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Biafra and Kanu: Foretelling the Possible End

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Nnamdi Kanu IPOBR

By Omoshola Deji

Nigerian ethnic groups are enduring the pains, rather than enjoying the gains of unity. From 1960 to date, successive governments, both the militarily imposed and the democratically elected, has declared Nigeria’s unity non-negotiable. Double-edged, the willingness to retain a united Nigeria is contrasted by the unwillingness to allow the nationalities negotiate their terms of cohabitation. This inflames the countrywide demand for political-economic restructuring and the quest for Biafra in Southeast, Nigeria.

Championing the immediate struggle for Biafra secession is Nnamdi Nwanekaenyi Kanu – the former director of the London-based Radio Biafra and recently dismissed leader of the proscribed secessionist movement – the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.

The Nigerian military’s invasion of Kanu’s home and IPOB’s proscription as a terrorist group is generating controversy and anxiety in the polity. In any case, Kanu has only been declared missing, not dead. The mere speculations of death, without prove, cannot halt research and analysis on Kanu’s struggle for Biafra, it rather strengthens it.

This piece sets sights on foretelling how Kanu and the struggle for Biafra would ultimately end. A recount-before-analysis approach is adopted to cover the essentials and curtail ambiguity. The struggle of late minority rights activists and secessionist leaders is then examined to foretell the possible end of Kanu and Biafra.

For history, Odumegwu Ojukwu declared Eastern Nigeria a sovereign nation named the Republic of Biafra in 1967, battled the Nigerian army for three years and surrendered Biafra in 1970.

Kanu wilfully assigned himself the duty of accomplishing Ojukwu’s failed mission. He crusades that Biafra restoration is the only solution to Southeast’s marginalization. In no time, Kanu’s popularity rose steeply and the drumbeat of secession resonated into President Muhammadu Buhari’s ears. The dictator turned democrat civilly wields the big stick! Kanu was arrested for treason and other related offenses on October 14, 2015. After prolonged detention without charge, the court ordered Kanu’s release on bail, but the state kept him in custody.

Buhari famed Kanu. The state’s wilful disobedience of court order earned Kanu sympathy among the Southeasterners who largely grades Buhari as sectional and anti-Southeast. If Kanu was freed when he perfected his first bail conditions, he probably won’t have gained the kind of compassion that astoundingly transformed into support and discipleship in the Southeast.

After scores of protests and legal wrangle, Justice Binta Nyako, on April 25, 2017, granted Kanu a fresh bail on the key conditions that he must not be seen amidst a crowd of more than ten persons, must not grant interviews, hold or attend rallies. Kanu fearlessly dishonored the bail conditions and continued his advocacy for Biafra after he was freed. He called for referendum, but allegedly threatened war, berated other ethnic factions and purveyed hate.

Kanu rationalized his bail flout on emulating Buhari – the president who “does not obey court orders”. Fact checked, Buhari is still disobeying the order to release the former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and the Shi’a Muslim cleric, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky. Reminiscent of a chain-smoker irritated by smoke, the same Buhari government that dishonor court orders implored the court to revoke Kanu’s bail.

The wheels of justice grind too slowly for Buhari’s military oriented, democratic government to hope on. On September 10, 2017, the military invaded Kanu’s home and reportedly left their – Fela Kuti’s asserted – regular trademark: sorrows, tears and blood. Kanu has since been out of sight. There is more to his disappearance than meets the eye. He is either dead, in solitary confinement, or has absconded when the military overpowered the IPOB members that formed human-shield round his house.

Mind boggling, could an outspoken Kanu ever abandon his supporters at such a crucial moment, forsaking them to die of state’s bullet? Could an outspoken Kanu ever keep mute on IPOB’s proscription as a terrorist organization? While these questions await answers, a major pointer that Kanu is alive emerged. IPOB sacked him as the director of Radio Biafra. Concurring with the arguments of rights activists and senior lawyer, Festus Keyamo, after declaring the army killed Kanu, did IPOB wake him from the grave to question him over allegations of inciting violence and misappropriation of funds before sacking him? Presumably alive, what would be the ultimate end of Kanu?

Kanu may end like Isaac Adaka Boro (1938-68). Boro fought for the emancipation of the Niger-Delta, decades before it became a popular catchphrase. The new generation activists – including Asari Dokubo, Ateke Tom and Government Tompolo – only picked the baton to finish the race that consumed Boro. The oil firms and state’s exploitation of the Niger-Delta frustrated Boro to declare an independent “Niger Delta Peoples Republic” on 23 February, 1966. Boro’s armed militia, the Niger-Delta Volunteer Force, battled the Nigerian army for twelve days before losing out.

