By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Several reports indicate that Nigeria has reached a critical level in its development as there are numerous problems, including frequent ethnic and religious attacks, deep-seated corruption, an ineffective federal system of governance despite being referred to as the Giant of Africa.
Nigeria is endowed with huge natural resources. By population, it has the highest and that signifies the extent of its human capital in the country.
As already known, Nigeria has three major ethnic groups namely the Hausa-Fulani in the North, Yoruba in the West and the Igbos in East. Ethnic conflict pulls down the expected high development, contributes to insecurity and youth unemployment.
Celine Akigwe, former General Secretary of the Nimo Brotherhood Society (NBS) UK & Ireland and now the Founder & CEO of Afristoricals and Creator of UmojApp, has given an interview in which she talks about some aspects of the existing problems and the need to drastically change the status quo in Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN). Here are the interview excerpts:
As an enterprising Nigerian woman, who previously served on the Executive Committee as General Secretary of the Nimo Brotherhood Society (NBS) UK & Ireland, what would you say are the main problems facing Nigeria?
During my tenure as General Secretary of NBS UK & Ireland, I observed many behavioural patterns that were reflective of the psychology of the people of Nigeria. Over the years, I have sat on many Executive Committees, including the Igbo Cultural & Social Network (ICSN), which is the most progressive Igbo meeting in Europe. ICSN continues to produce vibrant, positive thinking young adults who will shape the future of our homeland.
After observing the various issues facing Nigerians over the years, the main problem facing Nigerians is the country called Nigeria itself. Since my childhood, from over a period of 40 years, I have always known dysfunctionality and infrastructural chaos that dominate the daily lives of the majority of Nigerians.
Nigeria exposes the rich and poor divide in every aspect of society. There have never been good roads for the masses, but as soon as you turn the corner to Ikoyi or Abuja or Banana Island, you see good roads. These areas enjoy constant electricity supply and good telecommunications networks that are alien to the rest of the population. The masses continue to suffer more and more electricity outages than what is provided, yet they are still charged for a service that is not provided.
Access to clean drinking water is another example, where the masses suffer poor quality water. When you factor in the case that the average wage is N25,000 per month, you can see how Nigerian society can only suffer from numerous problems. These are just the basic services that are everyone’s human right, yet in Nigeria, poor electricity, good roads, hospitals and schools have become the norm. Nigeria has become renowned as a place of corruption, criminality, dysfunctionality and infrastructural chaos.
The security situation all over Nigeria has reached a critical level. The numerous killings are tantamount to genocide and ethnic cleansing, which has been going on for decades. We have not seen any outcry from neither the Western nations nor the Eastern nations. In response to the killings, kidnappings, rapes and mutilation of innocent people, we see no reaction or response from our leaders. Nigerian leaders show absolutely no apathy to the plight of their citizens and subsequently, the rest of the world duly ignores the ongoing genocide.
There are too many problems facing Nigerians today that nothing short of a total rethink, revamp and reworking of every denomination of our civilization is required to change the status quo. This broken society must be dismantled and rebuilt.
From its very inception, the concept of Nigeria was doomed. The land that is referred to or called Nigeria was created by the British to make colonizing Africans easier for them to administer. In doing so, the rulers of Nigeria tend to be favoured individuals of the former colonial powers who are presented to the people as a choice to vote for.
Immediately after being elected, every President of Nigeria has obediently made their trip to the U.K. and then to America to seemingly meet with the leaders of those countries and receive their modus operandi for their forthcoming term in office.
I always queried why this was necessary and can only conclude that they are merely going to visit their puppet masters to ensure the colonial grip on Africa never fades.
Until this day, the British use their favourites to keep Nigeria alive, as do other European nations like France. We have never seen a European elected official leave their country to visit any African leader the same they are elected.
To add insult to injury, we learn the name Nigeria was invented by Dame Flora Louise Shaw or Lady Lugard as she was later known with her then-lover Lord Frederick Lugard, the British High Commissioner in Nigeria (1900–06) and Governor-General (1912–19) whom she later married. The end result was inevitable. There can be no peace in a nation that was created like that – ever!
As we have seen… most ethnic groups within the created administrative tool called Nigeria want to leave and form real nations by the people for the people. I think Africans deserve that right. It has taken over 60 years for Nigerians to reach this point of agitation and I think Nigerians have suffered enough. It is time to leave the past behind and cease the administration of the colony – not a former colony – called Nigeria.
