Nigerian Politicians: They’ve been carpet crossing since our democracy started, not for ideological but for personal and ethnical reasons. They’ve been trying to get back at each other and the electorate, suffers dearly each time, since the Britons left us to our fate. And our fates has been dismal. The dangers, fraught with doom and conflicts. These carpetbaggers never bode well for our union or our safety.

In the past few weeks we’ve seen the open manifestation of this opportunistic volte face, and defections, that the actual boundaries of governance has been disturbed and distorted. The nations political class, has embarked on a ruinous part that hardly makes sense to us. Regardless of whether the country collapses or not, they have set themselves up for nothing else but their gains.

First, it was a march for the “Salvation” of Nigeria from the strangle hold of the PDP, in 2011. Though it was more and simply a straight forward rebellion and rejection, against Jonathan. They went out and they formed the APC and by some UN-Nigerian stroke of luck, an incumbent President was defeated in an election. Victory appeared completely to have taken the wrong turn of events for the APC for they were hardly an ideological party before they became a party in government.

To manage the disaster, which their victory had become, they marched in the dark and sent conflicting signals of what they were about. 7 months down the road after inauguration, there was no cabinet or government to deal with the governance of the country. 2 years after, they were still blaming the defeated PDP for their failures and lack of purpose. Then the internal cracks. The confusion of hierarchy and the long absence of a sick President, his own party couldn’t fully account for his whereabout.

Meanwhile we were, treated to an orchestrated continuous abuse of power by the security services which included the harassment and disruption of the legislative arm of the government, which has continued to this day. This was going on alongside the witch hunt of all who appear to be against the government of the absent President. Which was worse, a party unprepared to govern or a party unaware of its role as an opposition party and a counter balance to abuse? Here, both, APC and PDP, showed them selves a true same coin of a bizarre kind.

There were no statesmen amongst them. There was no humane soul amongst them. They were political opportunists playing for themselves and never spared a thought for the rest of the country. If they disagreed it was not on points of policy or anything good for the nation but on differences of what’s there for each, either as individuals, groups or parties. Meanwhile, they kept on bleeding the nation, the economy and everything in between. We witnessed a runaway inflation with a debt profile that simply kept rising. None of them really bothered. What’s the point? They were really cruising in luxury, what’s wrong about it? And about this time, it emerged that they were raking in much more in payments and perks, far more than their counterparts in richer more developed democracies. And they cared less!

The knee jerk movements of these men and women across parties, going on today and spoon fed to the public, are simply realignments of forces to keep power. They are not based on any new or sudden knowledge or realization that Buhari and his government and party are bad, corruption ridden or a failure. He, Buhari and his party has always been all these even when they were being toasted as liberators. Its simply a matter of urgency that those who aren’t getting enough of the loot or having their ways or agenda’s guaranteed under the old order, seeks new alliances for advancing their motives.

When they have calculated the odds and seen the money flow, their warped minds takes a plunge towards the direction they consider their bread better buttered and interests and stolen wealth’s better protected. Saraki, Kwakwanso, Tambuwal and Akpabio have been in power, held real power and been in both contending parties as we know. Their ludicrous half baked ideologies aren’t hidden and they play for just one thing: Power. We are no where near a realistically true demonstration of patriotism which these men mouth without believing. They are not in anyway the solutions to our country’s problems. For as long as they remain, (Sadly though, they would for the long foreseeable future) within the axis of power and governance, our collective hopes are doomed.

Buhari and his docile, petty 16th century approach to governance has served as the catalyst for this new season of the Nigerian Game of Thrones. He has subdued the legitimacy of governance and uprooted what is left of the civility of interactions within the fragaile Nigerian State. We have seen under his watch, an archaic, yet blind reiteration of the corruption of the mind and system. Prebendalism has crept back into the system, while the laws of human dignity is trampled upon. The weight of his ignorance of an age and society that has long outgrown his strength and wit has added to the confusion that got promoted by his mute silence. These are the seeds that birthed the confusions and defections, high and low, that has set the stage for a ruinous bloodbath, only Nigerians would pay for.

There is no truth in the statements released by all these men. There is no hope in it either. Eager to hide their cruelty and their deceptive and knavery attitudes, they’ve taken to bribing and using the public media to promote themselves. The people painfully and shamelessly applauded. Yet, there’s no sign that our hopes would be accommodated in their new plans. However this ends, Nigerians are and would be the losers.

This dark seasons of defections and deceptions is as well an opportunity to rise up and set things right. It is an opportunity to start a new conversation in the country and about our future. It is time, if we can, a really big if we can, to take a break from this power drunk, and irresponsible politicians that have turned our common wealth into their group wealth. If we can find the essential strength to override them, drive them out and make, out of this chaos, a new thing for ourselves. Yet, I doubt this very much. For we think most with our stomachs and have long been weaned of the strength of character to drive our accumulated pains to the fore and seek redemption thereof!

As the ever twisting plots and sub plots of the real Game of Throne, shows, we are in for a series of dark twisting plots of which the end no man would predict. If nothing else, we should at least be able to call them out for what they reallly are: Thieves, Liers, Conmen and Muderers!

