About A Unique Nigerian Leader

About Nigeria’s Genuine Mai-Gaskiya (The Sincere one), the Real McCoy. An Exemplary Paragon of Integrity and Epitome of Humility and A Man for All Seasons condensed from Nowa Omoigui’s; From Kampala To Lome To London and Back To Nigeria

How and why General Gowon lost grip was multi-factorial. On July 29, 1975, nine years to the day a coup he did not plan brought him to power at Ikeja Barracks, elements within his ‘constituency’ “recalled” him. Former secessionist leader Emeka Ojukwu, who was still in exile in Ivory Coast, reacted to the news of the coup against Gowon – according to Frederick Forsythe – with a smile.

Nevertheless, General Gowon, far away in Kampala, had friends. Many offers of residence came to him in Kampala from various African countries. He notified the new regime in Lagos that he would leave Kampala for Lome in Togo. Since he was financially broke, teary-eyed members of the Nigerian delegation along with staffers at the Nigerian High Commission in Kampala donated 3000 pounds sterling to enable him begin a new life. He was flown to Lome – via Garoua in Cameroon – aboard President Idi Amin’s executive jet. Part of the flight passed through Nigerian airspace and Gowon took the opportunity to transmit a radio message reaffirming loyalty to and support for Brigadier Murtala Muhammed’s new regime. Although offered permanent domicile in Togo he chose to join his family in the United Kingdom. He received an additional 10,000 pounds sterling donation from General Eyadema.

Following a telephone call to Brigadier Murtala Muhammed (his Barewa College and Royal Military Academy junior) during which he made requests for elementary federal assistance, he left for London.

When he got to London, he was offered official accommodation by the Nigerian government which he, however, turned down for a variety of reasons. After some weeks at the Portman Hotel, he moved into the house of an old friend – Mr. Emmanuel Otti – at 472 Finchley Road, London. The delay was to enable the house to be redecorated by Mr. and Mrs. Otti and Brigadier Sam Ogbemudia (who had been in the UK when the coup took place in Nigeria). Other friends came to the assistance of the family. It was not until September 1975 that he began to get his pension and gratuities as a retired Four-Star General. In the nine years he had been Nigeria’s ruler he had not built himself a single house, inside or outside the country, nor did he expropriate one kobo of government money. Unlike some of those who served under him, his TOTAL savings throughout his service years as well as his years as Nigeria’s leader was N75,000 – all of which was inside Nigeria.

In time to come this would stand in stark contrast to the conduct of and personal fortunes of most of those who conspired to remove him from office – or benefited from it.

Once settled in with his family, the General, who was offered several Masters Degree programs, signed up for undergraduate studies in Political Science at Warwick University. Newspapers in Nigeria later carried news items and photographs depicting the former Nigerian leader carrying trays in a student cafeteria in the UK. The Muhammed regime was embarrassed and therefore dispatched Brigadier TY Danjuma (who, took Kano born Col. Wali along) to ask Gowon adopt a supposedly more dignified stance. Gowon rejected the overture and reassured his “embarrassed sympathizers” that he was comfortable with his situation. He made friends among the Nigerian students at Warwick, including a family friend of mine, Desmond Guobadia, now a legal practitioner in Lagos. Meanwhile his spouse, the former First Lady, Mrs. Victoria Gowon (who was a nurse) registered as a catering student at a University College in London.

Col. BS Dimka, an officer from the Angas ethnic group of Plateau State, announced the botched February 1976 coup bid. Tragically, General Muhammed was killed, along with Colonel Ibrahim Taiwo and a few others. Gowon vigorously denied the allegation of complicity. In an atmosphere of open press speculations, suspicion and outright condemnation, he was invited by Brigadier SM Yar’Adua, to appear before the investigating board in Lagos. In the meantime, all his privileges were suspended. Even his pension, which was his right – and not a privilege – was also illegally suspended. His brother, Air Force Major Moses Gowon, was detained (because he was his brother) – and later discharged from service. Another brother, Captain Isaiah Gowon, was jailed for 15 years – after a second court-martial – because of an innocuous visit to the School of Artillery in Kaduna on February 13.

Fearful of the press-hyped atmosphere and presumption of guilt prior to investigation and trial Gowon suggested a neutral country as the venue of his submissions to the investigating board. He also offered swearing to an affidavit and responding point by point to any questionnaire of the government’s choosing. The government, urged on by a mob-like mentality that pervaded the Press, refused. Instead, efforts were made to get the General to return to Nigeria by subterfuge.

Mistrustful of the intentions of the regime, Gowon wrote a lengthy and very detailed letter of explanation offering to assist the government to find a solution to “the endemic problem of coups and counter-coups in Nigeria.” One week later, a government announcement monitored over the Voice of America asserted that General Gowon had been stripped of his rank, honours and entitlements. However, no official letter was ever sent to that effect – in part because the government cannot forfeit the rank of an officer unless such an officer has actually been convicted of treason or other serious felony – which had not happened.

With no further income from his pensions, Gowon once again had to rely on old friends. Mr. Otti absolutely refused to collect rent from him. Gowon wrote a letter to some African leaders explaining his situation. None, except one, responded. This African leader – with whom Gowon had no prior personal relationship – gave him $50,000 to purchase a house. On another occasion then President Ahidjo of Cameroon – who did not respond to Gowon’s initial appeal – sent his children some pocket money during a visit to London. The school fees of his first son were paid for by an old Caucasian friend. Some members of his family in Nigeria sent money too from time to time. A wealthy international businessman from then Bendel State reportedly gave him a monthly stipend of 500 pounds sterling for 18 months while the Nigerian Ambassador to an unnamed European country offered him an old Volkswagen Passat. In the meantime, barely scraping a living, the General continued his undergraduate and, later, graduate studies at Warwick – including a PhD thesis on ECOWAS

On October 1st, 1981, after consultations with the National Council of States, President Shehu Shagari deftly rescinded the order published in Vol. 66; Official Gazette No. 3 dated January 18, 1979. Since Gowon was never convicted, there was no basis for a “pardon”.

