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Voice of Emancipation: Staying Focus on the Task Ahead

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By Kayode Emola

The 2023 Presidential election has created a lot of stir in Nigeria, and we may not have seen the last of the uproar. The ethnic nationalities who profess so much to hate Nigeria helplessly, especially the Igbo and Yoruba are now at loggerheads justling for political positions in the same Nigeria. This can only mean that some of our people do not understand that you can either be totally free or totally bound, there is no half-way house.

We have allowed politicians to use their divide-and-rule tactics to blindfold our eyes such that our people completely forgot anything about self-determination. Several Yoruba people who have reservations when it comes to Igbo affairs and vice versa are helpless when they see the scheming going on by some Igbo people regarding Lagos. However, I believe the time is ripe for a mature conversation between the Igbo and Yoruba people if we want to move forward progressively.

Whilst I believe a Yoruba National Conference is long overdue, there is an urgent need for the elders on both the Yoruba and Igbo sides to convene a conference of sorts on how future relationships will be handled. This will ensure that there is no bad blood lingering around pre-and-post-independence.

The continuous claim by many Igbo people that Lagos is a no man’s land will no doubt infuriate the owners of the land who are by all means welcoming. In case people don’t know during the 1914 Nigerian amalgamation, Lagos has just around 154,000 population, whereas a place like Ibadan had over 1.5 million people. The colony of Lagos back then had one-third of the present landmass of Lagos of today as Ogun and Ondo states parted with a substantial part of their land to Lagos.

Even in London today, where we have more foreigners than original white British, I do not think anyone had dared to say London is a no man’s land. It would be respectful for those like myself who are not originally from Lagos to be mindful of the privileges we have enjoyed and continue to enjoy in a cosmopolitan city like Lagos.

For my Igbo brothers and sisters who had hoped for an Igbo Presidency as if that is the surest pathway to Biafra nation, I will say think again. Nigerian politicians care less about the welfare of the people as they are mostly concerned about the welfare of themselves and their family members. Even if an Igbo man wins the presidency, he or she does not have the power to unilaterally change the constitution to grant a Biafra nation.

This is the reason; both the Yoruba and Igbo people must urgently develop a framework on how to push for a sovereign national conference within the first 6 months of the incoming administration. We must work together on the basis of trust and mutual respect for each other in order not to continue in the mistakes of the past.

In the past, Nnamdi Azikiwe had thought he would rule Nigeria and if it so happens, he must fight to protect ‘One Nigeria’ at all costs. Chief Awolowo too had thought if he becomes President of Nigeria, he can bring transformational change to the ordinary people of Nigeria. Even Buhari with all his high-handedness in the last 8 years is leaving Aso Rock come May 29, 2023. This must teach us that ‘POWER’ is transient and we must not be too carried away with it.

Very concerning is the way we the Yoruba people fell for the cheap propaganda of the politicians concerning Lagos and inevitably became their campaign managers in an election we do not believe will transform the fortunes of our people. The majority of us overnight became interested in who governs Nigeria or any part of it, especially Lagos rather than focus on how we would achieve our own Independent Yoruba nation.

The truth is we can either want total separation from Nigeria or work together to reform Nigeria. We definitely cannot have both and that is why our progress is stalling. Both the Yoruba and Igbo nation must decide now if they want to become independent or remain in a divisive, poverty-ridden Nigeria.

Our Yoruba people have forgotten so soon, what the Yoruba serfs parading themselves as leaders did to their own people during the last 8 years of the Buhari regime and especially the ENDSARS protest in Lagos. Many innocent people lost their lives and victims’ relatives were not compensated for their loss, and many more were unlawfully detained without due recourse to the rule of Law. I am in no way against those actively campaigning for the candidates of their choice for the gubernatorial and other state positions. I just want us to have a mechanism in place to hold our leaders to account.

My take is after the 2023 election is over, how do we effectively communicate to our people that we are not ourselves actually a political party. Are we not also falling for the same trick the politicians have always been using to hold us bound, putting us under pressure at the last minute, using ethnicity and religion to divide us in order to gain our support for their political ambition only to make us forget our mission.

To be honest, I care less about who becomes Lagos state governor, and truth be told, so long as we are still living in Nigeria, we cannot escape scenarios like this. If we the Yoruba continue to delay our exit from Nigeria and continue to bury our heads in the sand rather than stand up for what will truly make us free, then many more occurrences like this are on their way.

It is sheer ignorance that is making some Igbo people behave like they can conquer and control Lagos. Not even the British with their heavy machine guns could do it, if the Yoruba people are not talking, it is not because they are deaf or blind. Yoruba people know how to fight and win their battles; therefore, I will urge us to be cautious at this time.

The onus is on all of us to focus on the actualisation of an independent Yoruba and Igbo nation separate from Nigeria where we can choose who comes or stay in our country based on trust. We should know that even this world we live in does not belong to anyone of us. We are just caretakers who will give stewardship of how we used the time and resources that were placed in our care.

I urge our people to know that Lagos can never be a no man’s land and any ethnic agenda against the Yoruba people in Lagos will not be welcomed. Lagos is open to everyone and all are welcome to stay, build a happy life and be prosperous but we should be respectful of our hosts in their benevolence.

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Opinion

Hailing the Supreme Court on LG Allocation Judgment

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Prof Mike Ozekhome SAN, CON, OFR

The supreme court judgement today, July 11, 2024, directing the Federal Government to pay allocations due to Local Government Areas directly to their account thereby abolishing the old practices of State-Local Government Joint Account, is timely and courageous.