Ireke A. Kalu Onuma

August 8, 2018



Echefula Ala Igbo: Forget Not Igbo Land

(A Speech Delivered to the Igbo Community Ikeja During their 2017 Iri Ji Ceremony, held on the 4th of November 2017)


The theme presupposes a few things. First, that there is a Land worth remembering. Second, that there is an assumption or fear, that this land is being or can be forgotten. And a third but invaluable metaphor here, highlighting a tendency that almost implores and pleads.
What ever deduction we make from the topic, we must be aware that there is a contiguous space, which we all call Igbo land. Which from evidence before us, has become a distant place out there. We talk about it both cryptically as if it is under siege. Yes, it is.
The array of attack upon Igbo land is visibly numerous. From without, the assault has come in the form of political suppression and the limiting of our spaces. From within, it is most visible in the changing faces of leadership, values, ideals and culture. Both are insidious and have gotten hold of our respective personas.
Do not forget Ala Igbo, sounds like an admonition and an extraction of promise; desperate plea, prayer to both our ancestors and us the ingredients of future historical narratives and inheritors of Ala Igbo. It rings also as a firm promise by a desperate soul like the anthem of the Psalmist “If I forget you Oh Jerusalem…”.
What then is this land that we are enjoined not to forget?
It’s the land of our birth. It is the land of our forebears. It is our notions of home. It is home and it is the melting pot of our ambitions and hopes. It is our mother’s womb. The soil and soul of our history and language. We drank and continue to drink from it’s springs of values, cultural spices and from it our tendentious dreams are formed. Geographically, it stretches across present day South East and most of South South. For Ndigbo of my generation who have grown up in a country where we’ve largely been outsiders, the boundaries and the borders of Igbo land have always been fixed and in our constantly evolving knowledge of our history have represented an abstract concept rather than an obstacle or concrete physical limits. With our roots firmly anchored and grounded far beyond our national borders, we’ve travelled, worked and also lived crossing freely those faded lines on the ever shrinking maps.
We have developed a sense of unity, the awareness of being part of something larger than our little selves but largely distant from our roots and, quoting a well-known Baha’i Saying, that “the earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens”. No group has imbibed and exhibited this global citizenship more than Ndigbo.
A combination of actions and activities has forced us more and more to migrate outside this territorial Ala Igbo. But in that, many have jettisoned the “software”, that indispensable ingredient that makes us Igbo. We are not and would not be the first or last generation of migratory Ndigbo. But alarmingly we are arguably the generation that has eclipsed the others in our un-Igbo behaviors and attitudes. That we have replaced our culture, cultural traits, values and language with a dark unrecognizable garments of foreignness is a colossal betrayal of Ala Nnanyi.
We are enjoined not to forget. By this we are being requested and asked to remember. Forgetting is human, but a symptom of a diseased mind is when memory, especially Communal Collective memory becomes warped a is evident amongst us. This has affected every aspect of our lives. We are slowly forgetting our history and our Homeland. And slowly and steadfastly forgetting our language and culture. Here lies the deeper challenges facing us today as a people and a community. Here lies the Crux of the theme of this year’s Iri Ji festival.
What can we do? How can we reverse this trend?
A while back, Igbo Commonwealth of communities had a healthy relationship and competition amongst them. They fought to outdo each other in development and well-being of the local population. The homestead was truly a pleasure to be called home. Fear wasn’t the currency of the day. Then each community built Schools, health centers and collectively educated the brightest and communally awarded scholarships to the less privileged. The beneficiaries of these communal efforts didn’t get to end up in UK, America, Lagos, Abuja or where else they went to. They came home. Have back to the community and helped raise the next generation.
Migration was for them a needful necessity to help them get or earn the golden fleece. This in turn helped them carry out the massive development we all experienced before, during and after Independence. One remarkable trait of the earlier generation, was that they first DID for Igbo land through their respective communities before they did for themselves.
All politics they say is local. All developments are local too. The driver of everything is development. If our efforts at getting the fabled golden fleece have led us to under developing Ala Igbo, then we have openly and brazenly betrayed our history and Homeland. Nothing can be farther from the truth, when we try to defend our naivety and failure by posting economics and profit as the reasons why we are not investing and developing our community.
As I was writing this paper, I tried to look up statistics and facts about Ndigbo and their attitudes towards language, clothing and food. When I couldn’t find any real information about what I sought, I took a simple survey on my own. I called and spoke to an average of 20 teenagers or so between 18 and 28 years, across 4 major cities in Nigeria. On language, those living in Lagos and Abuja didn’t get to speak the language as much as those in Enugu and Aba. On culture and it’s attendant values, those in Lagos and Abuja were more conscious of their Igbonness and expressed it in their mannerism. This I found out was driven by the discriminations they had to contend with on a daily basis. Food was where we had a majority of them, putting down our cuisine as against foreign Staples. What this told me is simple: The next generation of Ndigbo, while not consciously wanting to, seem on the verge of losing it. Here is where we have to get together for a serious planning.
All our outlandish plans at a wholesale massive development based on some faulty formula would fail as it has always failed. As my teacher in Russia would say, stick to what works. What has worked in Igboland is competitive development amongst communities and from community to community. We must get back to that to rescue our places. The era I spoke about were less endowed, less educated and poorer than us. But they had something we don’t have, AN UNFLINCHING AND UNDIVIDED LOVE FOR ALA IGBO.
Today we have formed and bet me, will continue to form different organization, with phony goals and ideals, yet, year in year out we cannot advance beyond our comfort zones of meetings and arguments that yield nothing.
To live up to the demands, which are very urgent today, of not Forgetting Ala Igbo, we must take a few drastic measures. We must hold ourselves solely responsible for the underdevelopment of Ala Igbo. In doing so, we must start the difficult journey of each heading back to our respective communities to re-engage. Our immediate action must be to rescue our various community primary and secondary Schools and our primary health centers. This efforts might sound mundane but it should be the bedrock of reclaiming the spaces. Added values come from usage. One cannot predict what the outcome of this would be but it is obvious that a local community cannot stagnate when attention is given to the demand for investment there.
Echefula Ala Igbo… Forget not Ala Igbo, becomes a rallying call. When we drop our notions of Igbonness and take on the fake identities of our borrowed cultures we are doing ourselves a lot of damages. Language becomes key here. A good way to communicate history and values is through language. We must endear our young impressionable ones with the love of the poetic nature and rhythms not the diverse dialects of our language. Igbo language is not limited or limiting. It’s Beauty lies in it’s uniqueness. Hearing and speaking it gives them a sense of their specialness. When Suzy, Jennifer, John and Some other funny foreign names take the place of our Nneka, Odunwa, Nnamdi, Urenna and so many other deep mystically meaningful and illustrious Igbo Names, my brethren, we are betraying and forgetting Igbo land.
Action plan must be concentrated in building up the Homeland. We must be truly visionary in conceptualization of present and Future Igbo communities. We must build and create within the changing nature of our migratory nature. We cannot legislate a whole scale return or Exodus of Ndigbo back to Ala Igbo. But we can tweak and tinker with our notions of what our relationships with her is and ought to be.
Where ever Ndigbo congregate outside the Homeland is and ought to be called Ala Igbo. Here the physical becomes relative and at most irrelevant. It’s the spiritual that becomes key. The language. The norms. The values. The Artistic. The Cuisine. The Attire and the myriads of internal pulses and traits that define our way of life. All these with a focused eye on the Homeland would be the new approach towards keeping the promise of never forgetting our land. As a growing global tribe, we must not be limited by space and norms. We imbibe from others and in turn we give to the world. What we give is us. It makes the promise realistic and the admonishment becomes ingrained. When we freely share of the egalitarian traits of our culture we ensure that the Igbo ideals are not forgotten. In celebration and remembrances of our various cultures… Weddings, New Yam festivals and other cultural, religious and artistic ceremonies, we uplift and ingrain our ethos.
The Homeland is in dire need of repair and renewal. It behooves us to rise up to the challenge. When those who are appointed, elected and chosen to manage, govern and run our states and communities, steal from us and syphon the resources meant for development and stall growth, they have not just forgotten Ala Igbo but they have simply betrayed the spirit of our forebears. This is also true of anyone of us, indeed all of us, who have cut and ran and turned their backs on our way of life, on our community of minds and on the way things are done or are going on in Igboland.
We spend so much time these days and energy comparing ourselves to others—usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths. This drives us to create expectations for ourselves that are impossible to meet. As a result, we never celebrate our good efforts because they seem to be less than what someone else does. There’s been a lot of successes in and around Igbo communities worldwide. We must celebrate it and strive to improve on it.
Everyone and every Community has strengths and weaknesses. It’s wonderful that we are cognizant of our strengths. Rebuilding to the extent we’ve been able to do individually and collectively since 1970 is worth celebrating and putting in perspective.
Our challenge in the early stages of the 21st century is to eventually turn our weaknesses into strengths, but we must recognize that this is a long-term goal. Our journey toward making Ala Igbo a great place is long, but we can find strength in even the tiniest steps in that journey.
In conclusion, let’s not forget the following:
We must be prepared and ready henceforth to make good sacrifices. A good sacrifice is when we give up something good, in the interim or short term for ourselves for something of far greater worth for the entire community.
Today, so much of our common fabric of united response to issues has frayed. In the years since the civil war ended, and recently the politics of division and the lack of an agreed common agenda has added to the frayed nature of our internal cohesion; thus, we’ve been beset on various fronts, but our near economic successes have bred unbridled excesses and our failure to honor the fundamental laws of financial risks by investing in Ala Igbo has fractured us.

