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Impunity Rides Again Through Killer Herdsmen By Wole Soyinka

It is happening all over again. History is repeating itself and, alas, within such an agonizingly short span of time. How often must we warn against the enervating lure of appeasement in face of aggression and will to dominate! I do not hesitate to draw attention to Volume III of my INTERVENTION Series, and to the chapter on The Unappeasable Price of Appeasement. There is little to add, but it does appear that even the tragically fulfilled warnings of the past leave no impression on leadership, not even when identical signs of impending cardiac arrest loom over the nation. Boko Haram was still at that stage of putative probes when cries of alarm emerged. Then the fashion ideologues of society deployed their distancing turns of phrase to rationalize what were so obviously discernable as an agenda of ruthless fundamentalism and internal domination. Boko Haram was a product of social inequities, they preached – one even chortled: We stand for justice, so we are all Boko Haram!  We warned that – yes indeed – the inequities of society were indeed part of the story, but why do you close your eyes against other, and more critical malfunctions of the human mind, such as theocratic lunacy? Now it is happening again. The nation is being smothered in Vaseline when the diagnosis is so clearly – cancer!

We have been here before – now, ‘before’ is back with a vengeance. President Goodluck Jonathan refused to accept that marauders had carried off the nation’s daughters; President Muhammed Buhari and his government – including his Inspector-General of Police – in near identical denial, appear to believe those killer herdsmen who strike again and again at will from one corner of the nation to the other, are merely hot-tempered citizens whose scraps occasionally degenerate into “communal clashes” – I believe I have summarized him accurately. The marauders are naughty children who can be admonished, paternalistically, into good neighbourly conduct. Sometimes of course, the killers were also said be non-Nigerians after all. The contradictions are mind-boggling.

First the active policy of appeasement, then the language of endorsement. El Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, proudly announced that, on assuming office, he had raised a peace committee and successfully traced the herdsmen to locations outside Nigerian borders. He then made payments to them from state coffers to cure them of their homicidal urge which, according to these herdsmen, were reprisals for some ancient history and the loss of cattle through rustling. The public was up in arms against this astonishing revelation. I could only call to mind a statement by the same El Rufai after a prior election which led to a rampage in parts of the nation, and cost even the lives of National Youth Service corpers. They were hunted down by aggrieved mobs and even states had to organize rescue missions for their citizens. Countering protests that the nation owed a special duty of protection to her youth, especially those who are co-opted to serve the nation in any capacity, El Rufai’s comment then was: No life is more important than another. Today, that statement needs to be adjusted, to read perhaps – apologies to George Orwell: “All lives are equal, but a cow’s is more equal than others.”

This seems to be the government view, one that, overtly or by implication, is being amplified through act and pronouncement, through clamorous absence, by this administration. It appears to have infected even my good friend and highly capable Minister, Audu Ogbeh, however insidiously. What else does one make of his statements in an interview where he generously lays the blame for ongoing killings everywhere but at the feet of the actual perpetrators!  His words, as carried by The Nation Newspapers:

“The inability of the government to pay attention to herdsmen and cow farming, unlike other developed countries, contributed to the killings.”  The Minister continued:

“Over the years, we have not done much to look seriously into the issue of livestock development in the country….we may have done enough for the rice farmer, the cassava farmer, the maize farmer, the cocoa farmer, but we haven’t done enough for herdsmen, and that inability and omission on our part is resulting in the crisis we are witnessing today”

No, no, not so, Audu! It is true that I called upon the government a week ago to stop passing the buck over the petroleum situation. I assure you however that I never intended that a reverse policy should lead to exonerating – or appearing to exonerate – mass killers, rapists and economic saboteurs – saboteurs, since their conduct subverts the efforts of others to economically secure their own existence, drives other producers off their land in fear and terror. This promises the same plague of starvation that afflicts zones of conflict all over this continent where liberally sown landmines prevent farmers from venturing near their prime source, the farm, often their only source of livelihood, and has created a whole population of amputees. At least, those victims in Angola, Mozambique and other former war theatres, mostly lived to tell the tale. These herdsmen, arrogant and unconscionable, have adopted a scorched-earth policy, so that those other producers – the cassava, cocoa, sorghum, rice etc farmers are brutally expelled from farm and dwelling.

Government neglect? You may not have intended it, but you made it sound like the full story. I applaud the plans of your ministry, I am in a position to know that much thought – and practical steps – have gone into long-term plans for bringing about the creation of ‘ranches’, ‘colonies’ – whatever the name – including the special cultivation of fodder for animal feed and so on and on. However, the present national outrage is over impunity. It rejects the right of any set of people, for whatever reason, to take arms against their fellow men and women, to acknowledge their exploits in boastful and justifying accents and, in effect, promise more of the same as long as their terms and demands are not met. In plain language, they have declared war against the nation, and their weapon is an undiluted terror. Why have they been permitted to become a menace to the rest of us? That is the issue!

Permit me to remind you that, early in 2016, an even more hideous massacre was perpetrated by this same Murder Incorporated – that is, a numerical climax to what had been a series across a number of Middle Belt and neighbouring states, with Benue taking the brunt of the butchery. A peace meeting was called, attended by the state government and security agencies of the nation, including the Inspector General of Police. This group attended – according to reports – with AK47s and other weapons of mass intimidation visible under their garments. They were neither disarmed nor turned back. They freely admitted the killings but justified them by claims that they had lost their cattle to the host community. It is important to emphasize that none of their spokesmen referred to any government neglect, such as refusal to pay subsidy for their cows or failure to accord them the same facilities that had been extended to cassava or millet farmers. Such are the monstrous beginnings of the culture of impunity. We are reaping, yet again, the consequences of such tolerance of the intolerable. Yes, there indeed the government is culpable, definitely guilty of “looking the other way”. Indeed, it must be held complicit.

This question is now current, and justified:  just when is terror? I am not aware that IPOB came anywhere close to this homicidal propensity and will to dominance before it was declared a terrorist organization. The international community rightly refused to go along with such an absurdity. For the avoidance of doubt, let me state right here, and yet again, that IPOB leadership is its own worst enemy. It repels public empathy, indeed, I suspect that it deliberately cultivates an obnoxious image, especially among its internet mouthers who make rational discourse impossible. However, as we pointed out at the time, the conduct of that movement, even at its most extreme, could by no means be reckoned as terrorism. By contrast, how do we categorize Myeti? How do we assess a mental state that cannot distinguish between a stolen cow – which is always recoverable – and human life, which is not. Villages have been depopulated far wider than those outside their operational zones can conceive. They swoop on sleeping settlements, kill and strut. They glory in their seeming supremacy. Cocoa farmers do not kill when there is a cocoa blight. Rice farmers, cassava and tomato farmers do not burn. The herdsmen cynically dredge up decades-old affronts – they did at the 2016  Benue “peace meeting” to justify the killings of innocents in the present – These crimes are treated like the norm. Once again, the nation is being massaged by specious rationalisations while the rampage intensifies and the spread spirals out of control. When we open the dailies tomorrow morning, there is certain to have been a new body count, to be followed by the arrogant justification of the Myeti Allah.

The warnings pile up, the distress signals have turned into a prolonged howl of despair and rage. The answer is not to be found in pietistic appeals to victims to avoid ‘hate language’ and divisive attributions. The sustained, killing monologue of the herdsmen is what is at issue. It must be curbed, decisively and without further evasiveness.

Yes, Jonathan only saw ‘ghosts’ when Boko Haram was already excising swathes of territory from the nation space and abducting school pupils. The ghosts of Jonathan seem poised to haunt the tenure of Mohammed Buhari.

 

Wole SOYINKA

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Why Buhari Will Not Act On Fulani Herdsmen Killings By Azuka Onwuka

On January 1, it was reported that about 20 people were killed in Rivers State. On January 7, it was reported that a combined team of military and intelligence operatives had tracked the leader of the gang, Don Waney, and some of his men to their Enugu hideout and killed them. The pictures of their bullet-ridden dead bodies were shown in the media as proof.

Last week too, the police in Lagos arrested the suspected overall leader and the herbalist of the cult group called Badoo. Badoo had killed so many people in the Ikorodu area of Lagos by smashing their heads with stone.

Last year, the police and Nigerians celebrated the arrest of Evans, the kidnapper, who specialised in demanding his ransom in millions of dollars. He had evaded arrest for many years. But the police eventually beat him.

Similarly, last year the Nigerian Army, in what was named Operation Python Dance II, stormed the residence of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra. By the time their operation was over, some people had been killed. The whereabouts of Kanu and his father are still unknown till today. The Federal Government also hurriedly designated IPOB a terrorist organisation, even though other countries disagreed with that.

In December 2015, the Nigerian Army invaded the homes of members of the Shi’ites Islamic sect and shot at them. Their immediate offence was that they blocked the way of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai. The Shi’ites are minorities in the North, while the Sunnis are the majority.

The director-general of the Kaduna State Interfaith Bureau, Mr Muhammad Namadi Musa, told the panel of enquiry into the crisis that he collected at least 347 bodies from the army base in Zaria and the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital and buried them after the attack on the Shiites. The bodies that were not taken to ABUTH were not recorded. The leader of the Shi’ites, Sheik Ibrahim El Zakzaky, and his wife were seriously wounded and detained, till today, despite rulings by courts that they be released.

All the instances above are meant to show how swift and effective the Nigerian security agencies can be when dealing with groups and individuals that they see as enemies.

Last week, there was another attack by Fulani herdsmen in Benue State. Gory pictures of people, including children, butchered like animals, were copiously shared.

Anytime there is a massacre of people in a state by Fulani herdsmen like it occurred last week in Benue State for the umpteenth time, there is an outcry by Nigerians for the Federal Government to take action. Most times, there is not even a verbal response from the Buhari government. Even when there is a verbal response, it is a plea for people to live together in peace or a promise to arrest the perpetrators. But nobody ever gets arrested.

Just like in other cases, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, which has President Muhammadu Buhari as its grand patron, would usually give reasons why they carried out the attack. In the Benue case, Mr. Garus Gololo, Chairman, Benue State Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, was quoted as saying on the BBC:

“We weren’t grazing. After the Benue government banned grazing, we were relocating to Taraba State through Nengere border town of Nasarawa State. They came and stole one thousand cows from us, so we retaliated and killed them.”