The public reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Gowon, during a subsequent interview with the BBC, said he would return to Nigeria upon completion of his studies. He also added his voice to appeals for the government of Shehu Shagari to pardon his wartime opponent, Emeka Ojukwu – an event that later took place in 1982. It was also late in 1982 that traditional rulers from Plateau State launched a fundraiser to build a house in Jos for the former Nigerian leader.

It would be some years to come before his rank and privileges – wrongfully terminated without trial – would finally be fully officially re-acknowledged. General Yakubu Cinwa Gowon (rtd) is still alive and active as an elder statesman.

*Copied from Ahmed Yahaya Joe Facebook post

LAGOS BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

LAGOS MARINA BEFORE
LAGOS MARINA AFTER

The best way to contextualize the growth and transformation of Lagos is by looking at the same southeastern view of the Marina towards the Lagos Yacht Club across the strait separating Lagos and Victoria Islands centuries apart up to Wilmot Point and beyond.

I am surprised and disappointed that Lagosians have also been caught up in the crossfire of identity politics in Nigeria. I have always assumed the “Center of Excellence” was immune to the kind of xenophobic indigenes-settler dichotomy that has bedeviled the rest of our nation, Nigeria. This post is therefore inspired by the recent intervention of Omo Eko Pataki, a forum for “Original Lagosians” entitled; Lagos – The Imperative of Cultural Renaissance. I thankfully became aware of it courtesy of the esteemed Taiwo Ogunbote of Center for Human Capital and Democratic Development, an old Gregorian of Obalende and former officer of the New York Police Department (NYPD).

Anybody who is familiar with the history of Lagos would admit that the entrepôt has always been a culmination of external factors revolving around trade and commerce from its obscure days as an Awori fishing settlement to its hostile takeover by the forces of Oba of Benin that named it Eko (which means war camp), which the Portuguese seafarer renamed Lago de Curamo in 1472.

However, it was not until Royal Navy officer, John Beecroft in 1849 who became the British consul to the Bights of Benin and Biafra based in what was now anglicanized to Lagos; which became a major hub for the present South West hinterland, which had to bombarded to military submission by Her Majesty’s warships in 1851.

For Lagos to stabilize itself amidst the incessant crisis between the Akitoye and Kosoko ruling houses and transform the strategically located “swamps and lakes” port to the Atlantic into a commercial hub order had to be restored and a semblance of authority must be established. Simply put the Union Jack had to be hoisted. To pull that off 2 persons were crucial – Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who took up the matter at the British parliament through his fellow Anglican bishops and abolitionists at the House of Lords and Madam Tinubu who impressed upon the local elite the need to transit from slave trading to a more lucrative and less hazardous legitimate trade.

Bishop Crowther was from Osoogun in present-day Oyo state and Madam Tinubu actually Efunporoye Osuntinubu, an Egba of Owu ancestry from Ojokodo in present-day Ogun state. Arguably, without their intervention we probably wouldn’t know Lagos as it is today.

What has also been perhaps deliberately neglected in the history of the evolution of Lagos is the role of the amalgam of Hausa speaking people. The Male Revolt was a slave rebellion that took place in January 1835 during Ramadan in the city of Salvador da Bahia in Brazil. In Bahia, the Hausas were primarily identified with practicing Islam because they adopted the religion before coming over to Brazil. Over time however, with the Nago slaves they united to revolt. Some of the key figures important in planning the uprising were: Ahuna, Pacífico, and Manoel Calafate.

“The word Nago derives from the word Anago, a term that the Fon-speaking people used to describe Yoruba-speaking people residing in the kingdom of Ketu now in the present-day Benin Republic.”

The aftermath of the Male Revolt led to emancipation of slaves in Brazil many of which opted to return to Africa. In 1851, a pioneer group of 60 freed slaves chartered a ship for the then equivalent of $4000 to return to Badagry. These returnees became known as Aguda which by the 1880s constituted almost 10% of the population of Lagos. Others eventually joined the return to Lagos; the Amaro from Cuba and Saro from the Caribbean via Sierra Leone.

“On 21 April 1863, John Hawley Glover was appointed administrator of the government of Lagos Colony, he remained there till 1872. Glover formed the nucleus of present-day Nigeria’s Army and Police with 10 Hausa runaway slaves on 1 June 1863. The group was known as Glover’s Hausas or ‘Glover’s Forty Thieves’. Glover went to great lengths to develop bonds of personal loyalty with the Armed Hausas. He personally trained, commanded, and chose his successors, ensuring their loyalty. In return for their loyalty, Glover rewarded his troops with land and dwellings. He raised their pay and provided them with smart uniforms that broadcast their status of free men and agents of the British colonial government.”

Who are then the original Lagosians?

The Aworis or Binis or even the descendants of Glover’s Hausas, Agudas, Amaros or even Saros?

How do we situate the millions of Igbos in Lagos that arguably constitute one third of the population of Lagos? What about the Ago Awusa that were located between Epe and Itokin from where Madam Tinubu’s fifth husband Momoh Bukar hailed from before that Hausa camp was resettled in Alausa in present-day Ikeja?

Anyway the main grouse of Omo Eko Pataki is that; “the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu; his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, and many top political office holders in the state are not natives of Lagos State”.

They further contend that ”the senators representing the state at the National Assembly – Oluremi Tinubu and Solomon Adeola; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Folasade Jaji; and the Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, are also not from the state” also that the “legendary accommodating openness” that Lagos State is known for was becoming a curse, noting however that they would no longer watch the state become “a no-man’s-land” The forum also claims “Lagosians are now reduced to almost “second-class citizens on their native soil”
For me the fundamental issue at stake is; The Tragedy of the Commons which is described by Garrett Hardin in 1968 as “All human relationships involve give and take, all such relationships breakdown when one or more parties do too much taking and not giving” Apologies to the Gbaygi of FCT.

