The coalition of northern youth group that recently gave all Igbo persons resident in the north three months ultimatum to vacate region has urged acting president Yemi Osinbajo to allow agitation for Biafra to succeed through peaceful means.
According to a Premium Times an online news medium, The group, in an open letter to the acting president urges him to take “steps to facilitate the actualization of the Biafran nation in line with the principle of self-determination as an integral part of contemporary customary international law”.
The coalition commended Mr. Osinbajo for initiating series of discussions with leaders from the north and south east, however, citing recent history, they said the talks would not yield any positive results.
The letter, which was signed by five leaders of the group and sent to PREMIUM TIMES Monday said principle of self-determination has, since world war II become a part of the United Nations Charter which states in Article 1(2), that one of the purposes of the UN is “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples”.
” We submit that this protocol envisages that people of any nation have the right to self-determination, and although the Charter did not categorically impose direct legal obligations on member States; it implies that member States allow agitating or minority groups to self-govern as much as possible,” they said.
Read full letter below:
June, 19th 2017
Professor Yemi Osinbajo,
Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Aso Rock Presidential Villa
On behalf of this coalition and all the peace-loving people of Northern Nigeria, we begin this letter by commending your efforts towards finding a lasting solution to the lingering Igbo-induced crisis that is undoubtedly overheating the polity.
We sincerely believe Your Excellency’s good intentions as shown by your prompt and genuine actions towards ensuring peace and stability in holding talks with leaders of the North and the South-East.
Though we do not doubt Your Excellency’s bona fide concerns for the peaceful resolution of the crises, we nevertheless have reservations as to the efficacy of this approach in ensuring lasting solutions.
Our doubts are informed by the following historical antecedents that have characterized the behavior and conduct of the Igbo in Nigeria and previous efforts at containing them.
1. The Igbo of Eastern Nigeria manifested their hatred for Nigeria’s unity barely five years after we gained our independence from the British when on January 15, 1966, their army officers carried out the first-ever mutiny that marked the beginning of a series of crisis which has profoundly altered the course of Nigeria’s history.
2. By that ill motivated, cowardly and deliberate action, the Igbo killed many northern officers from the rank of lieutenant colonel upwards and also decapitated the Prime Minister and the political leadership of the Northern and Western regions but left the zenith of Igbo leadership at the Federal level and the Eastern region intact.
3. In line with the Igbo plan, General Aguiyi-Ironsi took advantage of the vacuum and, instead of returning power to the remnants of the First Republic government, he appropriated the coup and attempted to consolidate it for his people.
4. Army officers of the Northern Region were eventually compelled to execute a counter coup on July 29, 1966 following a coordinated series of brazen provocations from the Igbo who taunted northerners on northern streets by mocking the way leaders of the region were slain by the Igbo. This unfortunately resulted in mob action which resulted in the death of many Igbos.
5. And when Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, from the North took over as Head of State following the counter coup, the Igbo through Lt. Col. Ojukwu, characteristically refused to recognize Gowon.
5. Ojukwu declared the secession of the Igbo people from Nigeria and the formation of the republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967 resulting in a civil war that led to the tragic deaths of more than 2 million Nigerians.
6. It is important to note here that the Igbo eventually capitulated and conceded defeat in an unconditional surrender, not an armistice, on January 15, 1970 which renders any talk about Biafra at any other time, a repudiation of the terms of that surrender signed by Phillip Effiong and other Biafran leaders.
1. In a shot out of the blues, the Igbo have over the last 2 years regrouped and fiercely and openly started discussing Biafra again under Ralph Uwazuruike of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State Of Biafra MASSOB.
2. This was given greater impetus by a more furious Igbo rogue group called the Indigenous People Of Biafra IPOB under Nnamdi Kanu who even operates an illegal radio station spreading hate and war messages across the nation, calling other ethnic groups all sorts of names and threatening them with violent extermination. (Ref: https://youtu.be/KIaMJU_bdbs,https://youtu.be/ozgQtmZu614andhttps://youtu.be/MGwoq26nsIk ).
3. The activities of the Igbo under Kanu’s IPOB has grown exponentially ranging from ordering people of other regions out of the South East – particularly the Yorubas and Hausa /Fulani from the South West and the North respectively, to open declaration of the amassing of arms and forceful total shutdown of the entire South-East. (Ref: https://www.google.com.ng/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.itrend247.com.ng/2016/03/breakingchaos-as-ipobmassob-orders.html%3Fm%3D0&ved=0ahUKEwiW8rvW88TUAhWFLFAKHeVCBm4QFggsMAY&usg=AFQjCNHg9_V3LC2cqHM_Q1Mu7pGl206Jyg&sig2=pZ6tM7DHshyaI4FqoQx79Q
4. KANU and IPOB have declared full allegiance to a “Republic of Biafra” and continue to preach hatred and war virtually every day, and not for once did any Igbo leader call them to order. Instead, many of the leaders including Mr Ike Ekweremadu, the deputy senate president, the most senior elected Igbo, pay Kanu courtesy calls to prove that he is speaking for the entire Igbo. It is glaring to all that Kanu has serially breached all the terms of his stringent jail conditions in total disregard to the sanctity of our justice system .
