigeria. And we quarrel with being described as fantastically corrupt. 

When Shehu Garba wrote to criticize David Cameron, he expressed frustration that the Prime Minister did not seem to recognize the ANTICORRUPTION efforts of the current federal government. The lesson for him and others who think that way, is that the current ANTICORRUPTION effort is generally seen as too limited, one sided, discriminatory and in some cases an attempt at vendetta. So far, most of the war has been waged at unravelling the sources of the campaign funds of PDP in the last elections. While some of the revelations are damning and reprehensible, unbiased international observers of Nigeria and its corruption tendencies are asking when President Muhammadu Buhari will investigate how the campaign funds for his own Party APC was provided? It is common knowledge, that much of the funding came from state governors( Past and serving) and other sundry sources. Observers are waiting to see when former PDP members who have now run into APC for "safety" will be investigated. And equally important is the question of when will the ANTI-CORRUPTION war go public and holistic?

The truth is that Nigeria's war against corruption may never yield the expected dividend, recognition and appreciation by all, until it begins to touch every segment of the society. If the issue of Budget padding had not been discovered by the National Assembly, PMB, would not have realized that his campaign currently restricted to essentially the political class of the opposition party had nothing to do with civil servants. They were 'cool', doing their business as usual while the 'government made its noise'. This is the crux of the matter, and I do not know how to make the point strong enough. All the ANTICORRUPTION campaigns and wars of the past and present have been very superficial with limited scope and depth. And that is why, the impact has been minimal and short lasting. We need to wage a fundamental ANTICORRUPTION war that will involve value reorientation from cradle to the grave, a reordering of the society to enthrone equity and fairness, provision of basic needs and safety net for all Nigerians, a robust crime prevention architecture, and an incorruptible law enforcement machinery among many other initiatives. Every Nigerian must be recruited into this war, not a battle for PMB and EFCC alone. Until we have done so, all the current strenuous efforts with the associated drama will not change the view of foreign observers. Because 'odila anya,anyi huwara Ausa na uta', even if some carry AK-47 these days and some actually shoot.

Finally, the claim that Britain and other western countries are hypocritical when they say that we are fantastically corrupt, and yet they act as receivers for stolen Nigerian assets, to me begs the issue. While that is true, are they the ones holding the assets from what we call 'minor corruption' going on everywhere in our Nation everyday? What happened to the assets they had returned? Is part of the returned Abacha loot, not part of the money now alleged to have been looted again through the former NSA? When you go to most cities and villages in Nigeria today, many of the best houses, estates, helicopter pads, private Jets, shopping malls,etc are are built with proceeds from corruption. How many have we recovered? Indeed in most places, any one who holds government post and does not build big houses or ride big cars after weeks of assuming office is regarded by the community as a failure. We even ask our politicians to bribe us before we vote for them. In Nigeria we promote corruption, we honour corruption, we adore corruption and we reward corruption. And then we turn around to show fake anger when others tell us the truth. If we are truly angry at Prime Minister Cameron for telling us the honest and bitter truth, then let us all decide today to shun every corruptive action and make it a national creed, with our leaders across the Public and Private sectors leading. Let us become a Nation that hates and loathes corruption, in word and in action.If we determine to do so, I know God will help us.






Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

IS IT POSSIBLE TO RE-INVENT THE PDP?