Such comments show that the perpetrators of the acts are not unknown. They appear at peace meetings and disclose why they carried out their attacks on the concerned people. They go to TV and radio stations as well as newspaper houses to grant interviews to explain why they carried out their attacks. Usually, their reason is that their cattle were stolen by the community.

When President Buhari returned from his sick leave last year, he made a speech which showed, by its contents, that it was primarily addressed to members of IPOB over their agitations for a separate state. In that speech, he described the killings by Fulani herdsmen as “farmers versus herdsmen clashes,” at a time thousands of people had been killed by the Fulani herdsmen. It showed his attitude to the killings. As far as Buhari is concerned, it is a mere misunderstanding between farmers and herdsmen and nothing more. And in that misunderstanding, the farmers are usually the aggressors (having been named first by him), while the herdsmen are usually the victims who merely respond to defend themselves “against those who don’t want them to survive.”

Anytime you hear someone from the North-West or North-East talk about the killings by Fulani herdsmen, you usually see that they believe that Fulani herdsmen should be allowed to graze as they have been doing since time immemorial. The argument is usually that land belongs to nobody but to God and people should use it and leave others to use it too; that the Fulani are nomads who don’t believe in acquiring lands and so should be allowed to use land and move on. The person also believes that because of desertification, to avoid clashes and bloodshed, grazing reserves should be mapped out by all states in the North-Central and the South for the Fulani herdsmen.

When someone from North-Central or the South talks about the problem, they usually argue that Fulani herdsmen should invest in ranches as is done in other climes, since they are involved in business. The person argues that if the government should create grazing reserves for Fulani herdsmen because of desertification, government should also create farming reserves and fishing reserves in the North for Southerners whose homelands and waters have been polluted by government’s exploration of crude oil.

When confronted with this point, the Northern person either keeps quiet or says the cases are not the same. But when viewed dispassionately, the case of the Southerners is even worse, as the pollution in their land is caused by the Federal Government, and the money obtained from crude oil exploration is used to sustain the economy of Nigeria. In addition, those whose neighbourhoods are polluted and thereby denied the opportunity of engaging in their business of fishing and planting of crops need more attention from the Federal Government.

There are those who wonder how Fulani herdsmen can attack communities while also taking care of their cattle. They wonder where they keep their cattle while embarking on the attack. That makes them to argue that the attacks cannot be committed by Fulani herdsmen. But it does not work that way. From the reports gathered in the media about such attacks, those who rear the cattle are not the attackers. The attacks are planned. Warriors are mobilised from different states by the organisers. Before the attack, messages are sent out to their people to leave such concerned communities. The warriors come at night, carry out the attack and return to their different locations, waiting for the next “call to duty.”

There have also been reports that even when soldiers are in a community or close by during the attacks by Fulani herdsmen, they either leave or take no action to prevent the attacks.

In spite of his inauguration statement that he belongs to nobody but to all, President Muhammadu Buhari has shown through his words and actions that he does not see all Nigerians as equal. His body language and attitude to issues have shown that the way he treats issues concerning his kinsmen and people of his religion is different from the way he treats others. The more people complain about this divisive and unpresidential attitude to governance, the more he carries on with it unperturbed.

For any community that is attacked by Fulani herdsmen, the consistent message from the Buhari administration in the past three years is that it will not take any action to stop such attacks, neither will it punish the attackers. Translated into the Nigerian parlance, Buhari is telling Nigerians that if Fulani herdsmen attack your community, you are On Your Own (OYO).

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Buhari: Between yesterday and tomorrow, by Reuben Abati

I wrote the following piece, presented in italics, shortly after the postponement of the 2015 Presidential elections. It is important that the reader approaches it with an open mind, with an  understanding of the context of its construction. The piece, titled “Buhari’s One Chance Campaign” never got published. One of my colleagues to whom I showed it advised against its publication. His point was that we should remain professional and not get involved in partisan politics.  A member of our digital media team was so excited he wanted the article published. Anyhow, the older team member won the argument. But in the light of recent developments and the fortunes of the Buhari administration since 2015, the article has proved prophetic.

In 2015, the Buhari campaign train was so hypnotic most Nigerian voters jumped onto it. Less than three years later, the same persons are struggling to jump off the train. Out of the 15 million persons who voted for Buhari in 2015, millions of them have lost their jobs. Today, the strongest and most vocal supporters of the Buhari proposition are all so embarrassed they have chosen to keep quiet. One of them is now a self-appointed referee of Nigerian democracy going about with a RED CARD.  A former Minister of Petroleum who promised that under Buhari, petrol would be N40 per litre has been wisely quiet. A senior citizen who asked Nigerians to stone the Buhari team if they did not deliver in two years has not been heard from for a while. On twitter, and the rest of social media, many Nigerians are wielding stones and throwing them at will.

 

The tomorrow that we looked forward to yesterday is now so laughable if not saddening. The country is in a worse shape than it was in 2015. The same economy that used to be one of the most stable in Africa is now in tatters; insecurity has worsened, yesterday’s hope has turned into despair. Yesterday’s supporters have become today’s critics of the government. There are many lessons involved: how the Nigerian intelligentsia gathered dust in their faces, and how the people betrayed themselves.  In 2015, here is what I wrote and kept:

 BUHARI’S “ONE CHANCE” CAMPAIGN:

 “Ordinarily, a busy bus station in Lagos is the headquarters of nightmare. Getting from one stop to the other could be an uphill task especially during rush hours. In those days when I journeyed from one end of the city to the other in Molue buses, I had to, like nearly everyone else in the same situation, learn how to jump into a moving vehicle, how to descend while it was in motion and how not to end up under the wheels as many routinely did in our Alakuko-Alagbado side of the city.

 But the “One Chance” always seemed, at first encounter, like a God-sent. If you lived in Lagos in the 80s and 90s, you’d probably remember those buses referred to as “One chance” and the dubious notoriety that they eventually came to acquire. Once you heard the bus conductor screaming “One Chance…one chance…enter, enter.. ko si change ma wole o”, you knew immediately that with only one seat left to make up the full passenger load, your long wait at the bus stop had come to an end.

It was natural to jump into the bus. It promised a change of circumstances and offered hope.  It was also reassuring because you could actually see a number of people already seated inside the bus. And of course, it was ready to move. But with time, and this is the rub of it:  the “One Chance” acquired real notoriety. The phrase itself has since become a footnote in motor park lexicography, following the realization that a “one chance” trip could be a journey to despair.  Not every “One Chance” bus was necessarily bad in those days, but the phrase became a metaphor for impending evil, and the label stuck.

      It became synonymous with a vehicle of deceit deployed by criminals who posed as transporters and passengers, and lured anxious commuters into their trap. The passengers in the bus were practised con-artists who would eventually reveal their true nature. The drivercould be an agent of the real gangsters waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting victim. Lives were lost, many ended up in ritual dens, never to be seen again, women were raped, the luckier victims were dispossessed of valuables and pushed out of the vehicle. 

      As such frightening tales made the rounds, people became wary of “One Chance buses”; they became more careful in responding to the calls of urgent movement and deceptive completeness. They learnt to look before boarding.  They learnt that useful lesson about the contrast between appearance and reality. What you see is not always what is. When the illusion clears, the residue is sheer regret. And so, to every “one chance” call, caution became advisable.

      The leading opposition party in the 2015 Presidential elections, the All Progressives Congress (APC) reminds me of this “One Chance” phenomenon. General Buhari is driving a “One Chance” bus, and trying to lure unsuspecting Nigerians to certain despair. His passengers are a motley of disaggregated, conflicted persons, looking for innocent preys. Their conductor is a waltzing, energy-drink-guzzling hustler who is driven by malicious desperation. With drums and dance, and a song, they have managed to generate hype, hoopla and hysteria at every busstop. The unwary may have boarded the bus, not even knowing where it is headed. Those who seem to believe that a democracy also guarantees the right to be misled, have jumped into that tragic “one chance bus”.

     They have been told their driver is unqualified, lacks a mastery of the road; he doesn’t even have a licence. Happily enough, they are all beginning to get the message. I have heard some of the once- hypnotized respond that they actually wouldn’t mind if the fellow brandishes a NEPA receipt and calls it a driver’s license. This is a strange kind of hypnotism; and that is how it works: it is the first cousin of delusion. No wonder, every attempt to get the driver to take a driving test has also failed.

      The conductor is also hyper-active, gripped by strangely high spirits, having customarily taken a quantum of same.  He urges the driver to keep his feet on the accelerator, and yet, the last time this man drove a vehicle was in the other century. But the hashish is so strong, its effluence so consuming that the passengers have failed to see that their driver is already falling asleep on the steering.

      He is the oldest driver in the motor park, but he wears stylish clothes to make him look young by all means. His bones are weak; his grip on the steering is failing. He often forgets the name of his assistant. He can hardly remember the name of his conductor.  And don’t bother to ask him about road signs.  If only those rushing into his “One Chance” bus would take a look at the passengers and the conductor: the tell-tale signs are not hidden. 

      A certain kind of people is easily deceived by appearances. It happens often on our expressways, where all you need to do to mislead other motorists is to suddenly make a U-turn in the middle of the road, and face the opposite lane. Wave your hands to suggest anything and mumble some mumbo-jumbo such as “Change, Change”; almost instinctively, every other motorist will slow down and begin to stare at you for signs, and they will obey your cue.

        They will even scramble to do so, until a logjam is created. The madness could continue for close to an hour, until a reasonable man would venture out in the proper direction of the original route. Gradually, others will return to the same route until it is realized that they had initially been misled, scammed, misinformed, deceived.

      This is exactly the tragic nature of the Buhari campaign in this election. Apart from the hotly-contested 1959 and 1964 General elections, which unfortunately sowed some of the seeds of an eventual blow-out, no other general election in recent memory has been this fiercely contested. Before February 14, emotions had reached a boiling point in Nigeria. This is probably why the postponement of the elections has been a blessing in disguise. If the pre-February 14 tension had run its course, with the country tottering dangerously on the brink, the outcome could have been disastrous for the polity or whosoever emerged as winner. Elections in themselves do not guarantee peace or stability; they could in fact, become the catalyst for dissolution. This is why caution is advisable.