5. Even the latest statement by the South-East Governors Forum signed by Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State in a response to the Northern reaction, did not condemn Kanu and Uwazuruike but characterised their action as “peaceful”. Ref:https://www.google.com.ng/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.informationng.com/2017/06/igbo-quit-notice-press-release-south-east-governors-forum-must-read.html&ved=0ahUKEwiN57n09MTUAhWJZ1AKHW6eAkkQFgglMAI&usg=AFQjCNGENaGoryeq0zs3t8NRCqx0bjG6DA&sig2=n3AD6FKnapYUo16hcAJsCQ
6. While all this is going on, neither the Igbo political and cultural leaders nor other regional leaders of the North or West nor the international community or any religious body ever found it necessary to call these renegade groups to order or in the very least admonish their leaders to do so.
Furthermore, none of the Igbo leaders holding various positions in this government ever disowned IPOB or condemned its operations until lately with Governor Rochas Okorocha’s mild condemnation after the Kaduna Declaration by our Coalition .
GROUNDS FOR SUSPICION
Given the unrepentant antecedents exhibited by the Igbo as highlighted above, we strongly believe that the gruesome picture that the Biafran agitation represents is beyond a few people showcasing to Your Excellency that the Igbo will eventually heed the call for peace and desist from their dangerous campaign against Nigeria.
The seed of hate planted in the name of Biafra is evidently so deep that the ongoing interaction between you and the leaders from the South East can not in our well informed opinion douse or address the underlying deep seated underlying problems (Ref http://jaguda.com/2013/08/14/video-chilling-documentary-of-a-war-time-massacre-the-legacy-of-the-asaba-massacres/).
We base our concerns on the following grounds.
1. Despite the fact that the Igbo have been the most accommodated and tolerated of all the ethnic groups of Nigeria, the renewed incessant, spiteful and vile threats and insults on Northern leaders and their people, culture and religions that are the targets of this venomous agitation for Biafra, can hardly be addressed through a series of two hours dialogues.
2. As if to prove this, barely hours after Your Excellency’s meeting with the South-East leaders, the Biafran Igbo openly disowned the leaders and dissociated themselves from the meeting. (Ref: https://www.google.com.ng/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/06/ipob-to-osinbajo-your-meeting-with-igbo-leaders-without-kanu-unacceptable/&ved=0ahUKEwjHueSn8cTUAhVJI1AKHZmQD6wQFggqMAM&usg=AFQjCNHwiwuEKgcK9l5zQLUzfXyPu1aQ7A&sig2=HbfcbWt6wiZZfiDiXuz6MA
3. More disturbingly, Kanu has openly claimed that the Biafran agitators have amassed arms in readiness for a war of secession which is quite conceivable given the fact that since 2009, catches of dangerous weapons routinely smuggled into the country and occasionally intercepted by the Nigerian authorities , were all traced to Igbo sources. (Ref: https://www.google.com.ng/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://247ureports.com/2014/05/25/boko-haram-three-suspected-arms-suppliers-arrested-in-enugu/&ved=0ahUKEwjVoNef8sTUAhUEYlAKHRRsB58QFghHMAg&usg=AFQjCNHlUhTYo4s8B0kQNz-0jeHR34MTDA&sig2=EEM5w7RzNKyGFvHnmjmBkA
4. The situation continues to be baffling and alarming and therefore unacceptable – especially with the Igbo political and opinion leaders openly legitimizing the violent comments, insults, threats, hate speeches and call to anarchy that the Biafrans led by Nnamdi Kanu are making against the North and the Nigerian state in general.
5. South-East leaders have instead, enthusiatically given Kanu the platform, patronage and symbolic legitimacy through an ignominious display of homage, reception and open embrace.
1. Concerned by the fact that the Biafrans have confessed to arming themselves for a violent breakup, we feel that it is risky for the rest of the country particularly the North to go on pretending that it is safe for us to co habitate with the Igbos given how deeply they are entrenched in our societies .
2. And since evidently the Igbo have not been sufficiently humbled by their self imposed bloody civil violence of 1966, we are strongly concerned that nothing short of granting their Biafran dream will suffice.
3. And since the Igbo have virtually infiltrated every nook and cranny of Northern Nigeria where they have been received with open arms
as fellow compatriots, we strongly believe that the region is no longer safe and secure in the light of the unfolding threats and the fact that for a long time, the Igbo have gone to extra ordinary lengths to ensure that in their domain in the South East, Northerners and Westerners are as much as possible disenfranchised from owning any businesses whereas in Kano alone, they own not less than 100, 000 shops across all the business districts.
4. That since the younger generation of Nigerians makes up for more than 60 percent of the nation’s population, it is our hope that they inherit this country in better shape so that they can build a much better future for themselves and their offsprings in an atmosphere that is devoid of anarchy, hate, suspicion and negativity that characterize the polarized, and clearly irreconcilable differences forced on us by the Biafran Igbos.
5. To make a bad situation even worse, their leaders have continued to show support for this treacherous cause and thus giving credence to our concern that what they say against us is what they truly mean and intend – “Kill everyone in the Zoo” (North). Your Excellency, we cannot afford to discard this as mere mischief as the utterances that caused the terrible Rwandan genocide still resonates in our minds.
6. Lastly Sir, it is quite impossible to expect that other nationalities would simply stand by and watch while a certain ethnic group perpetrates all the above heinous misconducts that involve threats, call to violence and extermination, insults and songs of war without responding.