We’ve gone about our lives with too little connection to the Homeland apart from building houses in the village, that I more or less call an expensive burial ground and more so ignoring and distancing ourselves from the sacrifices of those who fought for the privileges we enjoy today and the sacrifices of the few we left living in our villages managing and securing our ways and habits.

Echefula Ala Igbo… Here are some things worth contemplating:

We’re still limited and restricted in Nigeria and in most of the communities we’ve come to reside. And this limitation has honed us to work harder, but this has equally forced out of our consciousness our thoughts of the Homeland. Despite this successes the binding hatred of most of our host communities have not extinguished and in recent months we’ve seen the rage rise to an extreme level. We need to be more effective in promoting the Igbo ideal and worldview without using violence. And to also slowly start thinking about improving the Homeland by at least 40% increase in investment, involvement and presence.

We need to be consciously Igbo citizens again, offering our assistance to one another and to others… Onye aghala Nwanne ya. By doing so, we will show we can be more than the sum of our parts and that no matter how far we go or how long we are away from the Homeland, we are still carrying with us the true meaning of our Igbonness. Throughout our diaspora communities, States, and the wider Igbo nation, on rural areas and in countries around the globe where Ndigbo have settled, Ala Igbo needs us.

We need to listen to each other more and shout less at each other. The level of frustration and bickering within our enclaves is difficult to bear. The 1966-1970 genocidal attacks were not the beginning of the difficult passage in Igbo land, and no one group of Igbo Community has all the answers. In other to succeed we must listen to each other, support each other and collaborate more.

Because of technology, our planet, even with its growing number of inhabitants, is more connected than ever before. By the same token, it is more competitive. We cannot keep our place as a global tribe and the greatest entrepreneurial race in Nigeria and arguably in Africa if we are a self-absorbed, deeply divided people, too quick to forget the unity that prevailed before and during the civil war.

We owe those who lost their lives for the Igbo struggle and in the various phases of marginalization, internal and external, a common commitment to the values they personified, the values that have made us an exceptional people.

Whenever I go home, which is very often, I always remind myself the commitment I made to the ancients….

Igbo ga adị

Agaghị m echefu ala Igbo

Nwannem I enjoin you to make similar commitments to the ancients, Ndi Ichie and to Igbo Land.

Echefula Ala Igbo.

Thank You. Chineke Gozie Ala Igbo

© Ireke A Kalu Onuma
Saturday, October 21, 2017
Lagos, Nigeria

Ikechukwu Ikeji: A Reflection

Ikechukwu Ikeji is dead. He died suddenly and unexpectedly. Most such deaths are painful, sad and often forces us to recoil from the idea of good and God.

However, most, like me have reacted as human beings that we are. With our mortality glaringly reinforced by such deaths, we suddenly realize how precariously thin our own lives are. We think mostly now, not about Ikechukwu, but about our selves and our presence here.

Ikechukwu was alife on Sunday morning. He worshiped God at his church. Did a hundred tiny things that people do on Sundays. Spoke with some friends on the phone, was active on social media for most part of the day. From what we now know, he made plans for the week ahead. All along, death like the sword of Damocoles was hanging on his neck.

