Archive for the ‘Celebrating Nigeria’ Category

CALABAR’S RISING INTERNATIONAL PROFILE

“Calabar is the best city I have seen for a long time in Africa. I recommend it to the whole of Africa and to the world.” –Adel Amrouche, Kenya’s national football team coach

Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, with a population of over 371,022 residents, according to the 2006 census, is increasingly becoming a prominent international city. Recent events hosted and projects earmarked or under construction are helping to raise the city’s international profile.

In June 2012, Calabar hosted the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s Commission for Africa Conference, with over 56 African tourism ministers and 25 top UNWTO officials in attendance.

In May, a high-level Chinese delegation, led by the Deputy Mayor of China’s Chang Chung city, Gui Guangli, visited Cross River and, after two days of investment exploration, announced that they would open a truck manufacturing plant, at the Calabar Free Trade Zone. Guangli explained that the manufacturing company, with eleven global outlets including in Japan, Germany and the US, will produce high-tech driven trucks in Calabar.

Similarly, on June 18, 2013, following an agreement it signed on January 31 with the federal government, General Electric, the American energy giant, performed the groundbreaking for the construction of a $1bn (₦158bn) service and manufacturing plant also at the Calabar Free Trade Zone. Sadiq Kassim, the General Manager of the Calabar Free Trade Zone disclosed that the plant would be used for the manufacturing of generator turbines, coaches for trains, aircraft engines, hospital equipment and others. On his part, Information Minister, Labaran Maku, said: “The announcement by General Electric to set up a plant here is the most important international endorsement of Nigeria as a safe haven for investment in Africa. It is the single most important investment for Nigeria since 1960. What is significant about this project when completed is that Nigeria will now acquire the technical capacity for high-level manufacturing on the continent.”

In addition, after their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Nigeria’s Super Eagles in Calabar earlier in April, Kenya’s coach, Adel Amrouche, who spent three nights in Calabar was very impressed by what he saw and experienced, so much so that, in an interview, he said: “Calabar is a very good place. It is such a wonderful place to visit. I am very happy to have met the people of this city. They are friendly. Calabar is the best city I have seen for a long time in Africa and I recommend it not only to other Nigerian cities but to the whole of Africa and to the world. I was really surprised by what I saw and I love this place. I love Calabar.”

Furthermore, the maiden edition of the Calabar International Jazz Festival, which attracted guests from other parts of Nigeria, held in March, with performances by South Africa’s Jimmy Dludlu and Jonathan Butler, America’s Eric Benet, Nigerian singing sensation, Asa, among others.

Moreover, and like the Bishop of the Living Faith Church (Winners’ Chapel), Dr. David Oyedepo, had promised in October 2012, construction is ongoing for his church’s third university in Calabar, after Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State and Landmark University, Omu-Aran, Kwara State. Oyedepo said the varsity, to be known as Crown University will focus primarily on maritime studies. Consequently, it is to be expected that this will further promote Calabar as an international destination considering that its core academic program is a hugely sought after one and will attract students and researchers from around the Gulf of Guinea and beyond.

The foregoing developments and many more, are great indications that Calabar is an emerging international destination. Indeed, the state government is taking bold steps towards upping the ante of Calabar’s international attractiveness. A major undertaking in that regard was the signing of a contract on June 5, 2012 between the Cross River State Government and a construction company, BNL Engineering and Construction Limited, for the construction of a 2000-seater purpose built International Convention Centre, at the cost of ₦9.8bn. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Cross River Governor, Liyel Imoke, was upbeat that the project will boost Calabar’s economy, as it will become a preferred venue for national and sub-regional meetings, conferences, and exhibitions. “The Calabar International Convention Centre will be outstanding and will have the best conference equipment and facilities to compete in the global economy because of its advantage,” Imoke said.

It is important to note that these developments are reasserting what is actually Calabar’s special standing. Long ago, in the 16th century, Calabar was a recognized international sea port, shipping out goods like palm oil. The city also played a significant, albeit negative, role by serving as a major port for the transportation of African slaves during the slave trade. Indeed, Calabar was once the seat of the Government of the Niger Coast Protectorate, the Southern Protectorate and Oil River Protectorate thus, effectively, Nigeria’s first capital city. Furthermore, Calabar’s International Museum, its slave history park and other historical and cultural landmarks, together with its annual Carnival and other festivals that bring in thousands of tourists every year, all contribute to enhance the city’s regional and international reckoning. Again, in November last year, the Minister of Culture, Edem Duke, disclosed that Nigeria’s second National Arts Theatre will be built in Calabar.

