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Between Gov Zulum’s Conscience And His Godfather – By Charles Ibekwe

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The true worth of leaders is measured by their consistency. True leaders are known for jutting and upholding truth; avoiding actions which might erode public confidence in them. That’s why Bulgarian-born writer, Maria Popova Maria reasoned that “Greatness is consistency driven by a deep love of the work.”

In today’s world, most characters speak before they think. That’s the accident of nature and the burden destiny has foisted on others. Leaders should try as much as possible to avoid what is commonly referred to as slip of the tongue.

That’s why true leaders are not flippant. A leader measures his words and actions. A leader does not recklessly parrot like a woman under menstruation. Leaders who speak based on spur of the moment are the most untrustworthy specie of homo sapiens. Jack weatherford cautioned that “if you can’t swallow your pride, you can’t lead.”

Borno state Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum is fast becoming a mere shadow of an ideal leader. In Nigeria’s Second Republic, some politicians were reputed for frivolous public comments. He was later derogatively branded as suffering from diarrhea of the mouth. It is Zulum’s greatest undoing and nightmare at the moment. Reed Markham says, “Successful leaders see the opportunities in every difficulty, rather than the difficulty in every opportunity.”

Gov. Zulum praises the Nigerian Military and President Muhammadu Buhari over counter-insurgency operations today and by the break of dawn, he begins to chant all manner of abusive hallucinations on the same people he eulogized over the same matter. A Governor should rise above such prisms. A Professor should not reason or act like an infantile.

Unfortunately, that’s the toga Gov. Zulum garbs now. The Governor feels no one else in Nigeria is concerned about Boko Haram insurgency and ISWAP terrorism in Borno state, except him. It’s a wrong impression by whatever interpretation. Gov. Zulum is prodded to learn some wisdom from Brian Tracy’s counsel; “Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” Zulum is not a follower, but a leader of his people.

Zulum has committed too many gaffes on the counter-insurgency operations in Borno, his home state, where he is also the Governor and the Chief Security officer. He spites others, but avoids a step in the direction of the glaring solutions on containing Boko Haram in Borno.

Every life is sacred and so also, the lives of others who stake their necks to ensure the people of Borno have peace and security. They are also human and have families. They have blood running in their veins like any other human being. Gov. Zulum cannot elect upon himself to constantly disgorge upbraids on the same people.

When the Auno Boko Haram attacks on travellers happened, President Buhari cut short his foreign trip to pay a condolence visit to the people of Borno. In Gov. Zulum’s remarks, he spoke of resurgence terrorists’ attacks in the state, which ironically happens to be the only state still held on the jugular by Boko Haram terrorists.

Zulum paid glowing tributes to the administration of President Buhari for dousing the fires of Boko Haram in the state. The Governor was detailed that before the Buhari Presidency, over17 LGAs in the state were under the serfdom of Boko Haram.

And not long ago, Gov. Zulum paid an official visit to the leader of the counter-insurgency operations and Nigeria’s COAS, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai at the Army Headquarters in Abuja. Zulum released a carefully crafted symphony of eulogies, on the Army and the Nigerian Military for their relentless efforts in putting out the fires of Boko Haram insurgency and ISWAP terrorism in his state. Many mistook his utterances as genuine and reflective of the true realities in the warfront in Borno.

Undeniably, the Nigerian Military have been doing their best in the counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast. Even an outsider knows this fact! Why Boko Haram still strives in Borno state is because it has been commercialized and politicized by Zulum’s tribesmen; himself a recent recruit into the clan of sabs. No amount of blackmail or diatribes by the Governor against the Military would distort this truth.

And from every indication, it appears some political elites in the state, as now symbolized by Gov. Zulum enjoys the business of terrorism in Borno. It is rash for Zulum to think he can mesmerize Nigerians or callously and deviously reprimand the Military over the endless Boko Haram in his state. In the whole of Northeast now, only Borno still glamorizes Boko Haram.

