Is one Nigeria A Dream or Reality

All protocols observed.
Thank you for having the courage in choosing this topic as it is timely to identify Nigeria‟s problems and discuss it in a forthright manner so that we can proffer appropriate solutions; so long we continue to gloss over them so long our people will continue to suffer.
Nigeria, a country of about 140 million people occupying a land area of 351,649 squared miles about the size of the state of California in the USA is an amalgam of different ethnic nationalities.
Nigeria gained independence on October 1st 1960 from the United Kingdom which account for this celebration of at a ripe age of 46 long years of existence as a nation.
Nigeria is a complex nation with over 250 ethnic groups with the main tribes being Hausa/Fulani to the north, the Tiv to the middle belt , the Yoruba, Ibo, Ijaw, Edo, Ibibio to the south of the of the country. The country is divided into 36 states and a federal capital territory rearranged into six geopolitical zones and the South /South zone being the most complex.
Nigerians are about 50% Muslims which implies that Nigeria is home to the world’s sixth largest Muslim population; about 40% Christians and rising rapidly and 10% traditional religion and dwindling slowly. In 2004 the estimated literacy rate was 68% and the life expectancy rate has dropped from 51 in 1963 to 46 in 2004.
The main problems of the country include greed, lack of transparency, accountability and corruption in government, repeated military coups with incursion of the military into government, tribalism, nepotism, inequality in the distribution of the national wealth with associated marginalization of the southern minority ethnic groups, and changing attitudes and erosion of traditional values. There is gross lack of discipline and unimaginable yearnings for foreign made & pleasurable goods by the few Nigerians who can afford them after corruptly enriching themselves. These corrupt officers due to their flamboyance became the role model of the teeming youths; and this does not augur well for the future of the nation..In spite of our problems, research has shown that Nigerians are not only the most religious
people in the world, they are also the happiest people on the surface of the earth.
Having set down this background information, I shall move on to give the overview of the
debate: Is one Nigeria a dream or a reality?
First and foremost can I state categorically to everyone here that I believe that Nigeria is an
indivisible nation under God with one destiny so that the labour and sacrifices of our heroes
past shall not be in vain? Nigeria is a land of milk and honey, well endowed with human and
natural resources; that there is abundance for the population of our nation; but that we are
where we are because of the greed, corruption and evil intention of some of our past
national leaders who have other agendas like the islamization of our nation that is
constitutionally a secular nation instead of laying good foundation for an equitable and fair
distribution of the national wealth. The other serious problem is the transfer of national
wealth to foreign banks in Europe and America thereby impoverishing the people.
For a lot of Nigerians there is a strong belief that one Nigeria is a dream. They advance very
good reasons for their belief.
International as well as local authorities have predicted doom for our nation and a possible
failure by ‘2015’ for the Nigerian State as they believe that there are sound indicators that
one united Nigeria is a dream.
Going back to the genesis of Nigeria as a nation, the southern protectorate and the northern
protectorates of Nigeria where amalgamated by the British colonisers in 1914 without any
strong reason to take that decision except for ease of governance and movements of the
produce from the north to the sea ports in the south and subsequent shipment to Europe
through the Atlantic ocean and people view this as a mistake which can be corrected today
by balkanization of the nation.
There is a lot of diversity between these two protectorates till today. Whereas the north used
to be mainly nomads and cattle rearers, the southerners are subsistence farmers. While we
have northern Moslems, the south are mainly Christians While there were many nationalists
fighting for independence from the south, the north was mainly satisfied with the status quo
hence they gained self governance in 1959 two years later after the southern protectorate
gained self governance. The colonialists tactfully handed the nation to those who least
wanted a change after a census whose figures were seriously disputed.
There is the worrying undying concept of the north started by Othman dan Fodio that he
would dip the Koran in the sea by the jihad movement. His forces were stopped at Igala the
present day Kogi State by the forces of the Ancient Benin Empire led by Queen Idia, queen
mother who was the first woman to ever go to war and by the Ibadan forces in the south
west.Ahamadu Bello the then Sarduana of Sokoto also toyed with the idea during the first republic
until his death and Ibrahim Babaginda has resurrected the idea again when he unilaterally
normalised the status of Nigeria as a member of the Organization of Islamic States (OIC)
from its observer status during his ruler ship. This move led to the resignation of Ebitu Ukiwe
from his government as the matter was never discussed in the then Armed Forces Ruling
Council. This singular move by IBB to change Nigeria from a secular state into an Islamic
State is inimical to the existence of a united Nigeria even as we speak IBB is still bent on
ruling Nigeria with a Christian as a weak vice president so that he may complete the process
of total islamization of the nation which he started in the 1987.
There is a more serious problem of radical islamazation of Nigeria today. In addition to the
Sharia law in the Nigerian constitution and the threat that some states may implement the
law when there are cases involving Christians which could lead to unrest, there is the
frequent sudden explosion of Moslem youths who kill and main southern Christians at the
least provocation.
Nigeria has experienced increased ethnic and religious violence and tensions after 12 of the country’s 36 states
adopted the Islamic Sharia law. It has been reported that over 15,000 people may have died in communal and
religious violence since the inception of the current democratic dispensation. You can see that this idea of
forceful conversion or the jihad being perpetrated by the Moslems can accelerate dismemberment of our nation if
these incessant irate young Moslems who unlawfully kill and main southern Christians living in the northern part
of our nation are not checked by security agents.
To obviate the deterioration of this tricky situation, the Federal Government should rein in
these Moslem youths who either on their own or spurred on by their elders indiscriminately
kill and main southern Christians in addition to wanton destruction of their properties
resulting from international issues unrelated to Nigeria at all. If the situation is not checked,
the Christians may review the doctrine of „‟if you slap me on the right check, I will also give
the left check as well which can deteriorate to a full scale religious conflict.
After independence, Nigeria adopted the parliamentary system of government of the United
Kingdom but lacked the smooth debating ability that made that system of democracy
effective as major policies and voting were done on tribal lines in the Nigerian parliament
and not on merit of the debates. Some of the nationalists were very federal in their approach.
Nationalists like Nnamdi Azikiwe who contested election in the old Western Region but was
unable to form a government as parliamentarians crossed the carpet in favour of their
kinsman Obafemi Awolowo. Many believed that singular act in the Western Region election
in 1957 entrenched tribal politics in our national life, which today has grown into an incurable
cancer.
In a united Nigeria, anybody who is domiciled in any part of the nation for more than two
years should be able to contest election from that geopolitical zone of the nation irrespective
of his ethnic or religious affiliation or origin. Presently that is not possible due to tribal and
ethnic politics.The governance of this nation has most of the time be carried out by the northern oligarchy
who over these years have come to see the ruler ship of our nation as a birth right hence
some present political aspirants like IBB tell Nigerians that „only God can prevent him from
becoming the nation’s next president’. Such statement infuriates and should not be spoken
in a civilised society where people have sensitivity. In the 46 years of the life of Nigeria as a
nation, the northern oligarchy of Nigeria has produced rulers but not leaders for about 80%
of the time.
From Abubakar Tafawa Balewa who was said to be the premier of the nation on behalf of
the Ahamadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto to Generals Yakubu Gowon, Murtalla
Mohammed, through President Shehu Shagari, to Generals Mohammadu Buhari, Ibrahim
Babangida, Sanni Abatcha and Abubakar were all northerners who were never mandated by
the electorate to rule as they ruled by the barrel of the gun apart from Tafawa Balewa and
Shagari.
When you compare the total period above to the period of governance of General Aguiyi
Ironsi (6 months), Shonekan(about 3 months) and Obasanjo who stepped in after the
assassination of Murtalla Mohammed in 1973 against his personal wish and desire to the
present as he is the current President of the nation. Many Nigerian believe that he was
sponsored by the same northern oligarchy to ameliorate the tension that resulted from the
annulment of June 12 presidential elections in 1993. Such rule by force by a small group of
individuals cannot predict a sound and stabilised future for our nation.
The incessant use of force by the northern military elite to govern our nation after coups,
counter coups and sometimes palace coups does not augur well for a united nation. Can I
stress that coups are inimical to the wellbeing of a nation and they are unlikely to be
successful anymore in Nigeria. Any group who embarks on a coup now will have a
disintegrated Nigeria in his hands as tribal grouping have done so well in organizing their
people like the Arewa to the north, the MOSSOB to the east and the OPC to the west. And
the various groups in the Niger delta including MOSSOP, MEND and others who are very
willing if pushed any further to go it alone as an independent nation. And I quickly add that
there are many powerful nations standing on the wings to give these „new independent
states‟ recognition due to their mineral resources if the worst should happen to Nigeria.
The problem of the Niger Delta has grown over the years as a result of lack of foresight and
neglect of the region that lays the golden eggs which has made multi-millionaires out of
many northern past military rulers like IBB while the inhabitants of the Niger Delta wallow in
misery and poverty with total lack of basic necessities of life like pipe borne water, electricity,
schools and health infrastructures. The various rulers of the nation have only succeeded in
presiding over the division of the national cake without sourcing for other means of
generating national income apart from oil and its exploration and exportation. Every retired
general fight today to get an oil block so that he can enrich himself, his family and his
friends when the Niger Delta masses and in fact Nigerians in the north as well live in abject
poverty and squalor.The large international corporations have made matters worse without exploring for oil with
due care to the environment. As a result there is total environmental degradation in the
region depriving the inhabitants of the area their traditional means of livelihood as they
cannot farm as the soil is polluted with oil and fishermen can no longer fish as the rivers
have also been polluted with oil spillage. You can now see why the youths of the area have
taken to kidnapping to eke a living. If this situation is allowed to degenerate further, it can
ultimately lead to dismemberment of our beloved nation.
There is a ray of hope in the horizon as the present government has set machineries in
motion to obviate the suffering of Nigerians in particular the people of the Niger Delta. There
have been recent enlisting of increased quota of the people of this region into the Nigerian
Army, Air force, the Navy and the Police. A new university is being established in the area,
the Petroleum University of Nigeria, and through the Niger Delta Development Commission,
more funds are being channelled into the area to alleviate the suffering of the people. When
all these projects bear fruits, it will go a long way in alleviating the suffering of the people in
the region as it will increase the employment opportunities in the Niger Delta. Both State and
Federal governments and the traditional leaders in the area should alley the anxiety of the
youths to take their minds off criminality. The Federal government should adopt a softly
humane approach as high handed approach will increase the tension in the region.
The ultimate goal of government should be the improvement of the living standard of the
people of the region and in fact improving the living standard of all Nigerians, explorations
while protecting the natural ecological state of the region, employment opportunities and free
flow of information from both sides i.e. from the government to the deprived people of the
region and an effective channel should be created for the deprived people to air their
grievances to the government instead of drawing attention to themselves by kidnapping
foreign oil workers.
There is some worry though as on occasions, the money earmarked for these developments
channelled through the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is being re-
channelled to private bank accounts and other private enterprises to the detriment of the
people. The immediate past governor of Bayelsa state DSP Alemeseyegba is presently in
detention for allegedly enriching himself from the government coffers and not soon after that
the wife of the present governor has been indicted by the EFCC for money laundering. In the
suit the EFCC named Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of Bayelsa State Governor Goodluck
Jonathan, as an accomplice in an N104million-money laundering case involving one Mrs.
Nancy Ebere Nwosu.
The EFCC in suit number FHC/ABJ/M/340/06 filed on August 21, 2006 at the Federal High
Court, Abuja alleged that the governor‟s wife was the one that instructed her agent to
launder the huge sum in a First Bank of Nigeria account number 3292010060711 held in the
name of Nansolyvan Public Relations Limited‟
These are serious allegations as money met for the development of a deprived area is being
re-channelled by indigenous leaders of the same area. This behaviour calls for vigilance by
the people of the area in ensuring that good proposals of government are implemented for
the benefit of the people. If all the people police all the people all the time, the incidence of
corruption and criminality will drop precipitously. As we speak some other governors from
the region are under serious investigation for sharp practices by the EFCC. It may be a wise
move for the government to use youth leaders and people in the region to monitor projectimplementations in the region. Secondly some youths in the area who are involved in oil
bunkering have hijacked the genuine struggle of the Niger –Delta people and have used the
opportunity to create chaos so that their business can thrive. These group of youths when