       But the Buhari campaign group and its supporters are incautious, driven as they are solely by narrow interests, unbridled passion and phantom triumphalism. For an election that has not yet taken place, they are already claiming victory, and threatening chaos if Buhari does not win. Their attempt to force their candidate and ambition on Nigerians as an inevitable outcome only points to sinister motives. This is their undemocratic strategy with which they are luring the unwary into a tragic “One Chance” bus. Such shamanistic tactics, and the hideous propaganda propelling it, do not bode well for our country.

     Buhari was unelectable in 2003, 2007, 2011, and he is even far more unelectable now. In his previous failed attempts, he was at least his own candidate, but this time, he is at best some other people’s Special Purpose Vehicle; that is why he comes across more in this campaign like a mannequin under the control of seen and unseen masters with hidden agenda.

     Nobody should seek the Presidency of Nigeria as an SPV.  I argue that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, apparently the owner of the APC, wants a Buhari Presidency because he imagines it will transform him, not Professor Yemi Osinbajo, not anyone else, into the most influential political figure in Yorubaland. The “treacherous” Rotimi Amaechi is busy dancing up and down because for him, a Buhari Presidency will enable him settle scores, with his imaginary enemies. Festus Odimegwu, who was booted out as Chairman of the National Population Commission for making racist comments about Nigerians of Northern extraction wrote a Buhari endorsement article recently, it was actually a masked revenge piece. They will all be disappointed. And if General Buhari wants to be President, he needs to come across as his own man.

      President Jonathan is his own man. All the self-proclaimed, would-have-been Godfathers to his presidency have on their own committed political suicide. He is tested, healthy, strong, focused and committed. He has campaigned on the basis of his record of achievements and the phenomenally positive transformation that Nigeria has witnessed under his watch in the past four years: the revived railways sector, the strengthened education sector, greater emphasis on youth, women empowerment and inclusive governance, a robust, economy, massive job creation, expansion of the space for human freedoms, and a purposeful, engaging campaign for a second term.

In comparison, all I see on the Buhari side, is a lot of mean tactics, hate-driven propaganda, shallow costuming, third-party outsourcing of leadership, and manifold deception. Their attraction is that of a “One Chance” bus, not concrete vision, not change or progress, not leadership. The electorate is beginning to see through their charade. Their “One Chance” bus is now being seen for what it is:  and it is precisely why the electorate will vote massively for Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on March 28.”    

That is the article that never was. But here it is, three years later, unedited, fully reflective of the mood in which it was written. I leave you to draw your own conclusions. But this much can be said: no matter how challenging the last three years may have been, we can only hope that we   have all learnt our lessons about the complexity of Nigerian politics and the length of the politics of acrimony. Looking forward to tomorrow, President Buhari can still change the narrative and prove all Damascus-moment critics wrong. I am optimistic that he can. He should.

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“Nigerians are in sorrow”, Transcript of Mbaka’s prophesy about Pres. Buhari

By Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka

“I had wanted to pray for you and go because I don’t want anybody to attack me; I don’t want the Bishop to invite me; I don’t want politicians to attack me anywhere. But God forced me, you must say it. Listen to me. 2017 became one of the most horrible years in this country and that is the message,”

“The Lord says, Nigerians, he says, captive Nigerians, you will be speedily rescued; Nigerians, things are very difficult, hard and tough nowadays; the hardship is not from God, they are man-made; the wicked cabals and satanic agents in this country have wickedly kidnapped the goodwill and good intentions of Mr President Muhammadu Buhari; his good intentions have been kidnapped.

“President Buhari must wake up and sit up immediately or…heaven demands him, heaven demands Buhari, our President to change all those who are holding and caging him in captivity; if he will not change them, he will be changed; Mr President wake up; sit up; God said you are toying with the privilege given to you; there is no time; Nigerians are dying in your hand; people are not happy with your system. Change or you will be changed; God said that Buhari is in trouble; Buhari is hypnotized; Buhari is in a horrible bondage; Buhari’s mantra has been canibalised.

“Unless President Buhari quickly and strategically, positions the right people and changes the former ones he inaugurated by him, the wind of change that he himself inaugurated will blow him away shamefully. The wind will be too strong that Mr. President and the cabal will be blown out of office shamefully. The wind will be irresistible for it will come like a hurricane. Buhari can handle this problem but number one, his office, if he is not careful, another will take.

“Number 2, if he doesn’t want to move Nigeria forward, God says He himself will plan a strategy of moving Nigeria forward. His pattern of embattling corruption is not just archaic, barbaric but is witch-hunting, terribly selective. Mr Buhari as the President, why should you be picking and choosing those that you and your so-called EFCC man would want to arrest, so that your party becomes a hideout for criminals, so that any person who does not want to be arrested will become an APC person? Is that corruption on itself?

“Change or you will be changed, after all you are the one who introduced change as your mantra. Nigerian economy is in shambles and Nigerians are in sorrow. Nigeria is not just passing through an economic depression but also it is a time of economic repression and compression. Very soon, Nigerians will know that the country is in terrible mess.

“The cabals have messed up the President and confused him. So, Mr President, you are to be blamed, not your cabals. You have your brooms, but the cabals have their bags; either you sweep them away or they throw you into the bag. Heaven cried that your methodology is not just archaic but too sluggish., very slow. The situation in Nigeria needs speed but you are too dull.

“Your change mantra is questionable; you are to change your change or you will be disgraced out of office. Your agriculture scheme has an anti-agenda that is cancerous. Why should be talking about agriculture and you leave the Fulani herdsmen? Farmers don’t have hope; don’t you hear what is happening in the country? Can’t you use your presidential mandate and help the less privileged?

“The spirit of God says that Mr President is just president in the mouth; he is not the real president per say; he is a pseudo president, people are running the government the way they like and giving him to articles to sign; Mr. President doesn’t know what is happening in his government, what a pity. But no matter what is happening, God assured us that Nigerians and Nigeria are not just in His hands but in his heart and his eyes.

“Mr president tried his best to war against insurgency, he tried to stop excessive spending, living in opulence, he is an expert in stopping opulent life, swindling of government property but the way he is going after it, he is too slow. God loves him and gave him the mandate, he wanted to fight corruption but corruption is fighting him back, so that anyone who wants to perform corruption in a very smart way, will run into APC. Mr President wake up, save destiny and save your integrity. God said that the sitting President is not the one Nigerians trusted, wake up. There are areas the President started doing well before he became sick; anybody can become sick, don’t rejoice because Mr. President is sick; we prayed and God granted him healing but you know that age is not on his side. Even if you are healthy but you are not strong, there will be the problem.

“So, Mr. President, as I was waiting on the Lord, I’m asked to advise you, don’t come out for 2nd tenure, after this, retire, peacefully. Mr. President you are the cause of your own problem. God gave you an adviser, a wonderful mentor, a visionist, a matriarch, in the person of your wife, Aisha, but you don’t want to listen to her, that woman is heartbroken, because she understood that you are not yourself. Come back to yourself or you will cry by the time you will be sent out of office. So, those who are encouraging you to come out and run again, they want to disgrace you shamefully and publicly.

“We keep on praying for your quick recovery but you know when the President is sick and age is not on his side, the message came, that is why the government schools are sick, the government hospitals are sick, the government roads are sick; power, electricity, sick, the economy is sick; unemployment becomes the order of the day, our graduates, our youths are living in abject poverty and hopelessness, the countrymen are sick, hunger is ravaging the people of God; investors have no more confidence in Nigeria. The agro-vision has become a mere illusion; even to take loan for farm has become the favour of the rich, so that as you keep on fighting corruption, many who are around you are incubating and manuring corruption. Business men are confused; because they don’t know to do as a result of the unstable economy.

“Some of us may begin  to ask, but why did God choose Buhari at all? God has His reasons; when he chose Saul, He had His reasons, but at a time he rejected Saul, that is God for you. Jesus chose Judas, in His divinity he chose Judas as an Apostle, the same Judas betrayed Him and Judas office another took; you can see the message is not sweet.

“The same God chose Jonathan, Goodluck, during the oil boom, had Jonathan invested well, then Nigerians won’t be suffering what we are suffering now; even in his hometown Otuoke, go to Niger Delta, there was no impact of governance, nothing. That’s why God pushed him out. Mr. President, if you don’t want to be pushed out, you have to wake up. So, God who chose Buhari, it is for a purpose. At a particular time in the life of Jonah, the whale swallowed him; at time Jonah could not prophesy, he could not do his prophetic duty again; that is how Buhari’s vision was swallowed.

“And then what shall be done. God doesn’t make mistake. When God said Buhari will become the President, he became the president; when God decided to put Adam and Eve in paradise, he loved them, but at a time, the same God chased them out.

“So, the cabal thing, Mr. President Nigerians are getting disappointed in you; I was thinking of the kind of prayer we are going to share, because this year is a year of primary for all the parties. Some will start this year, I am not talking about PDP or APC, I’m praying God to give us a man after His heart. Now, it is the turn of the Northerners, the Northerners will complete their eight years.

“If Mr President, Buhari will not continue, if you go to Gombe, go to Gombe, it was a rural state, the present Governor there, Ibrahim Hassan, has turned that place into almost an ultra modern city and that man was a former accountant general of the country. If you go to Gombe, you won’t know Gombe again; why can’t such a person come out; I don’t know the party he is in; and he is still a young man; in his early 50s, whether in PDP or APC I don’t know but whoever is doing that kind of magic in Gombe can handle Nigeria. A man who did PhD in accountancy, chartered in marketing, chartered in accountancy, a lot of things, a guru, we need somebody with such aura.

“And the Gombe people will tell you, he does not discriminate between Muslims and Christians, he is shielding even Christians there. Some pastors he gave them land, gave land for churches. I am not campaigning for him, but I am talking about somebody who can lead us forward, somebody with vision, with agenda, to change Nigeria is not difficult; wherever such a person is, let his party make him available for Nigerians to see it.

