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GUEST COLUMNIST

BIAFRA AGITATION MAY HAVE BEEN HIJACKED BY FIFTH COLUMNISTS

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By Collins Ughalaa KSC

For some time now, Imo State hitherto reckoned as one of the safest states in the country, has been battling with security challenges. Hoodlums in some parts of the State resorted to carrying out all manners of daredevil activities. They attacked police stations in some local government areas in the State, killed innocent policemen on duty and carted away arms and ammunitions. Most of the policemen killed in line of duty are undoubtedly Igbo sons and daughters. However, the attacks on the police headquarters in the State and the custodial centre in Owerri, where over 1,800 inmates were released against the society, and the brazen attack on the countryhome of Governor Hope Uzodimma are recorded as the height of the dastardly attacks. Apart from the attacks on public facilities and the killing of security men, some civilians have been reported killed either from stray bullets or outright mishandling of firearm by some security officials in the course of enforcing peace and security in the State, or in the hands of hoodlums.

Imo State had maintained its peaceful nature until the illfated #EndSARS protests. The #EndSARS protests that rocked the country last year took a toll on security agencies across the country. The protest took off peacefully but gradually turned violent, with shocking records of daredevil actions, including attacks on security personnel, security formations and custodial centres. With the attacks on the security personnel, our security officers hitherto known for their gallantry became demoralised. The Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba, recently acknowledged that the disbandment of the strikeforce, the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), following the protests, demoralised the police and created a vacuum in policing. Speaking during a media parly organized by the Presidential Communication Team on Thursday, May 27, the IGP said: “With the proscription of SARS and the establishment of SWAT which has not been able to take off fully, we had a vacuum in tackling most of the violent crimes from a position of strength in terms of having a strikeforce that is dedicated to that, and having our conventional police doing the policing in a conventional way. So, we try to marshal back the courage of our personnel”.

It is obvious that what is going on in Imo State is an unprecedented carnage. It is barbaric for anyone to think that the ongoing carnage serves his interests, or that it affords him the opportunity to cut a pound of flesh from the Governor. It has become imperative to point this out following unguarded comments from some persons that parade themselves as members of the opposition, who see in the crisis a chance to get even with the Government. They believe that the insecurity in the State is in response to the ruling of the Supreme Court that Uzodimma was validly elected Governor of Imo State in the March 9, 2019 governorship election. The opposition figures who express this barbaric thoughts are unpatriotic. They remain stuck in the past and wish the heavens could be pulled down, as a way to get even with the Governor. They therefore suggest that the Governor should step down as a precondition for peace in the State. These weird thoughts are antithetical to common interests of Imo people.

Like the hijacked #EndSARS protests, the agitation for Biafra Republic seems to have been hijacked by some fifth columnists. Hoodlums now seem to lend themselves for use by disgruntled persons to settle personal scores. The attack on Orji Police Division purportedly based on ownership tussle over the piece of land housing the police division, the recent killing of Alhaji Ahmed Gulak on Sunday – which many believe is politically motivated, the hijacking of truckload of onions at Afor Enyiogwugwu and Afor Ogbe in Mbaise area of the State, the reported killing of a policeman at IMSU Backgate and reported killing in a community at Awo-Omamma by hoodlums, the burning of INEC offices, among several other heinous acts, point to the possibility that the Biafra agitation has been hijacked by other interests.

The apparent hijacking of the agitation for Biafra Republic is not the first time groups like this have been hijacked. In the early 2,000 a group known as Bakassi Boys emerged to checkmate rising armed robbery and kidnapping in the Southeast. Sooner than later the group which had its origin in Aba, Abia State, was hijacked and used by unscrupulous elements to settle personal scores, leading to the killing of many innocent prominent Igbo sons and daughters on trumped up charges. In no time the group was divided into two factions. And of course, they were disbanded and consigned to the dustbin of history.

The hijacking of the Biafra agitation by fifth columnists should be of major concern to all. We cannot continue this way. The hostilities in Imo State and the Southeast in general have to end. We do not have to turn against our people because we feel we have been marginalised. We don’t have to cut off our nose to spite our face, or set our house ablaze because we are fighting our neighbour. Whatever the issues are, we should imbibe the habit of talking things over, because it is better to do so than fight over things.

