Friday, October 30, 2009

The New Face of Imo State University Teaching Hospital

By P. C. Mgbenwelu, This DaY/All Africa

Abuja — At the dawn of the administration of His Excellency Chief Sir Ikedi Ohakim Ksc (Ochinanwata), a close look at the policy of government revealed well thought out programme as contained in the 14 point agenda, christened the "NEW FACE OF IMO". Top among the issues tackled was the issue of "maintenance culture". To this effect, a workshop was organized by Douglas Consult which was targeted at training government workers on the importance of maintenance; stressing that maintenance is an indispensable ingredient for the sustainability of any system. To watchers of government, it was a welcome development.

Orlu people have waited with patient expectation to see this initiative of government of Sir Ikedi Ohakim on maintenance culture to reflect on the Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH). It is heart breaking to know that the hospital after 5 years of being formally commissioned, has failed to produce reasonable services of moderately acceptable standards. It has failed to sustain its utility and value. This is a direct function of lack of continuous proper upkeep of the value of the Hospital to achieve operational reliability with maximum design output. The total neglect of the hospital by the present government under Chief Sir Ikedi Ohakim Ksc connotes social injustice. What did Orlu people do to deserve the treatment given to the only major facility sited in their zone?

If government believes that sustainable development can be achieved only when government establishment is adequately maintained, why has she turned her back on Imo State University Teaching Hospital Orlu? Is the establishment neglected so as to punish Orlu people or to make mockery of them? Since May 29th 2007 when this administration took over, not one block has been put on top of the other in this well thought out establishment. The road leading to the Hospital is in total mess. The massive sight under construction, which when completed would house, Radiological Diagnostic center has been over grown by weeds and has formed a habitat and haven for dangerous animals and reptiles. Could the reason for leaving the place unattended to be to scare students away from choosing the school as their medical University of choice? Or is it a long term plan of making the institution stinking filthy Garbage?

Is somebody planning to make the university lose its accreditation?

Structures for special clinic like Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT); ophthalmology; plastic surgery; have been grossly abandoned and Orlu people do not know if that is the current tenet of maintenance culture. We do not know if the present administration believes in continuity, if it does, the Nursing school, Hostels, lecture theaters and IMSUTH staff school, (both primary and secondary) which are almost in completion stages before May 2007, should have been finished by now.

A government which implements policies that are not people oriented, policies which will not benefit the greatest number, is government of exclusion and has no face either old or new. Orlu Zone Consensus Movement (OZCOM) would appreciate it if the government would take a bold step and proscribe the institution instead of hiding under the façade of innocence and credibility. What reasons does the government have to owe the Hospital staff salary for three months? Why should we say we have a functional system when the government cannot pay many months salary of House officers?

Recently in August of 2009, doctors at the teaching hospital went on strike. Their genuine pleas among other things were implementation of 24 months of monetization and 16 months of consolidated tertiary institution salary scale (CONTIS). Government's action towards these doctors has resulted in mass exodus of both consultants and resident doctors to places where they would be better treated and appreciated. They are gradually depleting in number making the institution a place where human and material resources are not put to its optimal use. Their strike actions and exodus may have resulted in preventable loss of lives. We have a government that should take this problem as a priority, but it wouldn't, because Orlu Zone is involved. Cry my beloved people.

The most horrendous of all is the abandonment of facilities procured by the past government under Chief Achike Udenwa to decay. CT scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine (MRI), phloroscopic machines etc, which would have aided diagnosis and treatment of patients as well as training of student doctors and nurses, are lying there uninstalled and unused. Sooner than later they would become out modeled or unfunctional or worse still spoilt. What reason has government got to abandon those equipments? A discerning mind would say, it is to make sure that the only meaningful state government establishment in Orlu Zone does not work.

The government should not be deceived by the attitudes of some political jobbers who keep praising government even when things are wrongly done. The same mouth they use in praising an administration will be used in criticizing it when it is out of power. It is only fair to state things the way they are. Orlu people are not happy over the total decay of infrastructural facilities in the Teaching Hospital.

Resident doctors and Consultants do not have quarters, but elsewhere it is provided. The Medical College which was finished during the last administration and commissioned by President Olusegu Obasanjo on the 23rd of May 2007, has not been equipped. Their offices are not fixed, no steady generator, no recreational facilities, though there are spaces for them. Doctors produced under the condition of students in IMSUTH will either be half baked or be a semblance of the system that produced them. Is this the "New Face"? OZCOM is of the view that it is the right of Orlu zone indeed Imo State to have that teaching hospital in its optimal state. If government would continually abandon the place, we would not have choice but to say that the institution suffers as a result of political gambit.

Orlu people are too rich to be pawns on the political chess board. They are too intelligent to be ridiculed. They are too numerous to be ignored. They are too powerful to be toyed with. The government is advised to score a good political point by doing things aright in IMSUTH, if not, Orlu people will have no choice than to believe that Orlu zone can only survive if it is in the hands of God.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My fears for Anambra State

Emmanuel Mayah, Sun News Online

He is an Abuja insider and one whose mettle as a legal strategist has been tested in more ways than one. For over 13 years Barrister Ike Obidike has witnessed at point-blank range the execution of some of the most complex intrigues in Nigeria’s politics. Over time, this complexity has morphed into paradoxes finding peculiar expressions in two places: the Nigerian nation and Anambra State.

Propelled by a strong sense of self-worth, Chief Obidike is quick to tell you he is a proud indigene of Anambra State. He takes exceptional pride in the contributions of illustrious sons and daughters of Anambra to the Nigeria project. Gushing with praise, he reels of names like Chinua Achebe, Dora Akunyili, Chukwuma Soludo, Oby Ezekwesili and a host of others who have either conquered the world stage or played interventionist role on the national scene, having been drafted to help pull institutions back from the brink. Obidike pointed out that similarly, while great Nigerian scientists, scholars and technocrats have played interventionist roles in international institutions and in foreign countries, “their home country, their home states, sadly are in dire straits due to a deliberate disconnect orchestrated by our political managers.”

Obidike traces this shared paradox of Nigeria and Anambra State on a warped ideological system saying, “ While nations compete against nations to achieve greatness, Nigeria is busy competing against itself” and that “Anambra is a difficult state to govern; so complex that even the best man for the job, like the biblical Moses, cannot take it to the promise land. He spoke on the current political debacle to EMMANUEL MAYAH in Abuja.

New mistakes, old politics

I am greatly disturbed by what is going on in Anambra State. Anambra, just like Nigeria itself, is a worrisome paradox. It is the paradox of a great physician who cannot cure himself of a recurring headache. How do I mean? Anambra is blessed with illustrious sons and daughters who have set enviable records either on the national stage or the world stage, yet the state cannot rescue itself from what has long become a plague. It is like Nigeria, a nation that is quick to thump its chest in self-praise of its interventionist achievements in Liberia, Sierre Leone, Congo, Somalia and other places, yet its home is in shambles.

Like any well-meaning indigene of Anambra State, I am highly embarrassed by the horse trading going on in my state in the name of politics. They say that he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches. Are we so dumb that we still do not know where our problem is coming from? Are we so dumb that we still do not know where not to look for solutions? If you ask me, I will say that the answer to our problems is not in party politics rather in a new socio-cultural orientation.

With the kind of political foundation we are standing on, not even the best man from the best political party can take Anambra to the promise land. Honestly, I expected that before this next gubernatorial election, Anambra people should have reached a harmony and consensus inside the room, and then come outside to speak with one voice. The North is very good at that, so why can’t we borrow a leaf from them. The reconstruction of the Igbo states promised after the Nigeria Civil War has remained a mirage. Anambra is the worst hit of all the Igbo states by extraneous political influences aimed at undermining the reconstruction. We have to do the reconstruction ourselves, but instead of working together, we are working against ourselves. We are at a critical juncture in our political life and the matter should not be PDP, PPA, APGA or any other party. It is about the soul and destiny of Anambra. It is about putting an end to political slavery.

Achebe’s angst

Throughout his rule as civilian President and even up to the truncating of his third term gambit, Obasanjo was known for fuelling the politics of destabilization in Anambra state and in other parts of Igbo land. Back in 2004, this cultural custodian author of Things Fall Apart, took the extraordinary step of declining to accept the high honor awarded him in the 2004 Honours List by the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo. Achebe cited the injustice, slavery and the politics of destabilization whcih Obasanjo and his agents had imposed on Achebe’s home state of Anambra. Achebe pointed to the silence and alluded to the connivance of the Presidency in the destabilization of Anambra by political and business renegades. Five years down the line, the question is: has anything changed? Are there new Obasanjos? What other elements are out there? But whatever the forces, they can never be as formidable if the people are guided by a common goal and a common vision. We can never hope to get to the promise land if Anambra is in the grip of a small clique as usual, openly boasting of their connections in high places. That cannot take us to anywhere.

Many nations, many races, many nationalities are beginning to borrow from the Obama phenomenon. Before the primaries, the prayer of all well-meaning people was; let the good people come out. Let the Dora Akunyilis, the Charles Soludos, Ernest Ndukwes, come out; let our First Eleven march out; let our best brains, and we are not short of them, come out. Soludo has come out, but the whole thing is mired in controversy which takes us back to what I said earlier about the North. The primary that took place in Abuja should not have been allowed to degenerate into a show of shame. The Abuja primary ought to have been preceded by an Awka primary where the interest of Anambra state is made paramount. That way, we would have reached a consensus before coming out in the open. That way we would have had a constructive dialogue, not a diatribe as we are seeing. Now the Anambra case is again like a farce, a comedy of error and the whole world is watching and our enemies are laughing at us. When will we prove them wrong?