 In 1998, thirty four distinguished  Nigerians (politicians, Businessmen and retired soldiers) gathered to lay the foundation for the party that latter emerged to be called the Peoples Democratic Party( PDP). This group known as G-34 metamorphosed from an original G-18 which was formed to oppose General Sanni Abacha's move to succeed himself, pushing for a return to true civilian democratic rule. Among these men were Alex Ekwueme, Bola Ige, Jerry Gana, Adamu Ciroma, Abubakar Rimi, Solomon Lar, Sule Lamido and Elder Awoniyi and others, some of whom are late now. They were soon to be joined by men from other political groups, such as Atiku Abubakar who came from the Peoples Democratic Movement( PDM). Subsequently they were joined by a number of retired Military Generals including Ibrahim Babangida who succeeded in attracting General Olusegun Obasanjo to join them, whom they eventually elected as their presidential Candidate for the 1999 elections.
  The PDP enjoyed a lot of support at inception  and became very popular. The calibre of its founding fathers, the broad membership ethnic base cutting across all the Regions and zones of Nigeria, coupled with its democratic promises and the Right of the centre economic slant all combined to help it win the  1999 General elections, beating the All peoples Party( APP) and the Alliance for Democracy( AD). In 2003, it also won the elections as Obasanjo was returned with a massive 61.9% of the popular votes. In the Legilslative elections, PDP won 223 seats in the House out of 360, while it won 79 out of the 90 seats in the Senate. In 2007, PDP won again, increasing its control of the house to 260 and senate to 85. President Yar'adua could not complete his first term as he died early in 2010, making way for  Dr Goodluck Jonathan the Vice President to become the President. A major crack occurred in the PDP in 2011as Goodluck Jonathan stood for elections for a four year term, after completing Yar'adua's term. A significant number of PDP members crossed over to the Action Congress of Nigeria( ACN). The North did its best to stop Jonathan from becoming President, after completing Yardua's term. Indeed he was nearly stopped from becoming acting President when it was clear that Yar'ardua's health could not let him continue in office. Jonathan's struggle to become acting President, then President( to complete Yar'ardua's term) and then to seek a full 4-year term severely strained the party. 
  The demand by some of the Northern members of PDP that the North should be allowed to complete its 8-year term, led to internal sabotage within the Party. But when Jonathan decided to seek a second term in 2015, the division in the party enlarged drastically. And when they could not stop him, an internal revolution occurred causing a fission of the Party to form the "New PDP ". The "New PDP" eventually merged with the Action Congress of Nigeria( ACN) to form the new mega party, All Progressives Congress( APC) which swept PDP out of power at the last General elections in 2015.  With a margin of 2.6 million Votes, President Muhammadu Buhari of APC defeated the incumbent , Dr Goodluck Jonathan of PDP. Thus after sixteen years in Power, PDP moved from the ruling party to the opposition party.
Beyond the all-consuming determination of the North to produce the President, which first led to the crack in the party, and latter anti party activities of most of the Northern political leaders in PDP, other factors contributed to the fall of PDP.
  Among these factors is impunity within and without the party. A party that was founded on democratic principles began to impose candidates and force its ways. Next was arrogance,being in power for so many years gave the party leaders a false feeling of invincibility and they began to behave as if Nigerians had no other choice. Indeed, it did not seem to care or worry  when hordes of its membership began to defect to other parties .The third was that  the party went cold on fighting corruption. Though it pursued fairly aggressively, the economic program of Privatization and deregulation, which took power and discretion away from public servants as a way of minimizing corruption, and introduced some electoral reforms that minimized electoral corruption( Jega & Card reader for example) pmany Nigerians still felt that corruption was proliferating. Fourth was that the party became incapable of disciplining its members. No where was this incapacity so visible as in the Presidency. Poor performance was tolerated and many public servants were treated as untouchables. Fifth, the party seemed to have lost any ability to resolve conflicts as it seemed to move from one crisis to another in many States. Up till date, Anambra State runs parallel party leadership. Lastly, the Party became a party run by geriatrics. Men over 80 years old ran the party at different levels and men and women were being recycled as if the Party was short of younger and fresher faces. I believe all these factors combined to humble the party at the 2015 elections. 