Calabar’s growth and progress as an emerging international city is not only good for the city itself and Cross River State but it is equally a thing of pride for Nigeria, especially as it aligns with Nigeria’s status and aspirations as a leading African nation and a promising force in the global arena. Beyond that, the rise to international prominence of Calabar should also help to end the use of Abuja as a default location for important global events hosted by Nigeria. Most G8 and G20 summits, for example, are held in cities other than the political or economic capitals of the host nations. South Africa recently hosted the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, away from its political capital, Tshwane (Pretoria) and its commercial hub, Johannesburg. It will therefore be in the federal government’s interest to seize the opportunity and position Calabar as one of the alternatives for the hosting of international events in Nigeria.

Also, the Cross River State government and the Calabar South and Calabar Municipal Local Government councils must continue to ensure that Calabar remains clean, green and secure. Again, the federal and state governments should see to it that Calabar has the right transport infrastructure to match its growing international status. The main artery into Calabar, the Odukpani road, should be urgently repaired and the city’s seaport and airport expanded, in view of the increasing traffic they will be receiving. Minor repairs at the seaport and the construction of a new airport building are good but a lot more has to be done. It is unfortunate that the dredging of the Calabar Channel, to allow bigger ships to berth at the Calabar port, is yet to begin more than a year since April 2012 when the federal government announced it had concluded plans to commence the project. The FG should get serious and hand the project to a very competent contractor for prompt and efficient execution. Similarly, the TINAPA Business Resort should be given all the support it badly needs to succeed. The project, which cost the state government billions of Naira has huge potential for business, tourism and entertainment and must not be allowed to wither.

Gradually, Calabar is beginning to fully live up to its special nickname – the Canaan City. Calabar has what it takes to fulfill its glorious destiny as a major Nigerian and international city. I believe she would not disappoint!

POLICY NG – A REPOSITORY FOR NIGERIA’S POLICY DISCOURSE   3 comments

“The media must be an enlightened purveyor of policy knowledge.” –Oby Ezekwesili

Word Web, an English thesaurus dictionary defines “policy” as “A line of argument rationalizing the course of action of a government” and “A plan of action adopted by an individual or social group”. For our present purpose, if we coalesce the two perspectives above, the result will be that ‘policy’ will mean “A plan that rationalizes and determines the course of action adopted by a government in the pursuit of its objectives.”

From the foregoing, it goes without saying that government policies comprise the framework for a government’s actions and/or inactions. In a democracy, a government exists to transform the people’s aspirations into tangible results that safeguard and promote their wellbeing. For this to happen, there is utter need for the citizenry to make their voices heard on various issues of policy importance and for the executive and legislative arms of government to co-opt that into their policy making and implementation processes. The starting point is always for the citizenry to have outlets via which they can make their voices heard. Traditionally, this has been via the assorted platforms of mainstream print and broadcast media, with the accompanying difficulty to enable stakeholders access many different views and perspectives on policy issues or debates in one place at any given time.

However, the coming of social media has significantly changed that balance for good by providing platforms for citizens and denizens to be heard, wherever they may be, on important policy issues. In our case, in Nigeria, a new Twitter account, @PolicyNG, has taken that prospect one notch higher by providing what can be described as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for the collation of views on topical policy issues. This handle at once serves a four-fold purpose: it will assist the government to have a feeling of what Nigerians think with regard to major policies before their implementation, it will provide a feedback mechanism after the implementation of policies, it will constitute another rich source of data for researchers with interest on Nigerian public policy and democracy and it will enable Nigerians interact and debate with each other on various government policies and aspects of governance. Regarding the last point, it must be understood as, Meir Dagan, a former director of Israel’s intelligence agency, once said, that: “The heart and soul of democracy is the public debate.”

At a media function in her honour last year, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, the immediate past Vice-President of the World Bank’s Africa region and a passionate advocate for a public policy system that guarantees good governance, said: “It does not matter how much integrity some leaders may have, until they find the right policy skills, they are never going to make sound policies…” In fact, Ezekwesili created and uses the Twitter hashtags #PublicPolicy101 and #PP101 to regularly comment on matters of policy and governance. She says: “I love Public Policy. Every citizen must love and follow Public Policy. How else can you be an effective citizen?” Ezekwesili urged the media to up its act on credible knowledge-based reportage, considering that when they do so, they equip the masses with the tools required to better hold their governments and leaders to account and hence, improve the quality of governance and public policy delivery.

It is my earnest belief that the people behind the @PolicyNG initiative are strongly motivated by the above goal and with that, coupled with their ingenuity; there should be no shortage of the will to make the platform sustainable, credible and dynamic. I heartily commend all who contributed to bringing the platform to reality, as well as all who are involved in running it. This is yet another demonstration of Nigerians’ quest for pragmatic political participation.