Boro took up arms against the state and later picked up arms to fight for the state. On the eve of Nigerian civil war, the then head-of-state, retired Gen Yakubu Gowon released Boro from jail and enrolled him as a Major in the Nigerian Army to fight against Biafra. Boro fought gallantly, but was mysteriously killed in active service after he liberated the Niger-Delta from Biafra.

To the point, if Boro who once confronted the state could be tricked, used and allegedly killed by the state, Kanu may end up in a similar situation. The power-hungry opposition party may brainwash Kanu that he would get Biafra or juicy political appointment if he uses his influence to ensure the Southeast vote for the party. Kanu may later be silenced with death or relegated – like the All Progressives Congress, APC, is doing to Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar – once the party gains control of power.

Into the bargain, if Tinubu’s henchmen withdraw their support for Buhari in the Southwest, the APC might opt to win the southeast in 2019 through Kanu. Cast no doubt, if a strong-willed Boro could work for Gowon, never boast that Kanu cannot work for the APC in the future.

Boro died fighting for the recognition of minority rights in the Niger-Delta, but the people are still suffering amidst surplus. Kanu too may die for Biafra and the struggle would continue for decades without Biafra coming to pass.

Kanu may end like Ken Saro-Wiwa (1941-95). Saro-Wiwa wrote passionately against the oil exploitation, environmental degradation and human rights abuses in Ogoni. He swapped Boro’s gun for pen by declaring to his people that “I do not want any blood spilt, not of an Ogoni man, not of any strangers amongst us. We are going to demand our right peacefully, non-violently and we shall win”. Despite being non-violent, the Sani Abacha military regime could not tolerate or negotiate with Saro-Wiwa. He was silenced with death!

The Abacha government accused Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists of instigating the riot that led to the murder of four Ogoni chiefs. It was widely reported that Saro-Wiwa did not participate in the riot because the military had denied him entry into Ogoni on the riot day. After nine months in detention, the Ogoni-nine were arraigned before a tribunal that sentenced them to death-by-hanging on October 31, 1995. In the face of public outcry and global plea for clemency, the Abacha government hanged Saro-Wiwa and the eight activists on November 10, 1995.

One may argue that such gruesomeness is not possible under a democratic government, but if the court, for instance, hands Kanu a death penalty in his ongoing treason trial, the state may hurriedly execute him on judicial grounds, when all means of appeal are exhausted.

Buhari and Abacha are former military dictators. It is thus quite possible for the military that “publicly” executed Saro-Wiwa (under Abacha) to secretly execute Kanu (under Buhari) when soldiers invaded his home. If Saro-Wiwa was executed for an offense he (possibly) didn’t commit, Kanu too can be later accused and indicted for same. The state forces that are desperate to silence him and the politicians displeased with his rising popularity may use the Judas among his disciples to frame him up on crimes such as murder or illegal arms importation.

Kanu may end or might have ended his desire for Biafra like Ojukwu. If a gallant military officer like Ojukwu could abscond into exile, leaving the Southeasterner’s to languish in anguish at the height of the civil war, it is possible that a diaspora returnee and city dweller like Kanu might have absconded and possibly bowed cheaply to the superior force of the Nigerian state.

Ojukwu and Kanu aimed for Biafra but their style of steering secessionist movement differs. Ojukwu showed bravery by backing his Biafra declaration with action. In contrast, Kanu seems lost in focus. Challenging elites that are not willing to disintegrate or allow for referendum goes beyond rants and threats. Kanu’s actions have so far revealed that he lacks the essentials needed to restore Biafra. His uncouth orations also show he lacks the maturity.

As observed in Africa, Kanu may help free Biafra from Nigeria and hold on to it as Mugabe did in Zimbabwe. Secession doesn’t guarantee peace and equity. Biafra may disintegrate to grapple with ethno-religious violence and a survival economy like that of the Central African Republic. Biafra may secede to know no peace. It may be another South Sudan that gained independence, only to start another round of ethnic violence and civil war.

On the other hand, Kanu may end up being a replica of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew. He may, by luck or circumstance, get Biafra and swiftly transform it from an underdeveloped nation to a developed one. Biafra may later develop to the envy of Nigeria; just as Singapore is more developed than Malaysia.