“Isale Eko translates to ‘bottom of Eko’, was so named because of its location south of the area called ‘Eko’ (later called Lagos). Isale Eko started as the home of Aromire, a pepper farmer who was one of the sons of Olofin, an Awori settler, who was the chief of Iddo Island and the first Idejo (landowner) of Lagos Island. Aromire’s farm settlement, which was the first home of the inhabitants of Isale Eko, is today known as ‘Iga Idunganran’ (The Pepper Palace), the palace of the Oba of Lagos.” It was from this palatial surroundings the Oba of Lagos in 2015 threatened to sink the Igbo if they voted contrary to his political preference.

Unfortunately the joke is now on him as the Omo Eko Pataki under his royal nose are today poking their fingers at “the abberation which emerged since 1999”

In conclusion; Who build this Gada (Bridge)? This for me is a fitting metaphor for who built Lagos, a question asked by “Acksion Governor” Brigadier General Raji Alagbe Rasaki, the military administrator in Lagos 1988-1991 while inspecting a poorly constructed culvert over a flood channel. The Omo Eko Pataki needs to understand politics is a numbers game and must therefore skillfully negotiate their relevance even in their own domain by way of an issues based engagement. The 1999 Constitution is clear and unequivocal on the eligibility for public office and the right to residency anywhere in Nigeria. “Indigene-ship” is a colonial legacy for divide and rule.

Come October 1, it will be 60 years after national independence, so we shouldn’t be having this kind of conversation in our nation.

Eko o ni baje o!

ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF – ‘This child will be great.’

A short first 3 chapters review:

I’m mightily fond of biographies but I’m the first to admit there is a major demerit of Biographies/Autobiographies of notable persons, fact that we know how the book concludes. So if you’re all about extended suspense & sudden dramatic endings, you won’t enjoy Biographies of notable persons. Biographies are more about information & content.

CHAPTER 1- The Beginning

I will be more elabourate in this chapter because of its foundational place in the story.

ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF starts by telling of the old sage that visited soon after her birth to reveal her title: “This Child will be Great”. It was prophetic as it turns out but living through educational difficulties, marital problems, economical turmoil etc, Ellen & her mother couldn’t possibly see this laughable prediction coming true.

Her initial challenge in campaigning for the presidency was in establishing her indegenious credentials, and not the elitist Americo-liberian that she was labeled with. Her popularity didn’t just hold her in good stead.

Her Grandfather (Jahmale) was a local chief who emerged as a popular negotiator between settlers & indegenious tribes because of his command of local dialects. His abilities was sought after by even the 7th President of Liberia (Hilary Johnson), the first President born in Liberia. Though he was the son of one of the Liberia’s elitist first settlers, Elijah Johnson.

Ellen’s father was sent to the city as a ward, which is a guardianship system that still flourishes in most part parts of Africa. It entails sending grown children/young adults to assist in meeting up with the crucial need for cheap labor. These youth are transplanted into better off families to work at
hauling water, collecting firewood and coal, cooking, cleaning, tending crops & other domestic work. It was also a means by which colonists spread religion & civilization to indegenious folks.

Not all the wards had an easy go at it, but majority of families, regardless of how discriminating or unjust, gave the wards in their care some opportunity for education & in some cases had their names changed to suit their new status. Ellen’s father, who was taken in by a family named McGrity, was given the last name of Johnson, after the president & his first name, Karnley, westernized to Carney. Thus becoming Carney Johnson at 15, a rebirth she called it. He became a ‘poor man’s lawyer’ (an apprenticeship lawyer), started a career in politics, met a befitting lady & married.

Ellen’s mother, had a more thrilling tale. She was half German. Her grandfather being a German who left after German traders were expelled from Liberia at the commencement of WWI. He never returned & Ellen’s mum put it off as a past she never wants to recall. She was almost white & was marveled at for a that reason. After a brief time of bad treatment as a mere servant with a family, she was taken in by a prominent childless woman from an influential family, where she got the best local education, even studying abroad for a year.

Five years after seeing Martha, Ellen’s father; Carney, divorced his first wife, won the affections of Martha & her guardian & married the pretty half-caste. The young family blossomed in Monrovia until they fell down the success ladder. Here Ellen gives us a brief glimpse of old simple Monrovia & the historical background of how separate states & cities in the USA had settled their freed slaves in separate colonies in Liberia. A huge death rate from the malaria that killed alot of the settlers. Some came willingly, most joined unwillingly, as conditions for freedom or as cargo from enforced seizures of slave trading ships. Thus captured ships with rescued slaves were sent to Monrovia. Persons of the most diverse tribes in present day West African countries & beyond were simply dumped as ‘liberated’ slaves in ‘Liberia’.

Ellen’s family settled in one of the posh areas, with a modestly grand house. She is the third of four children( two boys & girls each). She was named after her mother’s friend. She was a tomboy of sorts, climbing trees & playing ball with the boys with discarded tennis balls.

She fell in a pit toilet hole once. She was so tiny, left alone she slipped through the boarded pit toilet. (If you’ve seen ‘slum-dog millionaire’… Well, you get the gist.) She was rescued by a bypasser after calling out for help & washed up by her mum. 🤣

Theirs was an illustrious home, with her father keeping good company & aspiring to be the first indegenious speaker of the parliamentary. A sitting President visited their home. Her father was a socialite & womanizer, which was common place then, with polygamy accepted. Even Christian white folks kept concubines & had ‘out-children.’ with their spare women. Her mother was religious & ran the primary school they all went to.

She writes of her childhood trips to the villages for vacation, where she learned to swim. There’s her proud indegenious roots which her father never let them lose, even though they easily could. She is proud to flaunt this credential of being an indegenious child of Liberia, a clarity she made to distractors during her presidential campaign. Her respect for the unique biodiversity of the Liberian Flora and fauna, is all highlighted in this opening chapter.