I am confident that, going forward, @PolicyNG will add plenty of value to Nigeria’s policy discourse and, ultimately, to her governance. Even if the government of the day chooses to not leverage on this readily available repository of policy knowledge from its people, there is no reason to believe that, in this social-media dispensation, the next government or others after it will not do so. In the meantime, the other benefits of the @PolicyNG platform remain incontrovertible.

Long live @PolicyNG! GOD bless Nigeria!

NIGERIA TO HOST THE WORLD IN 2014   Leave a comment

“Hosting an international conference by a country or a city has many multipliers; tangible economic benefits and non-tangible benefits… For instance, convention tourism is a high value segment of the tourism and hospitality industry…” –Shyam Nagpal, MD, International Conference and Exhibition Services, New Delhi, India

Nigeria has always hosted many international conferences and symposia, especially since the return to democratic rule in 1999. A statement on the website of the Abuja International Conference Centre reads: “In the last decade and a half the Centre has played host to several international, regional and national political, social, cultural, economic and religious conferences, summits, meetings, seminars, ceremonies and programmes.” For example, later this year, Nigeria will host the 35th Conference/General Assembly of the 130-member country strong International Federation of Surveyors.

Despite the ongoing precarious security situation in certain parts of the country, and many other misgivings associated with its overall governance deficits, some international institutions and organizations have still reposed confidence in Nigeria to the point of getting her to host major international conferences in 2014.

Topping the list of the major international events Nigeria is billed to host in 2014 are the World Economic Forum on Africa, the World Conference of Engineers and, of course, Nigeria’s Port Harcourt will also serve as UNESCO’s “World Book Capital for 2014”.

But what would Nigeria benefit from hosting these conferences? To begin with, and going by the opening quote, hosting international conferences is always generally good for a country’s tourism and hospitality industry as the many delegates and participants will definitely patronize the country’s hotels and catering services throughout the course of their stay.

Secondly, when a country hosts international conferences, especially of the magnitude of the ones stated above, they go a long way to boost its economy as there will be such interaction of both public and private sector entities with the visiting delegations and individuals that will further showcase the country’s investment opportunities.

In specific terms, the three aforementioned conferences hold great promise for Nigeria’s development aspirations. For one, the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa is likely to feature a last lap assessment of progress made in the attainment of the MDGs, ahead of their expiry in 2015. As host, Nigeria will come under the spotlight and be particularly required to showcase what she may call her achievements in that regard. More importantly, Nigeria will benefit from the presence of many potential investors to sign off on deals that will further grow her economy.

In a similar vein as above, hosting the World Engineers’ Conference should help focus the attention of Nigeria’s policy makers on engineering especially as it is a vital aspect of what the country needs to get right to get its infrastructure up and running. For example, the Nigerian Society of Engineers is already banking on the preparations for the conference to urge the Federal Government to promptly begin implementing the white paper of the report of the Presidential Committee on Strategic Plans for Engineering Development and Control in Nigeria. As the NSE President, Mustapha Balarabe Shehu, put it at a 2012 lecture, “The desire of the Federal Government to provide infrastructure may not be realisable without the implementation of a pragmatic engineering policy that places emphasis on building local capacities and expertise, engineering needs analysis, and targeted training and acquisition of specific skills to meet specific needs.” Likewise, about a fortnight ago, the Governor of the State of Osun, Rauf Aregbesola, himself an engineer, said if effectively utilized, Nigeria’s engineers can contribute to the country’s much-needed advancement by facilitating the provision of “critical infrastructure,” be it for food security, electricity and water supply, housing and others.

Regarding Port Harcourt being named by UNESCO as the “World Book Capital for 2014,” a statement by the Selection Committee denotes the impact the event will have on Nigeria. The statement reads: “The city of Port Harcourt was chosen “on account of the quality of its programme, in particular its focus on youth and the impact it will have on improving Nigeria’s culture of books, reading, writing and publishing to improve literacy rates.” A similar statement by Irina Bokova, the UNESCO Director-General, reads: “I extend my congratulations to the city of Port Harcourt for the quality of its proposed programme, which provides for extensive public participation and aims to develop reading for all. An explanatory note about the World Book Capital initiative by UNESCO states that “Each year, UNESCO and the international organizations representing the three major sectors of the book industry – the International Publishers’ Association (IPA), International Booksellers’ Federation (IBF) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) – select the World Book Capital for a one-year period, effective April 23 each year. This initiative, in addition to the celebration of the World Book and Copyright Day, represents a collaborative undertaking by key stakeholders in the publishing world to promote books and literacy.” Reacting, Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, said “Port Harcourt is the first World Book Capital City in sub-Saharan Africa…” On his part, President Goodluck Jonathan said, “We welcome UNESCO’s recognition of our collective efforts to revive the reading culture…” From the foregoing, Port Harcourt’s tenure as the World Book Capital for 2014 will be a thing of national pride for Nigeria but more importantly, it is expected to play up efforts to instill passion for reading and boost literacy among Nigerians.

