Friday, 31 July 2009

Photo News: Combating The Nigerian Talibans

The Umaru Yar’Adua Administration in Nigeria recently ordered maximum force against a gang of mislead hapless Nigerian youths operating as Moslem fundamentalists. This was weeks after an Ijaw community was razed down by soldiers in search of Oil militants.

Observers told chidi opara reports that in democracy, maximum force is not required in this type of operation.

Microsoft, Yahoo join forces, will take on Google

Microsoft Corp. has finally roped Yahoo Inc. into an Internet search partnership, capping a convoluted pursuit that dragged on for years and setting the stage for them to make a joint assault against the dominance of Google Inc.

The 10-year deal announced Wednesday gives Microsoft access to the Internet’s second-largest search engine audience, beefing up the software maker’s arsenal as it tries to better confront Google, which is by far the leader in online search and advertising.

Microsoft didn’t have to give Yahoo an upfront payment to make it happen, as many Yahoo investors had been counting on ever since Microsoft dangled $1 billion last summer in an attempt to forge a search partnership then.

Google tried to stop Yahoo from falling into Microsoft’s camp. Last year, it formed its own proposed search advertising deal with Yahoo, only to be forced to retreat from that alliance after U.S. antitrust officials threatened to sue.

Now the extended reach Microsoft is gaining will let it introduce its recently upgraded search engine, called Bing, to more people. The Redmond, Wash., software maker believes Bing is just as good, if not better, than Google’s search engine.

Taking over search responsibilities on Yahoo’s popular site gives Microsoft a better chance to convert Web surfers who had been using Google by force of habit.

“Microsoft and Yahoo know there’s so much more that search could be,” said Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer. “This agreement gives us the scale and resources to create the future of search.”

Even with Yahoo’s help, Microsoft has its work cut out. Combined, Microsoft and Yahoo handle 28 percent of the Internet searches in the United States, well behind Google’s 65 percent, according to online measurement firm comScore Inc.

Google is even more dominant in the rest of the world, with a global share of 67 percent compared to a combined 11 percent for Microsoft and Yahoo.

In return for turning the keys to its search engine over to Bing, Yahoo will keep 88 percent of the revenue from all ads that run alongside search requests on its site for the first five years of the deal. Yahoo also will have the right to sell search ads on some Microsoft sites.

The deal isn’t expected to close until early next year, and then it could take another two years before all the pieces of the partnership are in place.

The companies first will give antitrust regulators time to review the possible effects on the Internet ad market. Then they will need time to stitch together their different technologies.

(From Associated Press)

Open Letter to The Vice-Chancellor; University of Nigeria

The Vice Chancellor
University Of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Dear Vice-Chancellor:

Congratulations on your appointment as the Vice-Chancellor of University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I am writing regarding your goodness to the Nigerian institutions.
In Enugu State University of Science and Technology, it is good news that you treated every student equally regardless of where the student came from, in classes; you encouraged students to ask questions because you were ready to respond. You taught your students that no question is stupid. That was why lots of your students were willing to ask questions.

You are a man of humility; you are as humble as the professors in the United States of America. I admire your system of teaching; it helps the students comprehend what they could not understand with other professors; you are one of the extraordinary intellectuals. Indeed, you and your colleague at Enugu State University, Professor Okorie, the former director of Institute Of Development Center (IDC), are similar to America’s Professors in areas of cooperation, teaching and humility.

In 2008, Nigerian world newspaper stated that your institute for Nigerian Languages in Aba, Abia State promoted our native languages through publishing of Newspapers in Nigeria’s three main languages, namely: Ekere(Igbo), Akede(Yoruba), and Tambari (Hausa). Your idea of publishing the Nigeria language newspapers is a great advantage to Nigerians who have troubles reading English newspapers.
In the United States of America and other developing countries, your publishing of the newspapers is considered as a tremendous achievement.

Finally, keep on doing what you are doing because the God Almighty knows why you were appointed the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria. I would like to suggest that whenever your Vice–Chancellorship ends in the University of Nigeria, the president of Nigeria should appointed you to a higher position. Enugu State University Students and graduates missed you and Professor Okorie.

Thank you for your goodness

Engr. Ifeanyi Ibeh
Morgan State University
Baltimore, MD 21216
United States.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Editorial:The PDP/Ohakim Agreement Of 2007

On Saturday, the 25th day of July, 2009, the governor of Imo state of Nigeria, Dr. Ikedi Ohakim in a well attended ceremony in Owerri, capital city of Imo state, declared his membership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The ceremony was attended by notable PDP chieftains at the state, zonal and national levels. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr. Umaru Yar’Adua and the chairman of Board of Trustees of PDP, rtd. general Olusegun Obasanjo were present to add colour to the occasion.

The high point of the occasion was when rtd. general Obasanjo confirmed that Dr. Ohakim and the PDP had an agreement in 2007. The agreement, according to the PDP Board of Trustees chairman provided that the party would support Dr. Ohakim who was contesting the 2007 governorship election under the aegis of the Progressive Peoples’ Alliance(PPA), to win the election while Dr. Ohakim after assumption of office would decamp to PDP. Obasanjo concluded by alluding to the point that that Dr. Ohakim is a “gentleman”, having fulfilled his part of the “gentleman’s agreement”.

We at chidi opara reports would not want to go into the legality or otherwise of the PDP/Ohakim agreement of 2007. We are however, disturbed that a morally deficient action like the said agreement is being held up as an epitome of what should be emulated by a personality like Obasanjo, a former President of Nigeria and a supposedly elder statesman.

chidi opara reports believe that the PDP/Ohakim agreement of 2007 was, and still is, bereft of any iota of morality and so should not be held up as something worthy of emulation. It merits repeating that Dr. Ikedi Ohakim was in 2007 sponsored by the PPA to contest the governorship election of that year, he went behind the party as can be seen from media reports, to enter into agreement with the PDP. Ohakim’s action in this regard in our opinion, showcases him as selfish and desperate. The PDP on its part had no good reason to enter into such agreement, since it already controls the state and was already tipped to win the elections. The only reason the PDP had to enter into such agreement, it seems, was a desire to circumvent the order of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, to allow Mr. Ifeanyi Ararume to contest the election as the PDP candidate.

chidi opara reports believe that if we continue to hold up actions like the PDP/Ohakim agreement of 2007 as worthy of emulation, we will be pushing Nigeria further into the pit of national moral bankruptcy.

Northern Nigeria Sectarian Violence(News Release From MEND)

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) deplore the wanton destruction of life and places of Christian worship that is ongoing in the Northern part of Nigeria by Islamic fundamentalists.

MEND also condemns as well the executions by government forces of those men who surrendered.

Had such a senseless attack occurred in the Niger Delta region, the military machinery would have been called upon to sack and occupy whole communities after indiscriminate aerial bombings.

It is for Northern Nigeria that the military JTF terrorizing the Niger Delta region should expend its energy, resources, propaganda and operations because the JTF shares a similar mode of operation and language with the Islamic terrorists.

The threat in Nigeria as we reiterated before does not come from militant freedom fighters who want a better environment and equity for oil bearing communities, but from corrupt leadership, tribalism, Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, lack of federal character in political postings, unfair location of industry, institutions and amenities.

We use this opportunity to deny the statements from certain groups who we have no affiliation with that claim a team has been chosen to negotiate with the government.

Consultations is on going between Henry Okah and various camps and because our demands are not complex, the Aaron team will be limited to only two persons to avoid the semblance of a troupe of performers going to a circus.

Jomo Gbomo

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Confirmed: Sunbeds Cause Skin Cancer

There is no doubt using a sunbed or sunlamp will raise the risk of skin cancer, say international experts.

Previously, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) assessed sunbeds and sunlamps as "probably carcinogenic to humans".

But it now says their use is definitively "carcinogenic to humans".

Campaigners believe the move, announced in the journal Lancet Oncology, will increase pressure for tighter industry regulation of sunbed use.

The new assessment puts sunbed use on a par with smoking or exposure to asbestos.

However, the Sunbed Association in the UK said there was no proven link between the responsible use of sunbeds and skin cancer.

The IARC is an expert committee that makes recommendations to the World Health Organization.

It made its decision following a review of research which concluded that the risk of melanoma - the most deadly form of skin cancer - was increased by 75% in people who started using sunbeds regularly before the age of 30.

In addition, several studies have linked sunbed use to a raised risk of melanoma of the eye.

The charity Cancer Research UK warned earlier this year that heavy use of sunbeds was largely responsible for the number of Britons being diagnosed with melanoma topping 10,000 a year for the first time.

In the last 30 years, rates of the cancer have more than quadrupled, from 3.4 cases per 100,000 people in 1977 to 14.7 per 100,000 in 2006.

Age limits

Proposals to ban people under the age of 18 from using sunbeds are under consideration by the government in England.

A similar ban has already been approved in Scotland.

The Sunbed Association (TSA) supports a ban on under-16s, but argues there is no scientific evidence for a ban on young people aged 17 or 18.

Jessica Harris, Cancer Research UK's health information officer said: "The link between sunbeds and skin cancer has been convincingly shown in a number of scientific studies now and so we are very pleased that IARC have upgraded sunbeds to the highest risk category.

"This backs up Cancer Research UK's advice to avoid sunbeds completely for cosmetic purposes. They have no health benefits and we know that they increase the risk of cancer."

Ms Harris called for ministers to implement a ban on under-18s using sunbeds immediately, and to close salons that are not supervised by trained staff.

Simon Davies, chief executive of the Teenage Cancer Trust said: "We are concerned that young people are using sunbeds more and more to get a tan and would urge them to avoid them at all costs."

Kathy Banks, chief executive of the Sunbed Association, said: "The relationship between ultraviolet exposure and an increased risk of developing skin cancer is only likely to arise where over-exposure - burning - has taken place.

"However, research has shown that over 80% of sunbed users are very knowledgeable about the risks associated with over-exposure to ultraviolet and the majority of sunbed users take 20 or less sunbed sessions a year."

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Sunbeds can be dangerous - we must ensure that people who use them do so safely. If necessary we will look at new laws to protect young people."

(From BBC News)

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Michael Jackson's Doctor Gave Him Drug Before Death

Michael Jackson had been using a powerful anesthetic to help him sleep, and authorities are working under the theory that a dose of it administered by his personal physician killed him, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said Jackson regularly received the anesthetic propofol and relied on it like an alarm clock. A doctor would administer it when Jackson went to sleep, then stop the IV drip when the singer wanted to wake up.

On June 25, the day Jackson died, Dr. Conrad Murray gave him the drug through an IV sometime after midnight, the official said.

Murray's lawyer, Edward Chernoff, has said the doctor "didn't prescribe or administer anything that should have killed Michael Jackson." When asked Monday about the law enforcement official's statements he said: "We will not be commenting on rumors, innuendo or unnamed sources."

In a more detailed statement posted online late Monday, Chernoff added that "things tend to shake out when all the facts are made known, and I'm sure that will happen here as well."

Toxicology reports are still pending, but investigators are working under the theory that propofol caused Jackson's heart to stop, the official said. Jackson is believed to have been using the drug for about two years and investigators are trying to determine how many other doctors administered it, the official said.

Murray, 51, has been identified in court papers as the subject of a manslaughter investigation, and authorities last week raided his office and a storage unit in Houston. Police say Murray is cooperating and have not labeled him a suspect.

Murray became Jackson's personal physician in May and was to accompany him to London for a series of concerts starting in July.

He was staying with Jackson in the Los Angeles mansion and, according to Chernoff, "happened to find" an unconscious Jackson in the pop star's bedroom the morning of June 25. Murray tried to revive him by compressing his chest with one hand while supporting Jackson's back with the other.

The official also provided a glimpse into how the pop star was living in the weeks before he died, describing the room in which Jackson slept in his rented Beverly Hills mansion as outfitted with oxygen tanks and an IV drip. Another of Jackson's bedrooms was a shambles, with clothes and other items strewn about and handwritten notes stuck on the walls. One read: "children are sweet and innocent."

The temperature upstairs was stiflingly hot when authorities arrived at the singer's house after his death. Gas fireplaces and the heating system were on high because Jackson always complained of feeling cold, the official said.

A porcelain girl doll wearing a dress was found on top of the covers of the bed where he slept, the official said.

Police found propofol and other drugs in the home. An IV line and three tanks of oxygen were in the room where Jackson slept and 15 more oxygen tanks were in a security guard's shack, the official said.

Using propofol to sleep exceeds the drug's intended purpose. The drug can depress breathing and lower heart rates and blood pressure. Because of the risks, propofol is supposed to be administered only in medical settings by trained personnel.

(From Associated Press).

Sectarian Violence In The North: We Must Rework Nigeria!(News Release)

The serial sectarian violence which broke out in Bauchi on Sunday and which has spread to Borno, Kano and Yobe leaving scores of people dead and unquantifiable property destroyed is yet another confirmation that the rating of Nigeria on the failed states index is not an exaggeration.

Two Islamic groups called “Boko Haram” (Education is prohibited) and the “Taliban” have unleashed orgies of violence in these four States leaving in their trails sorrow, tears and blood.

The series of violence in which the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ogbona Onovo officially admitted the death of “5 policemen and 60 Islamic fighters”, with over 100 AK 47 recovered from the fundamentalists, has again exposed the porousness of Nigeria’s intelligence network, the failure of governance and the escalation of the unresolved nationality question in Nigeria.

It is sad that while our largely incompetent President is flexing muscles with Lagos State over the Local Council Development Areas which pose no danger to the country, it has taken days of scandalous destruction of lives and property by these zealots before Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua could get out of his slumber to send troops to the affected areas.

Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) also cannot fathom that a President who deployed the Joint Task Force (JTF) to sack Gbaramatu kingdom where pregnant women and children were slaughtered in lieu of freedom fighters in the creeks now appear helpless in the face of wanton killings by “Boko Haram” and the “Talibans”.

It must be understood clearly that Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) has no beef with any section of the country opting for any civilization that suits them.

This is why we have been at the forefront of the campaign for the restructuring of Nigeria along Federal lines in a conference of all ethnic nationalities of Nigeria.

Every section of the country should be able to self-determine in line with the preference of their people. If any section of the country choses nudity as its dress code in 2009 the rest of the country should accept their choice for as long as they are not forcing others to follows suit.

What we object to is a group of people using weapons of death to canvass their civilization and melting such barbarism on people who are not responsible for them not having their ways.

The challenge today for the hegemonists running Nigeria is to know that they can no longer run from renegotiating Nigeria. We must sit down and talk now.

We call on “Boko Haram” and the “Talibans” to lay down their arms and join us to press for a conference of all ethnic nationalities to determine the future of Nigeria. We assure them of our support for their position at such a conference once they are able to show that their people don’t want western education.

But in the meantime, the congenital incompetence running Nigeria has to stop these wanton killings before people start to conclude that there is a premeditated agenda to truncate the present civil rule to pave way for an order that is not constitutional, thinking wrongly such may contain the present crisis.

‘Yinka Odumakin
National Publicity Secretary
Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG)

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Woman Executed For Distributing Bible In North Korea

A Christian woman accused of distributing the Bible, a book banned in communist North Korea, was publicly executed last month for the crime, South Korean activists said yesterday.

The 33-year-old mother of three, Ri Hyon Ok, also was accused of spying for South Korea and the United States, and of organizing dissidents, a rights group said in Seoul, citing documents obtained from the North.

The Investigative Commission on Crime Against Humanity report included a copy of Ri's government-issued photo ID and said her husband, children and parents were sent to a political prison the day after her execution on June 16.

The claim could not be independently verified yesterday, and there has been no mention by the North's official Korean Central News Agency of her case.

But it would mark a harsh turn in the crackdown on religion in North Korea, a country where Christianity once flourished and where the capital, Pyongyang, was known as the "Jerusalem of the East" for the predominance of the Christian faith.

According to its constitution, North Korea guarantees freedom of religion. But in reality, the regime severely restricts religious observance, with the cult of personality created by national founder Kim Il Sung and enjoyed by his son, current leader Kim Jong Il, serving as a virtual state religion. Those who violate religious restrictions often are accused of crimes such as spying and anti-government activities.

The government has authorized four state churches: one Catholic, two Protestant and one Russian Orthodox. However, they cater to foreigners only, and ordinary North Koreans cannot attend the services.

Still, more than 30,000 North Koreans are believed to practice Christianity in hiding -- at great personal risk, defectors and activists say.

The U.S. State Department said in a report last year that "genuine religious freedom does not exist" in North Korea.

Ri reportedly was executed in the northwestern city of Ryongchon -- near the border with China.

The South Korean rights report also said North Korean security agents arrested and tortured another Christian, Seo Kum Ok, 30, near Ryongchon. She also was accused of spying.

(From Associated Press)

Disquiet In Imo State Chapter Of Nigeria's Ruling Party

Except a last minute change of mind occure, the governor of Imo state of Nigeria, Dr. Ikedi Ohakim will formally declare publicly his membership of Nigeria's ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in less than an hour from now. This declaration is the result of discussions between the governor and the national caucus of the PDP. Dr. Ohakim, a former member of the party, decamped to the Progressive Peoples Alliance(PPA), which gave him the platform to contest and win the 2007 gubernatorial election in Imo state. The declaration, chidi opara reports gathered authoritatively would be made at the opening ceremony of the new PDP secretariate along Okigwe road in Owerri by the Nigerian President, Mr. Umaru Yar'Adua.

chidi opara reports' network members in Owerri report that the Imo state capital city is agog with expectation of the Ohakim declaration, which is the main reason for the President's visit. An Imo state government house insider informed one of our network members yesterday at the premises of the Imo state owned Concorde Hotel Owerri that; "the main reason for Mr. President's visit is to personally welcome our governor back to PDP".

Our investigation revealed that although majority of PDP members in the state are happy with this turn of event, some powerful cabals within the party feel threatened by the governor's imminient comeback. chidi opara reports can confirm that there is disquiet in the camp of Mr. Ifeanyi Ararume, the PDP governorship candidate in the 2007 gubernatorial election in the state and in the camps of other potential governorship aspirants. This disquiet we learnt is due to apprehension that the governor may use the advantage of incumbency to get the party's ticket for the 2011 governorship election. Mr. Araraume who recently joined forces with former governor Achike Udenwa's formidable grassroots political platform known as "onongaono", hopes to use that platform to clinch the PDP governorship ticket come 2011. Governor Ohakim is reported to be keeping his next political move very close to his chest.

chidi opara reports does not have details of the Ohakim/PDP agreement prior to today's declaration, unconfirmed information however, have it that the President had insisted that the Imo state helmsman should come back without conditions.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Change In Nigeria's Topmost Police Chair

Mr. Michael Mbama Okiro out.

Mr. Ogbonnaya Okechukwu Onovo In.

WHO Says Swine Flu Still In Early Stages

The global swine flu epidemic is still in its early stages, even though reports of over 100,000 infections in England alone last week are plausible, the World Health Organization's flu chief said Friday,

Keiji Fukuda, WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Security and Environment, told The Associated Press that given the size of the world's population, the new H1N1 virus is likely to spread for some time.

WHO earlier estimated that as many as 2 billion people could become infected over the next two years.

"Even if we have hundreds of thousands of cases or a few millions of cases ... we're relatively early in the pandemic," Fukuda said in an interview at WHO's headquarters in Geneva.

The global health agency stopped asking governments to report new cases last week, saying the effort was too great now that the disease has become so widespread in some countries.

Authorities in Britain say there were over 100,000 infections in England alone last week, while U.S. health officials estimate the United States has passed the 1 million case mark. Those figures dwarf WHO's tally of 130,000 confirmed cases worldwide since the start of the outbreak last spring.

"We know that the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases is really only a subset of the total number of cases," Fukuda said.

Fukuda, the former chief of epidemiology at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, also said there must be no doubt over the safety of swine flu vaccines before they are given to the public.

Health officials and drug makers are looking into ways of speeding up the production of the vaccine before the northern hemisphere enters its flu season in the fall.

The first vaccines are expected in September and October, said Fukuda. Other vaccines will take until December or January before they are released onto the market -- well into flu season when a further dramatic rise in swine flu cases is predicted.

"Everybody involved with the vaccine work, from manufacturers up to the regulatory agencies, are looking at what steps can be taken to make the process as streamlined as possible," Fukuda said. "One of the things which cannot be compromised is the safety of vaccines."

The search for an effective inoculation has taken on a new urgency as WHO announced that almost 800 people have died from the disease in the past four months. This is more than the H5N1 bird flu strain has killed in six years.

The CDC said Friday that -- based on the experience of the 1957 flu pandemic -- the number of Americans dying from swine flu over the next two years could range from 90,000 to several hundred thousand. That projection would drop if the vaccine campaign and other measures are successful, U.S. health officials said.

One question that scientists and health officials disagree on is whether pregnant women should be among the first to receive a vaccine -- after health workers, who make up about 1-2 percent of the world population and are considered indispensable.

A report by WHO experts found that pregnant women appear to be "at increased risk for severe disease, potentially resulting in spontaneous abortion and/or death, especially during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy."

Several women and their children have died in recent weeks, though obesity may have played a role in some of the deaths, the report says.

"Pregnant women have emerged as one of the groups that we are concerned about as being at higher risk than other people in terms of having the possibility of developing severe illness," said Fukuda.

But right now, WHO is holding back on recommending that pregnant women receive priority vaccinations. And the agency is not commenting on the contentious suggestion by British and Swiss health officials that women should consider delaying pregnancy if they can.

"WHO certainly has no recommendations on whether women should try to have children" now, Fukuda said.

The agency has been working hard to ensure that poor countries receive vaccines too, despite rich nations having pre-ordered most of the available stock. A WHO spokesman said Friday that two drug makers have pledged to donate 150 million doses of vaccine to poorer countries by the end of October.

"We're working with a range of partners to secure more vaccine for developing countries," WHO's Gregory Hartl said.

Fukuda, who is effectively in charge of WHO's pandemic response until mid-August while the agency's Hong Kong-born Director-General Margaret Chan is on home leave, also addressed the possibility that the virus might mutate and become resistant to anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu.

Four separate Tamiflu-resistant cases have been reported recently from Denmark, Japan, Hong Kong and Canada.

"We haven't seen widespread emergence of resistance to the drug right now," Fukuda said, but added "this is something we're watching very carefully."

It is inevitable that over a long enough period of time the swine flu virus will mutate, he said.

"Unfortunately we can't predict in what direction," he said.

(From Associated Press)

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Open Letter To Nigeria's Minister Of Health

Dear Honorable Minister,

I am a United States Of America(USA) based engineer willing to advance Nigerian technology through network engineering.

I wish to use this medium to congratulate you on your appointment as the federal Minister of Health. In respect of healthcare services, Nigeria have produced lots of citizens with the knowledge, skills and capacity to support you in accomplishing your goals as the Federal Minister of Health.

Dr. Callistus Egwim’s charity and accomplishments in healthcare and public education in Nigeria have attracted public attention. In United States of America, I have received numerous testimonies from different individuals about how he has impacted positively on human life.

Dr. Egwim was born in Ibeme in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State. He was offered a provisional admission to study medicine at University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1985. He graduated from the same university in 1991 with honors in Medicine and Surgery.

After completing his Housemanship and the National Youth Service (NYSC) scheme in 1993, he was employed as a Medical Officer at Egbunadazie Hospital in Mushin Lagos State. After a while, he obtained a Master’s Degree in Public Health at Imo State University. Dr. Callistus Egwim is a board Member of Nigeria Medical & Dental Council, and Nigeria Medical Association.

He also works at the General Hospital Awo-Omamma in Imo State, as Principal Medical Officer-In-Charge. His dedication to duty is a great relief to the community. Dr. Egwim also gives free medical service to patients in his private clinics. This is what I called “service to the community".

In Nigeria, Dr. Callistus Egwim have saved the lives of many who would have been dead because they were unable to afford money for medical expenses. He is well known for giving medical services to every patient regardless of their status. He indeed, values human life more than wealth. These you will agree with me honorable minister, are attributes of patriotism.

Dr. Egwim have supported lots of Nigerians both at home and abroad in area of education. Presently, he is assisting some students in Nigerian Universities. You will agree with me also sir, that it is hard to find persons with such attributes.

It is my belief that Dr.C. Egwim is a very patriotic Nigerian, who will be willing to continue to contribute to the well being of the people of this country in other capacities. Although, I am writing this letter without his knowledge, yet, I believe it is our duty as a people to give “credit to whom credit is due“.

To conclude, dear honorable Minister, I think that Dr Callistus Egwim will be willing to be part of your team where he will bring amongst other things, innovations, leadership and passion for public health to your ministry.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated favourable consideration.

Yours faithfully,

Engr. Ifeanyi Ibeh
Morgan State University
Baltimore, MD 21216
United States.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Re-Ijaw Group Faults IYCP over support for JTF(News Release)

Our attention in the IYCP has been drawn to comments by the Warri Ijaw Peace Monitoring Group (WIPMG), questioning the identity of our group and accusing us of supporting the continuous stay of JTF in our region and published on Page 7 of Vanguard newspaper of Tuesday, July 21, 2009.

First of all, we will like to state emphatically that our group stands for peace and will work with all peace-loving groups in the Niger Delta to achieve it. The IWPMG, we suppose, stands for peace and amicable resolution of the ongoing crisis in our region. It should be noted also that, beating the drums of war can not resolve our problems rather, it can divide us.

Equally important of care while tinkering and drawing the road-map to peaceful settlement of Niger Delta crisis is the issue of security in our hinterlands. Presently, the JTF, the Police and other security agencies are keeping the peace and are also protecting the armless citizens which include women, the elderly and children from criminals who have invaded our genuine agitations. So, nobody in IYCP is saying that the JTF should not go but, we are insisting that they should go after the presidential amnesty might have brought in a total peace (disarmament of our freedom fighters). The simple question is “how would our communities look like if the JTF is withdrawn while our brothers are still in possession of guns? Let them disarm according to the amnesty requirement so that there would be strong justification for the call for JTF to leave.

Again, we want to believe that no Ijaw man could claim the knowledge of the faces of all other Ijaws in the Niger Delta region or within the creeks. We are fighting one course (peace in our region) as Ijaws, so for WIPMG to doubt our identity for the fact that we are not of the same group in Warri sounds discriminatory and divisive. IYCP has its members spread across all Ijaw-speaking communities in the Niger Delta. It has its headquarters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State . All correspondences to IYCP should be forwarded via our e-mail:

We want to crown our statement by stating that opposition to one another is not going to take our people and region anywhere, but backwardness and under-development. Let us retrace our stand and fight for a common course (peace and development).

Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria ,
Long Live Niger Delta’
Long Live IYCP

Pere Prince
Public Information Officer

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Nelson Mandela Is Ninety-One Today

The former President of South Africa and a globally acclaimed political Icon, Nelson Mandela turns ninety-one today.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Family put Michael Jackson's body on ice for evidence in murder investigation

Michael Jackson's body is being kept on ice in case it can provide evidence for a police murder investigation, it was revealed today.

Three weeks after Jackson's death, the singer has not been buried and remains in a refrigerated underground crypt at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Now law-enforcement sources have disclosed that the Jackson family has delayed burial because they expect detectives investigating the death to confirm they are now conducting a full murder inquiry.

One target of the probe is said to be Dr Conrad Murray, the physician who was with Jackson when his heart stopped and tried unsuccessfully to revive him.

Several other doctors, including the star's former dermatologist Dr Arnold Klein, have also being interviewed.

Investigators now believe Jackson died after being illegally administered the sedative Propofol, an anaesthetic supposed to be used only in hospitals.

Within hours of Jackson's death on 25 June, police were suspicious about the coterie of doctors who allegedly provided him with a steady supply of prescription drugs over the years.

But the focus of the investigation switched to Propofol after vials of the drug were found in Jackson's rented Holmby Hills mansion after he died. An IV stand that may have been used to help administer the anaesthetic was also found during two sweeps of the house.Jackson reportedly used the drug in the past to help with his chronic insomnia.

Detectives are still awaiting the now-imminent results of toxicology tests ordered by the Los Angeles Coroner before announcing their next move.

While officers are not suggesting anyone deliberately killed the 50-year-old, they say that if evidence emerges that a doctor illegally gave Jackson a lethal dose of Propofol, he could face second-degree murder or manslaughter charges.

“Are we dealing with a homicide? Are we dealing with an accidental overdose? Based on those tests, we will have an idea what we are dealing with,” said Los Angeles police chief William Bratton.

Both Jackson's father, Joe, and his sister, LaToya, have said they believe foul play was involved in his death.

Friends say the family decided to delay the burial rather than risk having to exhume the body if new clues emerged from the autopsy. They are also waiting for the results of their privately commissioned second autopsy.

“This way, the police can move quickly if there is anything more they need to know,” said a family friend. “There is a reason the police put the murder squad in charge of this investigation from the start. They already had strong suspicions that it was more than a simple accident.” The family are also hoping for the return of parts of Jackson's brain that were used in neuropathology tests before moving his body to its final resting place.

Police this week visited the Beverly Hills office of Dr Klein, saying he had not fully complied with a request to hand over his medical records. One report suggested investigators already had “plenty of powerful evidence” that could help lead to a successful prosecution over Jackson's death. Detectives are said to have spoken to the Los Angeles District Attorney's office about bringing possible criminal charges.

(From London Evening Standard)

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Freedom For Henry Okah(News Release By MEND)

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is grateful to God that the trumped-up charges against Henry Okah have finally been dropped.

Now he will be able to deal with his health, spend time with his family and revive his business.

We hope that the hundreds of other men and women languishing in detention over the Niger Delta issue will also be set free.

For those killed extra judicially by the army and police, we pray for their souls.

MEND considers this release as a step towards genuine peace and prosperity if Nigeria is open to frank talks and deal sincerely with the root issues once and for all.

Some newspapers have been giving speculative figures on the number of attackers and boats used for the Atlas Cove attack on Sunday, July 12.

The fact is that only two gunboats were used with a total of eighteen (18) well armed and experienced commandos.

The naval resistance was weaker than anticipated because after the first shots were fired by them, we responded with heavy caliber machine guns which made them to flee.

We regret any civilian loss of life that may have occured from the attack.

Jomo Gbomo

Monday, 13 July 2009

Obama Have Interpreted Nigeria, Let's Change It!(News Release)

From President Barack Obama in Ghana came a strong damnation of the irresponsible governance that has for decades been the unfortunate lot of Nigeria but which has assumed an embarrassing status with the current congenital incompetence mismanaging the country.

In a well-delivered speech, the 44th President of the United States of America, who could not be accused of racism, spoke eloquently about the success of Ghana (Nigeria’s failures) with a biting indictment of the shame of most of the rest of the continent of which Nigeria is a giant among the continental embarrassments.

Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) congratulates Ghanaians who have risen from the valley of adversity to the mountain of prosperity and good conduct to be the first port of call in sub-Saharan Africa on an elaborate and historical visit; and as Obama attested, “The 21st century will be shaped by what happens not just in Rome or Moscow or Washington but by what happens in Accra as well.” Ghana has shown that some thing good can come out of Africa after all.

As we congratulate Ghana - its people and leadership – we turn our attention to the irresponsible leadership of Nigeria, which believes that a Madam Rebrander spraying cologne on a stinking corpse is what would make Nigeria attractive to the world.

But like we told them that, you can’t change the opinions of decent nations with deceptions, Obama has painted a graphic picture of the ugliness of the Nigerian ostrich.

While the ruling party behaved like a band of pirates in Ekiti and thought the world was not watching, Obama was taking notes “Each nation gives life to democracy in its own way, and in line with its own traditions. But history offers a clear verdict: governments that respect the will of their own people are more prosperous, more stable and more successful than governments that do not. This is about more than holding elections – it’s also about what happens between them.”

While the present administration makes mockery of the rule of law as core of its Seven -Point deception and hounding Nuhu Ribadu for standing against corruption whch it pretends to fight, Obama came out clear: “No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top or head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny and now is the time to end it.”

Whereas former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his successor are apostles of “do-or-die” politics, Obama says the Ghana model is it: “Time and again, Ghanaians have chosen constitutional rule over autocracy, and shown a democratic spirit that allows the energy of your people to break through. We see that in leaders who accept defeat graciously and victors who resist calls to wield power against the opposition.”

Obama was not all about denunciations but also about practical measures to end the season of anomies in Nigeria. He advocated a bottom-up change with a solemn promise that America will support change seekers who are ready to sort their country. And, for the young people who are giving up and using social vices as escape values from the miseries in Nigeria, Obama had appropriate counsel: “In places like Ghana (Nigeria), you make up over half of the population. Here is what you must know: the world will be what you make of it. You have the power to hold your leader accountable and to build institutions that serve the people.”

This is the critical challenge today for us as a people. The time has come for both the young and the old. The young must take the challenge of fixing Nigeria. The re-branders have exhausted all their possibilities and we are left as an object of derision by their misrule. Now is the time for the re-builders to step out as Obama, who did it in his own country within two years, has cut out the job ahead of 2011.

It is absurd that, as bad as things are for Nigeria, President Yar’Adua is turning the rumour of his Second Term bid to a reality. It is only the wicked souls in the Party Destroying People (PDP) who can give thought to the tragic idea that any nation deserves eight years of the nonsense currently going on in Nigeria.

The moment must begin to find its wo(men). All change agents must step out now from the deserts of the Northwest and the hills of the Northeast; from the valleys of the North-central, to the plains of the Southeast; and from the creeks of the South-South, to the Savannah of the Southwest.

It is time to take back our country from the demons and let righteousness reign. If we are set to do it, YES, WE CAN! If we don’t, YES, WE CAN’T. The banner of our movement must be CHANGE.

‘Yinka Odumakin
National Publicity Secretary
Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG)

Wole Soyinka: Faces Of A Dogged Crusader.

Profesor Wole Soyinka, Poet, Playwright, Novelist and retired University teacher is the first African Nobel Prize winner in Literature(1986). He is generally regarded as the most dogged human rights, anti-corruption and civil liberties crusader from Nigeria.

Soyinka was born on July 13th, 1934 in Ake Abeokuta in the present day Ogun State, South-western Nigeria. The Literary community in Nigeria, chidi opara reports learnt have lined up activities to mark the Icon's seventy-fifth birthday anniversary.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Michael Jackson's Sister Says Brother Was Murdered.

The sister of Michael Jackson has accused members of his entourage of effectively “murdering” the singer for his money.

La Toya Jackson said a shadowy group of hangers-on within his retinue had regarded him as a “cash cow”, supplied him with drugs, conspired to cut him off from family and friends and forced him to commit to play 50 concerts at the O2 arena in London.

After his death, cash and jewels appeared to have gone missing from his home, she said, in interviews with two Sunday newspapers.

She told the News of the World: “We don’t think just one person was involved in the murder. It was a conspiracy to get Michael’s money.”

Ms Jackson described her brother as “the loneliest man in the world” with no real friends, who died cut-off from his family.

She told the Mail on Sunday: “I believe Michael was murdered, I felt that from the start. Not just one person was involved, rather it was a conspiracy of people.”

Ms Jackson said that her brother was “surrounded by a bad circle". She added: "He was a very meek, quiet, loving person. People took advantage of that. People fought to be close to him, people who weren’t always on his side. Michael was worth more than a billion dollars. When anyone is worth that much money, there are always greedy people around them."

Ms Jackson said he had an intravenous drip stand and oxygen canisters in his room.

“Michael knew he was never going to be a grey-haired old man,” she said. “He didn’t want to grow old.”

He was found not in his own room but in the bedroom of his physician Dr Conrad Murray, she said. She was at her home not far from Jackson’s in Beverly Hills when she was told by her father that her brother had been taken to hospital.

On her way to the hospital her mother had called and screamed down the phone: “He’s dead!”

“I nearly crashed my car,” La Toya said. “My legs went weak. I couldn’t press down on the gas pedal. I got to the wrong entrance at the hospital and was begging the security guys to help me and take my car because I was so weak and faint. They took me up to the area where Michael had been taken. Mother was crying and Michael’s kids were crying.

“I screamed, ’Is it true?’ and she said, ’Yes, he gone’.

“I couldn’t stop crying.”

She felt her brother had only wanted to do 10 shows in London but that the people around him forced him to agree to do 50 shows.

Her brother regularly kept £1 million in cash at his home, she said. But no money was found there in the wake of his death. “Michael didn’t keep a close eye on his finances,” she said. “A lot of people made a lot of money out of Michael.”

La Toya said that his death would be investigated. “I am going to get down to the bottom of this,” she said. “I am not going to stop until I find out who is responsible. Why did they keep the family away?”

The said the family would file a civil lawsuit against anyone they believed to be responsible for his death and push for police to bring criminal charges.

“I want justice for Michael,” she said. “I won’t rest until I find out what - and who - killed my brother.”

(From TIMESONLINE Via Bing News)

Saturday, 11 July 2009

A Nigerian In Diaspora Writes Imo State Governor.

The Imo State Governor
Chief Ikedi Ohakim

Dear Governor,

I am an engineer based in the United States of America.

Amongst your numerous achievements in Imo State, I commend you for the accreditation of respective disciplines in Imo State University, and the maternal and childcare services initiative. These are among the privileges the citizens of United States of America and other developed countries are enjoying. Thank you Mr. Governor for giving our people such tremendous opportunities.

Speaking about healthcare services in a developing country, I believe that Imo State have well educated individuals who have the knowledge, skills and abilities to assist you in actualizing your dream of healthcare in Imo State. The achievements and contributions of Dr. Callistus Egwim in areas of healthcare and public education in Imo State have attracted public attention. Far away in United States of America, I have received numerous testimonies from different individuals about how Dr. Callistus Egwim have impacted their lives.

Dr. Callistus Egwim was born in Umuodom Ibeme Ugiri in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State. He attended Ibeme High School in 1982. He was offered a provisional admission to study medicine at University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1985. He graduated from University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1991 with honors in Medicine and surgery.

After completing his Housemanship and the National Youth Service(NYSC)scheme in 1993,he was employed as a Medical Officer at Egbunadazie Hospital in Mushin Lagos State. After a while, he obtained a Master’s Degree in Public Health at Imo State University. Dr. Callistus Egwim is a board Member of Nigeria Medical & Dental Council, and Nigeria Medical Association. He also works at the General Hospital Awo-Omamma in Imo State, as Principal Medical Officer-In-Charge. His dedication to duty is a great relief to the community.

Since 2001, Dr. Egwim have been giving free medical service to patients in his private clinics in Imo State. This is what I called “service” to the community.

In Ibeme Town and surrounding communities in Imo State, Dr. Callistus Egwim have saved the lives of many who would have been dead because they were unable to afford money for medical expenses. He is well known for giving medical services to every patients regardless of their status. frankly speaking, he values human life more than wealth. These are attributes of patriotism.

Dr. Egwim have supported lots of Imo State indigenes both at home and abroad in respect education. Presently, he is sponsoring some students of Imo state origin in Universities, and have helped many patients who need special medical care to travel overseas. In our society today, persons with such attributes are not easy to find.

It is my belief that Dr.C. Egwim is a very patriotic citizen of Imo State, who is willing to contribute to the well being of the people of the State. Although, he may not be happy that I am writing this letter without his knowledge, yet I believe it is our duty as a people to give “credit to whom credit is due “

In conclusion, Mr. Governor, I believe that Dr Callistus Egwim would be willing to be part of your team where he will bring amongst other things, innovations, leadership and passion for public health to your administration.

Thank you once again

Yours faithfully,

Engr. Ifeanyi Ibeh
Morgan State University
Baltimore, MD 21216
United States.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Why Incarcerated Nigerian Oil Militant Leader Accepted Amnesty.

A contact very close to a member of the Nigerian government team negotiating amnesty terms with Mr. Henry Okah, the incarcerated leader of Movement For The Emancipation Of Niger Delta(MEND), have informed chidi opara reports that the MEND chieftain have accepted conditional amnesty, "contrary to what is being reported".

Mr Okah, chidi opara reports learnt authoritatively was initially not favourably disposed to accepting the amnesty with conditions despite his ailing health. Okah developed a liver related ailment in prison. It has been revealed to us that when all efforts to make the MEND leader to accept the amnesty with some conditions(which are yet unknown to us) failed, the government negotiating team applied "plan B". This plan we learnt further involved the recruitment of prominent Ijaw leaders known to have symphathy for MEND and whom Mr. Okah is known to have deep respect for, to help pressure him to accept a conditional amnesty.

The recruitment of these prominent Ijaw leaders, chidi opara reports learnt from a contact in Ijaw Youths Council(IYC), "was not without some blackmail". The State Security Service(SSS), we were told was mandated to approach these Ijaw leaders with evidences of their involvement in the activities of the furgitive militant leader, Mr. Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo and suggest to them to pressure Mr. Okah to accept conditional amnesty or risk prosecution. "My sister, the approach worked and everybody is now relieved", a top level security contact in Abuja confirmed to one of our network members.

It was also learnt on good authority that Mr. Okah was last week presented with "very incriminating documents", seized from Tompolo's camp five, which detailed the incarcerated militant leader's illegal arms and Oil deals. It is believed that this is one of the reasons why the surprised Henry Okah softened his hardline stance on the anmesty.

Nigeria's Oil Militants Want Incarcerated Leader To Accept Amnesty(News Release).

The recent appointment of Mr. Timi Alaibe as the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs by the Nigerian government is a humble and welcome development that is in line with the two pronged approach of our current campaign codenamed Hurricane Moses.

With this channel of communication finally opened, MEND will put together it's Aaron team of frank negotiators to pass our demands and expectations to the President through Mr. Alaibe, a man we respect and can work with.

MEND does not believe the current amnesty offer is directed at freedom fighters because there is no room for any form of dialogue and the issues that provoked armed agitation was never featured.

We support Henry Okah's decision to accept any deal that will ensure his early release to attend to his failing health under the current circumstances. Since he has no weapons to surrender, the deal should be a straight forward one except the government has another trick up its sleeve.

Jomo Gbomo

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Michael Jackson Memorial Video

The Michael Jackson Memorial is taking place about now at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, United States Of America(USA)

William Jefferson tape cites Nigerian leader's role

On July 18, 2005, with an undercover FBI agent behind the wheel and an FBI cooperating witness wired for sound sitting by his side, U.S. Rep. William Jefferson said that Vice President Atiku Abubakar of Nigeria had agreed to grease the skids for a telecommunications venture the congressman was promoting in Nigeria in exchange for a piece of the action, according to tapes played at the corruption trial of the former nine-term congressman from New Orleans.
The taped conversation came on the ride back from a one-on-one meeting between Jefferson and Abubakar at a home the former Nigerian vice president owns in Potomac, Md., an upscale suburb of Washington, D.C. The jurors are provided with written transcripts of the tapes, but the news media and other observers are not. On the tape and others played Monday, Jefferson, who speaks in his usual low, rushed mumble, was often barely audible.

In his opening argument, Jefferson's lead attorney, Robert Trout, insisted that "no one bribed William Jefferson and William Jefferson didn't bribe anyone." He said that statements now being used against Jefferson were simply meant to mollify Lori Mody, the Virginia businesswoman who had become Jefferson's partner in a Nigerian venture to distribute copper-wire broadband technology. The technology had been developed by iGate, a small Kentucky telecommunications firm, which Jefferson had championed and which, by June 2005, according to other tapes played Monday, he was trying to wrest control of on behalf of his family, using Mody's money.

On that July day, Jefferson had traveled to Potomac with Mody, who by then was a cooperating witness for the FBI.

Jefferson had in late June sent a packet of information about the Nigeria deal to Abubakar and his fourth wife, Jamilah Jennifer Abubakar, who was living in the Potomac home. The packet included information as to how enormously profitable the Nigerian venture could be, with an estimated cumulative return of nearly $718 million by year five. In the packet, Jefferson also touted the good the Internet service would provide to Abubakar's "beloved country, " and indicated he was "soliciting" Abubakar's "advice and support in moving this project forward."

Vice president pitches in

In an earlier recording, Jefferson told Mody that "the Mrs." Abubakar had arranged the meeting (though she did not attend). Jefferson asked whether Mody could get someone to drive them to the Potomac meeting, and the FBI obliged with an undercover agent.