Our life here is transient. Limited and undeniably random. The God Ikechukwu so loved and believed in, never gave him any inkling that he would walk away from all these that fateful Sunday. Tragic to all of us. But a loaded lesson is locked here. We must inspite of how healthy we are or feel, always live and act as if death seats waiting by the corner. Life isn’t a war. We. Must seek to make peace with all and endeavor to be positively involved in the lives of every single person we can touch. Less would be regretted.

The ancients believes that him who the gods love, they take early and at the height of their lives. Ikechukwu kind of acted and lived in the past Few months as if he was privy to what the gods have planned. He was actively involved in all issues of concern to Ndigbo and to those not too privileged people around him. He was a man of intellect, but that was the least of his talents. He was brave and in an age where cowardice is clothed in heroic apparels, Ikechukwu was visibly different. He cared enough to question himself if he was doing something right. The only thing stronger than fear is a principled man with a lot of courage… Ikeji was that.

We owe him our sanity most times, on the social media platforms where most of us interacted mostly with him. Looking back now, I think at most times he simply pulled us all from the brink of mutual self destruction. On the vexed IPOB matter, on Restructuring and the on the matter of the phyton dance that unleashed destruction in Igbo land, he stood firm, matching his anger with the gentle and measured arguments and strength of his character and intelligence. Oh! How Ikeji and his character would be missed. Even when you don’t agree with him, which most of us often didn’t, you just can’t fail to like the man.

We’ve been impoverished by his death. The intellectual stock of Ndigbo just depreciated. We have in losing Ikechukwu, lost some sanity. The giddiness surrounding me now is numbing. This is not a tribute. It is a recognition that he has taken a walk, but in so doing dragged us all along with him, to remember all he believed in and fought for. We cannot forget his presence, simply magnetic. Were this a tribute, I would have been angry with the gods, angry with him for leaving without even a goodbye. This is an acknowledgement of your great presence and an appreciation of it, while reappraising my own life. Each of us as a true testament to him reflect about our contributions to the world around us.

Bro, you live. You live through us all. The many brothers in arms you acquired through your sheer force of mind. Your immediate family, are in a deep loss, but if they would realize your larger than life size they would draw solace from that. This would not numb the pain immediately, but it assures you immorality and would in time open doors of compassion for them.

Thank you for your life.
Thank you for living it well
Thank you for your vision
Thank you for your bravery
Thank you for your humanity
Thank you Nwa nke mmadụ
Thank you Nwa afọ Igbo

Je nke ọma Nwannem.

© Ireke A Kalu Onuma

Obiano Wins Now the Work Begins

Obiano wins the Anambra Elections. Winning in all the local governments.

As I wrote and submitted yesterday, that Anambra would surprise us all, the surprise has been overwhelming. The anticipation was that both PDP and APC would one way or the other win the election.

But my position was that whilst that was a possibility, surprises would be aplenty. The victory was a triumph of governance against turbulence.

While the APC had no real plan and their candidate, a no brainer; the PDP candidate Obaze, looked a good match to continue the good pace already set in Anambra. But the supposed Peter Obi’s involvement and attachment to the candidate undercut his chances. Just like his running of the Jonathan campaign, Obi’s politics and political instincts weren’t open and embracing. Many saw his push as a return to the long jettisoned godfather phenomenon in Anambra.

The real owners of the Anambra political machinery are its educated citizens and electorate. Nothing could be farther from the truth as anyone or clique to believe they can undermine the unwritten agreement of Nde Anambra, that never again would they be dragged back to the dark days of political gangsterism.

Obiano’s victory is a lesson. A lesson for both himself, as a Governor and a citizen. A lesson that he should not take the trust placed on him for granted. That his administration is not his for bragging. He must listen more. Incorporate the principles which the people voted for. Above all he must learn to be reticent in attitudes. This victory is equally a lesson to the *Self acclaimed larger than life, often ignorant godfathers*, who think Anambra belongs to them. They should either contribute to the development of an enabling community or simply retire to their own homes and enjoy their filthy lucre.

The freedom secured by the Anambra people yesterday, snatched back from the Ubah brother’s is now complete. The entrenchment of civil and civic responsibility is final. Now comes the time, for a total support from the still aloof elites, investors and entrepreneurs to start a reverse migration back to Anambra. A fundamental support base, through proactive professional participation must kick off. *NO MORE EXCUSES*

This should mark the beginning of the rebuilding process for both the party, and the entire Igbo view on content and homegrown policies and programmes for active political reform. APGA has earned its rights to be considered a serious Igbo platform. They should now focus on regional power shift. Take their eyes off the national game. Concentrate on the South-East as their turf. No better time to seek reconciliation with various homegrown political parties and groups.

It is important that subtle changes of the party hierarchy must be swift and brutal. Their inefficiencies must be flagged and acted upon. There’s no denying that APGA can incorporate the positives of the IPOB crusades and become the voice many young disenfranchised Igbo people and organisations have never had.

Congratulations Obiano.
Congratulations Nde Anambra.
Congratulations APGA.
Congratulations to all the progressives who never gave up on Ndigbo.

Now the work begins.

© Ireke A Kalu Onuma


Today Ndigbo goes to the pool again in Anambra State. Here the big news is that the expectations of many would be given a substantial knock.

Anambra by every stretch of the imagination is the most important part of Igboland. It has a thriving economy, a serious template for development and a well educated and homegrown solution to most societal and political issues.

Arguably the wealthiest in Igbo land if not Nigeria per square meter or perhaps per person. They have exhibited some certain level of sophistication and dexterity in dealing with all sorts of. Political challenges.

Having dealt successfully with the marauding rampages of the Ubah Brothers under Ngige and done away with the clueless administration of gangsters, they set a mark with the liberated Ngige and the Peter Obi years. They have shown that the success of any political process lies on how much interest the people show and all vested interests taken into consideration.