In all, it is hoped that Nigeria’s international standing will prod her policy makers and government officials at all levels to increasingly adopt international best practices of transparency and accountability in governing the nation for, beyond these short lived high-level events, true nation-building presupposes a day-to-day governance system that guarantees the sustainable socio-economic progress of the nation and the wellbeing of the people.

Raymond is on Twitter, @Raymond_Eyo

AFCON 2013: LET THE EAGLES SOAR!   2 comments

The AFCON 2013 has finally gone underway and Nigeria’s Super Eagles are set to begin their campaign today in a charity-begins-at-home fixture against their West African neighbours, Burkina Faso. One can only hope that the Eagles will proceed to get the better of their other group opponents, Ethiopia and Zambia, from East and Southern Africa respectively, and then go ahead to conquer Africa!

After a string of bad results at recent AFCON tournaments, with disappointing quadruple bronze medal standings between 2002 and 2010 and a disgraceful absence from the 2012 edition (a first since 1986), the mood in the Eagles’ camp is now that of a team braced up for nothing less than the ultimate prize! A number of semiotic underpinnings can justify this claim. To begin with, and on a light note, the 2013 AFCON marks the tournament’s return to odd number years. Perhaps, the Super Eagles were waiting for odd number years to make things even!

On a more serious note, there’s plenty of wisdom about eagles from wildlife science, in favour of the Super Eagles’ getting victorious at the AFCON 2013. For one, wildlife science has revealed that eagles perch on top of tall trees and watch for the direction of the wind before engaging it for a stress-free flight. Similarly, by thrashing Liberia 6-1 in their final qualification match for the tournament, the Super Eagles can be said to have psychologically perched on their highest score in the process from where they can now engage themselves in the direction of a triumphant AFCON 2013 pursuit. Supersport described that victory saying, “Nigeria’s Super Eagles were ruthless en route securing a ticket to the 2013 AFCON.”

Secondly, wildlife science has also revealed that the mother eagle takes its eaglets on a number of trial-flights before it eventually releases them to begin flying on their own. Incidentally, the captain (leader) of the Super Eagles, Joseph Yobo, can be rightly considered the ‘mother eagle’ in our present context. That he has featured in five previous AFCON tourneys and that he’s likely to not feature in any again is sufficient reason to spur him to give his best and mobilise the relatively younger Eagles, with a good majority having less than 20 caps each and no previous AFCON experience, to go for the kill! On January 17, upon the Eagles’ arrival in South Africa, Yobo said “I want to leave the stage by winning something for the team… I believe in this team… this is a good team going into the tournament…”

In addition and most importantly, wildlife science equally demonstrates that eagles engage in partnerships to hunt and share the spoils of their kill. In fact, the Bible in Matthew 24:28, attests to this: “For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” The relevance of this to the present crop of Super Eagles is that team spirit must be their safeguard. Thankfully, for the first time in a while, there has been little emphasis on key players and rather, greater emphasis on the team as a unit. On October 18, 2012, Sports Motivation (@Sports_HQ), an entity that shares insights on the ideals for sports excellence, tweeted thus: “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” Hopefully, the Eagles will draw inspiration from their creative attack led by the likes of Ahmed Musa, Ike Uche and Victor Moses as well as their midfield commanded by the experienced John Mikel Obi with ‘mother-eagle’ Yobo, skipper Enyeama, Kenneth Omeruo and co, guarding the back.

It is interesting to note that the AFCON 2013 hosts, South Africa, and the defending champions, Zambia, both specifically wished to avoid playing Nigeria in the group stages. The Zambian coach, Hervé Renard, said: “If I can avoid Nigeria [in the AFCON draws that were then pending], I would be very happy.” Likewise, South Africa’s coach, Gordon Igesund, said “To be honest, I want a favourable draw. I’m not going to declare I want Nigeria in our group. I would prefer to avoid them.” When coaches, especially of other respected teams speak of the Super Eagles in this manner, it is because they acknowledge the high level of confidence with which the team currently plays. Meanwhile, as a token of the confidence he has in his boys, Nigeria’s coach, Stephen Keshi, said “I am not scared of any country. Let’s be put in any group.”