“Before it will be the turn of the Igbos, it is not yet our turn, it will soon be our turn, when it is our turn, all of us will talk about it. Therefore my people, we are talking about value chain economy; healthy economy; security in the country, employment, educational system that is working, then God disclosed a time when most of our run-away Nigerians started coming home. A time is coming when Nigerian is going to be a country that is worthy for investment, investors will come from the North, South and East, from foreign countries to invest in Nigeria; at that time, the people can see that the government of Nigeria and the pattern of governance is our problem. God has given Nigerians everything and He says, ‘Nigerians be patient with me.’ It will not take time I will begin to deal wickedly to those who are dealing wickedly to you people. Those who are punishing you, I will punish.

“In Nigeria today, there is the hidden tribal religious and interdenominational wars that are looming. God is promising that He will send a credible President that will handle the unity of the country not by shooting anybody but by preventing the occurrence; even if the person is in a no party; whether the person is in PDP, PDP is not bad; it is the same people that go to APC: drop their umbrella and pick broom, but instead of using the broom to sweep away corruption, they are using it to sweep money into their pockets. So, those who love Mr. President don’t be angry; from the same pulpit where his dynasty was prophesied, the wind is blowing again. When God says, ‘His office let another take, then Nigeria will move forward, and corruption will be adequately embattled in the proper sense, then he economy will improve and Nigerians will rejoice.

“Many families will be visited by the spirit of death, so the people of God are encouraged to soak themselves in the blood of Jesus Christ. The secret of victory over this spirit of death is continuous dwelling in the blood of the lamb.”

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Full text of President Buhari’s 2018 New Year address

President Muhammadu Buhari this morning delivered a national broadcast to Nigerians.

In the speech, the president spoke on issues like the ongoing fuel scarcity, calls for restructuring, the electricity situation, among others.

Read the president’s full speech below…

I join my fellow citizens this morning to welcome and celebrate the New Year 2018. This year promises to be pivotal in our quest for CHANGE.

Unfortunately, I am saddened to acknowledge that for many this Christmas and New Year holidays have been anything but merry and happy. Instead of showing love, companionship and charity, some of our compatriots chose this period to inflict severe hardship on us all by creating unnecessary fuel scarcity across the country.

The consequence was that not many could travel and the few who did had to pay exorbitant transport fares. This is unacceptable given that NNPC had taken measures to ensure availability at all depots. I am determined to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again.

Such unpatriotism will not divert the Administration from the course we have set ourselves. Our government’s watch word and policy thrust is CHANGE. We must change our way of doing things or we will stagnate and be left behind in the race to lift our people out of poverty and into prosperity.

My address to fellow Nigerians this morning is devoted mainly to informing you about the intense efforts this Administration is putting to address our country’s huge infrastructural deficit.

We are going to make significant in-roads in advancing road, rail and power projects across the country.

The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is one of the drivers of this Government’s commitment to renew and increase Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure in order to achieve global economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

With regards to Railways, we have set ourselves ambitious targets. Already in construction stage is the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway.

The line should reach Ibadan from Lagos by the end of 2019 and will carry two million passengers per year and five million tons of cargo will be transported every year giving a substantial boost to the country’s economy.

Construction of the Kano – Kaduna segment is expected to commence this year and reach Kaduna by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021 the two ends will be joined so that we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route.

The Abuja – Kaduna route will be boosted by additional rolling stock next Thursday and will be able to handle one million commuters annually.

At the same time I have approved and negotiations will be concluded in the first part of this year for the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line covering Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Makurdi, Lafia, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and Damaturu. The Abuja to Itakpe line will go through Baro and terminate in Warri with construction of a new seaport at Warri.

Negotiations are also advanced for the construction of other railway lines, firstly from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic passing through Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia to Maradi.

Secondly, Lagos to Calabar the “Coastal Rail” through Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo and Calabar. In the next few years, all these Nigerian cities will be linked by functional modern rail systems, giving enormous boost to the social and economic life of our people.

With respect to the Abuja Capital Light Rail, progress has reached 98% completion, as at 64% completion when we assumed office. Only test runs remain before start of operations.

This train service will stimulate economic activities in the Federal Capital and provide residents with an efficient and safe transportation system. Twelve railway sub-stations around the capital over a 45.2 kilometre route will serve as a catalyst and a pull factor to the economy of the area. The Light Rail System will reduce traffic congestion and carbon emission in line with the Administration’s policy on climate change.

Management of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) has been reconstituted and has been charged with a 12 week rapid intervention in road repairs to cover all the geo-political zones. Government is undertaking repairs and maintenance of 44 roads within the six geo-political zones.

Twenty five major highways will be funded under the N100b SUKUK facility. Each geo-political zone will benefit by an equal amount of N16.67b. The following major highways are to receive special attention:

a. Oyo – Ogbomosho,

b. Ofusu – Ore – Ajebandele – Shagamu,

c. Yenagoa Road Junction – Kolo Otuoke – Bayelsa Palm,

d. Enugu – Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Way,

e. Onitsha – Enugu Expressway,

f. Kaduna Eastern Bypass,

g. Dualization of Kano – Maiduguri Road,

h. Dualization of Abuja – Lokoja – Benin Road,

i. Dualization of Suleja – Minna Road.

In addition, Government has approved work to start on the re-construction of Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano road which is in a state of disrepair. Work will soon start and is expected to be completed in 2019.

More Nigerians across the country are experiencing improved power supply to their homes and businesses. However, power remains a concern to this government because too many people still do not have regular and reliable supply.

The Payment Assurance Guarantee Scheme which started in January 2016 has enabled the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader to raise so far N701 billion to assure Generation Companies of at least 80% payment for any power delivered to the national grid.

Consequently, generation has now reached 7,000MW. On December 8, 2017 the country achieved 5,155MW of power delivered to consumers, the highest level ever recorded.

Several moribund projects have been revived. Repairs of Afam Power Station added 110MW in 2017 and another 240MW will be added this year through a private investment partnership.

Katsina Power Project is now being tested and producing 10MW of power from wind for the first time in Nigeria. It should be fully operational this year.

The Zungeru 700MW Hydroelectric Power Project, stalled by court cases is due for completion in 2019. The transmission and other requirements to operate the 30MW Gurara Phase 1 Hydroelectric Plant, the 40MW Kashimbilla Hydroelectric Plant and the 215 MW Kaduna Gas/LPG/Diesel Power Plant will also be completed this year.

A landmark project, Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project is at last taking off. This project has been on the drawing Board for 40 years, but now the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the 3,050MW project has been agreed with a Chinese joint venture Company with a financing commitment from the government of China. Completion is targeted for 2023.

As I mentioned earlier, the Transmission Company of Nigeria can now distribute all the 7,000MW that can be generated. TCN and the Niger Delta Holding Company have added 1,950MVA of 330 down to 132KV transformer capacity of 10 transmission stations and 2,930MVA of 132 down to 33KV transformer capacity of 42 sub-stations including Ikot Ekpene, Aba, Alagbon, Ajah, Ejigbo, Funtua and Zaria.

This Administration is working with the privatised distribution Companies to overcome the continuing challenges of distribution.

These massive public works should spearhead the recovery and lead millions back to employment. You will recall that it was not until last year that we got out of the economic recession into which the country had fallen as a consequence of past unsustainable economic policies which projected short-term illusory growth.

The government is slowly stabilizing the economy.

It was in order to change the steady and steep decline that we adopted the more sustainable policies and programmes captured in the Economic Recovery Plan. Diversification efforts have resulted in improved output particularly in agriculture and solid minerals sectors. The relative exchange rate stability has improved manufacturing sector performance.

We have got to get used to discipline and direction in economic management. The days of business as usual are numbered.

Two years ago I appealed to people to go back to the land. I am highly gratified that agriculture has picked up, contributing to the government’s effort to re-structure the economy. Rice imports will stop this year. Local rice, fresher and more nutritious will be on our dishes from now on.

By the same token, I am today appealing to enterprising Nigerians with ideas and unemployed graduates and other able-bodied and literate men and women with ideas not to just sit and wait for employment from the government or the Organized Private Sector. Great nations are built by enterprising people who turn their hands to anything that circumstances dictate.

In respect of political developments, I have kept a close watch on the on-going debate about “Restructuring”. No human law or edifice is perfect. Whatever structure we develop must periodically be perfected according to changing circumstances and the country’s socio-economic developments. We Nigerians can be very impatient and want to improve our conditions faster than may be possible considering our resources and capabilities. When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered, my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than structure.

We tried the Parliamentary system: we jettisoned it. Now there are shrill cries for a return to the Parliamentary structure. In older democracies these systems took centuries to evolve so we cannot expect a copied system to fit neatly our purposes. We must give a long period of trial and improvement before the system we have adopted is anywhere near fit for purpose.

However, there is a strong case for a closer look at the cost of government and for the public services long used to extravagance, waste and corruption to change for the better. I assure you that government is ever receptive to ideas which will improve governance and contribute to the country’s peace and stability.

As the electioneering season approaches politicians must avoid exploiting ethnicity and religion by linking ethnicity with religion and religion with politics. Such must be avoided at all costs if we are to live in harmony.

In this respect the rest of Nigeria could learn from the South Western States who have successfully internalized religion, ethnicity and politics.

Political discourse should be conducted with civility, decorum and in a constitutional manner. We all have a collective responsibility to strengthen our democracy and entrench the rule of law. We should draw encouragement from the series of bye-elections conducted by INEC last year which were generally violence free and their outcomes adjudged to be free and fair.

Before I conclude my address I must reassure my fellow citizens that security of life and property is still top of our government’s agenda. We have since beaten Boko Haram. Isolated attacks still occur, but even the best-policed countries cannot prevent determined criminals from committing terrible acts of terror as we have seen during the past years in Europe, Asia, Middle East, elsewhere in Africa and in America.

Our government remains determined to protect all Nigerians in line with our election pledge and promises. On behalf of all Nigerians let me offer our thanks to the Armed forces, the Police, other para-military forces and traditional authorities who are working round the clock to ensure that you and I go about our normal business in reasonable safety.

Terrorism and urban crimes are world-wide phenomena and our security forces are continuously adapting their responses to changing threats.

With regard to rampant cases of kidnappings, we are taking immediate short-term measures to combat this new evil creeping into our societies. Tighter police methods and swift and severe punishment for those proved to be engaged in kidnapping are on the way.

With respect to Niger Delta, Government is still engaging responsible leadership of the Communities to help in identifying and addressing genuine grievances of the region. Our clean-up programme in collaboration with the United Nations is making satisfactory progress.