The age of godfathers in Anambra was dealt a decisive blow and even the attempts of the Obasanjo regime to foist another Ubah on the state failed and such attempts has continued to fail. Anyone who would run Anambra must be capable of doing more than just relying on some extraordinary resources of a godfather figure either in way of a particular party or individual.

The economic life of Anambra State has taken a life of its own. Multiple companies, self built and individual millionaires have found the state worth doing business in. The guarantees of the past administrations have ensured a steady increase in their investments. This is one power block that would not allow any bloke to just take over the affairs of government in the state.

I have followed over the past few weeks the debates on social networks and in various forums. One thing that was positively obvious for me is that I was quite happy at the amount of interest this particular election has generated. It simply goes to show that the Anambra successes in the past 10 years or so hasn’t been a fluke.

The interest generated has been mind-boggling. The debate of the candidates was a first in Igbo land and arguably the first taken so serious by the parties and the candidates. It exposed both candidates and electorate to the psychological portraits of the candidates and a glimpse into the various aspects of their goals and approaches. We have never elevated political activities anywhere in the South-East to such level. We saw good renditions, experience, naivety and sometimes outright ignorance. The pen pushers and pundits went on their usual circuits.

But the people for one thing has remained positively steadfast. The IPOB avalanche of threats was immediately sidestepped by Ndị Anambra and the rest of Igboland. The various high profile rallies by APC and PDP and the apparent lack of high flying media aired campaigns of APGA and UPP, should not deceive us. I am certain having observed Anambra political issues for a while, that these are not serious influences.

Today the die is cast. The margin of victory would be narrow, but the people would triumph today. The notion that any candidate has it wrapped up is at most a mockery of the sensibilities of the Anambra indigenes.

After the shenanigans of numbing lies, threats, outlandish claims, inconsequential proclamations and the battle of wits to take the soul of the Igbo political machinery in Anambra State, the election would throw up a lot of things and one thing that would not be included in the surprise, is an imposition of any candidate upon the people.

Tomorrow a new leaf would be turned in Anambra.

Ndigbo await with held back breath.

© Ireke A Kalu Onuma

How the War in Yemen Explains the Future of Saudi Arabia

How the War in Yemen Explains the Future of Saudi Arabia

18 hours ago

Suffice it to say, this past weekend was a varied and busy one for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Between arresting a reported 11 cousins as part of an anti-corruption crackdown, apparently orchestrating the surprise resignation of the Lebanese prime minister, reading (likely with glee) President Donald Trump’s tweetexpressing hope that the national oil company, Aramco, would sell its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, MbS, as the Saudi heir apparent to his father King Salman is known, took a series of breathtaking steps towards consolidating his power. On top of that, the headline-grabbing detention of flamboyant billionaire tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal guaranteed maximum coverage, putting the kingdom at the center of the world for a few news cycles.

If you’re searching for the real story here, look to Iran. On Saturday, Riyadh’s international airport was targeted by what was almost certainly an Iranian modified missile from northern Yemen. This area is under the control of the Houthi rebels, who in 2015 forced President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee, sparking a civil war; since then, a brutal Saudi-led coalition has sought to restore Hadi to power. That campaign has, in turn, made it the target of 78 missile attacks from Yemen. Most have barely merited a news story. In March 2015, King Salman complained to visiting then-Secretary of State John Kerry that he feared Scud missile attacks on Mecca, which lies 350 miles north of the Yemeni border. Riyadh is more than 700 miles from Yemen. That’s a big difference, and suggests significant, swift technical progress.

For MbS and the Saudi leadership, attacks from Yemen represent a phobia which the Houthis and their Iranian backers delight in tweaking. On Monday, the Saudi English-language newspaper Arab News carried the headline that the missile attack was “an act of war” by Iran. “The kingdom reserves the right to respond in a timely manner to the hostile actions of the Iranian regime. … We will not allow any infringement of our national security,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir said. The piece also quoted the Saudi-led Coalition Forces Command calling the attack “a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime.”

Tactically, the Saudis and their allies in the United Arab Emirates are bogged down in their mission to reinstate Hadi. Strategically, the missile attack suggests the alliance may be losing—a trend MbS is eager to reverse. Those who have met him say he wants to become more assertive on Iran and its proxies. Further missile attacks like the last one may prompt foreign airlines to stop flying to Riyadh. Such danger does not comport with MbS’s new “brand” of a modern, shiny kingdom that has embraced moderate Islam, a vision he unveiled at a major foreign-investors conference just weeks ago.

The Saudi-Iranian power struggle predates MbS—the latest iteration dates back to the 1979 Islamic revolution. Saudi Arabia views Iran as a historical and ethnic foe, a Shia rival challenging Saudi leadership of the Sunni-Muslim world. Iran’s long-term goal is to upset a status quo effectively guaranteed by the United States. Its short-term goal is to take advantage of the consequences of the Iraq war and the Arab Spring to spread its influence and reach out to Shia communities across the region. Baghdad, Damascus, Sanaa, and Beirut, now reside in the Iranian camp. Saudi Arabia leads the conservative Arab states, although the steady rise of MbS means that these populations are now being offered an up-to-date (although non-democratic) future. For the 32-year-old MbS, dealing with Iran is as important as transforming the Saudi economy and, under the cover of an anti-corruption campaign, sorting out royal rivalries.

For Iran, Yemen, under the declining rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, was a target of opportunity. Supporting the Houthi tribes by providing organizational assistance and funds was a mere stratagem. Saleh’s rule collapsed but he forged an alliance with the Houthis against President Hadi, who is under house arrest in Saudi Arabia. Despite the Saudi air force’s best efforts, it has failed to dislodge the Houthis. The UAE’s forces have been more successful in the south of the country, around the port city of Aden. But there it is challenged by al-Qaeda types who have turned the Yemeni hinterlands into their sanctuary.