It was precisely this confidence that resulted in the Eagles not losing any warm-up game ahead of the AFCON 2013. In fact, though pundits and many fans wrote them off, they were quite impressive against an FC Barcelona star-studded Catalonian side in that January 2 friendly which they drew before defeating a Dutch top-flight team 1-0 on January 12 and wrapping it up with a 5-0 thrashing of Portuguese club, Farense, on January 15. Alluding to this, Mike Umeh, the NFF’s first vice-president said, “The victory is a morale booster for the team. It shows that the Eagles are consistent.”

After their first training session in South Africa, Super Eagles’ striker, Victor Moses, stated that “The boys are looking sharp. We are looking forward to the tournament.” Moses had previously passionately declared that “…I look forward to making Nigeria proud at the AFCON 2013. I want to give everything in all the [AFCON] matches.”

On his part, soon after the final qualifying match for the AFCON 2013, midfield maestro, John Mikel Obi said “I am very happy that the Eagles have returned to winning ways in grand style. I am happy that we won the game in the manner we did, it was great… [The fans] haven’t seen anything yet from me and the Eagles. They should wait till the Nations Cup…” Mikel later touted coach Keshi as being capable of making history by winning the AFCON as a coach after having won it as a player, in 1994.

Furthermore, in December 2012, Nigeria’s former captain and football ambassador, Nwankwo Kanu, declared that the Super Eagles will win the AFCON 2013 if they have the belief. Kanu said, “We should all believe in this; the players should believe that we can achieve it…”

From the foregoing, there is clearly no shortage of motivation for the Eagles to cruise to victory at the AFCON 2013. The very idea that the winner of the trophy will feature as Africa’s representative at the 2013 Confederations Cups in Brazil, alongside world-class teams, in what will amount to an acclimatising dress rehearsal for the 2014 World Cup, is a very great incentive.

Moreover, one of Nigeria’s best-ever strikers and the first Nigerian to receive CAF’s African Player of the Year award, Rashidi Yekini, passed on in May 2012, at the age of 49. An AFCON 2013 victory will be a great posthumous golden jubilee honour to his memory. The victorious AFCON 2012 Zambian team was inspired, in part, by the tragic loss of their forebears in 1993. Here’s to hoping Yekini’s death, also in tragic circumstances, would inspire the Super Eagles with the élan to aim for nothing short of the AFCON 2013 trophy!

In all, as they get their AFCON 2013 underway, the Super Eagles must work hard whilst firmly holding on to their confidence and determination to win. Belief and determination made the difference for Zambia in 2012. Belief and determination will make the difference for Nigeria in 2013. I have the conviction that the Super Eagles will do Nigeria proud by winning the AFCON 2013!

TRIBUTE TO EKEKEEE.COM AT 1!   8 comments

As an avid reader and one particularly in love with objective analyses of political issues and events in Nigeria, it is impossible to not have been greatly inspired by, and learnt so much from, the ekekeee.com blog in its first year of existence! Indeed, I write this tribute in celebration of that feat!

Ekekeee.com was “born” barely a week after Nigeria’s 51st Independence Anniversary. Therefore, we can safely conclude that it was “conceived” during Nigeria’s 50th Anniversary year or so and that it was born to inspire a generation to counter the unfortunate losses of those years and contribute to building the Nigeria of the future.

Recently, an Oxford University research revealed that Africa and South America are lagging behind in the production and consumption of online information. For us in Nigeria, blogs like ekekeee.com are contributing much to filling that void.

Ekekeee.com was started by Chinedu Ekeke but has grown to become a team of very intelligent writers covering a range of mainly topical political and other socio-economic issues. Ekekeee.com is remarkable for its teamwork appeal. I don’t know of any other political blog in Nigeria that engages as many writers so regularly. The Nigeria of tomorrow will only come to be when we do away with parochial and sectional prejudices, and work together as one people.

It also helps to know that ekekeee.com has no political affiliations. Its founder and coordinator, Chinedu Ekeke, said so himself: “[Ekekeee.com] owes no allegiance to any political party or individual.” Noel Ihebuzor, a development and policy analyst, acknowledges that “Political neutrality and impartiality make for blog objectivity.” You may not agree with all what Chinedu or his fellow ekekeee.com writers say, and that’s natural, but you can’t deny their passion and sincerity.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, which today has over a billion active users, and which played a facilitating role in the Arab Spring against dictatorship and oppression, has rightly observed that “The real technological revolution happened when people started using the internet to fight corruption and oppression.” Ekekeee.com is using the internet and new media platforms to fight corruption and oppression in Nigeria and deserves commendation for doing so.

The late American militant civil rights leader, Malcolm X (1925-1965), said: “So early in my life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.” Ekekeee.com is making quite some noise against the miscreants currently running Nigeria. It takes daring to engage in the kind of work that ekekeee.com is doing. “In order to conquer, what we need is to dare, still to dare, and always to dare,” declared Georges Jacques Danton.