While we unequivocally restate that we are not waging war or calling anyone to violence, we nevertheless are also not willing to continue tolerating the malicious campaign and threats of war that the Igbos have continued to wage against us.
Neither can we afford to continue giving the keys to our cities to a people whose utterances, plans and arrangements are clearly geared towards war and anarchy.
We therefore demand that the only enduring solution to this scourge that is being visited on the nation is complete separation of the states presently agitating for Biafra from the Federal Republic of Nigeria through a peaceful political process by:
1. Taking steps to facilitate the actualization of the Biafran nation in line with the principle of self-determination as an integral part of contemporary customary international law.
2. The principle of self-determination has, since world war II become a part of the United Nations Charter which states in Article 1(2), that one of the purposes of the UN is “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.
3. We submit that this protocol envisages that people of any nation have the right to self-determination, and although the Charter did not categorically impose direct legal obligations on member States; it implies that member States allow agitating or minority groups to self-govern as much as possible.
4. This principle of self-determination has since been espoused in two additional treaties: The United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 1 of both international documents promote and protect the right of a people to self-determination. State parties to these international documents are obliged to uphold the primacy and realization of this right as it cements the international legal philosophy that gives a people the right to self-determination.
4. As the Igbo agitations persist and assume threatening dimensions, we submit that there is need to ensure that they are given the opportunity to exercise the right to self-determination as entrenched under the aforementioned international statutes to which Nigeria is a signatory.
1. Aware that the right of self-determination in international law is the legal right for a “people” that allows them to attain a certain degree of autonomy from a sovereign state through a legitimate political process, we strongly demand for a referendum to take place in a politically sane atmosphere where all parties will have a democratic voice over their future and the future of the nation.
2. The Igbo from all over the country and in the Diaspora should be advised to converge in their region in the South-East for a plesbisite to be organized and conducted by the United Nations and other regional bodies for them to categorically to decide between remaining part of Nigeria or having their separate country.
3. That government should at the end of the plesbite implement whatever is agreed and resolved in order to finally put this matter to rest.
4. Lastly, we pray His Excellency to study the references forwarded with this letter dispassionately and decide who is more in the wrong between those who openly pledge allegiance to a country other than Nigeria backing it up with persistent threats of war and those of us whose allegiance remains with the Nigerian state but simply urge that the secessionists be allowed to actualize their dream peacefully throw universally entrenched democratic options.
Your Excellency, we want to reiterate our high respect for your office and acknowledge the efforts you are making to lower tensions. We assure you, as well-brought up northerners, we listen to the advise and cautions of our elders, and in particular, their concerns that we do not create the impression that any Igbo or any Nigerian will be harmed in the North. We assure you that we will defend the rights of every Nigerian to live in peace and have their rights protected.
While we do not see this clamour for Biafra as an issue over which a single drop of blood should be shed, we at the same time, insist that the Igbo be allowed to have their Biafra and for them to vacate our land peacefully so that our dear country Nigeria could finally enjoy lasting peace and stability.
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Amb. Shettima Yerima
Nastura Ashir Sharif
As part of activities to celebrate this Year’s Father’s Day Acting President,Yemi Osinbajo on Sunday, said greed among politicians has been the major Problem responsible for Nigeria’s under-development.
Osinbajo who spoke at the Aso Villa Chapel in commemoration of this year’s Father’s Day celebration ,said corruption in Nigeria have been fueled largely by greedy leaders, who amass wealth even for generations unborn.
As a way of admonishing fathers, he said the church must identify and expose those behind corrupt practices as a way of liberating the society and the country in general.
Speaking further Osinbajo said just like fathers ought to train their children in the ways of God,christians have a duty to build the country and make it sustainable.
According to him “I must say to all of our leaders, the Christian leaders; the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and Christian Association of Nigeria, that it is the role of the church to build this nation,because God has said concerning us that we are the light of the world and we are the salt of the earth.
“That role is a very difficult role. We are not to teach the world how to be like the world but to teach the world how to be like our saviour, Jesus Christ.
“Every time we come to the church, we are told about giving, but we need to talk more about honesty. Just now His Eminence said Nigeria’s great problem is not an absence of prosperity but that we have enough for our needs but we don’t have enough for our greed.
“The greed of many is what has landed this country to where it is today. Many of who are in position of authority, it is the greed that has landed us to where we are. Many who say the reason why they are stealing is because they need to have an arsenal for future political experiment, it is a lie! It is greed.
“If a man is earning a salary in a civil service or public service and he has houses everywhere, we have to hold him to account. He must first be held to account in the church.
“He must first be told in the church, we will not allow this. If the church ostracise the thieves; if the church says we will not accept thieves here or we will ensure that we expose you, you are stealing the resources of our nation, you are stealing the resources of a private company or other establishments, then we will not have the kind of problems that we have in this country. If only the church can.”
“Even knowing the Ten Commandment was enough to teach you about righteousness. That is so important especially for us who are Christians,” he stated.
Osinbajo urged all fathers in the country to follow the foot-step of Abraham in the scripture that God chose in order to “command his children and household in the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice.”
He called on fathers to love their wives and refrain from any form of domestic violence.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, in his short exaltation during the service cautioned against allowing the family system to collapse as it was a worthwhile investment for the larger society.
In his words, “We should invest more, really as a nation, in fatherhood or in family. And when children are properly brought up, you will see that most of the resources we channel towards control of crime and so many other government programmes, there will be no need for them. Because we will have some kind of transformation that only take place at the family level.
