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Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Obasanjo, an academic icon

Former President Obasanjo successfully completes PhD programme
Dr Olusegun Obasanjo

WHEN on 30th September 2014 former President Olusegun Obasanjo enrolled in the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) at the age of 77, not many people knew he would pursue his chosen course, Christian Theology, to the ultimate level. But on Friday, 12th January 2018, he underwent a 163-minute grilling by a six-man panel of professors after which he bagged a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) in Christian Theology, thus becoming the first person to attain that feat from the NOUN which he established as President. 

Obasanjo, who enrolled in the university with Matriculation Number 146058901, successfully defended his thesis entitled: Resolving the Unfinished Agenda in Liberation Theology: Leadership, Poverty and Underdevelopment in North Eastern Nigeria. He was praised by Dr Samaila Mande, the Dean of Postgraduate School of NOUN, for being a pace-setter in the course which he manages. 

After bagging his latest achievement, this time in the academia, the former two-time president of Nigeria and author of many books,  insisted he refused to be given any preferential treatment throughout his sojourn at the NOUN. He had, on the day he enrolled for the course, approached a prospective fellow student young enough to be his grandchild and said: “I am going to start school, just like you.” 

Former President Obasanjo (PhD) has continued to fascinate many of his countrymen and people around the world (for better and for worse) by dabbling into ventures that raise eyebrows. His boundless energy, this time invested in high academic pursuit of his eventful life at an age when most people no longer possess the intellectual endowment to cope with academic pursuits, is a great example to the younger generation. 

At that age, most people no longer see any point to prove in going back to school. Dr Olusegun Obasanjo has just proved that age is not a barrier to the pursuit of dreams; learning never stops, except when one is dead. Coming at an age when many of our youths have lost their bearing because of the vain distractions of the Internet Age and a society fractured by corruption and the quest for easy money, we recommend the Obasanjo spirit to everybody, both young and old.

As a newspaper, Vanguard has always been excited when the feat Obasanjo has just achieved takes place. That was why our editors unanimously elected Pa Tete Allen, a 90-year-old man from Nembe in Bayelsa State who enrolled in Primary One as our Man of the Year 2011. 

We congratulate Dr Olusegun Obasanjo for this inspirational laurel and wish him more success in his endeavours.

