Sunday, 12 February 2017

AFTER THE CIVIL WAR, WHO COINED THE PHRASE ‘NO VICTOR NO VANQUISHED’?

General Yakubu Gowon

In his acceptance speech at the end of the war from Phillip Effiong, Gowon noted: The tragic chapter of violence is just ended. We are at the dawn of national reconciliation. Once again, we have an opportunity to build a new nation. My dear compatriots, we must pay homage to the fallen. To the heroes who have made the supreme sacrifice that we may be able to build a nation, great in justice, fair play and industry. Obviously the slogan of no victor, no vanquished was defiantly that of General Gowon, because it was more beyond that of a slogan, Gowon was pressurized by many to punish the Ibos for their involvement in the war. J Isiswa Elaigwu the author of the biography “Gowon” told us how many of Gowon’s lieutenants wanted jungle justice meted out on the Ibos, he also wrote that there were many civilians public servants and old politicians who wanted the Ibos to be punished, but Gowon, he continued “like a leader who knew his mind and what he wanted, Gowon put his foot down firmly in favour of magnanimity in victory. To the chagrin of some of his lieutenants, he hastened the reintegration process. It was a courageous decision to take: it was the right decision too. 

General Gowon with Justice Mbanefo, formally Chief Justice of Biafra,  

Many people who accuse Gowon of indecision hardly compare the various cases to see the issues involved. One cannot agree more with Admiral Wey when he said: ‘Gowon is a gentleman and he has a mind of his own. But he was over-considerate. This incident showed that Gowon had a mind of his own and could be stubborn once he felt convinced about a particular policy position. In this instance, Gowon was probably not 'over-considerate', given the fact that Ojukwu was even pardoned in 1982. Perhaps Gowon had a foresight which many of his lieutenants who later paraded themselves as nationalists lacked.” The new Nigerian newspaper special war souvenir wrote this abut Gowon’s 'No victor, no vanquished' policy: “His magnanimity, his sense of urgency, his honesty of purpose and his devotion to the cause of One Nigeria and the welfare of the ordinary man and woman in the country are the qualities that have won him the devotion and support of all the people of Nigeria, including the rebels, if only secretly. The Daily Times of Nigeria January 15, 1970, wrote: “It can be truly said of General Gowon that he was moved by Abraham Lincoln's words at a similarly crucial stage in the American history: 'We are not enemies but friends.

Nigerian soldiers jubilate at the end of the war 
We must not be enemies. . . . The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave and hearthstone all over this broad land, will but swell the chorus of the federation when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Atedo Peterside in a Case of Two Generals’ in The New Times Magazine of December 1979 page 26 wrote: “Well, a Civil War broke out in 1967 and it was a bloody one. But then there were few people, at the end, who did not agree that the war would have been far bloodier, if the temperament of the man at the helm of affairs had been of a different sort. The Civil War ended in 1970 and Gowon practiced what he had always preached vis his disinterest in executing even the worst offenders in the 'enemy' camp This singular act won Mr. Gowon lots of friends all over the world, . . . and above all, he regained the confidence of eight million 'Biafrans' who had been fed with endless stories of Gowon's 'genocidal' tendencies for upwards of thirty months." Whatever else he might be guilty of, Mr. Gowon will go down in history as the leader who kept the nation together during a bloody Civil War. Ironically, some of his rash colleagues, who lobbied him unsuccessfully to launch a vendetta after the war, are currently parading themselves about the nation as true nationalists.” In addition Gowon also introduced the three ‘R’s’ of Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation.
Read More »

Thursday, 9 February 2017

ARTS AND CRAFT VILLAGE, ABUJA, YOU WILL LOVE TO BE HERE HONESTLY



I visited Abuja the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria and there I was at the Art and Crafts Village, located in the Central Business District, between Sheraton Hotel and Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre and it is behind SilverBird. It is a concentration of artists and craftsmen. All the shops are made of clay and thatched roofs, creating that look of a typical village.  In the market some of the shops have on display monuments, bead designs, decorations, clothing designs, crocodiles lookalikes, calabash making, wooden sculptures and so many others. I asked the man in charge of one of the shops, that deals on Crocodiles, how he got this lookalikes of the crocodiles. He told me they are real not just a lookalike, they surgically operate the crocodile, empty the content and dry the skin in the sun. It goes for about N30, 000 -N100, 000 depending on the size.