The Chief of Army Staff is not a fool! He is a knowledgeable soldier and a unique professional infantry combatant with a record of excellence in all assignments for many years, within and abroad. As soon as he stepped on the hotbed of leading counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria, he introduced the “stick and carrot” approach, combining both kinetic and non-kinetic weapons in battling terrorism.

The non-kinetic approach has yielded impressive results over the years with the massive surrenders of Boko Haram top commanders and foot soldiers since the last quarter of 2015 to date. It was a master stroke in insurgency combats.

It is expected that the political, religious and community leadership of Borno would buy into this agenda as a secured means of ending terrorism in the state. But Gov. Zulum has ignored it; his other political elites have shunned it and the business class in the state have never and do not ever contemplate it. They are just playing politics with it. And Gov. Zulum goes out unconscionably to scout for scapegoats to blame.

The recent comments of Gov. Zulum in Jakana, where Boko Haram sneaked an attack on travelers, where he berated the Army and accused them of failing to protect commuters along the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway were truly reckless and unguarded. Zulum harshly reproached the Army, the Rapid Response Squad, vigilantes, local hunters and everybody involved in the counter-insurgency operations. It was nonsensical of him!

Gov. Zulum outrightly proclaimed that ‘the Nigerian Army has failed in discharging their responsibility of protecting the commuters and quite expectedly forecasted that “… how can they (military) keep us with the hope they will defeat the Boko Haram?” This statement betrayed Zulum’s inner plots and his co-conspirators who are unprepared for the exculpation of Borno state from Boko Haram for purely political gains.

It absolutely nonsensical for Gov. Zulum to arrogate to himself the power and clairvoyance to determine when Boko Haram would end or the impossibility of defeating it. Let Zulum and his partners in this evil tell Nigerians why only Borno and the Northern axis of the state is refusing to let go Boko Haram terrorism?

Zulum knows the game plan and intentions of his political godfathers. That’s why he praises the military today on counter-insurgency operations and lambasts the same Military on Boko Haram. Stupidity is nobody’s baptismal name. Its not good to tag a Professor as foolish. But the arguments canvassed by Gov. Zulum in Jakana are sadly foolish and silly.

A professor should reason better. He should know that in an unconventional war like Boko Haram insurgency combats, occasional security breaches or setbacks could occur. It happens everywhere in other countries under the spell of terrorism. But it does not qualify those dousing this fire as failures as preached by Zulum.

Zulum and his political godfathers have first failed their people. They are exploiting Boko Haram for political and commercial gains. Its an open secret now. If Gov. Zulum doubts it, let him courageously come out publicly and challenge former Borno Governors like Senators Ali Modu Sherrif and Kashim Shettima on whose wings he has ascended to the prime position of Borno’s Governor.

This is the problem. Gov. Zulum knows the truth. He is a man entangled in the web of godfatherism at one end and his ethnic stock who have refused to tackle the Boko Haram problems. Zulum hedges the convoking of a broad-based stakeholders dialogue in Borno over Boko Haram to speak truth to themselves. He is afraid such a forum would a platform for some people to spill the beans and the vaunted secrets on why Boko Haram has refused to depart from Borno.

Gov. Zulum knows, his immediate political godfather, Sen. Shettima beats him in dark rooms each time he publicly tells the truth about Boko Haram and the effectiveness of Military operations in the state. Shettima is a soulless leader and he threatens Zulum with withdrawal of re-election ticket for 2023, if he supports the military. These are things known to many Borno people.

For the Machiavellian Sen. Shettima, Boko Haram should not vanish and there must not be any local government elections; there should be no accountability to the people in order to keep milking Borno. And Boko Haram insurgency offers an automatic excuse-there is no security in the state. So, they cannot make the Nigerian Military their scapegoats!