CHAPTER 2 – Childhood Ends

Ellen’s sweet Childhood took a tumble with the sudden stroke of her dad in his forties. He was still trying out to be the first indegenious speaker of the parliament. The then President was encouraging & supportive in this regard. The ‘growth with development’ in the nation was being challenged with this drive. The national economic growth was concentrated in the hand of the few American repatriated elite. On the down side, President Tubman was Tyrannical, building a strong security force to fend off dissent. Ellen’s father saw Tubman as the man who ‘opened the door’ to progress for the indegenes but his sudden illness brought an end to his family’s cosiness. In those days (1950s) medicine was still basic. Her dad felt he was bewitched. As he blamed juju, family adjusted to care for his handicapped needs.

Ellen’s sister left for London to become a nurse so she could help, Ellen was in highschool. She was active in sports. Only downside was being teased for her fair complexion by the indegenious people, as they construe her to be of the elitist group of settlers.

She met her to-be husband in her last year in high school. James Sirleaf was of a Mandingo father & an elitist mother. He was also discriminated against for this. As an added pressure, his Mandingo clan are mainly Muslims & they tend not to assimilate into the conventional Liberian community, till date they are perceived as outcasts. Ellen & Doc, as James was known, met via a friend; Clave. The jealous irresistible Doc swept Ellen off her feet.

He was seven years older than Ellen. Without her handicapped dad’s enablement, Ellen opted to marry early, since college wasn’t affordable. 1956 she was married, January ’57 got her first son, Jes & incredibly, by December ’57 she got her second son Charles, while her mates were off in college.

Doc had returned from Alabama with a degree in agriculture before they got married. It was a big deal then because agriculture was the bedrock of Liberia’s economy then, as it is now. Iron ore, timber & Cocoa were the major export, before the civil war impaired these economic trend. Still it took Doc a while to get a footing at the ministry of agriculture. To make ends meet Ellen took Secretarial work with expatriate firms.

This was her first venture into finance. She borrowed trucks from work to lift the sand they built their first house with. They farmed & lived in rural settings. Doc had to work at a teaching job long before he finally got a ministry Job. Ellen’s sister had returned, married & had 3 kids of her own. Ellen believed in herself & her potential.

Doc got a government scholarship for his masters & Ellen jumped at the chance but it wasn’t easy, without her father’s connection like her sisters had it back then. Ellen’s father had passed on, neglected by his political buddies. Finally she got the scholarship, she got in to study business at Madison business college. They left their four kids behind, splitting them among their grand parents. Here she lingers on the support virtues of the African extended family.

America wasn’t all rosy. Doc’s jealousy had not quite abated. He also always had a drinking problem. Ellen worked at a posh store alongside her studies, a job Doc considered demeaning. After a single scene at her work place, he grumbled but back down because they need the money.

She was working the day US President JFK was assasinated. Doc’s jealousy moved dangerously to the physical, with gun threats. There wasn’t much she could do but bear it. Doc finished his course and returned a year before Ellen, who stayed back to finish up. When she returned and started work at the debt office of the ministry of finance, she felt her ambitious streak let lose as she played catch up. Doc grew more jealous of her progress. She threw herself into work.

They quarreled increasing. After an incident with his gun, when their first born sprayed insecticide at the father when he threatened Ellen with the gun, it dawned on her she had to leave him. When they agreed to separate, he kept the boys & she moved in with her mum. She secured a divorce when Doc was out of town. He made a number of scenes at her office later on. They ended up as friends at long last when he remarried. He migrated to Florida & she gave the keynote address at his funeral. He was cremated. Her youngest son stayed with Doc’s brother, a medical doctor. That son is now an MD himself. The third boy; Rob, was returned to her because he was unsettled without her.

CHAPTER 3 – America Again

Don’t blame the man in me, but I like the way she started this chapter.

“Divorce is difficult, even when it is absolutely necessary.” This goes both ways, believe me. I’ve seen it play out countless of times, on both ends severally, to know well. The guilt & adjustment is common.

Ellen’s was more of fitting in with the disrespect & suspicions that female divorcees experience. Her placing in the finance ministry gave her holistic view of the dire economic situation of the country. From the onset, the economy of Liberia wasn’t particularly well off as a colony of sorts before independence. As late as the 1930s, some leaders were still counting on a mass exodus of black Americans to shore up the country and its economy but instead the black Americans moved to industrial northern U.S. cities. Then came World War I—and Liberia couldn’t compete with the more established trade affairs of the British empire or French in the late 1800s & earliest 1900s.

Here I beg to quote a section:

“One cannot talk long about Liberia without discussing the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company. It is our largest private employer and runs what is considered the largest rubber plantation in the world within
our borders. For better or worse, no other single company has had a more significant impact on the history and development of our land. Firestone arrived in Liberia, excited about the country’s perfect conditions for growing rubber as an alternative to its single Asia source and intrigued by the small, defunct British commercial operation at Mount Barclay, a lowland coastal plantation of about two thousand acres situated on a former mangrove swamp and jungle about twenty miles east of Monrovia. Firestone and the Liberian government easily reached an agreement for Firestone to take over that plantation; the company was granted a long-term lease for $1 an acre the first year and a flat $6,000 per year thereafter. But Firestone had larger plans. After much negotiation, Firestone was granted the right to lease up to 1 million acres of “suitable” Liberian land for 6 cents an acre and 1 percent of the tax value of
the rubber exported—and to do so until the year 2025.

“By any measure, it was a sweetheart deal for Firestone.
According to the Dutch economist and historian Fred P. M. van der Kraaij. After the draft concession agreement was approved by the national legislature, Firestone suddenly introduced a new clause. This
so-called Clause K made the agreement dependent on a $1 million loan from Firestone to the Liberian government. At the time of Firestone’s establishment in Liberia, the nation’s economy was stagnant and bankrupt. Although the loan proposal and ensuing negotiations raised fierce protests both outside and inside the country—where some Liberians feared the influence such a loan would create on the Liberia government—under pressure from the U.S. State Department and eager for the cash to repay a $1 million debt to
British bankers, Liberian officials eventually agreed to the deal.
Thus Firestone gained—for nearly a hundred years—almost unlimited control over an area equal to 4 percent of Liberian land and nearly 10 percent of land considered arable. And, by virtue of the loan the company’s entry into Liberia served mainly to reinforce Liberia’s financial dependency. For the next eighty years Firestone amassed huge profits and had a strong and decisive say in Liberian politics.”