In the market some of the shops have on display monuments, bead designs, decorations, clothing designs, crocodiles lookalikes, calabash making, wooden sculptures and so many others.





Read More »

Sunday, 5 February 2017

'ILLEGAL ALIENS MUST GO' NOT 'GHANA MUST GO'

       Mass expulsion among nations is usually carried out by host countries for economic reasons, although, occasionally, they signal deterioration relationships between the countries concerned. Millions of Nigerian immigrants have been expelled from many Africans countries for economic and political reasons, long before now.
Dr James at Accra, Ghana


1969 - Ghana, under President Kofi Busier government, enacted the Ghana enterprises decree and back dated to 1968. Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians, many born in the former Gold Coast and others leaving there for upwards of 30 years, were expelled and their businesses transferred to Ghanaians. Nigerian's were not allowed to leave with their belongings. Among the government reasons were that Nigerians were relatively ‘over prosperous’ and that many of them were sent to Ghana by Kwame Nkrumah, whose government was overthrown.
1971 - Congo Leopoldville (Zaire), President Mobutu Sese-Seko sent Nigerians parking out of his country, not minding the fact that Nigeria soldiers died to maintain peace in the Congo, under the UN Peace Corp.
Foreigners departing Nigeria 1985 from the M.M Airport



Foreigners departing Nigeria 1985 from the Apapa seaport


Foreigners departed Nigeria in 1985 in trucks like this


1972 - Equatorial Guinea, President Francisco MacĂ­as Nguema carried out mass expulsion of foreigners described as illegal aliens, including Nigerians.
1978 - Gabon, President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba deported all illegal immigrants, including thousands of Nigerians.
When Nigeria asked illegal aliens to go, Africa and the world wondered why. It was President Shehu Shagari Government on January 17, 1983, that first ordered the over 2million illegal immigrants, including 1.2 million Ghanaians to vacate Nigeria. The Shagari government then released 600,000 Naira to ECOWAS member states affected by the expulsion to assist them in resettling the expelled people. The cheque for the amount was presented to the ECOWAS President, Mathew Kerekou of the Republic of Benin. But Ghanaian president J. J. Rawlings, deeply angered by the expulsion, rejected the grants saying Ghanaians were no beggars. At the end of the action, Africans legally resident in Nigeria were Ghana 6,460; Niger 1,251; Chad 717; Cameroun 317 and Togo 298.

Foreigners departing Nigeria 1985



Foreigners trekking away from Nigeria 1985 from Illela border post


On April 15, 1985, the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs under the Federal Military Government of General Muhammed Buahri ordered the massive expulsion of immigrants from Nigeria, the aliens, conservatively estimated then to be about 700,000 were to ’regularize’ their papers or quit Nigeria voluntarily by May 10. Internal Affairs Minister then, Mohammed Magoro announced "No extension would be granted, all illegal aliens must leave Nigerian soil for their countries. The Federal Military government reasons were that some aliens were misusing the ECOWAS agreement by coming in illegally without traveling document and overstaying the stipulated period; that uncontrolled influx will aggravate unemployment and criminal activities like smuggling and armed robbery.

The departure points were the Idiroko border, Badagry border, Sokoto-Niger border, Calabar Cameroun- border, Murtala Muhammed International airport, Apapa sea port. Some immigrants started trickling out through the airport almost immediately after the April 15 announcement, others waited till May 3, when Nigeria temporarily opened her border to facilitate their movement. On the morning of May 3rd, at the Idiroko border, about three hundred illegal aliens waited to pass through the borders assembled on the lawn of the border post, yelling and jumping. Immigration and Customs officials were in total confusion, because of the refusal of the Republic of Benin border guards, who refused entry to non-Beninois to pass through. Their fears was that there was no transit camps for the multitude. No drinking water, no food. The Area Administrator of the Immigration and Customs at Idiroko, I. A. Bolanta was as confused as his staff. The other four security agencies, the NSO, the police and the army intelligence involved in the exercise at the Idiroko borders were also worried on what to do with the massive crowed at the border. Major W. Ekpon of the Nigerian Army was in charge of security.