caught must be severely dealt with.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has estimated oil reserves of 27 billion
barrels (over 2.6 percent of global proven reserves). With recent finds of oil off shore by
Total PLC, Nigeria may account for about 3% of proven global reserve. Given Nigeria’s
location and ports, the country should be an economic hub for western and central Africa.
Regrettably, political instability and military coups, combined with inept economic
governance and endemic corruption, have squandered Nigeria’s advantages. Since
independence in 1960, only about 14 years have been democratic government.
To secure their power base, past military governments enacted repressive economic policies
and undermined the rule of law. It is only in the last few years that there have been changes
in the national fiscal policies that will attract investment and employment opportunities
thanks to President Olusegun Obasanjo for identifying and placing a Diaspora Nigerian in
the person of Dr Ngozi Okojo Iweala as the nation‟s finance minister a complete square peg
in a squared hole who did a good job worthy of emulation before her sudden resignation.
The Index of Economic Freedom ranks Nigeria as a “mostly unfree” economy due to high
trade barriers, heavy regulation, and excessive government intervention. Instability and
misguided economic policies have curtailed foreign investment outside of the oil sector. In
the last two years, the economic policies of the present administration has somewhat
changed all that, making Nigeria an investment friendly nation which will translate into
employment for the people thereby reducing tension, violent crimes and robberies amongst
the populace. What is baffling to some of us is that those who led the country into the wrong
direction for example devaluing the naira and taking the IMF loan in spite of the outcome of
the national debate by Nigerian intellectuals that Nigeria did not need the loan as we had a
huge windfall from the sale of oil at the time are still fighting to rule this country and complete
the ruination of the nation.
IBB did not only take the IMF loan, he devalued the Nigerian currency the naira and enriched
himself with the oil sale wind fall and refused to testify in the Justice Oputa panel peace and
reconciliation panel. Due to strong feelings of opposition to IBB‟s rule, his second coming if
he succeeds which is unlikely might lead to the disintegration of the Nigerian nation.
„‟Islamization of Nigeria for which he is a strong advocate, is not going to be an easy task
due to general people‟s awareness today and the heightened alert state of the world. If it is
tried by force, the end product is probably going to be worse than what obtained in Bosnia –
Hzegovinia.
Whereas transparency International’s 2003 Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Nigeria as
the second most corrupt nation in the world, {CPI Score relates to perceptions of the degree
of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts and ranges between 10
(highly clean) and 0 (highly corrupt)}. In 2005, Nigeria ranked 152nd position out of the 158
countries studied. This is a small positive shift in position for the nation but a giant step for
our country. President Olusegun Obasanjo has pledged to end corruption and adopt
appropriate economic reforms, but vested interests who are determined to maintain the
status quo oppose changes; hence the EFCC has been described in various terms as beingselective in its operation and as an arrow point of the president‟s immolating machinery.
Presently some steps have been taken to introduce transparency and accountability in
government, although only moderate changes have been seen in budgeting practices,
contract awards, monetary policies, privatization, or public service reform‟‟; and we hope
these modest changes are not reversed after elections in 2007 when a new leader steps in.
Corruption and notorious governmental inefficiency as well as a harshly repressive military
regime characterized Abacha’s reign over our country, turning it into an international pariah.
A UN fact-finding mission in 1996 reported that Nigeria’s “problems of human rights were
terrible and the political problems are terrifying.” You all will remember the role NADECO
played during Abacha‟s regime broadcasting into Nigeria from a hide out. With mobile
phones everywhere today and the internet accessibility, such government will fall quite easily
if that is what the people desire. .With this level of awareness amongst the populace, a
repeat of Sanni Abacha‟s regime will accelerate the disintegration of the Nigerian nation.
During the 1970s, Nigeria had the 33rd highest per-capita income in the world, but by 1997
it had dropped to the 13th poorest. The latest report in 2005 placed Nigeria as the 26th
poorest country of the world in spite of our oil wealth there should be hope for Nigerians as
there is improvement using these indices (World Bank GDP Ranking). The hanging of writer
and leader of the MOSSOP Ken Saro-Wiwa in 1995 because he protested against the
government was condemned around the world and that single event contributed in no small
measure in turning Nigeria into a pariah nation. The action was as wrong as the timing
during the Commonwealth Heads of Governments meeting in Auckland New Zealand. It is
obvious therefore that it is not repression that will solve the Nigerian and Niger-Delta
problems; it is only dialogue with the spirit of understanding, mutual trust, accountability,
transparency, love and sensitivity that will resolve the issue of the problem of derivation and
resource control.
Nigeria’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was about $248 in 2002–lower than in
1970 in constant terms. The present activities of the Niger Delta Militia that often disrupt oil
production have dramatically affected the Nigerian national economy in which the oil sector
accounted for 65 percent of budget revenue, 95 percent of exports, and 20 percent of the
GDP in 2004. The implication of the above is that any serious problem affecting the oil sector
will set the index of the Nigerian national economy spiralling downwards. This realisation
should lead to an urgent call for diversification of the national economy to include other
export products like agricultural products. Cocoa, rubber, cassava, oil palm trees are crying
for attention and investment. Okomu Palm Oil Company is at the top of the Nigerian stock
exchange presently debunking the saying that money does not grow on trees. Money will
grow on trees especially in southern Nigeria if efforts are made to develop the agricultural
sector of our economy. Such advice will probably land on deaf ears as Nigerians generally
like quick results and profits since agricultural investments take a long time to mature and
yield profits.Free and fair election is a sine qua non for national stability. In a situation where the
mandate of the people have been stolen, or when a position have been purchased from a
god father for a godson, then the yearning of the electorate becomes secondary as the god
fathers dictate the tunes of events in the nation at all levels of government. There is
therefore the erroneous belief that when the god fathers are satisfied and happy, it translates
into the electorate being happy and satisfied which is not the case.
Those who will actually make a difference in governance of the nation are scared to take
part in the election process as they fear for their lives. To succeed in elections in Nigeria,
you have to have a small „army‟ to ward off attacks from your opponents which make
electioneering an expensive and dangerous process in Nigeria.
Nigeria is one of the rare places on mother earth where majority of progressives, good and
honest people usually run away from politics for fear of untold consequences to themselves
and or their families.
There is need therefore for the re-orientation of the attitude of the Nigerians in the north of
the Niger and Benue Rivers as regard their relationship with their southern brothers.
There is need for liberalisation and opening up of the north and their minds for the total
integration of our nation. Recently one of the northern states went to South Korea(State
withheld) to recruit medical staff who were ultimately found to be the equivalent of doctors
assistants in Nigeria when there are very many Nigerian Doctors seeking employment from
the south. How could that state governor explain his attitude as a Nigerian? Such behaviour
and attitude shows we despise our own nationals and our educational system. In situation
where southerners are employed by northern state governments on contract until there is a
qualified local „boy‟ and the southerner is relieved of his post an attitude which does not
augur well for a united nation and it should be stopped or at least discouraged.
There is another problem when Nigerians are seen as being settlers and non-indigene in
some regions of his own country. This is widespread in Nigeria in both north and south of
the country. It is a delicate issue that needs intellectual analysis by the National Assembly. A
Nigerian should be indigenous to anywhere he likes to stay in the country as it is practised
by the Edo of Edo State who are very welcoming to fellow Nigerians.
The inability of the Nigerian national conference to solve the recurring problem of adopting a
workable revenue allocation formula for the nation is a sore point that will keep recurring until
it is dealt with in an acceptable manner to the people of the Niger Delta in particular and all
Nigerians in general.
The bill is currently before the national Assembly and it has been recently revealed that the
Federal government has tampered with it in its favour. Presently; Federal government takes
56 per cent, while all the 36 states share 24 per cent and 774 local councils take 20 per cent
of the total revenue of the nation in spite of the Supreme Court ruling. This makes the central
government too rich and too powerful to the detriment of the state governments.The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission recommended 46% of the
national revenue for the Federal Government. You can see the lion share of the national
revenue goes to the central government hence every group is keen to control that centre.
Apart from the above, revising upwards the percentage of the revenue that goes to mineral
producing states as suggested by the national conference will ease the tension and the
anger simmering amongst the people of Niger Delta in particular.
The Federal Government 56 per cent seems unjustifiable. The enormous revenue at its
disposal is drained by corruption, leakages, cronyism and rent-seeking and diversion. With
roughly 80 per cent of its earnings spent on recurrent expenditure, the nation‟s infrastructure
is comatose and living standards are generally depreciating. Too much funds for the centre
fuels bitter political rivalry among the nation‟s federating units. The National Assembly
should be strictly guided by the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court judgment
of April 2002, in handling the new bill.
This recurring issue if not morally and thoughtfully dealt with can fuel disintegration of the
nation.
We can live in peace as a nation if we adopt national re-orientation of attitude to fellow
Nigerians, looking at fellow Nigerians as brothers,
Re-orientation to de-emphasising tribalism and ethnicity in our body politics
Re-orientation to glorify Nigerian made products and curtailing our craving for foreign made
goods.
Re-orientation of Nigerians‟ minds to invest in the economy of our nation rather than taking
the people‟s money to foreign banks.
Re-orientation of Nigerians to abhor corrupt and sharp practices in our national life and be
satisfied with one house, one car and one wife if possible.
Re-orientation of the attitude of the major tribal groups in Nigeria in a way to avoid
marginalization of the smaller ethnic groups.
Re-orientation of attitude of Nigerians as regard the sharing of the national wealth with the
introduction of a more equitable distribution formula of the revenue accruing to the nation.
Re-orientation of the attitude of Nigerians to facilitate economic progress of the nation.
Re-orientation of Nigerians to invest in agriculture and therefore facilitate employment
opportunities for our people.
Re-orientation of the northern oligarchy of Nigeria that the Nigerian nation belong to all
Nigerians and not to a select few.Re-orientation of Nigerians in a way to have free and fair elections where the leaders
actually have the mandate of the people to govern rather than godfathers purchasing
positions for their godsons with stolen mandates.
Re-orientation of Nigerian youths not to use a rich flamboyant man as his role model and not
to develop a compulsive urge to make money by any means.
Total re-orientation of the Nigerian military to protect the territorial integrity of our nation
rather than dabbling in politics.
There is need for Nigerians to be more vigilant to counter religious extremists in our
population especially as the major religious groups were both imported into the nation.
The problem of national security should be the duty of all Nigerians and should not be left to
the armed forces and the police alone. Our people should police the system in a way to
guarantee the safety of life and property of our people.
Above all in this recommendation is the need for total education of Nigerians to value life,
love self , love our nation and Nigerian traditional way of life and religion instead of becoming
fanatical about the these imported religion which has no semblance of our national traditional
life.
Nigeria is neither attractive as a single entity nor as different ethnic nationalities. This, for
obvious reasons is because either way, the same people will live within. The sheer size of
our nation and the large population is the envy of many nations. One in every four Blackman
is a Nigerian and should be a cause for joy and national pride and not a national curse.
No society will survive when most of its leaders and elites believe that charity begins abroad
by so wickedly robbing their own people only to deposit the loot in foreign banks for the
benefit of foreign nations.
Only ignorant and wicked leaders can rob the people they are supposed to serve to lubricate
foreign economies. An eminent Nigerian in one of his interview believes that such leaders
must be suffering from an acute overdose of inferiority complex who are proud to build
greener pastures in foreign countries when their own people are dying daily due to lack of
pasture. The belief that charity begins at home guarantees growth, progress and
development; the belief that charity begins abroad assures self-destruction and national
disintegration.
Indeed, any society that encourages capital flight, embezzlement of public funds, corruption,
abuse and misuse of public property in its midst is guilty of committing crimes against
humanity.
The greatest hurdle presently for the Nigerian nation and the current democratically elected
government is to conduct a free and fair election in 2007 and ensure a peaceful handover of
power to another elected civilian government to perpetuate a democracy in the nation.Nigerians look forward for a leader, who is detribalised and not ethnically biased, should be a civilian in the real sense and not an army general masquerading as a civilian in agbada. A leader who can make his government all inclusive without bias of religion, party affiliation or geopolitical zone in choosing his cabinet; that the best Nigerian patriots serve their people in peace and harmony and put to shame the evil prediction that our nation Nigeria will not survive 2015.
Thank you for your patience SEO OGBONMWAN (KSC) © OCTOBER 2OO6