End of quote.

Firestone had it’s foot on Liberia’s throat. The army of workers suffered & not much was done to ease the burden on them. Firestone didn’t establish industries but carted away resources & paid next to nothing in revenue.

When 1944 Tubman’s reforms took root & foreign investment flowed in, few Liberians outside the settlers’ elite clique truly benefited from the influx of foreign businesses. Thousands of Liberians were given jobs, but almost always lower-level, manual-labor positions, with
little effort made to train indigenous workers so they might move up to technical or managerial slots. Hospitals and schools were built only for workers of the investors.

By 1960s the economy was in another slum. Tubman lost favor & beefed up his security. There was an assassination attempt on him in 1955. He got a scapegoat in Fahnbulleh, a diplomat serving as ambassador to Kenya & Tanzania. He was arrested, charged & convicted for trying to overthrow the government. Not part of any activism, Ellen had simply accidentally started off in that direction when she stood on the edge of disloyalty with a speech she delivered criticizing the Liberian government’s economic policies. Representing the Treasury Department at a conferece by Harvard Institute for International Development. (HIID initiative). Harvard man, the economist Gustav Papanek, later president of the Boston Institute for Development, was concerned for her safety after that blatant criticism of the Liberian authorities. Professor Papanek gained Ellen admission to Edward S. Mason Fellows, Harvard’s oldest and largest international program. Ellen sat for & passed the U.S. Agency for International Development scholarship exam, scoring the highest marks recorded then. While she shores up her undergraduate credentials, Rob went to live with American friends.

A year later another speech got her into serious trouble. She then plunged into the study of the history of West Africa, learning more about Liberia in Harvard. Returning to Liberia alongside her sister on a ship, Ellen smoked her last cigarette ever. They both learned of the death of President Tubman while eating a meal on the ship. He was 71 & had ruled for 27 years. It was 1971 (& I was just a year old then 😊).

She ends the 3rd chapter with this;

“Jennie and I sat together in that dining room, praying for the soul
of our departed president and praying even harder for our families & our land. We were anxious but not frightened, not really. Like most Liberians, I suppose, we felt in some way shielded from the worst
manifestations of evolutionary struggle and change.

“We always felt that if anything really terrible began to happen, if ever things went seriously awry, America would come to our aid. America was our great father, our patron saint. It would never let us suffer. That’s what so many of us in Liberia thought. But then we found out that EVERYONE HAS TO STAND ON HIS OWN!”

I just wish some of the multitude of violently protesting Black Americans will learn from these words that they are just wasting away in the streets, shouting themselves crazy. At the end of the day, they can only make the white man respect them with what they achieve, not what the white man gives them.

When the looting starts; the shooting starts.

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

“When the looting starts; the shooting starts”
This recent statement by US president Donald Trump were the exact words used in 1967 by the Miami police chief Walter Headley Jr. during the height of civil rights riots there.

Headley who had led that Florida city’s police department from 1948 until his death in 1968 declared to the Black people in Miami; “This is war” But as Carl von Clausewitz famously put it; “War is the continuation of politics by other means” If so what political message is Trump sending in an election year by repeating Bradley’s exact words 53 years later? The US leader is simply reminding White Supremacists, America’s largest voting block of his continued allegiance which begs the question of – is Trump racist or just being politically opportunistic?

Whatever the answer the angry African Americans have played into the hands of his political self aggrandizement at their very own expense. Their anger has unfortunately become an albatross instead of a strategic weapon.
A famous quote attributed to Albert Einstein; “Insanity is always doing the same thing but expecting different results” Each time there is a case of White police brutality against any Black person the American Negro community reacts exactly the same way – rioting, looting and arson. The recent fallout in Minneapolis is no different.
However in 1954; “Bernard Garrett wanted to get into real estate but encounters racism that prevents him from being a successful real estate investor.

After a chance encounter with wealthy club owner Joe Morris, he convinces Joe to be his co-investor. Together they convince Matt Steiner, a white man, to pose as the front of the company in meetings to facilitate the sales. Eventually, they become extremely successful in Los Angeles real estate, with the two teaching Matt the basics of real estate investing. The three secure a number of properties in L.A. and effectively integrate a number of previously segregated neighborhoods by selling and renting to Black families.

After this success, he sets his sights on the local bank in his Texas hometown to give loans to the Black residents. Racist bank practices had excluded Black people from receiving loans for small businesses and homeownership. Joe protests the idea at first but eventually relents and the three move to Texas.

Matt buys the bank, fronting for Bernard and Joe, but the local townspeople are extremely suspicious of this move. A bank executive tracks the records of the loans and discovers that they’re giving loans to black people, follows Matt and discovers that his partners are black, then threatens them with exposure which would cause “a run on the bank.” Matt persuades Joe and Bernard to purchase a second bank and put him in charge of it despite his inexperience. The racist bank executive calls in a federal investigator who checks the records of Matt’s bank and discovers numerous infractions attributable to Matt’s carelessness.

Matt, Bernard and Joe get arrested for violating federal banking laws. Facing a 50-year prison term, Matt takes a plea deal, falsely testifying that he was duped by Bernard and Joe. The next day, Bernard testifies passionately about black people being given the same opportunity for upward mobility as whites. He and Joe are convicted and serve time in prison; upon release, they go with Bernard’s wife Eunice to live in the Bahamas.”

This remarkable true story was captured in an excellent movie that was recently released during the Covid-19 pandemic. I have just downloaded and finished watching it. The moral in it is that by thinking outside the box any challenge can be surmounted. Barnet Garret and Joe Morris did not emotionally react to the racism confronting them back then in America, neither did they get angry nor bitter nor become exasperated by defeatism like the rioters recently in Minneapolis. The acted creatively by recruiting White persons to be the face of their company. They taught Matt Steiner golf, power dressing, restaurant table manners and business language and analysis to be their face in a White world.