No Siddon-Look

The time has come for President Yar’Adua to show leadership and he could as well start with the imbroglio in Anambra state. Time has come for Yar’Adua to show leadership too at the party level using whatever internal conflict resolution mechanism. Anambra is in the eye of the storm; Nigeria also is in the eye of the storm. With one dysfunction after the other, in one state after the other, we are slowly gliding back to a pariah state. The world is leaving us behind, and I don’t know how any President can be comfortable while the so-called giant of Africa is being compared to failed states like Sudan. That is what the development index says. Only last week, the Mo Ibrahim Leadership in Africa Foundation released its development and good governance rating. Out of 43 countries in Africa, Botswana was first; followed by Cape Verde.

Ghana is 7th while our dear Nigeria came 37th. Our leaders should be worried, in fact sleepless with reports and ratings like that. Attention is shifting to Ghana. Companies and bid labour employers like Mitchelin, Dunlop, and Cadbury have moved or are moving to Ghana. One would have expected our leadership including the National Assembly to call an emergency session over this movement to Ghana. Obama travelled to Ghana and gave Nigeria the cold shoulder. It speaks volume and it was another way of saying, you guys are not serious. Ghana has displaced Nigeria as a strategic partner and sub-regional leader; meanwhile, we are busy squabbling and fighting amongst ourselves and splitting hairs about PDP, AC or APGA.

Last week too, I heard that the states and Federal governments have shared another excess crude dollars and I screamed: not again! We are repeating the mistakes of the past. Why not plough that money into railway, agriculture or the university? Honestly, it has never cease to amaze me how Sanusi, the CBN governor mustered the courage to suggest that President Yar’Adua’s seven-point agenda should be pruned to two manageable agenda. What Sanusi was invariably saying was that the President should bite what he can chew. At this stage it is difficult to say how much the President has been able to chew, given that the performance of the seven-point agenda is still hazy. One is being charitable in this assessment with the hope that all the managers of the respective agendum are giving it their best shot.

The Road from Owerri

By Chidi Amuta, This Day

The burden of relevant politics and governance falls unequally on the shoulders of our state governors depending on what part of the country they hold sway in. This is precisely because Nigeria is a federation of unequal parts and unequal circumstances, unequal opportunities and disparate cultures and histories. We may all be partakers in the Nigerian festival of nation statehood. But we, as nationalities and geo-political aggregations, come to the festival dressed in assorted garbs, bearing the burdens of our separate histories and encounters with a past that many would swear is a bit unflattering.

The constitutional equality of states in no way relieves incumbents of the peculiar burden of geo-political history. On the surface, there is a certain identity of problems- unemployment, crime, urban filth, bad education, rotten infrastructure etc- that would tempt us to adopt a common measurement for evaluating governance across the states.

Consequently, crises of relevance, political desperation and electoral uncertainty have joined forces to produce a certain boring notion of governance especially among states. Every other state governor is clearing drains, bull dozing roads, erecting street lights, planting trees and grass, building bridges that sometimes lead nowhere in particular and mouthing the same worn clichés about dividends of democracy.

This development, sometimes lazy and unsystematic as it may seem, is a quantum leap. At least, there is a psychology of accountability underlying all these: governors feel compelled by popular expectation, opposition pressure and peer group emulation to “do something” at least to justify their mandate and the huge demands they make on the public purse.

But beyond this commonality of approach, there is something higher and perhaps less tangible that ought to help in distinguishing among our governors. How are the specific actions of individual governors informed by the general history of their part of the country? I raise this question because unknown to us, some of our governors may find that they have to be measured by standards and benchmarks established by a past that many of them were perhaps too young to understand. Let us be specific.

I doubt for instance that any of the governors of the core Niger Delta states can expect to detach their present efforts from the overriding imperative of development and equity previously underlined by their illustrious forebears. I wager that every kilometre of road built, every classroom added or every health centre built by these governors finds relevance primarily in terms of the historical burden defined by the nation’s untidy relationship with the Niger Delta.

In the South-west, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, at the height of his illustrious governance of Lagos State, had to consciously brand himself by anchoring his achievements on the Awo heritage. His self branding effort had to reach back to Awo’s round metal rimmed glasses and a variant of the ubiquitous Awo cap with some distant hints of Ghandi. Even now, the commendable strides of Governor Babatunde Fashola and some of his more serious colleagues in the South-west are being measured, by their electorate, against the background of a social democratic tradition of governance established by the great Awo.

Throughout the 19 northern states, for instance, there is an abiding nostalgia for the legacy of the late Sardauna of Sokoto. As late as the last few days, this nostalgia found expression in the elaborate launch of well endowed foundation in memory of that fallen statesman. Actions and reactions of governors in what can be described as the greater North are more likely to be measured in terms of whether they re-affirm or betray the original vision and interests of that part of the country.

In the South-east, we come face to face with a contradiction of historic proportions. No other nationality in contemporary Nigeria has been as scarred and marked by Nigerian history as the Igbos. It is often said that something is wrong with any Nigerian community that is not host to some Igbo presence. Similarly, something is also said to be wrong with an Igbo adult who has not ventured out of his homeland. There is therefore a sense in which the health of the Nigerian federation at any time can be measured by the degree of tolerance or rejection of Igbos in any and all parts of the country. Yet, governance and politics in this part of the country thrives on collective amnesia, self ingratiation and the invasion of nauseating mercantilism.

Traumatised by war, driven to the margins of national affairs into menial undertakings and fruitless trade in inconsequential merchandise, the people of the South-east have had dealers rather than leaders in their political leadership. The result has been a disconnect between governance and history in the five states of the South-east.

Therefore, the general question that is invoked by the above concerns is simply this: Can a governor carry the historical burden of the people he defines as his own slice of the nation and still be effective as a chief executive officer of his state? In other words, can a given governor in our kind of federation be able at once to relate his actions, policies and programmes to the peculiar history of his part of the nation while being able to deliver the so called specific dividends of democracy?

In the context of the crisis of political leadership in the South Eastern zone of the country, I am attracted, by sheer curiosity, to the utterances and actions of the Governor of Imo State, Mr. Ikedi Ohakim. What is emerging is the defining character of Ohakim’s perception of his role in government is a self-assigned role of linking his specific governance tasks as chief executive of Imo State to the larger historical burdens of the Igbo nation.

In the two years that he has been governor, Ohakim has taken certain actions that suggest an unusual sense of history, specifically the history and particular circumstance of his Igbo roots. Anyone who has followed the utterances of the governor will have been struck by a certain recurrent theme that testifies to some consciousness of the history of his people. He has re-invigorated the annual Ahiajoku lecture series, an annual intellectual celebration of Igbo culture and heritage. He has brought back world famous novelist Chinua Achebe in what was greeted as a historic homecoming, a remarkable pilgrimage to ancestry and a tribute to the roots that bind. He has addressed the World Igbo Congress and the Black Congressional Caucus and used these occasions to link his present assignment to a larger historical role of finding relevance mostly in the context of his people’s tortured past.

Ohakim has indicated, in lecture after lecture, speech after speech, enough interest in the retrieval of the essence of Igbo culture from the jaws of a national history that has almost drowned the Igbo in collective amnesia and benign neglect by the federals. Of all the blights that confront and threaten the Igbo nation, perhaps there is none more lethal than the tyranny of bad political leaders.

Interestingly though, Ohakim’s thesis is a refreshing one from the anthem of marginalisation that has been the common currency of successive Igbo political opportunists. On the contrary, the governor posits a more pro-active and optimistic attitude. The Igbos must quit being sorry for themselves and for their past actions in the Nigerian federation. He defines a new need for the political leadership of the South-east to rise above the constraints of historically induced collective depression and amnesia to answer the call of modernity through rapid economic development. And this is where I guess the governor will run into trouble with his vision. His utterances demand that he must fast track the development of his state to serve as a viable model and galvanising centre for the South-east of his dream. But he presides over a resource poor state and therefore has to convert the entrepreneurial gift of his people into the resources he needs to develop his state.

By far the greater obstacle that I see in the kind of idealism that Ohakim has so far exuded is the tradition of rancorous politics that has bedevilled the South-east especially in the post civil war era. Ohakim presides over a state where petition writing is a recognised industry and in which the politics of acrimony overrides any form of consensus on development issues. I doubt that any other sitting governor has a higher number of law suits hovering over their incumbency than Ohakim. This environment defines a different challenge: that of reaching the relevant political accommodation both within his state and outwards in the context of the larger South-east.

Somehow, Owerri has something strategic and symbolic about it. Most roads to and from different parts of the country lead through it. In a place such as this, it is quite easy to get lost in the maze of possibilities and directions that make themselves available. For Ohakim, the possibilities here are both immense and frightening. If he can carry the burden of his emerging vision while running a credible administration, the road from Owerri can lead both Imo and the Igbos quite far. If he is crushed by the burden of his vision and loses his specific focus, the road from Owerri might lead right back to the political wilderness.

From Maitatsine to Boko Haram

By Anthony Akaeze, Newswatch

Between the Maitatsine religious riots of 1980 and the latest Boko Haram, there have been more than 20 cases of ethno-religious conflagration resulting in more than 10,000 deaths and the destruction of properties worth billions of Naira.

“I was a bigot, a fanatic and an ignoramus of man fighting tirelessly, maiming and actually sending the innocent to the great beyond prematurely, all in the name of religion.”

Mohammed Abdul-Azeez, a one time Maitatsine henchman, uttered those words at the then Foursquare Church in Yaba, Lagos, after he had renounced membership of the Islamic sect that first caused mayhem in Kano in December 1980. Abdul-Azeez’s repentance came nine years after the incident in October 1989. Even at that time, the ravages of the Maitatsine riots in Kano, which later spread to Yola, Maiduguri, Bauchi and Gombe in that order, was still fresh in the minds of Nigerians. The riots caused huge losses, in human and material terms. No less than six thousand lives were lost during the mayhem.

The very first violence in Kano shocked many Nigerians to their marrow. In that crisis alone, 4,177 lives were lost. The Kano incident stands out for being the first religious crisis that took a huge toll on human lives and property. Although there had been series of religious tensions and skirmishes across the country, one of which was the crises witnessed in May 1980 in Zaria during which property belonging to mainly christians were destroyed by some muslims, few people could have imagined that differences in religion could lead to such wanton destruction of lives and property as witnessed in December 1980. But that was the scenario.

