Tag Archives: nigeria

Why tribalism in Nigeria should die a peaceful death


The first step for Nigeria to really succeed in the 21st century is to put an end to tribalism and unite. No country can truly progress if the people are suspicious of each other based on tired stereotypes and historical resentment.

There is NO point in being tribalist in this day and age. Maybe there were historical reasons for xenophobia, but nowadays none of the problems in Nigeria exist because of one particular ethnic group. Nigerian political parties are made up of governors and presidents from all the main ethnic groups and only a handful have had benevolent intentions for the country.

To understand why such a diverse group of people are part of one country, we have to look at the history. Nigeria as we know it, is relatively new and it was the British who drew the borders of the country during their colonial rule in the early 20th century. When they created Nigeria, they threw many different ethnic groups together  – each with their own culture, languages and beliefs.

Since then Nigeria inter-ethnic relations have been turbulent to say the least, with civil war and power struggles between ethnic groups causing violence and frustration among the people. Stereotypes about different tribes persist and are handed down through generations. I’ve been warned by some relatives to not marry outside my ethnic group. I’ve heard negative generalisations about the Yoruba, Igbo people and the Hausas.

This has to stop.

The real enemy in Nigeria is the (often corrupt) elite. We know that there is an inexcusable divide between the wealthy and poor, with not much of a grey area in between. The infrastructure is limping along, but should be in a much better state for a country with so much potential. The services are all but non-existent. This isn’t the fault of your Igbo neighbour or those Hausas – it’s the fault of the people who feel that they can rob the country and get away with it.

I would say that tribalism should be treated as gravely as racism. But of course that would be naive to expect that just yet, in a country like Nigeria. What we can do, however, is to stop spreading lies and venom about fellow countrymen based on their ethnicity. We need to remember that we are all human, and all have the same wants and needs.

This is important because tribalism is the reason why we have the zoning system in place, which many would argue is ineffective at producing the best leaders for Nigeria. Tribalism is at the very core of the country’s politics and it will be a hinderance as long as it is allowed to continue.

It’s time for Nigeria to become a nation and have a shared Nigerian culture.

Nigeria: The Happiest Place on Earth


Just a quick post to share this article, written by Bim Adewunmi. The piece was recently published in the British newspaper site, The Guardian, following a poll citing Nigeria as the ‘happiest’ country in the world. There is nothing for me to add apart from saying that I am not at all surprised with the findings. After multiple extended visits to Nigeria, I could tell Nigerians are people full of hope and an inner happiness called ‘joy’. Something those of us in the west could learn from. Read the article here.

WikiLeaks: “Nigeria has enormous potential” part 2


Continuing extract from leaked cable on Nigeria’s role within Africa and “impressive governors” to watch out for:

Akwa Ibom governor Godswill Akpabio was singled out as an impressive governor by Mark Ward. Akpabio has built up infrastructure and industrial development. He is “one to watch” per Ward. Other Southern governors that were highlighted included were Rivers State governor Chibulke Amaechi and Edo State governor Oshiomhole. Fawthrop suggested that USAID has a lot to offer in the South in that if USAID makes a mistake it is OK. If a private company engages in a similar project and makes a mistake you have a FCPA investigation. The Consul General (CG) added that it might be possible to team up with security assets of the IOCs to arrange diplomatic trips to the Niger Delta. This arrangement would not happen “100 percent of the time,” but more often than not, per the CG.

USAID = United States Agency for International Development

FCPA =  Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

WikiLeaks: “Nigeria has enormous potential” part 1


Extract from a leaked cable on Nigeria’s role within Africa:

Fawthrop asked the A/S whether he was in Nigeria to deliver a message or was it more of a fact-finding trip? A/S Carson stated that he was in Nigeria for both reasons in that he wanted to listen and engage with Nigeria. Nigeria is the most important country in Africa for the United States due to: the size of its population; presence of hydro-carbons; peace keeping role in ECOWAS, especially in Sierra Leone and Liberia; its seat on the United Nations Security Council; along with the strength and size of its financial markets the A/S continued. Nigeria has enormous potential and is the seventh largest Muslim country in the world with an Islamic population that will eclipse Egypt by 2015 according to A/S Carson. Having no United States presence in Northern Nigeria is akin to having no presence in Egypt and is why the United States is considering opening a Consulate in Kano.

4. (C) The United States is concerned about the power vacuum in Nigeria and the state of health of President Yar A’dua, per A/S Carson. The president is “very, very, very, very ill” and Nigerians are under illusions regarding the state of their president. “Nigeria cannot afford to implode or run aground.” 30 years of military government was not good. The United States expects a stable, legal, democratic, constitutionally-based government with no “military involvement, full stop” A/S Carson stated. It is important for the GON to do a better job this time around in regards to elections. Only ten percent of Nigerians saw a ballot ticket in the 2007 elections. If Nigeria brings credibility to its democratic processes, its economic processes will improve.

A/S = assistant secretary

ECOWAS = Economic Community Of West African States

GON = Government of Nigeria

WikiLeaks: Nigerian Oil: Bribes and piracy part 1


Selected Extracts from the WikiLeaks site on oil concerns,piracy, bribery and worries about Yar’Adua’s declining health:

(S/NF) SUMMARY: Shell's regional executive vice president for
Africa Ann Pickard and government relations representative Peter 
Francis met with the Ambassador on January 27 in Abuja and provided
an update on problems in the oil and gas sector. Pickard said that
things were going from bad to worse, especially the security
situation. She said that Nigeria now had one of the highest negative
ratings for maritime operations, creating problems for Shell in
hiring oil tankers to load, as tanker operators will work only under
highly selective conditions. Last year there were about 80 piracy
attacks on land and water combined. This year already 15 have been
tallied, which includes 3 for Shell and 3 for Exxon. On corruption,
Pickard said that Nigerian entities control the lifting of many oil
cargoes and there are some "very interesting" people lifting oil.
Oil buyers would pay NNPC GMD Yar'Adua, Chief Economic Advisor Yakubu 
and the First Lady Turai Yar'Adualarge bribes to lift oil. Pickard
also reported an instance of the Attorney General Aondoakaa allegedly
soliciting a $20 million bribe to sign a document. The International
Oil Companies (IOC) are quite concerned about the "very flawed" new
petroleum sector energy bill. The IOCs will be asking U.S., Dutch,
and U.K. COMs to convey points on the bill to GON policymakers.
Pickard agreed that the President's health is a guessing game. She
said that in her recent meetings with Yar'Auda he seems alert, though
very drawn in the face, thin, and frail. Her information is that the
President was not in danger of dying soon, but also was unlikely to
ever fully recover from his ailments. (Note: see septel on oil/energy
sector issues for the Ambassador's meeting with the new Minister of
Petroleum Resources. End Note). END SUMMARY.
- - - - - - - - -
FROM BAD TO WORSE
- - - - - - - - - 

3. (C) The Ambassador took the opportunity to share with Pickard that
the Mission was in the midst of completing its Strategic Plan and
asked Pickard where she thought Nigeria was headed. Pickard said that
things were going from bad to worse, especially in terms of security.
She said that Nigeria now had the highest negative rating for
maritime security, creating problems for Shell in hiring oil tankers
to load; tankers will work only under highly selective conditions.
She also noted that late on the evening of Saturday January 17,
Nigerian militants attacked and boarded two vessels at a Shell crude
oil loading platform in Bonny and took eight crew members hostage.
Standard procedure on the tanker was followed: the ship went into
immediate lock down; there were no injuries or fatalities from the
boarding. The eight Nigerian crew members who were taken hostage were
later released. The pirates who went through the sections of the
boat to which they were able to gain access, smashing and stealing
computers, electronics, and personal items of the crew members. The
second vessel was a tug boat towing a supply vessel from Bonny to
Calabar. Last year there were about 80 incidents of piracy; this
year already 15 had been tallied, which includes 3 for Shell and 3
for Exxon. GON officials have told Shell to "hire more security."
The price of doing business in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria
continues to climb she concluded. [Note: The International Maritime
Bureau (IMB), a division of the International Chamber of Commerce -
www icc-ccs org - reports that the waters off the Gulf of Guinea
(Nigeria) remain the second worst, with 40 incidents in 2008 to the
Horn of Africa (Somalia) with 42 recorded incidents. The IMB notes
that in 2009 the Horn of Africa will be more intense as Spring comes
due to the large number of foreign warships in the region on active
patrol to ensure the safety and security of vessels. The same
increased security is not expected for Nigeria in 2009. End Note]

(to be continued)

WikiLeaks: Dead president’s dodgy dealings and his very own “Mr. Fix It”


Below is another extract from Wikileaks on dead President Yar’Adua’s close relationship with “rumoured smuggler” Dahiru Mangal and his “dirty” dealings.

1. (S//NF) SUMMARY: XXXXXXXXXXXX alleged a close
association between President Yar,Adua and Katsina native
and rumored smuggler Dahiru Mangal. XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed Mangal
is the President's "Mr. Fix It," taking care of "anything
filthy" Yar'Adua needs done in addition to smuggling items
for several wealthy Nigerian businessmen through Niger into
Kano. Another Kano business contact corroborated XXXXXXXXXXXX 's
allegations, but observed that Mangal no longer deals openly
in illicit activity since Yar'Adua named him a special
advisor earlier this month. As well, XXXXXXXXXXXX maintained that
he had been approached by a man claiming to represent First
Lady Turai Yar'Adua and seeking an USD 2 million pay-off.
While Post cannot independently authenticate these
allegations of corruption by the President or First Lady,
Post has heard rumors of an emergent "Katsina clique" in the
Presidential Villa. END SUMMARY. 

2. (S//NF) Kano real estate entrepreneur and longtime Mission
contact XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOff February
10 that Katsina native Dahiru Mangal, who XXXXXXXXXXXX contends
deals in illicit smuggling of goods into Nigeria, is also
known as President Yar'Adua's "Mr. Fix It." XXXXXXXXXXXX alleged
a close association between the President and Mangal, dating
to the former's tenure as governor of Katsina, and claimed
the latter remains to this day Yar'Adua's "go-to man" to
accomplish "anything filthy that Yar'Adua needs done."
Mangal, XXXXXXXXXXXX said, is also the "go-to" for any wealthy
Nigerian, who wants to import "just about anything" into
Nigeria. He declined to state whether Mangal smuggled
weapons, drugs, or persons into Nigeria. (On February 17,
PolOff queried another Kano business contact, who
corroborated XXXXXXXXXXXX 's accusations, however claimed Mangal no
longer goes by "Mr. Fix It" since Yar'Adua officially named
him a special advisor earlier this month. Allegedly,
Yar'Adua instructed Mangal to cease any illicit activity if
Mangal wished to enjoy official recognition by the President.
The contact implied this may connote, inter alia, that
Yar'Adua desires to maintain at least the appearance of
respect for rule of law, and thus, does not want any of his
close advisors openly involved in suspect activity.) 

3. (S//NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOff XXXXXXXXXXXX
several Nigerian businessmen who have employed Mangal's
services over the past several years. Reportedly, Mangal owns a warehouse across
the Niger border (likely close to the Katsina border with
Jibiyya and Maradi) in which he stores hundreds of 40-foot
shipping containers. XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed Mangal is able to
import goods from around the world, including China. In
return, Mangal requests a flat fee of 2 million naira (USD
17,000), excluding the cost of goods. Approximately 100
containers per month are brought into Kano, and goods are
then delivered to clients or sold in Kano's Kurmi market. 

4. (S//NF) Mangal also operates several legitimate
businesses, XXXXXXXXXXXX asserted, including Mangal Airlines. The
National Hajj Commission of Nigeria contracted Kabo,
Bellview, Meridian, and Mangal Airlines for the December 2007
hajj operations, which transported approximately 100,000
Nigerians to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage. (Note:
Many Nigerian Muslims have criticized the GON's handling of
the 2007 hajj claiming several thousand Nigerians were left
stranded in Saudi Arabia and could not return to Nigeria,
except without extraordinary hardship, and several others
were never airlifted from Nigeria at all. End Note.) 

5. (S//NF) Moreover, XXXXXXXXXXXX said XXXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXX had been approached recently by a man claiming to speak on
behalf of First Lady Turai Yar'Adua. The person, who arrived
at the meeting with XXXXXXXXXXXX in a Peugeot with a
"presidential" license plate, told XXXXXXXXXXXX the First Lady
would "allow" them to construct the homes so long as she is
given an advance payment of 250 million naira (USD 2
million). XXXXXXXXXXXX said he was willing to offer the First 

ABUJA 00000320 002 OF 002 

Lady twenty plots of land instead, to which the presumed
emissary grimaced. The negotiations, XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOff,
continue. 

6. (C//NF) NOTE: During a late January conversation with
PolOff, XXXXXXXXXXXXX said XXXXXXXXXXXXX
purchased an USD 10 million house in central London
approximately 7 years ago, XXXXXXXXXXXXX.
This house apparently was excluded from President
Yar,Adua,s public declaration of assets in June 2007, which
put his total wealth at approximately USD 7 million. END
NOTE. 

7. (S//NF) COMMENT: While XXXXXXXXXXXX is a trusted, longtime
Mission contact who has provided veracious information in the
past, we cannot independently confirm his statements
regarding Mangal or the First Lady. Certainly, the man who
approached XXXXXXXXXXXXX seeking a pay-off may simply have been
attempting to exploit the First Lady's name for personal
enrichment. We have heard rumors of the emergence of a
"Katsina clique" in the Villa -- a group of individuals from
the President's home state of Katsina who reportedly
constitute Yar'Adua's inner circle and increasingly, control
access to him. The surfacing of this group may be a
corrollary to Yar'Adua's lack of national exposure (and
hence, his deficiently broad support base) and his inability
thus far to stamp his authority on the ruling People's
Democratic Party. Rumors abound alleging that the First
Lady, Special Advisor Tanimu Yakubu, and Minister of
Agriculture Sayyadi Ruma are involved in corrupt practices.
Reports of both the First Lady and Yakubu's taste for the
high life and tendencies toward illicit enrichment surfaced
during a December 2007 debrief by XXXXXXXXXXXXX
outlined problems he saw in the Villa and cases XXXXXXXXXXXXX
was closely watching (Ref A).
Several contacts from XXXXXXXXXXXXX, moreover, maintain that while
the President "appeared incorruptible" during his tenure as
governor, his wife siphoned off millions in public funds for
private use. Post will closely monitor these accusations and
report any new developments. END COMMENT.
SANDERS

Protest group labels Atiku’s election as ‘worrisome’


The head of the Anti-Babangida coalition has sent out a warning to Nigeria against presidential candidate Alahji Atiku Abubakar.

Since being elected as the northern candidate in November by the Northern Political Leader Forum (NPLF), Atiku has received harsh criticism over allegations of illegal activity. Biodun Sowunmi, leader of the Anti-Babangida group said:

“the choice of Atiku is worrisome. Our coalition warns Nigerians and all political parties to be wary of presenting Atiku as a candidate in the next elections.”

Atiku allegedly stole 6 billion naira (source)

Sowunmi’s warning comes with evidence of Atiku’s dodgy dealings.  A 330-page report of the U.S. Senate’s investigation sub-committee, exposed the former vice president and his 4th wife, Jennifer Douglas, as being corrupt with details of them laundering more than 6 billion naira through American banks.

The illegal activity took place between 2000-08 – around the same time that Atiku was vice-president. The report also states how Mrs Abubakar, known by several aliases including Jamila Abubakar, spent the money

“paying credit card bills and household expenses in the range of $10,000 to $90,000 per month, including substantial legal and accounting bills”.

In addition to the illegal money, Atiku also acquired assets such as a $1,750,000 mansion,  under Douglas’ name, in Maryland,  America, just a few months after becoming Vice President.

Sowunmi also said:

“After the embarrassment inflicted on Nigeria by the former Governor of Delta state, James Ibori, who lied to Nigerians…we wish to caution against the nomination of a presidential aspirant who may have to face charges in the USA over the Siemens bribery and corruption scandal.”

Atiku has also been hit with allegations of plagiarism, with two members of the governing party, the PDP, accusing Atiku of copying his manifesto from a former contender for president, David Dafinone. However, Atiku’s presidential campaign organisation has refuted these claims, saying that “they could not even present the so-called Dafonine document.”

The money laundering claims are yet to be denied.