I am grateful to all the Governors and other Political & Community leaders of the Niger Delta States for their part in bringing relative peace to the areas.

Finally let me again express my heartfelt thanks to all Nigerians who prayed for me during my illness last year. I feel deeply humbled by your prayers and good wishes and I am more determined than ever to serve you to the best of my ability.

Good morning. And I wish everyone a Happy New Year.

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Blame Passing, Social Media Automated Mumus – The New Year Gift To A Nation By Wole Soyinka

In the accustomed tradition, I wish the nation less misery in the coming year. A genuine Happy New Year Greeting is probably too extravagant a wish.

The accompanying news clipping from June,1977 came into my hands quite fortuitously. It is forty years old. It captures the unenviable enigma that is the Nigerian nation. It is however a masterful end-of-year image to take into the coming year, not only for the individual now at the helm of government, General Buhari, but for a people surely credited with the most astounding degree of patience and forbearance on the African continent – except of course among themselves, when they turn into predatory fiends. When many of us are blissfully departed, an updated rendition of this same clipping – with a change of cast here and there – will undoubtedly be reproduced in the media, with the same alibis, the same in-built panacea of blame passing.

Dailytimes Fuel Scarcity HeadlineLet this be called to our collective memory. Even before the current edition of the fuel crisis, other challenges, requiring immediate fix, had begun to monopolize national attention, relegating to the sidelines the outcry for a fundamental and holistic approach to the wearisome cycle of citizen trauma. This has been expressed most recently, and near universally in the word  “Restructuring”, defined straightforwardly as a drastic overhaul of Nigerian articles of co-existence in a more rational, equitable and decentralized manner. Such an overhaul, the re-positioning of the relationship between the parts and the whole offers, it has been strongly argued, prospects of a closer governance awareness of, and responsiveness to citizen entitlement. An overhaul that will near totally eliminate the frequent spasms of systemic malfunctioning that are in-built into the present protocols of national association.

I recently ran the gauntlet of petroleum queues through three conveniently situated cities – Lagos, Abeokuta and Ibadan – deliberately, this Friday. Even with ‘unorthodox’ aids of passage, this was no task for the faint-hearted. Just getting past fueling stations was traumatizing, an obstacle race through seething, frustrated masses of humanity, only to find ourselves on vast stretches of emptied roads pleading for occupation. As for obtaining the petroleum in the first place – the less said the better. I suspect that this government has permitted itself to be fooled by the peace of those empty streets, but also by the orderly, patient, long-suffering queues that are admittedly prevalent in the city centers. It is time the reporting monitors of government move to city peripheries and sometimes even some other inner urban sectors, such as Ikeja and Maryland from time to time to see, and listen! Pronouncements – such as the 1977 above – again re-echoing by rote in 2017– are a delusion at best, a formula that derides public intelligence. Buying time. Passing blame. Yes of course, the current affliction must be remedied, and fast, but is there a dimension to it that must be brought to the fore, simultaneously and forcefully? This had better be the framework for solving even a shortage that virtually paralyzed the nation.

Wole SoyinkaJust to think laterally for a moment – what became of the initiatives by some states nearly two decades ago – Lagos most prominently – to decentralize power, and thus empower states to generate and distribute their own energy requirements? Frustrated and eventually sabotaged in the most cynical manner from the Federal center! The similarity today is frightening – for nearly four days on that earlier occasion, the nation was blacked out near entirely. We know that one survival tactic of governments is to keep their citizens in the dark over decisions that affect their lives but, this was literal! And yet each such crisis, plus lesser ones, merely reiterate again and again that this national contraption, as it now stands, is simply  – dysfunctional!.  What this demands is that, in the process of alleviating the immediate pressing misery, we do not permit ourselves to be manipulated yet again into forgetting the MAIN issue whose ramifications exact penalties such as petroleum seizures and national power outage. These are only two handy, being recent symptoms – there are several others, but this is not intended to be a catalog of woes. Sufficient to draw attention to the Yoruba saying that goes: Won ni, Amukun, eru e wo. Oun ni, at’isale ni. Translation: Some voices alerted the K-Legged porter to the dangerous tilt of the load on his head. His response was – Thank you, but the problem actually resides in the legs.

The providential image above sums up a defining moment for both individual and collective self-assessment, places in question the ability of a nation to profit from past experience. Vast resources, yes, but proved unmanageable under its present structural arrangements. As the tussle for the next round of power gets hotter in the coming year, the electorate will again be manipulated into losing sight of the BASE ISSUE. Its noisome claque in the meantime, the automated mumus of social media, practiced in sterile deflection and trivialization of critical issues, unwittingly join hands with government to indulge in blame passing and name calling – both sides with different targets. From the anguished cry of Charley Boy’s Our Mummu Done Do! to expositions from academics such as Professor Makinde’s recent intervention, the public is subjected daily to a relentless barrage of awareness, underlined in urgency. Nobody listens. One wonders if many people read. And certainly, very few retain or relate – until of course the next crisis. The labor movement declares that it awaits a guarantee of the ‘people’s backing’ before it embarks on any critical intervention. Understandably. There is more than enough of the opium of blame passing on tap to lull mummus into that deep coma from which – give it a little more time – there can only be a rude awakening.

Sooner than later, but not as soon as pledged, the fuel crisis will pass. And then, of course, we shall await the next round of shortages, then a recommencement of blame passing.  What will be the commodity this time – food perhaps? Maybe even potable water? In a nation of plenty, nothing is beyond eventual shortage – except, of course, the commonplace endowment of pre-emptive planning and methodical execution. Forty years after, the same language of re-assurance? “There is something rotten in the state of Naija!”

 

Wole SOYINKA

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The Innoson affair, the Igbo and the Orphans of corporate world

By Femi Fani-Kayode

Such was his shock and anger at the turn of events that the real estate magnate and owner of the resplendent, opulent and stunningly beautiful ‘Amen Estate’ on the outskirts of Lekki in Lagos, Babatunde O. Gbadamosi, wrote the following:

“I have studied the case. I am going to withdraw ALL my funds from Guaranty Trust Bank tomorrow morning”.

The basis of his angst and consternation was the plight of the propietor of Innoson Motors at the hands of Guaranty Trust Bank, the EFCC and the Buhari administration.

Babatunde’s disgust and repugnance at the way in which the bank and the EFCC behaved accurately reflects the mood and sentiment of millions of Nigerians on this matter.

Yet in my view the matter goes much further and deeper than just GTB and the EFCC.

They are simply willing puppets, tiny minions and minor players in a much bigger game and a much wider picture.

Permit me to cross the “t”s, dot the “i”s, consider the background and look at the facts.

In the last one year alone no less than three prominent Igbo businessmen have been arrested, humiliated and detained by the Buhari administration.

All three are major employers of labour who fared extreemly well under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan and whose companies have become household names.

The first is Cletus Ibeto of Ibeto Cement, a humble, charming, hard-working, low-profile and exceptionally profound and insightful man who I met when I was in detention last year.

The second is the ebullient, young and vocal Ifeanyi Uba of Capital Oil and Gas, who later joined politics and who was indeed a member of President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign organisation in 2015 where we worked closely together.

The third is Innocent Chukwuma, the owner of Innoson Motors whose company is the only one in Nigeria that produces cars, who I am told is an absolute gentleman and whom I have never met.

These three men are amongst the five biggest and most prominent Igbo businessmen in the country today. The remaining two are Arthur Eze of Atlas Oronto Petroleum International and Emeka Offor of Chrome Oil both of whom have done very well but that have also had their own fair share of persecution and travails over the years.

I made a point of doing the research in the cases of Chukwuma, Ibeto and Uba and why they were having issues with the EFCC and the SSS respectively and I came to the conclusion that not only had they done nothing wrong but they were being targetted simply because they were perceived as being “Jonathan men”, because they were deemed as being sympathetic to the PDP, because they were Igbo and finally simply out of envy from ruthless competitors.

Given that it came as no surprise to me when, just yesterday morning, I was informed that Chukwuma’s home was raided and tear-gassed by the EFCC and he was arrested and detained in what can only be described as brutal and questionable circumstances.

I was reliably informed that officers of the EFCC and the Nigerian Police not only injured many in his home but that they also slapped his wife.

Never mind that he was later reportedly offered bail after what can only be described as a gruelling and harrowing period of torment and trauma: the fact is that his home should never have been raided and he should never have been arrested, detained and subjected to this brutal affront and indecorious indignity in the first place.

Such was my concern for him and the way in which the security forces had behaved at his home that I was constrained to post the following on both my twitter handle and Facebook page on that same day. I asked,

“Why should anybody be surprised about the arrest of the owner of Innoson Motors? They did the same to Cletus Ibeto about a year ago.These people come from the “wrong” part of the country and they are providing a service and employment for Nigerians. They must be punished for it!”.

I went further by offering some gentle and wise counsel to an old and dear friend by also posting the following:

“I have known the MD of GTB, Segun Agbaje and his two older brothers, Femi and Jimi, for close to 40 years and I have immense respect and deep affection for them. I urge him not to expose himself to the shark infested waters of politics by allowing himself to be used by these barbarians to destroy Innoson. If he does he will regret it”.

Yet it does not stop there. The matter goes much deeper and further than just the travails of Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motors or indeed those of Cletus Ibeto and Ifeanyi Uba.

It goes to the very heart and foundation of the fundamental problem of what Nigeria has been turned into by those who believe that they own her.

It touches on the nationality question, the quest and struggle for equal rights and opportunities for the various ethnic naionalities that make up Nigeria and the unofficial and unannounced policy of the Buhari administration to treat southerners as slaves and to discredit, crush and malign any Igbo person who aspires to excellence and greatness and who is a source of pride and inspiration to their people.

To those that doubt this grave assertion I have one question to ask: can they, under ANY circumstances, imagine or envisage Aliko Dangote of the Dangote Group or Abdul Samad Rabiu of the BUA Group , both of whom are highly successful, extreemly wealthy and very well-known northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani businessmen, being treated in this way by ANY Nigerian government let alone one like Buhari’s that was established by the Fulani and solely for the interests of the Fulani? The answer to the question is a resounding “no”.

Yet for the southern businessman and particularly for the Igbo one the rules are very different and the treatment that they get from the government and its security agencies are a world apart.