A Nigerian Revolution looms! The reasons are writ large! Ekekeee.com is playing a major role towards that. Toni Bambara said, “The job of the writer is to make revolution irresistible.” Chinedu Ekeke and his ekekeee.com team are doing just that! Revolutions only happen when a people have the requisite awareness. Bob Marley urged us to “Emancipate [ourselves] from mental slavery [as] none but ourselves can free our minds.” It takes having the right information for any person or people to be emancipated from mental slavery. In Nigeria’s case, I can certify that, in one year, ekekeee.com has contributed immensely to that noble endeavour. From “How Jonathan Diminished the Presidency” (http://ekekeee.com/index.php?p=1323), to “David Mark vs New Media” (http://ekekeee.com/david-mark-versus-new-media-by-chinedu-ekeke/), to “Jonathan’s 80 Pages of Nothingness” (http://www.ekekeee.com/jonathans-80-pages-of-nothingness-by-chinedu-ekeke/?wpmp_tp=1), to “El-Rufai, the Sinner” (http://ekekeee.com/index.php?p=2897), to “Somebody Lied” (http://www.ekekeee.com/somebody-lied-by-ademola-adeeko/) and a host of other sublime pieces by Chinedu and others, ekekeee.com has given a new lease of life to objective and cogent political analysis in Nigeria.

There was even a time when ekekeee.com was hacked. Not even that temporary setback stopped Chinedu from keeping his ink flowing, as attested to by former FCT Minister, Nasir El-Rufai: “Young Chinedu Ekeke’s website, http://www.ekekeee.com, may have been hacked to a standstill by the enemies of progress, but he still writes…passionately, powerfully and patriotically as always…”

The Managing Editor of The Africa Report magazine, Nick Norbrook, even had reason to share Chinedu’s “Jonathan’s 80 Pages of Nothingness” on Twitter, describing it as a: “Powerful rebuke to Goodluck Emperor’s new clothes”.

Going forward, I wish ekekeee.com and its team more success. There’s still so much to be done to turn Nigeria around. Some time ago, Transparency International said, and truly so, that, “The political situation in Nigeria is more of criminality than governance.” The pen may be mightier than the sword but, compared to the latter, it takes quite a while for its full effect on a people to materialise. This calls for persistence from the likes of ekekeee.com. Wellington said, “Revolutionaries are like conquerors: they must go forward. The moment they are stopped, they are lost.” If we must secure Nigeria’s future, we must remain ever steadfast today. As Albert Camus succinctly puts it, “The revolutionary’s real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”

Prevailing shortcomings nonetheless, my optimism for Nigeria’s promising future remains unshaken. Nigeria’s change will not suffer a miscarriage while blogs like ekekeee.com continue to expose gross inadequacies in governance and raise awareness about the way out. Ernst Toller attests to this when he says, “The spirit of revolution will not die while the hearts of these [writers] continue to beat.”

In closing, let me borrow, and recast, a leaf from Chinedu’s “David Mark vs New Media”: “I understand [Chinedu] is a Christian. I would refer him to an interesting portion of the Bible. It is [Proverbs 4:18]: “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

Keep it up, my dear brother. To you and the entire ekekeee.com fraternity, I say Congratulations for your first anniversary! GOD bless you. GOD bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

Raymond is on Twitter: @Raymond_Eyo

Posted October 8, 2012 by Raymond Eyo in Celebrating Nigeria

Tagged with ,

NIGERIA IN “3D”   17 comments

Nigeria’s glorious potential and promising future can be cast in 3D. “3D” means “having a three-dimensional form or appearance.” From its 3D standing, Nigeria, arguably, has the most unique geographical position on planet earth! Nigeria is the gateway into West Africa; the ‘trigger’ of Africa and she is literally at the centre of the world!

Nigeria as the Gateway into West Africa
African countries have been comprehensively divided into five regions viz. the four cardinal compass points of North, South, East and West, plus the interjecting Centre. To move, unbiased, in the direction of any of the four compass points (sub-regions), one would certainly have to begin from the centre – reflecting the concept of the centre as the hold. In our present case, to move into West Africa from a vantage point in Central Africa, being Cameroon, you must of necessity pass through Nigeria!

