Here we go again! Buhari, beware of Nigeria’s pandering Pharisees and Sadducees. Political jobbers that brought us to our knees and disappointed the black race are at it again lining up behind Buhari with all sorts of advises that fell every government. Same folks exaggerated your insubstantial flaws as a major distraction. But forage for the good of.... nobody but themselves.
If Buhari has any doubt, he must dig into the end of the prophets, the fall of Hausa States or better still, the palace coup that overthrew Buhari the First. Their main goal is to kill the fight against corruption. Then preach how to save us. They do not fight just to entrench corruption as business as usual; they annihilate whatever it is in their way to major on minor points.
Buhari must learn from his past as a former Head of State. Favor to any section of the Country no matter how much they donated to his election, the glory of their blood and state must not override fairness or at the expense of the Country. We need assurance better than that of OBJ that all those that invested in him should consider their investment lost. While Buhari has acknowledged overwhelming high expectations from Nigerians somehow, he must act decisively, even if he has to tread on toes.
The first month, the first ninety and hundred days must give us an indication of who is back in power, otherwise he may lose momentum. Luckily his strongest point is his known distaste for corruption. It takes guts, decisive alacrity to send that message. It is opposite ofthe fish that rot from the head. Oncemessage to end greed and avarice is sent by transparent sense of duty, the rest of the people will get it. Fear of Buhari is coming has already set some politicians upright.
If there is a lesson here: Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba need to learn from their past so that mistakes of those days are not lost during celebration of a single election. This is why the Pharisees and the Sadducees will be fighting for their self-interest. Some are vultures others are spoilers while the rest are praise singers looking for crumbs from the masters’ table.
Yoruba must learn from what the Western Nigeria achieved in opposition and many of those Nigerians that benefited that were not even Yoruba. As soon as Yoruba moved to the center of Government, they lost their skillful manager in Ibadan. The West has never been the same. It resulted into internal squabbles, hate and rancor. The same region, all other regions competed with for excellence and progressive ideas, lost everything with the rest of Nigeria.
Just as the Igbo have nothing to fear, Hausa and Yoruba have nothing to celebrate in a country suffocating in its own vomit. Democracy has always been a game of numbers. There is nothing Yoruba did that Igbo had not done in forming the Government at the center. The fact that Hausa has ruled the Country for so many years has not trickled down to the talikawa. Only fools that do not realize the commonality of looters amongst the leaders will celebrate any party.
It is widely believed that Ndi-Igbo voted for the Party that lost. Well, what about those Igbo that voted for the Party that won? Corruption affects the Igbo as much as it affects Hausa, Yoruba and the minority ethnic groups that make up the rest of Nigerians. There is nothing else that can unite Nigerians right now more than the fight against intentional waste, mismanagement of public funds,slush, colo-mentality and deliberate sabotage of files by government officials.
During the election we heard from both PDP and APC stalwarts preaching to us to beware of the other. If Jonathan had won the election, there would be those asking him to beware just as Buhari is now asked to beware of them. There are also some that are crossing to the winning party. They would do anything to gain favors. Any Party In Power!
Despite the graceful concession by Jonathan, there are some unpatriotic Nigerians praying that Buhari fails for no other reason than to prove themselves right at the expense of the whole Country. So if they have a way of contributing to his success, they will throw monkey wrench into the machinery of the Government Buhari leads. They do not care if the house falls on all of us, as long as they get their way catastrophically. Sorry O. It is not going to happen.
Unfortunately, there are those trying to heighten the fear of uninformed Nigerians by drawing attention to the voting pattern in the old Eastern Nigeria. They did not stop there; they have included the old Mid-West to form formidable partners. It is so convenient to forget so soon the coalition of people that brought Jonathan to power from North to South. Many of us used that to berate Buhari when he lost. He lost too many times before his lucky number came up.
Mischief makers must realize that they can only flame the ethnic war for so long. People have come to realize that corruption is the real enemy. It is almost impossible to achieve much with the level of corruption in Nigeria. It robs us of our intellect, our hard labor and drains emotions beyond reasonable capacity to excel. It does not make a difference how much money is made, if most of it is lost to corruption, we will continue to ask for odious loans to pay salary.
Another group of politicians have spent donkey years in one or more administrations. Still, they are letting Buhari know that they are available. This is sad. Whatever privilege it is they had while in power, they missed their goals. So they want to come back and recoup their losses. In a population of almost 180 million, we cannot find more dedicated people than those of the past. Their past services have not moved the country forward. It’s time for younger folks.
