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Centenary honour: Soyinka blasts FG for canonizing Abacha



– I reject my share of  this national insult

Prof. Wole SoyinkaNobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka has lashed out at the Federal Government for including the late General Sani Abacha among those honoured to mark Nigeria’s Centenary celebration.

He called the action of government as a disservice to the nation and a failure of a moral rigour that calls into question “the entire ethical landscape into which this nation has been forced by insensate leadership”.

In a statement entitled, “The Canonization of Terror”, the Nobel laureate said, “According to generalized but false attributes to known killers and treasury robbers is a disservice to history and a desecration of memory.  It also compromises the future”.

Soyinka, who was also listed as one of the awardees, added in a statement to explain why he declined to accept his own award say, “I reject my share of this national insult”.

The playwright said it was the same Abacha who “placed this nation under siege during an unrelenting reign of terror that is barely different from the current rampage of Boko Haram.  It is this very psychopath that was recently canonized by the government of Goodluck Jonathan in commemoration of the hundred years of Nigerian trauma”.

He said it was also under the authority of the late Abacha, whom he called “a vicious usurper” that “the lives of an elected president and his wife were snuffed out.  Assassinations – including through bombs cynically ascribed to the opposition – became routine.

Under that ruler, torture and other forms of barbarism were enthroned as the norm of governance.  To round up, nine Nigerian citizens, including the writer and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, were hanged after a trial that was stomach-churning even by the most primitive standards of judicial trial, and in defiance of the intervention of world leadership”.

The Nobel laureate wondered why successive administrations have not had the courage to “wipe out” Abacha’s memory from Nigeria.

He observed: “One of the broadest avenue in the nation’s capital, Abuja, bears the name of General Sani Abacha.  Successive governments have lacked the political courage to change this signpost – among several others – of national self degradation and wipe out the memory of the nation’s tormentor from daily encounter.

When you proudly display certificates of a nation’s admission to the club of global pariahs, it is only a matter of time before you move to beatify them as saints and other paragons of human perfection.  What the government of Goodluck Jonathan has done is to scoop up a century’s accumulated degeneracy in one preeminent symbol, then place it on a podium for the nation to admire, emulate and even – worship”.

He said, he, like many Nigerians, he found it disgusting that the hospital to which victims of the recent attack on a school in Yobe by Boko Haram were rushed for treatment was named after Abacha.

He added “Such abandonment of moral rigour comes full circle sooner or later.  The survivors of a plague known as Boko Haram students in a place of enlightenment and moral instruction, are taken to a place of healing dedicated to an individual contagion – a murderer and thief of no redeeming quality known as Sani Abacha, one whose plunder is still being pursued all over the world and recovered piecemeal by international consortiums – at the behest of this same government which sees it fit to place him on the nation’s Roll of Honour!

“I can think of nothing more grotesque and derisive of the lifetime struggle of several on this list, and their selfless services to humanity.  It all fits.  In this nation of portent readers, the coincidence should not be too difficult to decipher”.


…Why we honoured Abacha – FG

The Federal Government said it decided to honour Gen. Abacha for his unprecedented economic achievements.

Late Gen. Sani  AbachaIn the brochure at the award ceremony, the government said Abacha administration, oversaw an increase in the country’s foreign exchange reserves from $494 million in 1993 to $9.6 billion by the middle of 1997, reduced the external debt of Nigeria from $36 billion in 1993 to $27 billion in 1997.

It also credited him with ending all the controversial privatization programmes of the Babangida administration, reducing the inflation rate of 54 per cent inherited from Babangida to 8.5 per cent between 1993 and 1998, while the nation’s primary commodity, oil was at an average of $9 per barrel.

Besides, he was said to have created the most comprehensive and realistic blueprint for Nigeria’s development through Vision 2010 committee chaired by his predecessor, Chief Ernest Shonekan.

Abacha’s widow, Maryam received the award.

Also present to receive their awards were former Presidents/Heads of State Olusegun Obasanjo, Yakubu Gowon, Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Shonekan and Abusalami Abubakar.

The past leaders received award for outstanding promoters of unity, patriotism and national development.

Posthumously awards were given to the former Heads of State/Presidents including Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, General Aguiyi Ironsi, Murtala Mohammed, General Abacha and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

Representatives also received awards for the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Anthony Enahoro and former Labour leader, Pa Michael Imoudu.

Presenting a book “The reforms that have transformed Nigeria, 2010-2013” at the occasion, President Jonathan said it would not be fair not to apologize to Nigerians about the selection of Nigerians for the award.

He explained that it was difficult to select 100 people, saying that about 500 people are qualified for the award and that the government would look for a way to recognize them in future national occasions.

The families of the late Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, the late Lagos lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and the late music icon, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti also rejected the posthumous awards earmarked for them.

Mr. Kola Abiola, eldest son of the late Chief Abiola said the award was ‘inappropriate’ while Mr. Mohammed Fawehinmi said it would be morally wrong for the family to stand on the same podium with General Babangida to receive an award.

Babangida’s government, he alleged, serially subjected the Fawehinmi to torture and that it was during one of such ‘illegal and inhuman detentions that ‘our late father’s cell was sprayed with toxic substances while in Gashua prison in 1987.  The cumulative effect of that dastardly action led to our father, a non-smoker, contracting lung cancer which eventually led to his death on September 5, 2009’.