The persistence of Boko Haram diverts attention from probing Shettima’s past tenure as a two-tenured Governor of Borno. Gov. Zulum should be more circumspect henceforth. Let him demonstrate his sincerity by fighting Boko Haram on the open dialogue plane in the state. They should not force Nigerians to believe Leo Tolstoy’s ideology that “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Ibekwe wrote this piece from Abuja.

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Opinion

Nigeria And Her Betrayal By Diaspora – By Thomas Uzah PhD

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Interventions on the political and economic fronts by Nigerians in the Diaspora have been anything but complimentary of our leaders, systems and policies.

It is as if once our intellectuals find their feet in other shores, they develop a contemptuous mindset towards their country and anything happening in the country is viewed from negative prisms.

These Diasporans become perpetual critics whose thirst for castigating Nigerian leaders and their policies is hardly satisfied.

This posture had made many patriotic citizens to conclude that most of these Nigerians living in foreign countries are driven by regime hate hence are not capable of critically and objectively dissecting the situation they choose to interrogate not to talk of proffering  positive solutions.

Rather than come up with ideas for the political and socioeconomic upliftment of their people, Nigerians in the Diaspora have constituted themselves into a nation of nay sayers, cynics and pessimists trying hard to drag the Nigerian state down. 

It is typical of comments from there to reduce every economic breakthrough to happenstance, every good policy to a mere mistake while challenges are elevated as the norm.

While the nationals of other countries seek ways to better their country through researches and pooling of funds from their host countries, the Nigerian Diaspora community is more interested in seeing itself as an opposition party. 

In the 70s, it was a group of Malaysians in the Diaspora who stumbled on the Nigerian palm fruits  and through researches, were able to extract pure vegetable oil from the fruit which they now export to other countries.

But decades after we have sent our sons and daughters to the most technologically advanced countries, our mothers and sisters are still using grinding stones to grind pepper while our men are still using raffia to climb palm trees.

Good and commercially viable agricultural products still perish on their ways to the market because there’s no means of preserving them.

While they have failed in their patriotic duties of using their experiences to help in the development of their country, they appear unrelenting in the bid to rubbish whatever progress Nigeria is making.

This was why when Nigeria was categorised as one the fastest developing economies in the world, it did not make an impression on these set of intellectuals, neither have they said anything since our military turned the tide against terrorists and insurgents that have been disturbing the peace of the country.

Unofficial reports state that there are about 15 million Nigerians in the diaspora and can be found in most countries of the world especially the United States and the UK, followed by South Africa, UAE and other European countries such as Italy and Spain. 

The largest Nigerian Diaspora community is in the US with around followed by the UK.

A survey conducted in the US indicated that Nigerians in the US are one of the highest educated migrant groups.

The survey found that 29% of the Nigerian diaspora older than 25, held a master’s degree, Ph.D. or an advanced professional degree compared to 11% of the US population overall. 

It is said that no country in Sub-Saharan Africa receives more remittances than Nigeria, estimated by the World Bank at around 24.3B per year and 6% of GDP.

This makes Nigeria the sixth country in the world in remittance inflows. 

This ordinarily should have been celebrated as it is quite huge, but the benefits of such potentials are hardly seen at home. This id because they are only channelled towards luxurious and personal interests. Hardly are the inflows invested into the Nigerian economy with a view to ensuring a multiplier effect.

They are remittances through family ties and have not been substantial enough to jump start any aspect of the economy, let alone develop one.

Even the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, which “has the responsibility to coordinate and organize Nigerians in and from the Diaspora to contribute human capital and material resources, including their expertise, for the development of Nigeria and its constituent states,” has not been forthcoming in that regard. 

Worse still, many of the Nigerians in the Diaspora, wreak havoc of the image of Nigeria by their involvement in crime across the continents.

A release by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for America in year 2020 showed that Nigerian citizens are among the leading nationals in crime.  

Clearly, they have become bad influences on their home country by becoming emergency activists who go out to ruin the peace of the country . 