By the way, what is it with Oba Eko and his loud mouth as the messenger of Tinubu warning Buhari against distractors? He has forgotten that Tinubu’s Oba is somewhere in Osun State not in Lagos State where Tinubu is a prominent politician by the virtue of being a Yoruba. Oba Eko needs to respect himself or the position he occupies. He needs to take advice from Oba Adetona ofIjebu Ode. So that politicians of all parties in his State can respect him.
By Farouk Martins Aresa
We were walking around Obalende one day looking for suya. Rinde was mobbed by jobless university graduates. They shouted SSG, SSG, SSG! He was the Secretary to the Lagos State Government. He quickly cautioned them that he had retired from that post a while back. Gave them some money and they left. We were sad only for the fact that when we left college, we had jobs. The only people running after the wealthy then were primary school dropouts.
Before Rinde retired, he also held the position of Chairman to the Local Government. When we went to Waka near Campos and Maureen’s place where Lagosians drop by to have one or more drinks, some asked that he paid or “raise”them. He never hesitated. You simply do not tell your friends (Omoarea not areaboys) you are broke that day and you would make it up the next time.
There is no doubt about Rinde’s generosity. Even when he retired, people still demanded their children’s school fees from him. Actually one of our older cousins that was playing fine-boy when we were little, reported Rinde to this writer. You see, when you start paying fees, it never stops after their first or second child. Retirement is no excuse.
Yet, the generosity of Rinde to families and friends was never enough. Those of us in the same situation as he was, understood his responsibilities since some of us had ours to a lesser extent. It is the African way. Unfortunately, time has changed. Most of us cannot afford the amount of money it takes these days to help others because our little business, consultancies or pension, no matter where it comes from (home or abroad) can no longer cope with politicians’ inflation.
Rinde’s sudden death brought not only sadness to his wife and children but to his relatives and friends. Most of us appreciate the role he played in our lives growing up together around Campos and how fulfilling he has made it for those less fortunate. There is nothing greater than our legacy. When everyone dies, our legacy remains alive for ever. Rinde rose among families and friends. We all demanded more of his time, even when we do not desire a kobo from him.
This write called Rinde and left messages. He later called back also wondering why he had not heard or got a call. Waiting for the weekend to get a calling card was a big mistake. It was a day or two too late. That was the last message from Rinde. He was gone!
Crime was so high in Lagos more than a decade ago that on a visit, some of us expressed fear of being mugged in a taxi or private cars. Even those of us that have our own houses did not want to stay home alone. Fortunately, we always have a brother or sister to stay with. It becomes a problem if they are out of the Country. This writer never had to worry since our friends decided Rinde had a police escort and would be the best person to stay with right from the airport.
Stay with Rinde, he and his wife would almost spoil you with kindness. When Rinde studied in Maryland USA, he never let go some American ways. So his house was full of variety of foods. But this writer was looking forward to real Amala and gbegiri, Iyan, efo orisirisi and isiewu. The cook was excused, and the wife took over! I have never kept my mouth shut since! Omo-okele!
Our focus had always been on how to make Nigeria a better place that would give the children the same opportunity we had when growing up. One of the kids adopted, he sent to Kings College. Unfortunately, those schools including St. Gregory’s College he attended have lost their past glory. The old boys of many of those schools always convene meetings, make donations and give ideas on how to improve those schools. Ironically, those that attended his last meeting with could not believe that he died a day or two later. He must have died fit and handsome.
Sixty-five years of age is no longer an advanced journey as life expectancy is up and Arugbo-boys are living until their 80s and 90s. Rinde was very careful about his health and always up to date on his food and vitamins. The writer was embarrassed, despite his background when Rinde cautioned him to stay away from cholesterol in shrimps in efo-riro with orisirisi. Heart attack, stroke and diabetes give no notice of our death. Whatever Rinde died from, gave us no notice.
The Igbo of West Africa always celebrate life during wake-keeping, even for young people. The rest of Africans must emulate them. We have lost some dear Igbo relatives and friends, but during the wake-keeping, sad and sulky moments suddenly turn into celebration. While some of us still find it hard to eat if the diseased is very young, one must be a stone not to be swayed or moved and consoled by the music. Food, dance and contribution always flow with enthusiasm.