Members of the sect called the Maitatsine led by one Muhammadu Marwa, shot their way to notoriety when, seven months after the Zaria disturbances, they took to the streets proclaiming their brand of Islam to be superior to every other one, including Christianity, and in the process, initiated an orgy of violence that claimed human lives and property.

Reflecting on the incident, Hamzah Adesola Dawood, in an article “Maitatsine Magneto again,” noted that the “city of Kano was shaken to the marrow, pandemonium erupted and the whole country under the leadership of the first civilian executive president,” Shehu Shagari, was gripped with fear of “outbreak of civil war.” He further noted that although the Maitatsine saga lasted ten days, the “uprising was believed to be the only incidence which led to serious loss of lives and property since the civil war.”

For the ten days the incident lasted, law enforcement officers had a difficult time containing the crisis. To prevent the crisis from further spreading, the Shagari administration was forced to call in the military to quell and restore order, after the police had battled endlessly and fruitlessly to do so. Shagari reportedly followed this up by signing into law the Unlawful Society Order of 1982 which prohibited groups such as the Maitatsine sect from operating under whatever guise.

But that did not prevent the fundamentalists from striking again. This time, they shifted base to Bullumkutu, Maiduguri, in Borno State, and collaborated with another sect called Kala-Kato to instigate violence there. By the time the situation was brought under control, 118 people had lost their lives, while a huge loss of property was recorded.

Not done, the Maitatsine sect further spread their tentacles to the old Gongola State, and instigated another violence. By the time security forces battled to restore order in parts of the state like Jimeta, Dobeli, Zango, Yelwa,Va’atita, Rumde and Nassarawa, no fewer than 568 persons had lost their lives while property worth millions of Naira were destroyed.

That was not the last religious crisis to be linked to the Maitatsine sect. Between April 26 to 28, 1985, in the Pantami area of Gombe State in the then Bauchi State, 105 Nigerians reportedly lost their lives while many others lost valuables in another religious conflagration traced to the group. In all the crisis involving the Maitatsine men, the sight of cudgel weilding fanatics, mutilated bodies and burnt houses, were common scenes and were some of the charges many of the group’s followers had to face in law courts, leading to the prosecution of some of them.

But those who thought that the trial of the fanatics in court would signal the end of religious crises in Nigeria were soon disappointed. Like the proverbial forbidden fruit, which, once tasted, opened the eyes of the partakers, Nigeria, a multi ethnic nation, inhabited mainly by christians and moslems appeared to have lost its innocence with the Maitatsine riots and had joined the infamous list of countries where politico-religious crises posed serious danger to mankind.

In March 1986, barely a year after the last Maitatsine riot was recorded, christians and moslems engaged each other in a superiority fight, in what was said to have been sparked by a mere Easter procession in Ilorin. Subsequent religious squabbles were recorded in the late and early 1990s, beginning with the March 1987 confrontation in Kafanchan between moslems and christians, leading to loss of lives and destruction of property.

First, Christians and native Kajes were accused of destroying mosques in the Southern Kaduna town of Kafanchan. On the same day, this time in Gusau, Kaduna, Zaria, Katsina and Funtua, the nation witnessed what might be seen as a reprisal attack when some muslims took to the streets chanting war songs and setting churches and properties belonging to christians on fire. The disturbance also led to loss of lives.

In April 1991, echoes of the Maitatsine and the memories of the havoc they unleashed on society gripped many people. But it had nothing to do with Marwa, the Maitatsine leader. The fellow this time was a man called Yahaya Yakubu. He was identified as the head of the Shi’ite sect in Katsina who, with his members, masterminded a bloody protest in the town. And no sooner had the Katsina crisis died down than the Bauchi own erupted. According to a Newswatch report which appeared in the May 6, 1991 edition of the magazine, the Bauchi riot was “the worst religious crisis the country has witnessed since 1984 when the Maitatsine religious fanatics struck in Jimeta, Gongola State, and about 764 Nigerians were killed. For four days, Bauchi State was engulfed in the fire of religious violence.Thousands of hoodlums, many of them teenagers, using religious cover,went on rampage in some towns, including the state capital, Bauchi. The tale of terror was beyond comprehension as casualty figures mounted and scores of homes, churches, hotels and some public property were torched.”

Six months later, the train of religious conflagration returned to Kano. What was initially thought to be a peaceful demonstration by the Izela sect to stop Reinhard Bonnke’s evangelical crusade in the town soon turned violent, resulting in a clash between christians and muslims. Many people lost their lives while others were wounded, to say nothing of the enormous loss of property.

It did not end with that. Kano also made headlines in December 1994, when an Igbo trader, Gideon Akaluka, was beheaded by Muslim fundamentalists and had his head paraded on a spike on the streets of Kano after he was accused of desecrating the Koran by inscribing some blasphemous words against Mohammed in his shop at the Sabon Gari area of the town. More religious riots followed in May 1995, July 1999, October 2001 and May 2004 respectively, leading to one concerned Nigerian describing the town as “the hotbed of religious crises in Nigeria.”

But Kano was not an isolated case. Soon, it was the turn of Zangon Kataf, Funtua, Yelwa- Shendam, Wase and Jos to have their shares of religious trouble. At times, all it took was for two people of different faiths or ethnic groups to pick up a minor quarrel, or to have political differences and before long, security officials would be battling with how to stop a crisis. This was the situation in May 1992 when a communal feud between the indigenous Katafs and the Hausa in Kaduna State, later assumed religious dimension and even spread to other towns within the state leaving deaths and destruction in its wake.

That of Jos, the first of which was in September 2001, was said to have been sparked off by political differences between the mainly christian natives and the settler community made up of the Hausa/Fulani. By the time the dust raised by the squabble had settled, hundreds of people had lost their lives while property and businesses that took pains and years to acquire went up in ruins. In what could pass as a postscript on the Jos crisis, a disappointed Nigerian had noted that “the fact that the crisis happened at all in Jos, of all places, shows that anything is possible in Nigeria.”

His statement was a reminder to how many Nigerians viewed Jos. Long considered as Nigeria’s idyllic city, due partly to its natural beauty and temperate climate, Jos was also a cosmopolitan town and melting pot of various ethnic groups of people who had lived in peace for many decades. But since that September 2001 that the peace of the state was shattered, Jos had literary known no peace. In fact, if a study were to be carried out today, on the towns or states in Nigeria that are prone to violence, Jos would naturally rank as a front runner.

Conservative estimates put the cost of human lives wasted in Jos and other towns within the state since 2001 at over 4,000. This included the crises that trailed the PDP congress in the state in 2000, the Yelwa – Shendam – Wase killings in 2002, the violence and death witnessed in 2004 which led to the imposition of state of emergency in the state during the Joshua Dariye administration as well as the recent but bloody conflict in November 2008 which was sparked off by the announcements of the results of election into Jos north local government council. Even though the cause of the crisis was political, the killings and destruction of property took a religious discusion.

But the violence that erupted in Kaduna in 2000 had nothing to do with election results. It was traced to the introduction of Sharia law in the state. Following the announcement of the introduction of Sharia law in Zamfara State, many other states including Kaduna decided to replicate same in their states. But it was met with opposition from the largely christian population of the Southern Kaduna people. More than two thousand people reportedly lost their lives in that conflict.

Two years later, in November 2000, Kaduna was back in the news. The row this time had to do with a story in Thisday newspaper concerning the impending Miss World Pageant billed to hold in Nigeria. Isioma Daniel, a Thisday reporter, wrote an article which muslims considered disparaging to their faith. They soon went on rampage, causing blood to flow. The riots later spread to Abuja where the Miss World Beauty Pageant was scheduled to hold, forcing the organisers to cancel the event and name London as replacement.

In February 2006, the tinderbox shifted to Maiduguri and was lit when a group of muslims converged in the Ramat area of the town to protest the drawing in a Danish newspaper of prophet Mohammed. The police reportedly fired teargas to disperse the crowd only for them to go on a rampage. They destroyed properties belonging to non-muslims and attacked and killed christians including Michael Gajere, who was identified as the Catholic priest in charge of St Rita’s Catholic Church. In that particular crisis, more than 50 christians reportedly lost their lives, with some 200 shops, 50 houses and 100 vehicles either burnt or vandalised.

The Maiduguri incident led to reprisal attacks in Onitsha by some Igbo. Incensed by the sight of their kith and kin who were brought home for burial, some Igbo went in search of some muslims in the commercial town, and ended up killing more than 30 of them.

Three years later, Maiduguri’s reputation as a hotbed of ethno-religious crisis again came to the fore, and in a fashion that reminded many of the Maitatsine riot. A group of religious zealots who tagged themselves Boko Haram orchestrated an orgy of violence in four northern states including Borno, the capital of Maiduguri. The others are Bauchi, Kano and Yobe. More than one thousand innocent Nigerians lost their lives in just four days. The Boko Haram members were said to be opposed to Western education.

Boko Haram itself translates to “Western education is a sin,” and was led by a 32- year-old man called Mohammed Yusuf. Between July 24 and July 30, the ripples generated by the crisis was yet to die down as many questions begged for answers. Questions were asked as to how the young sect leader was able to recruit and indoctrinate his members without the knowledge of security officials and set them loose on the society leading to the tragic deaths of many Nigerians in the four northern cities. But Yusuf, like some of his members, also lost his life in the crises after security men went on the offensive, in their bid to nip the conflict in the bud.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why Banks are in Crisis

By Alvan Ewuzie, Sun News Online

When the Englishman said dynamites also come in small sizes he was probably talking about Professor (Eze) Green Nwankwo. He stands at about five feet but he typifies dynamite virtually packaged in a bottle. Take the samplers; he is the first Professor of Finance in Africa, the first black to make a First Class in a Scottish University, the First Head of Department of Banking and Finance at University of Lagos, the First Executive Director (monetary and Regulation) Central Bank of Nigeria.

