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President Buhari and the bandit economy-Usman Okai Austin.

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I will not go into the story of how or how not banditry became a burgeoning industry in Nigeria. I will leave that for historians to worry about.

My concern should be about analysing the consequences of such a trade and giving vent to it.
There seems to be a pattern nowadays in the bandit business. They go about kidnapping people, with a particular focus on school children. They enter into the forests and then the government or a self appointed moralist goes searching for them with a band of journalists.
He negotiates with them, he even preaches to them. After that he hands over to them a largesse running into hundreds of millions of Naira, that the people would pay back in the form of taxes.
I want to quickly point out the economic side of this catastrophic pattern that Nigeria is setting for itself.
First of all, we need to be open minded to read this and not be bitter, no matter how it gores our horses.
The ongoing evil is a recipe for a thoroughly underdeveloped country in the next 20 years, especially in the northern part of Nigeria. It is the region with the highest rate of poverty in the country as I write. Maybe it might change in the next hour. Miracles still happen. But as of this moment, the statistics are damning.
With over 10 million children out of school, palpable malnutrition, alarming birth rate and high mortality rate in a subsistence society , one cannot wish the situation away. Yet, the government is not doing anything about it.
My major concern is how the northern elite, in collaboration with the religious top class, have turned poverty into a virtue, thereby perpetuating wretchedness among the ordinary people. Banditry in the north is a brainchild of extreme and biting poverty. Without mincing words, it has become every clear that the northern elite, from their statements , are in full support of it, to the point of turning it to another pet project.
Recently, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a former captain in the Nigeria army turned cleric, admonished the government of Nigeria to give blanket amnesty to the bandits. Let me ask what is the economic implication of borrowing to buy arms for the military which they’d not use because they either cannot locate the criminals or simply refuse to do so?
If Gumi, obviously with a third eye, could locate the bandits, what is stopping him from leading the army to arrest them or annihilate them? The implication is that while the government globe trot trying to borrow money, it is not committed to any meaningful development but paid to bandits and criminals. It can only mean only one thing. We are owing a lot and we are not even using it well. Generations to come will pay for it, yet they would not see what they are paying for.
Secondly, the scare of being kidnapped or being killed would keep many parents from sending their children to school. From Chibok to Dapchi to Abuja to Kankara to Kagara, the news of school children being carted away reverberates across the entire nation. Place that side by side with the seemingly reluctance of the military to delay with the situation and you get a damning apathy to education in that region.
It is only logical to conclude that the trained, innovative and creative human resources that would drive other factors of production in the region will not exist in the next ten years if this continues.
I do not intend to lecture anyone on the importance of giving your people quality education in the 21st century. The leaders of the north are eroding value, resources and all in their game of politics. And they know it.
Another critical thing I want to point out is this. Placed side by side the devastating inflation caused by the inability of the country to diversify its economy and manage its abundant natural resources, banditry will cause unprecedented food scarcity if not nipped in the bud .
With the herdsmen running rampant destroying farms and food storages across the country, we may end up eating only cows. The southern part of Nigeria, especially the west, are great in farming crops like yam, cassava and so on. Many people borrow money from banks and other financial institutions to finance these projects. These things get destroyed by herds of cattle in a blink of an eye. We all watch on. Very soon, we would be operating a war economy.
The terrorism spreading across the country is causing many to lose small scale businesses and returning to poverty. Take for instance a school owner. The government schools are nothing to write about. And this gave rise to the private schools. The government cannot competently manage a transportation system. That’s why individuals own transportation systems. The government cannot even build houses for its citizens. That is why private businesses in the real estate sector have sprung up in all corners of the countries.
Okay, so houses have been built. The herders march their cattle, carrying AK47 assault rifles and all the ammo. They gun down people and the estate burnt down. Billions of Naira lost! In all of these, no one is ever arrested. The situation begins to give impetus to other criminals.
The police and the military seem to have redefined their own targets. On the 13th of February 2021, we saw the police come out in full force to stop a planned protest against the reopening of the Lekki toll gates. My wonder has been since then that if the police could muster such a number and sophistication just for unarmed protesters, what’s stopping them from arresting criminals and dealing with them?
I came to one conclusion, and I’d like to be proved wrong. There is a deliberate refusal to deal with crime in Nigeria. It appears that someone is making huge profits from the unfolding lawlessness and brewing anarchy.
This is a call on the elder statesmen in the country to rise up and take a position before we are all consumed. The Igala people believe that the sky cannot fall on just one person. It will fall on the young and the old. Enough of the killings and savagery.
God bless Nigeria.