So long as the Buhari government insists that Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable, our cohabitation must be constantly negotiated to reflect equity and fairness. Rational distribution of power and resources is breath for the survival of Nigeria. Force, intimidation and harassment would not end the agitation for Biafra. Secession can only be averted if Nigeria is restructured for the minority to enjoy rights.

Kanu would either conquer Nigeria or be consumed by Nigeria. One or the other, his silence must not be misjudged. He is either busy strategizing his comeback or his mission to disintegrate Nigeria has died in him, or with him.

Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via moshdeji@yahoo.com

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Islamic Estate Planning: Protect Your Family and Leave a Legacy

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Islamic Estate Planning

By FBNQuest

Islamic estate planning involves the distribution of your assets that serve to preserve, manage, and distribute them after death according to the principles of the Shari’ah.

According to the Islamic ordinance, those principles are significant in planning for dependents and represent an investment in the afterlife.

Islamic inheritance laws organise your wealth ownership and assets to ensure fairness and justice after your passing. Instead of leaving the tough decisions to grieving family members, you can arrange the gifting of your assets in advance. This creates a streamlined process for the distribution of the inheritance to all family members.

Islamic estate planning is essential in the life of Muslim faithful. Indeed, if you pass away as a Muslim without a proper plan for your assets, you may be breaching the bequest guidance stated in the Holy Book, which serves as an instruction manual for a Muslim’s life.

However, many are not concerned with making an inheritance plan, even though a failure to make one could trigger intense family debate and hinder the transfer of some assets to specific beneficiaries.

According to the guiding principles of Islamic estate planning, after covering the funeral expenses and debts owed by the deceased, a person may designate up to one-third of their wealth.

This discretionary giving is known as the Wasiyyah. However, there are limitations to this discretionary giving.

For example, Wasiyyah cannot be given to someone already receiving a share under the Islamic inheritance laws. The Wasiyyah is most commonly given to charity or to care for distant relatives who cannot provide for themselves.

The residual two-thirds is the Mirath and is reserved for the Islamic heirs as ordained in the Holy Book. Primary beneficiaries are those who will inherit some of your wealth, provided that they are alive and Muslim. These are your spouse, children, and parents, and they receive a fixed share of the wealth.

Secondary beneficiaries are those whose share of the inheritance is contingent on whether other primary beneficiaries are still alive. These may include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and other relatives. It is vital to appreciate the rights and obligations relating to an estate.

In preparing to bequeath an inheritance, it is crucial to organise your wealth in a manner that will make assets acceptable for consideration in an Islamic estate plan.

In this regard, investments should be screened for compliance with Islamic estate ethics, and investments in interest-bearing assets are disqualified.

Instead, it would help if you endeavoured to invest in increasingly popular Sukuk bonds. You should consider Mudarabah Investment accounts as substitutes to fixed deposit accounts and subscribe to a family takaful policy instead of a life insurance policy in your saving plans.

As for pension assets, you should opt for a multi-fund structure with an option to invest in Shari’ah-compliant instruments.

Zakat, the third pillar of Islam, is a compulsory giving required from every financially stable Muslim. Those who have acquired wealth are obligated to respond to people in need and give back to the community. This response could include sponsoring widows or the education students and organising in a charitable Trust as part of an Islamic estate plan.

Therefore, you must consult a professional estate planner to assist with setting up a Trust arrangement where 2.5% of your assets/wealth is set aside annually for Zakat.

Several other tools can be used to organise the transfer of assets to a specific beneficiary. They include Hiba (making gifts), Waqf (setting up an endowment or trust), Wasiyya (transfers by donation), and it is appointing a Wasi or guardian for living dependents. Getting it right requires a thorough understanding of the principles of Islamic estate planning and the various assets available to achieve compliance.

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Governor Okowa’s 2023 Presidency; an Objective Analysis

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Governor Okowa's 2023 Presidency

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

This piece stemmed from three recent developments in the country. First is the latest argument by development minded Nigerians that the nation’s perennial leadership haemorrhage/crisis is aggregated by a successive deficiency in leadership vision and in some cases made worse by public officials’ understanding and interpretation of problems with clarity but lacking in political will to see through or implement solutions. A development that has made the nation in dire need of a system that works, a government that caters for its citizens, especially the youths, secures lives and property while bolstering the economy.