PATROTISM-A MEANS TO NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

The events of the last few days of the World Cup qualifying matches has sobered me considerably and has made me thoughtful and to weep a little for my country. The tears on the faces of Brazilian, English, German men and women at their defeat has touched me so much that I marvelled at them, I marvelled how deeply they felt about their nations , how a game of mere football has united a nation in grief and mourning at their defeat and joy and happiness at their success.
I cannot even mourn at the defeat of my country as they did not even qualify due to our usual general laissez-faire attitude and lack of patriotism. Nigeria rated by the World Football governing body FIFA as the 12th football nation on mother earth did not even qualify to go to Germany due to our lack of patriotism.
The Brazilian, Argentineans, Cameroonians, Ecuadoreans teams and Trinidad and Tobago that have players all over the world qualified for the world Cup tournament but the Super Eagles failed due to lack of patriotism and unity of purpose. Our foreign based players due to lack of zeal and patriotism refused to answer to national calls that necessitated the Nigerian Football Association NFA into sending sub-standard teams to the initial phase of the tournament which dealt us an irreparable blow. When defeat stared us on the face and everyone including foreign based players made a last gasp effort, it was too late. When my teenage son said ‘dad, why is Nigeria not in Germany? But FIFA ranking said Nigeria is 12th in the world’, I had no answer. What can one say or what could I have said? Tell him Nigerians are not patriotic hence we did not qualify. I was short for words.
The Nigerian lack of patriotism permeates all our daily lives. It accounts for our failure to meet the mark in our day to day undertaking as a nation. It affects the selection of the national team where all sorts of officers in government have a hand in the final selection process without leaving it to the experts thereby sentencing the Nigerian national team to perpetual mediocrity.
Lack of patriotism also affects our government and their policies and the party political
process. It is only an uneducated that preaches rotation of presidency or any position on geopolitical areas or zones to the detriment of the best the Nigerian nation can provide. East or West, North or South it is the best the Nigerian nation can provide that should represent us on the football field, in the classroom and in government and it is only by doing that we can excel. In every country of the world, the most suited for any position is given that position and the people expect results. This account for the swift progress of some south Asian countries who gained Independence from colonial rule at about the same time as Nigeria,have advanced not only politically but economically as well. The economic progress that has
impacted on the nation during this present administration can be traced to having a square pig
in a squared hole in Mrs Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala who has made a lot of difference in achieving
progress on the winding road of economic emancipation of Nigeria as a nation, thanks to her
patriotism and enthusiasm for her job.
Outside football, it is a common sight to see Nigerians donning other countries colours and
wining laurels for their new nation during the Olympics and Commonwealth games for their
own selfish gains. Where has honour gone? In Benin City we grew up to believe that money
was not everything that honour surpasses all; that was why we fought for it in the classroom,
on the sporting fields and even during recreation that made Bendel State number one in the
late sixties and early seventies. You can count the number of Olympic and Commonwealth
game’s medals that Nigerians have won for other nations. It hurts to hear commentators
deriding Nigeria that in spite of her size, population and oil wealth we have not made our
marks in the world of sports or in fact in all spheres of human endeavours.
Sports is a money spinning sector of economy that nations do everything to bring major
tournaments to their countries but in Nigeria we do not even try to win such hosting rites.
With sports goes tourism and with tourism goes job creation and foreign exchange earning
which we continue to loose due to our lack of patriotism and lukewarm attitude to everything.
Nigeria boasts of so many raw talents in all areas of human endeavours and the discovery of
stars like Nwankwo Kanu, Jay Jay Okocha, Rashidi Yekini, Julius Aghahowa, Victor Ikpeba,
Wilson Oruma, and Celestin Babayaro were all accidental. None of these stars were nurtured
from youth. They were discovered and promoted to reach world stage. One can therefore
imagine if there is an unadulterated systematic approach of grooming sporting stars from our
teaming population, the sky will be our limit as a nation. Excellence in sports brings positive
national image, goodwill, tourism and ultimately foreign exchange. It is an aspect of national
development that our nation should explore. The Afuze miracle in the old Bendel State in the
seventies comes to mind in what a good national policy on sports can achieve.
Part of being patriotic is the respect for the National anthem and being able to sing it, recite it,
and live every world of it. It was disheartening to note that many nationals during the
ongoing world cup competition could not sing their national anthem so carried their faces
away from the camera due to embarrassment. This is an aspect of national life where our
people may be found wanting. We should sing and recite the national anthem in schools,
before meetings and at any function at local government, state and federal level. Frequent
recitation concretises the meaning and subsequently its manifestation in our national life.
Along with the national anthem is the national flag. Many nationals are so excited about their
national flag that they display it in their homes, offices, in their cars and sew dresses in their
national colours. The Nigerian national flags can only be seen in some public buildings and
some state and federal government offices which should not be the case. I recall one of the
military regimes banning the use of the national flags in cars some years ago; a judgementwhich was made out of ignorance. Nigerians should be allowed to display their national
colours at all events if they so please.
Lack of patriotism is not limited to sporting activities as it occurs in all spheres of national
life. Any Nigerian that accepts ten percent incentive paid into a foreign account to facilitate
an award of contract to foreign business companies is not only corrupt but unpatriotic. The
same unpatriotic attitude goes for all those leaders who siphon the national wealth to foreign
bank accounts to the detriment of the economic growth of the nation. This behaviour is not
only callous, corrupt, selfish but absolutely unpatriotic. This single behaviour has stifled the
national growth for so long that we are so far behind our peers who escaped colonial rule
almost simultaneously with us.
The lack of patriotism exposes all of us to tribalism and ethnicity which is a cancer gradually
eating away the very life of our nation. We can only counter tribalism and ethnicity with
being patriotic Nigerian and having the same goal and aspirations as other Nigerians.
National leaders must think out unifying factors for emphasis while de-emphasising tribe and
ethnicity at the same time. The divide and rule method of some national leaders buttresses
tribalism and ethnicity so also is the concentration of national establishments in a particular
zone without equitable distribution of the national wealth. The concept of this is ‘my brother’
and as such he is entitled to a particular position even when not qualified academically,
morally or by training and exposure exhorts mediocrity, it is retrogressive and a detriment of
excellence which is unpatriotic.
We all complain of the high crime rate in our nation. Criminality is not confined to Nigeria
alone but we lag behind other nations in our ability to fight crimes due to lack of patriotism.
We all agree that the police cannot do the crime fighting alone without the help of all
Nigerians. We live in the same community as the criminals but we lack the patriotism to flush
these criminals out. It is not difficult to identify someone without a gainful employment,
living affluently, driving hummer jeeps and SUVs without any legacy having been
bequeathed on him by his ancestors. To have a crime-free society we have to be patriotically
involved in fighting crimes and help the police and other law enforcement agencies to
bringing the criminals to book.
Election rigging and wining by all means possible amongst our people smacks of lack of
patriotism. Life is give and takes and good and patriotic Nigerians or any other national for
that matter show total altruism with love and kindness according to our culture and tradition
as Nigerians. The recent concept of the winner’s takes all attitudes is not only new but alien
to our culture as a people. Part of re-orientation of our people will be to actualise our culture
which abhors criminality, but generous and kind, frowns at mediocrity but helpful, truthful
and loyal to the community. It is in only by propagating those unifying factors rich in our
culture and respecting and honouring achievements and prowess rather than glorifying ill-
gotten wealth that we can move and make laudable progress in all spheres of our national life.As a nation we can bring patriotism to our everyday life starting from our children at home by showing good examples by an unadulterated daily living as these children are very impressionable. The teachers can also impact patriotic attitude in the pupils by being patriotic themselves in punctuality and genuine work attitude in the classrooms instead of playing football pools in the presence of the pupils without due care of the effect of such behaviour on the fertile minds of our children.
Those in government should also show patriotism by paying salaries punctually and
curtailing corrupt[t and sharp practices so as to prevent the teachers and other workers from directing their attention from their daily work to other sources of income to the detriment of their pupils and the civil service.
National leaders can be patriotic by their attitude for example the donning of made in Nigeria clothes as exhibited by Obasanjo and Ngozi OkonjoIweala during the last United Nation General Assembly meeting in New York and the her CNN interview in London respectively. Both of them wore African or Nigerian print thereby showcasing Nigerian made goods to the whole world.
Nigerian in Diaspora have shown by their recent response to the vilifying CNN documentary on how to rub a bank which projected a very poor image of Nigerians living in the United States of America and in fact Nigerians in general that they are patriotic. Considering the number of Nigerians in various countries of the world they can more than adequately represent the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians if they work in unity and show leadership and abhor actions that will bring disgrace to our nation. I hope other Diaspora Nigerians will emulate this shinning example of Association of Nigerians in the Americas.
Sometimes there are questions we should ask ourselves which is what does it mean to be a Nigerian rather than what does it mean to be Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba or Edo? Until we can answer this question as a people we may continue to flounder on the path of economic progress, national unity and nation building.
The Nigerian patriot should be measured, well mannered and tempered, abhors corrupt practices, sees fellow Nigerians as brothers and sisters, aim at the best for himself and his nation in an altruistic and unifying manner, remembering always that there is an end to our sojourn on this phase of our existence and whatever we accumulate as an individual will be left behind when we answer to an inevitable call on our transition. Above all there is no other place on Mother earth we can call home apart from our country Nigeria so let us all show patriotism in our daily lives.
© SEO OGBONMWAN.

TALKING WITHOUT WORDS

The e-mails sent by the members of the Edo Community (EC) have shown originality, were stimulating, serious and sometimes quite amusing. The endeavour so far shows the commitment of all to a better Edo Land but discourse at the level of this forum cannot and will not change things on the ground. Changing things for the better for our people on the ground is obviously the primary objective of all members of this forum. It is for this reason it is important to talk without words and take the next step for the good of our people.
Edo Community on the web. These are young and middle aged men and women of Edo state origin, drawn randomly amongst the Edo’s in Diaspora principally resident in Europe and America with a common objective. They are all intellectuals in their various callings keen to make Edo state a better place. The group is very rich in human resources and have the capacity to effect a change in Edo Land if their activities are properly harnessed and directed. The medium for expression is the internet.
How Effective Is The Group. The effectiveness of the group can be gauged presently by the capacity of the audience. The population of Edo state is a few million and less than 1% have access to telephones in their homes. Of these small percentage, less than 10% have access to the internet. NITEL has about 400,000 lines for 120 million Nigerians. It is therefore clear that the discourse on the web is for the consumption of a select few, the middle working class using the British definition of social classification; as they only have access to the internet and therefore the strong activity of the EC on the forum. To prove my point, I requested a random sampling of 50 undergraduates from each university, Uniben and Edo State University, drawn across all the faculties and departments. The results was 7(14%) from Uniben and 4(8%) of the students knew of the existence of the Edo community forum on the Web. Non of these people who answered yes to the questions regularly read the postings therein nor do they have regular access to the internet. They are the leaders of tomorrow and the audience we need to target.
The Next Step. To become effective on the ground, we need to take the next step which is to get the information to the grassroots. We can support PC and internet access in the two University UnionBuildings so that postings on the web can be read, downloaded and
distributed.
For the teaming population without access to PC and internet outlet, we
could organise seminars, social and cultural events, and lectures on
topical issues to educate the people, after all knowledge is power.
An EC column in the local newspaper can print selected postings from the
community members, ensuring our contributions to debates on topical
issues in Edo State and affecting decisions and outcomes in the legislative
assembly and the functioning of the executive cabinet of the state.
Using the forum, attention can be drawn to the poor economic state of
Edo land, and the dismal state of our health and educational institutions.
It is known our hospitals are death traps with the highest maternal
mortality in the world. By speaking without words we can change the high
mortality rate by providing monitoring equipments for women in labour,
seminars for the medical staff, endoscopic equipment for diagnostic use.
In other areas which are lacking we can provide portable dialysis
machines for the renal units, echocardiography machines for the
cardiology units and provision of various scanning machines for the
radiology units.
Other examples include providing copies of the United Nation videos on
the atrocities and effect of trafficking in women , videos on sexually
transmissible diseases and HIV to all secondary schools in the state.
The seminars can also draw attention to the poor state of the educational
institutions in Edo land, for example, laboratories without reagents and
classrooms without desks and chairs.
In the developed world, non governmental and charitable organisations
complement the efforts of the government. Even in the UK charitable
organisations fund research and treatment programmes, provide food for
the hungry and homes for the homeless. The resources of any government
is not infinite.
E-mail postings from our rooms in our cosy homes in Europe and America,
are the first step although they cannot change things on the ground.
Our actions must be constructive, informing, educating and not seeking to
discredit or to be divisive.
Mr Aire Iyare has shown how to be a constructive critic, by providing
evidence for all his arguments. On such a path we should tread, and tread
boldly.
Members of the forum must bear in mind that the people of Edo state
cannot demand, for what to them, does not exist. How can a patientknow his treatment is suboptimal if he lacks knowledge to know what to expect, or the students know his or her education is inadequate if he or she is not aware of the set standard? The forum should in addition to reminding and informing ourselves, educate the people of Edo state on what they lack in all spheres of life so that they can in turn demand for it. Without educating the people, the activity of the EC on the web could amount to making ‘noise in the forest’ where no one hears it. I therefore believe we should make our presence felt first by educating the masses. We can achieve this if we put our heads together to decide on the best option to take or the best direction to head for. Thank you.
Information
Since the release of the above article cellular/mobile phone technology have been introduced into Benin City with over 1,000,000 lines. In addition there are now numerous internet cafes dotted around the city. The original problem of internet access no longer exists, for those who can afford it.
Mr Stephen Ogbonmwan MBBS, FMCOG(Nig.) M.Med. Sci (Assisted Conception) Nottingham. MFFP, MRCOG.UK.

THE THIRD TERM

The statement silence is golden may not always be correct, and those who shout the loudest may not always be right. On many occasions, they lead the people astray. Others say talk less and by so doing say more, a saying that may not be relevant in our situation as Nigerians. Speaking your ‘truth’, even though it may carry disagreement or may make you look polarised; but there is inner peace in so doing as it concretises your being in harmony with your personal values and ensuring that your choices are what you believe to be true and correct and not what others’ think or believe.
I was moved to comment on the issue of the third term when I read in one of the Nigerian newspaper that the chief executive/governor of Zamfara State is prepared to die for the third term issues. It showed how naïve and ignorant some of our leaders really are. There are comments that should not come from the chief security officer of a state. The above comments are one of such. It is inflammatory and tends towards felony and agitation for insurrection. In another place and may be another time in Nigeria, his state assembly will move swiftly against him if the federal government is reluctant to do so for over-riding public interest and may be for the sake of peace. Freedom of speech does not equate to freedom of incitement.
What Constitute a Constitution?
The 1990s have seen a resurgence of constitutionalism in sub-Saharan Africa with military rule and the one party state being largely replaced by a long list of multi-party states each of which has sought to produce an autochthonous constitution.
The constitution of any country is a special type of laws or rules that tells how its government is supposed to work. It also tells how the country’s leaders are to bechosen and how long they get to stay in office; how new laws are made and old laws
are to be changed or removed, what kind of people are eligible to vote and to be
voted for, and what other rights they are guaranteed, and how the constitution can
be changed.
A constitution is a way of Federation.
The questions we should be asking ourselves are as follows. Has the Senate
committee to review the Nigerian constitution been properly and legally set up
according to the Nigerian Laws? Is the composition of that committee legal? Has the
Nigerian foremost legislative body set up the committee? If the answers to all the
above are in the affirmative, then If anyone is unhappy or aggrieved with the
composition or frame of reference or the modality of its set up, they should seek
legal redress. Press conferences that hit up the polity do anyone no good.
Democracy is based on majority; it does not imply all Nigerians have to be satisfied
before the enactment of any law. In the British Parliament, laws have been made by
only a few majorities of the Parliamentarians and that Institution gave birth to the
Magna Carta that is the oldest reference point. In spite of the fact that there is no
written constitution as such, laws are being made during the various terms of
parliaments and old laws are being modified regularly to keep abreast with the
changing needs of the electorate. Even in the United States of America, the first
constitutions of the confederation of states were replaced because they were judged
to be weak and inadequate. Nigeria should not be an exemption in constitutional
review.
What is the Third term?
A critical look at the summaries and writings on the issue sees a deviation from what the third
term issue really is. The issues of the third term have become personified in one man; theperson of the President. A lot of our people see it as the perpetuation of the present regime in
government. Others claim the president is seeking life Presidency hence the plan for
constitutional review .Is that really the case? Others have likened the need to change the
constitution of Nigeria to the annulment of the June 12 elections while others have likened it
to Abacha’s attempt to convert from a military president to a civilian president. These are
statements and utterances not very well thought out before taking the podium during press
conferences.
On the other hand the press who should be the watchdog of the nation have become so
polarised and politicised that one takes what they write with a pinch of salt. The few that are
objective in their reporting meet with premature deaths. I weep for my country. When will
the Blackman learn to follow the path of honour and do things to serve the greatest majority?
None of the above reasons given to resist the third term are tenable nor are they
similar by any degree. As a democratic nation, a senate committee was legally set
up in line with the constitutional requirement in a democratic society to look at the
1999 constitutions that was thrust on the people by a military regime. If we recall the
constituent assembly recommendations was set-aside in the writing of that
constitution. If we recall a lot of Nigerian scholars have written against the Nigerian
1999 constitution in the past and stressed its inadequacies. PRONACO has been
campaigning against that 1999 constitution since the marriage between PDP and
PRM fell apart during the first term of the present administration. Many Nigerians
believe that the 1999 constitution is not the people’s constitution. If so many
Nigerians feel so aggrieved about the constitution, why, one wonders the clamour
against constitutional review now?
The senate committee was set up to look at the issue of the third term amongst many others,
like the voting rights of Nigerians in Diaspora, electronic voting, the issue of individual
candidacy at elections.
The question is why has the third term issue over-shadowed all other issues? An innocuous
attempt by the government of the day to review the Nigerian constitution have become so
politicised that a governor of a state is prepared to die for it.There is no doubt that the extension of the present regime is in direct confrontation with the
wishes of the people because the organ of government has not carefully dissected and
disseminated the issues surrounding the third term agenda to the electorate.
Some Nigerian believes that the President will simply continue to govern and similarly the
various governors will continue in their ineptness as governors as many of them have
performed under par. In many states of the federation, people are praying to see the back of
their governors as they have denied the people the dividends that should have accrued to
them as a result of our nascent democracy.
The third term of four years each is the extension of the current two terms for the post of the
president and the state governors. It does not relate to only the tenure of the present
government. It is supposed to be a change of the Nigerian constitution for posterity. If we
prevent it from happening today because some us hate/dislike/detest the present incumbent,
what will happen when another Nigerian from another geopolitical region of the nation has
performed so well as president that people wish his tenure to be elongated?
In the United Kingdom for example, the British Prime minister is currently enjoying his third
term victory in office. If President Bill Clinton had contested a third election, he would have
won because people loved him. In his situation, his country’s constitution has prevented the
best person to continue his service to his nation and humanity. The converse is also true that
in a true democracy when the electorate become dissatisfied with their rulers, they are at
liberty to punish them at the polls. The addition of a third term to our present two terms does
not imply the incumbent will ‘just’ continue to rule. The incumbent president or governor
will have to win his/her political party nomination, thereafter he will have to campaign and
win the election before he can rule. Our people should note that. The sensationalism of the
third term issue has polarized the nation especially as some of the leaders could no longer
contain their greed so have made diabolical statements inimical to a united nation. Even the
vice president that has sworn to uphold the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
has recently started back stabbing his boss at every chance. Isn’t total allegiance to the
presidency by the VP part of the Nigerian constitution? In another country if an incumbent
feels so aggrieved about any situation and would not like to be a party to it, dignity and
honour dictates that such individual should resign. That is very unlikely in Nigeria as
everyone is positioning himself/herself to grab a slice of the national cake. On the other hand
the VP or any other Nigerian is totally free to aspire to any position in the Nigerian body
politics without fear or favour as it is his inalienable right.We have allowed tribe, greed and religion to cloud our sense of judgement. Our leaders have thrown caution to the wind hence you hear utterances like the one from the Zamfara State governor that he will die for the third term.
The Niger-Delta.
The one serious issue facing the country is not the third term. It is the issue of the Niger Delta. Mobile phone and Internet has made the dissemination of information like sharing a piece of cake. If NTA refuses to carry a news item, CNN will air it; If CNN refuses to report a news item, the BBC will report it. So there is little or no cover up anymore. The news item may be delayed but it will eventually surface. It is for these reasons that our leaders should conduct themselves in private and in public in a most respectable and transparent manner befitting of a leader of the most populous black nation on mother earth. What our leaders should be concerned about presently is not the third term but how to solve the problem of the Niger Delta. Recently the present government announced the spending of several billions of naira in the Niger Delta including the establishment of a Federal University; it did not make the front pages of Nigerian newspapers. For those ‘clamouring for death because of the third term issue’ may have their positions in government overtaken by events in the Niger-Delta. For those who believe in the Nigerian nation and its survival like myself who went to school with many Nigerians from different ethnic groups and took part in the National service when the national service was really a unifying and an integrating force among Nigerian graduates. Nigerians should always find a reason to restrain. To the government, I would say the purpose of the review of the Nigerian Constitution is right but the implementation and interpretation of the exercise is wrong. The government should now go all out to explain what the exercise is all about to the electorate. To all Nigerians I would say our country would outlive the present leadership if we allow those in position to carry out their duties for the interest of all. I would add that Nigerians should magnify the good in fellow Nigerians, magnify the good in our leaders, and magnify the good in our country, our neighbours and ourselves as well so as to allow peaceful resolutions of issues bothering on national interest. Finally, I will request the Zamfara State governor not to die for the sake of the third term because he is worth more to the Nigerian nation in life than in death.
© SEO OGBONMWAN APRIL 2006

Omo N’Oba’s Birthday Greetings

Ma ne ivbie otu
Edo Global Organization, L’emwan do ya tue Erh’ima
Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akplokpolor
OBA EREDIUWA Oba oghe Oto Edo hia
Vbee ugie oghe ede ne Oba mwan gbae vbe ukpo iyenen vb’aye
Evbavba, Igie rue ghi fo vbe oto Edo
Domo, Ekuabor n’Olor, Imose gbe imose. Ologun,
Ugboriri oghe oto agbon hia Osanobua n’agbon,
Ma tuo, Egbebolozo a gha mion re; Rhunmwunda wee egbebolozor a mien itoto.
Alaghodaro, igho, omon, efe, egberhanmwen, Emwin-ke-‘mwin na ya yaen agbon hia, O re a gha mien vbe eghe rue. Ugha tor u ghi gbegie re!
Oba gha to ‘kpere, Ise!! Signed.
DR STEPHEN E.O.OGBONMWAN MBBS, M.Med, MFFP,MRCOG,FMCOG.FOUNDER & PRESIDENT
PRINCE FELIX OOMORODION GENERAL SECRETARY.
VETTED BY ALEX IGBINEWEKA OF GUOSA LA

A means To Stability

That all the people of Edo State are brothers and sisters in view of our ancestral origin. That the concept of Ishan-Edo, Afemai-Edo and Bini-Edo does not exist for the same reason. That the economic emancipation of the people of this ancient kingdom can only be realised only if the politicians are made accountable for their action irrespective of their political party of origin.That this accountability can only be achieved if the people speak with one voice that is in total unity. That the first step on the road to recovery is to be completely united in our dealings as a people with the state and federal governments.That Edo sons and daughters at home and in Diaspora must contribute to this self help development.
Distinguished brothers and sisters, I am delighted to be here today to discuss Edo Unity with you, a subject that touches my heart, and I am sure touches the heart of everyone gathered here today. The unity of Edo has become pertinent now than ever before due to globalisation factors and the disappearance of languages, customs and tradition according o the United Nations report. As the language disappears, the custom and tradition and the identity of the people disappears as well. If this should happen to Edo language, this will be a tragedy. In the course of this discussion, we shall define who we are, why we are worried about what could happen, why we are where we are and how can we progress in unity and present a common front to other Nigerian Nation and ultimately improve the lot of our people.
WHO ARE THE EDOS?
The Edos are the people that occupy the old Bini province of the Western Region of Nigeria which is referred to as Edo State today. Historically, they were thought to have migrated south from the Nile valley having very strong affinity with ancient Egyptian gods. The Edo tradition which is very well preserved is very similar to the tradition of Egyptian Pharaoh. The Oba’s grandeur, authority, reverence from their subjects are similar to that enjoyed by the Egyptian Pharaohs. The Edo’s founded and ruled the ancient Benin Empire which is a focus for study for many historians. The Edos have been ruled by two dynasties. The first, Ogiso dynasty ended with Ogiso Owodo who was probably infertile at some point during his reign as he had no other children apart from the one he had before his enthronement although he had a harem of wives. The second dynasty started with the enthronement of Oba Eweka 1 the son of Ekaladerhan (Prince Omonoyan), the first son of Ogiso Owodo, who found the Edos very difficult to rule and had to retire to his new home in ‘Ile’fe ‘. This difficulty was orchestrated by Ogiamien who generated a lot of animosity in the whole of Igodomigodo (Edo Land) against Prince Omonoyan that led to his quick exit. (naiwu Osahon). Before his departure, he changed the name of Edo land into Ile Ibinu(a land of annoyance and vexation) which was later changed by Oba Ewedo to Ubini and further corruption by the Portuguese traders to the name Bini or Benin. Edo land has been ruled by several Obas spanning a period of over 1000 years someachieving more than others. The Obaship is inherited by primogeniture that is, passed
from father to son which prevents in-fighting and augurs well for stability and
progress. After the coronation of Ogun as Oba Ewuare, he enacted a decree that Ubini
should be called Edo in appreciation of the role played by the servant Edo in saving
his life during the period his was on the run.
WE HAVE ALWAYS HAD PROBLEMS.
When Oba Ewedo moved his palace to Igodomigodo (Ubini) from Usama, a move
which angered Ogiamien who was the de facto ruler of Igodomigo then. There was
the battle at Ekiokpagha which the Oba’s loyalists won. To this day, a mock battle is
always fought by the heir apparent Edaiken with the forces loyal to Ogiamien during
the coronation ceremonies of the Edaiken as the Oba of Benin. Symbolically, the land
is given to the Oba throughout his reign by Chief Ogiamien.
Ogun was the wayward son of Oba Ohen who was banished from the city of Benin
along with his uncle due to the strong allegations of treason made against them.
Throughout the period when Obaship passed in quick succession from these usurpers
Oba Orobiru to Oba Uwaifiokun, Ogun continued to make nightly raid into Benin
supported by many loyalists, including Emotan who unfortunately was barren. During
one of these raids Ogun was captured by Ogieva Nomuekpo who placed him in a dry
well and requested his servants led by Edo to watch over him while he invited the
palace functionaries. While Ogieva was away, Edo with the assistance of other
servants alerted prince Ogun who made his escape. Edo was severely punished for
this act by his master Ogieva. Edo was later rewarded by Prince Ogun after ascending
the throne of his ancestors as Oba Ewuare Ogidigan. He did not only buy Edo from his
master Ogieva, he buried him at the gate of his inner chambers in his palace, and he
changed the name Ubini to Edo in honour of the loyal servant Edo. That was his first
decree in 1500 AD.
Ultimately, Emotan had to lay down her life as a sacrifice to facilitate Prince Ogun to
realise his successful ascent to the throne of his forefathers as predicted by
Okutukutu the diviner. She was gratefully remembered by these kind words said by
Oba Ewuare ‘Emotan I mourn you. Generations yet unborn shall praise you. etc Binis
will be inspired by your memory ……'(Emotan, a Benin heroine by Irene Isoken
Oronsaye-Salami)
As if the above problems are not enough let me remind you about Oba Ewuakpe’s
problems when Edos refused to provide tributes, what about Ehue ni Ikpoba who
confiscated all royalties paid to his brother the Oba . What about the recent Benin
massacre in 1897, the referendums for the creation of Midwest region, what about
the Owegbe crisis in 1963. In recent times the problem from the military governors of
Edo State in suspending the traditional councils, the challenge of the Omo n’ Oba by
the Esama of Benin in a court of law. The problems of Edo people have been
numerous but the Edos have always prevailed over their problems. We shall prevail
again.
What so far has been with us is our lack or inability to pull the same string, to work
together for a common purpose and achieve results. Could this be the course of Oba
Ewuare Ogidigan the great physician and metaphysician that stated that ‘Umaigba ne
Edo’ Is that the cause of our problems? If we repeal this cause, will things change for
the better for our people.
Is this traditional course responsible for our lack of unity that we continue to fight and
smear one another why the generality of Edo people continue to languish in poverty
and squalor?WHAT IS EDO UNITY?
The Edos are a minority in Nigeria and if well thought out, this status can be used to
the best advantage of our people if we present a unified front. The Edos are a
monolithic unit in linguistic terms, in terms of worship of traditional gods, physique,
ancestral origin, customs, and traditions and in being in a defined area of the Nigerian
Nation. The Edos like the Nupes, Tiv and Kanuris in the north and the Usobo/Isoko,
Ijaw and Ibibios in the south were distinct as at the 1953 national census in Nigeria.
The concept of Bini-Edo, Esan -Edo, Afemai-Edo as espoused by Prof. Omo Omoruyi
does not exist. There are only one indivisible Edo people with different Edo dialects as
in Central and North senatorial districts of Edo State. The phonetics, proverbs and
phraseology are the same. The names, their meanings and attitudes are the same.
Why is this disunity?
We all can recall that all the Enogies in Edo Central and Edo North senatorial districts
are princes of the Benin Kingdom with the Okaigiesan as their leader They were asked
at sometime point in our history to administer these lands on behalf of the Oba who is
our spiritual leader and custodian of our customs and traditions. The desire of one
section of Edo State to seek another traditional council stimulates disunity, the desire
to create another kingdom within Edo kingdom is seeking disunity. As an individual, I
do not see disunity in the desire of the people in the north and central Edo senatorial
districts to seek a separate state as working for disunity so long it is done without
friction and in good faith. The creation of Afesan State as proposed would have
brought development nearer the people. The input from the Federal government
would have increased into Edo kingdom. In Western Nigeria, there are several Yoruba
speaking states. Like the Egba Yoruba, Ekiti Yoruba, Ondo Yoruba but they all pay
allegiance to their ancestral home at Ile Ife and the Oni who is the spiritual head of
the Yoruba. The Edo spiritual head and the custodian of our culture and tradition is
the Oba of Benin no amount of politics or wealth can rewrite our history.
The obstacle to create many local governments from Benin City as was done in Lagos
was an unnecessary impediment to progress and loss of income from the federal
purse coming into the Edo Kingdom. With the benefit of hind sight, that was a
mistake that should not have been made and should never be repeated. It should be
clear to all that the populations of the domain of Chief Oliha of Oliha quarters, Chief
Ezomo of Uzebu, Chief Ero of Urubi and the many dukedoms in Iyekogba, Udo,
Eyaen. Abudu , Obadan, far exceed populations in the domains of other members of
Edo State Traditional Council. In any civilised society today and with the advent of
democracy, proportional representation should be the norm. This should be carefully
married with our tradition and customs. The Edo State traditional council crisis was
instigated by those who would do anything to satisfy their greed for political power
and this has somehow led to the unsuccessful attempt of the erosion of the power of
the custodian of our customs and traditions. The resolution of this issue should be a
priority for the next Edo State governor as soon as he settles down after the
elections.
Edo unity is speaking with one voice in dealings within the State and more
importantly with the Federal government. Edo unity is aligning and re-aligning with
the government at the centre for the benefit of our people .Edo unity is pursuing a
common goal for the benefit of Edo people. Edo unity is realising that although we are
many and varied but we constitute a part of a single whole which is Edo Kingdom.
Edo unity is those at the helm of affairs using the available resources for Edo people
without damaging the Edo economy by taking the people’s money abroad. Edo unity
is Edos in Diaspora taking active part in the issues that concern Edo State and
contributing their widow’s mite to the self-help development of Edo State. Edo unity is
constructive criticism and the avoidance of smear campaigns. Edo unity is disagreeing
in harmony without drawing each other’s blood. Edo unity is all things good for Edo
people wherever they may be. Edo unity is facing our worst fears and turning ourfailures into success. Edo unity is re-orientating ourselves, our thought processes
towards honour for achievements rather than praise and respect for ill-gotten wealth.
Edo unity is celebrating our achievements and cultural heritage. A united Edo State is
a bastion and building block for a strong and united Nigerian Nation.
Edo carvings today rules the world as they created the most popular piece of art work
the Queen Idia Mask which is popularly known as the Festac Mask. This is the symbol
of Black unity and emancipation anywhere in the world. It is the emblem of numerous
Black organizations all over the world. We should not disappoint seekers of their
origin from many parts of the world by presenting a disunited front. It was for this
reason I commended Governor Igbinedion for transforming Igun Street in Benin into
a tourist attraction. If you have not visited recently, please do as you will not be
disappointed. My children were pleased when they walked the length of Igun street
and marvelled at the art work by our people using simple traditional tools.
HOW CAN EDO UNITY BE ACHIEVED?
Edo sons and daughters are adventurous and can be found in all corners of mother
earth. Edo Global Organization (EGO) was established to bring all these Edos
wherever they may be together so that they can function as a unit in addressing
issues in Edo land. In seeking to prioritise the development of the infrastructure,
economic development, educational development as well as development of health
services in Edo State. As the name implies, it is a global organization. It is acting and
will continue to act as an umbrella organization for Edo Nation Associations (ENA) in
Britain, Germany, Italy, Canada, USA, South Africa and the Netherlands. The
Presidents or Chairmen of the National ENA will be in the Board of Trustees of EGO
which will liase directly with the Edo State governor and the Oba of Benin as our
spiritual leader..
In Edo State, the organization will start from the streets which will be organized into
wards. There are already street meetings (evbo ni kho ude) for security reasons in
Benin City. The street meeting group will send representatives to the ward meetings,
the wards will all be represented at the local government levels. The local government
committees will send representatives to the state government committees. This will
be repeated in all the senatorial districts in Edo State. Leaders in the senatorial
districts will form the home committee. The fusion of the home committee with the
committee from Edos in Diaspora will form the Board of Edo trustees.
If the use of the above organization chart is not feasible, then all progressive unions,
market women organizations and professional clubs and associations can be
approached to send delegates to the state committees.
The State committees will meet with EGO Board of Trustees annually to discuss their
agendas.
From this group comprising Edos in Diaspora and Edos in Edo Land, a sitting
committee is chosen to take decisions, make press releases and congratulate or
castigate government on behalf of all Edos. This committee will be faceless and all
releases will be signed Edo Global Organization.
In addition, EGO will set up a list of all Edo professionals in Diaspora in accordance
with their specialities to act as a pool from which volunteers in teaching, provision of
healthcare, carrying out feasibility studies, on site inspection, planning and execution
of architectural and engineering projects, forest management, people mobilization,
actuarial projections, accountancy and audit will be sent to carry out work for nominal
fees for Edo people in the state. In this way Edo state resources will be spent more
judiciously and wisely for the benefit of the people.Various standing committees will be committed into specialist areas like, housing committees, transportation, education, health, social welfare, security, publicity etc. These committees and governing board will co-operate with the state government and the traditional council for the good of our people. The people of any great nation made sacrifices to achieve their status today. We must make similar sacrifice to progress and be a source of inspiration to our competitors in the other Nigerian Nation. If the Oheneze in the east, Arewa in the north and Aferenifere in the west can be united and present a common front then Edos must be united to counter these extreme forces. Our forefathers did succeeded, we should and must do succeed. Failure is out of the question.
Once again thank you for this opportunity to discuss these very pertinent issues with you. Can you join me to shout that Uma gha gba ni ma, uma gha gba ne Edo.
Oba ghato Okpere Ise.

Dear Prof

Dear Prof. Omo Omoruyi, Thank you for you elaborate attempts to rewrite the history of the Mid West Region and Edo history in particular. I tried very hard to read between the lines to ascertain your goal in trying to paint the picture that Dr Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia whom you said is your cousin has no locus standing in hosting members of Bendel Consultative Council (BCC).In your opinion, David Ejoor should play that role along with Chief Enahoro. David Ejoor can only be remembered in Mid West Region for his role in hosting the National Conference at NIFOR before the breakout of the civil war in 1967. A lot of people are still suspicious of his role in the Biafran occupation of the Mid West Region weather or not there was complicity with Col C.D Nwanwo commander of the 4th Area Command of the Nigerian Army. This area of our history is murky As far as Chief Enahoro was concerned, he did everything in his power to prevent the creation of Mid West Region whereas people like Dalton Asemota lost their lives in the process. Can Chief Enahoro or David Akpore Ejoor now lay any claim to the Mid West Region? I doubt not. This is where Edokpamahia khin will not fly. Like you, I thank God we had visionary leaders like the late Omo n’ Oba Ne Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Oba Akenzua 11 , late B2, Chief Omo Osagie, the Iyase of Benin and late Chief Festus Okotie Eboh. Together these men actualised the vision of ‘ One Nation, One People and One destiny’ for all in the then Mid West Region. They are gone beyond and so occupy a good place in our history and your essay but not so for Dr Ogbemudia, Chief Odigie- Oyegun etc who are still alive and past governors of Mid West Region and Edo State respectively. The implication is that only the dead Edos are worthy of leadership, those who are alive are not. This is a wrong assumption unless of course there is someone somewhere nursing the ambition. To actualise his dreams, he must first set aside and fault the past performances of our past governors and living Edo leaders of today. Chief Okotie – Eboh and Chief Iyase of Benin were not remembered. You were right to stress that these illustrious sons from the old Mid West Region were not remembered by the Ogbemudia administration or by the people. You must remember that Dr Ogbemudia’s administration was military and things were done by decree and efforts were being made then to stamp out corruption, nepotism and tribalism. These leaders, one of whom was killed in the January 1966 coup, would have been too soon remembered during Ogbemudia’s tenure as they were thought to be the corrupt politicians that brought about instability in the country. The most important singular factor in the non-recognition of these our illustrious sons was the scorched earth policy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in then Bendel State. Soon after his release from the Calabar prison and made Minister for Finance, he was de-facto deputy head of state of Nigeria and he remembered his old political rivals. His hand was also visible in the result of Owegbe Inquiry. So there were obvious factors that militated against the recognition of these Edos by Ogbemudia’s regime.
Edo and Delta Leadership: There is no single individual dead or alive that can truthfully lay claim to leadership of Edo and Delta states aside Dr Ogbemudia. He single handily took Bendel State from the ruins of the civil war to make it number one in Nigeria. In administration, infrastructure, sports, transportation, self help development projects, health, the lottery, mechanized farming etc. The list is endless. Hishandwork can be seen in all nooks and corners of Edo State. (See my essay on his
70th birthday). His desire to bring about the viability of BCC is in fact actualising
the late Oba Akenzua’s Vision of a united people with one destiny considering our
ancestral origin. You also quarrelled with his idea of hosting these people who
contributed to the division of Bendel State. In fact to me that is a good quality in
him of being magnanimous and forgiving. That is true leadership. Today it should
be obvious to all that no one individual or single state that can make the desired
impact in the Nigerian Nation hence the essence of these alignments and re-
alignment. This is not peculiar to the old Mid West Region. The arrangement for
voting in the coming election by Aferenifere in the old western region is what unity
of purpose can provide. Everyone, seeking the best advantage point for his people.
That is what is lacking in Edo State, and the old Mid West Region and it is what Dr
S.O. Ogbemudia and the BCC is trying to address. This is what Edo Global
Organization is trying to address. This is what Air Iyare is also trying to address in
Pan Edo Congress. Will they succeed? Time will tell. There is no greater means of
success like uniting all these fragmented parts into a viable whole.
The repeated unsavoury comments on Dr S.O. Ogbemudia.
Every time I read your essay, I always wonder why you write in your style and paint
the way you do Dr Ogbemudia’s achievements. Will this be connected to your failed
attempt of a position in Ogbemudia’s second coming as civilian governor of Edo
State. I recalled your name was repeatedly mentioned for a post. When the
executive was formally announced, your name was not there and even the coveted
post of secretary to government went to someone else. All Edos can see the work
of Dr Ogbemudia. The growth of Edo State stopped when he left office after the
military coup of 1975. I will quickly remember the achievement of my former
teacher Prof. Ambrose Alli in Bendel state. The Ambrose Alli University is a living
testimony to the man. The last time I saw him, was at the University College
Hospital Ibadan in 1987 during his detention. ‘Five Medical Doctors went to pay
homage to a teacher and a mentor’ may his soul rest in peace. Ambrose Alli can
also lay claim to Edo State leadership. His legacy is there for all to see. I recall my
comment after one of your essay last year that ‘a chief must create a chief to
replace itself for perpetuation otherwise the lineage is dead. My question was then
and it is still pertinent now. How many Edo son’s and daughter got elevated when
you were formulating Ibrahim Babaginda’s policies? What was your role in the
creation of Edo State. Why is Edo state without a sea outlet today? The map was
visible to all. You were in a position to do a lot and influence a lot and you did
nothing. Mrs Marian Babaginda (Asaba born), used her position to make Asaba the
headquarters of Delta state. Why ! Why! Why was Edo state made to take the
reminder portion after everyone was satisfied? Why is Edo state evbareke?
These issues are very dear to Edo sons and daughters. Today using the principle of
derivation, Edo State gets 0.3% of the allocation to oil producing areas. It could
have been better. The present non-payment of salaries and Edo State indebtedness
can be successfully traced to errors made by Edo sons in corridors of powers who
did nothing to elevate the earnings of Edo State.
I wish to appeal that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones, those
who did not perform when they had the opportunity should not blame others for
not doing enough. The problems of Edo State belong to us all, so also are the
solutions. With collective responsibility, we shall build Edo State of our dreams and
make it viable and competitive amongst Nigerian States. Lets us stop criticising
destructively. Let us give praise to those who deserve it. Let us be fair and truthfulin our dealings and writings. That is where the honour lies. Is BCC anti -Obasanjo? The answer is no. BCC is not anti -Obasanjo. BCC is doing its best to improve the earning of Edo State by causing the government to accept a more favourable method of disbursing the earnings that accrue from oil. The majority of members are bona fide members of the ruling party and so are positioning themselves to get more for Edo and Delta States. No Edo son or daughter should fault that. These are my observations. Regard, Stephen E.O. Ogbonmwan
Dear Stephen,
Thank you for your reply, which reassured me that I’m not the only one perturbed by Professor Omoruyi’s current stance and certainly not trying to “pull Professor Omoruyi down” as has been suggested by a pedestrian political observer and commentator on the forum. Firstly, I have read your contribution, understood the content and in particular, articulated the rationale behind the write-up. I can see that you are ahead of me in your ability to identify what may be Professor Omoruyi’s motivation. If he wants to float Edo Okpa Makhin as a political party, let him go a head; if he is using Edo Okpa Makhin as a think-tank to move the people forward, let it be made clear; if Edo Okpa Makhin is a charitable organisation, let this also be made clear. What ever the strategy is, let the people see and feel the substance of this organisation. I may be wrong, our people are not foolish – if they can measure and link changes in their lives directly or indirectly to Edo Okpa Makhin – they would move with organisation and reject what ever emerges later. This is the best way to stifle competition without resorting to the kind of war of attrition that Professor Omoruyi is currently engaged with the so-called Bendel Consultative Body. He is yet to come out categorically why this body should not exist and why it is bad for the people other than the people involved lack the credibility necessary to lay claim to the aspirations the body currently holds and intends to pursue.
My regards,
O J Ebohon BA(Hons) MA (Econ.Dev) PhD (Energy & Deve.) LLM(Env.Law) MInstE Reader on Energy, Sustainability, and Development, & Director, Developing World Built Environment Research Unit, School of Architecture, De Montfort University, Leicester, LE1 9BH, England. Phone: +44 116 2551551 (Ext. 8420) Fax: +44 116 2506352
Mobile: +44 (0) 7770966191

Christianity Traditional Religion

 

Dear All, We are all Believers as even the ‘fools’ know that there is God so the bible and our Edo saying goes.I am a Believer in the existence of God Almighty and I also believe strongly that Edo tradition and custom must survive. My wish and what is reality are very different. That is my worry. These differences in the way of worship are as many as there are different cultures and traditions in the world.
We know God is everywhere ‘omni presence,’ He is all knowing ‘omni science’ He has so many
names in all the languages and He understands every language including Edo language because he hears our prayers in whatever language we say it.
He is Alpha & Omega and our ancestors understood this very well in their dealings with one another
and in communing with God Almighty and our ancestors. I have listened to our elders praying thus; Osanobua vbe enikaro! Osanobua vbe erinmwin n’ egbe ivbi Ise! Osalobua, Osanoghodua, Osanudazi kevbe Olokun!
The above is also similar to edifying God as the God of Jacob, the God of Isaac, the God of Abraham and the God of our ancestors
The above shows the reverence our people placed on God Almighty. They did not go wrong because they always placed God first. Even amongst those who are not Christians, they always placed God first in their prayers. It was with the power of God they achieved all the conquest credited to the ancient Benin Kingdom.
Our people have known God from when time began in what is today Edo Land. To say otherwise is to be ignorant of our culture.
Osa is God in Edo Land with praise and edification like Osanobua… Osanobuwa . God the creator, Osa nudazi, Osa noghodua the provider, Osa nose naga, worthy to be worshipped.
God is all purity in Edo Land hence His symbol is ‘white’ depicted as white chalk in ‘Aruosa’ (do not confuse with Aruosa Church). There are no carved images or symbols like we see in a Shango or Ogun shrines.
For anyone to say the worship of God by Edo people must be exactly the same as the worship of God in England or in America is not being realistic. Even in Christendom, all denominations do not worship God the same way. Belief in God is through faith and those who worship Him do so in faith.
We are talking about different people with different ways of life (culture & tradition) and different socio-economic status.
With the advent of Europeans on our shores, with commerce, there followed religion on the other hand.
Today with better means of communication and the advent of satellite television preaching, our people gradually imbibed this foreign ways of worship to the neglect of our own ways of worship.This alien or foreign ways of doing things have permeated our ways of life in all aspects in recent
times.
The food we eat, our way of dressing, speaking, celebrating our births and deaths and crave for
foreign goods are testimonies to this permeation or foreign influence.
The way we bury our dead have been drastically changed and reduced to only one wake keeping
instead of the usual three days or more depending on social status, so the new way seems easier
and cheaper. It may be more of economic reasons that most families whose parents never ventured
to the four walls of a church now prefer to bury their parents in the church.
Secondly people like the sense of belonging of being a member of the main stream faith which today
is Christianity at least in our part of the world.
Thirdly, church burial is regarded as ‘posh’
These changes in our custom and tradition are irreversible as sons and daughters of traditional
chiefs who are supposed to be custodians of our culture now pastor churches and are strong
members of main stream Christian denominations like the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
This is a welcome development because they are in a position to edify God and preserve what is
godly in our culture and tradition.
No one therefore can alter the wheel of change as this is the spice of life.
In the Catholic Church for example there is effort for some reverend fathers to conduct the holy mass
in Benin language as a way of shoring up our custom and tradition since language is an integral part
of custom and tradition. The deduction here is that the main churches have not set out to
exterminate our customs and traditions rather they wish to co-operate with it. It is for these reasons
that they try very hard to have indigenous priests to handle the parishes in some localities. The
above comment may not be true in all the denominations of Christian churches operating in Edo land
today. Some of these churches insist on dress code, insist on greeting or salutation code which are
alien to our people and an affront to our cherished way of life. It is in some of these churches that
commercialization has taken root eroding the original principle of God which is to love our neighbours
as ourselves.
Another factor for coexistence is that Nigeria is a secular nation and everyone is allowed to practice
his/her faith the way he or she wishes. Individuals should be allowed to follow the religion of their
choice without any hindrance; to do otherwise is to introduce chaos, unrest and acrimony. The only
peaceful countries are those where people are allowed to worship unhindered.
What we should be doing now is to emphasis those aspects of our customs and tradition that we
need to keep especially our language which is fast being eroded by the use of ‘pidgin’ English.
Pidgin English does not add to the study of the English language nor does it help in the test of English
as a language. It is the greatest culprit in the destruction of Edo language and adulteration of the
English language; therefore all efforts must be made to eradicate it especially from the primary
schools during the formative years of our children.
Secondly, every effort should be made to record our custom and tradition in print and electronic
version and Kudos to those who are already working in these areas for the benefit of all of us and
those yet unborn.
Celebrations of festivals of new yarm ‘ehor’ is akin to harvest in the church and should be
encouraged and nothing ungodly about it so long there is no idol worshipping. The Igue festival forexample is an example of thanks giving ceremony and should be encouraged so also are the
accompanying ceremonies of ubi rie’ and ewere that follows Igue festival which symbolises the
triumph of good over evil. There is a slippery slope here and one should know where, as a Believer
one should not cross the thin line.
Every culture must modernise or else it will die. Edo culture must modernise like the British Royal
Family is modernising. The above ceremonies of ehor, Igue accompanied with ubi rie’ & ewere,
ikpoleki can be modernised to make them more acceptable to 21st century Edo citizens.
In fact Our Oba knows this and he Omo n’ Oba is already modernising and bracing the trail.
The world is moving ahead and very fast indeed; and anyone who decides to standstill is actually
going backwards. Odaro Agbon rie!
To think things can ever be what they were a few centuries ago is an illusion. To refuse to modernise
is to loose everything.
Finally belief in God and practice of Edo custom can coexist in harmony and in fact they have been co
existing for centuries. The way we celebrate our marriages, births, and death, naming of our new
born are unique and are not ungodly so can coexist with the Christian faith. Our morning salutations
are also unique and not ungodly and can coexist harmoniously with our Christian faith or belief. As
Edo and Believers in God Almighty, it is our duty to help preserve our customs and traditions in the
best possible way as it will be pleasing in the eyes of God as our culture and tradition are His
creation.
Usual Regard,
SEO
Thanks, Sir Steve Ogbonmwan.
Alex G. Igbineweka
Dear Steve
Thanks for that well written piece.
My only concern is your strong position that “These changes in our
custom and tradition are irreversible… ”
They are not irreversible.
The ebbs and tides of theological controversies and the rise and fall
of forms of worship over the centuries prove that it all depends on
many complex factors, including leadership. The motivation for some
of the changes you have described are – as you have yourself pointed
out – economic, western educational, fraud (ie “religion as a business
investment industry”), etc.
To say that the current situation is irreversible” is like some 19thcentury Edo Priest saying that Edo religion of that era
was “irreversible.” Ofcourse we now know what has happened since then.
Churches have arisen from nowhere. Even Hare Krishna has a small base
in Edoland.
If a well funded charismatic character were to emerge, develop a
theoretical basis for indigenous theology, and attract followers do
not be surprised if there is a groundswell of followership.
One limitation to the expansion of traditional religion has been the
lack of desire to proselytize. Traditional religion was built around
individuals and families and villages and tied in to our lifecycle. It
was always tolerant of alien religions even though the reverse has not
proved to be the case. If that restraint were to be removed anything
can happen.
What the colonial people did was insert a new lifecycle and allow
foreign religions a degree of access to take hold of the young minds
they were nurturing – in schools – for future leadership and control
of our society. Hence the so called conventional wisdom, now, many
years later that an alien religion is somehow “mainstream.” Many are
forced to practice syncretism under the table – although it is the
true “mainstream”. (There are only a few “pure” christians”
and “moslems” in Nigeria. Many so called Pastors and Imams visit
traditional shrines in their spare time)
Ofcourse, in the far north, Islamic leaders (just like the Chinese and
Vietnamese and Thai etc…) resisted western education for a long time
because they correctly foresaw the danger. They preferred for their
children to attend Koranic schools (or Buddhist and other Oriental
Schools as the case may be in Asia). They (the far north) are paying
the penalty in terms of the modern political economy in Nigeria but in
large part their “traditions” have survived to a greater degree than
ours. The trick, therefore, is to balance the two – as the Asians
did. The current negotiations between the Vatican and China reveal
the sensitivities involved.
Why can’t those who are very concerned, establish schools in which Edo
traditions are actually taught and the language used as a medium of
instruction? We are talking of years and years of so called education
away from the home, where our people are slowly conditioned to get
away from their roots.
Even the Aruosa Church, a hybrid of Portuguese christianity and Edo
religion, can grow rapidly and develop a pipeline for its long term
survival if it were to adopt some of the “development” activities of
other churches (like major Christian denominations), such as
estabishing primary, secondary and perhaps even higher educational
schools built around its doctrinal base. I have observed, for
example, that there are moslems that send their children to Catholic
schools, in the belief that they are offering them an economic
passport for future survival, while anchoring them (with varying
degrees of success) to Islam in the home. This real politic of
political-economy and religion needs to be understood if our
traditions must survive.
Further, the responsibility for protecting our traditions is not just
for the “traditional institution” although it does not help that some
of those with high visibility are busy establishing institutions ofalien worship – at least in part for money. Every Edo individual is a
soldier in our tradition. His or her thoughts and actions on a daily
basis will advance or retard tradition. If only the Palace is
celebrating “Igue” it would not make much sense. Fortunately, our
villages still do. If language/tradition is not actively practiced
(as you recognized), it merely becomes an item of historical
interest. If we do not know our history, there would be nothing to
defend. The British knew this. In spite of all the late Jacob
Egharevba did to lobby for his historical books to be part of the
primary educational curriculum, the British refused. Even now our
history is not being formally taught during the formative years of our
youth.
Lastly, I want to point out that as “reasonable” and “centrist” as
your take is regarding the “coexistence” of christianity and
tradition, there are many “pastors” and “believers” and “born again”
persons out there who see it as a zero sum game. There is a faction
of the “christian” movement that regards the complete destruction of
our traditions as a goal for which God has mandated them. Tina has
identified one such faction. There are others. Just two weeks ago
some Pastor in Benin was exhorting his congregation to go home and
destroy all their family and village shrines – as occurred in Imo
State.
It would seem, therefore, that even the benign examples
of “coexistent” traditional practices you have projected are not
acceptable to some of these elements.
I thank you, again, for the outstanding contribution to the discourse.
Regards
NAO
You said it all Sir, Well explained and thank you.
.ona@sbcglobal.net
Dear Dr. Stephen E. O. Ogbonmwan,
God bless you mightily in Jesus name. I thank God for your
posting for you have brought the clarity that is the most meaningful since I became involved in the
debate on this issue. I agree with you totally. There has always been one Almighty God that our
fathers believed in and He is also the father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Just as He, Jesus
took part in all the festivals and ceremonies (customs and traditions) of His people the Israelites, We
can also enjoy our wonderful customs and traditions and still be the best followers of the Way, the
Truth and the Life that we are called to be.All I ask is for all Edo people to intensify their intercessory praying to the Almighty God for His
mercy and forgiveness on Edo land and its people in particular and Nigeria in general.
If we shall humble ourselves, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways, He will
hear our prayers from heaven, and will forgive our sins and heal our land. This is a promise that He
has made and He is a faithful God.
Pray in any way that your belief dictates, just pray and continue to pray until our desires are
granted.
Once more I thank God for your God given wisdom in Jesus name.
Pastor Paul O. Evbuoma New Orleans, LA
Dear Pastor
I thank you for your pastoral and fatherly wisdom. You cannot
imagine how profound your words are.
There can be no doubt that there is ‘center’ where, as children of
God, we can all meet.
Regards
NAO
Dear ALL,
We all believe in God. That is no religion. But how you go about serving
God is religion. That makes all the difference in the world. Some people
are so fanatical about this that they can kill to prove their loyalty to their
religion. No doubt religious clashes between opposing groups have caused
more wars and destructions around the world more than all other causes
combined.
The people, who serve those gods like Ogun, Oromila, Olukun, etc, know quite well there is a
higher God. They merely use those gods to communicate with a higher God. However, the
Jews believe it is better to communicate with God directly. They are very fanatical about it.
As a result, the Jews are religious in their beliefs because they use religion to enforce their
laws. Jesus oppositions to the Jewish fanatical beliefs soon got him in trouble with the
religious people. The rest is history.
However, the ways Jesus lived and died brought him more sympathies and fame than he
could have ever imagined. So much so that people are fanatical about him… and believing in
Jesus is now a religion of it own. But remember Jesus was against religious fanaticisms.During his life, Jesus seized every opportunity he got to openly criticize the Jews fanaticisms and religious propagandas. He used several parables to emphasis his authority to make religious changes. In desperate attempts to convince his people (Jews) to honour his authority to make changes, Jesus said to the religious Jews, “I am the way, I am the light, and no one goes to MY FATHER accept through me.” The Jews would rather deal with God directly and not go through Jesus to God. To the religious Jews, Jesus was asking for too much.
When Jesus realized how difficult the job before him was, he warmed his followers: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in-law against her mother in-law … [Matthew 10, 34..]
At the end, accept for the Jews who prefer to deal directly with God Himself, the rest of us have to go through a middle god to plead our case before our Heavenly Father. Which of the several gods you choose to go through is your prerogative. Whichever of the gods your father or your forefather chose/served, as their counsel, should not influence you. We are individuals before God — not as the son of one Dr. Nowa, or the daughter of one Honourable Iguade.
After all, Joshua said it better: “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: put away the gods which your fathers served ….. and serve ye the Lord. And if it seems evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose which gods ye will serve. ….. but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” [Joshua 24: 15…]
FG Final Comments,
We all can live together in peace and harmony sharing God’s love an accepting each other’s way of life and worship as there is enough room in the inn for everyone. No one religion or way of worship is better than the other. It is a matter of faith and the personal relationship of the individual with his/her God.
Stay Blessed my brothers and Sisters

POVERTY

I would like to thank the organisers of this convention for this opportunity to share my thoughts on the issue of health services and the state of health of the people of Edo State so that we may proffer solutions on how the situation can be improved. As there is more than one speaker dealing with the issue of health, I would try to limit myself to the health of women and children and occasionally dabble into health for all.
The WHO’s Constitution defined health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Let us limit ourselves to the aspect that stated ‘’ social wellbeing’’ What is social wellbeing?
The synonyms for social include collective, shared, communal, community, societal and common. Whereas the synonyms for wellbeing include security, safety, health, comfort and happiness.
Social wellbeing therefore implies collective, communal or community safety or security or health or comfort. You know, and I know and we all know that these are rare features amongst our people especially our women and children in Edo State and Nigeria.
Good health is a major resource for social, economic and personal development and an important dimension of quality of life. Good health can be favoured by political and economic policies, social, cultural, environmental, as well as behavioural and biological factors.
The reverse is also true. If economic, social and political policies are poorly implemented or non implementation can be harmful to peoples’ health. The numerous civil wars in sub-Saharan Africa, poor governanceof the people, selfish and inoperable governmental policies, non payment
of salaries all add to the woes of the poor state of health of our people.
The Health Woes
To see how poor in health we are, compare the actuarial calculation of life
expectancy for Nigeria, which is 48 years with that of the UK, which is 81
and 84 for the women. Yet we are living in the same world. Are we really?
MATERNITY CARE AND DEATH IN INFANCY.
The fertility rate in Nigeria is 6.4 one of the highest in the world but note
that nearly fifty percent of the children will die before their 5th birthday.
That is colossal loss of human lives. It is only in sub-Saharan Africa you
will hear of women who have been pregnant 17 times, has had eleven
babies with only two children alive. She is not only psychologically
traumatised due to the loss of her babies from poor and inadequate
health services in addition to her lack of proper education, her blood level
will be low, her womb is likely to be dropping down from below, she is
likely to wet herself when she passes urine, and she is completely washed
from breast feeding her babies and looking after her husband. If she is
unlucky to be leaking urine continuously then she will be a social outcast.
This is the picture of the extreme of the spectrum for some of the women,
but in this desert of abject poverty and wants, there are oasis of affluence
where women can afford to come to Europe to have their babies in the
best maternity units that Europe can provide.
When you compare the neonatal mortality rate of 105 per thousand live
births in Nigeria (UBTH 33/1000 in 1987) with that of the UK where the
neonatal mortality is 8/1000 live births you will not blame these women.
The cost of flight of a pregnant woman and her husband flying from Abuja
to London is five hundred thousand (500,000) naira, the delivery cost is
about six hundred thousand (600,000) naira equivalent in the local
currency and if a caesarean section is done, the cost will increase to about
eight hundred thousand (800,000) naira. When you add the husband’s
hotel bills as she can not stay in the wife’s room in the maternity unit and
other incidentals, the total cost will be about four million naira using a
conversion factor of 250naira to one pound. This huge amount can build
or equip a maternity unit in Benin with basic equipments or better still
pay the salaries of over 80 midwives for one year. Think of the number of
people that amount of money can feed in a year in Nigeria. You can see it
is not only the government that is to blame but we the people as well. We
need to set our priorities right. We need to throw away the concept of I
and start thinking of ‘us or we’
In sub-Saharan Africa the maternal mortality rate (number of women who
die in childbirth) is 920 per 100,000 live births. Compare to 24 per
100,000 in Europe. You will see the colossal waste of human lives? Thetotal number of maternal deaths in Nigeria in the year 2000 was 37,000.
Nigeria came second in the whole world to India with 167,000 maternal
deaths, but note that the population of India is over one billion people. If
the figure is adjusted for population then Nigeria will have the highest
maternal death per population in the whole world. These women do not
come from outer space. They are our wives, your sisters, our mothers.
This is a huge problem the government does not want people to know
about.
ILLEGAL ABORTIONS
What about the woes from unsafe abortions by which I mean abortion not
provided through approved facilities and/or persons” This is classified as
illegal abortions in Nigeria. As abortion is not legalised, there is a thriving
back room, backdoor and backstreet abortions in the population. Death
from illegal abortions accounted for 13% of the total maternal deaths in
Nigeria in the year 2000. This percentage translated into 4800 deaths
amongst our daughters and wives in Nigeria in the year 2000. You will all
agree that a lot of the deaths will go unrecorded. So this number of
deaths is actually the tip of the iceberg as it is a more serious problem.
What about those that are maimed for life, what about those that will
never be able to fulfil the normal biological process of pregnancy, labour
and delivery as a result of the sequelae due to procuring illegal abortions.
The psychological trauma and abnormal grief reaction in such women can
only be imagined The list of woes is endless.
ILL HEALTH AND DEATHS FROM ARMED ROBBERY.
Social wellbeing equates to safety and security of the community. Look at
the incidence of armed robbery and burglary in Nigeria. When have our
people gone to bed and hope to wake up the following morning. What
about the psychological trauma of being visited by an armed robber?
What about the financial cost of erecting high walls and fences, the
numerous protectors in our homes which becomes hazardous in fire out
break in the homes, the guard in the gatehouse all are drain on our
resources. In the UK the windows and doors are made of glass and you
can be sure to sleep till morning without rude awakening from a night
marauders.
You all can recall the recent killing of seven Hausa foreign exchange
traders in Benin in May 2004 and the raiding of a whole street off
Akpakpava Road eleven days later, and all the daily armed robbery
activities our people have been made accustomed to, all in broad
daylight. The robbers usually get away, if they are ever caught, it is not
reported. Such dramatic events affect the psyche of the people thus
contributing to ill health.DEATH AND INJURY FROM ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS.
During the WHO celebration in April 2004, the global campaign
was launched to prevent road traffic accidents, they noted that
the highest number of deaths due to RTA occurred in Nigeria in
the preceding year. There is more than 50% chance that one will
not get to the destination when travelling on a Nigerian road.
Accidents, injuries and violence are common place.
Travellers are more likely to be killed or injured in accidents or through
violence than to be struck down by an exotic infectious disease. Traffic
accidents and violence are significant risks in many states in Nigeria
especially Edo State, where skilled medical care may not be readily
available. No ambulance services, no incident support systems of any
sort. A helipad was built in UBTH accident and emergency unit for quick
recovery of accidents victims along the busy and accident prone
Benin/Lagos Road. Thirty years on, it is still not operational. The question
is not good intentions but lack of the will for implementation of our plans.
The plans just die on the drawing board. Usually those awarding the
contract take ten percent of the total cost, the contractors take ten
percent of what is left, the sub-contractors take another ten percent and
by the time the project is executed by the daily paid workers even with
the use of substandard equipment, the fund is inadequate for the
completion of the job hence the numerous abandoned projects that litter
the landscape of our country.
It is estimated that more than 1 million people were killed in traffic
accidents worldwide in 1998 and a further 10 million were injured and the
majority were from many developing countries like Nigeria. In Edo State
for example traffic laws are limited or are inadequately enforced. Our
people are even part of the problem because they have been seen
removing traffic light bulbs in broad day light unchallenged. People do not
care about the traffic ordinance because if caught they will easily bribe
their ways out of punishment. Often the traffic mix is more complex than
that in developed countries and involves two wheel(push trucks) and four-
wheeled vehicles, animal-drawn vehicles and other conveyances, plus
pedestrians, all sharing the same road space. The roads may be poorly
constructed, poorly maintained, road signs and lighting inadequate and
driving habits are usually poor.
DEATHS FROM HIV/AIDS, MALARIA other Infections and infestations.
About 90% of all malaria deaths in the world today occur in Africa south
of the Sahara. This is because the majority of infections in Africa are
caused by Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous of the four human
malaria parasites. It is also because the most effective malaria vector -the mosquito Anopheles gambiae – is the most widespread in Africa and
the most difficult to control. An estimated one million people in Africa die
from malaria each year and most of these are children under 5 years old
There are three principal ways in which malaria can contribute to death
.in young children First, an overwhelming acute infection, which
frequently presents as seizures or coma (cerebral malaria), may kill a
child directly and quickly. Second, repeated malaria infections contribute
to the development of severe anaemia, which substantially increases the
risk of death. Third, low birth weight – frequently the consequence of
malaria infection in pregnant women – is the major risk factor for death in
the first month of life
In addition, repeated malaria infections make young children more
susceptible to other common childhood illnesses, such as diarrhoea and
respiratory infections, and thus contribute indirectly to mortality
Poor people are at increased risk both of becoming infested with malaria
and of becoming infected more frequently. Child mortality rates are
known to be higher in poorer households and malaria is responsible for a
substantial proportion of these deaths. In a demographic surveillance
system in rural areas of the United Republic of Tanzania, under-5
mortality following acute fever (much of which would be expected to be
due to malaria) was 39% higher in the poorest socio-economic group than
in the richest.
Nigeria now has a national HIV prevalence rate of 5.8% and a population
of 3.01 million adults who are living with HIV/AIDS. The country is
currently embarking on a “Care” project – to provide Anti Retro Viral
(ARV) treatment for 10,000 adults and 5,000 children, at a cost of about
three hundred and fifty million naira (over US$3 million). The UBTH in
Benin City is one of the Centres of Excellence for the treatment of
HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and their current prevalence rate is very similar to
the above figure. You must note these are hospital based figures and the
scale of the problem in the population will be more serious as many of
deaths from HIV/AIDS go unreported.
OTHER DISEASE CONDITIONS:
Under this heading I will include diseases like hypertensive heart diseases
and stroke, diabetes mellitus, other deficiency diseases like
hypothyroidism, the cancers, obesity, illnesses related to stress and
lifestyle which are not communicable. About 10% of the urban population
have hypertension and diabetes is estimated in 2.7% of the population of
Nigeria.
The above disease conditions may result mostly from having too much to
eat, too much to drink, too much to smoke, too much worries associatedwith too much wealth, too many women and too much sex, so I shall not
consider them any further especially as they account for a very small
percentage of death in our population.
THE SOLUTIONS TO THE HEALTH PROBLEMS.
The most important solution is free, universal and compulsory education
from the cradle to the grave. This is a policy of the present
administration. Is it being implemented to the grassroots level? That is
the question. Go along Uselu -Lagos Road and Ring Road in Benin City
and you will see hundreds of under 16 years old, both male and female
hawking pure water, bread, handkerchief, hawking any ware in search of
clean money to help their parents put bread on the table when they
should be in school learning. In later life, they constitute fertile ground for
recruiting hoodlums who do anything for money.
Gainful employment
It is the duty of any government to reduce unemployment figures. In
Nigeria and Edo State such figures does not exist therefore reducing
unemployment is out of the question. The government both state and
federal is not assisting in providing the required enabling environment
where economic development and private finance initiative will thrive.
If the jobless are employed or engaged in agro based industries as land is
plentiful in Edo State, the crime rate will drop and more people will be
energized into investing in Edo State economy. This will build in a
spiralling momentum of economic development that can make Edo State
the food basket of the Nation.
The security situation is worsened by the attitude of our people by no
longer being there for one another. What has happened to the collective
responsibility of yesteryears when our parents mounted guard (night
watch or Ude)? What about when our fathers flushed out jobless but
flamboyant and affluent people in our communities as suspected thieves
and robbers? What has happened to the street security meetings and
activities in all areas of Edo Land? The government of the day and police
must lead the way in bringing safety back to Edo State. We have done
this before. We can do it again. But to rely solely on the police or the paid
night watchman without involvement of everybody is to fail dismally.
HIV/AIDSThe prevention and care of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections
(STI) should be part of reproductive health programmes at all levels
including primary health care.
The management of pregnancy in HIV-positive women should be seen as
part of the comprehensive and long-term care of the woman provided to
her at settings within easy reach of her home.
Obstetric management will be similar to that for uninfected women (or
women of unknown sero status) in most instances, although invasive
diagnostic procedures should be avoided, and iron folate and other
vitamin supplementation should be considered. In areas of high
prevalence, these procedures should be for all pregnant women.
HIV testing in pregnancy has a number of benefits in terms of prevention
and care for mother and child but this must be balanced against the
possible risks of stigmatisation, discrimination and violence. In order to
avoid or minimize negative consequences, testing must be voluntary and
confidential and accompanied by quality counselling.
The slogan to prevent or reduce the incidence of HIV should include
Abstinence.
Sex education.
Stable monogamous setting.
Improvement on the socio-economic status of the population.
There is nothing like safe sex so do not expose yourself.
The high mortality from HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa is complicated
with the poor socio-economic status of the people. Poverty leads to sub-
optimal innate immunity resulting from poor or inadequate nutrition or
malnutrition and poor general health, which increase susceptibility to
infection. Poverty makes the purchase of anti-retroviral drugs impossible
and in certain situations when the drugs are available there is no portable
water to assist in taking the medications. HIV/AIDS infection is therefore
a death sentence in places like Nigeria and Edo State in particular
whereas in Europe and America for example those diagnosed with
HIV/AIDS still live active, normal lives and some of them are gainfully
employed and may remain so for over twenty years after such diagnosis
due to the care and social support they receive.
Health PromotionThere is need for health promotion which in a country like Nigeria and in
Edo State in particular, should be the process of enabling people to
increase control over, and to improve, their health. To reach a state of
complete physical mental and social wellbeing, an individual or group
must be able to identify and to realize aspirations, to satisfy needs, and to
change or cope with the environment. Health is, therefore, seen as a
resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive
concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical
capacities.
Prerequisites for health
According to the WHO, the fundamental conditions and resources for
health are social security, peace, shelter, education, food, income,
sustainable resources, social justice and equity and I will add portable
water. It is impossible to swallow tablets without water. Lack or
inadequate water supply and poor sanitation contribute immensely to
easy death and poor recovery from mild infections. Therefore
improvement in health requires a secure foundation in these basic
prerequisites like available and safe water supply and good sanitation.
The prerequisites and prospects for health cannot be ensured by the
health sector alone. More importantly, health promotion demands
coordinated action by all concerned: by governments, by health and other
social and economic sectors, by non governmental and voluntary
organizations, by local authorities, by industry and by the media. People
in all walks of life should be involved as individuals, families and
communities. Professional and social groups and health personnel have a
major responsibility to mediate between differing interests in society for
the pursuit of health.
Health promotion goes beyond health care. It puts health on the agenda
of policy-makers in all sectors and at all levels, directing them to be
aware of the health consequences of their decisions and to accept their
responsibilities for health.
Health promotion policy combines diverse but complementary approaches
including legislation, fiscal measures, taxation and organizational change.
It is coordinated action that leads to health, income and social policies
that foster greater equity. Joint action contributes to ensuring safer and
healthier goods and services, healthier public services, and cleaner, more
enjoyable environments.
Health promotion policy requires the identification of obstacles to the
adoption of healthy public policies in non-health sectors, and ways of
removing them. The aim must be to make the healthier choice the easier
choice for policy-makers as well.Strengthen community action
Health promotion works through concrete and effective community action
in setting priorities, making decisions, planning strategies and
implementing them to achieve better health. At the heart of this process
is the empowerment of communities, their ownership and control of their
own endeavours and destinies.
Community development draws on existing human and material resources
in the community to enhance self-help and social support, and to develop
flexible systems for strengthening public participation and direction of
health matters. This requires full and continuous access to information,
learning opportunities for health, as well as funding support. The
organisers of the sanitation crusade going on in Benin City presently
should be advised against the use of poorly trained or corrupt officers as
their action is causing unnecessary stress, aggravation and therefore ill-
health amongst the people.
Enabling people to learn throughout life, to prepare themselves for all of
its stages and to cope with chronic illness and injuries is essential. This
has to be facilitated in school, home; work places and community settings
like the palaces of traditional rulers and market places. Action is required
through educational, professional, commercial and voluntary bodies, and
within the institutions themselves.
Reorient health services
The responsibility for health promotion in health services is shared among
individuals, community groups, health professionals, health service
institutions and governments. They must work together towards a health
care system which contributes to the pursuit of health.
The role of the health sector must move increasingly in a health
promotion direction, beyond its responsibility for providing clinical and
curative services. Health services need to embrace an expanded mandate
which is sensitive and respects cultural needs. This mandate should
support the needs of individuals and communities for a healthier life, and
open channels between the health sector and broader social, political,
economic and physical environmental components.
Reorienting health services also requires stronger attention to health
research as well as changes in professional education and training. This
must lead to a change of attitude and organization of health services,
which refocuses on the total needs of the individual as a whole person.
Caring, holism and ecology are essential issues in developing strategies
for health promotion. Therefore, those involved should take as a guiding
principle that, in each phase of planning, implementation and evaluationof health promotion activities, women and men should become equal
partners and money meant for health should be spent for healthcare and
not diverted to other areas or worse still to private Swiss Banks accounts.
Commitment to health promotion
Will you pledge as you go back to Benin City to support youth clubs and
organization like Boys Scouts, Girls Guide, Red Cross, Youth Sports,
Community Organizations so as to take the minds of our youths away
from crimes as an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
Will you as leaders lead by examples by sharing and exhibiting live and
let live attitude instead of flaunting your wealth to the annoyance of the
poor and those in need. Most times our attitudes and behaviour is an
invitation to armed robbery, which is avoidable.
Will you encourage moral re- armament and religious instructions in
schools? This is something the State government is experimenting with by
reverting the schools to the missionaries. This will help in producing
children with high moral standards and reverse the current evil trend of
worship of money rather than striving for honour as was prevalent and
the norm in my school days.
Will you go home and give voice to the voiceless. Help the poor, support
the infirmed, and help to translate our discussions into reality. Do not be
complacent. Start from your family. If you make your family good, you
make the community better; if the community is good, we have a better
town, and if the town is good, we shall have a better State; and if the
State is good, we shall have a better Nigeria which will support a better
world, making our lives a lot better.
The provision of good sanitation, safe water supply, good roads,
emergency team, social security for the unemployed, prevention of floods
by adequate planning and execution of contracts for road building,
security for life and property will all help in improving the general health
of our people. This is a tall order but it is possible if our people are
motivated and mobilized with those at the helm of affairs leading by
example.
SEO OGBONMWAN, JULY 2004, BOSTON MASSACHUSETTS, USA.REFERENCES. 1,http://www.afro.who.int/country_offices_press/2002/pr20020312.htm 2,The World Health Report 2002: reducing risks, promoting healthy life. Geneva,
3, World Health Organization, 2002Molineaux L. Malaria and mortality: some epidemiological considerations. Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, 1997, 91(7):811-825
4, Nigeria Reproductive Services and Manpower Survey (2001) Reproductive Health Division, Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja Nigeria.
5, Health Systems Development Project 11, Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja 1989. 6, Federal Ministry of Health, NHMIS (Preliminary Health Profile Figures) 1999.