   But the worsening economic condition of Nigeria since the last one year, the slow pace of action by the APC Government and the outright repudiation of some of the promises it made to Nigerians have begun to make Nigerians see PDP in a better light. If a pool was taken today , it is certain that PDP would do better than it did this time last year. Therefore one would have expected that the PDP would seize the moment to reinvent itself. In the last week or so the PDP has been having series of congresses starting from the Ward to the LGA and to the State, which hopefully should culminate in a National convention. But it disappointing that we can not see any effort to transform or to cause change in its structure, format or content. First, the media is full of reports of many States and Zones condemning the Ward congresses. We hear of claims and counter claims of no elections or rigged elections and the imposition of candidates by some power brokers. I know that it is in the DNA of Nigerian politicians in whatever party to reject any election they did not win, but I would expect that by now, PDP should have set up a very transparent system that would make its internal elections less contentious. After many years, they should have evolved a better system of internal democracy. At the least, they should have a robust post election appeal structure which should enjoy the confidence of most members, as well as post election reconciliation mechanism. It was embarrassing to see party founders like Jerry Gana and Ibrahim Mantu appear on Television criticizing their congresses and telling the whole World that the congresses were rigged or manipulated and asking for their outright cancellation. Could the Party after 18 years and several cycles of congresses not have perfected a system of handling internal party disagreements without dancing naked in the market place?
  Second, it seems that the Party is yet to learn its lessons, in the choice of its leadership. A  Party that hopes to make any impression on Nigerians in any subsequent election can not present a tainted Leadership. The Bible said that in the time of ignorance,The Lord winked but no more in the time of knowledge. The Present APC government has raised the issue of ANTI-CORRUPTION very high  and seems to have sufficiently painted the PDP government and its leadership with hard brushes of corruption and inefficiency. Though some of the allegations are yet to be proven in the Law Courts, but the truth is that in the court of Public opinion, they have already been convicted as charged. As they say in advertising, perception is reality.  Let it be known that PDP can not cut any ice with any tainted leadership as it moves to 2019. If I should advice, I would suggest that they make a deliberate search for a new crop of leaders who have no form of baggages at all- political, financial, military, moral or corruption. APC won the last elections, essentially because they fielded a man that was generally perceived to be 'Pure'. I said perceived. 
 Third and related to the above, PDP if it hopes to make any impact in 2019, must as a matter of urgency retire most of its present crop of leaders. Many have been recycled so much that that there is a belief that they have nothing new or good to bring to the Nation. Many have too many baggages and many are out rightly too old- either by chronological age or by political age. Some were ministers or parliamentarians in the first Republic! Some campaigned for for Abacha to succeed himself! PDP should learn from the political developments in the UK and USA and usher in a regime of young, bright and untainted political leaders. I believe they have them in the party, but because they are not desperate to hold offices and may not want to manipulate and lobby, they are overlooked.
 Finally my overriding point is that Nigerians are happy with the emergence of two major parties in the country which gives them a choice. The predominance of PDP in the last sixteen years, seemed to have denied Nigerians that luxury. With the emergence of APC in the last two years or so, Nigerians now have an alternative and could appropriately respond to the impunity and arrogance of PDP. This has also introduced reasonable competition among the parties, which should be to the advantage of the electorate. I believe that Nigerians will be happy to have an opportunity to make that choice in 2019, especially given the performance of APC thus far. That is why PDP must do its utmost to reinvent itself. If at all possible.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR 

