Saturday, 30 July 2016

Three wars we have misconceptions about 1. The Biafran war was a movement for the liberation of the Igbo tribe from the tyrannical Northern leaders

        This is a misconception held by many Igbo people and indeed northerners as to the main reason for the Nigerian civil war. Now let's get some things clear I am not trying to deny that there was a pogrom in northern Nigeria where Nigerians of southeastern origin were targeted and killed. To Odumegwu Ojukwu's credit he tried to make encourage peace and pleaded with the Igbo's not seek revenge for what had happened instead he told them to come back to the east where he was the Governor of Region.
       Where it all started was the mutiny on July 29 1966 against the head of State  by a group of officers including Murtala Muhammed,T.Y. Danjuma, and co with some soldiers, majority of whom where northerners. This later developed into a coup (or rather counter-coup for the first coup), the coup failed in southeastern Nigeria where Ojukwu was the military governor. The Head of State, General Aguiyi-Ironsi was killed in the coup. On acknowledging his death, Ojukwu insisted that millitary hierarchy should be preserved meaning the most senior army officer alive should take over (Babafemi Ogundipe).
       The coup plotters knowing they had the support of majority of the armed forces and  that relinquishing power to Ogundipe would mean that they would stand trial for the coup refused and insisted that Lt. Colonel Gowon be made Head of State. This did not seat well with Lt Colonel Ojukwu as they of the same rank and he knew that Gowon won't give just punishment to the coup-plotters. Brigadier Ogundipe could not size power because he did not have the support of the majority of military officers and soldiers so the coup-plotters got their way.
      On January 1967 the military leadership went to Aburi Ghana, for a peace conference hosted by General Joseph Ankara.  The agreement was not implemented and on returning to Nigeria, Colonel Odumegwu-Ojukwu declared eastern Nigeria a sovereign state to be known as Biafara saying: "Having mandated me to proclaim on your behalf, and in your name, that Eastern Nigeria be a sovereign independent Republic, now, therefore I, Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, by virtue of the authority, and pursuant to the principles recited above, do hereby solemnly proclaim that the territory and region known as and called Eastern Nigeria together with her continental shelf and territorial waters, shall, henceforth, be an independent sovereign state of the name and title of The Republic of Biafra."(No Place To Hide – Crises And Conflicts Inside Biafra, Benard Odogwu, 1985, pp. 3, 4).
     The main reason for this misconception lies with the education system in Nigeria. The history of the civil war is not addressed in the schools to help the young ones (like me) who did not meet this war to understand it. There are also very few documentation about the war and most of the ones available are so biased that they cannot be used to get to objective conclusions about the war. This has helped people to twist the history of the war and manipulate the emotions of the masses (especially of the young ones that were not alive during the war) for self-serving purposes.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Letter to My Fellow Nigerians