Iran’s success in supporting its Houthi allies in Yemen appears to be a consequence of niche involvement, a small bet which has paid off. Several months ago, I asked a Saudi general visiting Washington how many Iranians were in Yemen—I expected a guess of thousands or perhaps hundreds. His response to what I assumed was an obvious question surprised me: “I don’t know.” The prevailing wisdom, based on responses to my pestering of officials in Washington, is that the figure is in the scores. Small teams come in from Iran to train or operate particular weapon systems and then leave, according to these officials. Hence, the missiles fired from the coast at U.S. warships in the Red Sea last year, and the drone boat attack on a Saudi frigate in January.

Missile experts credit Iran for the extended range of Yemen’s residual arsenal of Scud missiles. Officials have told me that Iran has probably sent larger fuel tanks and sections of fuselage to Yemen. Attempts to smuggle in entire missiles would have been noticed and, one would have hoped, prohibited by the United States. Tracking trucks loaded with containers offloaded in buildings or tunnels, on the other hand, presents headaches for intelligence officials. Missile parts are also much easier to move in quietly. (Despite the blockade and shortages of food and humanitarian aid in the Houthi-controlled area, The Economistreported in July that Baskin-Robbins ice cream was still reaching Sanaa via refrigerated trucks driven overland from Oman.) The challenge is to weld the extensions into existing missiles. Iran has likely solved the technical difficulties relating to stability in flight during its recent missile tests on its own territory.

Saudi Arabia’s response to Saturday’s missile was rapid. Rather dramatically, it announced the next day that it would shut all land, sea, and air borders with Yemen. Riyadh also posted a list of photos and names of 40 Houthis wanted for what it called “terrorist crimes.” Rewards were offered as well: $30 million for Abdulmalik Bader al Houthi, the Houthi leader, $20 million for his ten top lieutenants, $10 million for the next echelon of operatives, and so on. One wonders why it has taken Riyadh so long to offer such inducements: Yemen is known as a place where even loyalty has a price.

Instead of viewing Yemen as a poor peripheral country of little importance, the princes of the House of Saud seem to see it as a dagger aimed at their heart—MbS’s grandfather Ibn Saud supposedly warned of the threat of Yemen on his death bed. As long as the regional proxy war with Iran continues, Yemen will remain a key theater for that war, and a vital piece of MbS’ regional ambitions.

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How the War in Yemen Explains the Future of Saudi Arabia

India And Nigeria: A Comparative Reflection

India and Nigeria were colonies of Great Britain. While there was no Nigeria before the British came, India was a fading empire, but a very backward modern nation, with a population close to a billion and diverse in tribe, religion and clan as is the case also with Nigeria when it came into being.

The nature of the two nations almost meant that it would be difficult if not impossible to unite them around a national cause and identities.

Today, Pakistan and Bangladesh has been carved out of India. Southern Cameroon excised from Nigeria. Both countries remain large, disparate and nowhere towards achieving plurality. There’s still a large chunk of the population that lives below the poverty line and flashes of conflicts across the countries still persist.

However that’s not my point. What I have said about India so far is only an aspect, a tiny component of it’s Story. But what is said about Nigeria above remains the constant.

21st century India is a success. India is the largest democracy on Earth. Inspite of it’s often mysterious past, it has weaved a modern society out of the rubbles of it’s conflicting past. The British raped and ruined India. But today India having made the right decisions and choices, have built a resilient and successful political machinery and economy that is expanding.

Today it is in competition with everyone. It is honing in on it’s History and drawing lessons from it’s past. It’s faliures and incessant wrong choices are flagged and used as deep lessons on how not to run a system.

In technology, science, Medicare and space technology they are very advanced. It has pushed the frontiers of business enterprenuership further than it’s Petty Independence limit. And they aren’t done.

They have devised way to tap into the Indian diaspora and functionally use their resources to help the local community. This is a country that has become a competitive global tribe. They have carried their attitudes and thriftness across the globe. Second arguably to the Chinese in pushing the frontiers of their geography beyond the continent and across the globe. If China is the world’s workshop, India and Indians are it’s shopkeepers and tradesmen.

Nigeria on the other hand is burdened by it history. It is collapsing under the weight of it’s denials.

Naturally endowed and richly diverse as India, yet it hasn’t succeeded in forging a working system upon it’s society. We can be hardly called a democracy not to talk of having a national consciousness. Our diversity rather than being a good part of our history, is used for limited tribal gains.

We are a consumerist nation. Hardly producing anything. Our previous strengths in Cocoa, Palm oil, groundnuts and timber exports have been all together abandoned. Attempts at getting it back on track has been politicized and the monies embezzled. While the Indian railways had been running since the British left, and they are fast mordenising it: Nigerian railways has stopped, been abandoned and in the recent past has become the black hole with which to syphon money from the Treasury. Like Ajaokuta Steel Complex before it, it has become a metaphor for corruption and political irresponsibility. To further butthead my point, just this morning, the papers carried this news “Nigeria imports N45bn fishery products from Norway yearly”… “The Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Kjemprud Jens-Petter, says Nigeria imports fishery products worth $125m (N45bn) from his country annually.” Now isn’t this interesting, for a country with a quarter of it’s boundaries surrounded by deep oceans and fresh water inland ways. We have hardly developed any Marine industry, and can barely feed our selves from the subsistence fish farming going on in the riverine areas.

There’s nothing wrong with us as Nigerians. But the problem is our knack for the short term rather than the long term. We have not responded well to the demands of development and social cohesion. We have agressievly supported a prebendal system that doesn’t work. Add to that our love for White elephant projects and you have a clue why we are so sorrily backward. Infrastructural economic development is a terse verbose language often used by us to depict a conflicting understanding of ourselves. When the building of a bridge, or of a roads and flyovers are eloquently and loudly made a political parody. Roads, Bridges and all it’s attendant appertunaces are not gifts from politicians or dividends of democracy, they are a component part of civilization and the society must treat it as so. In the 21st century “UP NEPA” still rings like a chorus.

