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A Blackman’s last wish

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BY: Osy Agbo

Trending recently is the nauseating video clips showing helpless black men in the cold/rainy streets of China having been dragged out of the hotel space they paid for and a house they have legitimately occupied for years.

The clip showed pictures of men with their families in toe, looking confused and fearful as the Communist police brandishing lethal weapons threaten their very existence.

Maybe they could have just packed up their bags and hop on the next plane home rather than face such inhumanity, except the whole world is under a total  lockdown. A lockdown we all know was brought upon us by a virus not discovered in Lagos, Nigeria but in Wuhan, China.

Just to be clear, they weren’t caught attempting to bomb Beijing or even trying to befriend an oriental damsel which as a black man I understand is a crime of some sorts in China. The only sin committed here was nothing other than being black which by implication mearnt they must be the reason why Covid-19 is wrecking China and the entire world.

Black equals evil, remember!  And so you know, every one of these folks already went through the standard 14-days quarantine and did whatever they were asked to do by the Chinese authorities.

That makes a lot of sense right? Well.. If it doesn’t, that’s probably because you are not black and so never had the ”luxury” of enjoying the black experience first hand. I have no doubt that some here in America may have heard about it. May be in one of those noisy Black Lives Matters’s  rally. For those who don’t know, if you are black, you are automatically a criminal in the eyes of the world.

The burden to disprove lies on the individual black person.  It doesn’t even matter how successful or distinguished you are, as long as you are black, your experience will be same. Unless you are a Barack Obama and even Obama travelling in a private capacity, would still need to have his name tatooed on his forehead to escape the humiliation. That’s the everyday life of about 850 million human beings that call this planet home.

We have been told in the past that blacks would have no issues only if we could just tone it down, keep a low profile, don’t say a word and carefully avoid the prying eyes of the police. That turns out to be a big lie. The rules change each time leaving us more confused and feeling seriously endangered.

It’s true China is in the news today, but it could easily have been London, Paris, India, America or even in the streets of Manila,Phillipines. Whereas it’s more subtle in Europe and America, the experience is nonetheless similar. We use to blame many young black men here in America for being responsible for their own demise, till we kept seeing videos upon videos of none threatening black men being shot and killed for flimsy reasons or no reason at all other than the sin of their race. 

You know, I get it that the world is paranoid about blacks. First, we have certain physical features some many not consider particularly appealing. The blackman is the face of poverty, he is physically threatening and don’t seem to get anything right. He is also the one that is likely to die should the world face a pandemic.

I get it that there must be something fundamentally wrong about the black genome. The only small problem with that myth is that blacks have excelled just like any other race  if the playing field is levelled up. In fact sometimes we have done even better. Many blacks hold patents on disruptive technologies and are behind ground breaking invention, though you may never get to  know this.

Many work behind the scene and are just happy and feel privileged to be given such a chance. I know a lot of top NASA scientists who are Nigerians. You have also a whole tribe of successful African Americans who have written their names boldly in science, technology and business barely coming out from the Jim crow years. 

We have all shuddered at the sight of those hungry faces and charred bodies as they made the fatal Odyssey across the desert. We are now used to the  news flash of sinking migrant boats as they make the desperate trip across the Mediterranean. There must be something wrong to flee a land flowing in oil, rich in gold and solid minerals. Do the world care to know that those precious metals and black gold built most of the legendary iconic towers of London and New York. And that while those were happening, Mother Africa bled dry and her sons and daughter wallow in abject poverty.

Now, If you are black, please don’t just get emotional over this and play the victim. Yes, we are victimized but no one cares to know about that. Truth is that we play a huge role in the fate that befell us. I say that because while China is driving the very few of us living in their land, African heads of state are busy rolling out the red carpet for millions of them threatening to take over our continent. My friend once called it the Chinese invasion of Africa and I couldn’t agree more. I had written copiously about this issue in my previous essays.

While victory seems far-fetched, all hope is not lost. After all a black man is an incurable optimist by nature. That’s why we see an African mum living in a shack but still smiling and remains thankful for the gift of life. In this 21st century, we still have the power to redefine our destiny. The best way to predict a good future they said, is to create one.

Here is a special appeal I believe blacks should make to the world. World leaders should congregate and for once draw up a code of conduct for us. We should be told where we are allowed to go, what we can say and who should be allowed to visit us.

They should also not hesitate to tell us when they are finally fed up and would rather have us exit this planet. I know for a fact that many of us living outside would rather make our ancestral land our final resting place than for it to happen in a foreign soil. They never wanted us in the first place anyway . Everyone deserves the honour of a last wish. We are hoping that too is not asking too much.