       For the past one year I've noticed a growing anticipation in the south east of Nigeria (the Igbo tribe). This anxiety in the Igbo tribe has lead to strong sentiments for self determination, a yearning to break away from Nigeria and become an independent state. Yes this movement has always been there but since the arrest of the self proclaimed director of the movement, it has become widespread. It's very hard not to see the similarity between this movement and Fidel Castro's movement for the liberation of Cuba from the evil tyrant Batista. Although I admire the zeal and dedication of some of the members of this movement but I have to say am not on board with this movement.
         Nigeria has as I have written in previous articles a lot of problems and so I won't delve into this in this article. I also don't want to delve into the history and origins of Biafra as this will come in later articles. The reason am writing this open letter to my fellow Nigerians who call themselves Biafra is to ask them to check intrinsically "will the formation of Biafra solve the problems in south east Nigeria". I personally do not think so because the problems in south east Nigeria is not just political but cultural. If we solve the political problems in south east Nigeria will it solve the cultural problems in the area? Will this movement for independence of Biafrans actually solve the problems facing south east Nigeria? Is this the right way to fight for independence in the 21st century?
         Let's start with the political aspirations of Biafra, yes Nigeria's political system is very far from ideal but is Biafra offering a better solution to the problem? Have the agitators of Biafra made plans for an independent state? what system of government will be used, will it have central federal government or a unity government? What is the primary source of revenue, what is the estimated GDP? How do we negotiate the split from Nigeria what is the value of the Biafran currency? These and many more are important questions that need to be asked by these agitators are we safer in Nigeria or are we safer with Biafra?
       Let's delve into the security questions, What are the defence capabilities of Biafra? How will they buy weapons for defence? which countries are their allies? If they forcefully split from Nigeria how would they be able be to defend themselves from Nigeria? Have you learnt no lesson from Israel-Palestine conflict or China-Taiwan conflict? It's bad for neighbours to be at odds, it's even worse if you are on the losing team. Is this an internal revolution to make Nigeria better? will it be as bloody as the French revolution (please tell me on time so I can run away)?
       Now let's assume that this issues have been thought through and you still want to become an independent nation the question becomes. "Is this the way to work towards independence?" Even if there is a valid case for independence, there is a way to go about it. This movement has made absolutely no political moves to push their aspirations. It counts on the anger of disgruntled youths who have been neglected by the government (as if it's the Feds job to take care of you). It has also has gotten a lot of supporter who are disgruntled in the way the current government is functioning. There have been somewhat justifiable claims by the people that this government with its actions has show tribalism bias. Although this might be true but let's get something clear, there are representatives of each state on the lower and upper house so why have they been silent on this issue? why have the state representatives who are the officially elected mouth-piece of the people not talking about Biafra. Could it be that Biafra is not a movement for liberation of the Igbo tribe but an opportunity for people disgruntled few to release some frustration in the guise of a political movement.
       With the growing national aspirations of different entities, it is easy to be carried away by the sway of nationalization be it from the Scots the Palestinians the Catalans or even the Brits but we should make sure we don't make an irreversible mistake that we would forever regret. Yes this government might be far from an ideal government but their tenure is limited. If you are disgruntled by the way things are going in the country make personal changes on yourself first, become involved in project Nigeria, vote your conscience in the next election and most importantly don't quit on project Nigeria 

Monday, 25 July 2016

Enthroning Good Governance through Constructive and Objective Political Participation

“The worst illiterate is the political illiterate. He hears nothing, sees nothing, and takes no part in political life. He doesn’t seem to know that the cost of living, the price of beans, of flour, of rent, of medicines, all depend on political decisions. He even prides himself on his political ignorance, sticks out his chest and says he hates politics. He doesn’t know, the imbecile, that from his political non-participation comes the prostitute, the abandoned child, the robber and, worst of all, corrupt officials, the lackeys of exploitative multinational corporations”. 
- Bertolt Brecht 
Popular Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe began his ‘The Trouble with Nigeria’ by unequivocally stating that the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely as a result of leadership failure. While this is true, a people can only get a leadership they deserve, and followers, especially in this age, determine who their leaders are. Nigeria, like most African countries, has strong men and weak institutions. This has enabled a few people to run the country aground, literarily. More than fifty years after independence, not much has changed and the Nigerian people are frustrated. Successive administrations have paid lip service to the yearnings of the people. The Nigerian Government, at all levels, is notoriously corrupt. The Nigerian people are neglected and their desires trampled under feet, yet they do not bat an eyelid – but therein lies the problem, the fact that we have not bat an eyelid.
Our capacity to endure injustice is astonishing, and while we make comic staples out of our gory state and be reputed as Africa’s funniest people, our nation has all the trappings of a failed state – no thanks to us. While it is easy for us to, in hindsight, come up with a few scapegoats upon whom we place the blame for Nigeria’s downward spiral, we cannot absolve ourselves of all blameworthiness and we must agree with Edmund Burke that, ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’. By doing nothing, we have conspired with our leaders to jeopardize our national destiny.
Today, we are reaping the consequences of our inaction. With the discovery at Oloibiri in 1956 and first shipment to Rotterdam in 1958, we contracted the ‘oil curse’, abandoned other sectors, and transformed our country into a ‘Banana Republic’. With plummeting oil prices, we face a bleak and uncertain future, this is occurring at a time when the Naira has approached a 40 year low and we have near empty coffers. At least fifty percent of the 2016 budget would be funded through borrowing.
Corruption is widespread and institutionalized. Malam Aminu Kano held this view when he said that the only way to fight corruption was to round up all Nigerians and drown them in Lake Chad. We bribe our way through every situation and institutions set up to protect the people have turned against the common man, even justice is now available to the highest bidder while crooks and charlatans ascend delicate and hallowed national thrones.
Despite annual allocations of billions of dollars, our infrastructure is decrepit and, in most cases, non-existent or insufficient. We host the highest population of Internally Displaced Persons in the world, and a sizeable population of Nigerians live in poverty, we die daily, from both avoidable and unavoidable circumstances yet there seems to be no plans to ameliorate our plight. Simply put, life is cheap in Nigeria. That these can be said about Nigeria, so blessed with human and natural resources, is a paradox, a ‘Paradox of Plenty’.
What can we do? The common man in the streets, the silent majority. We must hold our leaders to account and serve them their marching orders whenever we do not earn Returns on Investment. This may sound very difficult but it is quite easy. We must not always look to the centre, we have Ward Councilors, Local Government Chairmen, State Governors and members in various houses of parliament, and these also should be scrutinized, for all politics is local. If we notice anomalies in our constituencies and seek their correction, we would soon be churning out responsible representatives.
This is a time for us to be patriotic, if not for national interests, let us be patriotic for our own interests as the political climate of the day affects even the rats in our rooms. Some of us are engaged in petty battles while we lose the war, these battles have ethnic, religious, and regional coloration. The current Dasukigate should serve as a lesson to us all as Dasuki’s ‘generosity’ transcended regional and religious divides. Our real enemies are those that use our mandate to serve their selfish interests, irrespective of where they come from, what language they speak, or who they pray to.
We must jettison the inexcusable indifference that has characterized our relationship with our leaders and nudge awake from our irrational inertia, this is a call for every Nigerian to become a ‘politician’ of some sort, always holding the leaders we elected accountable and making sure we are being steered in the right direction.
With patriotic perseverance, fire in our bones, and the justness of our cause, we shall prevail. This would be possible when we participate in ways we can, scrutinize decisions, and perform our civic duties. We cannot afford to fail, for Nigeria is the only country we can call our own. The fault, dear Nigerians, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
May God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Innocent Okoro