It brings up a very important point at the end of our life. The sadness we feel for the loss of a brother or a sister is different from the one we feel for father or mother. It is also different from the sadness we feel for a wife, husband or our best friends. Yet, this writer is not aware of some different ways of expressing feelings for these different types of sadness. It may be due to his limited knowledge of languages. The fact remains that most languages never capture our gloom.
Our despair for the passing away of Rinde Da Silver cannot be expressed in words. When Funso Williams passed, most Lagosians in our age group felt some type of anguish hollow that could not be expressed in words and void, unfulfilled in Eko politics. Some Nigerians may remember that some people, including the Head of State then, expressed Funsho’s death in harsh words.
How do we express Rinde Da Silva’s death? Or is this a dream?
If we realize early that no matter how low or high we rise, no matter how much properties and money we acquire or how much we oppressed our fellow man, deny the next generation as we have never witnessed in Nigeria; we must think of our legacyin life. It is never too late to grow up, never too late to make a difference and never too late to contribute quietly as Rinde did. Su Re O!
As we move closer to handover day to a brand new Federal Government of Nigeria on 29 May 2015, with a mixture of optimism and trepidation, if Nigerians (whether you voted for Buhari or not) think that the problems that have besieged and dragged Nigeria down for several inglorious decades are going to disappear into the air with a wave of a magic wand, we have another think coming, like the Americans will say.
Our expectations, are, expectably and understandably high. But while most of us are optimistic, there are saboteurs and agents provocateurs lurking and waiting for the promised change not to come to pass.
That is the reality. It is not going to happen. We will have to endure some more wrenching agonies and suffering before it gets better. In fact, the suffering will only ease a little after the first four years of Mr Buhari’s presidency.
The country, Nigeria, and her people, have been subjected to decades of appalling deprivation, degradation, dilapidation and desperation as a result of gross and criminal mismanagement and crass corruption and impunity for so long, that it will be a herculean task by even the most sincere and ruthless of men and women to even attempt a rescue operation. Therefore, I do not see Mr Buhari, the President-elect of 2015 doing it in the short term. Sincere men like him need longer, because he’s definitely not a magician or miracle-maker. And that is the fact, despite both gullible and cynical people expecting wonders from him, even before he has been sworn in.
The rot, the ruin, the rape, the looting, the impunity, disregard for humaneness and degradation of over forty years simply cannot be undone in a short four years. However, if we, as a people, are sincere with ourselves and approach the task of “change” with a certain degree of altruism, and want the best for ourselves, our children and future generation, it would serve us best to have all hands on deck to approach the massive and onerous, and believe me, mostly painful tasks ahead and support any sincere politicians and government, at federal, state and local government levels that affirm to want to try their best.
There is therefore the need for mediocre, corrupt and purposeless politicians and other public servants to be kicked out, excluded and expunged; prosecuted and jailed when and if found guilty of having partaken or collaborated in the raping and looting of this potentially great country of ours. This is the time when no Nigerian must be above the laws and norms of the country; no “bigman-nism”, no sacred cows. All cows must be slaughtered.
We do away with drug dealers, 419 fraudsters, murderers and other criminals making our laws for us. We do not want dishonest politicians calling the shots from the state houses and from the corridors of power. We must reject in its totality, mediocre and political-jobbers as ministers, commissioners and other appointees. We do not want situations and environments where political leaders reward mediocrity but sacrifice and neglect merit.
A bad disease requires a bad medicine; that is what Nigeria’s ailment has become and needs. By all means, let there be PROSECUTIONS, but no PERSECUTION. This is want the Rule of Law, accountability, probity and good governance are all about. There is a real need to prosecute and severely punish corrupt high-ranking government officials and political office holders who had arrogated illegally to themselves alone the common wealth of this country, taken undue advantage of, and have abused the positions and authority entrusted to them and who had cause, directly and indirectly, millions of deaths and suffering to our people. They must not be allowed to go scot-free. No way! There must be actions to deter others who think it is their right, or do not see anything wrong, in plundering government treasuries and taking us for granted.
Since Independence in 1960, and perhaps even before, what we have seen in Nigeria is a pervasive desire for power, status, fame, recognition and unimaginable wealth. In the political arena, the corridors of history are littered with much destruction, pain and suffering because of the unrestrained lust for power and wealth. Thousands and millions of our people have suffered and dying and are still suffering and dying because of the despotic and undemocratic rule and the whims and fancies of corrupt, insincere, clueless, self-centred, conscienceless and insensitive leaders and their acolytes, owing to unending political and social instability as a result of endless jostling for power and all kinds of political manoeuvres.