Cattle Colony: Before Buhari lures us into deadly trap

By Professor Ben Nwabueze 

To us here in Nigeria, a colony is nothing new. The colony of Lagos established by the British in 1861 has familiarised us to it. But our acquaintance with it goes much further back to the ancient colonies established in 7th century B. C by the Greeks on the Mediterranean coastline of Italy, France and Spain, of which Nice, Marseilles and Naples are notable examples; by the Phoenicians, notably Utica (Utique) in 1100 B.C. and Carthage in 813 B.C. (both in present-day Tunisia) and Tripoli in 900 B.C. in present-day Libya; down to the modern colonies founded by the English in the early 17th century AD in North America, – thirteen of them, the first of which, Virginia, was founded in 1607. The idea underlying a colony, both in antiquity and in modern times, is that of settlement: see British Settlements Act 1887. A colony is a place for the settlement of people “with common or similar language, interests or occupations, living together in close association”, like the farm settlements established in some parts of the Eastern Region of South-East Nigeria by the Government of M.I. Okpara. A colony as a settlement for people is one integrated idea, it cannot be separated from a settlement; it cannot meaningfully exist divorced from such a settlement, except as a mere idea without existential content. So divorced, it means nothing but an empty word tendentiously employed to beguile or hoodwink the public. The cattle colonies which the Federal Government proposes to establish in every State of the Federation can, therefore, mean nothing other than a place for the settlement of Fulani herdsmen, however much the Federal Government may try to hide this fact, by, for example, calling it “cattle colony”; that is what it is intended to be, and will eventually become, if it is not such from inception. Its character as a place for the settlement of Fulani herdsmen is implicit in the Agric Minister’s long presentation giving details of the proposed project, as published in the Nigerian Tribune newspaper of 12 January, 2018, which leaves him no room to gainsay it. It is not the  idea that cattle is to be left in a colony without a herder or keeper, without someone to feed it, give it water, and keep a watchful and protective eye on it. Rearing cattle or livestock necessarily requires a herder. From what we know, two or more herders will be needed to follow and tend 100 cows; accordingly, 300 herders will be needed to tend 30,000 cows. A colony of 30,000 cows requires 300 herders living in the colony. It may be expected that a herder may have a family, a wife (wives) and children living with him in the colony. We are therefore talking of 300 Fulani herdsmen and their families lodged in the body of a State under the scheme. Lets listen to what the Agric Minister said: “We are talking of colonies because 20, 30, or 40 ranchers can share the same colony. A ranch is usually owned by an individual or a company with sometimes very few cattle. Some have more than 200 or 300 cows. In a cattle colony, you could find 30,000 cows owned by different owners.” “The reason we are designing the colony is that we want to prepare on a large scale, on economy of scale, a place where many owners of cattle can coexist, be fed well, because we can make their feeds. They can get good water to drink. Cows drink a lot of water. We can give them green fodder.” The Hon. Minister talks only of cattle owners or ranchers, but not at all of herders, who are essentially the cause of the problem. The cattle owners or ranchers are no doubt a part of the problem but the part they play seems somewhat peripheral. The herdsmen are at the centre of the problem. From the Minister’s presentation, the cattle colony scheme may magnify the problems beyond what they presently are. The scheme is not intended to, and will not, stop the open grazing practice, which is the main cause of the problem. It may well reduce, but will not completely stop it. The Hon. Minister of Agriculture affirms this when he said: “We will tell the herdsmen, if you are passing through a state, you can only go to the colony and stay there, feed your cattle and, when you are moving off, agro-rangers will follow you and make sure you don’t destroy anybody’s farm.” This statement is confusing to say the least. It seems to suggest that a cattle colony as a settlement for herdsmen and their cattle will be combined with the existing practice of herdsmen roaming over the whole country with their cattle, but stopping at a colony to feed them. THE LEGAL AND POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE SCHEME The Minister’s emphasis on the process of acquiring land for the colony is misdirected. The issue is not so much about the process for acquiring land, but about the ownership of the land after it is acquired and, more important, about the right to the exclusive use, management and control of the land so acquired. Does the ownership of the land belong to the Federal Government, or to traditional communities, villages and families supposed to have been divested of it? Does the right to the exclusive use, management and control of the land belong to the Federal Government, the cattle owners or the herdsmen? Perhaps, more worrisome, is the issue of the relationship of the Fulani herdsmen settled on the land and the political authorities in the State – the state government, the local government authorities and the traditional authorities, the town unions, the community development associations, the civil defence and vigilante groups, etc. Will the Fulani herdsmen settled on the land, the cattle owners and their association, the Miyetti Allah, not constitute themselves a “state” within a state? The deadliest of the implications of the establishment of cattle colonies in every State of the Federation is the religious and cultural implications. RELGIOUS IMPLICATIONS OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CATTLE COLONIES IN EVERY STATE OF THE FEDERATION In considering the religious implications of establishing cattle colonies in every State of the Federation, it is necessary to recall to mind what Sheikh Gumi wrote about Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto. According to Gumi, the Sardauna’s well-known agenda of consolidating and perpetuating the idea of Northern Nigeria as one united entity “was not borne out of political consideration only”, but was also conceived as “a personal mission” handed down to him by his forbear, Sheikh dan Fodio. The agenda had an accompanying ideology whose object, as articulated by the Sardauna, is to maintain Northern Nigeria as a theocracy ruled by a Moslem claiming to be divinely directed, with utter disdain for democracy, and with the Sharia as the supreme governing law; the non-Moslem minority ethnic groups in the North are to be used as “willing tools”, and the South is to be subjugated and reduced to “a conquered territory”, which is not to be allowed to “have control over their future.” The Sarduana had conceived a kind of jihad, for the pursuit and possible accomplishment of his agenda, an agenda which President Buhari has now vowed to carry on to a “finish”. President Buhari’s resolve and commitment to pursue the Sardauna’s agenda to a finish was unmistakeably announced in his first major policy statement as President-elect. In a speech delivered before an audience of exclusively prominent Northern Moslem leaders on 2 May, 2015 at Queen Amina Hall, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, he said: “I charge you to join me as we build a new Northern Nigeria in a generation…..the best investment we can make in the North is not finding oil in the Chad Basin….we will start with one local government in each state until we get to every school in all of Northern Nigeria…..To achieve this, I have secured a Northern rehabilitation fund… rebuild the North after the devastation of Boko Haram insurgency…..Join me my brothers and sisters and let us