The list goes on. But his turf and major area of competence is in banking. That is why Green Nwankwo feels a personal sense of loss at the pervasive rot in the industry and insists that it all boils down to the human element. When he spoke to Daily Sun last week in Lagos, he took us back to the basics, the essence of banking and why current generation of bankers have floundered. A management guru who has traversed many a board room Nwankwo, still sprightly at 76, understands the dynamics of business organizations. He regrets that professionalism has been sacrificed on the alter of greed and compromise.

He gives full marks, as the typical teacher that he is, to current Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi describing his action as “consolidating the consolidation.” He tells his inspiring life story lacedd with last minute interventions and resolutions that radically changed his life. The interview is both a lesson in banking and a window into courage and determination.


Early days

I was born in Arondizuogu in Imo state 76 years ago. I was born on September 11, 1933. I started primary school in 1938 at St Peter’s CMS school Arondizuogu, finished in 1945. I was a teacher for two weeks in January 1946 before I was sacked. I then went to Aba to become a house boy to a business man there. In 1947 by a stroke of luck I entered the secondary school at the then Africa College now Our Ladies high School Onitsha. I finished in 1950 with a senior Cambridge Certificate. By 1951 I had my London matriculation and started working at the then Bank of British West Africa, now First Bank in Port Harcourt on August 13, 1951. I was there for nine years, one month and one day. I resigned on September 14, 1960. I left the shores of this country three days to independence that is on September 27, 1960. I was at the Scottish College of Commerce in Glasgow Scotland.

I was in the United Kingdom for seven years i.e. 60 to 67 when I graduated with a doctorate. I got Diploma in Banking in April 1962 then BSC Economics with speciality in money and banking in 1964 then ACCA with a First class in Glagow in 1966 then Msc and PHD in two years. I submitted my doctoral thesis on July 15, 1967. You will recall that the Nigeria civil war started July 9, a week before I submitted my doctoral work. So I could not come home after my studies because of the war. I then needed to eke out a living. So I applied and was interviewed for a teaching appointment at City of London College on September 18. In fact September is my month. I got my Phd on September 11 and I chose that day to be my birth day because there was no record when I was born.. it was my maternal uncle who was able to guess that I was born in 1933 but there was no specific date.

And in all the academic forms we were filling in those days they would always ask you to put your birth day so I chose September 11 because people just kept advising me to just choose one day in order to stop all the queries and embarrassment about birth day. So I chose the day I got my doctorate. At exactly 9am September 25, 1967 I was standing before a class in London City College as a lecturer. So September is really my month. I lectured for five years before I returned to Nigeria. I left London December 14, 1972 and arrived December 15 and drove straight to the University of Lagos to set up the Department of Finance. I was the first Head of Department or whatever name you may chose of that department.

The department itself was the result of an endowment by the United Bank for Africa [UBA]. I was invited home to come and start it. I returned as Associate Professor and got my full Professorship on October 20, 1974. I started the department and headed it till 1978. I left for the Central bank as pioneer Executive Director which they now call Deputy Governor. But to complete the university part of my story, I was actually acting Head of department because at that time you could not be a full head of department except you were a full professor. In 1976 I was made the Dean of the faculty of Business Administration at UNILAG. I joined the Central bank in June 1978 and stayed there till December 1984 when I was asked to return to the University. Then from 1985 to 1987 I was president of Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria. In 1988 I went on my first ever sabbatical at the City of London College

Where you once taught

Yes. I returned there on sabbatical twenty years after as a visiting professor. In 1989 I returned and was appointed chairman of Raw Material Research institute where we produced the blue print that led to the formation of Raw Material Research Council. In 1990 I was appointed chairman of the board of Union Bank. I was there until 1996 when I voluntarily retired from that position and went back to the university. In any case I had always been with the university. In 2001 or thereabout I became chairman of the then ACB International bank until 2005 when it merged with five other banks to become the current Spring Bank. I was a founding member and director of Chattered bank which today has merged with Stanbic IBTC.

About 2003 I was invited home to become a traditional ruler. I was coronated in March 2005 as Eze Ohazurume 1 of Aro Amuro in Okigwe local Government Area of Imo state. That’s my brief story.

You said you were sacked on your first job and that you went to school by stroke of luck. Could you comment further on those issues?

Well I would say I was famous in the primary school. I was too small and perhaps too young. There was a huge contrast between my height and my class. People always picked me out as a sight to behold because I was far too small for my class. I did the First School leaving certificate examination in 1945. I became a problem for the Headmaster.

They did not know what to do with me. In those days there were only two major jobs available, namely Teaching and Court clerk. I did not have the size to be a court clerk. So Mr Nwagbo now took it upon himself to do something about my case. So as he was going on transfer in December, he appointed me a teacher at the CMS central school in Orlu. But because the schools were on Christmas break I resumed on January 29, 1946. It was his first appointment before he left. Then a new man came and saw my application and appointment letter and said he wont allow me teach. He said I was too young and too small.

He said I was too young and too small. So, on his way to Onitsha he stopped over at Orlu and told the headmaster to call me. It was break time and I was with my pupils playing school band and dancing. He said to me “sorry my son, you cannot teach. Your appointment has violated all teaching records, you are underage and undersize. Your appointment has been terminated. See me in two weeks time in my station. Meanwhile go and tell your parents to send you to secondary school.” That’s how my appointment was terminated. So I returned to the village. At that time, there was no question of wearing clothes. So I returned to my raw village boy and that became a problem and an embarrassment. There I was, a first school leaving certificate holder, now a teacher still running around the village naked. My maternal uncle then decided to send me out of the village. He sent me to an Aba based merchant to live with him as a houseboy. Again as a houseboy I was adjudged to be smart. Each time visitors came, my master would send me to get something for them. I would carry it out smartly.

They began to ask my master, who is this boy?” he would tell them my story and they would scold him for keeping me as a house boy and not sending me to school. That was how the discussion about my going to school started. Everybody who came to the house kept pestering him. I was small and sharp. So all the visitors easily noticed me and kept pestering him. He was forced to write a letter to my father to come and enter into a bond that he would send me to secondary school in an evening school. The bond was that after training me, I would then train his nominee.

My father was an illiterate, so he gave the letter to someone to read for him, my maternal uncle. After that he was told that he was sending me to slavery by accepting the condition. They told my father that he was rich enough to train me. He said he could not do it. They piled pressure and cited examples of other people he was better than but he refused. My uncles now told him to pay for only the first term while they will pay for the second term so that I can start.

That was how my father was lured to send me to secondary school. Having now committed himself he could no longer back out. He was a proud man with integrity. Each time I came home, people would be mocking him to say that he would be unable to finish training me in secondary school. He then felt challenged. That’s how I went to secondary school. That’s why I said, it was by chance. It was also by luck that I went to the university. As I told you, I came out December 1950 with Senior Cambridge Certificate. In 1951 I sat for the London Matriculation and passed. I started working at the bank on August 13, 1951. I was married in 1956. My wife joined me on March 6, 1956. I was in Port Harcourt.

After secondary school in Onitsha, I began looking for a job. I went to my cousin who was a carpenter in Port Harcourt at the Ports Authority. I lived with him while looking for a job; eventually I got a job at the bank. At that time it was a colonial bank and there was no system of promotion. You only rose by regular annual increment. I paid the dowry for my wife on February 29, 1956 in the village and she joined me in Port Harcourt the next month, March 6, 1956. At that time the annual increments used to come in April at the end of every financial year, but the appraisal and recommendation would have gone to Lagos in December.

The results would not be announced until after the end of the financial year in March. Early in April the results were announced. That was another turning point in my life. When the results were announced; I was almost at the bar of a particular grade. I was short with about 3 pounds from the next grade which means that our normal annual increment will move me into denial because the increment was about 13 pounds or so.

There were five of us involved. We jointly put up a petition telling the white manager that it was unfair that we will all lose sums of money due us because there was no clear method of promotion. So he demanded that we be given our normal increases and the difference topped on it. So when they paid it turned out that two of us who were only three and five pounds below the bar were losing heavily. So we put up a petition to the manager. Then we were invited individually to defend our cases. I told the manager that while I did not begrudge the others that I was senior to them since I was only three pounds to the bar while they were far below. He asked me to give other reasons and I told him that I had not received any query and that my services had been largely satisfactory and above all I am the most qualified.

Then he asked what my qualifications were and I told him I had Senior Cambridge and London Matriculation. The man got angry and said “to hell with your Senior Cambridge, to hell with your London Matriculation.” My God I felt terribly bad, fire literally gushed out of my eyes. My pride had been destroyed. I got there with only school certificate but before my appointment was due for confirmation my London Matriculation had come.

I was a center of attraction there. People will say come and look at this small rat in the bank who has Senior Cambridge and London Matriculation. And this manager made nonsense of the entire thing. I was so infuriated that as small as I was, I was minded to jump up and slap him. But the good Lord intervened and I held back. Why did I hold back? There were two major reasons. One I would have been dismissed if I did that. But I would not have bothered except for the second reason. The second and main reason was that my wife had just joined me on March 6th and I paid the dowry with ESUSU, so I was in debt.

What really happened was that when I started working in 1951, the business atmosphere then was largely family oriented which was why you had business names like “Okeke and Sons,” Nwankwo and brothers so I started a trade for my younger brother with some money I had saved hoping that after some time I would resign to join him so that we can have our business “Nwankwo and brothers.” So by December 1954 I went on my first leave to the village.

My brother went first to the village. When he came back I now went. In those days if you came back to the village and you were able to buy a packet of sugar, you gave out a cube each to people. If you bought bars of soap, you also gave out little portions of it to everybody. Then you topped it up with cabin biscuits, that was the in-thing. When I came on leave and gave out those things, the people were receiving it coldly. They did not show appreciation. So I began wondering what had happened. When I made enquiries they told me that when my brother came back, he bought things for them, including wrapper and several other things and that they expected even greater things from me since I was the elder one.