Politicians lie to us because the people want to be lied to and the people, psychosomatically, do not usually want to hear the truth, because Truth, as the saying goes, hurts and no one wants to hear things that threaten their existence, their beliefs, or words that will make them uncomfortable. It is decidedly better for politicians to tell people what makes them feel comfortable. People also always expect too much.Politicians know their followers will believe them, even in the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary. If a lie is told enough times, people will accept it is true. It is not a stretch to understand why people would believe something if they hear it enough. People expect that lies will be disproved and fade away. So if the lies continue to be heard, people assume, then they must be true.
Leaders and followers make a country; great leaders and great followers make a great nation. Sincere leaders and a critical, thinking followership make for a progressive and developed nation. This is what every Nigeria yearns for, I am very sure, but we have been too lazy, nay, laid back to work for, and achieve what we ideally want for ourselves. Herein lay the problem.
We call on God to do our work for us. God will not work for us; He will expect us to work for ourselves, and then bless our work and make it succeed.
True patriots are what we need. It galls me when I see and hear a lot of those who have looted raped and is still looting and raping Nigeria to day still being able to hold up their heads in public and declare themselves or pose to us as patriots and doing their best for the country conscientiously. They are evil hypocrites. These people even organise seminars and workshops on probity, patriotism, leadership, accountability, nation building, etc.
This is not a matter of ascribing blames on anybody. What happened in the last sixteen years could perhaps be a punishment. We have to suffer before we enjoy, so this is part of our ups and downs, only we should be careful to ensure that when we are down, we are able to get up. If we stay down, then we are not worth being called a people – it doesn’t matter what ethnic or religious group you belong to, you are a failure. In 1999, the People’s Democratic Party was as unprepared as the rest of the country, but they got lucky because those politicians who had been ruling Nigeria since Independence managed to get together and weld again a conservative union, whose main aim has always been to oppress their own people. That spell has now been broken, and I hope, for good.
I read on Facebook a comment a person made, who has seen nothing good, or of benefit, in being a Nigerian; he wants to leave Nigeria and create a Biafra, he cried. I laughed at the idiocy in his statement. Where in the world would he be allowed to create Biafra? Would he be allowed to create it in America, UK or China or in Cameroon for that matter? He can only create it in what is called Nigeria, but then he won’t be allowed to do that either, would he? Nigeria has come to stay.
Yima Sen, a former United Nations official and two-time Presidential aide in Nigeria, wrote, in his “Manifesto of Nigeria’s Poor” that “So should we abandon Nigeria or go with the rather asinine refrain that “Nigeria will break up” or “Nigeria will become history”? The point is that a break-up of Nigeria will never create better national or state entities. In fact some of them will be afflicted by worse maladies related to state and societal failure: 419, drug trade, cultism, armed robbery, kidnappings, crudeness, and a general march away from civilization, by any definition. In other words, we will get fragments of mal-development, degradation and retrogression. What hope then? Two perspectives are illuminating. One, from Chinua Achebe and the second from Lee Kuan Yew. According to Achebe, one of Nigeria’s and Africa’s leading story tellers, in his nonfiction work on the problem with Nigeria, it is leadership. So also says the Asian leader Yew: that leadership makes the difference under any circumstances”.
Yima Sen concluded, while hoping for a new President to emerge at the 2015 Elections, that “He or she could be a politician, professional, an activist, an academic, or a patriot with a responsible background. He or she should be mature, exposed, courageous and firm, even revolutionary. He or she should not hate some sections of Nigeria. He or she should know Nigeria, understand Africa and appreciate where the world is today. God, please give us this person as President of Nigeria in 2015. Amen”.
Compatriots, I am not in way implying or asserting that Mr Buhari fits into all the above ideals, but he sure has most of those characteristics and he’s the closest that gives us the best hope. It may even be, in some eyes, that Mr Buhari is none of the above, but at least we are all agreed that he’s a better choice than the outgoing President. That is why we voted him in. Mr Buhari and his team have to be, simply, ruthless. How they want to intertwine and integrate this with a democratic system of government, I really do not know, but ruthless they must be, otherwise, we will be back to square one and the hopes of Nigerians will again be dashed.