It has even been alleged that some of their unpatriotic interventions are sponsored to destabilise Nigeria for which they receive financial gratification. 

But these have got to stop. Nigerians abroad must start seeing the good in their country and project same to the world. They must serve as the catalyst for technological advancement and steer clear of the underground moves to use them to destabilise their own country .

Uzah PhD is Head, Mass Communication Department, Kwararafa University Wukari.

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Opinion

ICC: Understanding The Insurgency Within Insurgency – By Richard Murphy

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Nigeria has for over a decade been enmeshed in an intractable insecurity mess due to the unfortunate conspiracy against it by notable international bodies like the ICC and Amnesty International among others, and kowtowing the script of the renegade and insurgents on its soil.

This is indeed a very unfortunate and dreadful situation, as the plot of these people is to ensure a systematic breakup of the country, after it has inexplicably defied all their wicked predictions.

What is unclear or absurd to some, is how it is taking the Nigerian Armed Forces so long to totally bring the insurgents to a complete halt. Given the dare-devil and mindless mindset displayed by these faceless groups, such people are unaware of the huge obstacles strewn on the paths of the Armed Forces in curtailing internecine wars.
In the first place, the Armed Forces of every country is primarily trained and conditioned to wage wars against external aggression and defend its territorial boundaries only.

So, the Nigerian Armed Forces are saddled with a task that they were never prepared for, against their professional ethics to turn their guns against the very citizens they are supposed to protect. This is made more complex when one notes that the insurgents and terrorists are mingled with the civilian population, while the troops are in clear view of the renegades to pick out as guinea pigs.

It is indeed a very sad and miserable situation the Nigerian Armed Forces have found themselves in.
It is therefore most uncharitable for hitherto respected international bodies like the ICC and Amnesty International, to always rise up to the defense of the insurgents, any time the scale of balance is tilted against them.

It is a monumental shame for ICC that ought to know better to allege that the troops are either using excessive force or committing crimes against humanity, when routing the same insurgents that could stop at nothing and deploy any means to prosecute their macabre insidious agenda.

While it is understood that the Armed Forces are under obligation to ensure civilian casualties are minimized in the course of their operations, there is no justification for setting any standards for the Nigerian troops, unless to incapacitate them, faced with the potent danger like terrorism and insurgency.

It is absurd and lamentable that the ICC and its cohorts rather than call these deranged elements to order, or chart a path to ease the crisis, would prefer to stoke the embers of the inferno and tactically fuelling the insurgency further. Less we forget, the International Criminal Court is an international organization and as well a Tribunal that sits in The Hague, in Netherlands, is the first and only permanent International Court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

It is in every material fact intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore exercise its jurisdiction, only when National courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute such crimes.
Against this backdrop, the antics of ICC and it’s cohorts to level allegations of excess force or crimes against humanity on Nigerian troops, smacks of deep hatred for the Nigerian people and a deliberate ploy to frustrate the Government from overcoming this scourge. If the ICC is sincere in its obligation to protect humanity and human rights, what stops it from condemning the posture of the insurgents and terrorists who are bent on rubbishing Nigeria’s Sovereignty?

It is evident and crystal clear that the ICC’s claims must be aimed at discrediting the gains being recorded by the Nigerian troops, which according to the National Coordinator of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, (CNM) Patriot Sabo Odeh, is a vivid attempt to undermine the efforts of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

This explains why ICC and Amnesty International, always abashedly raise their voices to stop the momentum in their nefarious bid to not only prolong the insurgency war but to as well demoralize the Nigerian troops and invariably embarrass the Government.

It is in the light of these facts that the Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai and the CNM boss , earlier urged the troops to discountenance ICC allegations and remain focused on the task at hand.

ICC, Amnesty international and their cohorts have no moral fabric to question how Nigeria deals with its internal security challenges, not after they have demonstrated times without court that they mean to derail our territorial integrity, rubbish our sovereignty and have openly displayed their contempt for our heterogeneous setting.