In a March 2009 interview, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Cameroon, Philip Ali Dauda, said “In five or ten years [Nigeria and Cameroon] will form the bridge between the West African sub-region and the Central African sub-region. Once you have free flow of trade and citizens, the interaction builds very fast. Hence, there will be commonality between the Central and West African regions [which] will impact positively on the rest of Africa. From West Africa, one can easily find expansion towards North Africa. From Central Africa, one will find expansion towards East Africa then towards Southern Africa…”

Nigeria as the Trigger of Africa
To better appreciate this fact, I need the reader to do me a mental favour: Look up a map of Africa and tilt it to the left so that the southern tip (South Africa) faces forward. When you do that, you’ll realise that the map of Africa appears exactly like a short gun. In that wise, when we consider the angle at which the trigger will be placed, we’ll agree that that should be somewhere around the Democratic Republic of Congo’s western border. Now, here’s the big deal with regard to Nigeria: In reality, a trigger is “a device that activates, releases or causes something to happen” or precisely, “[the] lever that activates the firing mechanism of a gun.” Therefore, it is the pulling of the trigger that actually makes it useful! If you pull the trigger on our map of Africa, symbolically represented as a short gun, it will rest squarely against Nigeria!

Indeed, time and again, Nigeria has demonstrated in very many ways, surpassing rivals, its capacity to be the trigger that will ‘shoot’ Africa’s long desired political and socio-economic emancipation into being. I must make the case that one reason why Nigeria is more favourably inclined to clinching an African UN Security Council permanent seat, especially if it will be only one, as opposed to her two most potent opponents of Egypt and South Africa, is majorly her strategic positioning on the map which has given her an edge to be more active in peacekeeping missions continent-wide as against the others who are at either end of the same (North and South, respectively).

Nigeria as the Centre of the World
To be honest, I first gleaned an understanding that Nigeria is at the centre of the world from Dele Momodu! In his 2011 presidential campaigns, Momodu touted an illustration that Nigeria is, and rightly so, geographically speaking, at the centre of the world! As someone who is so much in love with Nigeria, I followed Momodu’s lecture by checking the Equator and the GMT line and discovered that Nigeria is technically interfaced at the angle between them – possessing the largest chunk of the territorial waters within the same. Dele Momodu’s case was that Nigeria can capitalise on that and position herself to be a major commodities and stock market with the understanding and advantage that she is no more than a couple of hours and a few thousand kilometres from all the major world markets, be they the developed or the emerging ones. I concur and add that another significance of Nigeria’s symbolic centralised position on the planet is that we stand the chance to build a nation that will not only play a major and central role in shaping the affairs of men in the next decades and centuries but that can indeed become the centre of attraction for all mankind!

In all, it is evident from the foregoing that, present challenges notwithstanding, Nigeria is another wonder of the world waiting to manifest its glory! Come to think of it, no other country in the world is as strategically positioned as Nigeria is! Nigeria is the gateway into its sub-region. It is the ‘trigger’ to its continent and it is at the centre of the world! What can beat that?

GOD bless Nigeria!

Raymond is on Twitter @Raymond_Eyo

TO BISHOP OYEDEPO: NIGERIA WILL NOT BREAK!   44 comments

I have great respect for Bishop David Oyedepo both as an outstanding Christian minister and as a man who has contributed to boosting Nigeria’s modest progress. As is well-known, Oyedepo has given Nigeria two private universities so far and remains a major moral voice in the country.

Nonetheless, I was taken aback when, in the midst of the myriad of challenges Nigeria is currently faced with, he recently said if Nigeria were to split between North and South, so be it! Oyedepo said, “If the nation will break, let it break. Marriage is not by force.”

Instructively, in a 2003 prophetic statement, Bishop Oyedepo had said Nigeria was going to be a great country by 2013 in Africa and beyond. Admittedly, he has taught that prophecies don’t fulfil themselves – that people take responsibility to fulfil prophecies. Which is why I’m worried that coming on the backdrop of numerous challenges that Nigeria is facing, it is not the most appropriate responsibility to make potentially divisive or tension-inducing statements like the one he made above. If Oyedepo really believes Nigeria is going to be great as he had prophesied, he should know better that, like Job in the Bible, challenges ought not to make him speak less of that belief. Indeed, challenges ought not to make us speak less of our faith in Nigeria’s great destiny!

Bishop Oyedepo and other Christian ministers who hold similar pseudo-divisive opinions about Nigeria should borrow a leaf from Pastor Chris Oyakhilome whose passion for Nigeria is explained by his many passionate public comments in her favour as well as his ministry’s special publications on Nigeria such as the 50th Independence Anniversary Rhapsody. Prophet T. B. Joshua is another minister whose efforts for Nigeria’s good should be emulated. His recent gesture to deliver truck loads of food aid to some Borno State communities, and his regular scholarship grants and other forms of assistance to poor and helpless Nigerians are some of the many pragmatic ways in which Christian leaders can contribute to Nigeria’s progress.

In times of challenges, the last thing leaders of conscience can do is to say things that are prevaricate or that could further spell uncertainty. This particular comment by Oyedepo doesn’t add any value to stakeholder efforts to make Nigeria better. It just shouldn’t have been said!