Let the Truth be said always!!!!
There is a severe immediate crisis presently unfolding in the country at the moment. It is the latest manifestation of a perennial long standing crisis; and one that is very symptomatic of the grandiose scale of the corruption that has characterized the last sixteen years, and the share scope of the impunity that drives the catastrophic steep increase in the treasury looting, or public theft rate of the last six years.
The crisis being referred to here is that associated with the current biting and creeping scale and scope of fuel scarcity across the country.
This crisis within a crisis [because it is occurring at a period of dwindling national revenue triggered by the global precipitate crash in crude oil prices, but enhanced by crass mismanagement of the national economy over the preceding years and decade and a half] has thrown up again the debate about fuel subsidy and fuel price increase.
I will proceed by asking and attempting to respond to a series of questions in the hope that by so doing one can expose the umbilical cord between fuel scarcity, fuel subsidy, corruption, impunity and failed governance in our country.
Now to the set of questions; Why has the challenge of subsidizing the pump price of fuel remained with us over the last three decades? What is the basis of this subsidy? What is the role of corruption in ensuring the permanence of a subsidy regime? How is impunity in governance linked to all of these? Is the fuel subsidy in its current context a subsidy on consumption or a subsidy on production? Is a permanent subsidy regime sustainable, and particularly under present circumstances? Should the response to the subsidy challenge another increase in pump price of petrol? Is an increase in the pump price of fuel at this period sustainable or a call to chaos?
Let me begin by isolating the three most significant immediate questions that the incoming administration will need to urgently respond to.
First is the subsidy regime, particularly in the present context of scarce national revenue sustainable? The clear response to this must be an emphatic No.
Second is the process of doing away with the unsustainable and corruption powered subsidy regime equal to the process of increasing the pump price of fuel? Again the emphatic answer must be a resounding No.
And thirdly is raising the pump price of fuel as a response to tackling the subsidy crisis a politically and economically sustainable option? Absolutely Not.
For the avoidance of doubt let us restate very clearly now the reasons necessitating, underlying and driving the subsidy regime.
These most significant of these reasons are: the gross, unpardonable and inexplicable inadequacy in domestic refining capacity for crude oil; the consequent overwhelming odd near total dependence on imported refined products to meet domestic needs of the economy; the instability, and often constant decline of the value of the Naira against the value of the Dollar, which compounds our dependence on imported refined products given that these are denominated in Dollars.
For instance despite the more than $20bn that have been spent on Turn Around Maintenances of the Four Domestic Refineries, the average capacity utilization for these refineries as at the first quarter of 2015 stood at a shameful 11%.
The obvious and immediate implication and fall out of this is that we depend on imported refined products to meet more than 80% of our domestic needs. To put this in its proper context we are the only OPEC member to be so dependent on imported refined petroleum products. The average for the OPEC countries is that 80% of domestic needs in refined petroleum products are met by domestic refining capacity, ensuring that across OPEC countries on the average only 20% of domestic needs is serviced by imported refined products.
So despite the huge investments on Turn Around Maintenances of our refineries; despite the issuing of dozens of refining licenses, and despite the very robust assertions made in the aftermath of the January Uprising; why are three years later in 2015 still more than 80% dependent on imported refined products? Let us particularly not forget that in the during the January Uprising of 2012, the government had stated categorically that it was going to bring capacity utilization levels at the domestic refineries up to 90% on the average by the second quarter of 2013. Yet 3 years since the government pronouncement, and nearly two years after the second quarter of 2013 deadline given by government average capacity utilization of the refineries hovers around 11%
What has happened to the billions of dollars?
Why is adequate domestic refining capacity significant? Because without it we would continue to depend on imported refined products, the cost of which will continue to be dependent on the changing value of the Naira against the Dollar, with the implication being that unless you leave the pump price to be determined by the value of the Naira, there will always be a continuing necessity to subsidise the pump price.
The subsidy here arises because of the difference in the landing cost of the imported fuel and the pump price. As long as you have an interest in ensuring accessibility of the product at a cost that will not collapse the local economy, then no matter how many times you remove subsidy, as long as the Naira continues to decline in value against the dollar, new subsidies will keep emerging.