That a duo of Black business men could skillfully pull off such a covert business strategy in an overtly racist America back in the heady days of the late 1950s and early 1960s was monumental. What Garret and Morris have also shown us is that mutual interest is stronger than any sentiment be it racial or indeed ethnic or religious in our context here in Nigeria and beyond.

The idea is to identify each man’s thumbscrew and turn it. It made no difference to Mr Steiner, a White that Messrs Garret and Morris were Black as long as the US dollar remained Green. The three of them embarked on consensus building for their overall benefit. Everything in life approached from a similar perspective is no different!
Reminding America’s biggest voting block that so to speak “We are all together” Trump has with “When the looting starts; the shooting starts” pulled another fast one at the expense of Black Americans (who are so regular and predictable in their usual response mechanism of rioting, looting and arson) Black people in America and indeed the rest of us elsewhere must learn to always effectively operate outside the box of conventional thinking. The genius in the approach of Garret and Morris was simply they succeeded by hiring white men to be the faces of their enterprise, appearing to run their operations while, in fact, Garrett and Morris were the owners and actual operators of the properties and banks.

They beat the enemy by simply changing the terrain of battle to their advantage exactly how Hannibal, an African inflicted the most devastating military defeat on the Roman army at the Battle of Cannae using just 26,000 men. In 1588, Queen Elizabeth will use 8 warships to crush the Spanish Armada that had 128. Similarly in January 1879, Shaka the Zulu defeated British guns and cannons using strategic envelopment with just spears, bows and arrows.

The effective use of strategic envelopment is all in t Greene he mind!
“People expect your behavior to conform to known patterns and convention. Your task as a strategist is to upset their expectations. Surprise them with chaos and unpredictability” – Robert Greene

Why Maps are important

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

The Chadian President; Idriss Derby’ on his official Twitter handle at 8.15pm on April, 5 2020 posted; “In Baga-Sola, I visited soldiers injured this afternoon during the operations launched against the Boko Haram enlightened. They are proud to have accomplished a sacred mission in the service of their dear homeland.”

Meanwhile, a follow up report with various photographs stated; “Chadian troops had on Saturday launched an offensive against the insurgents in the Goje-Chadian area of Sambisa forest, a stronghold of Boko Haram. The operation, led by Chadian President Idriss Déby, lasted for hours with the soldiers clearing the insurgents off the area.” Without the help of cartography we cannot properly contextualize the foregoing reports as all the mentioned areas are well highlighted in the attached map which is very important in 2 main respects.

First, it shows us that the Boko Haram insurgency cannot be defeated without active support and cooperation of our neighbors Chad and Cameroon. This simply means the main solution to the crisis is actually in Paris. Second, the shrinking water body of Lake Chad is a major factor that has negatively affected the agricultural fortunes of that region which in turn provides the steady flow of recruits to the insurgency.
Let us also not be be unmindful that Francophone Africa has always had a frosty relationship with Nigeria as far back as colonial times. The fundamental question is; does France perceive Nigeria as a threat to its interests in the Sahel? Without properly answering this question I doubt if a final solution to the Boko Haram crisis could be found as it implies the insurgency that has caused so much sorrow, tears and blood has always had foreign support despite starting within Nigeria. Because there is no way the massive stockpiles of military hardware attributed to Boko Haram would have arrived in the Sahel region without going through any Francophone territory. That notwithstanding within Nigeria itself there are various interest groups firing the embers of the conflict because how could such a fraction of Nigerian territory be so problematic for so long?

Interestingly, the insurgency was the political Achilles heel of Goodluck Jonathan yet it has refused to abate in the last 5 years. We Nigerians have our issues and agendas but what is truly going on in the North East? Truth is our wall had to crack before the French lizards started taking advantage of our lack of national focus and direction.

“Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first stage it is ridiculed, in the second stage it is opposed, in the third stage it is regarded as self-evident.” — Arthur Schopenhauer in Allgemeine Verkehrsgeographie (1913)

CONVID 19: Nigerian Earthly Gods are not to be blamed.

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe


Or are the Wailers are not to Blamed instead?

I am glad that the Presidency has decided to reject the call by the National Assembly for a national broadcast on Covid-19. Can you imagine; have they forgotten they are a rubber stamp parliament?

Hmm…somebody should remind them that, “Until the rotten tooth is pulled out, the mouth should chew with caution.” Besides didn’t the “National Leader” of our great Kutuje party recently claim the issue is actually 2023 virus? Anyway Malam Garba Shehu sorry; Alaka, has rightly replied those enemies of progress by emphasizing, “These are not the times for populism and cheap politics.”

Nigerians must learn to respect Baba Fakunle’s privacy so that he can cool his “hotness of a gorilla” in the other room. Anybody that needs to be addressed should tune to CNN and watch Donald Trump. Those calling on Mr. President to address the nation should not forget that; “A chicken eats corn, drinks water, swallows pebbles, yet she complains of having no teeth. If she had teeth, would she eat gold? Let her ask the cow who has teeth yet eats grass!”
This is Nigeria where our leaders should address us only during political campaigns. The Next Level is about peace and quiet before Adetusa’s retirement. Our government is not to be disturbed by you disobedient Gbonkas with petty matters as we are currently focused on repairing the PDP damage of 16 years which shall be carrying out indefinitely. After all we have already achieved national sufficiency in local rice production; what else do you ingrates of Ikolu want again?
With a price reduction of N20 from every liter of PMS it is Danfo drivers and luxurious bus operators that you Ijekun people should compel to reduce transport fares not us. We have done our best under the circumstances for you people that are beginning to behave like Aderopo. If you think because you voted for us you want to make noise don’t forget there is nothing independent about INEC. “Is it not ignorance that makes the rat attack the cat?” Any petrol dealer in spite of old stock bought at the former price must now sell at the new price. That is the defination of patriotism. This government is ever ready to close the shop so that we can chase treasury looters. You think e easy with corruption fighting back? “Because the farm-owner is slow to catch the thief, the thief calls the farm-owner thief!” Therefore any Odewale that feels too strongly about Covid-19 should send in photographs of suspected cases for perusal like the Lagos governor did with the aftermath of the recent pipeline explosion at Abule Ado. Does the Aso Rock Villa look like NAFDAC office or Center for Disease Control? If anybody coughs simply tell the person – Bless you! Or sacrifice rams to the gods. Sacrifice did you say? Perhaps to “Soponna the god the poxes or even Sango the god of thunder and rainfall” So shut up and “boil lemongrass, tea bush and some limeskins including dogonyaro leaves” then isolate yourselves – “when rain falls on the leopard does it wash off its spots?”