*Osmund Agbo MD, FCCP lives in Houston, Texas

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Osinbajo and a likely date with destiny

Written by By Hashim Suleiman

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Prof. Yemi Osinbajo

Let me use this yuletide season to shine my torch on Pastor Yemi Osibajo who at the moment is top most Christian official of the country and a person who has never lost sight of such a responsibility by behaving and acting appropriately. Such quality has silently endeared him to the people and due to his nature you can only know that when you personally ask peoples opinion about him or APC and 2023.

Due to his nature that I have described above and his not being the everyday politician, he may not be the favorite for political headlines by media and pundits but people like us who take extra mile to observe and analyze our everyday changing and growing democracy do see so many likely permutations of which Osinbajo appears the most likely for consensus sake all the way.

Let me make a reminder to my earlier article of November 4, 2019 titled ‘Pantami as near perfect fit for 2023 permutations’ https://opinion.premiumtimesng.com/2019/11/04/isa-ali-pantami-as-near-perfect-fit-for-the-2023-permutations-by-hashim-suleiman/ where I had identified Tinubu’s clear interest in the game but could be stalled by a likely need for pairing with a Muslim like Pantami which is doable but with its attendant challenges and as such a pairing of Pantami with a Christian could be a more perfect fit. Such a Christian is gradually turning out for me to be Osinbajo.

Events have come and gone after the above article and in fact the race for the 2023 is becoming clearer with so much interests for the presidency in the APC and none of them is likely ready to shift grounds for the other, little wonder why Pastor Tunde Bakare had to attempt to shut some of those camps who are hell bent on truncating Asiwaju Tinubu’s ambition for the 2023 presidency bid.

It is not likely that those camps are going to pull back their ‘shakabula’ guns as a result of Bakare’s sermon and one thing Bakare also forgot is that in politics such guns may not kill but they may be spoilers in a supposed well planned operation.

Regardless of all these however, Tinubu has continued his reach out to all parts of the country from Sheikh Bin Usman’s daughter’s wedding in Kano to Maiduguri on a condolence for the incident at Jere local Government.

Furthermore, it is not longer news that Kayode Fayemi and his crew are nursing their own agenda with him being the presidential candidate or pairing with a northerner as vice. The Goodluck Jonathan card is also flying and a friend just recently whispered another card of Orji Uzor Kalu perhaps to placate the Igbos. The people who fly these cards are mostly those who are vehemently against Tinubu’s candidature and I’m not sure they are ready to support it for whatever reason and I’m also not sure if Asiwaju himself is ready to go ahead with his agenda without all these erring groups in the APC or in other words the APC being intact.

Make no mistake to think the Asiwaju who is a benefactor of Osinbajo is not fully qualified or does not enjoy my personal support for the presidency owing to my belief in his progressive principle which I had also enumerated in the November 4, 2019 article I made reference to in the third paragraph above but the realistic fact is there are so many land mines which do not appear pleasant for both his party and himself should he insist to go ahead.

The first major challenge will be that of the religious pairing unless well insist to have a repeat of the muslim-muslim ticket of 1993 and whether such would fly could be left to the further strategy meetings that would be held and such meetings must be made with sincerity of purpose, lucky enough Osinbajo had informed us in one of the Colloquiums that Tinubu holds his meetings with such openness during his governorship days and could give in on superior progressive arguments.

The second major hurdle would be those other groups who would back out in the event of the emergence of an Asiwaju candidature. Such would leave the APC very weakened to go into the election and there would also be anti party activities.

Against the backdrop of all of the above, Osinbajo appears to be the most perfect candidate to mitigate all of the above challenges. He is a Christian of repute who could easily fit into pairing with another Muslim of repute. He fits into the class of the new breed politicians that the Nigerian youths clamor for on a daily.

Apart from being a graduate of the Asiwaju School of progressive politics, he is a very close friend and confidant of all the other groups who might be opposing an Asiwaju candidature. Osinbajo had worked as meticulously as bagging enough friends from the opposition PDP.

If all of these are not enough pointers for a likely date with destiny then what could ever be more. Time shall tell however, but it’s instructive for the APC family to look inwards and make appropriate decisions against the 2023 elections which is fast approaching.

But Osinbajo does appear as the most suitable consensus candidate for the APC.

*Hashim Suleiman wrote from Abuja. He can be reached via @oneheartnaija

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​Adams Oshiomhole: The giant with feet of clay

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Dr. Osmund Agbo

BY: Dr. Osmund Agbo

Who could have predicted that the enormous, dazzling statue with feet of  baked clay that Daniel prophesized to the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar is indeed a sixty-eight-year-old diminutive figure from Iyamho, Edo state. This khaki aficionado, who was t​​he hero of organized labour in the early part of my adult life, is now the poster child of Nigeria’s transactional politics.