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Usman Okai Austin

Public Affairs Analyst

Writes from Abuja

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Religion Must Not Divide Nigeria Under Our Watch By Ajogwu Jerry Ochada

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African Continent is the center of modern civilization (Egypt) yet many Africans often mistake westernization as civilization meanwhile, they are never in tandem.

Many eurocentric researchers are living in solitary immersion of subjective thoughts because they prefer reading stories of Africa authored and doctored by White imperialist without any sense of remorse while trashing the rich cultural ethics of oral tradition and various traditions of origin.

To buttress the least, Africans are not slaves, Africans are not weak, Africans are not wicked. Our ancestors had a well evolved culture and religion now tagged African Traditional Religion (ATR) before the incursion of the colonialists who veiled their intentions using religion as bait of conquest.

It should also be recalled that in areas where annexation by the Whites was rejected, so many rebellion and war of conquests was fought.

In other words, religion was forcefully imposed on many communities and nations in Africa. Take for instance, the Sokoto Jihad (1804 – 1810) which was ably inspired by Usman Dan Fodio of everlasting memories. Christianity on the other hand snookered into the shores of Nigeria by early merchants disguised as missionaries. These religion imposed by early traders, tourists, travellers and later slave merchants are not indigenous to Africa and it is pathetic to note that the Siamese religion is fast dividing the United Peoples of African descent in the 21st century.

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Why do we allow a borrowed religion to influence divisive tendencies?
Did ATR ever instigated brethren against each other?
What do we stand to gain when Nigeria is crushed under our watch?
Is this the Nigeria of our dreams?
Who are the terrorists and who are their sponsors?
What is causing the growing spate of kidnapping, banditry, insurgency and numerous calls for secession?

It is pathetic that as citizens, we are buried in the shallow graveyards of religious sentiments (directly or indirectly) and the overwhelming impact of modern day preachings circumvented via religious centers is affecting the sensibilities of worshippers thereby hunting sincere inclinations of peaceful coexistence amongst brothers from different mothers. Therefore, until the day Emeka stop evaluating Lawal and Adebayo under myopic lens summarized as a different citizen of Nigeria as a result of religious difference and indifference, the country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder. This is not a baseless assumption because current trends in the country is painting a bigger picture we are all striving to understand.

At the moment, we have few citizens of goodwill who are always on standby to make NIGERIA a better place by showcasing the real ideals of philanthropy without sentimental attachments to religion, ethnicity or class. Sadly, these class of detribalized Nigerians are haunted in broad daylights by evil gamblers of greed suffocating good intentions of the former. It is imperative that these men of goodwill should not be allowed to be beaten by the bug of sentimental approach which is detrimental and a clog in the wheels of development, peace and progress.

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It is time to change the narratives by inculcating passionate tenets and mannerisms especially in the mindset of the newer generations whose reasoning style and state of mind can still be rated as tabular rasa. Pupils should be thought from kindergarten classes that all Nigerians are one united people irrespective of religion, culture and geographical placements. This is also a wake-up call to the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and other sister organizations.

Conclusively, present day political culture in Nigeria should be trashed as a matter of urgency. Leaders should not be elected and recycled in Nigeria based on religious affiliations or regional consideration. The format should not align on the basis of a Muslim should rule after the tenure of a Christian or viceversa. If truly we are sincere and humane and ready to practice honest politics of political power rotation, then subscribers of African Traditional Religion should also feature in the rotational process.

I attended a Unity School where everyone is equal before God and man. All thanks to General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) who envisioned the glorious need for all Nigerians to come together despite passing through the corridors of a Civil War (1967–70) that could not break the country however, shadows of Biafran insurrection is still in vogue and it takes the refined idiosyncracy of a tough leader to crush varying agitations lingering in the country. To curb these menace, no sacred cow should be permitted to roam around romancing with terrorists, spew all sorts of hate speech yet he or she is free as a bird perhaps pardoned by religious supremacy / mutual understanding.

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Furthermore, allocating school admissions and employment slots on the margins of religion should be scrapped. This should be based on merits not religious calculations captioned as connection, grace or miracle. So many intelligent citizens are roaming the streets depressed because of systematic defects of illicit practices which is not even constitutional yet inherently operational in Nigeria against all odds. If ATR which is indigenous to Nigeria and Africa cannot divide us, we should not allowed any borrowed religion that filtered in from another Continent to cause us more harm than good.

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Contractor’ Mbaka Should Reap Where He Sowed

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“Man has an incurable habit of not fulfilling the prophecies of his fellow men.”-Alistair Cooke

 

Had he read this quote from Alistair Cooke, a British American journalist, Rev.

