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The Newsmakers

By Morenike Taire

Ann Kio Briggs

Prominent female activist and South south spokesperson Ann Kio Briggs is one of the Nigerian women best placed to bring about socio political change in the country as we know it. It is refreshing when a female political leader is not all about so-called women issues.

This fearless speaker against injustice is a notch above the average, for the very reason that she is not afraid to say what she wants to say. For decades, she has sacrificed immensely for the causes and the people she loves so openly no matter whose ox is gored. She is trusted by her people and admired by other people- the true test of a leader.

Yet, while her ideology is valid, it is fundamentally flawed within the context of today’s Nigeria. It is perceived as being based on Ethnocentrism and tribalism as much as the Awoist was and is, except that the Awoist ideology had fit perfectly the context of its day. And in this digital day of low attention spans, perception is everything.

She is absolutely right to point out the gross levels of underdevelopment in her home Niger Delta, and that is an important point, but to connect that to the struggle for self determination and economic justice is to absolve the leadership of that region including the Niger Delta Development Council? (NDDC) and other developmental bodies set up by the Federal body of their corruption and irresponsibility.

It therefore goes wide off the mark as a tool of activism, as well as a basis for articulating a south south ideology as the country stumbles in the dark in its search for a common ground, a justification for the north/south amalgamation and a workable, sustainable constitution.

Her criticism of Goodluck Jonathan does very little to alleviate this perception and rather confuses it. This position: the position of ethnic socio-political/ socio economic actualization, can only be positively validated under the umbrella of a true fiscal federalism, where the states are contributors to- not dependents on- the ‘wealth’ of the nation.

Nigeria is a business arrangement rather than a nation. Her people are seen as by her government not as citizens but as ‘resources’. There was talk, under the Obasanjo administration of ‘branding’ and ‘rebranding’ Nigeria, and the idea was generally received as one of the sheer genius of Dora Akunyili.

In a business arrangement, it does not matter so much who owns the mineral resources. What matters is who owns the business idea, the technology and who is putting the money on the table. At the end of the day and depending on his negotiation skill, the party that puts the ‘resource’ on the table will get as many shares as the business owners says he will get and this is what the ethnic minorities and majorities both must learn in forging the way forward to a better constitution.

Oby Ezekwesili

N10.6trn controversy: Oby Ezekwesili
Oby Ezekwesili

One of the marks of an intelligent individual is the ability to argue for-or against- a certain issue.

The speech given by erstwhile  Obasanjo girl Oby Ezekwesili in her alma mata in Nsukka has been a subject of much debate, and not surprisingly at all. It was, by any standards, a brilliant speech. It was a classic, written and delivered in faultless style,  and clever enough to provoke thought in the direction the writer/speaker must have envisaged. The reactions afterwards were no coincidence.

Of course the argument could have been in the opposite direction. This could have been Maku criticizing the Obasanjo administration for financial impropriety/ indiscretion/theft. It is the nature of politics in Nigeria – or virtually anywhere in the free world- for parties in or affiliated with political parties in power to criticize the achievement and the lack thereof of political parties out of power and vice versa. The ping pong game accusations and counter-accusations  would hardly have been unusual, but for the undertones and the conspiracy theories.

There are those who swear that though it was the tongue of Mrs. Ezekwesili that said the words, it was really the mouth of Gen. Obasanjo that was speaking in seeking to discredit the Jonathan administration’s Finance policy .

To do this would not be much of a surprise. Jonathan’s Finance Minister , a hand-me-down from the Obasanjo administration, had resigned from the latter when the waves from the sea of intrigues had become too overwhelming. Still, her background- and her economic philosophy- have not changed at all and are unlikely to. This stability is, in fact, one of the things that most endear her to her fans.

The real surprise is that the old godfather would so openly criticize his godson, giving flesh to the rumour of their falling out, and of the father setting up the son for the disgraceful outing with CNN’s Amanpour last week.

Whether or not Ezekwesili was put up to it, after pushing it up and down, left and right, the question remains to be answered and probably always will be: what happened to the excess crude account’s cash, however much it was?

Female Football Statistics

As the Eagles and coach Stephen Keshi get continually demoralized and bashed by Nigerians and outsiders alike, the Falcons are a continuous joy to all, giving skipper Perpetual Nkwocha a point when she asked last week for similar pay for men and women in football. Check out the statistics_

52. Ranking of Nigeria men’s football team in FIFA/Coca Cola world rankings in January 2013

27. Ranking of Nigeria’s women football team in FIFA/ Coca Cola world ranking august 2012

6. The seni or women national team, the Super Falcons, has won six African championships out of seven and has lost only six games to fellow Africans since their debut 21 years ago.

4. The number of times Falcon skipper Perpetual Nkwocha has won the African Women Footballer of the Year title – in 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011.

$200

In May 2012, Congolese girls refused to turn up on pitch against Nigeria until the new sports minister prevailed on the Joseph Kabila government to part with $200 per player, against Nigeria’s $3,000 per player for every match won


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