Adams Oshiomhole

The year 2023 is still a little farther down the road, yet the APC circus is already out in its mesmerizing glamour. This time, It came packaged with a full compliment of conviviality. One of the bullwhip crackers in the Dog and Pony show, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole is not a happy camper. The ruling party’s shenanigans stopped him in his track and a whole lot of us are not unhappy. 

A celebrated labour leader, a two-term Governor, one of the longest surviving national chairman of a ruling political party in Nigeria. His country home is a mouth-watering earthly paradise, complete with Olympic size swimming pool. Adams heralded his grand entry into the world of the Nouveau riche in May 2015 when he imported his trophy wife Lara, all the way from the island of Cabo Verde.

For a man who once was going street to street, sewing torn clothes just to eke out a living, life didn’t turn out bad after all. The only problem is that while reveling in his new found status, Adams ditched the very people that cheerleaded him to stratospheric success. He must now incur the wrath of Edo god, Osanobua.

Adams got his big break as a union leader in 1982, when he was appointed the General Secretary of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria. It was a 75,000-member strong workers union at the time.

Speaking out forcefully on behalf of a tribe of workers who were being short-changed by their company’s chief executives, the rise of Hurricane Adams as he was once referred to by a popular commentator, was meteoric.

To burnish his credentials, he would later leave for UK and enrolled in Ruskin College where he majored in both economics and industrial relations. Upon his return, Adams attended the National Insitute of Policy and Strategic studies, Kuru and later had a brief stint at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Armed with strong credentials and a knack for effective mobilization, he was elected first deputy president of Nigerian Labour Congress in 1988. About a decade later, precisely on January 28, 1999 he became the substantive labour leader. One of his landmark achievement during his tenure as NLC president was the successful negotiation of a 25% wage increase for public sector workers during the Obasanjo administration.

He also led labour to a couple of industrial actions meant to pressure the Nigerian government into improving public sector working conditions. In 2009, he was rumored to have been abducted by men of the State Security Services. For a big part of the nineties, Adams was the darling of labour movements and became the face of the Nigerian workers’ struggle. His leadership profile continued on an upward trajectory.


When in March 20th, 2008, Edo State election tribunal nullified the election of Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor and declared Oshiomhole the Governor, the mood in the state that prides itself as the heartbeat of the nation was ecstatic. It was God’s answer to a festering political problem of godfatherism in that part of the country.

It was unprecedented at the time that a candidate personally handpicked by late Chief Tony Anenih, Mr. Fix it and the godfather himself could suffer such a devastating blow.

Mr. Oshiomhole went on to declare the concept of God fatherism dead in Edo, choosing to do so at no less a place than the palace of Oba of Benin. But that was our good old Adams of yesteryears. The new one had undergone a complete metamorphosis and is now utterly unrecognizable.

The problem started shortly after Governor Obaseki was sworn-in and Adams wished to continue to run the show in Edo state as the de factor ruler. He believed he placed the new governor in his position and so Godwin Obaseki and the people of Edo state were beholden to him. When Obaseki refused to dance to his tunes, the APC party machinery under Oshiomhole was quickly mobilized for a fight.

It was such a nasty and long drawn battle that ultimately forced the exit of a sitting Governor out of the party under whose platform he came into power. A pure Machiavellian politics at its most primitive form. It seems like Adams Oshiomhole has become the very devil he fought as a candidate for governor of Edo state just few years earlier.

He is now wishing us selective amnesia into believing that the wonderkid he sold passionately to Edo people in 2016 is now a monster.


The events of the past few weeks however, have been pretty sobering even for the Omo ‘kpanabiewho(one man like a nation) of Auchi kingdom. The same could also be said of his friend and mentor, the Jagaban himself.

Godwin Obaseki and Adams Oshiomhole

When you sow the wind, you sure will reap the whirlwind. Both may have learnt a lesson or two on the vanity of life and the ephemeral nature of power. Adam is now forced to heed the wise words of Confucius:
“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

 
Dr. Osmund Agbo is the President/CEO of African Center for Transparency.

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Governor Ugwuanyi: The Man in the Arena

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By Osmund Agbo

This essay was inspired in part by a heated exchange I had with a good friend of mine few days ago. The subject of the kerfuffle was a report published by the National Bureau of Statistics that showed Enugu as one of the only two states in the southeast with poverty rate higher than the national average.

With the rate standing at a dissapointing 58.13%, the coal city state is only fairing slightly better than Ebonyi with 79.76%. 

In some way, we might understand a bit why the two are lagging behind other sister states with the advantage of an earlier exposure to western civilization.

But to be clear, it is jarring to even contemplate that any state in Igboland with our legendary spirit of enterprise could fall into such a pitiful category to say the least. Someone once joked that the rank and file of IPOB are mostly populated by an army of barely literate and perennially jobless youths.