Fr. Camillus Ejike Mbaka would have been circumspect about his “I saw it coming” winning predictions for Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 and Hope Uzodinma in 2020. Circumspection would have saved the popular priest the national embarrassment he is facing over his right to comment on the President’s poor performance in office.

If you are a current affairs commenter and something concerning your faith crops up and is trending, you need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to attend to it judiciously to avoid bias or poor judgment. Politicians may not care about taking unpopular positions on issues so long as their political interests are served.

Not so for the writer who is conscious of the demands of public interest and his duty to speak truth to power in the public space.

In various ways, Father Mbaka of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Nigeria (AMEN), has taken the Catholic Church to its high and low points. Easily, his ministry is the most popular. He has also dragged the church into needless political controversies. If you are expecting me to tongue-lash Father Mbaka for allegedly soliciting contracts from the government he had helped to install, so to say, you will be sorely disappointed. As a Nigerian, Fr. Mbaka has not done anything unexpected or unusual trying to reap where he sowed.

No crime committed even before God who, so the Bible says, has ordained seed sowing and harvest time for as long the earth remains. Even the Canon law is not against that. The people who denied him compensation for his support of Buhari should have issues with their conscience. Much of the restiveness across the country today is traceable to the useand- dump practice in our polity which Buhari took to the next level.

If with all his encumbrances, Sheikh Isa Ali Pantami, who contributed little compared to Mbaka in making Buhari President in 2015, is a full cabinet minister, what is wrong with Father Mbaka getting a contract? If Mbaka had come from the North or been connected to the Caliphs and took such a high risk to support a President his followers didn’t want, he would have been asked to nominate ministers and others for appointments. The Presidency even had to plead for the forgiveness of Pantami ignoring the advisory that is suited for his likes from Syed Ata Husain, an Indian General, that “forgiving a terrorist is left to God, but fixing the appointment with God is the soldier’s responsibility.”

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Buhari and his henchmen knew of the massive collateral loss suffered by Mbaka for the President’s sake. Besides threatening his priesthood, Mbaka’s open declaration for Buhari in an enclave that denied him 97 percent vote cost the cleric a flourishing business.

Soon after declaring his Buhari support, Aqua Rapha that was the prime table water in the market in the South East and beyond suffered unprecedented rejection from consumers. It’s people like Mbaka who deserve to be given FG contracts. He would have delivered contract jobs and gone further to use the proceeds to feed the thousands of poor people on his payroll, as a scholarship and other acts of charity.

He is one of the biggest single employers of labour in Enugu State, the base of AMENl. He just conand secrated a church he single handedly built in his village. Mbaka and his Adoration Ministry can afford more than one private jet but he is not even eyeing one because he is on the side of the poor. He is easily the most hard-working Catholic priest in the South-East if not Nigeria.

It is worthy of note that Fr Mbaka does not deserve any accolade for going the wrong way outside his very successful mission in the priesthood. One had expected him to openly apologize to his followers for supporting Buhari and for dragging the name of the Holy Spirit around as his guide.

He should just have withdrawn his support for Buhari, going further to ask him to resign or be impeached was politicking which was bound to attract reprisals from the President’s attack dogs. He should have seen it coming. A Wada Nas of Abacha era would have done worse than Garba Shehu. Why the Catholic Church advises priests to refrain from partisan politics is because of the impracticability of serving God and mammon at the same time without getting bruised. When a child is restive and attracted to fire and breaks its mother’s restraint, it may be necessary to allow the child to have a brief feel of burning fire. If seeing is not believing, feeling is it.

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Mbaka knows better today. In 1992, the Rev. Fr. Moses Adasu of the blessed memory emerged as a gubernatorial candidate of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) and even won the election as governor in Benue State against the advisory of the Catholic Church. Like Fr. Mbaka, Adasu got the feel of dining with the devil and realized that even a long spoon was not enough safeguard.

People who are furious about Fr. Mbaka’s botched political outing with Buhari have even suggested his defrocking from the priesthood. But such people do not understand the Catholic Church. Nobody, not even the Church’s alter-ego, the Pope, can by his attitude affect the Catholic Church fundamentally to warrant a rash action to satisfy the often sentimental public.

When Jesus tells Peter, “On this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it,” the Catholic Church symbolizes it with Pope Francis as the 266th in the papal seat of St Peter. Also, when Gamaliel told Jewish leaders trying to halt the initial Apostles to leave them alone that if what they do is not of God it will crumble like the others in history they heeded his advisory and it worked.