A PRELUDE TO THE NATIONAL CONFAB

A PLENARY SESSION FOR ALL EDO STATE INDIGENES PRIOR TO THE CONFAB By SEO OGBONMWAN. KSC

The complete list of all those attending the National Confab on constitution review has been finally released by the office of the President. As we all acknowledge, it is impossible for all Nigerian to attend and those attending must be well prepared to represent our Edo State interest to the fullest and to this end I call on the Governor of Edo State Gov. Lucky Igbinedion to use his office to facilitate a plenary session for all Edos attending the National Confab so as to streamline their position before going to Abuja. This exercise should be carried out with the Blessing of His Royal Highness the Oba of Benin as the custodian our culture and tradition.
The National Confab is starting in earnest so all hands must be on deck to make this prelude meeting a success. Money spent in hosting this meeting will be money well spent as the contributions from all representatives can be resource material in articulating Edo view point in the future.
A critic may say these representatives were selected, some by the governor and the others by the Office of the President. That may be true; in spite of this glaring fact that they were not democratically elected, the three senatorial districts are well represented. Secondly they are the recognised representatives of Edo State.
Our duty as citizens is to ensure that they are adequately prepared for the confab so that they represent our interest fully.
The list released by the government of Edo State includes the following:Admiral Mike Akhigbe

Tom Ikimi Eghobamien SAN Dr Tunde Lakoju Prof. Anao Mr Sam Iredia Chief Abebe
The list from the office of the president of invited Edos representing other interests include:Dr Sam. Ogbemudia Chief Anthony Enahoro Chief Mike Azekhomeh Prof Christie Okogie Chief Fidelis Oyakhilomhe
Those selected by the office of the president to represent other interests should remember that first and for most they are Edo and as such should talk like an Edo citizen should do in such a gathering, that is protect the greater Edo interest. It is so apparent that they were Edo before becoming party chieftain or labour leader, human rights activist or successful practitioner of their trade.
To be able to articulate Edo view point or what some of my colleagues call Edo Agenda at the confab, it is pertinent that all Edo attending the confab meet in Benin City as a matter of urgency facilitated by the Governor and the Oba of Benin.
This meeting should be a plenary session, a prelude to the Abuja Confab during which these nominated delegates will come to agree on what we can describe as Edo view points that will benefit all Edo people.

There are individuals who have been involved in the struggle for this conference for a long time under various guises; they too should be invited to give their opinions on pertinent issues and in doing so enrich our nominated delegates with more information to enable them perform more creditably for the good of Edo State.
Individuals like Dr Asemota SAN, Chief Nosakhare Isekhure, Chief Tony Momoh, Enogie Edun Akenzua, Dr Obayuwana, and those who have been in government and knows the way the machinery of government works like Admiral Aikhomu and Chief Odigie –Oyegun should all be invited to give their honest opinion on the agenda as released by the Office of the President of Nigeria.
Constitutional reform,
Political party reform, Electoral reform Judicial/Legal reform Civil society reform Constitution and consensus building Police/Prison systems reform Reform of the Structure of Governance.
It is true that what may be best for Nigeria may not be best for Edo State and the converse is also true that what may be best for Edo State may not be the best for Nigeria.
In such issues, Edo delegates going to the Confab will be guided by the decision taken at the plenary session and so will act in consonance with the best interest of Edo State in a united Nigeria.
It will also be stressed that our representatives should distance themselves from those clamouring for secession and balkanization of our dear nation Nigeria.
Instead Edo should forge ways and means of forging the links between the geographically and politically opposed major ethnic groups in the country. The work of our delegates should be in addition to protecting Edo State interest, work to enhance Nigeria’s unity. The size of Nigeria presently in spite of all the woes in the country is a source of pride and a deterrent to our neighbours whereas a balkanized Nigeria will produce weakened original components parts.
Edo Global Organization therefore calls on the governor of Edo State Gov. Nosakhare Igbinedion to facilitate this plenary session in Edo State before the Abuja conference.
Other States are embarking on such ventures and Edo State should not be left out. If successfully done, it may constitute a forum for resolving Edo State issues effectively in the future as it has full representation of all the senatorial districts although they may not have been democratically elected.
It will also create a forum for the Diaspora Edo to send their view points rather than the present situation where memoranda have been sent to individuals. The time may be short but with the machinery of government as we know it, it is possible to slate a 10 hours prelude conference spread over two days with ample time for informal discussions. The decisions produced will be the bedrock for future Edo unity and development.
Finally, this is not the time to discuss the selection process. This is the time to make the best use of the opportunity as presented.
Thank you

Signed SEO OGBONMWAN KSC

President EDO GLOBAL ORGANIZATION