When I came back to Port Harcourt I asked my brother to give account of the business. I then found that he had squandered the whole money. In fact the scandal was so much that some of my father’s wives were saying they wished my younger brother was the first born, that their lives would have been better because he was generous. What they probably did not know was that I was labouring at the bank to get the money while he was squandering it on them instead of using it to grow the business.

So he squandered the entire money and nothing was left. I became alarmed. I examined myself again. I began working in 1951 and we were in January 1955. I had no savings, I was not in school, nothing. I was running the risk of being called a rif-raff, an ‘Ofeke’. I then decided that I should at least get married if nothing else.

Besides, my uncle whom I was living with was married with four children. And I found that I was spending more on feeding than him and he used to pass on every expenditure to me because, as he put it, I was not married. So I was spending a lot. All these calculation convinced me that it were better I got married so that I would have something to show and I will not be called ‘OFEKE’. But I had no money to marry. My brother had squandered everything. I now went to the office and organized ‘ESUSU’ with eleven other people and we were contributing ten pounds each, every month. I took last December 1955 and first in January 1956 and I had 240 pounds with which I went home to marry. I still got some change with which I bought a ladies Raleigh bicycle which was the Hummer Jeep of those days.

Therefore, the consequences of slapping the Oyibo manager and getting sacked was too enormous. Firstly I had just taken somebody’s daughter to Port Harcourt as my wife, secondly I was in debt because of the ESUSU.

I calmed down and then told the Oyibo man “I don’t blame you for what you have said. I don’t blame you for placing no value on my Senior Cambridge and London Matriculation which I got in 1950 and 1951 respectively and here I am in 1956 still arguing about those two certificates. I don’t value them myself”. He said why? I said if I value them, after these four or five years, I ought to have done something to improve myself. Don’t worry it is a food for thought.”

He said “go and think and do your worse.’ As I stepped out that morning from the manager’s office, I took three resolutions. The first resolution was never to work in the bank again, two to leave the bank for better and three, to be in a position in life that I can dictate policy to banks. Now how could I achieve those resolutions? I did what today is called SWOT analysis in management and I found that my strength is in academics, that same thing the manager debased. The only way I could leave the bank for better was to get a higher qualification and that was why I resorted to private studies and registered with rapid result college in London. I also began taking AIB examinations. In 1958 government set up Ashby Commission on higher education because of the approaching independence. That committee reported in 1959 advising the federal government that because of the pending independence, it was necessary to train manpower to run affairs of the country. It advised government to open up and offer various scholarships to people.

In that year, 1959, the Federal Government published vacancies for scholarships and I looked at it and decided there was nothing I was qualified to apply for; except banking. Don’t forget that I had resolved never to work in the bank again. Three days to the closure of entry, we were somewhere chatting and somebody asked me whether I applied for the scholarship and I said no. He said I should have applied for banking. I told him I already had enough of banking with all the trouble of balancing the books before you go, even during holiday periods. He explained that I do not necessarily have to be in the banking hall, if I get my AIB, that I could be a consultant or something else. The way he put it made the scale to fall off my eyes. I jumped on my bicycle and ran to obtain the form. This was in 1959 and the interview was to hold here in Lagos and that became my first time of venturing out of the East.

Immediately I entered the interview venue they said your name is Green, who gave you that name, why do you answer such a name. As a small boy that could be very unsettling. I told them my parents gave me the name and they said why do you still retain it, why don’t you change it. I said I won’t change the name. They said why not, I told them about one Chief Green Mbadiwe from my area who was a millionaire, a gold miner and renowned entrepreneur, that I won’t change the name because I hoped to be a millionaire like him, one day. Green Mbadiwe used to do something in those days when women and people came to dance in his house.

He would stay upstairs and be throwing coins down to them and that fascinated me a lot. I said I won’t change the name because I hoped to become a millionaire like him, someday: That was the only exchange of questions I could remember. I got the scholarship. I sent my papers to Lagos but there was no response that 1959. A friend of mine who was working in Customs had advised me not to indicate that I was married in my application form, that government was conserving money and was, therefore, not giving scholarship to married people. I flatly refused to heed his advice, insisting that I won’t deny my wife because of scholarship.

When I did not get a response that friend of mine kept laughing at me for refusing to heed his advice. I had already got part one of AIB, I only applied to go overseas and complete it. So I knew that even if they didn’t give me, I still had a chance of completing the programme in two years, even by correspondence. He kept telling people that I was the cause of my problem because I refused to denounce my wife and tell lies. I was then determined to go to Lagos and find out what had happened. On September 26, 1960 I was in Ministry of Education in Lagos to collect my papers when I eventually got the scholarship and I was shocked when I saw that instead AIB for two years I had been given B.Sc (Economics Money and Banking) for four years.

I wanted to know what happened. I had the opportunity when they were looking for a messenger to go and get my file and I volunteered my self. When I got the file, I quickly looked at it and saw what happened. It was that the placement officer, a Scottish lady who did the appraisal reasoned that it would be a disservice to me and the nation if I was to go for only Part two of AIB when I already had part one and RSA advanced. She now insisted that I should go for degree programme. Because of my determination to leave the bank for better, I was doing both AIB and RSA and got both at the same time. When they saw my papers they said I should go for degree. It was the process of correspondences between Lagos and London that delayed the entire thing. This placement officer was so convinced in her judgement concerning me that she had already got a university for me.

That was how my diploma became degree. In 1962 I got distinction and that put my school in the map. I still did the second part of AIB privately. I won the prize of most distinguished candidate in ’62 and the Glasgow Prize in ’63 when I took the B.Sc final exam. I became the darling of my professors who then said I must do post graduate. They sent my papers to London School of Economics. I made First Class in the exam in my school and Second Class Upper in the external examination. They eventually granted me admission to do MSC and PHD.

The problem then was how to finance the programme. They advised me that since I had four years scholarship and had only done three, I could at least use the fourth one to begin. So I started and they now wrote to the Federal Government and gave very high recommendation that I should be given further scholarship for Post Graduate Studies. Nigeria was a different place at that time. They promptly replied and extended the scholarship to cover both MSC and PHD. One of my happiest recollections is that those three resolutions of April 1956 had been amply fulfilled. I never worked in the bank again. I left the bank for better and I am now a policy maker for banks. That’s my joy. I have done this through teaching and writing several text books on banking. It gives me joy.

I consider you a pioneer banker

Oh yes. I was the first Professor of Finance in the African continent.

That’s good. Congratulation sir. Now do you think banking of today is still being practiced the way you taught it?

I would say yes and no. Yes in the sense that banking remains what it is; an intermediary between those who have surplus funds to their immediate requirement and those who need funds. The former put their money in the bank, the later go there to borrow it and the interest rate becomes profit for the bank. To that extend they are still practicing banking in that they make their income through the difference borrowing and lending rate.

I also say no in the sense that integrity both on the part of the bankers and the borrowers and customers is no longer there. That integrity is very much watered down, vitiated. One head of state once said that Nigeria’s problem is not money but how to spend it and that has coloured the thinking of people. ‘They believe the money is there and everybody wants to grab their own at all levels. That has also permeated into people who borrow money from the bank. They see it was their share of the national cake, so they really have no intention to pay back. And some of the bankers appear to have compromised their positions by taking kick backs from people they have lent money. If you do that, you have mortgaged your right to demand for repayment. That is why I said yes and no. Banking remains what it is but the ethics have been vitiated. Banks can only survive and continue in business if those who borrow, pay back.

It is also said that the regulatory authorities have abdicated their responsibility.

Part of the problem is regulatory failure. The rules are there. In fact there is a regulatory failure and the challenge of Corporate Governance today is one of supervision and monitoring. There is failure in regulation and there is also failure in internal mechanisms within the banks themselves or inability to institute and execute internal control. Then there is the failure of both internal and external auditors. People also don’t seem to know that money can be evil and devilish if you are not careful with it. Money is also gregarious.

You know the consolidation moved start-up capital from N2bn to N25 billion. Somehow, they achieved what I describe as skeletal consolidation. Some banks came together and survived. Then they were told that anyone that got N100 billion would be given portions of foreign exchange to manage. That now brought about competition for size and bankers began buying positions. Such things as Banker of the year and so on. Those things were paid for. I can tell you that some of those awards were also offered to me but because I had no money to pay so they never gave me.

They paid for these awards with bank money, depositors’ money. Also infrastructure deficient universities saw a good avenue in distributing awards to bank bosses and getting money to solve their problems. The regulators perhaps thought that since the banks were big now they could lend to the real sector. What the current governor is doing now is what I describe as consolidating the consolidation. The consolidation that was earlier done was a skeletal one. What is happening in the banking industry now is the real consolidation. If these current measures are taken to their logical conclusion, you can now get real solid banks. That’s why I support what Sanusi is doing.

Is there a possibility that number of banks will reduce, after all the clean up currently going on?

Let us face it, even while Soludo’s consolidation was going on, there were opinions, and I shared in those opinions, that we need not have one-size-fits-all banks. In America and elsewhere in the world, you do not have one-size banks; you have banks of various sizes serving various stages and sectors of the economy. To think that if you reduce the number of banks and make the remaining ones big, everything will be all right, you might be making a mistake. There are pros and cons of reducing the number. What we need is an efficient banking system. Size does not tantamount to efficiency. And let me also say that like death bank distress is no respecter of size or age. It does not matter how big or old your bank is, once you violate banking rules, you will go down. The regulators, I believe, know what to do but I have made my point.

When you were in the regulatory system as Pioneer Executive Director of the Central Bank, were there signs that what we are seeing now would happen?

At that time we had two classes of banks. We had indigenous banks and expatriate banks. Expatriate banks were bigger in size and operated on rules and principles from their home countries. They did not necessarily pay particular attention to developing indigenous borrowers. In fact it was this discrimination against citizens that led to the establishment of indigenous banks. The ACB for instance, I told the story in one of my books titled Nigerian Financial System. Nnamdi Azikiwe set up ACB because of what he claimed to be the insult he received from an expatriate bank.

