IT has been the worst of times in Nigeria; this past month. The harvest of deaths has troubled Nigerians in ways that hack back to the frightening days of the civil war. There are very few places in Nigeria today that do not have the re-inforced presence of security forces.
LAST week working people celebrated May Day, the international day of working class solidarity. Since 1981, May Day has become a national holiday in Nigeria.
LAST Thursday in Washington, USA, Kingsley Kuku, President Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Niger Delta and chairman, presidential amnesty programme, gave us a peek into the mindset of the administration current in power in Nigeria.
WHEN the story broke last week, that Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had ORDERED Information Minister, Labaran Maku, to punish Yushau Shuaibu, spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), for daring to criticise her, I wasn’t too surprised really.
IT is certainly one of the biggest stories of the week. The embattled National Chairman of the ruling PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, took time away from the desperate battle he is fighting for survival, within the party, to rally the troops. Not the best of times at the head of the party, and more often than not, putting out the fires lit by political enemies, the chairman was for once receiving a friendly delegation of a Southwest caucus of the PDP.
WHEN Margaret Thatcher died on Monday, we were guaranteed an outpouring of emotions as diverse and divided as she was in her political career.
I LEFT Abuja last Friday morning to celebrate the Easter holiday in Ilorin. I had not been back home since the first week of January, because I have been sucked into the exacting job of trying to be a media entrepreneur, in the past five months. I have been travelling in many directions, but going to Ilorin was not part of the package.
MY earliest encounter with Chinua Achebe was not the usual “suspect”; his trailblazing work, Things Fall Apart. That came a bit later. I had my earliest encounter with Africa’s greatest writer, with Chike And The River. It was set in Onitsha, against the backdrop of the majestic River Niger.
OUR quotation above was taken from the impromptu speech made at the weekend, by Godswill Akpabio, the Akwa Ibom governor, during the South-South leg of the PDP’s reconciliation tour. As newspapers all reported last Monday, the six South-South PDP chairmen all chorused that they were truly “hungry”, and before anyone could spell Uyo, Akpabio gave a total of N6 million to the “hungry” chairmen for “lunch”.
AFTER running out of a stock of ridiculous excuses, President Goodluck Jonathan finally plucked the courage to visit Borno and Yobe states, last week. As if to underline the various strands of prejudice which have informed official security thinking since the commencement of the Boko Haram insurgency, three thousand policemen were deployed to secure the presidential visit, commanded by the IGP himself!
THE story broke last week that President Goodluck Jonathan will soon visit Borno state.
HE was the “most natural” choice for the position. Chief Tony Anenih, is the “new” Chairman of the PDP’s Board of Trustees. The old dinosaur is back to where he loves the most: as the central figure, inside the smoke-filled, inner recess of PDP politics.
LAST Sunday evening, Nigeria’s nomenclatura gathered inside the Banquet Hall of the Aso Villa, to celebrate one of the wonders of modern Nigeria; the return from death of First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan. It was a solemn spiritual event; a power show; a fashion statement extraordinaire and a political gathering, all rolled into one.
IT was no surprise to followers of Nigerian football, and the cutthroat politics underlining it, when Coach Steven Keshi announced his resignation, after becoming the second African to win the Nations Cup as player and coach.
REUBEN ABATI was at his most combative last Sunday, with his withering attack on “The Hypocrisy of Yesterday’s Men”.
THE struggle for factional hegemony within the PDP got messier last week, when Chief E.K. Clark, the grand Mandarin of Ijaw nationalism and “honorary godfather” to President Goodluck Jonathan, frontally took on the president’s most formidable ‘in-house’ opponents: The PDP governors and former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
What Oxfam will not say, is that neoliberal capitalism has put loads of money in the pockets of the Aliko Dangotes and Femi Otedolas (with their new yachts toys), but it has pauperized the mass of Nigerians.
IT was the much-lamented Chief Sunday Awoniyi, a founding member of the party that once described the PDP as “a basket of scorpions stinging themselves to death”. Judging by all that happened in recent weeks, there can be no better description of the behemoth which holds Nigeria in a stifling bear-hug since 1999!
THE beginning of a New Year has become very instructive in understanding the Jonathan presidency. Last year as Nigerians were coming to terms with expenses incurred during the Christmas/New Year festivities, President Goodluck Jonathan imposed a punishing increase of prices of petroleum products on the country.
IT is a New Year. We all renew hope and make resolutions. I have never been particularly conformist about many things in life. From childhood, I have asked uncomfortable questions and thrown pebbles at orthodoxies. The conventional wisdom has never satisfied my search for answers about our often mysterious but lovely world, either the natural world that conditions us and which we are very much part of or the social canons of existence. So resolutions at the beginning of a new year often resembled for me, an admission of human weakness. If there is a thing to change, why wait till the beginning of a new year? But just for once, I fell into line and made a resolution which I have never betrayed.
THE most iconic image last week might have been lost to most of our compatriots; what with the tragic chopper accident which claimed the lives of leading politico-security officials of the Nigerian state, in Bayelsa state. As we commiserate with the families of the deceased, the accident underlined further, the sorry pass that we arrived at as a nation.
THERE has been a solemnity about the city of Kaduna since the story broke of the tragic death of Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa at the weekend. In death, Nigerians have been united in appreciation of the human decency of the late governor. I never had the privilege to meet the man, but when I broke the story to Kabir Mato, he paused for a while and then said: “we have lost a gentleman; a decent gentleman”!
THIS week, General Theophilus YakubuDanjuma’s 75th birthday ceremony occasioned an outpouring of generous tributes from many people and a harvest of advertisements for Nigerian newspapers.
BELIEVE me; but I have spent the past week looking for a rebuttal of the story. Last Wednesday, November 28th, DAILY SUN carried the report on its page 8; the Nigerian government had begun discussions on the privatisation of Nigerian prisons. Interior Minister, Patrick Abba Moro, disclosed the “privatisation gone berserk” plan “to leave prisons management into the private hands (SIC)”. There is nothing unusual about discussions within governments.
LAST week Friday, many Nigerian newspapers carried on their front pages, the picture of Tony B-LIAR, former British Prime Minister, surrounded by the Sultan of Sokoto, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and other religious leaders.
THE passing of Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki, last week, triggered an outpouring of tributes from all over the country.
SOME moments stick out in the public space, not just for the drama of the occasion, but for the fundamental impact they make on our appreciation of the depth of the rot which envelopes us as a country. One of such moments happened the other day, within the haloed precincts of Nigeria’s presidency.
LONG before it became accepted wisdom, I had been an advocate of negotiation with the Islamist organisation, Boko Haram.
I AM writing these lines at the Charles DeGaulle Airport in Paris. I’m on transit to Abuja, after a troubling transatlantic flight which started from Los Angeles, California, through Atlanta and over the eastern part of the US, which was literally in lockdown as a result of the hurricane. News of that dominated the airwaves in my last two days in America.