The second and very germane is the Southern Governors Forum insistence that the presidency must shift to the southern part of the country come 2023, coupled with the recent decision by the main opposition party in Nigeria, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to zone the position of the national chairman of the party to the north.

As we know, it is a political principle embraced by major political parties in Nigeria that each time the national chairman of a political party emerges from the north, the presidential candidate of the same party, usually, emerges from the south where the likes of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State hails from.

Thirdly and most essential has to do with the fresh call by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr Ndudi Elumelu, on Mr Okowa to contest for the presidency of the country in 2023.

The Minority Leader, who spoke at the installation of Rotary Club’s 2nd President for 2021/2022 Rotary Club Year (Club of Asaba Downtown District 9141), pointed out that Governor Okowa should serve as the President of the nation so that he can replicate his achievements in massive infrastructural and human capital development in Delta State at the national level.

He stressed that Governor Okowa was endowed with the capacity and proficiency to rescue the nation from the misrule of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and reposition her to the path of peace, unity and economic prosperity.

“I must commend Governor Okowa for his selfless service and sacrifices that have led to unprecedented massive infrastructural development in our dear state as well as a better living standard for our people.

“Governor Okowa is a rare gift not only to Delta State but also to our nation Nigeria, at large. I firmly hold that he is endowed with the capacity and proficiency to serve our nation at the topmost level so that he can replicate the successes recorded in our state at the national level.

“I sincerely call on him to make him available to serve the nation again. He deserves to be the president of this country, come 2023,” Elumelu stated.

However, despite the popularity of this opinion, it will be antithetical to support a movement based on sentiment or allow sentiment to determine our actions. Therefore, in line with the Christian Holy Book, the Bible, admonished in 1 John 4; 1 that we do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

It will, for reasons, be of considerable significance to place this call under objective analysis to fundamentally help electorates make informed decisions ‘as the ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all’.

To perform this function well, it will necessitate the following posers; Is Governor Okowa capped with vital leadership capacity needed to tame the nation’s perennial ‘leadership haemorrhage/crisis aggregated by a successive deficiency in leadership vision and made worse by public official’s understanding and interpretation of problems with clarity but lacking in political will to see through or implement solutions? Has Governor Okowa truly achieved massive infrastructural and human capital development in Delta State? Has he indeed and in truth demonstrated selfless service and sacrifices as claimed by Mr Elumelu?

Again, going by Elumelu’s claim, another question would be at the federal level, are there signs of misrules on the part of the APC led federal government that calls for Okowa’s attention to reposition the nation to the path of peace, unity and economic prosperity?

Again, on May 29, 2015, amidst cheers and jubilation from the marmot crowd that attended his swearing-in ceremony at the Cenotaph in Asaba, Okowa, going by media reports, told his audience that, “As a government, we are committed to the building and consolidation of a state in which there shall be more employment opportunities, a flourishing agriculture and agribusiness sector, effective health and educational systems, renewed urban infrastructure and enhanced security and peace to bolster economic growth and development.”

Now, looking at the past six years of his administration, it will elicit the question as to how well has the Governor brought these promises to fruition? Also, at the national level, how relevant is Governor Okowa when it comes to issues of national urgent importance? As the current Governor of Delta State, what particulars can Okowa led government point at to convince Nigerians that he can effectively administer the federation?

In providing answers to these nagging questions beginning with the last question, it must be fundamentally underlined that separate from the fact that Delta State, to use the words of Governor Okowa, is a microcosm of Nigeria because she is populated by different ethnic nationalities and has had inter-ethnic conflicts/clashes, fatal boundary disputes, especially over oil-bearing land, and political tensions, a case that in my views qualifies a governor of such state to effectively lead the federation, Governor Okowa, as subsequent paragraph will show, since assumption of office on May 29, 2015, demonstrated that for the leader to distinguish himself, he has to be a shining light and as such, he should be in a position to break the retrogressive tendencies that subsist in doing what one does not wish to do.

To capture this claim well, this piece will further x-ray/classify the achievements of Governor Okowa’s administration into two.

First, achievements at the state levels which has to do with policy objectives/programmes implementation aimed at creating jobs and wealth (wealth creation and employment generation), economic diversification, the democratization of the education sector, infrastructural development, re-jigging/provision of the state’s security architecture in the state, engagement of the youths in productive enterprise, nurture of entrepreneurs and leaders, promotion of communal peace and development of a database of employment and unemployed youths for planning purposes. The second focuses on his unrelenting nation-building efforts at the federal level.