He said “they treated me as if I am lazy and I told them that one day I will own a bank.” And he later owned a bank. What I am saying is that the expatriate banks were bigger and relatively more efficient but not necessarily developing the economy. The indigenous banks were more down to earth. At that time ACB, National Bank and others built up a number of businesses. But then greed, corruption and the Nigerian factor got into them and this became more evident when these banks became state owned.

Appointment into the boards became an issue of political patronage. If you are talking about what happened then, I will tell you that Rome was not built in a day. What is happening today did not just occur overnight. And, whatever regulation you have will succeed or fail depending on what the operators do with the regulation. Therefore it depends on the human factor, on the integrity of those operating the system. I told you earlier that I was chairman of Union Bank from 1990-1996 and that I voluntarily resigned my position as chairman in March ’96. I am yet to see another precedent. I took that unprecedented move to resign because I could not agree with what was going on.

Could you be more specific on those things?

All I can say is that there were unhealthy practices which I vowed can never happen under my watch as chairman. I said I will not append my signature to those things. It got to a point where the board members held meeting without me. In fact they would not even let me know about the meeting because they know I will not agree. At that point I wrote to the Central Bank reporting the ugly development where annual account of the bank was approved without the chairman’s consent. The CBN now put its feet down and demanded that a proper board meeting be held.

They directed the external auditors and the Managing Director to comply. Well they gave ethnic interpretation to the whole thing because Paul Ogwuma was Governor of the CBN at that time. I didn’t bother about that because I knew I was standing on both moral and professional high pedestal to insist that things must be done right. When it became obvious that mine was like a lone voice in the wilderness I made what I consider a profound statement at the proper Annual General Meeting at Nicon-Nuga in Abuja in March 1996. I said and I quote “There comes a time in the life of a man when he has to take a decision, for me that moment has come, I hereby resign my appointment as chairman of this bank” that was it. I was not going to be part of any illegality so I resigned. And people could not understand me but I had my reasons which I would also not discuss on the pages of the newspaper but I have documented them in my biography. I will give you a copy but I would still not want you to specify them in your report. Anybody who wants to know should get a copy of my biography captioned “Journey to the Throne –“ the story of Eze professor Green Nwankwo.

Are these unethical things or where they politically motivated?

Some were unethical and some were politically motivated. People were saying why did you do that, why did you resign such an exalted position. Don’t forget that not only did I start banking in August 13, 1951, I was a ledger keeper. It was at that time that I saw the back of all these so-called rich men. They are all chronic debtors. That coloured my attitude. So when I now see a big man, I will say wait until we see the bank account. If you have been following the revelations now coming out of banks, you will find that some directors gave themselves loans in order to buy shares of the same bank and be qualified to remain there as directors. Some gave loans to companies where they had interest. They clearly had no intention to pay back and those who compromised their position by taking kick backs from people they gave loans to have lost their moral authority to ask for repayment. That’s why the borrowers are bold not to pay back. That’s why you need intervention of external body like the EFCC to get them to pay back.

The point I am making is that the challenge facing the banking sector is that of enforcing strict corporate governance. The regulators have to be on their feet but whatever you do always boils down to the human factor, the integrity of the regulator and those being regulated. In my own case I put my feet down and said no way, I won’t compromise. I was chairman of ACB before the merger and I can tell you that in three years my board removed two CEOs and the third one was on compulsory leave before the unfortunate Bellview crash where he died. Why we removed them was that after we hold board meetings and agree on what to do and how it should be done, they would go and do another thing. When you ask them they say this is how it is done in the industry and I would say you don’t have to follow the multitude to do evil. Please do what the board agreed or leave. When I report them to the board the conclusion would be that they have another agenda and that’s how two of them left. In fact there was a time the external auditors wrote to say that they were withdrawing because of pressure.

This brings up the issue of auditors. Where were they when these banks were being run aground? Does it mean they colluded or their reports were ignored?

I would not know but recently the current CBN Governor Lamido Sanusi recently asked the same question while he was addressing members of ICAN. He said where were the Accountants and auditors when all these things were happening. That’s why I say that what is happening now calls to question the integrity and professionalism of the regulators, auditors, directors and everybody. This is why I support and welcome the cleaning now going on. Of course it is hurting and it is bound to hurt. As I have already said, my assessment is that the process will consolidate the consolidation.

As chairman of ACB your board was able to remove recalcitrant CEOs but now we have super CEOS who are even bigger than their boards, who can flout a board decision and still get away with it in the sense that they are like the owners of the bank.
One of the measures Sanusi is taking is to depersonalize the banks. You know under Soludo family owned banks were also de-emphasised which brought about mergers. It would seem that they returned through the back door.

The situation also challenges the integrity of the chairmen and board members if they will fold their hands and watch the CEO upturn their collective decision. I was recently reading about the Nuhu Ribadu saga and he said he gave his staff what he called “the front page rule” which means that if you take a decision or do something that can appear on the front page tomorrow morning then you ask yourself can I defend this? He said if you could defend it then go ahead and do it, but if you cannot defend it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Restoring Nigeria will require hard choices

By Obi Nwakanma, The Orbit/Vanguard

LAST week, the famous Nigerian novelist, Chinua Achebe received an unlikely guest at his home in the Catskills. Nuhu Ribadu, Nigeria’s former anti-corruption cop went to see the sagely fabulist. It might have been a social visit, but one thing led to another, and soon Nuhu Ribadu and Achebe began to talk about the prodigal nation.

By the end of the day, Achebe had uttered his wish: Nigerians should rise towards a revolution. The times demand it. A revolution, in the circumstance of Nigeria, is a good thought; even a great advice. Chinua Achebe is not known for flippancy.

He does not use words carelessly. He must have taken a hard and steady look at things and come to his conclusions. The trouble is that revolutions require revolutionaries. Nigerians have no revolutionaries. She has NGO-radicals; mostly paper tigers. But there is no greater urgency today than to find among Nigerians, as among the inhabitants of Sodom, just one virtuous leader for whom history will spare the impending consequence of our historical mistakes.

It is an impossible task, perhaps because we’ve have been looking for a leader – that is, one archetypal herculean figure – on whom we can rest the crown and who would then embody the will of the nation.

The wrong aspect of that search for this singular individual remarks upon something that we have hardly factored into the causes of the crisis of leadership in Nigeria. Nigeria has absorbed far more of the monarchical and feudal tendencies than the democratic and egalitarian tendencies that humanizes modern societies.

We do not need “a leader.” We need leaders. Highly conscious and capable men and women who can dream, roll up their sleeves, and dig out the muddle in which Nigeria is stymied. However, our language – the question of those who would “rule” rather than about those who can “lead” us – reflect this monarchical tendency. In modern terms, humans ought not be “ruled.”Citizens ought to be “served” by its true leadership.

But we in Nigeria invest so much in the rhetoric of “rulership” that we sometimes forget the particular implication of these terms. Perhaps also, it reflects the exact situation of our lives as long oppressed and mastered people, who have found ourselves mostly under the jackboots of those to whom we delegate the power to govern this nation. For long, Nigerians abandoned their rights of consent. They kept quiet under tyrannies.

They hid their heads, unwilling to fight for their freedom. Only a handful of courageous women often stood up, and when it came to the crunch, they were often left in the lurch, abandoned. In the end, scoundrels became our “rulers.” But developments in Nigeria in recent times seem to suggest that people are increasingly unhappy, and unwilling to be oppressed or “ruled” any more.

There is an increasing destruction, perhaps challenge, to the sources of authority in the nation. The kidnappings; the failure of the institutions of law to rein-in disorder; lawlessness, and insecurity are increasing symptoms or manifestations of dissent; a testimony that the state as it is constituted is rapidly decoupling.

This is merely indeed a reflection of the unhappy truth that more people are tearing up the social contract with Nigeria, because it is increasingly seeming like a dud cheque. There are, of course, the optimists who may say, well, this is an extreme view. It may well be. But if we look a bit around, the answer my friends, may be blowing in the wind.

And this leads me to two recent reports in the Nigerian newspapers, which provide important food for thought as we grapple with the situation in Nigeria. Last week’s Mobolaji Johnson’s interview with the Sun newspapers, and about three weeks ago, the renowned political scientist, Professor B.I.C Ijomah’s address at the Igbo day lectures in Owerri specifically. I will touch slightly on what each man said.

First, the retired Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson, pioneer governor of Lagos, took us on a tour de force of the Aburi conference. This was a landmark interview in two respects, for me. One is that it destroyed the argument that “Ojukwu’s ambition” led to war. Secondly it points to the missed opportunities that Aburi offered for a transition towards a restoration of the republic.

Since January 1966, Nigeria has suspended its republic, and the federalism principle which guarantees the foundations of the federal republic. The central government has so fully appropriated the power and rights of the federating regions that what we have in Nigeria is effectively a feudal centre.

This is not working for Nigeria, and it is obvious that the crisis of the nation stems chiefly from the distortion of our republican status. Indeed, it is a subject which Professor B.I.C Ijomah touched upon in his lecture to the Igbo in Owerri this past September. Any clear observer of Nigerian affairs ought indeed to know that the forces are drawing us closer towards a massive crisis. The current president is too sick to act.

The structures of the state are too weak to remain resilient against the pressures of Nigeria’s multiethnic character. Professor Ijomah specifically noted, and I agree with him, that Nigeria must return to the agreements of 1957 which the nationalist leaders reached and incorporated into the independence and republican constitutions, but which the subsequent military regimes suspended.

Those agreements created the basis upon which Nigerians agreed to live together as a nation. Unless we return to those principles incorporated in our foundational charter, which were suspended in 1966, Nigeria will inevitably head to the rocks.

In its current character, this country does not represent many of us; its current formation is the product of an oligarchic military order set towards conquest and control. But to restore Nigeria will require us to make hard choices.

Indeed, one of the haunting questions, and I think it is urgent, is to rest the ghosts of 1966-70.This country is unlikely to move forward without reconciliation, and without restoring the basis of law and citizenship.