May 10, 1985 - By 6:00pm, all immigrants who were not cleared for their home- ward journey were escorted to the harj transit camp at the Murtala Mohammed International airport, Lagos, from where they were taken to the Apapa port in batches for the trip home by sea.
May 12, 1985 - Two days later, hungry and angry Ghanaians and other nationals went on the rampage around the international airport, burning bill boards and throwing rocks at passersby. It took the police 3 hours to restore order, and many of the rioting aliens managed a smile after the then Lagos Police Commissioner Saminu Daura assured them that adequate arrangement were made for their journey back home. The Ghana’s High Commissioner to Nigeria then was Brigadier K. Adu-Bediako, who worked with his country's government to make their journey a success. That same day the first ship load of illegal immigrants sailed for Ghana’s terminal port of the MV River Jiminy. Another batch left the following day on the MV Oshun.

While the Beninois walked in easily into their country, the Ghanaians had to wait for Togo to approve their passage. Each immigrants was allowed to take out only 20 Naira by the Nigerian officials. Excess were confiscated by the Customs, who recorded how much were ceased on a sheet of paper against the name of the alien. Initially, Benin officials were willing to allow the Ghanaian through, only if they will be taken directly to the Aflao border between Ghana and Togo, without stopping over on Benin territory for a fare of 30 Naira per passenger. Nigerians officials said only 20 naira was allowed each immigrant, and that plan did not work. Though Benin agreed somewhat reluctantly to open partially its borders, from 3.00am – 5.00pm daily for the exercise.

Apapa seaport 1985, as foreigners depart


Foreigners must go, 1985


Aliens heading home from Niger Republic, Benin and Mali through Sokoto, had a smooth journey. Some of the aliens escape with their employers belonging through illegal root and the sand of the Sahara. For example OsiKeth Kofi and Simon Baffor Anane, both Ghanaians, were intercepted at the Niger end of the border and returned to Illela post in Nigeria, after it was discovered that they stole 6,500 naira belonging to their employer, Mr. Titus Awoyele, director of Kwalala guest inn, Sokoto.
Ghanaians who went by sea, paid 150 naira per passenger, the ships used included M.V Adama, Olokun, the Ferial. By air, the Murtala Muhammed airport in Lagos was open for the Nigerian Airways and Ghana’s national carriers were on ground to fly their passengers, Lagos-Accra was 44 Naira.
It was this period that illegal aliens mostly planning on how to go back to their country without carrying the common tin-box, came out with the common bag that is so popularly now called "Ghana Must Go".
Read More »

Friday, 3 February 2017

KASHIMBILA A PLACE TO VISIT AND FEEL NATURE

See the mountainous beauty of Kashimbila


While at Kashimbila, I visited the multipurpose dam in Taraba State, this dam have the ability to prevent any disaster if the Lake Nyos in Cameroon collapses, considering the fact that on August 21, 1986, Lake Nyos suddenly emitted a large cloud of CO2 gas which caused intense suffocation killing 1,700 people and 3,500 livestock in nearby towns and villages. It can serve over 30 million Nigerians and thousands of livestock and hectares of land from destructions in Taraba, Benue, Cross River, Kogi, Anambra, Delta and Bayelsa states and can also rival the Obudu Ranch Resort and generate electricity.

The mountain peaks are shaped like Carmel backs

At the KASHIMBILA MULTI PURPOSE DAM


I understand that the Kashimbila dam project was conceived with the principles of integrated water resources management in mind, understanding that water drives the economic and social development of nations. In developing the dam, a holistic approach to water management in which many different aspects are closely connected and work successfully together was adopted.  The dam construction is awarded to Messrs SCC Nigeria Limited. while there I sighted the Project manager of the SCC Michael Rolbin but I did not chat with him. The multi-billion naira Kashimbila dam project was first inaugurated in 2007, the construction company moved to site and began the foundation work. But, government was to abandon the project until 2010 when President Goodluck Jonathan resuscitated the project and finished it. A great tourism potentials, I must confess.

KASHIMBILA MULTI PURPOSE DAM






Untarred road  leading to Cameroon from Kashimbila

KASHIMBILA MULTI PURPOSE DAM



I also visit 'Bate Village', near river Kastina-Ala, in Kashimbila.  Kashimbila is a product of nature’s wonder comparable only to the mountainous beauty of Obudu. The town is surrounded by hills and many rocks rest on the hills. The hill, valley and the rocks in the background divided Nigeria from Cameroon. Overlooking the Mambilla Plateau, Nigeria's Northern continuation of the Bamenda Highlands of Cameroon, located in the South Eastern part of Taraba state, close to the border separating Nigeria and Cameroon.

Nature at its best!
Read More »