Pundits posit that Biafra is an idea that cannot be crushed by any military force anywhere. It is utterly meaningless to engage in armed struggle in pursuance of an idea or allow fifth columnists the space to hijack it. Ideas are intellectually based and the best way to actualize ideas is through intellectual engagement. The Yoruba nation did not resort to armed struggle to actualize the ideals of June 12. We cannot resort to armed struggle to actualize Biafra either. It would be in the interest of Imo people for everyone across the political divide to come together and realise that what is going on is a collective calamity. According to Police Public Relations Officer, Imo State Command Bala Elkana, it is “a battle for all of us”. No one should play the ostrich. No one should think for one minute that he is not involved.

We do not have to start another pogrom. Should Nigeria fight another war, it does not have to start from Imo State. We cannot make our State the warfront, because it is the man in whose house a fight occured that records the most loss. Our generation did not see the 1967-1970 Nigeria-Biafra war but many of us have seen enough violence in our communities to teach us the destructive nature of war. Let us join hands and end the hostilities because there is no alternative to peace.

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GUEST COLUMNIST

Re: Open Letter to Ndigbo, by Hassan Gimba

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Last week’s write-up with the above title has generated so many responses that I feel today should be a day for the respondents. Please enjoy.

What can be more brotherly than feeling the pain of a brother and providing a way to relieve it? Malam Hassan, as we, your Potiskum people call you, you have shown them the way and the light. My hope now is that Ndigbos will find their trails and walk back again to the path of peace and harmony. After all, a word is enough for the wise.

Abdulrahman Muktar

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What a life-changing piece! … Certainly, a word is enough for the wise.

Yusuf Sardauna Dagare

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What a nice piece. A word, they say, is enough for a wise period!!!

Usman Dankani

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Excellent piece, why are they going on a suicide mission? Why should a shop owner want the market to be burned? Something is definitely wrong

Professor MK Othman

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Very Apt. May the good Lord divinely intervene in Jesus name, Amen.

Frank Garuk

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Profoundly Stated, Editor and Do Remain Blessed.

Ayanda Ngwane

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#Words I’ve been waiting for this, sir. May Allah increase you more in wisdom and understanding.

Ahmed Haruna Daya

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Excellent advice Dr A stitch in time saves 9.

Dr Yusuf Iliyasu

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Greater words were never written. May (the ink in) your pen never dry, Malam.

Abdurazaq Magaji

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I couldn’t forget how my two innocent brothers died at “Guantanamo” in Damaturu. My childhood friend too died there too. This Indomie generation doesn’t know war or history.

Bukar A. Musa

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Words of wisdom! Enough is enough.

We are proud of you.

Asma’u Abubakar Mahmud

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Words of wisdom, this is really enough for the wise.

Mohammed Garundole

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Jaundiced piece! Why can’t these almajris writers leave us alone? What i don’t understand is, must we be in the same country with you? Give us referendum and stop crying more that the bereaved.

Dennis K. Ezeh

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@Dennis K. Ezeh I guess you can’t read, or perhaps you have difficulty in comprehending words of wisdom. The type of kindness in this piece alone can attract the wrath of Amadioha of Ozuzu on you!

Yusuf Sardauna Dagare

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@Dennis K. Ezeh imagine, insulting a person who educationally has no mate in your entire family!

Barrah’u Haruna Nasir

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Boy does not know the fire until the fire burns him. Those people are being brainwashed by unscrupulous elements that is why they behave in a dogmatic way.

Ali Musa

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I don’t have time to read this nonsense, people who cannot pay house rent is it land they will buy.

Engr. Ozumba Jerry

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@Engr Ozumba Jerry thanks for reading it.

Ma’aruf Saminu

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@Engr. Ozumba Jerry it’s like you don’t know what you’re fighting for.

It is better for you to read before commenting nonsense, my friend.

Tijjani Idi Maikalanzir

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Well articulated.

Zanna Ali Haruna

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Dear Hassan Gimba, I appreciate your write up on the current situation in the south East. As a person, I don’t support violence in any form and am not here to justify that. I spent close to 14 years in Maiduguri from 2001 till 2014 and I was there when it all started. 

On the south East situation, let’s look at it from this direction based on your write up.

Originally IPOB agitation started with flags and other Biafran insignia and they were labelled “Terrorists”.

Presently no Igbo man is in the security apparatus/architecture of this country or does that mean NO IGBO MAN IS QUALIFIED TO BE THERE??.

In Igbo land, land business is huge business and requires capital but the question is HOW MANY NORTHERNERS ARE WILLING TO PAY?

On the issue of President from Igbo extraction, why are Northerners always afraid of that? Igbo’s are one of the major stakeholders in the Nigeria project.

On saying “IPOB terrorists” killed Ahmed Gulak, my brother time shall tell.