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

CAN NIGERIA SURVIVE ANOTHER CIVIL WAR?


  All those who love this Nation and who want its continued unity, peace and progress have continued to harp on one theme: Let us restructure this Federation and make it stable. There are too many fault lines in the Federation which the military left for us. Of course the unilateral amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates in 1914 to create one Nigeria by Lord Lugard and his British colonial overlords left some fault lines. But by and large, the first generation Nigerian political leaders did their utmost to manage these fault lines, which allowed the Nation and its constituent parts to make very significant progress. For example, the effort by Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and his likes to forge a truly united Country where" though tribes & tongues may differ, in brotherhood we stand", was hampered by the political expediency of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his likes who played the divisive card, causing massive carpet crossing from the NCNC to the AG on the floor of the Western House of Assembly which prevented Zik from becoming the leader of government in the old Western Region of Nigeria in 1952. I still think of what Nigeria would have become, if Zik had become the Premier of Western Nigeria and Eyo Eta, the premier of Eastern Nigeria. May be Akintola would have become the Premier of Northern Nigeria and subsequently  Maitama Sule could have become the Premier of Eastern Nigeria, succeeding Eyo Eta. That may not have been far fetched, because at some time, a Northerner was the Mayor of Enugu. Zik had most of his Children in Western Nigeria and gave all of them Yoruba middle names in his quest to unite Nigeria in word and in truth. Alhaji (Sir) Ahmadu Bello , the Sarduana of Sokoto who was the political leader of the North made no pretence of his preferences . He supported one Nigeria as long the North was allowed political leadership over the Federation. If left to him, he preferred the  North for the North and West for the West and East for the East. He was on record to have said that he preferred to have British expatriates fill vacancies in the Northern Public service than have the Igbo or any other Southern Nigerian.
   But Nigerians lived in relative peace with each other despite the tribal politics of the time. The political leaders never turned Nigerians against themselves. If there was any problem at all, it was mainly inter-tribal, like the Western Nigeria's political crisis which concerned the Yoruba essentially, Awolowo versus Akintola. While this raged,no Easterner or Northerner was killed. The Yoruba did not visit their frustration on the Ijaw or the Nupe living among them. All over the North, the Igbo traversed and made home in Kafanchan, Jos and Kano. The Muslims celebrated Christmas with the Christians while the Christians celebrated Sallah with the Muslims. There were political differences but mainly visible only at the political levels. The ordinary Nigerians lived in peace and did their businesses side by side with little molestation, discrimination or even acute consciousness of tribal, ethnic or religious differences. Nigeria was at peace with itself. The Fulani Herdsmen moved their cattle from the North to the south, both for Pasteur and to the market. The farmers in the North Central , South West and South East planted and harvested their crops . If there was any conflict between them it was not significant and not much was heard. At the time, the herdsmen did not carry guns and certainly never attacked nor sacked villages.
  However, all that began to change when the  military disrupted Nigeria's orderly growth in January 1966. The January coup seemed pro Igbo as some leading political  lights from the other Regions were killed, sparing the Igbo in a coup led by an igbo. This led to a counter coup in July, 1966 which was decidedly anti-Igbo, because essentially only Igbo officers( with exception of Brigadier Adekunle Fajuyi) were targeted and killed. The  Northern Soldiers went further to round up even junior army officers of Igbo extraction in barracks in the West and North and killed many. Eventually,Innocent Igbo civilians who had nothing to do with the January coup were hunted and Killed in many Northern cities over many months in late 1966 in a premeditated progrom. Unable to find safety anywhere else in Nigeria, the Igbo retreated home and when all efforts to reconcile failed, declared the independent State of Biafra. Nigeria refused to let Biafra go and declared a war which lasted 30 months in order to force Biafra back. Nearly three million people died in the war, including pregnant women and malnourished children as the Nigerian Government led by General Yakubu Gowon used every means including Economic blockade and starvation to bring Biafra to its knees. Today, some people accuse the Nigerian Government of committing Genocide against the Biafrans. Nigeria also lost a lot during the period as money that would have been used for development was diverted to prosecuting the Civil War. Many Nigerian Military men and women lost their lives as well and indeed Nigeria's development and progress was virtually suspended in the three years, the crisis lasted. Though the Nigerian Biafra War ended 46 years ago, we still live with the vestiges of that war.