finish the work our forefather, Ahmadu Bello, started.” The name Shiekh dan Fodio, the Sanduana’s forbear, is worth recalling again. He was a Fulani immigrant in Gobir (now renamed Sokoto), who was accommodated and well-favoured by the King of Gobir. Dan Fodio mobilised an army of Fulani immigrants who, in 1804 – 1808, overran all the Hausa Kingdoms and some other neighbouring communities, dethroned their rulers, installing Fulani emirs in their places, and imposed the Moslem religion on them. Thus was Hausaland together with other conquered lands, islamised, and a caliphate established over Sokoto, with dan Fodio as its Sultan. That was the price the Hausas paid for their hospitality in granting access to grazing land to the Fulani immigrant settlers. With knowledge of the tragic experience of the Hausas in 1804 – 1808, we should not make the tragic mistake of letting history repeat itself in 2018. It should be mentioned that the Fulani immigrant settlers’ ravaging on-slaught failed to subdue the Bornu and Jukun kingdoms, whose rulers have continued to maintain suzerainty over the their terrotiries till date. The colonisation and islamisation (by conquest) of Hausaland is reminiscent of the colonisation and islamisation (again by conquest) of North Africa by the Arabs in the 7th century A.D. The conquest has been described as “the most amazing feat in military history” : Will Durant, The Story of Civilisation, vol iv, pp. 155 With Persia, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and other countries or cities in the Middle East vanquished and taken over for Islam in A.D. 632-638, the Moslem Arabs next marched on Egypt in the same year (638 A.D.). aided by the defection of the native Egyptians who hated the Greeks and had become disaffected towards the Roman imperial government because of the Monophysite controversy. The invading Arabs succeeded, in siege after siege, in subduing one city after another – Farmah, gateway into the country; Memphis, the former capital; and, finally, in 641 A.D., Alexandria, the new capital, with a loss of 23,000 men (the siege of Alexandria is said to be “perhaps the most arduous” in the annals of Arab conquests.) Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. V. P. 343. Having conquered Egypt, the Arabs embarked next on the conquest of the rest of North Africa. First Barca and other cities in the province of Cyrenaica, then Tripoli, Sabratha and the magnificent city of Sufetula, were taken in 642-647 A.D. There followed a lull of nearly 20 years because of succession tumults in Arabia. The war was resumed in 665 A.D. with the conquest of more territories. The hero of the renewed fighting was the commander of the Arab troops from 670-675, called Akbah (Okba bin Nafa). It was to him, writes Edward Gibbon, that “the title of conqueror of Africa is more justly due…..He marched from Damascus at the head of ten thousand of the bravest Arabs; and the genuine force of the Moslems were enlarged by the doubtful aid and conversion of many thousand barbarians…..The fearless Akbah plunged into the heart of the country, traversed the wilderness in which his successors erected the splendid capitals of Fez and Morocco, and at length penetrated to the verge of the Atlantic and the great desert….The career, though not the zeal, of Akbah was checked by the prospect of a boundless ocean. He spurred his horse into the waves, and, raising his eyes to heaven, exclaimed with the tone of a fanatic, Great God! If my course were not stopped by this sea, I would still go on, to the unknown kingdoms of the West, preaching the unity of thy holy name, and putting to the sword the rebellious nations who worship any other gods than thee”. Gibbon, ibid, v., pp. 356 – 358. The conquest was, however, not yet complete. The great metropolis of Africa, Carthage, was yet to be conquered. There was another interruption of many years followed by renewed fighting. Carthage was easily taken but the Arabs were later driven out by imperial forces despatched from Constantinople, (the second capital of the Roman Empire, renamed Istanbul), joined by powerful reinforcements from Sicily and Spain. Returning to the charge in 698, with more numerous armament by sea and land, the Arabs re-took the city, and North Africa was irrecoverably lost to the Roman Empire. In the interval, they had also conquered and Islamised Northern Sudan in the east. But the Arabs were not yet secure in their conquest. For they were later driven out by the Moors. They retreated to the confines of Egypt, but returned some years later to inflict a crushing defeat on the Moors, taking some 300,000 of them captive, 60,000 of whom were “sold for the profit of the public treasury”: Gibbon, ibid, v, pp. 362. The native Berbers, the indigenous dwellers of the valleys of the Atlas Moutain, had similarly been crushed. Nigerians Beware! CULTURAL IMPLICATIONS But even if we are able to avert being subjugated and Islamised by Fulani herdsmen militia armed with AK47 guns, we may still meet the same fate by peaceful penetration into our various communities by Fulani herdsmen settled in the cattle colonies through the process known as acculturation. The Fulani settlers will bring to the cattle colonies, as part of their baggage, the religion of Islam, just as the English settlers in the thirteen colonies in North America in 1607 and the years following took with them, as part of their baggage, English law, with its political institutions as well as English customs, conventions and traditions, including the precepts and practices of the Christian religion, just as the early Greek settlers in their colonies on the coastline of Italy, France and Spain took with them, as part of their baggage, Greek culture, tradition and religious precepts and practices. As Will Durant, in his monumental eleven volume treatise, titled The Story of Civilisation, vol. 11, p. 127, tells us, these ancient Greek. “colonies became greater than their mother cities, and preceded them in the development of wealth and art.  The real creators of Greek culture were not the Greeks of what we now call Greece, but those who fled before the conquering Dorians, fought desperately for a foothold on foreign shores, and there, out of their Mycenaean memories and their amazing energy, made the art and science, the philosophy and poetry that, long before Marathon, placed them in the forefront of the Western world.” One of the products of the Greek colonies on the Italian coastline was Pythagoras (580-500 B.C.), generally acknowledged as the father of both science and philosophy in Europe — his theorems and his theories of numbers and proportion became the foundation of geometry, arithmetic and algebra (the terms mathematics and philosophy were first used by him).  He was born of Greek parentage in Samoa, a Greek colony, and lived most of his life in Crotona, another Greek colony.  The great Athenian oracle on philosophy and political ideas, Plato (427-347 B.C.), took so much of his ideas from Pythagoras.  And the first written code of law in Greek history originated in one of these colonies in 664 B.C. The same feature characterised the colonies on the  Mediterraneous coastline of North Africa settled by the ancient Phoenicians and Greeks of which the largest and best-known were Utica (Utique) and Carthage (both in present-day Tunisia) and Oea (Tripoli in Libya), founded by Phoenicians in 1100 B.C., 813 B.C. and 900 B.C. respectively, and Cyrene, founded in 641 B.C., by Greek settlers (Cyrene together with four other Greek colonies, constitutes the province of Cyrenaica, one of the three provinces of present-day Libya.)  Like the English settlers in North America in the 17th century and Greek settlers mentioned earlier, these Phoenicians and Greek settlers in North Africa also took with them to their new settlements, the civilisation, the habits, traditions, the political ideas, governmental institutions and processes they had imbibed in their home countries. Nwabueze is the leader of The Patriots.