The Anikulapo-Kuti family blamed government for destroying Fela’s ‘Kalakuta Republic’ and subjecting his late mother, Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti to inhuman treatment, which led to her death.



USAID begins Covid-19 testing in Imo rural areas



USAID averts 25,000 unwanted pregnancies in Ebonyi, Kogi

…Umuagwo Varsity of Agric kicks-off October

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun Covid-19 testing in the 27 Local Government Areas of Imo State, “in a bid to reduce the impact of community spread of the virus in the rural areas of the state.

The Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Declan Mbadiwe Emelumba disclosed this in Owerri while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the Weekly Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Hope Uzodimma on Wednesday.

Chief Emelumba said so far, the USAID officials have carried out reasonable number of testing in Njaba LGA and reported that all those tested came out negative and that the council prayed that the result from other Local Government Areas will be the same.

He announced that the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) has approved the take off of the Imo State University for Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Umuagwo in October this year.

According to him, the approval underscores the efforts which the Imo State Government ably led by Governor Hope Uzodinma has made towards the establishment of a second university for the state.

Recently, the NUC panel was in Imo State to carry out the necessary verification exercises on the state facilities, human and physical infrastructures.

Mr. Declan Emelumba, who was flanked by the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Bernard Ikegwuoha, Commissioner for Health Dr. Damaris Osunkwo and the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the Governor Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku, informed that the Executive Council is happy that something new is happening in the Education Sector of the State.

Emelumba said that the Imo State University of Science and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo will take off by October when other universities would be resuming for a new academic session.

In the same vein, the Council has approved the immediate relocation of Faculty of Engineering Imo State University Owerri to its permanent site at Okigwe, stressing that Government has put all processes and facilities on ground to ensure the immediate take–off of the faculty.

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital



Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM  Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

The Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku has visited Mr. Ogechi Iwu, a journalist with Osiza FM.

The media man is hospitalized at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri over complications from diabetes that led to his right leg being amputated.

Mr. Nwachuku said the visit was to show solidarity on behalf of Governor Uzodimma to his professional colleague, assuring him of their prayers, particularly that of his principal, and the prayers of Mr. Iwu’s numerous friends and well wishers who are touched by his plight.

“I am here on behalf of my principal to associate with him in this time of health challenge and to encourage him not to see the sickness as a death sentence.”

Oge Iwu at fmc

L-R: Chief Akaraonye, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku with Ogechi Iwu during the visit

Mr. Nwachuku urged Mr. Iwu to continue in the high spirit he saw him and trust God for his total recovery “because healing is a thing of mind and when a sick person is in high spirit the patient gets recovered quickly.”

The spokesman of the Governor promised to bring the plight of the journalist to the attention of his principal, and assured that the Governor will, in his usual manner of one with milk of human sympathy, show concern over Iwu’s plight.

Earlier, Mr. Iwu thanked the CPS/Media Adviser, the State Chairman of NUJ, Imo State, Chief Christopher Akaraonye and other journalists who were on the entourage, for coming to identify with him on his sick bed, and assured that God in his infinite mercy will quicken his recovery.

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council



Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has inaugurated a new Governing Council, for the Imo State University, IMSU, Owerri.

At the inauguration ceremony on Monday, August 31, the governor named Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji as the Chairman of the Governing Council and Pro-Chancellor of the University.

Other members of the Council include: Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, Chief Tony Ezenna, Prof. (Ven.) Chinedu Nebo, Sir. Louis Ezeigwe, Chief Engr. Ernest Nwapa, Dr. (Mrs.) Uwandu Uzoma, Ugoeze Victoria Adaku Ekezie, Prof. Adaobi Obasi (Vice Chancellor) and others.

Speaking at the inauguration, Governor Uzodimma said the choice of the members is to infuse fresh air into the university because “It is in dire need to bounce back to reckoning.”
He added that the choice of the members was because they have carved a niche for themselves in their chosen fields of endeavour and that they have earned solid reputation as men and women of substance in their individual trade, indices that qualified them for the appointment.

He challenged the members to bring their reputation to bear on the University, bearing in mind the task for good quality scholarship in Imo State University as well as service to humanity.

The Governor urged the members to deploy their individual accomplishments, excellence, expertise, passion for service as effectively as necessary to actualize the dream of his administration of having a highly reputable University comparable to the best Universities in the World.

He also requested the Council to “restore in words and deeds the motto of Imo State University, which is Excellence in Service”.

“Imo State University currently is a classical example of a failed University,” Governor Uzodimma said but strongly believed that “with a star studded Governing Council such as the one inaugurated there is no doubt that Imo is on the track to realize the dreams of her founding fathers.”

He further enjoined the Council members to quickly hit the ground running and come up with policies and programmes that will reassure Imo people that the University that made them proud 20 years back is on track as he assured them of Government partnership in this regard.

In an acceptance speech, on behalf of the Council, the Chairman, Most Rev. Ugorji who is the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia thanked the Governor for the absolute confidence reposed in them by giving them the assignment and acknowledged that though the task is daunting he has a strong belief that with the calibre of members of the Council and support of the management, staff and students the University will be returned to a centre of excellence which was the dream of the founding fathers.

He said that Imo State University deserves the best and that he and his members as inaugurated will work acidulously to ensure that the target of the governor in making Imo State University one of the best universities in Africa is realised.

He congratulated fellow members and promised that God’s willing, they will not fail the government and people of Imo State.

Present at the inauguration were the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, and other members of the expanded State Executive Council.

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