  The military finally disengaged from political governance of Nigeria in 1999 but left a Country that was angry with itself. The national treasury was plundered, the institutions were destroyed while systemic corruption,ethnicism, cronyism, religious bigotry and deep seated injustice were promoted. We then began to have all kinds of inter-tribal,inter-ethic and inter-religious upheavals in the last 17years which have cost  the Nation so much in human and material resources, prompting strident calls for a sovereign National conference. Though no one has granted that wish exactly but Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan set up the National Political Reform Conference in 2005 and the National Conference in 2014 respectively. Unfortunately, despite the enormous resources invested in both conferences, none of their recommendations has been implemented. Ken Nnamani's Senate threw out the recommendations of the 2005 conference, and nobody has cared to implement any of the recommendations of 2014. Infact from the body language of the present government,it is doubtful if any body will look at the document at all. And yet in those two reports lie what could help remove or pamper the numerous fault lines that seem to widen everyday.
  Just as Nigerians were trying to take a breather  after the nearly 5-years of intensive onslaught of the Boko-Haram insurgency and terrorism, we are faced by another problem which may be worse than Boko Haram. Boko Haram started with attacking Churches and property that belonged mostly to the Southern Nigerians,especially the South Easterners. At that time, some people applauded silently and saw it as an opportunity to show that President Jonathan was unable to protect Nigerians. But when the attack dog turned indiscriminate against enemies and supporters alike, Heaven was let loose and the President was called "clueless" and when he could not rescue the CHIBOK girls, he was dubbed a failed Commander-in-Chief, prompting the opposition to call for a new C-in-C who will rescue the CHIBOK girls within weeks of assuming office. We succeeded in getting a new C-in-C. But nearly one year after, the CHIBOK Girls are still missing! 
 The Fulani herdsmen have become the current destabilizing factor in Nigeria and from their activities, I am afraid that they plan something terrible for Nigeria. May be I should ask: what do the Fulani herdsmen want? This is similar to the question the President posed to the Igbo People recently: what do the Igbos want? And he asked this question because of the non-violent activities of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra( IPOB) , represented by Nnamdi Kanu whom the government has kept in Prison custody for months now . I do not know if he has received answers from the Igbo. The Boko Haram said they wanted to convert Nigeria into an Islamic State where everybody will be ruled by the Sharia Law. The Egbesu militants of the Niger Delta said they wanted resource control. What do the Fulani herdsmen want? To take over all the grazing land in Nigeria? Or to drive Farmers out of Nigeria?After the Fulani herdsmen completed the 'conquest ' of the Middle Belt with their last onslaught on Agatu in Benue State, they have now taken on the South East as their major theatre of operations. They arrived last week in Hilux Trucks armed with Ak-47 rifles and sacked 7 villages in Uzo-Uwani  killing over 700 people according to an eye witness account. The Police and Military refused to come to the rescue of the people as requested by the Governor of Enugu State who had some intelligence on what was about to happen, but only came after the killings of Nimbo people and the burning of their houses to prevent reprisals. Indeed the Governor of Enugu State has released details of an emergency Security meeting he held on the eve of the attack. The Police and the Military had assured him they were on the ground. But when the Marauders or terrorists arrived, they were no where to be seen until the attack ended. This is a shame. And I am pained that our government can not rise up to the most important job of protecting the unarmed citizens. Since this Government came to power, it seems more innocent Nigerians have been killed than in the last four years, mostly by BokoHaram and the Fulani Herdsmen! Meanwhile, none of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes has ever been arrested or prosecuted! And they match around with automatic weapons.!! Something is not right here!
   Before they came strongly to the East, they had made incursions in the West, kidnapping and pillaging but got repelled because, the Odua Peoples Congress( OPC ), especially the faction led by Gani Adams seemed prepared. They caught the Agatu and Uzo Uwani people unawares. The next attack may be bloodier. If in the face of a difficult economy which is inflicting pains on the citizenry,  the Federal Government gives Nigerians reason to device means of  protecting themselves against a rampaging army of armed herdsmen, the Second Nigerian civil war may have started unwittingly .Can we survive it? Only God can tell.
  Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR