Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nigeria will break if - Buhari

THE BUHARI INTERVIEW Nigeria will break if - Buhari Major-General Muhammadu Buhari was selected to lead the country by middle and high-ranking military officers after a successful coup on December 31, 1983. He was later overthrown in a coup led by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida on August 27, 1985. Buhari later served late General Sanni Abacha as the head of the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF. In 2003, Buhari contested the Presidential Election under the banner of the All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP. He was defeated by General Olusegun Obasanjo of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. Some people have an impression of this Spartan aura around you that seems to shield you from some of the vices associated with people of your status. Do you recognise this impression about you? I honestly don't and I never thought about it to know if there is any aura around me. What I try to do, especially in those days in the military; I think I articulated our ideas. The most important one then was to find out how much Nigeria owed. Because having been involved in the previous administration of General Olusegun Obasanjo by being a governor, and minister of petroleum, I knew he handed over a government and a country to the civilian that was economically and physically secured. The records were straight. And then by 1983, when we came, we found out that nobody knew how much Nigeria owed. And you couldn't even get basic things in the country. I think that trauma made us to do first things fast. We set up two committees: one international to achieve the main objective; the other under the economic development, to find out how Nigeria spent its reserve, spent whatever it was getting. Because when we handed over in 1979, a barrel of crude was never up to $20. But during the Second Republic, it went to over $40 per barrel. Yet we spent the reserve. We incurred an unknown amount of debt and virtually we had no reserve. So we said, okay; no more debts. We promised to pay our medium and long-term debts. And then we refused to devalue the naira. And then there was a debt to Nigerian workers. In some states, for nine months, workers were not paid. And we paid them. These were the first things we facilitated when we came to power. The condition Nigeria met in 1983 when you came in, looking at the situation now in the country, don't you think what we have now is worse than what made you people come in the first place? It's definitely worse, if we consider the physical security in the economy of the country. I've said it so many times, (and) I wouldn't mind repeating myself: since the inception of Nigeria in 1914, Nigeria had never realised so much revenue than in the years under the PDP (Peoples Democratic party) governance. Yet poverty has never been so widespread from Badagry to Baga, from Oyo to Sokoto and from Katsina to Port Harcourt. Try and have a survey of the number of factories that closed and the number of Nigerians that have lost legitimate earnings. In spite of this enormous amount of resources that came into the country, and the insecurity, nobody seems to be secured, either in your house, on the highway, in your workplace. Of course, with so many jobs lost, certainly, you can't stop burglary and thefts, because people have to eat. Even a welder can only sustain himself if he can afford a generator and can afford to buy the fuel, because virtually, there was no electricity. There is no power in Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) or its famous name, NEPA, with all the money we got in nine years. So what then is the remedy, because we have seen military coups and so many other interventions, which didn't work? Well, from my personal experience, Nigerians should be the remedy, and in every country whether it is a revolution or a normal conventional process of evolution, it is the elite that lead. But the Nigerian elite are extremely disappointing in terms of accepting responsibility and leading the less-privileged in the society. As long as the elite feel they are safe; wherever they are, they feel they are earning enough, they can afford to educate their children somehow; they have got a roof over their heads; to hell with the rest of the lesser citizens of the communities. Then the point is, if the elite is comfortable, and then the larger society is not comfortable, the implication is almost very certain: there will be implosion. So do you still foresee a situation where we have an implosion in this country; where there will be a revolution? I don't think there will be a revolution in this country. I think I have to reflect about 35 years ago; my experience in India, which I kept on quoting in individual discussions about poverty, about multi-ethnicity in societies, about religious divergence, and so on. Early 1970s, 72, to be exact, 73, I had my staff college training in India, in Southern India, a plateau called the Negris. In those days, at least I know in three cities: Calcutta, New Delhi and Bombay. The way garbage-collecting vehicles efficiently go round in the cities, in developed countries, to collect garbage, that is how vehicles in India in those days were going round and collecting bodies of human beings that died overnight of starvation. But by 1980s when I became Head of State, India was one of the countries we were buying rice from. Ten years of leadership turned around India. And, of course, India has a longer history of struggle for independence and democracy. And by 2006, there were over 600 million Indian voters. And in two weeks, India conducted a federal election or a national election and had government in place. Niger, I think 80 million in 2005 or so, had an election including a run-off; they (people) have a government. Now, its former Prime Minister is in jail for misappropriating $250,000. Sierra Leone, 10 years civil war with amputees, so many amputees, they had elections; opposition won. They are narrowing their battle. (In) Ghana, (Jerry) Rawlings came, shot his way through at his military term; at his civilian term, the person from his party he wanted to lead Ghana couldn't win. Opposition won and Ghana is going on. Why Nigeria, with all our human and material resources? Because our elite are so disappointing; they can only make sacrifice to themselves individually, not collectively. This is my assessment, I may be wrong. Still, we are bound to ask: how do we either pull these elite down or make them change? That is the question. They make sure they deny opportunity to those who can do it; either military or politically. See how they connived and got rid of Murtala (Mohammed). The man could have organised a civilian government. But the most disappointing is how Obasanjo led the military government. But the one he said is democracy he had to depend on the larger elite. He and whatever principle he used to have and the experiences he acquired as a military leader were pulled down. And he is the only living Nigerian that God allowed to rule this country for more than 11 years. And see how he ended up. When you came in 1983, your government was noted for one thing: discipline in the society, discipline in Nigeria. In fact, there was a trend at that time that the country was almost building into shape and people could foresee where the country was going. How do you feel looking at the country today and seeing the dismantling of that era of focus? Well, you know we are relatively young in terms of nationalists in whatever form you mention it; whether as military or as politicians. We are about the third generation right from Zik, Awo, Tafawa Balewa. That was second generation at most. (This is) one of the campaign points I used to mention, especially when I go to visit community leaders, emirs, chiefs, obas, and so on and so forth. The North then, under Sardauna, were spending more than 43 per cent of the whole state budget on education. Awolowo was spending more than 55 per cent. There was no way the names of those people can be changed in this country. The person who did the research for me couldn't get the figure for the (South) East then. But we know in the (South) East, they normally charge for education. And the government was just complimenting the charge, so to speak, to be honest about it. But the problem of Nigeria now, I think I am experienced enough to say that, is indiscipline, corruption, and incompetence. No other Nigerian elite is prepared to make the sacrifice, to straighten up the society of these three terrible things about Nigeria: this indiscipline, this corruption, and this incompetence. In spite of our human and material resources, we are going nowhere. And I think Nigerians should begin to think about it very, very seriously. Because where do we go? As I said, when I came to power in 1983, where do we go? Even if you are a professor of Physics, if you jet out to Europe or America, you can get a job; but you will never feel comfortable because it is not your country. And you are just being used mechanically. It's just like you wind a watch and put it down. They can supervise you effectively and pay you for it, and that's all; you don't feel you are building your country; you don't feel you are making a future for your generation, for your own children. This is the unfortunate position of Nigeria. One class Nigerians and even public commentators have blamed for our woes is actually the military; and at a time, you were a participant. Do you feel that it was wrong in the first place for the military to have intervened in the polity of this country? Secondly, do you think it was a mistake, for you particularly, to take over governance in 1983? Well, under the arrangement we were handed over the military by our colonial masters, we have no right to intervene in the partisan politics of a nation state. But which country made that assertion? Which one of the so-called developed countries of the western world, go into their history, didn't go through military era in search of their nation's development? Having said that, the military is part and parcel of the national institutions; they are the ones purposely recruited, trained to defend their country and its integrity. Now, what integrity has a country when its riches is systematically looted and invested outside and leaves you in poverty? Has the institution no right to defend that country? I never knew you would ask me this question. But in the process of this interview, I briefly told you how the military handed our country to Second Republic and the condition this country found itself; which means the military, as an institution, has a role. Didn't we fight a civil war keeping this country together? And we lost at least a million Nigerians to keep the country together. We didn't do it for any material gain because there are no spare lives; it's only one life. If you can lead your colleagues and you get them dead, your own countrymen, your own colleagues kill one another to keep your country together, then (will) you allow somebody to systematically steal all the development and resources and keep it aside for himself? Under this arrangement, multi-party, multi-ethnicity, is the ideal thing, and I believe in the ideal thing since the collapse of the Soviet Union. I believe multi-party democracy is the best form of government. But then, there must be a leadership that will provide good governance. If the elite corrupted the system beyond recognition, then the institution has to intervene. I think the last port of call should be the judiciary under this setting. If the judiciary fails, I am afraid the country will break. And God forbid! Now that you have mentioned the judiciary, we have entrusted so much on it. You have seen some judgements coming from several courts in the country in recent times, are you confident that the judiciary can still save the system? Well, I believe, in your paper - if you go to your own archive - I made a statement more than a year ago; exactly, the June 28 last year. I will not comment on what happened in the general elections of 2007 and the end of the election until the judgement in the Supreme Court; because I know we are ending up in Supreme Court. I didn't even talk of the Court of Appeal. I was not going to make comment on the judiciary for whatever happens until then. I am sorry I am not about to break that promise. Just waiting now for the Supreme Court to give us the green light to start our hearing, after which the judgement (comes); then I will, as I said in that piece of written statement I passed to the press, get together with those of us who are in the ANPP, my party, that gave me the ticket to participate as a candidate in the presidential election of 2007, and then we will talk to the press. Your Excellency, one thing some analysts have said about you is that try as you could, it may be impossible for somebody like you to be the president of this country, because you do not 'belong'. Let us tell you what we mean by that: you don't belong to the group that believes that you need to get to that level by other means, except through democratic means, as the cabal that calls the shots and determines who gets what. You don't belong because you are too rigid and don't want to play ball, if you know what we mean? Do you think so? Well, what you said is so topical, because those that come to me say this is my Achilles heel; that I don't have money and I don't seem to be interested in making money. I was a governor in a place that is now constituting six states; I was in petroleum (ministry); for three and a quarter years, I was a Head of State; I was chairman of PTF for about five years where at one stage we had more than N53 billion of that time in the bank deposit; yet I couldn't see where I have money. Well, I think every person has his principle or his weaknesses. I don't want to have anything that I cannot account for. I have accepted that weakness. If that will stop me from being the president of Nigeria, all well and good. I am not giving in anything; I am sticking to what I believe in. The logical translation of that is that what you envisaged for this country may never come to pass? No! Not necessarily. God is all powerful; He brings His things from where no being has ever thought about. There could be somebody among your corrupt persons who - like Bill Gates who after making all the money, he abandoned it and came out looking after for the poor - will make so much money that he will decide to buy himself the presidency and then decide to go and put his case with the poor, may be at the end of his career. May be it will come through that way. Who knows? Just like Abraham Lincoln tried the United States presidency on several occasions before he eventually got it, are you considering continuing trying? Well, if you are going very far to Abraham Lincoln, I understand the president of Senegal is an octogenarian (more than 80 years). I think, he lost count of how many times he tried to become the president of Senegal and then in the end he got it. What I am sure about or what I know and what I believe is that I will remain in partisan politics. As I said, like the Soviet Union experience, which I kept on repeating in most of the interviews, if in 1991 an empire in the 20th century collapsed without a single shot being fired, simply because the centre became so inefficient against its opposite - the multi-party democratic system; it just collapsed and people left with the tanks, the missiles, the nuclear sites and everybody dashed home, so to speak - and out of that now already, about 17 republics have sprung up. It was from the day I became a democrat; that multi-party democratic system is the best form of governance. But the present Nigerian elite, political elite, the way they wanted to do it, are toeing the line of ineptitude; they are toeing the line of indiscipline; they are toeing the line of corruption; they are toeing the line of inefficiency. They are not walking out through the tested ways. You talk of Lincoln, you talk of Churchill, you talk of Chairman Mao, you talk of even the Bulshevik Revolution. You find out those founding fathers made so much sacrifice; physical and material discipline; they denied themselves comfort of any form to build their nations. You can't do it in Nigeria. Everybody wants to be comfortable immediately at the expense of the poor and the weak, instead of making sacrifice to bring out the poor and the weak. Talking about our democracy sir, what we are noticing now is that Nigeria is gradually moving towards a one-party state the way the PDP, particularly, is conducting the affairs of this country. How do we save the country from this dangerous trend? Or don't you believe that we are going towards that road? There are three things that we've got. These are indiscipline, corruption and incompetence. Everybody wants to move to the winning side, no matter how, so that he can get the slice of the national cake. People laugh about it without realising that they are ruining their country. The best form to reform this country is to insist on good educational system to work; because when people are well educated, there is a level of nonsense they will not accept from anybody. But when you leave people in ignorance, you make them susceptible to all sorts of anti-social reactions; you know, societal ills. If you are from different ethnic groups, you don't even think about them or look after them. If you belong to different religious groups, you don't even think of them not to talk of looking after them. But when people are educated, they will look after themselves. Allowing education to collapse in Nigeria is another pointer that the Nigerian elite is not serious about their country. But when they don't have a country, I don't know what will be the use of their own education or their educated children. Look at the number of factories closed now, because there is no power. Then how can people earn their living to send their children to school, or even basically to eat? We are not serious about this country. The Nigerian elite are not serious about this country. One of the things you took very seriously as the Head of State was the issue of corruption. We still recall that certain politicians were sent to jail for so many years then, and that was when we heard this concurrent jail terms terminology, which was very popular then; that seemed not to solve the problem. The fear you tried to instil in politicians seems to have evaporated. That brings us to the current probe going on in the National Assembly and the many scandals, as it were. First of all, how do you feel hearing these monumental scandals? Then, do you think probe is the answer, given your experience in government? What happened during the Murtala/Obasanjo regime - I told you I was in all the three councils of that government at one time or another. When I was doing a course in the United States War College in June 1979, I could recall I was asked, (and) I said, as I knew, there was nobody in the government that was found as being corrupt and allowed to walk away. For me, what happened during the Obasanjo political era of eight years was a shock that I don't think I will ever recover in my life. How could Obasanjo allow his chief law officer to accumulate so much resource - N17 billion proven - in only three years under his very nose? But he went ahead to handcuff three ministers. At least, they were handcuffed in front of Commonwealth leaders in Abuja, for Obasanjo to demonstrate to the world, not only to Nigeria, that he would not tolerate corruption. And what happened to those ministers? One of them unfortunately died and he was close to Obasanjo. And then look at what (Tafa) Balogun had done. When your chief law officer was on such a rampage of bribe collection for three years under him, I was most demoralised. Absolutely demoralised. You have mentioned ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo severally in the course of this interaction. Do you see him as really one of the problems this country has? Of course, he is a big problem. If God gave him the opportunity to rule this country for 11 years, and in his multi-party democratic system, messed up himself in eight years and ended up as virtually the worst leader of this country, I think there is no measure of failure more eloquent than this one. In this issue of corruption sir, there is one story woven around you, which we want you to either confirm right now or deny. There is this story that a construction company in Nigeria had a tradition of giving five per cent equity shares to any Head of State that comes into power; and that you were the only person that rejected that offer. We don't know whether it is true, somebody told us this. Well, let me tell you: in all the things I told you already, God allowed me to go through, in terms of leadership - militarily. Military, not only in terms of command and staff duty, per se, but in terms of executive political power as minister, as governor, as Head of State, as chairman of PTF (Petroleum Trust Fund), I couldn't recall anybody daring to come and discuss corruption with me. I am telling you this. I have been perfectly seen from then to now; nobody could dare approach me for a bribe. Nobody! All those were stories. But if I had made the mistake of compromising my integrity, there was no way I could hide it. People would have known it. Can you explain the controversy surrounding the N2.8 billion oil money when you were minister? advertisement Which one when I was a minister? It's just a lot of nonsense. I was not in the country; I was already in the United States War College. I was made to understand that it was a political move against the military government by a political party appointed to challenge (Shehu) Shagari as the president either by two-third or by whatever equation. And the best way to do it was to tell something that would upset Nigerians in no small way. Then N2.8 billion was missing. But we, Nigerians, are so dishonest we don't examine issues. They just go on popular feeling for whatever as real. But from what I could recall, the late governor of the Central Bank (of Nigeria), Clement Isong - I read it in the New Nigerian, when I was in the United States because I was getting copies when I was there - summoned enough courage to express doubts that such amount of money could get missing. How much was a barrel of oil in Nigeria then, and how much were we exporting? And how could N2.8 billion (get missing)? You divide, say, N15 per barrel by N2.8 billion and find out how many years production was stolen and without anybody feeling it in the country. It's just impossibility, and Shagari was absolutely right; because his government was right to put the late Ayo Irikefe, a Supreme Court justice, to have an open investigation. Just like a market place, go and bring your facts, and it ended up with people saying that they heard about it in the motor park or when they were driving in molue (bus) from point "A" to point "B". Now could responsible Nigerians believe that, when Nigerians were suffering or any country? No, even if they are not suffering, for them to be told that N2.8 billion of that time, of their money, had been stolen. But these days, people are being tried for stealing as much and everybody is going about his business, because of the elite; and you institutionalised theft of public funds. Let us come to the time you were the Head of State. Some people said and believed that your deputy then, the late General Tunde Idiagbon, was quite instrumental in the success of the government of that era. First of all, we would like to know what relationship you had with him. Was he actually in charge at that time? Then, the second part of it is that some people believe that if he were around in this country in 1985 when you were ousted, that coup couldn't have succeeded. Can we have your comment on this? Yes! My comment is that by any standard, Tunde was an intelligent military officer, and I enjoyed working with him and for allowing him to work, (for both of us) to be loyal to each other and to our country. This is all my comment. In other words, if he were alive today and you were president, you would have still appointed him into your government? If I will get a Tunde, I will definitely work with him because he was loyal, hardworking and a patriot. (In) our first military council meeting, we discovered Nigeria had enormous human and material resources, but we had a problem of indiscipline (on) each Nigerian nationhood, as Hausa/Fulani, as Igbo, as Yoruba or any tribe, because everybody has his own culture. If we could extend our cultural ethics to each other's culture, Nigeria would have been solid. And this is what the (citizens of) United States succeeded in doing to make themselves a great country. But the unfortunate thing was the difference in history. The United States is a collection of immigrants, disgruntled, some persecuted in their home country because of religious views, others for other reasons. They got together, eliminated the locals and sentenced them to reservations and even shot up all the aborigines and so on. And they found common ground, after civil war, in democracy. This is why you don't compromise on democracy. Some of their leaders that tried to tamper with democracy, like (Richard) Nixon, had the rough edge of the sword. In Nigeria, they still feel they are individual nationhood. So they can tolerate what is happening to the other brothers, which they will not tolerate themselves. I will give you a political example: in 2003, we believed there was a tacit agreement between the PDP, the AD ( Alliance for Democracy) and Obasanjo. The AD would not put up a presidential candidate. But the PDP and Obasanjo would allow AD to have the governors downward in each of the six South West geopolitical zones. The PDP and Obasanjo double-crossed AD. I flew in and saw one of the Yoruba leaders, on Wednesday, previous to the presidential election of the following Saturday. I said this is what happened according to our political calculations; would you now be prepared to vote for me as presidential candidate of the ANPP, because they have been double-crossed by your party? The person said he was a tribal leader but not a political leader. I chartered an aircraft. So I flew in to Enugu. I went and saw Dim (Odumegwu) Ojukwu. I said: Ojukwu, this is what happened. Dim looked at me straight in the face, and said: "General." I said: yes. He said: "I will not step down for you. But if there is a run-off, my supporters and I will vote for you." Which is the more honourable by your own calculations? In other words, what you are saying is that tribalism still has a place in Nigerian democracy? This is why I brought you the American example and that is why I brought the Nigerian example. That is why I said if the Nigerian elite, in their own pockets, whether Urhobo, Itsekiri, Ijaw, Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri, would extend their own ethnic qualities or culture to other immediate or even far away cultures, we would have been a stronger nation. Perhaps, eventually it would happen. Perhaps, you may not be accused of tribalism yourself. But there is something Nigerians can very much be uncomfortable with about you, and that is one stigma some people want to attach to you. They see you as too much tapering towards Islam. Some people even go to the extent of saying that if you became the president of this country, you're going to Islamise Nigeria. To what extent is this true? Eh, if that is stigma, as you put it, I welcome it. But it is the way Nigerians think that we should play politics. I virtually wrote every bishop in this country, and explained myself. If a people should identify a way of their religious practice, why not? And to the best of my knowledge, I explained it to them. As I am speaking now, I do not know a single non-Muslim that was taken before a sharia court and prosecuted in any part of the 12 Northern states that accepted sharia. I challenge you to make the investigation. So, what is the problem? I cannot refuse that I am a practising Muslim. But those who are practising religion, who bother to know about Islam, (know that) Islam believes in co-existence and it means peace. Islam made alliance with non-Muslims, even during the time of introduction of Islam by Prophet Mohammed (Pbh). So, what is all this cry in Nigeria about Buhari being a fundamentalist, those of us they are calling? Well, maybe they had their own people and their own country. If Buhari had been a Head of State, he might have been a better Head of State, especially with those resources he might have got down the education, the security, the infrastructure, and better for everybody, because Buhari would not compromise with personal integrity. And if I ever did, I would not move the line in my profession. From Platoon commander to General, from governor to minister to Head of State, somebody would have dug it out and exposed it so that Buhari's problem could have been rested. The major issue in the country now is the Niger Delta question. How would you have solved the problem, if you were in the position to do so? I am sure you know about it. You just want to find out whether I was serious about it or I have forgotten. When I made the declaration of my intention to seek my party's nomination in 2007, the Niger Delta was top of my priority, because security is the top of my priority. Unless people feel secured and can move about 24 hours a day and earn a legitimate living, then we are wasting our time. I said then the question of Niger Delta - I put it in writing; I gave it to the press - that I would get the whole stakeholders, the government, the militants, their leaders, locally, the oil operating companies to sit down and discuss, and then the government would take action on them. I said it. That is my position. But that is exactly what is going on now; they have called for a summit? (Cuts in) If they copy our manifesto, there is nothing I can do with them; I cannot sue them for plagiarism. There is the contention from the Niger Delta area that what is needed is not about conference culled from


HABA! NIGERIA POLICE FORCE WHAT A COLLUSION OF EVIL Guest writer I hereby draw the attention of the Inspector General of Police and the Police Service Commission to the unprofessional conduct of Ayobo Divisional Police Officer by name CSP Isijola, ACP Bolaji Area G Area Commander, AIG Zone 2 by name M.D Abubakar, and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police as regards to Ayobo land dispute. It is appalling that Nigeria Police Force have sold themselves to land grabbers and agents at the expense of the ethics of their profession. It is saddened to note that Nigeria Police who ought to be a custodian of truth, faithfulness per-excellence and protector of armless citizens have constituted themselves to enemies of the citizens and whipping tools in the hand of land agents and speculators who are parading themselves as lords over the Nigerian Police Force. But this is against the slogan of Nigeria Police Force which says police is your friend. Is there nothing like self defense in our legal dictionary? When a single man by name Al-Moroof Owonla A.K.A Kaka led teams of bandits on the 10th of July 2008 and invaded the whole Ayobo Land with about 30 commercial buses loaded with thugs, that were heavily armed with guns, cutlass, axe, charms and diverse of ammunitions, killing, maiming, looting and raping innocent girls in a day light under a phantom court judgment with several counter judgments, while others are still pending in court. The whole Ayobo communities were thrown into confusions it took the intervention of Rapid Response Squad from area G led by the area commander himself to save and rescue the entire communities from Kaka and his boys. The case was taken up by the Community Development Association and reported to Ayobo Police station under CSP Isijola DPO Ayobo Division the casualties and those that were caught by the community and the Police were taken to State CID Panti Yaba, Lagos for cross examination and with the mind that they will eventually be prosecuted in a court of competent jurisdiction. But it was rather unfortunate at the turn of events and the present scenario in Ayobo land that the same Police Force who rescued us from the bandits and thugs led by Kaka, the same Police Force who saw the killings and lootings, raping and destruction of lives and properties of innocent citizens has teamed up with land speculators to fight the masses and deprived them of their landed properties all in the name of blood money. It is imperative to note therefore that the same community who reported this ugly incident who are the complainants has become an accused overnight when money has exchanged hands. Haba! Nigeria Police Force what manner of friend is this? The questions then arise:  Has the law vested so much power on individual to take over or over run a whole community of about eleven villages by force when the case is still pending in court?  When has Nigeria Police force become a whipping tool in the hand of thugs parading themselves as land grabbers, speculators and agents?  What hope do we have in Nigerian Police Force that has become foes to the masses?  What is the fate of the masses in this country called Nigeria where godfatherism thrives at the detriment of the masses?  When Nigerian Police Force has become an instrument in the hand of the criminals to unleash hardship on the people where do we run to?  When Nigeria Police Force who ought to be an umpire become a competitor all in the name of money what becomes the hope of the masses?  What manner of a nation is this where money determine the degree of innocent and the guilty where do we run to for succour?  What hope do we have in a nation where a first class Oba was arrested and forced to sign an undertaking that he was an accused at the seat of power what becomes the fate of ordinary citizens?  What manner of a nation is this where the Police and common criminals are friends to deprive the innocent citizens of their properties?  When the law enforcement agencies turned a blind eye to crimes linked to influential politicians or powerful godfathers even where ample evidence of criminal wrongdoings can be fully established where do we go to enforce justice? One might wonder, why all these questions? The answer is not far fetched a fact finding delegation was sent to Ayobo land for on the spot assessment both at the Zone 2 and Abuja respectively the community took them round and saw things by themselves. The widows and the children of the people killed were interviewed the video coverage as regards to wanton destructions of lives and properties by Kaka and his team of criminals were seen. Yet the outcome is that the masses are guilty and should you report Kaka boys to DPO Ayobo Division for destroying your properties you will find yourself in the cell. Let CSP Isijola DPO Ayobo division, M.D Abubakar, AIG Zone 2, ACP Bolaji Area Commander, Lagos State Commissioner of Police and others who are turning deaf ears to the crying of the masses realize that if we don’t have money to throw about like Princess Momoh the iron woman behind Kaka and Bello we have God. Methinks rule of law is all about what is right, what is pure, what is honest, what is virtuous, what is noble and what is authentic. Egalitarian society is not ugly, neither is it wicked nor crooked. Egalitarianism is not deceptive and vindictive, but reverse is the case in Nigeria. Moreover, I wish to appeal to the new Inspector General of Police most especially Police Service Commission