As a matter of fact they are unfairly deemed and insidiously labelled as the “fatherless ones” and the “orphans of the corporate world” simply because they are on their own and they have no favour or protection from government.

It is clear that any Igbo man that has the temerity and the fortitude to shine and to rise up by dint of conviction, vision, passion and hard work must be humiliated, demonised and denigrated.

The story and the theme appears to be a never-ending one and it touches on all spheres of human endeavour in Nigeria. The policy, principle and practice is the same: as long as you are Igbo you are in trouble and in order to survive you must sing the praises of the Buhari administration, bow and grovel to the Fulani, accept your servitude and slavery with stoic ignomy and “bend the knee”.

In the field of the struggle for self-determination and the quest for the establishment of the independent and sovereign state of Biafra the powers that be did it to the great Nnamdi Kanu, to his IPOB and to MASSOB.

In the field of business they have done it to the Chukwumas, the Ubas and the Ibetos of this world.

In the field of partisan politics they have done it to countless Igbo elders and leaders who have refused to bow to the Fulani hegemony that the Buhari administration represents.

In the field of the Armed Forces, the Nigerian Police Force and the various security and intelligence agencies they have done it as countless Igbo career officers have either been denied promotion and operational command or they have been prematurely retired.

Yet all this pales before the fact that thousands of young Igbo men and women have been secretly slaughtered, have been subjected to mass murder and genocide and have been buried in mass graves by agents of the Buhari government and security forces over the last two years and six months.

I have written about this over and over again simply because I believe that an attack on the Igbo is an attack on the whole of the south and is indeed an attack on humanity and all right-thinking people.

It is also an attack on the Christian faith of which I am a member because virtually every single one of the 50 million Igbos in Nigeria are Christians whilst those that are waging this unofficial and undeclared war against them are predominantly Muslims.

That is why the meeting between the Igbo and the Yoruba leaders slated for Jaunuary 11th in Enugu, under the auspices of Nzuko Umunna and which will be attended by the Obi of Onitsha, the Ooni of Ife, Afenifere, Ohanaeze and all the key Igbo and Yoruba leaders, intelligensia and politicians from all sides of the political divide is so crucial.

The Igbo and the Yoruba must set aside our dfferences, look at these matters, speak the bitter truth, come together and agree on how to move forward and protect our collective interest.

Whichever way it goes and whatever happens the matter shall come to an expected end because the God of Heaven will not sit by idly and allow this injustice and wickedness to go on for much longer.

I say this because the blood of the innocent cries to Him in heaven for vengeance and sooner or later He will hear their cry and both deliverance and judgement shall come.

In the meantime when I heard about the injustice that Innoson and his family had been subjected to I wrote the following words which came to my spirit and which burn in my soul right up until this very moment.

It is a heart-felt and powerful lamentation and it reflects the way virtually every right-thinking and sensitive southerner feels and thinks today about what is happening in Nigeria even though they may be too scared to voice it.

“O Igbo what have you done to the sons of Futa Jalon? Why do the heathans rant and rage? Why do the cow-loving aliens and foreign invaders seek to subjugate you and wipe you off the face of the earth?

In silent whispers they claim that they have cursed you, that you are not fit to rule or lead and that they hate you with a perfect hatred. Yet in 1966 you saw all this coming.

You warned us about what would happen and you tried to do something about it. Sadly we would not listen and we laughed you to scorn. You saw what we never saw. You knew what we never knew.

You suffered what we never suffered and you shed the tears that we never shed. 51 years later nothing has changed. They still kill you and rape your women. Only now they have widened the circle and it is no longer just you.

They have enslaved the rest of us as well. They kill us too and rape our women. Those of us from the South West, South South and the Middle Belt that joined forces with them to kill you and starve your children to death have now been turned into their slaves and serfs.

They kill us too and rape our women as well. They also take our land, shame our children and hate and denigrate our faith.

Yet we look on sheepishly and helplessly all in the name of keeping the peace and political correctness: we accept our pitiable plight and we suffer in silence.

The Bible asks, “what can flesh do to me?”, yet we ignore this divine injunction and holy scripture and bow our heads in trepidation and shame.

Our men have become women and we mask our accursed fear of death, destruction and incarceration and our inexplicable awe of our collective oppressors with a shameful and cowardly smile.

We readily accept every shame, every insult, every indignity and every act of savagery, brutality, barbarity and callousness that they inflict on us all for the sake of an illusionary, ephemeral, undefined and far-fetched concept known as “one Nigeria” which bears false and delusionary pretentions and claims of nationality and nationhood.

We even thank our collective oppressors and captors and we rejoice with them when they denigrate our faith and when they slaughter our children and our beloved in the fields and in the streets.

O Southern Nigeria: who has bewitched you? Cowardice is thy name.”

May God deliver us!

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Nigerian Banks, Billionaires, & Your Sorry Ordinary Ass

By Pius Adesanmi

Some of my friends have said that we moved too quickly within the same week from Hijab-Gate (religion) to Innoson-Gate (ethnicity). I told my worried friends that I do not share their despondency.

On the contrary, I am saying Allah be praised for I have learnt to give thanks and praise to God for little mercies concerning Nigeria. At least two days separate our cursing and hating each other on account of religion from our cursing and hating each other on account of ethnicity this week.

That is considerable progress and sufficient ground to celebrate and give thanks to God considering the fact that we used to multitask our hatreds on several fronts simultaneously. Now we hate on one basis at a time before we transition to the next basis for hate. One hatred at a time. No more multitasked hatreds on multiple fronts at the same time.

Having done Christianity versus Islam over hijab before transitioning to Yoruba versus Igbo over Innocent Chukwuma this week, chances are we will be back to APC versus PDP by Christmas. Is this not progress?

Given the fact that we have less than 48 hours before we forget GTB and Innoson and move on to the political front of hatred (then back to religion, ethnicity, politics; repeat cycle of hatred ad nauseam), I deem it important to enter a few pertinent submissions so that your sorry ordinary Nigerian ass may once again contemplate the enormity of the price you pay for your stubborn and congenital apathy towards memory.

Save for a comment on my friend, Barrister Abdul Mahmud’s wall, I have largely stayed away from the raging inferno of ethnicity feeding into a business relationship gone bad between a bank and a business man. In the main, I see a typical Nigerian farcical plot complete with layers of irregularities, counter-irregularities, and plain bad behaviour. Somewhere in all this is a dividing line shaped by ethnicity and primordial sentiments.

If you are Igbo, you tend to believe that the bank is a rogue Yoruba bank that has been stealing money from the business man, violating court orders, and corralling the instruments of the Nigerian state to intimidate the hapless business man.

If you are Yoruba, you are probably retailing the acerbic narratives of the bank and the EFCC, aided by your friends from the north who have been dragged in because their Sai Baba is being accused of going after the business of his enemies in the Southeast.

This, in the main, is where we are. We are here because, once again, we have sacrificed memory on the altar of primordial sentiments and failed to press our immediate past experience into the service of our collective interests as the little peeps.

You see, primordial sentiments are not just invidious, they are also blinding and require a fundamental surrender of the part of one’s critical faculty that should be constantly sentient in order for one to be able to grasp the full dimensions of one’s situation.

Were your sorry ass as an ordinary Nigerian not blinded by primordial sentiments, you would have been able to reason on the basis of memory that who scammed who between GTB and Innocent Chukwuma is an intra-class fratricide that is none of your business.

When we speak about a particular class we call the Nigerian elite, many have a reductionist conceptualization of the matter. You think in terms of individuals, of those one percenters in politics, social circles, and business.

It is important that you broaden your understanding of the elite. It is individuals. It is their social group or class. It is also their institutions and apparatuses of dominance, control, and exploitation. In other words, the politicians, the state and her instruments of violence (the Army, the police, EFCC, etc), the banks and other instruments of financial accumulation and oppression, are all part of a one percentile elite organism of exploitation and oppression.

An individual member of this group in a feud with an institutional member of the same group is really a case of Gambari pa Fulani. It is none of your business because however it plays out between Innocent Chukwuma and GTB, none of the feuding parties will lose. YOU will still lose out, you and your sorry little ass. Forget ethnicity. Forget your Yoruba-Igbo incubus: you will both pay the price of this feud between a business man and his bank.

This is where memory helps. Unfortunately, memory and the Nigerian are always hostile neighbours in the same sentence. In 2009, the current Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, rendered an historic service to this country. It was one of the most patriotic acts ever rendered this country by a citizen – a blue blooded one percenter for that matter. He was then CBN Governor. He carried out a thorough audit of the banking sector, indicted so many misbehaving and criminal bank chiefs and, in a revolutionary manner, published lists of bank loan defaulters in two installments.

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s action was a climacteric. Nearly two hundred and fifty names – the most prominent names from every corner of Nigeria, old money, new money – were involved in the most egregious abuse of depositors’ funds in criminal collusion with our banks.

Virtually every billionaire in Nigeria appeared on the list of chronic debtors – Dangote, Otedola, etc. Virtually every corporation, every holding in the country, featured in the list as owners of non-performing loans or outright bad debts.

We are talking of hundreds and hundreds of billions of naira. Nigerian banks will take your owo oniru, owo oniyo, owo alata, your hard-earned deposits of one thousand naira, the money of the newspaper vendor, the money of the roadside mechanic, the money of Iyaloja, the money of unpaid teachers, nurses, the money of civil servants, roll them into billions and parcel them out as non-performing loans and bad debts to Dangote, Otedola and billionaires of every tribe, politicians of every faith, social climbers of every hue.

What SLS revealed in his 2009 list showed that Bukola Saraki was a boy scout with his heists at Societe Generale Bank.

The bank chiefs, mostly Bible-wielding, Holy Ghost fire-spewing morons, understand the game. They do not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, tribe, or political affiliation. Once you are a one percenter, you are in on the family crime that is the Nigerian banking and financial sector. They give you billions in loans and credit instruments with little or no due diligence because there are all kinds of in-built cuts and kickbacks. The banks rub your back and you rub their backs.