My regrets about my marriage, Ngozi Nwosu speaks

By Chioma Gabriel, Vanguard

She is one actress who has traversed Nigeria’s movie industry and is still standing tall to be counted. She has acted in movies shot in Yoruba, Igbo and English languages. In Yoruba movies, she has accolades to tell her story. In Living in Bondage shot in Igbo language, she gave Nollywood its first real wet kiss on the set .

In this encounter, Ngozi Nwosu, the Arochukwu-born screen actress talks about her career, her failed marriage and her new found faith.

You’ve been in Nollywood for quite sometime. But now you seem to be digressing. What’s going on?

I have not left Nollywood. But I had to chill out for sometime because I have other things that I’m doing. But at the same time, I’m still with them because I still have time to do some movies.

Have you done up to 50 movies?

I can’t count the number of movies I have done. The last time I needed to include some of them in my CV, they were more than that. The person I gave my CV to was like, ‘wao!’ What’s going on! So, I can’t count my movies. They are more than 50.

So, what are you into now?

You know that the movie industry at the moment is going through some stress. We are trying to rectify that but that doesn’t mean that people are not shooting movies. But if you take a look at the way movies are being churned out, it’s being regularised. It’s not like before. It’s not even selling like before anymore. Before a marketer churns out a movie, he has to consider all these.

Which movie gave you your highest pay?

I cannot say exactly which movie because, really, I didn’t go into the movies because of the money I hope to earn.

Acting is a passion. It’s not money that drives me. It’s the inspiration that I get from a script. If I’m motivated by a script, I accept it. But like I said, things have changed and I accept increments here and there.

What’s your most challenging role?

To me, every role is challenging but it depends on how you play it. If you ask my most interesting role, I will tell you. We kicked off Nollywood with Living in Bondage. Before I acted that movie, there was nothing like kissing and all that.

What used to obtain in those days were the Yoruba movies and kissing was not existing then in the movies. But Living in Bondage signified the birth of Nollywood and I acted a kissing role. When we were on that set, I had a kissing scene with the lead character played by Kenneth Okonkwo.

Everybody, the entire crew, was wondering if I was really going to kiss him or not but it was a script and before they knew it, I kissed him and everybody started cheering and clapping.

If kissing him was such a big deal then, what about now that romancing and heavy petting are common in the movies?

That was then. Go and check movies then, even TV. People found it difficult to kiss then. When I did it, they were surprised.

So, does that make you the first woman to kiss on a set?

Movies? Yes. Before then, if they wanted to express endearments in a movie, they would just come together and hug or touch themselves, and it was okay then. When I kissed Andy (Kenneth Okonkwo), they could not believe it because then, we had not gotten the boldness we have now. So, kissing someone on set at the initial stage demanded a lot of boldness.

From that point to the present time, how would you say the movie industry has fared?

I will say the movie industry has improved tremendously but at the same time, it has crumbled because so many things are going wrong. The scripts are no longer strong. It’s copy here, copy there. Before you see two scenes in a movie, you have already known where the story will end.

People are no longer creative and sometimes, people play too many roles at the same time and they shift a character from one movie into another. At times, you see two different movies with the same faces playing similar characters and you cannot differentiate one movie from the other. You see an actor, because of the load of work he has, he will carry his character from one movie into another.

And then, you see Indian movies translated into Nigeria . Movies shot by the British or Americans are Nigerianised. We are lacking in originality. It also happens in Yoruba movies.

But I believe it will be rectified when writers start going on retreat to research for stories and organising script writers’ workshops or retreats. We need to write original scripts, strong water-tight scripts, scripts that will challenge an actor/actress to bring out his/her best. As a writer, it’s necessary to go on retreat, not to copy Indian or American story and change a few things. I believe God will help us.

How did you get into acting?

I started acting from school because I was in the dramatic society and before I got into Living in Bondage which metaphorsed into what we have today as home-video, I was in the Yoruba movies, the 36mm celluloid.

I had even made a name in Yoruba movies before Living in Bondage. I was on TV. I was popularly known as Madam V-Boot in Ripples. But before then, I was doing movies. That is celluloid, which you watch in cinemas.

It’s not like home video you buy to watch at home. So, I’m not today’s chick-o!

You acted inYoruba movies but you are Igbo. Do you have any link biologically with the Yoruba?

No, I was brought up in Lagos. If you look around, you will see my awards in Yoruba movies: Best Actress in Yoruba, Best Upcoming Actress in Yoruba. I also have awards in English movies. I grew up here.

But there are people who are even born in Lagos who don’t understand Yoruba…

It’s because they don’t have the flair to learn the language. Growing up in a place is different from having the flair to learn the language of the people. Some have been here all their lives but they don’t speak Yoruba because they don’t want to learn.

Maybe, your family made Lagos home and maybe stopped visiting Igboland.

To me, anywhere I find comfort and happiness is home. But I’m from Arochukwu in Abia State. My mum is from Umunoha.

She’s not Yoruba?

No, I’m a typical Igbo lady but I imbibed the culture and language of the Yorubas because I find peace here. I speak Igbo very well and acted in Igbo films too. Anywhere you find peace is your home. Anywhere you find love is your home.

It’s an advantage and I can tell you, I’m good in Yoruba. I’m good in English and I’m good in Igbo.

How did your parents react when you started acting?

My parents were never against it. Anyway, it was my mum and her children. May her soul rest in peace. She was a comedian too. People who knew her know where I got my character. When she was alive, she could make you laugh and laugh.

So, you’re like your mother?

Was she also very fair like you?

She was chocolate. Not very dark but not fair. My father was fair. My mother had four kids. Two have her complexion. Two are fair like my dad.

So, where’s your father?

He’s also late.

Were you daddy’s girl or mummy’s girl?

Unfortunately, I couldn’t be daddy’s girl because I didn’t grow to know him very well. He died during the civil war. We became drawn to our mother after our father died.

Did your father die in the battle field?

Yes. He was fighting on the Biafran side but he didn’t return after the war. All his brothers returned.

So, you were not even sure he is dead? What if he is alive somewhere?

He was killed in the battle field. Somebody who knew us saw him die. He later took us to the very spot where he was killed. He was shot and killed in the battle field fighting for Biafra.

What about your brothers? Is any of them in the entertainment industry?

My mother had only girls. Four girls.

In Igboland, it’s an issue to have only girls. You hear about the male child syndrome. Is it affecting you and your sisters?

You know, when our mother died and we went for her burial, people didn’t believe she had no male child. We took care of everything. We are not interested in property or getting our own share of things. We were all girls and would get married. So, we left everything. They even invited us to come but we were not interested.

If our father had a male child, we would have gone for his inheritance but he didn’t. They asked us to come and take our father’s land but we didn’t go.

Perhaps, you ran away from being killed over property belonging to your father…

Not really. Why fight for land in the village when we are aspiring to build our own houses in the city? So, what are you struggling for land for when as a woman, you should be in your husband’s house and then you can buy land anywhere and build on.

And moreover, gone were the days when if a man had only girls, one is asked to stay behind and bear children that will answer the father’s name.

But they still do it in some parts of Igboland…

Yes. But not us.

Maybe, one of your sisters should stay?

Impossible. They have moved ahead with their lives. Two of us are married, remaining two. My younger sister and I.

You got married sometime…

Yes I did. It didn’t work out and so I quit.

What happened?

I would rather not talk about it.

You married a Yoruba. Maybe you should try Igbo this time…

I found love and peace here and so, I remain here. We need to cross-marry as Nigerians and it goes a long way to keep this country united. And if you say marry Igbo, who told you that because you are Igbo, the Igbo man will be better? Let me tell you, they could be worse.

Even if you marry your town’s man, a bad husband is a bad husband anywhere. It doesn’t matter. The most important thing is to marry your own husband from God. You see, life is how God wants it to be. Whatever happens to one in relationship, one should take it in peace because God has a different plan and purpose for you.

So, what happened? Were you desperate and then made a mistake?

No, I was not desperate, even though I didn’t marry early as I would have loved. But they say it is better late than never. So, I wasn’t desperate even though I was not expecting to get married at the time I did. The only thing is that I just thank God because that marriage was an eye opener for me.

I was like a child who felt this was the way it was being done. But I was wrong. If I knew then what I know now, maybe, I would have been able to forgive and patch it up because then, I believed that if it was not for me, it was not for me.

You speak in parables. What happened?

I didn’t handle things maturely because I didn’t know a lot of things. I didn’t seek advice because you don’t know who will give you a good one or a wrong one. I acted on impulse but all the same I didn’t regret it. The only thing I regret is not knowing what I know now.

If I had known that that’s what men do, that a lot women cover up their own, I would have forgiven and stayed.

I could infer from what you are saying that perhaps your husband had other women and it didn’t go down well with you…

I am the type who believe that my husband should be my husband. I was in love and it was so blind.

And perhaps deaf and dumb as well?

Thank you. You got it. But I was wrong. Even when people were telling me, Ngozi, see what was going on under your nose, I didn’t believe. I was the last to know the truth that was happening right under my nose. I believed so much in my husband and this Mr and Mrs thing until I saw! That’s when I went hay wire.

A cheating husband is not much of an issue these days…

Did I know that? I thought my husband must remain mine. If I had known what I know now, I would have known what to do. But then, my head was hot. I was boasting about him and then this happened and I was so shattered. I didn’t believe it could happen to me.

You were already a celebrity at the time you got married. Perhaps, he had complex? He didn’t know how to handle it.

Limelight and marriage are two different things. I don’t want to talk about it. It really shocked me. Let’s not talk about it.

But he spoke about it.

Yes, he alleged all kinds of things in the newspapers but I’m not saying a word. I left it to God. and God has judged. You know, sometimes, human beings do things and they don’t reckon with God. That is a mistake. So,

I said, let God be the judge and He judged. He has already judged and vindicated me.

What happened?

It’s my personal life.

One of your biggest roles was playing Peace in Fuji House of Commotion. You were Chief Fuji’s third wife. What was really the role of Peace?