to come to our aids in Ayobo land and save us from Kaka and his boys in Nigeria Police Force. Because we cannot sleep with our two eyes closed, we cannot put one block on the other without destroying it despite the fact that several counter judgments has been delivered and some are still pending in court of competent jurisdictions. Justice demands that you can only claim a certain portion of land and not an entire community of about eleven villages. To worsen the situation the Police who are to provide safety for the masses have become haven for land speculators and land agents all in the name of money. This collusion of Nigeria Police Force and criminals is devilish, however we live in a country where the law is only meant to suppress the masses, haven forgotten that there is always a limit to human endurance. But the moment a goat is pushed to the wall is bound to fight back, thus says the crying of the masses. From Pastor John 'T. Awe Ayobo Resident 08033190351

29 Million Women Blind Globally

29 Million Women Blind Globally As the world celebrate World Sight Day , 29.25 million women have been reported blind globally according to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO). “Out of the purported 45 million blind people worldwide, women account for about 65 per cent, which is 29.25 million,” Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris said, at a news conference to mark the Day, adding that another 269 million people were visually impaired, while 85 per cent of these people suffers from avoidable blindness that could either be prevented, or treated and cured. The Commissioner explained that a further breakdown of the world blindness statistics shows that about 2/3 or 65 per cent of the people are women, most of whom are the elderly who live in developing countries and are more often than not ignorant of the avoidable problems that lead to their getting blind. The theme of this year’s World Sight Day is Gender and Sight-Equal Access to Care. The theme evolved as a result of the fact that more women are blind worldwide and are prone to blindness due to ignorance. “Most of these women are blind from correctable cataract blindness. Cost ordinarily is a significant primary barrier to the use of cataract surgical services. As a result, Lagos State is addressing this issue by offering the elderly free cataract surgical services in our hospitals. Blindness due to cataract alone can be reduced by 11 per cent if women were to receive cataract surgery at the same rate as men. “As the world marks the World Sight Day, the need for all stakeholders to reach-out to women and girls in our communities with a view to counselling families to take informed decisions and ensure that the needs of women and girls are not neglected for cultural and economic reasons has been stressed. “Above all, adopting approaches to improve the use of eye care centres by women and girls will not only reduce gender inequity, as a millennium development goal in blindness and vision loss, but will also have a significant benefit to the family, to the community and to the society at large. “Go out there and help women overcome blindness. Men should gear up towards removing the barriers that have been preventing women from accessing eye care centres in form of advice, encouragement, financial support among other, while women on their part should endeavour to seek information about eye care services in order to know what to do about avoidable eye problems that usually lead to blindness. Idris also disclosed that 2.8 million people are blind in the South-West zone of the country, adding that in Lagos State, the government had put machinery in motion to curtail the rate at which people are going blind. “The state government’s commitment towards its community outreach programme involves free eye screening, free glasses, free medications and free surgeries. To date, over 235,500 people have benefited from the programme, which has covered all the local government and local council development areas in the state,” he added. According to the commissioner, of the 235,500 people who had benefited from the programme, 25,541 were screened at the primary eye care units, 99,000 were given free eye glasses, while 15,270 people had free eye surgeries done to restore their vision. He disclosed that all functional Primary Health Centres in the state have primary eye care facilities for vision screening, eye health education, free treatment for conjunctivitis and a referral system to secondary eye units concerning the particular catchments area. “In the same vein, seven of our general hospitals have been equipped to investigate and manage cataract and glaucoma, while dedicated Eye Institute at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital is rendering the necessary tertiary eye care services needed in the state. All the primary eye care units have their eye care kits, the secondary units have the necessary equipment, and the tertiary centre will be able to carry out more complex surgical operations that cannot be handled by other levels of the eye care units,” Dr. Idris noted.