They will never lend to your sorry little ass as an ordinary citizen. They will never lend to your little business. If you are a Mai Shayi, you better not approach them for a loan to grow your business. Pray that Governor Ganduje wakes up on the happy side of his bed tomorrow morning. If you are a market porter in Makurdi, you better not approach Nigerian banks for a loan to help your small business hustle. Pray that Governor Ortom dreams about wheelbarrows tonight. The banks will not give you loans but they will take your little money, your meagre deposits, and parcel them out as loans to the billionaires. Never really to be repaid.

Because it is all a game, Nigeria made noise for about a week after Sanusi published the lists. And we moved on to our eternal shame and damnation as a people. Not a single arrest. Not a single prosecution. We moved on.

In fact, Professor Pat Utomi, who appeared in the list as a loan defaulter, did a lot of gragra. He made a lot of noise and threatened to sue. I guess someone eventually whispered to Prof to observe the golden rule of silence and let the matter blow over. We never heard pim from Prof again. We never heard from any of the 250 people listed again. We moved on.

But your sorry little ass as an ordinary Nigerian has been paying for the crimes of these one percenters and the conniving banks. Oho, so you think that the banks went to sleep just because Dangote, Otedola and every other Nigerian billionaire did not repay the loans?

No, the loans are passed on to you in a cruel Darwinian equation. That is why Nigerian banks are forever making you pay fees that you cannot for the life of you understand. That is why they are always criminally withdrawing little sums from your account – fifty naira here, a hundred naira there. They charge and charge and charge and bill you out of existence. You are repaying the non-performing loans and bad debts of their criminal one percentile family members.

Innocent Chukwuma and GTB are family members in this game. It is poverty that makes you invest in Yoruba-Igbo feuding when there is no such thing going on in this matter. One percenters are too rich and busy to think like you. No matter how this pans out, the debts will be parceled out to your sorry little Igbo and Yoruba asses in the bills and charges you pay for the 17th-century services of GTB. They will milk you to get that money back while eventually reaching a deal with Innoson.

Let’s recap for it is very important that you understand these things: Nigerian banks, Nigerian instruments of state violence, and social, business, and political actors are all branches of one class organism called the elite.

In Nigeria, this expanded elite is irredeemably criminal. It is also a non-sentient, sociopathic elite with zero inclination towards even the most rudimentary understanding of the social contract. The only social contract between you and this elite is the partnership between the horse and its rider. That is the only way the Nigerian elite can ontologically relate to you.

So, fight GTB but do not fight GTB on account of its family member – Innocent Chukwuma. Fight GTB in a broader, expanded and more meaningful sense because she is a member of a criminal cartel called the Nigerian banking sector.

Nigerian banks are wholesomely irresponsible. They offer you the most atrocious services imaginable. Customer service is zero. Banks in the Songhai Empire of Askia the Great offered better online services in the 15th century than what Nigerian banks currently offer in the second decade of the 21st century.

When they maltreat your sorry little ass, they don’t care about your ethnicity or religion.

With elections around the corner in the next two years in Nigeria, many of them are already prospecting for who could become Governor, who could become a Senator and potentially head a “juicy” Senate committee. With your deposits, they will extend credit facilities to these potentially bankable politicians.

You will only hear about it if things go south and they begin to fight.

Stop picking sides.

Grab a popcorn, open a bottle of Orijin, and enjoy the fight.

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Amasa Firdaus and the Hijab imbroglio By Femi Owolade

I’ve stayed up all night to collect as much evidence to discard all the nonsensical talk spewed by bigoted Nigerians on this issue, like hogwash that men set before swine. The unfortunate result is that I have to miss church today, but I’ll do that a million times over to defend the truth.

Can we blame unwitting Nigerians, who consistently display their hypocritical tendencies, for having an inflexibly bent or is it hell-bent view on Islam? YES.

The so-called liberals who cast aspersions on Amasa Firdaus and mock her fundamental right to practice her religion in the most complete way by wearing the hijab are the same set of hypocrites who wrote long epistles to support Aisha Ahmad’s right NOT to wear the hijab. Is doublespeak not fast-becoming the lingua franca of these hypocritical liberals?

Without further elaboration, we must now address the material issues here.
The key argument pushed by those who support Firdaus is that, like most laws and regulations in Nigeria, the laws of the council of legal education are outdated, stripped of autochtony
and MUST be reformed with immediate alacrity.

Before we go into a thorough examination of the law, I think it’s important to state here that we are not asking for much. We want the laws of the council of legal education to, in consonance with section 38 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), provide an environment where Firdaus and all women of faith can practice their religion in the most comprehensive form. Thus, we ask for the laws of the council of legal education to reflect -and not be repugnant to- the principles of fairness, equity and natural justice, as articulated by Frederick Lugard when he initiated the first Nigerian legislation in 1900.

As the Hijab is a veil of headscarf traditionally worn by Muslim in Nigeria and across the world, we expect that Firdaus ought to be allowed to exercise her rights of religion by wearing a headscarf to her call to bar ceremony. After all, Code 8 of the Law Society of Kenya’s Advocates Dress Code states: ‘ADVOCATES WHOSE FAITH REQUIRES THEM TO WEAR HEAD GEAR MAY WEAR THE SAME SO LONG AS THE COLOUR OF THE HEAD GEAR IS CHARCOAL, BLACK, WHITE, GREY, NAVY BLUE AND OTHER DARKISH COLOURS’. This is Kenya, an ex-colony of the British with the same legal system as Nigeria, with 83% christian population and a modest 11.2% Muslim minority that can practice their religion in the most comprehensive form while the 52% Muslim majority (according to Pew survey, or 53% according to DHS) in Nigeria can’t do the same. It is quite clear that this infringement is not consistent with the principles of fairness, equity and natural justice.

We accept that the Federal Republic of Nigeria only has one ‘secular’ Bar. We also concede to the fact that Nigeria’s Call to Bar ceremony is a spiritual, ritualistic, official and corporate exercise with a very strict dress code. The rules are clear that a prospective Barrister must adhere to the dress code, and Firdaus’ hijab is a breach of that code.

But it is exactly this code that we have come to challenge. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria forms the underlying basis for the country’s legal system- it’s referred to as the ground norm. Any law of the council of legal education that is inconsistent with this constitution is void. In layman language, the constitution of Nigeria is the supreme law of the land, and will for this reason trump every other law- be it the dress code of a work place or the laws of the council of legal education.

S 38.(1) of the Constitution is clear on the issue of a Nigerian’s freedom of religion, when it states: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance”.

This statutory provision has been reinforced in a number of cases, like the famous court of appeal case: Lagos State Vs Miss Ashiat Abdkareem CA/L/135/15. In a key ruling, Justice Gumel held that the use of the Hijab was an Islamic injunction and also an act of worship hence it would constitute a violation of the appellants’ rights to stop them from wearing the Hijab in public schools. Also important to this issue is the ruling in the case of Provost Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin vs Basirat Saliu Suit No. CA/IL/49/2009, where the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Judicial Division held that: “The use of veil (Hijab) by female Muslims qualifies as a fundamental right under section 38 of the Constitution”.

Though, the facts of these cases do not necessarily correspond to the issue we are faced with here, the precedence is certainly NOT inconsequential. I must admit that I am not so much conversant with the Nigerian legal system, as I didn’t read law here; but I know that like England and Wales- where I studied Law, Nigeria is a Common law Jurisdiction (with an adversarial system of justice). In common law jurisdictions, the decisions of important cases usually set legal precedents for subsequent cases to follow. For these reasons, Firdaus ought to be allowed to wear a headscarf- in accordance with her religious tradition- to her call to bar ceremony.

I think I’ve said enough to make my so-called liberal friends have a change of heart, but I must add a few more points

Nigeria’s legal system was coercively enforced by the British, whose colonial system ill-served the shari’a practiced in northern Nigeria (the region formerly constituting the Sokoto Caliphate and Kanem-Borno Empire) for almost 100 years before the advent of colonialism, and 300 years in places like Kano where Sheikh Al-Maghili’s highly sophisticated constitution titled ‘The Obligation of Princes: An Essay on Muslim Kingship’, dealt with virtually every topic contained in the constitutions of modern states, from the conduct of rulers to the rights of citizens, but from an Islamic perspective.

From 1809 till 1903, the whole of Usmaniyya or the Sokoto Caliphate (i.e. present day ‘Core North’ and the Middle Belt region- where Firdaus undertook her Bachelors degree in Law) was governed under a legal system known as the Maliki fiqh with further commentaries added by Abdullahi dan Fodio, the younger brother of Usman dan Fodio, who wrote several works on law and how legal practitioners (lawyers of those days) must conduct themselves. All of these were coercively replaced by the British colonialists. Today, we find ourselves in a situation where a lawyer from northern Nigeria is subjected to wearing a Whig and gown in the scorching heat- a practice fit for no other purpose but to massage the ego of our long gone colonial ‘fathers’. How can we possibly think this is okay?

Firdaus may eventually fade into obscurity and I’m predicting that she will eventually be called to bar, but the bigger issue of how Nigeria and other former British colonies will have a legal system that is autochthonous (original to Nigerians) will certainly not go away. For this reason, there’s nothing wrong in taking the bull by the horn as soon as practical, and deciding once and for all to start destroying the usable colonial legacies we have today, as this is the only act that can ensure that Africans
release themselves from the psychological chains of European colonialism. This idea may not sit well with many Nigerians, who are too lazy to challenge the coercive status quo and too comfortable ‘enjoying’ some of the second-rate and rather useless legacies of colonialism, but as we’ve seen in the past 60 years, African heroism in the post-colonial epoch is measured by nothing but the brave resistance to useless norms and laws put in place by our European colonial ‘fathers’. Just think of African heroes like Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah,
Gamal Abdel Nasser, Muammar Gaddafi, Leopold Senghor and even our own Aminu Kano, who fought tirelessly to liberate Africa from futile colonial influence. I’m not asking anyone to be like Robert Mugabe or Idi Amin, and exercise a mindless disdain for everything European. We can of course still make use of some European legacies. All I’m asking is for us to shine our eyes and start questioning some of the unusable laws that regulate our professions and everyday behaviour.

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The Church, The Tithe, And Daddy Freeze By Paul Eri

I have followed with certain bated interest the ongoing controversies in the public domain in the Nigerian landscape about tithing in the church. I have waited with anticipation, hoping that one of our so-called exalted “Men of God” for the love of Christ and all that is holy and true will stand and declare the truth as the scriptures made it clear as it pertains to the new testament church. The stand of many of these General Overseers is that, Daddy Freeze whose declaration wants to take away a huge chunk of the church revenue and pour sand into “our gari” lack the spiritual platform and accreditation to speak as an oracle of God.