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Quick Reply 2

So a friend made a comment "Nigeria is already a failed state". So I think I have to explain why I don't think Nigeria is a failed state, not yet at least.

          Let's get this straight, Nigeria is failing. It has been failing for a long time, maybe since independence with small periods of respite (improvement). The main theme still remains that since independence, Nigeria has found it hard to self-govern, to autonomously make good decisions that will be better for Nigeria. With military dictatorships and even democratic dictatorships, Nigeria has never had a leader accountable to the people, the Nigerian people too have not done a lot to improve Nigeria.
       Sorry I digressed a bit the question was simply why did I not classify Nigeria as a failed state? The reason why I won't classify Nigeria as a failed state is that Nigeria with all it's negatives (mostly man-made) still have some positives.
1.  Nigeria thanks largely to it's oil reserves have a high GDP and has a relatively high revenue base
2. Nigeria is also a target for big industries as a block of market, this is because of it's population, Although Nigeria has not been able to maximize the potentials of having a large potential like India, China, U.S.A  thanks to it's high GINI ratio (if you don't know what that means go and read the article)
 
       Yes Nigeria has a lot of problems and it is in a slow but steady decline (A very dangerous decline) but we can't compare Nigeria with countries like Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan and co. Yes, the Fragile State Index (FSI) puts Nigeria as the 13th most fragile country in the world but just this time I'll like to say "The experts are wrong, Nigeria is not that fragile".

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Quick Reply

So a friend asked me about a week ago to speculate on what will happen to the UK after the split, something I really dread doing. Speculating is a tough thing to do as there are a lot of moving variables we can't account for but am going to give it the old college try
Best Case Scenarios
1. They renegotiate a trade deal quick and fast with the EU, US China and India (this would be relatively easier than the rest). Renegotiating a deal is going to be very tricky cos the UK has a relatively low population compared to those entities mentioned but a booming middle class(the target market aka the consumer class) and prior economic ties gives them a leverage during negotiations.
2. Brexit can lead to Frexit and Spexit and this would ultimately the dissolution of the EU. That simply means one less Big block to negotiate with
3.This forces the British people to work extra harder and become top manufacturers, titans of industries and movers of the markets
Worst Case Scenarios
1. If you read my article on this topic or followed the news on Brexit you have realized that Scotland voted overwhelmingly in favor of the EU and would feel hard done that their views and votes basically was drowned out by other countries. This might make the Scottish ask for another referendum to leave the UK and stay in the EU thereby reducing the population of the UK, leaving with their oil and weaken the UK's influence around the world
2. If the negotiations with the EU drags out for too long it would make people uncertain of the UK market and reduce investment into the UK market leading to a recession
3. The British would be more dependent on the United States making them have an even smaller independent voice in the world