But why should any government have an interest in ensuring cheap, affordable and accessible fuel? Because of the level of poverty in the country which stands at 69%; because of the unsustainable level of general and youth unemployment which stands at 24% and 45% respectively; because fuel in our economy where public energy supply is grossly inadequate, and 80% of economic and domestic processes run on power generated by generators, big and small; because of the preponderance of small and medium scale enterprises in the economy and the disproportionate impact of the cost of fuel on their businesses; and because a significant component of the high cost of doing business even among big business is due to the need to generate their own power for which they require refined petroleum products to fuel their generators. In fact it is estimated that more than 30% of the high cost of doing business in Nigeria is due to the cost of fuel for generators.
In very simple terms because of the parlous state of power generation in the country which currently hovers around 3,000MWs against the backdrop of current peak power demand of and average of 13,000MWs; and because the transmission capacity of the National Grid is less than 5,000MW; fuel for generators is a factor of production and not a factor of consumption. As such this undermines the logic of differentiating between subsidy on production and subsidy on consumption with respect to refined fuel in our own economic context.
Against we must emphasise the place of corruption and treasury looting in the emergence of this situation where after nearly $40bn investment in the power sector over the last 16 years, we have found ourselves in this sorry state.
To put this in proper context, inherited power generation and national grid transmission capacity as at 1999 were about 2,500MWs [generation capacity] and 4,500MWs [transmission capacity] respectively. 16 years down the line, and $40bn investment later, we are still saddled with actual power generation capacity that fluctuates between 2,700MWs and 3,900MWs on the average; while the transmission capacity of the National grid has remained unchanged, and even declined due to dilapidation over the same period.
Again what happened to the billions of dollars?
Let us illustrate the umbilical relationship between corruption, impunity, and failed governance further with the specific lucrative fuel subsidy regime. This is the reason why over the last 16 years there has been a deliberate attempt and policy to ensure that the refineries do not work, and that we shall for ever be dependent on importation of refined products.
So for instance daily consumption rate for petrol and annual subsidy for the product have varied grossly and without any rational explanation over the years; In 2010 Daily Consumption Rate [DCR] and annual subsidy was put at 30 million liters per day and N600bn respectively. In 2011, the most significant year of the locusts; these were put at 60 million liters per day and N2,7tn respectively. After the January Uprising of 2012, these figures declined to roughly 40 million liters per day and N1.3tn for 2012; and has since hovered around 38 million liters per day and an annual bill of about N1,2tn for 2013 and 2014.
Inspite of these very obvious discrepancies suggesting a grand scale of public theft [which stood at about a Public Theft Rate/Treasury Looting Rate of N220bn monthly in 2012]; and regardless of the numerous public probes of the fraud, no one has been convicted, no public funds recovered, and no public official disciplined.
It is in view of the forgoing that the fuel subsidy conundrum presents a booby trap for the incoming government.
It is crisis that must be addressed, at both economic and political levels. Any government that does not want to be engulfed by a life threatening crisis, will not address this challenge simply be raising prices. The subsidy regime must be done away with without affecting prices, and as soon as possible.
Any government worth its salt, and if the incoming government is to fulfill its electoral promises, it can not present the masses with a decision that will equate the change that was promised with increase in fuel prices, increased inflation, increased cost of living, and declining condition of living. This was not the reason people voted change in their millions.
What must be done must be such that the government will develop an implementable plan that will ensure that within 18 months or so, we can have optimal if not adequate domestic refining capacity. It must ensure that in the interim looted funds are recovered, corporate and individual culprits in public and private sectors are prosecuted and punished exemplarily, and that the average capacity utilization for the four public refineries get upto 80 to 90% within the shortest possible time, say within six months.
In the short term it must explore the options of swapping crude for refined products to meet domestic needs without having to raise pump price, while also exploring the possibility of paying for some of the needed infrastructure development in the sector [renovate existing refineries and build new refineries] are mostly paid for in crude oil.
JAYE GASKIA IS NATIONAL COORDINATOR OF PROTEST TO POWER MOVEMENT [P2PM] AND A CO-CONVENER OF SAY NO CAMPAIGN [SNC]
Written by Obinna Akukwe @ObinnaAkukwe
By Farouk Martins Aresa
What the new generation of three women of Baltimore set to change is a culture of brutality taken for granted that intoxicate some worldwide. So the old generation culture weresurprised, caught flat footed by how determined Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Maj. Gen. Linda Singh Adjutant General of Maryland National Guard and State’s Attorney forBaltimore City Marilyn Mosby answered the call of duty after the repulsive death of Freddie Gray in the hands of police.