Assuming Freeze lacks the credential to speak as an oracle of God, my question is: why is it that those who do are not coming out with scriptural arsenal needed to dispute his claim rather than advancing sentimental counter-punch and psychological manipulation to discredit him and further confuse the sheep? It is my fervent belief and unshakeable conviction that this issue would have not even become the focus of many of these men of God if it was not about money.

Over the years, especially in recent times, every modern church has found a way to make the issue of tithe a major doctrinal teaching, particularly among the Pentecostal movement. This is so because of this simple fact if the church must have the financial resources it needs, financial giving must cease to be a thing of personal choice, but something of a compulsion. And one of the ways in which churches compel members to give is the unending preaching of tithing based on Malachi 3:8-11 and its accompanying pronouncement of woes and curses for non-compliance.

But if the truth be told, this scriptural basis for tithing in the New Testament church, which is founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, is a wrong application of the scripture. Giving of tithe, or tithe payment as some will like to code it, is not applicable to the church. Abraham, the first man to practise tithing in the Bible gave tithe out of his plunders of war (Genesis 14). And the commandment of tithing as a requirement of the law is something done to support the Levites and it was specified to be given in agricultural produce (Numbers 18:25-27, Deut 14:22-23). Christ spoke about tithe to rebuke the Pharisees and the Scribes for their hypocritical behaviors as seen in Matthew 23:23 (without no reference to money) and not as teaching on something that is required of His followers. The Apostles and the early church never emphasized the payment of tithe because it was a requirement of the law and Christ who mentored and taught them for three and a half years never made it part of what is required under the dispensation of grace. This is very instructive considering the fact that Peter declared before the council in Jerusalem this famous words, “ for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). So I believe if it is something required as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, Peter would have taught it to the church in his days.

So if Christ the Chief Cornerstone of the church, the Apostles and the early church fathers whose teachings formed the doctrinal foundation of the church never emphasized the doctrine of tithing, why has it become the most important focus of most churches today? The answers lie in 1 Timothy 6:10 which says “for the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”. The love of money has so become the main focus of the Pentecostal fold in Nigeria and in most part of the world today that salvation of souls which is our primary assignment has taken the backseat while tithing and financial giving has taken the center stage, so any teaching of the Bible that can be used to extort money from the people of God is being exploited to the fullest. This has become so bad that many pastors are now preaching tithing as a form of stipulated requirement for the salvation of your soul. Yes, the Bible talks about tithing, but not in the context in which the church is preaching about it today. Neither is tithing a requirement for believers in Christ. Giving, on the other hand, is what we are counseled to do and to do it joyfully either with your one, ten or hundred percent, do it with joy, not as a matter of compulsion or manipulative gimmicks of any pastor.

The desire for “filthy lucre” by most pastors in today’s churches has blinded them to the reality of the damage this manipulative teaching of tithing and giving is doing to the true gospel of salvation that we have been called to preach as believers and the attendant moral and spiritual decay it brings. It is for this reason that the church in Nigeria, that should normally be a place of honesty, morally principled individuals and people of integrity has become a den of robbers, winebibbers and whore mongers. On top of this is the myriads of false prophecies of miracle breakthroughs and prosperity from year to year which never materialize. The quest for wealth and materialism has become so bad in the church that practically every church has become an extension of the corrupt political class who uses the church for their selfish political gain. The lie that Satan could not sell to Jesus on worldly enrichment is what many of these so-called oracles of God have accepted without a second thought. It is like the Nigerian common man can not catch a break, for, between the political leaders who are never concerned with their daily struggles and the religious leaders whose mindset is all about fleecing the sheep, the average Nigerian is like the Israelites of the time of Moses who found themselves between Pharaoh and the Red Sea.

The church has become so corrupt in Nigeria that the idea is that go and make money in whatever way you can (either legal or illegal), in a godly way or by sinful means, it does not matter, as long as you bring your ten percent, God will bless you. I have always said with no iota of reservation and not minding whose horse is gored, that the malady of corruption, greed and selfishness which afflict the political class of Nigeria has become an integral part of the Nigerian churches. The church is as much the problem of the poor masses in Nigeria as well as the political leadership. The church that is supposed to be a place of compassion, love and upholder of godly truth has become a place of darkness, lust and greed, where the anointing of God is readily available for sale as long as you can pay the price. The church has seriously departed from that path of straight and narrow to follow that broad and wide way.

The Nigerian “church-scape” has become a place where our General Overseers are more concerned with the number of private jets they could acquire than the number of people in their congregation who could feed their families or comfortably take care of their household needs. The competition to see who can buy the fastest and latest jet is more important to them than the emasculating and crushing poverty of their teeming members. And for those who will be quick to defend the lavish and opulent lifestyle of these “Men of God”, my question to you is this: was there no golden chariot in the days of Jesus, why then did He entered Jerusalem on an ass? Paul despite his numerous missionary journeys never owned a single seafaring ship, rather he worked to support himself rather than become a burden on those he ministered the gospel to. Our General Overseers have become so wise and more important in their own eyes than Jesus our perfect example who lived a modest life, or the Apostles and the early church fathers who did not sought earthly riches and wealth, but sold all they had to feed the poor and meet the needs of those who lack within the church.

Things are like this because the church has replaced the standard of God with the standard of man (Isa 55:8-9). The church has replaced the biblical standard of value system and success with the standard of the world which bare no relevance whatsoever with the things of God. Things are like this because of the departure of the church from the teaching of the wholesome truth of Christ to the flaky prosperity gospel which is focused majorly on material riches and wealth. This dangerous teaching unshackles many church leaders from any form of restraint and moderation on their desire for recognition, the pursuit of wealth and replaces it with greed, lust and lack of any sense of accountability whatsoever.

And the sad truth is that most Nigerian Pentecostal ministries are run on the premise of lack of accountability. There is little or no accountability whatsoever, the leaders of such churches are all in all and they can get away with anything. This lack of accountability is what has given birth to present uproar on the issue of tithing that Daddy Freeze has raised. So instead of our General Overseers seeing the issues that Freeze has raised on tithing as an attack on their personalities and lifestyle, they should embrace it as a way the Lord wants to use to call them to order and correct them.

The idea that if you do not tithe you will be under a curse based on Malachi 3 is a manipulative teaching that do not live up to scriptural sound teaching when examined in the light of the balanced word of God. According to Romans 8:1-2, “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death”. In the same token Galatians 3:13 says “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…” So how can those who live under the law of grace by the power of the Holy Spirit still be under the curse of a Mosaic law that Christ had died and redeemed us from? If anyone is under any curse it is those who still give tithe in accordance with Galatians 3:10. Do not get me wrong, give your ten percent if you feel like, but give it as a free will offering as a believer in Christ (that is what I have been doing for over a decade now), not as a man observing the Mosaic laws. The Bible says that we should study to show ourselves approved, is it that those eminent pastors of ours who are defending their churches manipulative teaching on tithing are biblically ignorant or they just refuse to teach the truth that Christ declared can make us free.

In the year of the Lord 2017, when most Nigerians are living their own version of hell on earth, when our young men and women are being auctioned off in modern slavery in Libya, when many are dying in the desert and on the high seas of North Africa in an effort to cross to Europe with the hope for a better life, all our GOs could find time to defend and argue about is the issue of monetary giving to the church which someone is undermining. I am sorry to say this, but I will say it anyway, the truth is that the focus of many Nigerian pastors and church leaders have since ceased from being a model of Christ love and compassion, rather they have become more focused on representing their own interest. The unfortunate thing is that many of them feel they are beyond correction from those who lack the public visibility they have or the elongated years of ministry experience they have. But let me remind them of the story of Eli and Samuel in the Bible.

Daddy Freeze has stirred the hornet nest, he is like the young Samuel sent to deliver a very difficult message to the old prophet Eli, a man with the highest religious position in the land. Whether these “men of God” will hear and change is a different story. But let me say this, it is better these men of God change now, and return to their first love because this is still a family affair, after all, Daddy Freeze is a Christian like us. The historical viewpoint of the Bible has established one fact: when the people of God refuse correction from in-house, God uses the Gentiles to bring about the needed correction and repentance.

The Christ-like mind and character of compassion, mercy and love is gradually dying in the lives of many of our so-called “men of God”. The erudite scholar and Nigerian literary legend Wole Soyinka said, “the man died in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny”, in the same token  the  mind of Christ is dying in you as a pastor, bishop, or GO if you are more concerned with building personal mansions in all the major cities of the world while the majority of your members cannot pay their monthly house rent. Christ mindset is dying in you if as a minister of the gospel you are focused on increasing your fleet of private jets and luxurious cars while most of your members can not even buy a bicycle. Christ mind is dying in you as a GO, while you and your family eat sumptuous food, while those you are leading like Lazarus are scavenging for crumbs from your rich table to get a meal a day. Christ is dying in you, if you send your own children to the best schools in the world while your members could not even afford the school fees of the schools you build with their tithe and offering. Christ character and mindset is dying in you if while you as a minister outfit yourself in custom made designer suits while your members walk around in second-hand rags. The indictment of Matthew 25:41-46 is definitely upon most of the churches dotting the landscape of Nigeria and their leaders.

If you disagree with this remember the admonitions of 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 4:1-5 and 1 John 2:18-19. I will counsel you to be like the Berean Christians who do not just believe what Paul was saying at face value, but decided to search the scriptures for themselves to establish the truth of his word. For the unfortunate truth is that, most Nigerian Christians have in a kind of way turn their pastors to their God, for when it comes to believing the Bible and what the pastor is saying, nine out of ten will rather believe their pastors. There is a form of dogmatic inebriation that has clouded the mind of many that is making it very hard for them to truly sift the truth from personal revelations and psychological manipulations. But let me make something clear to you, no Pastor, Bishop, Archbishop or General Overseer died for anybody. We are all bought and redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ and to Him and His word alone should we be faithful and obedient.  But for those “men of God”, remember, “the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God”…( 1 Peter 4:17), and I am sure it will definitely start from the pulpit.

 

Shalom!