I’m no longer in that comedy. But Peace is a woman who knows her onions. She loves her husband very much but she knows the kind of man he is and tries to tolerate his excesses but the ones she could not stomach, she would refuse vehemently. She knows how to get around things unlike the other wives who bow down before their husband.

The man’s wish is their command . For Peace also, the man’s wish is equally her command but when she sees that there is another thing, she stands her ground and says no, your wish cannot be my command now.

My own wish will be your command and that is why whenever there is a problem in the house, it is Peace that they run to because they know that Chief will listen to Peace, they know that Chief loves Peace very much and they know that when Peace says no, this will not work, other wives will join, the children will join and it will not work.

It’s just that people don’t understand her but she is just an Igbo woman who understands her husband and knows how to tame his excesses and that explains why other wives lean on her for support.

Fuji House of Commotion is a polygamous setting and Peace is an Igbo woman married to a Yoruba . You, Ngozi Nwosu in real life is an

Igbo woman married to a Yoruba. Why didn’t you tap from your screen experience?

My dear, I didn’t go into marriage with polygamy in my head. I went into the marriage out of love and in love I stayed. But when I saw the fire coming towards me, I had to move. It’s very difficult to live in a polygamous setting.

Even before I married my husband, I had a lot of offers from other men but because some of these men were already married, I said to myself that I would never marry a married man. I wanted my own man.

But if I had known I was going to see fire, I wouldn’t have bothered my life. This is the seventh year. We have not obtained divorce officially. What we have is a court separation for three years to see if we could still come back together.

And none of you has made any attempt?

My husband has made an attempt for me to come back but to me, it can’t work. After what I passed through, I don’t think it can ever work. I really passed through a lot.

I have even said I will never remarry but after people talked to me, I’m asking God for grace to settle down again and maybe, now that I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and personal Saviour, I will see things differently.

You must have passed through the valley of shadow of death…

It’s unbelievable but I will not say more than that. My husband wants us to get back together but I don’t think it will work.

But you can’t marry another person without a proper divorce…

Of course, I can marry again because he too has remarried and so, if I remarry, that makes the two of us. The only thing is, I don’t want to rush into anything. Now, I just believe in God to do His will concerning me.

You said you left Fuji House of Commotion. Why?

I left a long time, about two years. I’m already into other things: Films, TV series, other things.

Usually, asking for more money causes such problems?

And what is wrong with that? Things have changed, even the cost of living and we all know it. So, I have left the TV comedy series. I have shot some home-videos. I’m a radio producer and I’m in many TV series. I shot home videos recently. Some are out, some are not

In one interview, you were quoted to have said roles are no more coming as much as they used to.

I never said that. What I said was that they should not because they have discovered new faces, forget the old ones. But the truth is that I have been working.

Have you produced any video?

I used to say one thing-acting is my thing and I’m good. That you are a good actor does not mean you must produce or direct. You can specialise in any of these fields.

So, should we say you are still searching for love?

I am not searching but I know I will find love again. Just take a good look at me. I will find love again. Everything is in God’s hand. I won’t bother myself again and I’m not rushing into anything.

In the movie world, politics has crept in. Between KOK and Segun Arinze, who is right?

I don’t want to talk about that because there is politics everywhere, even in the church.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is Prof. Soludo really PDP’s Anambra solution

By Chukwudi Nwokoye, Daily Triumph

Then on the issue of drafting Professor Soludo as their joker or game-changer, the party is still doing the same thing they did back in 2003 and even in 2007. If they would tell themselves the truth, there is no way you can tell the state that PDP intended to hold governorship primaries in the state. They had it in mind that Soludo would be the solution to their political imbroglio in the state. No disrespect to our erudite professor, but Anambra is not a bank! Anambra is not a state lacking in people with educational qualifications or connections at Abuja. He is not going to be the last with a president’s ear. I bet that in the whole Isuofia or even in Soludo’s Isuanioma, there are other professors and men that have made their mark in education and came out with distinction, how much more the whole of Anambra state. So the state is endowed with all kinds of high performers that just one person that has a retinue of academic record does not scare us.

The problems with PDP and all the Abuja politicians are that they think that the mere fact that they live in Abuja and make some money while boot-licking; and have access to the corridors of power; that they can just breeze in from Abuja to Anambra, "flash their badges and make us nervous" (apologies Jack Nicholson in the movie ‘A Few Good Men’). That is where they got it all wrong. Anambra has produced all kinds of high achievers that educational milestones are nothing new in the state.

Soludo is a good person despite the problems with Central Bank under his charge. I do not intend to go into some charges levelled against him about cooking the book which has not been proven nor has he been indicted. I think it is unfair to judge him without any formal indictment. Even though he refused to give a specific answer to questions about his stewardship at the bank that failed to regulate the banks under CBN I do not intend to discuss his capability to administer the state. He performed admirably as the Governor of the apex bank of which Nigeria is grateful. He is a saleable candidate, but he has to sell himself and find a way to resonate with the people.

In fact, almost all the aspirants have the paper qualification to govern the state. However, my main point is that the method that the party adopted to field him as their candidate is flawed and he should know that he is sitting at the keg of gun-powder. The system of imposing a candidate would not work in the state as far as the governorship is concerned.

Prof. Soludo fell into the same flawed method that Andy Uba explored to win the party’s nomination. Both Uba and Soludo basically ran against themselves during the so-called primaries. But if well prepared for the post of governor, I have no doubt that he has all it takes to govern the state. Again, like I said, most Abuja politicians do not know the act of electioneering or even how to play politics even when they are quick to adopt that appellation "politician".

The same mistake that Andy Uba made when he was wielding the big stick and has the Anambra PDP at his beck and call; is the same mistake that Soludo made prior to being drafted or coerced or talked into being the party’s nominee. Soludo did not use his leverage at Abuja to help the state he intends to govern. What would have happened if he has effectively used his contact? If Soludo has used his immense contacts with the corridor of power to better the lot of Anambra people in terms of things I mentioned above like influencing the building of second Niger bridge, repairing the federal roads in the south-east, dredging the River Niger and constructing a state of the art sea port at Onitsha, helping to bring Enugu Airport to international standard, and probably coming to the universities in the state once in a while to deliver lectures to the youths, by now he would have been like a super humanbeing. The governorship would be his for the asking. He would have been a household name in the state and he would basically run unopposed both in the primaries and in the 2010 election.

Most politicians do not know how to use their influence to win people over. Senator Ifeanyi Okonkwo used his money and influence to give scholarships to many indigent students in his local government and some other good things he did and was coasting to victory before PDP’s beloved Soludo was anointed. Even other candidates like Iyom Chinwe Ekwunife of Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) and even Hon. Nicholas Ukachukwu were using their connections and resources to establish scholarship and other poverty alleviation programs. The people they helped wanted to pay them back with their votes; but not so with Soludo and even Andy Uba.

The main problem is that most politicians from Abuja are very selfish. They never look at the big picture, in their little mind, they think that this concept of "igbo enwe eze" (igbos have no kings) is a mere slogan. Inspite of the mistaken opinion that Anambra people love money, therefore if you come around and do some ‘naira rain’ people would be falling over each other to file behind your column is flawed and they cannot follow the trend. That may work during the military regime, but the people have tasted democracy’s forbidden fruit and there is no going back. Also the party thinks that those that have been toiling for the party with the hope of winning the nomination would just roll over and surrender for him!

Also Anambra state would not and will never in the future be anyone’s retirement benefit, severance pay or package. During former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime, Andy Uba was said to have served the former president well that OBJ wanted to settle Andy Uba for a job well done with Anambra governorship. That didn’t work out well. It might be the same thing that the current President Umaru Yar’adua is trying to do.

It is not going to work out for him. It did not work out for Andy under OBJ. In my place we would say "the deer we sent to the stream did not return and we are trying to send the antelope to the same stream; how do you think that the antelope would return?" It is the same old trick that never worked. I pity Prof Soludo because he fell into the same PDP Modus Operandi and he would come out frustrated. If he had started earlier to water the ground, do lots of heavy-lifting in terms of making people believe that he is not just a name in the Nigerian currency, but a real person with human flesh and not a fiction at Abuja, it could be different. Market women, Okada riders and peasants that struggle everyday to put food on the table for their families do not mainly understand what success at Central Bank has to do with them and their situation. Local people who are the main chunk of the electorate do not give a damn about a Central Bank Governor since it meant nothing to them. Some of them haven’t even heard about him before and PDP would find it difficult to convince them that he is the real deal.

Most Anambrarians are mostly concerned about some achievements they can relate to like "this road was constructed by Ngige" or "that school was built by Peter Obi" or "that hospital if not for Chief (Mrs) Ekwunife, we would not have it". That’s what normally resonates with local people. Majority of the electorates do not live in the cities, they live in the villages and the things that would normally get their attention are roads, schools, hospitals, water, electricity, bridges and other social amenities that would make their life better. If a road is inaccessible for ages and somehow someone in government builds it for them, his name is forever on that road.

Like in my hometown, some ‘nwadiana’ (our daughter’s son) from Onitsha that was in the eastern region government at the time built the road for the people. Many people do not even know the man, but up till today, when the story of the road is told, people do not fail to praise the man that built the road even though the man has long passed away. Dr Ngige understands the politics of roads and obviously Peter Obi understands how providing the infrastructure in the state write a governor’s name forever in the hearts of the people. A situation where the people actually kneel down and pray for their governor and ask God to preserve him, and PDP thinks that they can just pick a candidate and phew, magic happens and he breezes into the Government House,may be difficult to reverse. But PDP does not understand that simple fact of winning hearts and mind of people. Prof Soludo does not get it. It is either that he is not as smart as we make him out to be or he believes just as PDP that there would not be an election come February 6, 2010, but a selection or coronation of Soludo. Either way it does not say well of him and both he and the party should get ready for the greatest shock of their lives.

Chukwudi Nwokoye writes from Maryland, USA