When God created the world, he decided on women to be the creator of mankind. He could have chosen men but they could not agree to disagree; always resort to wars. Through history, policy makers usually put Police in difficult positions to enforce unjust laws communities later regretted. Of course like all professions, a few of the police go rogue. Most of the people that grow up wanting to be police officers come from lovely homes with good intention to serve.
It is true, if these three Baltimore women cannot change the culture of police brutality, not only in United States but as exemplary message to the whole world, nobody can. While we celebrate life of the rich and famous, we must preserve those of the poor. With the three ladies in charge, we must not lose a vital distinction, that the Baltimore riot of 2015 did not take a single life!
The Yoruba of West Africa say: Bami to omo mi ko de inu olomo. When a women asks you to discipline her child, please do not take it for granted. The culture of violence in the African American communities is nothing to be proud of. While strict police enforcement of law and discipline of the few recurrent offenders committing most of the crime is needed, it does not by any means exclude gentle and tender care to encourage law abiding citizens to work with police.
Most women have a different approach to solving problem most men fight about. What we do not want to do is fool around with lives only Mama Bear can create. Women spend more time thinking and looking for means to care for families, even when they are not with their children. Most men are detached and easily beat the drum of war against everything. No man can feel the pains and joy of bearing a human being as women, so they think more before taking a life.
When situation calls for it, Mama Bears are as tough as men but they are also more reasonable in their approach without the macho mentality that comes with testosterone hormone of men. Black women do not take any nonsense from their children but when they are overwhelmed without their men at home, as many of them are unemployed, disproportionally incarcerated at a higher rate for the same offence as other men, anyone would succumbed to distress of “war”.
Women do not shy away from responsibility; when it comes to real wars taking lives of human only they can create. In recent times, Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi unleashed war when they had to. From history we learned of Egyptian Queen Ahhotep I (16th century BCE), war against invaders. Phung Thi Chinh (1st century CE): balanced newborn and sword at same time in war. Gudit (10th century CE): ended millennium-old dynasty dating back to King Solomon in Ethiopia.
Most women of any color are not naive about wars and they know a real war when exposed. There is “war” of attrition in black community where black men eliminate one another as there is little gainful employment for them and most of the well-paying jobs come from drug dealers, exacerbated by police war on drugs. Black women, their children and communities suffer more from the consequences of a “civil war” than anyone else. They know the difference between the bogus and a real war.
Never underestimate women, white or black children of Joan of Arc (15th century CE). Nzinga Mbande (1583-1663) Mother of Angola: led the Ndongo guerilla wars against Portuguese for four decades and won. Amina Queen of Zaria (1588-1589) daughter of Queen Turunku of Songhai in mid-Niger ruled the Hausa Empire from 1536 to 1573. She founded cities and personally led her army of 20,000 soldiers into battle. So were the Aba Women’s Riots of 1929 in Owerri and Calabar against British colonial administrators in Eastern Nigeria.
Let us be clear, this is not just war against drugs. Neither is it war against crime nor war against window breakers. This is war against black men, petty traders in the name of big drug dealers. It has gone haywire and backfire big time. Apart from innocence lost behind bars for minor crimes, the amount of money US spent on correctional facilities in the land of freedom and democracy as the highest per capita prison population in the whole world, is more than embarrassing.
President Obama got it right. Every week or two, black men are killed disproportionately by police resulting in anger and riots. Each time those that should have worried more about how often the life of victims running away from police are taken, call on Civil Right leaders to pacify people of all colors that are justifiably angry. They ask for peaceful demonstration, for soothing speeches that value properties that can be replaced over lives that can never be replaced.
The new generation that breaks out in anger, demonstrations and riots do not care about race or gender, they are more sensitive to the revolting pictures captured. There are not enough talking heads and spinners on television that can change what is evident to sensibilities of most people. The grand jury, jury and the courts focus must be rational in the interest of justice, not in heaven because this is not poker games depending on the most eloquent and cunning party.
Status quo, old generation and interest groups are shocked to the core while new generation clamor for immediate charges against the police officers in view of depraved loss of life of Mr. Gray that should not have been arrested in the first place. Moreover, the police admitted that regular policies were violated and medical service was not rendered after calling for one at several stops. If they were so sure of their case, they would not be calling for outside jury.
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