Our reforms have only been geared towards empowering the tiny few in and close to power. The security forces are more of a 19th century guardsmen than a force for both internal and external defence and security. The police is not just corrupt, but they are untrained and incompetent. The Army is mostly used to harass the population rather than protect our borders. In this regard, the burden of unravelling the murderous conflict ravaging the country falls on illegally cobbled vigilantes the likes of which has morphed into a lethal terrorist groups used by the political class to settle scores. We must as a matter of urgency review our Policing and scale down the presence and usage of the army within the nation. The level of violence upon the populace by the Police and Army is mind boggling.

In the 1970s, leading up to the 1980s, India and Pakistani science teachers were scattered all over our schools and higher institutions. I encountered them at Federal school of Arts and Science, Ogoja. That showed to what extent the gap in education, science mainly, was between us. Today we’ve bridged that gap mostly, but our best and brightest are not trapped here. They migrate. They go where the environment is enabling. The Indian IT industry is huge. They have tapped into the Silicon valley and have built a multi trillion Dollars equivalent in the Bangalore region. The investments are by local business men or indian conglomerates.

Nigeria still crawls. Keeping away the very best, through the obnoxious quota system. A country where one section of the society has to be admitted in to school with far far below the accepted grades all in the name of quota is playing with unmitigated faliures and planning for disaster. There’s no better expression of India’s superiority to us than in the education sector.

Our consumerist mentality still informs the reason why a multi billion Dollars business has been built in, around and from the sales of Generator sets. We can not even as much as repair it properly not to talk of producing it. Our energy needs are enormous and our ability to meet it is pathetic. With less than 10,000 mega watts, just about a fifth of what Bangalore region in India generates is what we use for the entire country. What a shame.

All our loquacious claims of being an economic giant comes to nothing when realistic facts are put on the table. Nigerians are not sure if they believe in the prospects and project called Nigeria. They self educate their kids, supply their own welfare, take care of their own medicals, provide themselves with their own electricity, Security and hope. What’s the government there for? Most people have no clue and no interest.

Our faliures to address the thorny issues and questions about our nationhood has blighted our lackluster attempts at becoming. The various governments, from 1960 papered over the obvious cracks. Rather than face each other with the truth, we backed each other into a corner where each felt afraid of the other and bred nothing but political poison. Our vast territorial landscape couldn’t support our energy and the Inquisition of the ruling class only highlighted the deficiencies ingrained in the society. Nigeria was heading down. With each passing Elections, we only consolidated the tyranny of the few over the majority. Having lived through the horrors of the civil war, Nigeria seem and acts as if it learnt nothing. Peace and prosperity cannot be induced or commanded. It’s prerequisites includes a respect for all human beings and in our case for all the component parts of this nation no matter how small or inconsequential they may be. We have refused to do that, hence our continual reaping of the whirlwind.

India has made a giant stride toward mordenity. We are stuck in our primitiveness. We can change. We ought to change. For Nigeria to start the upward climb, we must have a NEW programme of engagement. We must resolve to abandon and scrap the quota system (We can really rethink our national approach towards affirmative action, without compromising standards), and drive up our standards of education. Monetary and fiscal stability as the foundation for a modern thriving economy. There are just so much waste and padding into our budgets and primitive and corrosive loopholes that strangulates the whole economic growth. A huge effort on constitutional change, that includes all and embraces our diversity, while making provision to curb the excessive abuses we’ve seen in the past. When those entrusted with power can abuse it brazenly without fear of punishment, the society would crumble.

We simply don’t have any choice than to change. The alternative is scary.

Reflections on the Situation in The South East on The Aftermath of the Army and IPOB Clash

The situation in the South-East, especially in Abia State is that of a total lack of leadership that people can trust. The trust level of and for the leadership of the state in particular and across the South-East is at a very very low ebb.

The Biafran agitation, so called for that’s the way the masses understand freedom and self determination, is a serious matter here. The language of the proponents is deep and entrenched and they see no other way expect that.

For most people the South East government is synonymous to the enemy and allies and lackeys of the Fulani north. They, however have not come round to using their energies and organization to ask questions of those that have put us in this morass. They seem to see the matter in strict terms of NDE Ugwu na Nde Igbo. The thieves that have underdeveloped our enclaves, though Igbo dose not seem to bother them. Give us independence and autonomy from Nigeria and we will deal with the rest. This is how they see it.

However make no mistake. The agitations are real. The young men and women (including 50, 60 and 60+ men and women) can’t be cowed. The determination and resoluteness that I see and hear all over is commendable. The defined purpose of the Igbo struggle seem to have found a conduit in their demands and determination. That the elites hasn’t been able to harness the power of their conviction is not a failure of the MASSOB and IPOB movement. They, the IPOB members, are not the only ones who have understood the problem of marginalization in Igbo land as it were, but they are the ones that have made it a serious issue worthy of discussion and debate.

I am very sad that a combination of Nnamdi Kanu’s stubbornness and lack of tact and the fact that the Igbo elite did not find the right way to manage him and improve on his gains, brought us to this present mess and impasse. Life’s has been lost. Families thrown into mourning and the Igbo heartland thrown into disarray.

We must remember these lost blood and in their honor re-engage with ourselves to determine what went wrong, seek relief for the wounded and mourning and create a new social contract with our people across different spectrums as a monument to this Sad BLACK SEPTEMBER mishap.

The Nigerian Army has killed innocent people across Igboland using unnecessarily brutal force. They engaged outside the norms of acceptable United Nations rules of military engagement within a civilian space. How does wearing caps and mufflers of Biafran colors, warrant the usage of a live ammunition to deter that? How does the usage of stones and sticks in demonstration and defiance of the occupational army, warrant the undue force and cruelty applied by the Nigerian government through their occupational Army?

The Governors and the political class without proper reflection on these and more hurried to take positions and decisions wholly uninformed, inhuman and anti Igbo. We must find creative ways to respond to the failure of leadership in Igboland, their fears and weaknesses and the obvious rascality of the youths. No matter what anyone thinks, the Army must leave Igbo land immediately. We are not going to mask our disgust against them and their actions. It is wrong and can never be right irrespective of their reasons.