If body scratch you eat local rice! So please you Haters should carry your Coronavirus talk far away from us or we quarantine you with Ogundele the hunter. We have urgent matters of state to attend to like making sure the esteemed chairman of our party, Comrade Akilapa with diamond buttons on his safari is not humiliated out of office by saboteurs from where 3 footpaths meet – nearer to Ede than to Ilorin. So no national broadcast on Covid-19 for you. “Let no one stop us and no one come with us or we shall curse them…..When the wood-insect gathers sticks on its own head it carries them” Is it because there is power you want to see broadcast?

Wait till we return DISCO to power holding then your eye will clear. If you vex go and vote for Atiku in 2023. This is not a play!



FINAL WORD

USA vs IRAN: WWIII postponed

By Ahmed Yahaya JoeWhy I am not bothered about the present escalation of tension in the Middle East? Well to start with according to Carl von Clausewitz,

“War is the continuation of politics by other means”

War is also big business for the military industrial complex and not me. My primary concern is therefore the Nigerian economic outlook in 2020 because I barely scraped through 2019. To me what is happening between the US and Iran is as clear as mud as Aubrey Bailey puts it:

“Are you confused by what is going on in the Middle East? Let me explain. We support the Iraqi government in the fight against Islamic State (IS) We don’t like IS, but it is supported by Saudi Arabia, whom we do like. We don’t like President Assad in Syria. We support the fight against him, but not IS, which is also fighting against him. We don’t like Iran, but Iran supports the Iraqi against IS. So, some of our friends support our enemies and some of our enemies are our friends, and some of our enemies are fighting against our other enemies, whom we want to lose, but we don’t want our enemies who are fighting our enemies to win. If the people we want to defeat are defeated, they might be replaced by people we like even less. And all this was started by us invading Iraq to drive out terrorists who weren’t actually there until we went in to drive them out. Do you understand now?”

Simply put Bailey is reminding us of the initial US justification of invading Iraq to search for “weapons of mass destruction” and topple Saddam Hussein that was based on “Known knows, known unknowns and unknown unknowns”
I also find the following narrative highly instructive:“Alexander the Great marched into the Middle East graveyard about 2,500 years ago. Easy to march in, hard to march out. His words. He and his mother wrote to each other all the time. One day, he got a letter from her saying: “What the hell? You conquered most of the known world in a day and a half, what are you doing bogged down there?” He grabbed a bag and shoveled it full of dirt and had it sent back to Greece with a message to his mother: “Take this dirt and dump it around the palace, see what happens.” So Alexander’s mother spread the dirt all around the palace. Later that night, a couple of attendants showed up to make sure she was alright. One says: “Go ahead, after you.” And the other says: “No, after you.” And the first one says: “No, I insist.” And the second one says: “Don’t you tell me what to do.” They pull their swords and go at it till they kill each other. Alexander’s mother watched all this and wrote a note to him saying: “Okay, okay, now I get it.” And he wrote back saying: “Even the dirt is hostile, dogs fight dogs, birds fight birds, men kill men”In conclusion, life can be summarized in just 3 words:

It goes on.

If the world survived the First and Second World Wars why wouldn’t it survive a Third?

👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻US automated missle defense system that defended the 2 American bases in Iraq.
3000 rounds per minute of crazy scary precision. About 10 missles were killed on arrival.

NIGERIAN DEMOCRACY DAY JOKE: JUNE 12TH

Buhari met with the Queen of England in London n asked her…How do you run such an efficient government here?
Are there any tips you can give to me? I want to help Nigeria.

QUEEN: The most important thing is to surround yourself with intelligent people.

Buhari: How do I know the people around me are really intelligent?

QUEEN: Oh, that’s easy. Just ask them to answer an intelligent riddle.
The Queen sent for Theresa May. Theresa May walked into the room,

MAY: Yes, your Majesty.
You sent for me.

QUEEN: Answer this riddle. Theresa, your mother and father have a child, it is not your brother and it is not your sister. Who is it?”

MAY: Hmmm… that would be me.

QUEEN: Yes, very good.

When Buhari came back home he sent for Abba Kyari.

Kyari walk in to Buhari’s office.

Kyari : Sir you call me.

Buhari: Yes sit down and answer this; Your mother and your father have a child, it’s not your brother and it’s not your sister, who is it?

Kyari: I’m not sure, let me get back to you.
He asked all his staff in the office but none could give him an answer. Kyari then ran to Fashola.

Kyari asked: Your mother and father have a child and it’s not your brother or sister, who is it?”

FASHOLA: That’s easy. It’s me!

Kyari smiled and said, Thanks! Then he went back to speak with President Buhari.

Kyari: Sir, I have the answer to that riddle, It’s Babatunde Raji Fashola!

Buhari got angry, and said to Kyari; No wonder Nigeria isn’t moving forward, I am surrounded by dummies! The answer is… Theresa May!!!