Do you also think that women are particularly affected by all these challenges and problems that have engulfed the country?
It is overwhelmingly yes, women have been disproportionately affected by the challenges in many ways, especially during this pandemic. We have seen violence against women increase and incomes fall, not just in Nigeria, but globally.
For over 100 years, patriarchy was gradually imported into West African culture, first by the Fulani Moslems during the conquests of Othman Dan Fodio, and soon after by the British.
Traditional African society existed under a matriarchal system that recognized the African woman as the first to give birth to mankind and a return to matriarchal practices will go a long way to improving the condition of women in Nigeria. Discrimination against women does not occur in a matriarchy, which in no way diminishes the man’s role in society, rather, it enhances and empowers men to raise their standards and mindset.
In governance, no single leader should have the power to dictate laws that affect the wellbeing and progress of women directly or indirectly. This would require more women in senior positions in government, however, it would not be a case of appointing women into positions of power simply because they are women. It would be a case of allotting 50 per cent of the senior cabinet positions to women who qualified for these positions. We will see different results when there is an equal balance between men and women in the halls of power – and not just from the backbenches.
And what do you say about the youth generally?
The youth are the source of all changes. However, our elders have been trained to thwart the development of our youth and prevent them from thinking or even speaking. The youth are the lifeblood of civilization, but they have been let down by the government that has failed to provide the youth of Nigeria with adequate education that would give them a competitive advantage similar to what exist in the rest of the world.
Schools have been neglected, teachers are not paid on time and history had been dropped, which has resulted in what I call illiterate graduates. It is only those who are able to afford the high school fees, stand a chance of achieving something in their lives. The rise of horrible bribes including sex for results has rendered the Nigerian education system entirely dysfunctional and a playground for sexual predators.
We have seen an increase in suicide and rape in Nigeria and we can only commend the students of ASONIS in their campaign to raise awareness and eradicate suicide and rape from Nigeria. The lack of discipline from the top has filtered down to every spectrum of Nigerian society. The youth must rise up in unity by employing group psychology, which would lead to the return of the spirit of Ubuntu from the grassroots up.
What are your expectations from Nigerian women on the Diaspora? What are your suggestions and recommendations for women in other countries?
The role of women has been underestimated. It is the woman who raises the child, whether the child is male or female. But at times, Nigerian women are not empowered within the household to make the final decision about a child’s education or hobby. At times, the man is better equipped to make the final decision. Nigerian women in the Diaspora have an advantage in that they enjoy some protection and so may feel empowered to speak or make decisions, although this still carries some risk for Nigerian women in the Diaspora.
We have seen how excellently our women organise religious and educational institutions that were brought in by colonisation. On the other hand, when it comes to nation-building, many African women are unable to achieve this level of self-awareness and as a result, raise children who are desperate to move away from their culture or who view their own people in a negatively way. Those children will not think twice about investing in Nigeria.
The end result of all this is that we see many Nigerians in the Diaspora working hard to assimilate and invest in their host country’s property, projects and schools. You have to have an acute love and desire to invest and build in Igboland over Abuja or Lagos for example. Without that investment in itself, there can be no sustainable development and the majority of people will continue to want to leave, as we have seen down the years. Once self-pride is established, the children cultivate a love for the motherland and bless it with investment. This is, perhaps, one of the most important roles Nigerian women all over the world can play.
Do all these you have discussed above offer a tangible basis for Nigerians on Diaspora, for instance, in the UK & Ireland, to consider playing significant roles in the development process in Nigeria?
The process for sustainable development in Nigeria has to begin with the desire to change society with our own hands and own feet. Consistently lobbying European institutions such as the Commonwealth to intervene and miraculously resolve all the problems facing Nigerians will not bring around the change that is required for Nigeria. To change this anomaly, Nigerians in the Diaspora can play a significant role in fostering change by following aggressive investment strategies that would involve various community and commercial infrastructure development projects in various sectors in Nigeria.
In order to understand this, for instance, I developed UmojApp and AfriZone shop to bridge the gap between Nigerian businesses and consumers in the Diaspora. UmojApp also educates people on the significant achievements and events from an African perspective. So, the negative mindset of Africans, as a whole, view themselves as agents of change.