NIGERIA IS BLEEDING

Ozonweke IK Godwin Stage

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@Ozonweke Ik Godwin Stage Objection! When was IPOB labelled terrorist? Answer: When they armed themselves and started destructive actions.

No Igbo man in the security architecture? But it’s not by tribe or region even though you carved out Gen. Lucky Irabor who hail from Delta which is included in Biafra map, no problem.

How many Northerners are willing to pay for the land in the south? Am writing you this directly from the South. Bro, Northerners in the South are completely threatened even though we are financially fit to buy land. In fact in states like Port Harcourt, Bayelsa, excluding Abia and Imo, Hausa people prefer to reside there than the southeast, all because of atrocities committed in Igbo land and the inherent problems of your land dispute over years.

On the issue of the president: we never fear for an Igbo man to be president in this country if he can be truly voted into power.

IPOB killed Ahmed Gulak. Yes! No doubt. Commissioner of police confirmed and I choose that of the commissioner because he is responsible to brief the governor over this issue. Finally, Nigeria is safe since the country has identified its problems and taken the way out of these problems.

MD Faisal

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You have eloquently said it all, sir. A word is enough for the wise.

Musa Lamido

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I salute you, sir, for penning down this million-dollar piece. I think I should say that I would want to volunteer to be the bearer of this super epistle, or the emissary to bear it to the land of the Ndigbo. As you emphasised, we in the northeast have experienced it. So, your epistle is right on time. Let who has ears listen. Come what may, I remain a green-white-greener. Lastly, I sympathise with you, sir over the BH incident that haunted you back then. Allah ya kiyaye mu.

Adamkolo M. Ibrahim

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People with myopic mindset talking junk.

Nzubechukwu Umeojinaka Sampepe

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Nice open letter. More ink to your pen, sir and may almighty Allah exalts you in knowledge.

Auwal Jovial

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Oga you just they blow grammar. My issue with this northern janjaweed is why are they afraid to go their way?

Agu Ike Tony

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@Agu Ike Tony and who is holding you from going?

Talatu Hyat Baji

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May Allah guide and protect you, father.

Omar Ya’u Janda

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Wisdom ink on paper.

Jamil Sawwa Sawwa

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Fighting ourselves will do no one any good in this trying moment. Stronger we are to confront our contemporary challenges… I feel ashamed and disturbed when my brethren are strongly after the collapse of our dear nation. Remember, it takes years to build a nation, we have come a long way, went through the good, the bad and the ugly side of history. Are we going to restart afresh? Are we going to sacrifice all the labour of our heroes past of uniting this nation? Are we going to allow self-interest to overshadow public interest? Are we going to instil the fear of one another in the younger generation? 

Negotiation and roundtable discussion is the best avenue to frontally address the topical issues, not killings and threatening national peace, unity, integration and SECURITY. Whether you agree or disagree with me, WE ARE BROTHERS!

Umaru Yakubu Kirawa

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Well understood, can’t we forget our differences and live as one Nigeria, as said by the great Zik of Africa, or should we sort out our differences and live as one as said by the Sardauna? Am not in support of what Nnamdi Kanu is doing in the east, but the truth of the matter is once any act of criminality takes place in the east, without investigation, the security agencies know who is responsible, but when the herdsmen perpetrate their act in the south, the security agencies will keep mum.

Paul Parker

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Intimidating!

Nwabuisi Emmanuel-Onuigbo

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When somebody refuses to listen to the words of wisdom he must definitely cry for the words of violence. Fighting the problem with violence is just like adding petrol to fire. I do hope that they will listen to not only you but to many concerned citizens who are calling their attention to their acts of terrorism. 

God bless you, sir.

Baba Alhaji Mele

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A piece of good advice. Hope they listen.

Dr Suleiman Mohammed

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A soothing balm, indeed. The record is straight

Raymond Gukas

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Mr Gimba, you are such an amazing writer. To a large extent too, I think you are compassionate with your advice. I see a man who has shown concern at least to his brothers and sisters from the other side. Mr Ike Ozonweke has done well too to address part of the concerns in the east. What I see as a man from neither East nor North, is that there’s still a huge deposit of mistrust emanating from that unfortunate and unforgettable miscarriage some 51 years ago; the civil war. Until trust is bridged, no action of the president from the north will seem right or trusted by people from the other side, likewise when someone from the east steers the affairs of this great but haemorrhaging nation. The president does not seem to be doing enough in carrying everyone along; his silence on too many things going wrong, including his beloved Daura, is disheartening. If he really wants to correct the ills of the past, he should carry everyone along and people like Nnamdi Kanu cannot enjoy the sympathy of the gullible poor who are already fade up and are down already and need some form of reassurances. Let our president come out or better still go to the east as he did during campaigns and talk to the hungry and gullible citizens. The people are in fear and they choose to obey what you may wish to call distant voices because the real voice is silent or appears not to be there or concerned. I wish the people of the East can read your beautiful write-up and flee from the impending and imminent dangers. I don’t want to remember my experience at Galadima – Maiduguri. What is happening now is avoidable. Peace and justice are synonymous, and what is good for Ali, should be good for Emeka and Abiodun.