A beg don’t laugh alone ..make someone laugh. A MERRY HEART DOETH GOOD LIKE A MEDICINE. Proverbs. 😀😂😄
COPIED…

The Kano Pigs in Gala

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

This was reputed back in the day to be the largest piggery established by Kalil Maroun in Kano to cash in on the massive animal protein demand for allied troops during the Second World War. By 1959 the facility was transporting up to 36,000 swine annually by rail to Lagos for processing and packaging at a plant located in Apapa. That is why in 1962 when “Gala” was first introduced to the Nigerian market there were the pork and beef varieties. Soon after Satis set up shop producing sausages and bacon. In another part of Kano was a corned beef factory. A modern day abattoir including a livestock development agency and cold storage facility were also built in that ancient commercial city by the 1970s. Back then there was no need for Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore because the supply chain was to come from a herd of cross breed of Friesian cows with our local breed at the Farm Center where also a mechanized dairy plant producing export quality fresh milk, cheese, butter and yogurt was established.

The imported cows were fed from the by-products of “Double Crown” and eventually “Power Stout” from a brewery located in Bompai commissioned by the Sardauna of Sokoto in the early 1960s. Now the piggery of K. Maroun & Company is partly a motor part and the Farm Center grazing grounds a GSM market.
Today in Nigeria a kilo of iced fish from Norway is cheaper than its equivalent of locally produced beef. We even import Pizza. Meanwhile the shipping cost of a 40ft container from China to Tin Can Island is N900, 000. That same consignment costs N700, 000 and N1, 500,000 to reach Alaba and Onitsha respectively.

A combination of factors has led Nigeria to its present prostrate position. That is why I deeply sympathize with those that expect a quick fix to our problems. There is however a starting point which is simply to create an enabling environment for business to thrive. What attracted Mr. Maroun from the Juwaiyya region in Southern Lebanon to Kano in the first place is not unconnected to the business friendly nature of that ancient city guaranteed by local authorities. As early as the 1900s Ilyas Al Khuri arrived in Kano where the textile merchant district still bears his surname. Every economically vibrant society must open its hands to welcome a wide variety of outsiders. Unfortunately we are becoming more insular from Ijawnization to Fulanization.

However capital investment is essentially a coward that easily gets scared. It hates insecurity but likes accommodating leaders that point at the right direction like the generation of Governors Audu Bako of Kano and Samuel Ogbemudia of Mid-West. Those guys had imagination. Benin’s Ogbe Hard Court was on the global tennis circuit just as how the Argungu – Kano Motor Race predated Paris- Dakar Rally. Nigeria was back then on the world map for all the right reasons. Nobody gave a damn where you came from. Today governors are better known for being unaccountable for enormous security votes and tinkering with traditional institutions. With the combined resources of their states and those of local government subventions which they always corner, these governors are supposed to cumulatively outspend the Federal Government Naira for Naira in developmental projects. The real damage to our national economy takes place at state and local government levels.

Regerettably all eyes are on Abuja.

Easter Iscariot

Judas Iscariot was a traitor. But was that infamous act of betrayal specifically predestined to fall on him? This question is pertinent because the person he betrayed had foreknowledge of the act yet allowed it to happen. Is it misplaced to describe Judas as a scapegoat? Is there the possibility that he was a victim of circumstances that he neither understood nor had control over?

This is not an attempt to exonerate Judas or launder his image. It is my personal quest to better understand the political context and cultural background of his betrayal that led to a monumental death and resurrection that took place 2000 years ago we are today celebrating as Easter. Truth is without Judas there would not have been the arrest, trial, death by crucifixion and resurrection known collectively as the Passion of Christ which is the very foundation of the Church. Judas was therefore the historic means through which Scripture was fulfilled. The fact that he had degenerated from being an Apostle into an Apostate makes him a villain that acted with reckless abandon. That is irrefutable. We however worship a merciful God.

Anyway Judas was the son of Simon of Keroith which meant he was a Judean. The other 11 disciplines were Galilean. It is against this background that Judas became the treasurer of the group. Judea and Galilee were Jewish parts of Israel sandwiched by Samaria, a land of non-Jews called Samaritans. Politically Galilee was under indirect control of Roman conquest through King Herod meanwhile Judea including Jerusalem was directed administered by Rome’s representative Pontius Pilate.

The Judeans were more politically rebellious and religiously zealous; their concept of the Messiah was that of a military leader that would mobilize an army to overthrow Roman colonialism. On the other hand Galilee had vast agricultural and fishing resources therefore its citizens had a higher per capita income. It was also an area of Israel that was more cosmopolitan with lax religious observance than the more mountainous Judea which encompassed Jerusalem the spiritual capital of the Jews. The Galileans and Judeans all spoke Aramaic but with distinct accents. Judas’s ease in relating with the chief priests that facilitated a payment of 30 silver coins for his betrayal was not unconnected with the fact that Jerusalem’s spiritual hierarchy was dominated by Judeans. The grouse of the priests was understandable – Jesus Christ usurped their authority. Judas had both financial and political motivation for his betrayal apart from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like other disciples he had given up his life for a Master that was going to be arrested and willingly die in the hands of his captors without a fight.

For someone who had been in charge of the finances of a group of disciples that had limited funds, Judas was fully aware a precarious future. Being a disciple meant a life of struggle, harassment and no fixed address. The motivation to embark on self-help was therefore high. Irrespective of his incentive of 30 silver coins Judas embarked on a necessary duty. Interestingly he returned the money intact. Wrecked by guilt he committed suicide. He had left home, alienated his fellow disciples and run out of options. He had neither future nor master. I therefore fully sympathize with him.

The moral of my empathy for Judas Iscariot is anchored upon the Biblical injunction of our mandate to bless those that hate, despise and deride us. If we fail to extend compassion to Judas and indeed our detractors including real and imagined enemies, our faith is in vain. The implication being our celebration is meaningless. We must return to the true essence of Easter and the wisdom it entails, if not we shall increasingly lose relevance, purpose and direction.

“In a speech Abraham Lincoln delivered at the height of the American Civil War, he referred to the Southerners as fellow human beings who were in error. An elderly lady chastised him for not calling them irreconcilable enemies who must be destroyed. “Why, Madam,” Lincoln replied “do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”