Bishop Oyedepo will rather efficiently spend his energies on speaking up against the astronomical and increasing rates of social injustice in Nigeria as Ahmed Sule has invited him and a select few of other leading Christian ministers to do so here: http://saharareporters.com/article/plea-seven-ministers-god-we-need-nigerian-christian-leadership-conference.

It is true that marriage is not by force but it is better, especially from a core Christian perspective to seek to mend, than to discard, a frosty marriage. Oyedepo should know this better as his wife is a great marriage counsellor and teacher in her own right.

Those calling for Nigeria’s split should learn a lesson from oil-rich South-Sudan: The predominantly Christian population of Southern Sudan has had quite some deadly conflicts less than a year after independence from their mainly Muslim brothers in the North. In late December 2011, for instance, more than 3,000 people were brutally massacred in the new country in a bloody ethnic violence over cattle ownership. This confirms that beyond the issues of discord with Northern Sudan, access to resources has been problematic in South Sudan as it can be anywhere else – including in a ‘Southern Nigerian Republic’.

Nigeria’s core problem is clearly not the diversity of her people. Rather, it is corruption that has eaten deep into the fabric of our commonality, depriving Nigerians from both the North and the South of the country the needed opportunities to lead a good life. This proofs that denied access to resources is at the base of Nigeria’s problems just like in South Sudan’s case and shouldn’t be construed to be a North-South fractious dichotomy.

In this globalisation era, countries, the world over, are embracing cultural diversity and are still cohabiting peacefully. Diversity and population strengths are a plus in this age and Nigeria cannot afford to take that lightly. It would be wrong for any Nigerian to therefore undermine our country’s multicultural character and attempt to premise its present hardships on that, with the mistaken calculation that those hardships will melt away if the country was split. Beyond cultural diversity, there are a lot more gains for a united than for a divided Nigeria: Higher economic growth potentials, a huge blend of agrarian and mining capacity, a much larger domestic market, a greater and more respected voice in the comity of nations, etc. My friend, Adenike Adebayo, says of our country’s pristine physical endowments: “[Nigeria is a] land of infinite diversity! From lowlands to grasslands to the sahel and back to lush rainforests.” Another friend, Mahmood Badaru, says, “Our cultural differences [comprise] a colourful heritage [and] should be our binding force…” We must safeguard Nigeria’s unity for posterity’s good!

Let me make a Biblical allusion to why I really fault the mostly venerated Bishop Oyedepo’s comment: The Bible teaches that the Church is the Bride of Jesus Christ. For a very long time, Jesus’ bride, the Church, has been an unfaithful partner with many inconsistencies, discordances, and malpractices but Jesus has not called for a split! Jesus continues to believe in His marriage to His bride and continues to encourage her to do the right things. The lesson here is that whilst there may presently be issues of strain between Nigeria’s North and South, imaginary or real, it does not suffice to split Nigeria in two, along those lines – with the naive excuse that marriage is not by force.

When Gaddafi pointedly called for Nigeria to be split in two in 2009 following the crisis sparked by late President Yar’Adua’s long absence, many a Nigerian cleric from both Christian and Muslim sides fervidly condemned him. Oyedepo would surely not want to be cited in Gaddafi’s class as one who made a statement suggestive of not being opposed to such a dissentious call.

Bishop Oyedepo’s ministry will certainly continue to grow – in Africa and beyond but Nigeria will always remain its base. Consequently, Oyedepo will do well to rather pray for peace in Nigeria just as Psalms 122:6 says; as well as to work for Nigeria to remain one – Psalm 122:3 paraphrased says, “[Nigeria] is built as a [country] that is compact together [united].”

Out of their sinister motives, an American agency, some years back, said Nigeria will split in 2015. In fact, in 2008, the US Army began war games, test-prospecting its response to Nigeria’s projected break-up. Out of his supposedly divinely inspired prophetic utterance, Oyedepo, in 2003, said Nigeria would be a great country from 2013 onwards. It would be telling if Oyedepo were to now lend credence to the American projection rather than to what should be a revelation from GOD to him regarding Nigeria’s coming greatness.

I have made public this well-intentioned disagreement with Bishop Oyedepo on this subject because Nigeria is bigger than all of us and, as great a man of GOD as he is, Bishop Oyedepo is also fallible. It is my prayer that Nigeria soon overcomes her present challenges and that Bishop Oyedepo makes amends for this unfortunate gaffe by continuing to be the blessing he is to our beloved country!

GOD bless Nigeria!

Posted March 4, 2012 by Raymond Eyo in Celebrating Nigeria

Tagged with ,