When Fr Mbaka’s controversial prophecy on Buhari and Hope Uzodinma was generating heat, Nigerians wanted the Church to act on him but it would not, believing that if it’s not of God, the truth will come out. Where are we today? The same Mbaka, a Buhari and Uzodinma protagonist yesterday, is today among the growing club of their antagonists the extent that his behind-the-scenes deal with the ‘devil’ is being exposed!

What makes the Catholic Church tick is the priesthood, when you are trained and found worthy of priesthood in the line of Melchizedek, you must have been set aside. And that is what Fr. Mbaka is in a very special way and may remain so until the end of his time. During his political battle with once dreaded Governor Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State, Mbaka said the bible in his car wedged the bullet aimed at him by the reigning dragons of the time and nobody doubted him. Even his traducers are still in shock. Though a Catholic, I am not a fan of Fr. Mbaka, but I cannot allow him to pass by me without blessing me because I know who is an anointed man of God.

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A number of my relatives are his buffs. They call themselves ‘umu ikuku’, Igbo for ‘children of the wind who cannot be caught by an evil spirit’. You cannot enter into an argument with Fr. Mbaka Adoration member (umu ikuku) concerning their idol and win.

He is their special Daddy on earth. Imagine the commotion in Enugu yesterday when they could not find their Daddy at the Adoration ground, the Bishop was forced to release him from the so called ‘protective custody’ On a very solemn note, my senior sister Caroline Abonyi passed on in an accident in 2013 while rushing to travel to Enugu from the village for Fr. Mbaka’s adoration. Those who came to console the family when she died said to us that her spirit must have gone to that adoration ground from where it was lifted to heaven and now resting with the angels.

Who am I to doubt as a Catholic and believer in the resurrection, especially knowing the kind of selfless life she lived while on earth. The fundamental thing in all the Fr. Mbaka brouhaha is the evidently poor performance of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, especially as it relates to insecurity in the nation.

If Buhari was doing well in the delivery of democracy dividends which securing life and property are key as enshrined in Section 14, subsection 2b, of the constitution, “the welfare and security of the citizens shall be the primary purpose of government”, Fr. Mbaka may not have made his U-turn. Nobody wants to be inside a sinking ship if he can jump out and that was what the fiery priest did. The issue of a contract is intended as a distraction. Fr. Mbaka’s goodwill may have been diminished for being where he shouldn’t be but the image of the church is intact. Huge lesson for all not to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

God, help us.
Credit: Newstelegraph

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HOUSE OF REPS:Ankpa, Olamaboro, Omala Who is next? (Olamaboro)

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In an ideal democracy, the rotational formula is very sacrosanct in other to protect the involvement of the minority in a country, State, Senatorial district, and federal constituency respectively.


Ankpa federal constituency in kogi state has been maintaining this rotational formula since the country returned to a Democratic system of government.
In 1999, honorable Abimaje Muazu from Ankpa local government was elected and happened to be the first rep member after the country returned to democracy.
In 2003, senator Attai Ali Aidoko from Olamaboro local government was elected and was still reelected in 2007 consecutively, after the completion of his second term in 2011, Hon Idris Muhammad Ibro from Omala local government was voted massively based on the principle of rotational method which the good and loving people of Ankpa federal constituency has been maintaining.

In 2015 Hon. Hassan Omale from Ankpa local government was elected, during this period, all the major political parties zoned their party tickets to Ankpa local government to enable them to produce the next house of rep member, it was then that distinguished Hon Hassan Omale of all progressive Congress (APC) emerged victoriously in the general election.
Hon Hassan Omale lost reelection but despite that APC, PDP and other major political parties still zone their party tickets to Ankpa to enable them to complete their second card, it was in that contest that honorable Halims won on the platform of All Progressive Congress (APC) who is currently the member representing Ankpa, Olamaboro and Omala federal constituency at the green Chamber. based on the historical background given thus far, Ankpa local government has ruled for 12 years leading above olamaboro and omala local government respectively since the returned to democracy.
Standing on the history given below it is now unmistakable that it is the turn of olamaboro local government to produce the next House of Representatives member in 2023 because olamaboro local government has never against the zoning formula and this has created love, conformity, and purposeful leadership among the three local governments that made up the federal constituency.
As the 2023 election draws nearer,we appeal to all the major parties in Ankpa federal constituency to zone their party tickets to Olamaboro local government to enable them to produce the House of Representative member to continue with the zoning strategy that has been in places to keep going if this zoning method is maintained there will be compassionate and again there won’t be any means of politics of one-sided or dominance but uniformity
Let us all termed with this reality for the refinement of our federal constituency.

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God bless Ankpa federal constituency.

God bless Kogi State.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Abutu Silas Ojochenemi

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