You may not really know how it feels to be stigmatised as a Nigerian until you travel out of the country or have dealings with foreigners. Years ago, when I arrived at the University of Sussex, UK, for my master’s programme, I set out to fraternise with other African students. One evening, I went on a stroll with John Ikubaje, my fellow Nigerian and course mate (who now works with the African Union in Addis Ababa). We came across some African students — two from Kenya and one from Malawi. They were already fraternising. We joined them and spent roughly 30 minutes chatting on how we were settling in. I had no way of knowing that they were not at ease with us. Days later, one of the Kenyans, a lady, confessed that they had been warned to be careful with us Nigerians. They had been advised that whenever they were with Nigerians, they needed to be at full alert because we could remove their wallets without their knowing. In other words, we Nigerians are smooth criminals. The lady recalled an experience. She used to go to China for business. She said Nigerian traders would go from factory to factory asking for free product samples which they would then ship to Nigeria and sell without making any orders as expected. Because of this dishonest behaviour, she said, the Chinese manufacturers stopped giving out free samples. I felt sad. I felt stereotyped. How can anybody use the conduct of a few
Suicide bombings, mass kidnappings, tens of thousands of people killed. A ghastly insurgency by the homegrown Islamic extremist group Boko Haram marks 10 years this week in northeastern Nigeria, where many residents say life has been set back by decades. “It feels like 100 years, because everything seems to be moving slowly and not getting any better for me and my family,” said Hassan Mamman, who fled to Maiduguri, the region’s main city, after Boko Haram attacks on his rural home. He is among millions of people displaced. “I miss my community and always crave it but the merchants of death just won’t let us have that much-needed peace.” Friday marks a decade since Nigerian forces clashed with the extremists at Maiduguri’s central mosque. More than 700 people were killed, including leader Mohammed Yusuf, according to officials and rights groups. From that violence sprang the insurgency of Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language means “Western education is taboo.” The extremists have sought to establish a strict Islamic caliphate in Nigeria, carrying out attacks as far away as the capital, Abuja. The violence has also spilled into neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger. In recent years some fighters have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, creating a new threat. Boko Haram seized the world’s attention with the mass kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014, sparking a #BringBackOurGirls campaign supported by then-U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and others. While many schoolgirls have since been freed, countless other people
“It will take the next two months before ministers can come on board. Bringing them in now may disrupt the clean-up going on. So, Nigerians just have to be patient.” This was Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, speaking to Reuters on July 1, 2015 on the hold-up in appointing ministers. He said the president was taking his time to assemble a team of “credible and competent” Nigerians. But after six months of suspense and wearisome wait, some persons of blemished character and of inchoate competence still got hoisted into the cabinet. What a pathos-inducing denouement that was? As a matter of fact, reinforcing failure is solving a problem with the same washed-out tools, methods and live ware. A president is as good as his cabinet; this is the reason competence must supersede every other value item in the check-list. It has been 14 days since the inauguration of the second Buhari administration, and it is shaping up to be the sophomore of a prosaic interlude charged with a numbing suspense. Really, I think this uneasy wait could be the result of intense lobbying in “high places” or a consequence of ambivalence in making that important decision of appointing persons to the cabinet by President Buhari. And there is the speculation that most of the “arid hands” may return because they are angling and sparing no quarter in scheming to have another round at retailed power. In an essay entitled, ‘Mr President, may we discuss your cabinet?’ Simon Kolawole delivered an incisive
Fraudulent. Not well-thought-out. Greek gift. Action smacks of desperation, hypocrisy. It’s for cheap political gains.These and more were some of the words and phrases that trailed Presdent Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of June 12 as the nation’s new Democracy Day when he made the pronouncement on June 6, last year. President Buhari had said that his administration shared the view of most Nigerians that June 12th rather than May 29th or even October 1st was far more symbolic of democracy. In a sequel this year, the president had taken the honour for the late Chief Moshood Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the annulled June 1993 election, and his family, a notch higher. He moved the fanfare and speeches that ought to have accompanied his inauguration on May 29 to today as part of activities for the first-ever commemoration of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day. And the nation is in joyous mood. However, as the nation celebrates its symbol of democracy today, eminent Nigerians have tasked President Buhari on the need to use the occasion to reflect on the survival of Nigeria with a view to entrenching the numerous ideals of the late Abiola and indeed, the June 12 mandate. Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, human rights activist and former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Chief Ayo Opadokun, and the National Publicity Secretary of Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, among others, said it was imperative for Buhari to make major policy statements on and how to
Following the inauguration of Nigeria’s 9th federal parliament on Tuesday and the election of the new leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives, citizens of the West African country have called for a more cordial relationship between the executive and the legislative arms of government to engender prosperity. The previous National Assembly had constant rifts with the Executive, a situation generally perceived to have stifled the country’s growth in the past four years. Senator Ahmed Lawan of Nigeria’s governing All Progressives Congress (APC) party on Tuesday emerged as the country’s new Senate president when the 9th National Assembly was inaugurated in the capital Abuja. Also, Femi Gbajabiamila, representing the southwestern state of Lagos, was elected the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Dozie Ifebi, an economist, opined that the discord among different political parties and also within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party had fueled the animosity between the two arms of government, “which meant that the good of the country was sometimes affected by political wrangling.” Political analyst Majeed Bakare shared a similar view, noting, however, that though the federal parliament ought not to operate as a rubber stamp, the legislators should work “in tandem with the goals and aspirations of the Executive.” “The negative aspect of governance is the lack of sync between the executive and legislative arms of government. The fact that the ruling party had a majority in both the House of Representatives and Senate, they were unable to work in a cordial atmosphere.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who made the defeat of the Nigeria-based Boko Haram a major goal of his presidency when he was elected in 2015, “is preoccupied with re-election campaigns” while many homes are filled with mourners, human rights activist Okechukwu Nwanguma said in a statement on Saturday.