Now These are my views and there are many more but with this few I've given I want to just show you that these speculations are just nothing but made up things we can't be sure of and can't accurately predict. The only thing I can say is GOOD LUCK BRITS!!!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

OVERVIEW OF THE EUROPEAN UNION, BREXIT AND THE ROLE IMMIGRATION PLAYED

           The European Union as most historians like to remember it, a view also shared by the European Union on its website, was set up with aim of ending the frequent and bloody wars between neighbors, which culminated in the Second World War. In 1950 the European coal and steel community (ECSC) began to gain economic alliances between countries in Europe to increase the economic profits between the various countries.  These countries were Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, and Netherlands. There was also a sense of peace keeping, a political alliance which was as a result of the mutual economic understanding between those countries, this was because of the investments made by these countries on each other. This in actuality meant that it would be in the interest of all the countries involved if there was peace in the member states of the alliance, as basically an attack on any of the countries in the alliance would cause a sizable financial constraint on the other countries.
         Meanwhile after the end of World War II in 1945, the United Kingdom was one of the four major powers in the world with United States (obviously), China, and Russia. Britain was also the one of the original signatories to the declaration of the United Nations. The UK then actually became one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and hence it's power of veto. The financial toll of the war seemed to weaken the British economy. In years after the war, the labour party started an aggressive program that reformed most of the UK's public utilities by nationalizing them and basically turning the UK to a welfare state. The rise of Nationalism from colonies of Britain and subsequent independence also helped reduce Britain geopolitical influence and indeed further weakened the British economy  around the world.    
          The 1950's brought about a war of civilization which is most commonly referred to as the "cold war". This was a war between the eastern part of Europe and the western part of Europe supported by the United States of America. In 1957, the treaty of Rome created the European Economic Community (EEC), or common market to combat the already growing powers of the Soviet Union under the leadership of Russia.
           In 1973 the European Community enlarged to include Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Denmark and Iceland held their referendums in 1972, October and may respectively while the United Kingdom held theirs in 1975. The Labour party in 1974 set out arrangements and procedure for the UK's first ever referendum. The referendum was held on 5 June 1975 in all parts of the United Kingdom, there was a massive turnout of voters, that were approximately 65%, in the result, 67.23%(17,378,581) of the people voted to join the EEC in which all the constituent countries voted in favor.
         On 1 November 1993, the Maastricht treaty became effective, creating the European Union. The European Union was a merger of the foreign and home affairs of various countries with the European Community and hence it became intrinsically not just an economic but also a political alliance. The European single market was already developing but did not come to full establishment until the beginning of 1994, this treaty guaranteed the free movement of goods, services and capital, thereby further extending the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA). The euro (single currency) was also established in the Maastricht treaty. To become eligible to use the euro there were certain rules put in place. The United Kingdom and Denmark were grated exemptions on their request to not join the single currency zone. According to a European report on the website of the EU (europa.eu) in 2015, the Euro is being used by some 337 million Europeans and 210 million people Worldwide. The monetary policy of the Eurozone is determined by the European Central Bank.
        The 1990's gave rise to the European Union implementing certain policies to take part in peace keeping under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). The "failure" of the EU in the Bosnia and Herzegovina, which resulted in the largest mass murder since the second World War II made nationalists skeptical of the EU. The 2008 financial crisis in the United States and fears of a sovereign debt crisis in 2009 led to an economic crisis in the European Union especially in the Eurozone. Six years after the crash one in four young people in the Eurozone are unemployed, more than half the young people in Spain and Greece are unemployed. A lot of people blamed specific policies supported by the EU commission, the ECB, the austerity measures imposed by the Troika and having a single currency in such a diverse area. This crisis led to the rise of fringe nationalist parties and anti- EU parties like the British Nationalist Party(BNP), UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), Front Nationale (France), and the Golden Dawn(Greece) to name a few. 
       With the rise of anti-EU sentiments in the UK, the growing fear of immigrants taking over the country, especially migrants from third world countries. It was only a matter of time before the growing number of anti-EU, anti-immigration forces would be able to get a referendum. The European Union Referendum bill in 2013-2014 failed but a new bill with the same objective, the European Union Referendum Act of 2015, was introduced by the newly elected conservative government in May 2015  and was passed and received royal accent in December 2015. The prime minister of Britain, David Cameron in 2013 pledged to renegotiate the EU deal with the UK and put it's result to a referendum. The negotiation for a new deal with the EU was a long process of negotiations, starting from the European Council meeting on June 25-26 till a deal was finally struck in the EU summit in Brussels, on the 18 of December 2015. A referendum was set for June 23 2016.  