After the private meeting with Abubakar, Jefferson reported to Mody, in Abubakar's presence, that the vice president had agreed to secure the necessary approval from the Nigerian telecommunications authority. Later, on the ride home, according to the tapes, Jefferson said Abubakar expected a piece of the profits in exchange. Jefferson can be heard on the tape saying they would "get directions on what to do later."

The trial is building toward its climactic moment, in which, according to the 16-count indictment against Jefferson, on July 30, 2005, in a parking lot outside the Ritz Carlton in Arlington, Va., he accepted a briefcase from Mody with $100,000 in bills marked by the FBI. That money, the prosecution maintains, was the down payment on a bribe to Abubakar.

However, when FBI agents raided Jefferson's homes in Washington and New Orleans on Aug. 3, 2005, and the Abubakar home in Potomac, they found $90,000 of the money, undelivered, safely stored away in the freezer of Jefferson's Capitol Hill home.

Agent acted as coach

The prosecution has chosen not to call Mody as a witness and so it has fallen on Timothy Thibault, the FBI special agent in charge of the Jefferson investigation, to explain the background behind each tape. Thibault has also detailed how he coached Mody before each encounter with the congressman. By June 2005, Thibault testified, the FBI was working to keep the Nigerian deal on track "to give us enough time to gather evidence." They also coached Mody to push Jefferson to undertake a similar joint venture in Ghana.

"We wanted to see what the congressman's office would do overseas to promote business deals like the one he was involved in Nigeria, " Thibault said.

At a dinner June 8, 2005, at the Four Seasons Hotel, Mody pressed Jefferson on Ghana.

"If you want to go to Ghana, my dear, we'll go to Ghana, " said Jefferson, on a recording of the $420 dinner, though on advice of the FBI she did not ultimately join him on that trip in early July.

At that same dinner, conversation that is hard to hear over piano renditions of "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Honeysuckle Rose" reveals that Mody signed her copy of the joint venture between the company she was setting up in Nigeria -- W2-IBBS -- and a Nigerian firm, Rosecom, that Jefferson had recommended. When Mody expressed some excitement after signing the document, Jefferson could be heard to say, "quite an adventure."

Discretionary account

Also at that dinner, a video shows Mody presenting Jefferson with a stock certificate for 1.5 million shares of W2-IBBS, a 30 percent share, in the name of Global Energy and Environmental LLC, a company controlled by Jefferson's five daughters and son-in-law Phillip Jones, as well as a certificate for 500,000 shares of the venture for iGate. Thibault said both certificates were found in the raid of Jefferson's New Orleans home on Aug. 3.

On the recording, Mody also tells Jefferson she plans to set up for him a "discretionary expense account" -- Thibault called it a "discretionary bribe fund" -- of between $200,000 and $1 million, so that Jefferson would have "that tool in your pocket."

At a subsequent June 17 breakfast at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Jefferson asks Mody for $7 million so that the ANJ Group -- controlled and named for his wife and daughters -- could buy a controlling share of iGate.

The government describes ANJ as a front meant to disguise Jefferson's role in profiting from actions he was taking as a congressman.

In another tape played Monday, Jefferson tells Mody, "I'm in the shadows behind the curtains somewhere."

(Courtesy of via Yahoo News)

Monday, 6 July 2009

MKO Abiola: Eleven Years After(News Release By Campaign For Democracy)

The Campaign for Democracy(CD), on this occasion, remembers with fondness Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, the hero of Nigeria’s democratic struggle and the President of Nigeria as reflected in the mandate given to him in the presidential election of June 12, 1993.

It is worth mentioning here that Chief Abiola died on July 7, 1998, in the custody of General Abdusalami Abubarkar in circumstances, which mysteries are yet to be revealed by his captors.

M.K.O. Abiola lost his life, property and comfort to the struggle for a better Nigeria. He died while trying to lay a solid foundation for a vibrant and self-reliant Nigeria, where freedom would be the exclusive preserve of all and not the privilege of a chosen few. He had hoped for a sustained democracy and an eradicated poverty. His struggle was towards a nation that would be action-based, not that of endless planning that would in the end leave us empty as a nation and unfulfilled as a people. He had yearned for a nation where almost all would be fed, with almost none remaining unfed. His Farewell to Poverty had revealed that it was possible and, indeed, achievable.

Rather than submit to the whims of the usurpers and the interlopers who have consistently foisted themselves on us as our rulers, Abiola chose the path of honour. He chose to side with the less privileged and the downtrodden where others, especially, of his status had preferred to wine and dine with the rich and the mighty in the society. Instead of allowing the status quo ante bellum to remain as it is and, even, if need be, get worse, Abiola chose solidarity, not brickbats. He believed in a cause and eventually died for the cause he believed in. He refused to surrender to the caprices of the rapacious power grabbers who have consistently ensured that the nation is never at peace. He was liquidated, certainly for a cause he believed in and he died with his dreams unfulfilled. His death without doubt signaled the lynching of the Nigerian dream.

It is now exactly eleven years after the death of the hero of Nigeria’s struggle for democracy. However, it is sad that, eleven years after, the poverty, which Abiola had promised to wipe out, still remains with us. The life of an average Nigerian is now at risk. There is no food on the table of the common man. Unemployment is at an all-time high. No regular power supply and no water to drink. Corruption is not only in high places as those who are expected to prevent it are with affective melody promoting it. Sadder still, those who one had thought were in the struggle with Abiola but have either willingly or otherwise moved to the other side where milk and honey daily flow have never deemed it expedient to remember, let alone honour him. Rather, it is now for them and their immediate families. Whether or not the ordinary Nigerians have food on their table is none of their business. That has been the fate of those who had eleven years ago thought that their hunger would, with Abiola’s presidency, become banished. The saddest part of it all is that we have in place a leadership that does not know why it is there in the first place.

Abiola believed in nation building where every being would have cause to – and, would indeed – live decent lives. Therefore, as we again remember the life and times of a foremost figure of our democratic struggle, CD hereby calls on Nigerians to rededicate themselves to the struggle for their freedom from the oppression and suppression that have been the hallmark of successive regimes since MKO Abiola’s death. In times like this, it is the duty of Nigerians to bear in mind that, unless they take their destiny in their hands and collectively move against these autocrats in civilian garbs, the freedom, which they cherish and earnestly yearn for, may continue to be elusive. Ghana, South Africa and Iran have in recent times taught us some important lessons about democracy and its struggles.

May the gentle and democracy-loving soul of Abiola continue to rest in peace.

Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin,
Campaign for Democracy(CD)