Evidence abounds that the Governor in pursuance of these objectives compressed his programmes into a five-point agenda which is encapsulated in the acronym SMART.

The SMART agenda means Strategic wealth creation projects and provision of jobs for all Deltans; Meaningful peacebuilding platforms aimed at political and social harmony; Agricultural reforms and accelerated industrialization; Relevant health and educational policies and; Transformed environment through urban renewal.

Take the wealth creation and employment generation, as an illustration, the Governor himself recently but succulently captured his achievements in this way; “we have a deliberate policy to tackle youth unemployment through skills training and entrepreneurship development programmes. I believe that the way out of the unemployment quagmire is to equip the youth with the technical know-how, vocational skills, values and resources to become self-employed, as distinct from one-off empowerment. This is what my administration has done by instituting various skills training and entrepreneurship development programmes, which include: Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP); Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP); Graduate Employment Enhancement Programme (GEEP); Rural Youth Skills Acquisition Programme (RYSA); Girls Entrepreneurship Skills Training (GEST); and Women Entrepreneurship Skills Acquisition Programme (WESAP).”

These programmes he said are trainee-centred and service-oriented. The sectors and activities covered include agriculture, agricultural value chain services, vocational skills-based microenterprises and cottage enterprises.

Furthermore, the training and mentoring processes aim beyond raising entrepreneurs to produce leaders and managers that have high levels of personal responsibility and effectiveness. I am pleased to let you know that after six years of faithful implementation of these programmes, we have trained and given business support packages to several thousands of youths.

Following the success of these interventions and other efforts in promoting technical education, Delta State was ranked the Best State in Human Capital Development in the 2017 States Peer Review by the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria.

Also in 2020, Delta was adjudged to be the Second Least Poor State, coming only after Lagos, Nigeria’s business hub, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

From the above observations, it is obvious that he (Okowa) in my view is a Presidential material the nation needs to exit the unemployment crisis and economic retardation. However, in order not to be accused of indulging in hasty conclusions, this piece will go beyond the Governor’s wealth creation and employment generation prowess, to x-ray his efforts in other sectors.

To Be Continued.

Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.

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The Effects of Home Loans on the Cost of Living Post-COVID

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Home Loans on the Cost of Living

COVID-19 has been a disaster for many people globally, one reason being the effect of the pandemic on the cost of living.

As the cost of living is rising while wages remain stagnant, it’s becoming apparent that many people are struggling to pay off their existing commitments. As a result of such obligations, more and more people seek refinancing options to lower their mortgage rates and reduce monthly expenses.

This post will cover how COVID-19 has affected home loan rates and the part it plays in the rising cost of living.

How Has COVID-19 Stressed Out The World Economies?

While it’s inevitable that no country can escape the effects of a global pandemic, some countries have weathered the storm better than others. For example, as you can see in the image above by Compare The Market Refinance Quotes, the US, Australia, and Denmark seem to be the least financially stressed of world economies, with manageable home loan rates being a significant factor. This has allowed these countries to cope with the negative effects that COVID-19 has had on the cost of living.

Other countries may be able to copy the decisions made by these governments to help restore their economies. Nevertheless, many individuals of these countries and others still find it challenging to pay their bank loans and mortgages.

How Are Home Loans Affecting The Cost Of Living Post-COVID-19?

In March 2020, many countries worldwide implemented a debt moratorium to alleviate household debt burdens due to the coronavirus pandemic. These moratoriums have already expired in many places, which raises some tough questions regarding what additional policies should be adopted to address the pandemic’s lingering effects.

With people facing the challenge of prioritizing their payments, especially when considering the rapid increase in inflation that many countries are experiencing, many have turned to various financial tools such as refinancing to get them through these difficult times.

What Is Loan Refinancing?

Loan refinancing is when you take out a new loan to replace the old one. There are many reasons why you might want to refinance your loans; you may not be happy with how much money you are spending each month on your monthly payments, or maybe you have another loan with a higher interest rate that will save you money in the long run. In these uncertain times, refinancing is becoming more popular.

However, it’s important to note that refinancing only works if you have good credit and still owe some of the original balance of your original loan. Not all types of loans can be refinanced, but here are five loan types can:

  • Student loans
  • Credit card balances
  • Auto loans
  • Mortgage
  • Various bank loans

In conclusion, the effects of home loans on the cost of living are pretty significant for many people, not just in the US but also worldwide. This has caused many to use refinancing as the cost of inflation rises.

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