“Certain thing cannot be done by the government like we cannot just outsource discipline in a home, the issue of imparting or instilling morality in the life of our citizens. Government certainly cannot do that; it is the role of the family. So when we celebrate fathers like this, we celebrate fatherhood, we emphasise on the importance of the family as a unit in bringing up those components of society, performing its role and then turning citizens that are compliant. That therefore means that we won’t be spending money in fighting crime.
“When fathers do their work, the nation will have less work to do. And when next we have people in leadership who fail, who are patently corrupt, the question shouldn’t be ‘who is this?’ The question should be ‘who is the father of that person?’ I congratulate the fathers,”the Speaker told State House correspondents
In his sermon titled: “Fathers to the Rescue of Our Beloved Nation,” the Prelate of Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence Samuel Kalu Uche, stated that God established the family as a basic and foundational unit of a country.
“God has made fathers as the head and this assignment must be exercise in love, honesty, gentleness and unity. The responsibility of a father makes him to be accountable to God. A father must render a selfless service and he must be faithful to his wife,” he said.
High point of the celebration was song presentations by some children and their fathers to commemorate the day.
Other dignitaries in attendance included Archbishop of Methodist Church Abuja, Oche Job; Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Taiwo Abidogun.
From the Convener NIGERIA LEADERSHIP SUMMIT
So, a young man was given access to a microphone, on a radio station and then he started spreading a hate message which has resonated with a number of his fellow ethnic group. It makes you wonder, did the Igbo people have hate in their heart all along? Or was this young man responsible for digging deep into the consciousness of the Igbo people and unearthing deep rooted hate for their fellow human being which has been lying dormant there waiting for a special calling?
In these times, many have refused to use their minds, their brains, their thinking faculty or whatever else provides all human beings the ability to reason, to plan and to position for long term success and prosperity. The other day I watched a program on National Geographic Channel, in which it showed a new technology that allows a man to use his thoughts (mind control) to control a flying drone. I also watched a driverless car which could drive hundreds of miles without a human driver. And then there was an experimental Nano robot (microscopic size engineering feat), which could be injected into the blood stream of a patient and it circulates the body to hunt down disease carrying pathogens. The developments and the excitement of technologies of the future are phenomenal. Unfortunately, my people, the Igbo people are completely distracted from these revolutionary advancements in Human kind, as they have currently engulfed themselves in a petty ethnic, tribal bickering and potential conflict which has the potential to wipe out the entire wealth and gains of the Igbo Nation over the past 50 years.
They said Igbos are marginalized
Well I don’t agree, it seems those who choose to peddle this falsehood are using what Chimamanda Adichie (the celebrated Nigerian writer) calls the single narrative story. They are judging marginalization based on who and who gets Federal Government appointments. So they make a great issue out of the fact that Igbos are not at the helm of affairs of any major Federal Government agency and that the Igbos are not in the leadership of the Nigerian military or any of other paramilitary agencies. This may be true but it’s not the full story. The single narrative story is a dangerous form of propaganda which is designed to deceive, and in this case the young Igbo people seem to have bought the story, hook, line and sinker.
Below is what those spreading these HATE messages and marginalization stories don’t want you to know:
1. Igbos are the wealthiest group of people in present day Nigeria: all studies conducted by all international and multilateral agencies have demonstrated that Igbo have the highest per-capita income of all the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. In fact, there are communities in Igbo land, such as some villages in Nnewi, where you cannot find any poor people. If the truth be told the poorest people in Nigeria live in the Northern part of the country. And according to a study by the World Bank, if Northeastern Nigeria were a separate country, it would be the poorest place in the entire World.
2. Igbos are the most successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria: The Igbo entrepreneur is arguably the most successful business person in Nigeria. In fact, Igbos have completely taken over some major industries in Nigeria, where Igbos provide over 80% of the business services. Igbo dominated industries (over 80%) in Nigeria include, Road Transportation (Buses), Spare Parts, Electronic devices, Pipeline laying, Petroleum Tank Farms, Computer Technology, Cooking Gas, Building materials, Boutique Hotels, International Trade, Wines and Liquor, Cosmetics, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, Private Hospitals, Oil Servicing, independent Filling Stations, tyres, watches, office equipment, household fittings, tiles and flooring, shoes and leather products, markets, shopping malls and plazas, medium and low cost housing, SME manufacturing etc. the list goes on and on.
3. Igbos are the most educated group of people in Nigeria: whereas there is affirmative action which lowers the standards to allow for Northern students to catch up with their southern Nigerian counterparts, if the truth be told, the Igbo students will take up all available spaces in all schools in Nigeria if this affirmative action were not in place. The records continue to show that Igbo students far out perform their counterparts from other parts of Nigeria, in all external examinations.
4. Igbos are the most exposed and most traveled: in fact, of the estimated 500,000 Nigerians living, working and schooling in the United States it is estimated that over 60% of them are Igbos. It is therefore no surprise that the United States Census Bureau states that Nigerians are the most educated immigrant group in the United States, this may be as a result of the high Igbo population in the USA. In addition, the USA Nigerian diaspora are recorded as being the immigrant group with the highest average earning capacity, far out earning their African American counterparts.