Governor Ugwuanyi

That in essence means that our very republican Southeast Nigeria also habours her own equivalent of the Almajiris that could readily be exploited for political gains. This is not only shameful but utterly inconceivable and could only be explained by lots of years lost to the locust.

As the chief executive officer of the state, I could see why a governor may share in the blame. However, in my friend’s warped world, every fly that dies in Enugu got to be Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s fault and nothing could be further from the truth.

When you call the governor a despot or use such unflattering word like arrogant, one could only conclude that you either haven’t had the opportunity to get to know the man or just making a conscious effort to malign his person. In my opinion, he is arguably the most humble political leader of his stature you will ever meet, dead or alive.

To my friend’s point, the sobering NBS report is not the news we both wanted to hear of our beloved state. It is however very hard to imagine that the actions that precipitated such ranking were taken only these past few years of this administration.

You don’t need to be a Harvard-trained policy and strategy expert to decipher that the effects of long term fiscal policies/planning or the lack of it, takes years upon years to materialize. Any suggestion to the contrary is not only disingenuous but outrightly mischievious.

We had pointed out in more than one occasion that what Ndi Enugu need now is not to be trapped in a cycle of endless blame game that saps every productive energy there is. What is required at this moment is for all stakeholders ( government, citizens, private sectors) to come together and queue behind a solid neo-economic blueprint to face the fiscal challenges that lie ahead. A good way to start may demand that the Governor and his team come up with both short and long term economic goals.

Optimizing our agricultural capabilities needs a special mention in this regard given that it’s one of the least capital intensive venture with the highest  potential to spur growth in a very short amount of time. It will also help mobilize a sizable proportion of our young people who are either unemployed or underemployed.

According to the NBS data, none of the five Southeast states made it to the top ten in terms of tax revenue generated in the first half of fiscal year 2019. This is quite disconcerting given the dwindling federal allocation to the states. Enugu will need to double down on her IGR effort to be able to pay her bill and stay solvent going forward. 

It’s worthy of note however, that the state under Ugwuanyi is one of the early adopters  of Treasury Single Account (TSA) as well as direct bank lodgment system. This has reflected positively on the IGR figures of the state which has risen progressively from about N14 billion in 2016 to N22 billion in late 2018. It also helps that the governor chose Prince Emeka Odo, a seasoned technocrat who had spent many years in the banking sector as the Chairman of the State’s Internal Revenue Service (ESIRS).

Industrialization is another area that needs great attention. Enugu State like others in the Southeast needs as a matter of urgency an agressive plan for rapid industrialization. This is not just a matter of necessity but the only way our region will continue to meet the economic challenges of the future in a post oil Nigeria with restructuring on the horizon. We made this case passionately in our widely circulated open letter to the Southeast Governors published in the Sun newspaper of Monday January 27th, 2020.

The Ugwuanyi administration should lead the charge and position Enugu as a favored destination of new capital. By this we are not suggesting to go back to the old days of state run enterprises like AVOP Nnachi or Aluminium factory at Ohebe-Dim both of which proved to be monumental failures.

The role of the government should be limited to creating a conducive environment as well as provide the regulatory oversight necessary for the private sectors to thrive. States in the western world have utilized different kinds of tax incentives and methods designed to cut through the red tapes in an effort to attract potential investors.

Other measures that will help arrest our fiscal challenges would target reduction in cost of governance with its suffocating impact on our regional economy. A spending pattern that is biased against capital projects is inimical to growth and development and invariably promote wastages and inefficiency. In the same vein, tackling the crippling influence of pervasive identity politics will help field our best eleven in leadership positions. This is very crucial to our success. Human capital development is without doubt a very important area to pay attention to if we are to stay competitive in the emerging global economy.

Those are the issues Ndi Enugu need to be focusing on. This kind of discussion I believe would yield more dividends than launching a barrage of ad hominem attacks against the the person of the governor or his administration. Such has a tendency to distract us from facing the serious business of the day. We have seen quite a few of such lately and it’s incumbent upon everyone of us to play our little positive part where possible to improve the fortune of our state and our people.

Freedom of speech is so paramount to the working of a democracy which is why it was the first out of the ten amendment to the United States constitution( the Nigerian presidential system by the way was modeled after it) as ratified in 1791. The framers knew that the health of a republic is dependent on the right of her citizens to freely express an opinion without fear of retribution. That said, your right as a citizen ends where another person’s own begins. The implication of such being that when you go about throwing innuendos and assasinating characters even if it’s that of elected officials, the law doesn’t offer you such a protection.

We should as a matter of necessity begin to practice constructive criticism and at the same time fight the temptation to go personal. For in the end said Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood”.

It is our sincere hope that we all join hand and stay focused as we tackle the onerous task ahead. God bless ENUGU state and may our future be worthy of our dreams.

Dr. Agbo is the President/CEO of the African Center for Transparency.

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