The visible and obvious lessons am deducing from all these is that we have not and did not hone in on the lessons of 1966~1970. We allowed far too much to disappear and dissipate from our system and failed woefully in our interactions and intra communal engagements. Nature they say abhors a vacuum. Nnamdi Kanu and the Biafran agitations before and after him were products of the vacuum that has existed in Igboland from 1970. We are all Nnamdi Kanu in different ways and though most of us are closet and social media advocates, it does not take anything away from the fact that Ndigbo are in a mess and needs salvation even from themselves. The MESSAGE and its contents requires EXECUTORS to carry it out.

I had posited in another paper that we should not consciously restrict and reduce our spheres of influence. Geographically, Economically, Psychologically and Culturally. Ala Igbo as it is today in size and population is TOO SMALL for our potentials. We are world players and a global tribe. Nigeria is therefore small for our ingenuity, hence my desire and demand that geographical autonomy is bad Buisness for us AT LEAST TODAY. We need more of economic, financial and cultural independence and autonomy. Building a strong economical base in the South-East as we know it today is the prerogative for a sound engagement with the rest of the nation. We allow our fears and insecure memories to force us into giving up on our land. Our cities are abandoned to some clueless political class, and we step out unimaginatively to sow our seeds elsewhere, everywhere but never at home. Developing Igbo land is the panacea for arresting the inordinacy of the restless population. Nigeria fears this prospect and possibilities more than anything. We must resolve to make this possible, irrespective of this.

© Ireke A Kalu Onuma

Saturday 16th September 2017

Journey Through The South-East In The wake of the Army and IPOB Conflict

Taking a trip through the East by road is both a thrill and a threat. The experience is something that you can hardly shake away. Under the circumstances that we now live in, it becomes doubly heightened.

Aba today is a city on half mast. It has been reduced to a town without tempo. A city where fear has become the currency of the city. People seemed cowed and speak in hushed tones. The life blood of the community is trade. It is still on going but with some palpitations.

The exuberance and excitement has been forced into retreat. People are stuck at home. Many are still out and about. Now that the new routine has become clear to them, they are slowly getting back to their rhythm. The night life has been reduced to localities, restricting people to locations where they can walk home. Businesses, the life line of the city is hurting and people I spoke to are really upset about the situation. The anger is hanging every where. Patience is being tried and tested.

However the problem as many have come to acknowledge is not just the Army presence. But the pressure coming from a restricted environment and the rumors which are hardly substantiated. The Keke riders and the normal transport system in and out of the city is on going. But you easily notice the difference, because passengers are few on the road.

There is an outflow and inflow of both human and vehicles at the Osisioma junction. My clear observation is that the city, like every other Igbo city has lost its soul. The roots are gone. What I mean is that outside the presence of the military and police, there is no visible presence of any leadership to rein in, control or instruct the people. Here for me is where the problem and challenges lie. People I spoke to at the park and Osisioma junction felt truly abandoned. The radio stations and the TV stations aren’t used to communicate anything and you get to hear only government angle which most people don’t take serious.

Aba, and it’s extensive outskirts is the epicenter of the Biafran agitation. Before now the whole place felt and smelt of the zeal and energy of the movement. Stickers, flags and all sorts. Of mementos were flagrantly displayed. There was and still remains a multi million Naira shadow buisness that produces the flags and all sorts stuffs for them. As I noticed, the search, frisk and detain is serious in Aba in most areas. The only area not tension soaked is the extended ogbor hill that covers the Obikabia axis and the Eziama residential areas. The major arteries in and out are manned. Add the fact that this simply boils down to Aba-Owerri road with its very bad and narrow road then you get the sense of a city in fear. I spent about 2 hours trying to get from brass junction to the express road.

Outside the city leading out, the military presence is not just reduced but completely absent. The story of the occupation are in multiple levels. The physical presence, the fear, the rumors and the consequences of a total lack of plans before the announcement and arrival of the army and after. Comparing what I’ve lived through and heard in the past 24 hours with what has been floating around on the social media one is forced to have a rethink. The sad point of all these is the fact that the Igbo narrative for some months became a matter scored and directed by the motley crowd.

Am in my village now. Am not a beer parlor person. Luckily there was light when I came in yesternight. I spent like 30 minutes at the joint and though not a drinking person, had to listen to the stories. It was more of what each heard happening there and there. None of the people were there themselves and heard it from someone who heard it from another… Ad infinitum.

I recognized that the message of freedom, of independence and control of our fates as propounded by IPOB and before them various other groups was universally accepted. Differences and conflicts arose from how people saw the approach towards realizing it. To most though, their anger was local. Directed towards and against the political class in Igboland whom they consider as the real enemies.

No one that I spoke to wants war. They think we have far much more to lose than the Nigerian enemies. “What are we going to fight with?” One elderly woman asked me. We are least prepared for any conflict today than we were at any time of our history. Ete Ọkụm, a retired old man in my village said to me that the whole noise about secession and fight against Nigeria was to say the least stupid. That no one ever makes public his intentions and plans until he was well prepared for the action. More so, considering what we went through during the last war, why must we make Igbo land the theater of war again. That he watches these young men and women running around the whole place making all sorts of noise and creating havoc with some measure of disdain and pity. Why can’t they take this battle to the enemies rather than harass and intimidate poor folks around, He continued. The Niger Delta militants draws attention to themselves by getting to attack Nigeria where it hurts them, but we do our own to hurt our people. He concluded by saying we went and borrowed the obnoxious crime of kidnapping from the Niger Deltans, who kidnapps white men and foreigners they consider as part exploiters so as to raise money and draw attention to their plight but we brought it to Igboland and started picking our own people. Our economy is gone and our wealth and important people have all ran away. Who is this Biafra for? he concluded.

More later.

©Ireke A Kalu Onuma

Friday 15th September 2017

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