5. Igbos have the highest value of investments around Nigeria: in 2006, the then Minister of Federal Capital Territory Malam El Rufai stated that Igbos owned over 60% of the landed property in Abuja the Federal Capital Territory. He was Minister then, so he should know. And guess what, that was nine years ago. I understand that the percentage has grown to more like 70% today. The same story is told of Igbo investments in Kaduna, Sokoto, Kano, all across Northern Nigeria. In fact, Igbos have invested in every town, city and community across Nigeria with no apologies. That’s what we do. We are investors, risk takers and business people. This is not going to change any time soon.
I don’t want to go much further as you are slowly getting my point by now. So where is this modern-day agitation for Biafra coming from? Why have some people convinced some Igbo people that they are suffering, that they are slaves in their own country, whereas the Igbo, in terms of business and commerce, most probably own the entire country? Our lack of access to Federal Government appointments currently, has not stopped us and it has not even slowed us down. So, what’s all the noise about? In any case we only recently produced the Central Bank Governor, Charles Soludo, the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the Minister of Petroleum (by marriage) Mrs D. Madueke, the Chief of Army Staff, General Ihejirika, etc.
My take is simple, if the Igbo truly want Biafra then we must be prepared to loose our advantages in business and commerce which has been built on a large Nigerian market over the last 50 years. Having said that, I do not think a majority of the Igbo people want Biafra or any other new Nation for that matter. We do want to be treated fairly in a restructured well repositioned and prosperous Nigeria, and we do want a meritocratic society in which our goals and aspirations can be pursued without discrimination.
The Igbo Nation is about brotherly LOVE, not HATE as some will want us to believe and so we believe very strongly in affirmative action, we expect that a new restructured and repositioned Nigeria will continue to provide affirmative action to our northern brothers and sisters especially as regards their access to education, investment and healthcare. We would love to have the opportunity to keep investing all over Nigeria and the rest of Africa and even the World. We do also want to use this period of mixed messages to also provide a deep-rooted focus on investment in South Eastern Nigeria for a change. Maybe if the young people who have been agitating are given an opportunity to build a business or to get a job, the crafty misguided people that are misleading them will no longer have members to call on. I call on all well-meaning people of Nigeria, especially the Igbo people to join me in promoting an initiative designed to stimulate a monumental investment drive for the Southeastern Nigeria that will create over one million new jobs and completely diffuse this agitation for Biafra.
I love Nigeria and I love the Igbo people, we are one and the same. And a few overzealous, ill-informed young people will never change these facts.
Dr Nicky Okoye
Convener NIGERIA LEADERSHIP SUMMIT
Founder EMPOWER NIGERIA
By Festus Fifen.
Sequel to the consultative meeting with Northern Elites on Tuesday concerning the series of hate and counter hate speeches emanating from the North and the South Eastern part of Nigeria, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has again met with leaders of Thoughts from the southeastern part of The country.
The meeting which is one of the series of consultative meetings between the federal government and stakeholders from the troubled region is aimed at putting an end to hate speeches and statements of secession in the country.
Speaking at the opening session before they went into a closed door session Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said These consultations are necessary, and important, because of recent events in the country which has led to loud and sometimes hostile agitations by youth in the southeast, calling for secession of the region from Nigeria and the recent ultimatum issued by a group of youth from the North, asking all south-easterners living in the North to leave by October 1this year.
In his words, ” Both of these expressions and agitations from both sides, have been attended with some controversial and hateful vituperations including patently illegal and violence-inducing remarks.”
” I firmly believe that we ought to address these agitations and proclamations urgently and decisively. Burying our heads in the sand and expecting the storm to blow over of their own accord is not an option.”
Prof. Osinbajo who said it is in our bid, as government, to deal with these pressing issues and grievances, that he has convened this series of consultations, with various groups, added that the federal government will never shy away from the responsibility to ensure and uphold the peace and security of Nigeria.
” It is in my view the role and responsibility of those privileged in society to be leaders to chart a progressive and lofty course for the ordinary people. As leaders, we carry the burden to secure the peace, progress and prosperity of our people, and that is why our voices ought to be heard and heard loud and clear at moments like this in the defense and articulation of what is truly beneficial to the nation and the people, and what is right and patriotic.
“Our dear nation has gone through some really difficult times. We have survived bloody coups, several rounds of ethno-religious violence, and emerged from a long and bloody Civil War. All of us here have seen close-up what violence can do to a country, and I believe I speak for us all when I say that no one here is keen to see Nigeria embroiled in violence or bloodshed of any kind.”
” Especially not when we are only just emerging from a brutal insurgency that has consumed more than 20,000 of our brothers and sisters and children, as well as the better part of a decade.
” One thing is clear – violence and war are terrible things. They are easy to start but near impossible to end. Indeed you’re all aware of the Igbo proverb that says that “A man who rushes into battle does not realize that battle entails death.” We are witnesses to the unspeakable devastation that war continues to inflict across the world. No one who has seen the horrors of war – even just on television – would wish it on their worst enemy.”
” Knowing this, under no conditions whatsoever should we tolerate or excuse or justify hate speech or hateful conduct of any kind, especially where such is illegal. Let me of course acknowledge that as part of living together in this space called Nigeria, misunderstandings and frustrations are inevitable. Because resources are limited there will always be a striving to get what is perceived as the best seat at the table.”