       There were a lot of issues why people wanted to leave the EU, like the undemocratic nature of the EU, the trying and "failure" of the EU to become a political force, but the reason that most people wanted to leave the EU was the migration/Refugee crisis facing the EU.  The EU was blamed for the migration "crisis" in Britain although they were not part of the Schengen agreement (Schengen is the free movement of people across borders without the need of  a passport) by the leave campaigners (those campaigning for the UK to leave the EU). The difference from people migrating from other EU countries to the UK was 184,000 according to the ONS (Office of National Statistics) in 2015 but the difference of migrants from non-EU states was 188,000 also according to the ONS. There are approximately 3 million non-British EU citizens living in the UK according to the ONS and approximately 1.2 million Britons living in other EU countries. The leave camp also sighted one of there reason for trying to leave the EU was Turkey's impending "accelerated" accession into the EU although the UK has the power to block it's entry just like any other member state of the EU with it's Veto power. To sidetrack a bit, am still wondering why the leave campaigners were so worried about Turkey joining the EU if they satisfy the necessary requirements to join? Is it because, to quote the former French Prime Minister Nicolas Sakozy said "Do we want the river of Islam to enter the river bed of secularism"? Are they skeptical of the Islamic faith? Please give me your views in the comment section. Other concerns over Migration sighted, were also the skepticism of the leave camp to allow refugees from war torn countries like Syria, Libya to come to the EU, as clearly shown by the ad made by the UKIP leader Nigel Farage showing a poster refugees (predominately brown skinned) titled "Breaking Point", or the systemic smearing of the Romanian people in the UK by the UKIP party, calling them thieves, fraudsters, etc. There were also a lot of racist/ xenophobic attacks by the leave campaign, the most striking of which was Borris Johnson's attack (the defacto head of the leave campaign) on President Obama, he basically accused him of being unable to give solid unbiased advise to the people of the UK because of his ethnicity, Obama's father is a Kenyan, a former member of the British colony  (imagine if Trump had said such a thing!).  
          The refugee crisis in Europe as a result of different civil wars in Syria, Libya, Yemen, etc. This implied that the European Union countries were being overrun by refugees as top leaders like David Cameron and Nicolas Sakozy to name a few said. The truth is that the EU has massively overstated their hospitality to refugees, in fact 80% of refugee are in developing countries according to reports from the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees), 16% are in Europe. Also according to unconfirmed reports from Mehdi Hassan's Upfront 350,000 Syrians have applied for asylum in the EU which is basically works itself out to 0.069% of the population of the EU, while Britain has resettled 187 refugees as of August of 2015. Although the numbers have increased slightly (fullfact.org puts the amount of Syrian refugees in UK at 5000 out of the 4.1 million people displaced) there is still an overwhelming statistics that shows how hard it is for refugees to come to the EU. This did not stop people like Nigel Farage to use this refugees to scare people to join his cause, like the ad that called European passports "ISIS greatest weapon" and so many other  similar "low blows".
      The whole Brexit campaign on Immigration was not only about EU migrants/refugees, but also an attack on religious and racial minorities in the UK. Just as London and indeed the UK were being praised for electing their first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan the mood seemed to change immediately as the referendum brought out a huge sense of nationalism in the UK. This sense of nationalism was not only shown by the political class, but was shown by a diversified people, from racist comments by blue collar workers on social media, to high level academics like Professor Sir Paul Collier in his book Exudus wrote that, "Unsurprisingly Nigerian Immigrants to other societies tend to be  untrusting and opportunistic" and David Goodhart who in his book implies that, for a sustainable social balance Britain that there should be more "white British people" in other to avoid segregation, simply put both men like many others want a reduced number of immigrants into the UK especially people from places that are not predominately white.
        With the die already been cast, the question is what will happen to the immigrants in the UK from the EU, the truth is nobody actually knows. Negotiations with the EU will determine their future, so basically everybody is speculating about the outcome. Since the vote for Brexit there has been a massive rise in racism, Islamophobia, bigotry, etc. The mayor of London has asked the police to be more vigilant. The truth remains that there is a huge number of people who do not want the immigrants to stay, and with this platform found a way to vent. There is no need for unnecessary speculation about the faith of the UK outside the EU as there are too many variables to consider, the best thing is to take this journey into uncharted territory carefully and hope for the best.