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Friday, 12 January 2018

Trump denies making 'shithole countries' comment

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump on Friday denied describing certain nations as "shithole countries" during a meeting in which he rejected a bipartisan deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
He also denied demanding that Haitians be removed from negotiations about protected status for people from certain countries.
    "The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!" Trump tweeted.
    White House spokesperson Raj Shah did not deny the "shithole" remark on Thursday evening, but instead said in a statement that Trump "is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation."
    Trump later tweeted Friday morning that he "Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said 'take them out.' Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!"
    A source familiar with the meeting told CNN's Jake Tapper the President did not refer to Haiti as a "shithole" country but Trump did ask why the US needs more Haitians and pushed to "take them out" of the deal. In a separate part of the conversation about the diversity visa lottery, the source said, Trump referred to people coming from Africa as coming from "shithole countries."
    Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who was briefed by Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and a fellow GOP Senator who attended the meeting, confirmed that version of events to CNN.
    Durbin, a key negotiator in DACA talks, recounted the meeting on MSNBC Friday, saying, "He said, 'Haitians. Do we need more Haitians?' Then he went on and started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure. That's when he used these vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from 'shitholes.' The exact word used by the President. Not just once but repeatedly. That was the nature of this conversation."
    Separately, Durbin told reporters he had not seen a single news report about the President's words that was false.
    "I've not read one of them that's inaccurate," Durbin said. "He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly."
    DACA protects hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.
    Trump on Thursday rejected a pitch from a bipartisan team of senators on a compromise immigration deal to protect DACA participants while increasing border security.
    "Why do we want all these people from 'shithole countries' coming here?" Trump told senators in the Oval Office, according to a source briefed on the meeting, the comments from which were first reported by The Washington Post.