” Yesterday I made it very clear that hate or divisive speech, or divisive behaviour, where it is illegal, will be met with the full force of the law. I will say it again today: Let there be no doubt whatsoever of the resolve of government to ensure that no one will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause division or violence. We will take very seriously any attempts to cause violence or to disrupt the peace of Nigeria. And we will not tolerate such.
“We are also resolute in our determination to protect every Nigerian, everywhere in the country.”
“We will do everything within our power to defend and uphold the terms of our constitution, which declares that we are one nation under God.”
Some of those present at the meeting were Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, all the 5 south east governors, chief of staff to the president Abba Kyari, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, NSA, chief of defence staff, service chiefs, IGP, and ministers.
Others are former Senate President Ken Namani, Senator Eyinaya Abaribe, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Catholic Bishop of Awka Bishop Okoye, Igwebike Onah Catholic archbishop of Nssuka, Senator Joy Emordi and Professor Viola Nwuleri
…Event To Aid 15 Million Nigerians In Diaspora Retrace Their Roots
The Lagos State Government and the Federal Government have concluded arrangement to help over 15 million Nigerians in diaspora to trace their roots back home through the Badagry Diaspora Festival scheduled to hold between August 23 and 25, 2017.
Speaking at a news conference jointly addressed at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa on Tuesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa and the Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Oversees Affairs and Investment, Professor Ademola Abass, both governments said the festival, which would be a replica of the 1977 Festival of Arts and Culture otherwise known as FESTAC 77, had been designed to assist Africans in diaspora to reunite with their ancestral roots.
Apart from putting issues of Africans in diaspora on the front burner, the festival, according to Dabiri-Erewa, would also provide platform to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Lagos State and Nigeria to the world and also promote tourism potentials of the country.
The presidential aide, who commended Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for throwing his weight behind the festival, said the event would host the largest gathering of Africans in the world, and that it was a thing of joy that many Africans in diaspora had already indicated interest in tracing their roots back home.
She said: “For the first time, we have been having in Badagry a festival that brings people in the diaspora together but when we attended this festival few years ago, we sat together and said this would be the biggest cultural event to come out of Africa and so after years of planning, we have been able to come out with this programme this year coming up on August 23 to 25.
“United Nations already has declared ten years as decade for Africa, and so within the said decade, Nigeria in particular, and Lagos will be putting up one of the biggest gatherings of diaspora all over the world that will gather in Badagry later this year.
“One of the unique events of the festival is the ‘Door of Return’. A lot of people and things were taken out of Africa and Badagry in particular, and so our people in diaspora would be coming back through that door that we are calling the Door of Return, which is the opposite of ‘Point of no Return. Beyond that, we will be showcasing the beauty and culture of Lagos State in particular and Nigeria in general through the festival,” Dabiri-Erewa said.
Responding to questions on number of people in the diaspora expected to grace the festival, Dabiri-Erewa said many Nigerians in the diaspora have already indicated interest to be part of it, adding: “We don’t have an accurate database but we are working on 15 million Nigerians in the diaspora and a lot of them are already coming.”
Also speaking, Professor Abass said the State Government was delighted to partner with the Federal Government and other promoters of the festival, as the event was in sync with the cardinal objective of the present administration in the State to use tourism, hospitality, entertainment and sport to promote excellence.
He said apart from the fact that the festival was coming at a time the State was celebrating the 50 years of its existence, the festival would be utilized to showcase the giant strides of Governor Ambode’s administration in transforming Badagry to the next tourism hub in Africa.
“This festival is going to be utilized to promote the huge efforts that the present administration in Lagos State has been putting into turning Badagry around in terms of infrastructure, in terms of tourism and so many other things and so this forthcoming celebration falls squarely within our government agenda to promote tourism and also to promote investment.
“As you know, we are developing a Sea Port in Badagry among so many other things and so the festival will be a win-win for everybody especially for us in Lagos State,” Abass said.
On his part, Mr Babatunde Mese-Waku, President of African Renaissance Foundation, one of the promoters of the festival, said a Brazilian, Baye De Santos, whose root has been traced to Ketu in Benin Republic, would be honoured at the festival for his contribution towards promoting issues relating to Africans in diaspora.
Also, Mr Rufai Ladipo, Managing Director of Agile Communications Ltd, the marketing firm for the festival, said series of activities have been lined up for the festival including carnival procession, boat regatta, fishing competition, dark era procession, diaspora dinner, beauty pageant, cultural displays, heritage site visits, heritage night, festival market, international music concert and international symposium, among others.
By Festus Fifen.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, has warned those persons promoting hate speeches or making pronouncements that can cause violence or disruption of lives and property in the country, to desist from such divisive behaviour or face the full wrath of the law
The Acting President gave the warning today in Abuja at the beginning of a series of consultative meetings he is holding this week with Leaders of Thought from the North and South-East parts of the country.
Today’s meeting being the first in the series was with a cross section of leaders from Northern states at the Old Banquet Hall in the State House Abuja.
According to the Acting President, ” Living in a diverse country such as ours of course as most of us who are here know, is one that will give rise to unique challenges, several challenges and several issues. Most, who are here today have been witnesses to practically all phases of Nigerian History which, is one of the reasons we have asked that you come today. There is hardly anyone here who has not witnessed the most important landmarks in our history, some tragic, some joyful and, many times unable to put together.”
” In the past few weeks, I’m sure many of us have noticed that there have been louder noises of hate, of division, especially from the younger persons in our society. Much louder noises than perhaps had been the case in the past.”