Emmanuel Clement

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Thank you, Dr Hassan. A timely admonition. I sincerely appreciate the article. This is a must-read for all south-easterners. I’ve already shared it on a few platforms.

Dr M. O. Ezechukwu

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Wow! To end a challenging day like Monday with an aptly written epistle is to end the day well. A word should be enough for the wise. Well done sir. God bless Nigeria.

Halima AbdulRa’uf

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GUEST COLUMNIST

Democracy of irony; the realities of Nigeria’s democracy Day celebrations

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The famous definition of democracy being the government of the people, by the people and for the people seems to be nonsense in the ears of Nigerians. Hold on a minute, someone said we are having a democracy. Is it in the newly formed online or audio country, United African Republic or in Nigeria?I will quickly detail some features of democracy and then together we can tick off the ones we have in Nigeria. Freedom of speech/press. This means barring slander, libel and character assassination, everyone in a democratic state has the right to say how he feels about the situation in his country. Can you say how you feel about government in Nigeria today and not be hushed? On democracy day, the people came out to say they are displeased with the government. A government that is celebrating democracy day sends out the police to harass the protesters by shooting tear gas and arresting them.Fear pervaded the entire atmosphere in Lagos, Abuja and other major cities. It is a funny irony that on Democracy Day, the people have their freedom and liberty truncated. Businesses are closed, transportation grounded and people stagnated all in the name of democracy day celebration. What an irony!Supremacy of the Constitution. The most abused document in contemporary times is the Nigerian constitution. The constitution guarantees the right to freedom of association, of speech, of movement etc. But the government today grossly disregards the constitution and its codes rights. Instead it’s own rules are seemingly superior to the constitution.
Right to life. In 1651, philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote that the consent of the governed determines the legitimacy of the sovereign. That was the basis of the social contract theory. The people surrendered the right to be protected to a leviathan called the state. The state, therefore, wields the power over the people to punish the offender and to reward the law abiding citizens. According to Hobbes, without this leviathan life would be in the state of nature, that is nasty, brutish and short.The Nigerian state neither respects nor guarantees the right of the people to life. We have all become a conquered people. People live with their hearts in their mouths for fear of robbery, killer herdsmen, bandits and Boko Haram. Life in Nigeria has become like living in a state of nature where might is right.Travelling by air is less brutish than by road but it doesn’t make you safer than those who travel by road because you could still be hit by anything at the airport. Bandits are on a kidnapping spree, moving freely across the nation whole the president keeps mum or is concerned with other things.For instance, in his Arise TV interview, the only thing the president said about the #EndSARS protesters was that they were marching on Aso Rock presidential villa to remove him. Really? Power is the only thing that obviously matters to our political class on Nigeria. I shudder to think that the government watered down the #EndSARS protests to just an attempt to unseat the government.Even the police brutality, the savagery of the military and the rising costs of living due to the campaign of carnage embarked upon by bandits and the herdsmen weren’t seen as reasons enough for a protest by the president.Right to ownership of property. This is even worse. Boko Haram, bandits, herdsmen and other gangs of killers have unleashed unabated terror on the people of Nigeria and their properties,  yet the country’s authorities sit pretty, telling us that all is well. All is not well. We are running a war economy. Our currency has fallen. We are losing investors to neighbouring countries. We cannot  keep deluding ourselves that we are in the best of times. We cannot be disguising in the garb of democracy. Nigerians must say no to being silenced. We have a right to be defended by the government. We have a right to good life in our native country. That right is not a privilege granted by the government which deems all of us as its conquered serfs.God bless Nigeria. Alex Agbo is a researcher and a writer based in Lagos .

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GUEST COLUMNIST

US TRAINED EXPERT RECOMMENDS SOLUTION FOR INSECURITY IN NIGERIA

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Chief Iheanyi Chinasa Frank, a US-trained security expert and President, Red Hawk Security Solutions USA, has offered solutions that will help curb the increasing security challenges facing Nigeria and re-focus her on the path of progress through purposeful leadership that traverses beyond the boundaries of partisan politics.