So, Nigeria needs to brace up to decisively tackle this scourge regardless of empty charades of the promoters and sympathizers of the terrorists and insurgent groups. God is always on the side of the just and would surely see Nigeria through these harrowing hard times.

It is therefore imperative to now know the enormity of the task at hand. We must all rise up to the challenge and speak with one voice, because ICC, Amnesty International and their cohorts are only exploiting our fault lines to achieve their nefarious plot against our collective wellbeing.

Since ICC has abandoned its statutory mandates and takes delight in compounding our insecurity challenges, it is inevitable to embark on concerted efforts to woo well meaning international power blocs to see reason and check-mate this evil plot.

The international community should put its searchlight on ICC and it’s co-travelers, as they have derailed, compromised and doing the bidding of face-less paymasters.
The insecurity challenges in Nigeria really appear daunting, but with resolute determination, valour and dynamism we can overcome this malady.

The agents of destabilization have perfected their inglorious plans to make a mockery of our democracy.
Nigeria can no longer afford to treat the ravaging insecurity challenges with kid gloves, since our troops understand the danger posed to our democracy by this intractable insurgency, we should rally round them and give all the support they need to check this debilitating menace.

All those either colluding or conniving with these renegade elements do not deserve any sympathy or mercy. Anyone feigning support for the insurgents and terrorists, are in all material fact enemies of our dear fatherland and should be so treated. As an international organization that courts global relevance, ICC cannot and should not be seen to be with the hunt and the hunted.

The territorial integrity of Nigeria supersedes any veiled inordinate ambition of any group, no matter the immense resources at its disposal.  There is no doubt that ICC, Amnesty international and their ilk have hidden agenda and would stop at nothing to play out their given scripts, but we must resist them stoutly, with total vehemence and bravado.

Thank God, the whole world is keenly watching and we should press for overhauling of the structures in ICC, to ensure the intendments that necessitated its existence, are duly served.
Institutions may be noble in frame work but the human angle if left unchecked, could mar, imperil and rubbish its essence.

This is the crass state the ICC has presently degenerated into; hence the UN as a family must save ICC from itself.
The leadership of ICC having derailed since, are now overwhelmed with scheming to appear playing to the gallery while in fact acting out given scripts of their paymasters to the detriment of the sacred responsibilities, they ought to be upholding.

In such a scenario, ICC stands discredited, compromised and lacks the moral fabric to question how Nigeria prosecutes this nauseating insurgency strife. It cannot be working in partnership with our enemies and yet expect us to take it seriously, this is simply because ICC is yet to come to terms with the stern stuff Nigerians are made of.
In the light of the foregoing, Nigerians must eschew tribal-religious differences and work concertedly to stamp out the insurgency threat.

As it is, Nigeria is facing the terrorists cum insurgents at the war front and in the same breath being distracted at will by ICC and Amnesty international, whenever the scale of balance tilts against the renegades.
Since the infractions of ICC and Amnesty international are getting bolder and unceasing, it is imperative to change our approach to the manner of dealing with this itch.

ICC and Amnesty international must not wish us well before we survive. Our survival is from God, who has ordained our existence and weathered all our storms, so it is high time we called the bluff of ICC and its cohorts.
Nigeria is indeed destined for greatness. To attain such a height is a matter of dint of hard work, overcoming all obstacles with total focus on the goals. The present insurgency scourge will in no time fizzle out, once our leaders summon the political will to do the needful. What is fueling the insurgency craze is ineffective planning of our affairs and now that Government is tackling the issue frontally by ascertaining who every Nigerian is, we are sure to soon get there and ICC and its cohorts can go to blazes.

Murphy is a security expert based in Calabar.