Recently of course there was the loud agitations about secession from some of the groups of some young people in the South-East, IPOB and groups that are affiliated with them but also and perhaps more recently, the call by a group of young persons from the North, who claim to have given an ultimatum to all of those who are from the South-East who live in the North to vacate the North by October 1st, 2017.”
“Now, there are those who may deride these sort of statements that these hate speeches that may show intolerance and promote divisions are not important, that they should be ignored.”
“However, I believe that we should address them quickly and that especially leaders of thoughts and elders, persons with experience, persons who have been through several phases of Nigeria’s history should be able to advice and should be able to give some directions as to how many of those in our midst, especially younger people in our midst who may believe that perhaps the way and means they are going about their frustrations or their personal grievances is the right way to go.”
Prof Osinbajo who reiterated that defining strength of The country is in what the constitution calls the sovereign “nation under God.” Added that There are multitudes of people from the North and multitudes of the people from the South who live in either the South or the North, emphasising that There is no homogenous society in Nigeria; with several people living in different parts of the country.
” Every form of violence, every form of hate speech, every stone that is thrown in the market place will hit targets that are not even intended. And I believe that the Nigerian people must be made very conscious of that, so that we do not create a crisis that is un-intended.”
“As part of the reasons of living together, we must know that misunderstandings and frustrations would always arise and that people would always complain that they are not getting the best part of the deal. But we must be careful to recognize that we can only even begin to talk about getting any part of anything (only) if we are together in peace.
These days, wars do not end and I am sure that all of those who have seen or experienced war in any form would not wish it on their worst enemies. This is not the time to retreat behind ethnic lines. Moments like this are not for isolating ourselves and I want to urge all of us who are here, and of cause the entire Nigerian populace, that it is a time for us to come together and to work together.”
“As a government, we are of cause determined to ensure the unity of the country along the lines of our constitution. I want to say that hate or divisive speech, or divisive behaviour, where it is illegal, will be met with the full force of the law. And I want to ensure that there is no doubt of the resolve of government to ensure that no one will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause division, or that can cause violence. Especially because when we make these kinds of pronouncements and we do things that can cause violence or disruption of lives and property, those who make those speeches are no longer in control.
“So, I want to just emphasise that government will take very seriously any attempts to cause violence or to disrupt the peace of this country. That, I think is very important because we cannot control violence once it begins.
” So today I am extremely grateful that you have responded to this meeting and I know that those who are around this table will be frank and constructive in all of our engagements. It is a very important engagement and I hope we will be able to get the kinds of fruit that we desire from it.
God helping us, our country will always be a place where we can always be proud of, where we can always live peacefully. And we always owe it as a duty to the next generation to hand over to them a peaceful and prosperous nation.”
A tax fraudster former magistrate and his brother have been ordered to repay a total of £443,190 or face prison.
Zaher Somani, 58, of Quorn, was jailed for tax fraud and money laundering in 2015, after a HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation found he lied about his income and hid the profits from his two Loughborough taxi companies in offshore bank accounts.
Somani’s brother Pyarali and other family members were also sentenced in 2015 for their part in the conspiracy.
A court today ruled that Zaher, who was a serving magistrate in the Loughborough area, must repay a total of £254,375 within three months – plus £54,000 costs – or face another two years in prison. Pyarali must pay £188,812 plus £28,000 costs.
Stuart Taylor, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“Somani had the audacity to sit in judgement on others while living a life funded by crime. He and his brother are being stripped of their illegal profits.
“We will ensure tax fraudsters pay money back to the honest majority they stole from. They cannot be allowed to take funding from our public services. Anyone with information about tax fraud should contact the HMRC Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Somani owned two Loughborough taxi firms – A1 and Charnwood Taxis – and had 30 private hire vehicles.
He lied about his earnings on Self Assessment returns while family members helped hide his company’s profits. The family purchased property in Canada, Turkey and Morocco as well as putting cash in offshore bank accounts across the world.
They shared the profits from the scam with huge amounts being spent on property, private schools and gambling.
The defendants were ordered to repay the money at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday (12 June 2017).
The Governor of Ogun State Senator Ibikunle Amosun CON, FCA has disowned a phoney conversation circulating on social media purporting to be a phone call between him and Alhaji Kashim Shettima, the Governor of Borno State.
In what is turning out to be one of the most vicious and ungodly acts, meant to further create confusion in the land, a 20:38 (twenty minutes and thirty eight seconds) telephone conversation, purportedly between His Excellency, the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and his Borno State counterpart, His Excellency Governor Kashim Shettima, wherein issues focusing on, but not limited to, the current Biafran agitation were discussed, is presently making the rounds on social media.
According to a statement by the Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Otunba Dayo Adeneye, the alleged conversation never took place and is the handiwork of mischief makers and agent provocateurs bent on heating the polity and setting people against themselves.
The voice in the forgery which they paraded as that of Governor Amosun is not that of His Excellency and a simple search on the internet for any speech by him, would convince those who are not familiar with his voice that the producers of the audio recording did a poor and unintelligent imitation.
The pedlars of such falsehood appear to have a wild scheme which appears to be part of what may be turning out to be the wider script, by some unpatriotic elements, aimed at further causing divisions in Nigeria. It is meant to feed into, as well as further exacerbate the already highly combustible wave of agitation in the land. This evil plot will not work. Indeed this is not the first time some unpatriotic and vile individuals would spread falsehood about the person of Governor Amosun.