According to him, “This is the time of truth. It is a period to thoroughly examine ourselves and tell ourselves the truth. Insecurity is ravaging our country. It is not that it has not been there before or that it would not be even in the best times, but the truth is that it has gone beyond tolerable levels.

“On one side you have the Boko Haram menace and on the other the ravaging herdsmen versus community residents. We also have armed robbery, banditry, kidnapping for ransom, and ritual killings. Indeed, these vices are realities of our present times. These problems would have been solved but because sometimes many of us want to deny reality, so they linger”, he said.

He noted that insecurity affects the growth and development of the country, adding “we also do ourselves so much harm when we refuse to accept the extent of insecurity that plagues the country.

Unfortunately, this was not the intention of the ruling party, they are trying their best but raw statistics keep showing that the country is losing more lives daily than nations at war. This situation is so revealing and so every well-meaning Nigerian and a lover of democracy should lend ideas and a voice.

“The truth from history is that every case of insecurity, no matter how complex it would seem, has an answer once there is a political will. How do we then solve our challenge of insecurity?; The first is to admit that the situation is bad and to have the federal government declare it a national emergency and involve more stakeholders and village chiefs in solving the problem. Politics is local and security is also local.
In this way, it becomes a national problem and not the challenge of the political party in power.

“For most times we have seen the challenge of insecurity as a failure of governance on the part of the ruling party. Other parties make fable references to developments in this regard, take frequent jabs at the ruling party, and retreat, feeling happy they have scored political points that could bolster their fortunes in the next general elections; this is not right.

“Challenge of insecurity, especially when it involves lives is beyond partisan politics. So declaring a national emergency would go a long way to change narratives and dispositions.
“So it is very pertinent that politicians meet and agree that it is time to drop negative behavior and bad political tactics so that the country can have peace. I insist that the politicians must look themselves in the face and agree, and once they agree, 70 percent of factors behind insecurity would be dealt with.

After that, the politicians and security experts can meet so they can hear each other. My only fear is that security experts tend to talk in billions of Naira and that can be scary. Not all security challenges require money to solve; a lot of them just require brain work and local collaborations.

“The third is to employ the power of public enlightenment. One can use the tool of public enlightenment to stop deviant behaviours in any area of jurisdiction. I have in recent times had things to do with youths from different parts of this country and one thing I discovered is that nobody speaks to their mind, not the parents, not the schools, and unfortunately the faith-based organisations also fail in this regard. They emphasise product over process and discipline, and that is taking its toll. Most leaders are not even thinking in that line.

“The absence of good policy and sound governance, combine to add to the problem. The vacuum created is being filled by foreign influences that are often far from realities. So we have a responsibility to teach why they should not bring harm to themselves and cause society so much pain. The National/State orientation agencies should build more peacebuilding content.

“The fourth action should come before education. There is an urgent need to draw a national development plan, perhaps a four-year plan which would require the three tiers of government (federal, state, and local) running developmental projects in key sectors of national life, all at the same time. Some of these projects could be mechanised agriculture with added value. Where they produce rice for instance there should be rice mills to turn them into finished products for the markets. There could also be small-scale industries that can turn rice into flour, same for beans, yam, palm oil, tomatoes, ginger, groundnut, and cashew nuts. I do not see why we cannot produce chocolates from cocoa. You can also talk about road infrastructure, massive housing, and petroleum refining capacity amongst others.

“It is still inconceivable that we cannot have uninterrupted electricity supply despite the huge funds that annually goes into the sector.

“Fifthly, credit facility has become an imperative. Many Nigerians know what to do but do not have funds. Imagine what would happen where the three tiers of governments are running credit facility programs. When our governments talk economy they talk only about fiscal and monetary policies; they hardly talk about the productive economy. It is time we begin to do so. We must look at the sectors and see how we could populate them with investors. Manufacturing is the livewire of any country. The youths we produce from our institutions must have avenues for self-actualisation.

“The sixth is education. Nearly 60 years after independence we are still producing educated people and not trained manpower. It is time we know that education without skill is a disservice of the highest order. There is a need to change our curriculum and restructure our institutions of learning, beginning even from primary schools. We must help educate and train our youths. I don’t want to talk about political restructuring even though I find so much sense in it. I also don’t want to talk about the police institution even though I know that the police’s main problem is not about numbers or remunerations.

Yes, they are part of it but the bigger problem is the institution itself. The way it is today, recruits would always be forced to bend to a police culture we know has not helped this country. Above all, we need good citizens that will believe in dialogue all the time and not war”.

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