In a practical situation, Nigerians in the Diaspora understand the high risks involved in undertaking development projects in Nigeria. It would be for those who have a strong stomach and correct vision that will drive a change through investment in Nigeria.
As already known, Nigeria seems divided along ethnic and religious lines. What are your arguments about, say, integration or political autonomy for the Biafra State?
This really takes us full circle – back to my original answer. Nigeria is an administrative convenience to ease the complications for the British. If Africans are totally honest with themselves, all of the borders that were drawn as a result of the Scramble for Africa should be erased. Over a period of 38 years of war to claim African territory, one of the results was the country called Nigeria.
We must leave the past behind and draw our own map of Africa with our own boundaries to control our own future. Integration is to continue to live in a state of denial of the past. Independence is not a myth but a reality that will happen now or in the future. If this generation is not ready for true independence, then future generations will be, but only if we teach the children to love themselves and their African brothers and sisters.
Trump Hopes to Rival Twitter, Facebook With TRUTH Social
By Adedapo Adesanya
Former President of the United States, Mr Donald Trump, has announced plans to launch his own social media platform, TRUTH Social.
This was disclosed in a press release on Wednesday, which stressed that the app, to be available for pre-order on Apple’s App Store, will open to invitees in November and to the public in the first quarter of 2022.
TRUTH Social will be launched by Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), a recently created company that’s aiming to go public via a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company.
Speaking in the statement, Mr Trump said, “I created TRUTH Social and TMTG to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech.”
Mr Trump’s announcement comes after months of speculation about his plans to create his own media operation following his controversial opinions that have drawn anger from different quarters.
The former US President has come under scrutiny after every major social media platform – including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – banned or suspended him for violating their policies.
In July, Trump sued Facebook, Twitter and Google, along with their chief executives, seeking the restoration of his accounts and punitive damages.
“We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favourite American President has been silenced,” Mr Trump said.
The social media platform is the first of the three stages in the company’s plans, followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will feature entertainment, news and podcasts, and an entry to the cloud-computing space, according to the release.
Mr Trump, who was impeached by the US House of Representatives for his role in egging on rioters on January 6, but later acquitted of the charges in the then Republican-controlled US Senate, has been vocal about his desire to launch his own media platform following his presidency.
Russia Strengthens Political, Economic Ties With Guinea-Bissau
By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Guinea-Bissau Suzi Carla Barbosa have signed a memorandum on political consultations. This aims at strengthening political dialogue and promoting consistency in good cooperation at the international arena.
Russia expects trade and economic ties with Guinea-Bissau will continue developing; they must correspond to the high level of the political dialogue between the countries, Minister Lavrov said in his opening remarks with his counterpart from Guinea-Bissau Suzi Carla Barbosa.
“Probably, the next natural step will be to build up our trade-economic, investment cooperation in order to bring it to the level of our sound, confident political dialogue,” the Russian Minister added.
Speculation aside, the face-to-face diplomatic talks focus on effective ways for developing tangible cooperation in the most diverse areas in Guinea-Bissau. The meeting agreed to take a number of practical steps, including reciprocal visits by entrepreneurs both ways.
“We talked about more efficient ways of developing our trade and economic cooperation. We agreed to undertake a range of specific steps, including the trips of businessmen from Guinea-Bissau to Russia and then from Russia to Guinea-Bissau,” Lavrov said.
Last year, Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau Nuno Gomes Nabiam met with representatives of the Russian business community. The areas of interest mentioned in this respect included exploration of natural resources, construction of infrastructure facilities, as well as the development of agriculture and fisheries.
Guineans are keen on deepening bilateral cooperation in fishing. The five Russian fishing trawlers have recently resumed their operations in the exclusive economic zone of Guinea-Bissau.
As explained at the media conference, the topics discussed for cooperation included such spheres as natural resources tapping, infrastructure development, agriculture and fisheries
In terms of education, over 5,000 people have already entered civilian professions, and more than 3,000 people have acquired military specialities, which is important for Guinea-Bissau. In addition, a military and technical intergovernmental cooperation agreement is about to enter in force. According to reports, Russia would continue to pursue military cooperation with the country.
Both ministers reviewed the situation in Mali, the Republic of Guinea and some other African areas, with an emphasis on West Africa and the Sahara-Sahel region.
Lavrov and Carla Barbosa discussed preparations for the second Russia-Africa summit planned for 2022. With high hopes that the collective attendance will include President of Guinea-Bissau Umaro Sissoco Embalo.