Governor Amosun is committed to peaceful co-existence of all groups in Nigeria and will not engage in conversations that would threaten the peace and unity of Nigeria. He therefore counseled politicians and other public office seekers to play politics without bitterness and dwell more on things that unite us rather than those that seek to divide us.
By Festus Fifen.
After weeks of speculations and uncertainty, Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo has eventually signed the 2017 appropriations bill into law.
The over N7trillion budget proposal assent was done after President Muhammadu Buhari gave a go-ahead to the Acting President to endorse the document.
Osinbajo who signed the budget at about 4:30pm, expressed displeasure over the slight increase in the budgetary appropriations by the National Assembly, saying it may distort the executive in the implementation process.
President Buhari presented a budget estimates of N7.28 trillion to NASS in December 2016 but as the time of passage it was shored up to N7.44trillion by the lawmakers who introduced some other projects into the Budget.
According to the Acting President, “from the reports we received, the sessions were generally conducted in a friendly atmosphere. There is no doubt that our democracy is maturing.
“However, the final presentation and the signing of the budget has been considerably delayed. This was largely due to disagreements we had about the changes introduced to our 2017 Budget proposals by the National Assembly.
“The executive took the view that the changes fundamentally affected some of our priority programmes and would make implementation extremely difficult and in some cases impossible”.
He lauded the National Assembly for smooth passage of the budget which he said would go down history as a budget that witnessed rancour free process when compared to that of 2016.
He also gave indications that government would go for virement where necessary during the implementation process.
“In summary the engagements yielded acceptable results . The most important being that the leadership of the National Assembly has given us a commitment that the National Assembly will re-instate the budgetary allocations for all the important executive projects, such as the railway standard gauge projects, the Mambilla Power Project, the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway etc. which they had reduced to fund some of the new projects they introduced.
“This re-instatement will be by way of an application for virement by the Executive which they have agreed will be expeditiously considered and approved by the National Assembly”.
The Ag. President added that the budget held the prospects of exiting Nigeria out of recession completely,adding that components of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plans(ERGP) have been encapsulated in the new Appropriations Act.
In his words, “The 2017 Budget, which I have signed into law today, is christened “Budget of Economic Recovery and Growth” and reflects our commitment to ensure strong linkage between the medium-term Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) recently launched by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and the annual budgets.
“It is designed to bring the Nigerian economy out of recession unto a path of sustainable and inclusive growth. The budget has a revenue projection of N5.08 trillion and an aggregate expenditure of N7.44 trillion. The projected fiscal deficit of N2.36 trillion is to be financed largely by borrowing.
“Let me assure those who have expressed concern about the growing public debt that we are taking several actions to grow government revenues as well as plug revenue leakages. This is because, notwithstanding the fact that our borrowings are still within sustainability limits, we are determined, in the medium term, to reduce our reliance on borrowings to finance our expenditures.
“As you are all aware, our economy is already signaling a gradual recovery as growth is headed towards positive territory. First quarter GDP, at -0.52% compares favourably with -2.06% in the first quarter of 2016.
“Inflation is declining – down to 17.24% from 18.74% as at May 2016. Our external reserves are now US$30.28 billion as at June 8, 2017 up from US$26.59 billion as at May 31, 2016.
“We are also gradually instilling confidence in our exchange rate regime. This improvement in GDP growth and other macro-economic indicators is largely attributable to our strategic implementation of the 2016 Budget as well as stronger macroeconomic management and policy coordination.
“I am confident that the 2017 Budget will deliver positive economic growth and prosperity – one that is self-sustaining and inclusive. In this regard, the 2017 budget will be implemented in line with our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
“Over the 2017-2020 plan period, we are focusing on five (5) key execution priorities, namely: Stabilizing the macroeconomic environment;Agriculture and Food security.
“Others are Energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products,improved transportation infrastructure; and industrialization through support for micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs),”The Acting President stated.
The Acting President also gave indications that part of the 2017 budget would be implemented using some of the recovered funds from corrupt cases, especially with the aid of the whistleblowing policy recently instituted by government.
“Our fight against corruption is yielding positive results. Some of the recoveries are included in the 2017 Budget which will be expended on identifiable capital projects.
“Already, we are beginning to see some improvement in the quality of public expenditure. This is great motivation for us to remain resolute in our fight against corruption so that economic prosperity is enjoyed by all Nigerians.
“Let me reiterate that the implementation of our 2017 Budget will bring added impetus to our ongoing economic recovery. We will intensify our economic diversification efforts in our bid to expand opportunities for wealth creation and employment, thereby creating inclusive and sustainable growth,”he said.
A statement earlier released by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu before the assent of the Acting President gave indications that the assent was in line with Buhari’s wish.
Garba’s statement read,”Following the receipt of a full brief on the 2017 Appropriation Bill as passed by the National Assembly, and to buttress the unity at the highest level of government, President Muhammadu Buhari has indicated that it is in the interest of the nation’s economy for the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to sign the Appropriation Bill into law.
“In a letter dated June 10, 2017, which he personally signed and addressed to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, the President also said he was “pleased by the joint resolution that the Executive would submit next year’s budget proposals by October 2017 and the National Assembly will conclude the Appropriation process by December 2017, so that the country can return to a normal fiscal period from next year onwards.”