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Opinion

Understanding Diaspora Activists And Irrational Demands – By Elijah Attah

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I would start this article on a high pitch because of the activities of some supposed Nigerian activists holed up somewhere outside the shores of Nigeria barely surviving and waiting for that opportunity to make a living through ignoble ways, including selling their conscience for a plate of porridge.

They call themselves all sorts of names. They arrogate certain imaginary powers to themselves all in a bid to increase their negotiation value when it is time to wreak havoc in Nigeria as this is the only business they can engage in, as most of them were societal misfits before they scampered out of the country for a breather in their quest to give their lives a new meaning.

I am sad that such a critical constituency that is meant to be worthy ambassadors of Nigeria in the Diaspora are the very ones that have allowed themselves to be used as clogs in the wheels of our progress as a country. It remains to be determined how things went so awry for us as a country that Nigerians in the Diaspora would be willing to set the country up in flames in return for a plate of porridge.

This is where I have frequently questioned the rationale for the establishment of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission. I dare to ask of what benefit is the organization to the socio-economic development of Nigeria if the activities of Nigerians in Diaspora has been most despicable and inimical to sustainable growth and development in Nigeria.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission according to information gathered from their website provide for the engagement of Nigerians in Diaspora in the policies, projects and participation in the development of Nigeria and to utilize the human capital and material resources of Nigerians in Diaspora towards the overall socio-economic, cultural and political development of Nigeria and for related matters.

We must agree that this is indeed, strategic. If the above could be achieved, Nigeria would benefit significantly from Nigerians’ rich resource base in the Diaspora. But ironically, the reverse has been the case. I won’t state categorically that the organization has failed. However, I would say that the organization’s leadership has not come to terms with the reality on the ground. It has continued to feign ignorance to the nefarious acts perpetrated by some Nigerians in the Diaspora that aims to undermine national security in Nigeria.

Interestingly, there has been an unholy silence from those that are meant to be vocal in condemning these acts of sabotage perpetrated by some Nigerians in the Diaspora. The question thus is, could the silence an indication of complicity? Could the silence mean an endorsement? And could the silence mean that those at the helm of affairs at the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission are ignorant of the commission’s critical role? All of these questions beg for answers in the true spirit of patriotism in our quest for the Nigeria of our dreams.

We must ask critical questions as the activities of these charlatans gathers momentum daily. We must also do well to identify those amongst the lot that have turned themselves into agents of those against the peace and prosperity of our country.

They have been very vocal in making demands that serve their pockets, not minding the implication of their actions. This, in my opinion, is most despicable and should give all well-meaning Nigerians a cause to worry. We might not understand the larger consequences of these diaspora activists until they achieve their overarching aim of seeing Nigeria’s disintegration.

I consequently challenge the leadership of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission to initiate programmes and policies that would harness the potentials of Nigerians in the Diaspora towards the socio-economic well-being of Nigeria. This is not a time for grandstanding and playing to the gallery as all hands are required to be on deck.

I know for a fact that with the right template, the vast resource base of Nigerians in the Diaspora can be utilized for the benefit of Nigeria in critical sectors of our national life. And if this is not done, then we should be ready to deal with more Nigerians joining the ranks of those who have sold their conscience for a plate of porridge.

This is indeed a clarion call and an SOS to all well-meaning Nigerians to come to terms with the reality on the ground regarding the activities of those Nigerians in the Diaspora. They like to parade themselves as activists, but their activism is centred around their pockets in truth. The bigger your offer is, the louder their voices make irrational demands and ever ready to sell the country of their birth.

Nigerians indeed must be wary of these individuals as their footprints pervade the nook and crannies of Nigeria in search of the slightest opportunity to turn the heat on. Thank God for the security agencies’ efforts so far that beamed the searchlight and exposed their nefarious plots. Even as the security agencies continue to address the threats posed by these diaspora activists, we are citizens of Nigeria also have an invaluable role to play towards ensuring that Nigeria stays united and in peace. My two cents.

Attah wrote from Abuja.

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