Guinea-Bissau, like many African states, has had political problems. In April 2020, the regional group of fifteen West African countries often referred to as ECOWAS, after months of election dispute finally recognized the victory of Umaro Sissoco Embaló of Guinea-Bissau.
Perspectives for future development are immense in the country. The marine resources and other water bodies are an integral part of the livelihood. Steps to increase agricultural production are necessary. The economy largely depends on agriculture: fish, cashew nuts and peanuts are its major exports. Its population is estimated at 1.9 million, and more than two-thirds live below the poverty line.
Sharing borders with Guinea (to the southeast), Gambia and Senegal (to the north), Guinea-Bissau attained its independence in September 1973. Guinea-Bissau follows a nonaligned foreign policy and seeks friendly and cooperative relations with a wide variety of states and organizations. Besides, Eсonomic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Guinea-Bissau is a member of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations.
Empowering Women in the Changing World
By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Women play an increasingly important role in resolving issues that society and the state encounter and in the modern world, they should not face the choice between family and self-fulfilment, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the third Eurasian Women’s Forum held in St. Petersburg on October 13-15.
“It is completely obvious that in modern conditions a woman should not face the choice between children and family or professional fulfilment. That is why in Russia the conditions are consistently created for a woman after childbirth to begin or resume her professional career at any moment, to become accomplished, to achieve growth in what she enjoys,” Mr Putin stressed.
The Eurasian Women’s Forum, held since 2015, is one of the largest international platforms uniting female leaders from all continents to examine and discuss the role of women in the modern world and work out new approaches to solving global problems.
The forum was organized by the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (IPA CIS).
Speaker of the Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, gave the opening speech at the plenary session. She stressed that the main goal of the global women’s community is to improve people’s quality of life as well as build mutual understanding and trust between countries and peoples in the name of peace and sustainable development.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Viktoria Abramchenko, noted in her speech that women are directly involved in implementing these tasks in Russia and on international platforms.
Vietnamese Vice President, Vo Thi Anh Xuan, made a video conference presentation. She said that the Forum is bringing together the majority of women around the world. “The role of women today is extremely important. We can make the world more just and help fight global challenges,” she said.
Chairwoman of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan Sahiba Ali gizi Gafarova believes that the topics discussed at the Eurasian Women’s Forum provide an opportunity to consider the most pressing issues of modern life and enhance women’s status around the world. Gafarova stated that fully unleashing women’s potential would be the foundation for building a healthy society.
Chairwoman of the Senate of Uzbekistan Tanzila Narbaeva noted that the forum once again demonstrated women’s growing role in resolving the socioeconomic issues facing their countries. The Forum demonstrates new approaches to the women’s agenda, she said.
Narbaeva stressed that Uzbekistan is ready to share its experience in various areas and is open to cooperation. She invited the participants to take part in the women’s forum during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in 2022, planned in Samarkand.
Chairwoman of the Lower Chamber of Parliament of Turkmenistan, Gulshat Mammedova, said the forum is an important platform for interaction between women and helps to harmonize efforts in addressing various issues of the changing world as well as exchange views and experience in promoting women’s rights.
Participation of African women was modest, that included for example President of the Senate of Gabon Lucie Milebou Aubusson, Liberian Dr Jewel Howard-Taylor and Zimbabwean First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa among a few others. President of the Assembly of Mozambique, Esperança Laurinda Francisco Nhiuane Bias, delivered a speech at the forum.
Zimbabwean First Lady, Auxillia Mnangagwa, on the sidelines held a special working discussion with the Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Valentina Matviyenko, focusing on developing inter-parliamentary relations, women in sustainable development, education and charity.
The First Lady and the Speaker snapshotted the possibility of greater participation of Russian economic operators in the development process in the southern African region. Both women have expressed an appreciation for cooperating on common questions on international platforms. Diplomatic relations between the two marked their 40th year.
On October 15, African women took part in an exclusive discussion solely on “the Role of Women in the Integrated Development of the African Continent” at the Tauride Palace. It was attended by women from international organizations, business circles, the scientific community and non-governmental organizations.
The entire third forum was held offline using modern formats such as video conferencing and online broadcast, intended to ensure extended outreach and provide audience engagement. The physical presence was organized in strict accordance with safety measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.
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