    Tweets threaten deal

    Trump's denial came among a series of other tweets in which he defended his immigration stance.
    "The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards. Wall was not properly funded, Chain & Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime.....," Trump tweeted.
    He continued: "....countries which are doing badly. I want a merit based system of immigration and people who will help take our country to the next level. I want safety and security for our people. I want to stop the massive inflow of drugs. I want to fund our military, not do a Dem defund....
    "....Because of the Democrats not being interested in life and safety, DACA has now taken a big step backwards. The Dems will threaten 'shutdown,' but what they are really doing is shutting down our military, at a time we need it most. Get smart, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"
    He also said: "Sadly, Democrats want to stop paying our troops and government workers in order to give a sweetheart deal, not a fair deal, for DACA. Take care of our Military, and our Country, FIRST!"
    The tweets suggest that Trump is interested in a system that would only accept individuals from certain countries and backgrounds in exchange for a DACA deal -- as well as a much more substantial border investment than one year of funding and technology upgrades the lawmakers had presented.
    Democrats have made clear they would not consider some of the suggestions and the demands risk exacerbating already tense talks as both sides are entrenched in negotiating position.
    While some Republicans hope to gain leverage by dragging out negotiations and increase the risk that DACA recipients could lose status and even be deported, advocates have made clear to Democrats they should feel empowered to reject a deal that benefits DACA immigrants at the expense of scores of others and their families.
    Trump's agreement has always been essential to any immigration deal. Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, reiterated on Thursday after the White House meeting that a deal would only move for a vote with a clear message from the President that he would sign it.

    Sunday, 12 November 2017

    IPOB declares 21-days mourning in honour of members allegedly killed by Nigerian army during raid at Nnamdi Kanu

    IPOB declares 21-days mourning in honour of members allegedly killed by Nigerian army during raid at Nnamdi Kanu

    The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has declared 21 days mourning for its members allegedly killed during the military invasion of the home of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu at Afara Ukwu, Umuahia, Abia State.

    The Biafra agitation group also says it has discovered more corpses of her slain members in a bush within the precincts of the home of its leader, SunNewsOnline reports. The group also informed that it is burying the slain members, numbering more than over 28 who were killed during the invasion, in piecemeal with 11 of such bodies already interred.

    A senior member of the group, Mark Eze Ofuonye, who disclosed how some of their members were shot dead by the invading soldiers, and their corpses dumped in a bush near the home of the IPOB leader, said:
    “Some of our members, numbering over 28, were murdered in cold blood by the military during the invasion of our leader’s home at Afara Ukwu. The soldiers were doing a sort of mop up operation; whenever they killed any of our members, they carried away the corpse to conceal their horrendous act but it was not possible.
    “So, they filled up their trucks with our members’ corpses. The corpses we retrieved and which we are burying at present are those the soldiers could not carry.  They just came out with the intention of killing any human being or living thing that was found in the compound of our leader. The people they met were not armed still they shot them, even people just standing nearby and those passing through the area were caught in the attack.”

    “The corpses we are burying now (referring to the day of the interview) were found inside the bush. They were shot by soldiers and they ran into the bush with bullet wounds thinking that they could receive help there but no help came their way and they died inside the bush. Some of the dead bodies were discovered last week inside the bush at the back of Nnamdi Kanu’s house. The 28 were those ones that were killed within the axis of the house of our leader. But the total number killed within this range is 305 persons.”

    The IPOB chieftain who said there was no need for the operation by the Nigerian army as members of the group did not carry arms neither were they violent, added that the leadership of the group declared the 21-day mourning for their slain members.

    Disclosing that those killed were from the Eastern heartland, Ofuonye said that in addition to burying the dead, the group is also treating the injured and taking care of the imprisoned ones.