What the judgement has done is more like interpreting section 162 of the Constitution, which provides for a joint State-Local Government Account. In which case, money is normally paid to state governors’ accounts and then for them to disburse to the local governments for them to share. But what has been happening is that, as I noted in 2020,over three years ago, the state governors, have been behaving like ”bandits”, waylaing local governments funds along the way and thus impoverishing them leaving them with nothing to work, just a little for salary. And nothing to actually work for the people whom they represent.
I agree totally with the judgement of the supreme court to grant full financial autonomy so that money is released and paid directly to the 774 local government councils which constitute the third-tier of government,to develop their places because the LGAs are grassrooted and nearest to the people. Rather than allow overbearing state governors throw their weight around and muzzle the local governments and seize their purse,they will now allow LGs breath some air of freedom.

If you take a look at our situation, Nigeria is operating a very lopsided federation,more like a unitary system of government. Where the federal government is supposed to be a small government,it is controlling 67 items on the exclusive legislative list. That is why the federal government gets the lion share of the federation account , the lion share of the money that comes to the federation account to the tune of 52.68%. The states get 26.72% while the entire 774 local government councils in Nigeria get just 20.60% of the monthly allocation by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RLASMC.

The question is, what is the federal government doing with almost 53% of the national income? That is because it is a government that is behemoth.That is elephantine. A government that intrudes and intervenes in areas that should not concern it at all. What is the federal government’s business with licensing cars and trucks for states? What is its business with the Marriage Act, dealing with how people marry and wed in Nigeria and how they live together as husband and wife and separate or divorce? What is the federal government’s business with unity schools? A whole FG operating secondary schools? What is their business? Why is the FG not allowing states generate their own power, operate their own railway stations, if they have the capacity? Why should the federal government not allow states have their own police force? Even for the local governments to have their own police force as we have in the United States and other advanced countries of the world where even tertiary institutions have their own police?

The truth is that the federal government is overbloated and overpampered. That is why it is using too much money and make the centre become too attractive,eating deep into funds that ought to be meant for the states and local government areas. The states take not only that which belongs to the states, but also waylays at source that which is meant for the local government areas. No Nation grows that way.

So, I see this judgment as epochal,having far-reaching effect because money will now be made available directly to the local government areas who will no longer be subservient, like fawning slaves to state governors. In fact, the judgement even went further to say that no state government has the power henceforth to dissolve local government areas. This is because we have been seeing cases where inspite of the provisions of section 7 of the 1999 constitution that give autonomy to local government areas, states normally go ahead and dissolve local government areas ND appoint caretaker committees for them.This is whimsical and capricious.The Supreme Court has said this can no longer go on and that henceforth, no state government should ever be able to dissolve any local government area in Nigeria for any reason whatsoever and howsoever.

The judgement is salutary, timely and regenerative. It should be upheld by all governments and people in Nigeria for better democratic dividends.I see this as victory for our wobbling democracy, even if we are far removed from true fiscal federalism where the federating units control and utilize their God-given resources while paying royalty or tax to the central government. This case is one big plus for tested court room gladiator, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation, who initiated the case at the apex court, invoking its original jurisdiction.Surely,to jaw-jaw is better than to war-war. God bless Nigeria.

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Opinion

Telling the Nigerian and African Food Story to a Global Audience

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By Lydia Enyidiya Eke

Nigeria as the most populous black nation on earth is located in the heart of Africa and as a great country with unique culinary traditions, this great nation is known for her diverse and vibrant culture and people.

Nigeria, as one of the 54 countries in Africa is well known for her rich history and myriad ethnic groups, and equally known for her culinary strength.

These divers’ culinary strength offers a gastronomic tapestry that remains largely untapped by the global audience.

Since globalization fosters a growing interest in diverse food cultures, it is high time the world embraced the flavours of Nigeria.

A Culinary Mosaic

Nigerian cuisine is a reflection of its vast cultural diversity. Each ethnic group brings its unique ingredients, cooking techniques, culinary textures and flavour profiles to the table, creating a culinary mosaic that is both rich and complex.

From the spicy and oily soups, stews and sauces of the Yoruba in the southwest to the savoury soups of the Igbo in the southeast, and the aromatic dishes of the Hausa-Fulani in the north, and of course the seafood and vegetable delight of the south south as well as the lovely relishes of the middle belt, Nigerian food is a journey through the country’s cultural landscape.

Staples like jollof rice, with its tantalizing blend of tomatoes, peppers, and spices, have already started making waves internationally.

The same applies to the well-known dishes and a plethora of lesser-known culinary treasures waiting to be discovered.

These covers the 36 states of the federation. The popularly known egusi soup, also known as unity soup is a hearty melon seed soup that is eaten across the nation and continent.

What about the pepper soup and their spices, the same applies to the herbs, condiments and flavourings of bitter leaf soup, oha soup, groundnut soup, beans soup and many more.

Suya is another spicy grilled meat skewers, which equally offer a glimpse into the depth of Nigerian culinary artistry.

The Need for Global Recognition
Despite its richness, Nigerian cuisine remains underrepresented and basically under reported on the global stage.

This lack of recognition can be attributed to several factors, including limited exposure and the dominance of other culinary traditions in international media. However, the tide is changing. With the rise of social media and the global trend towards exploring new and authentic food experiences, Nigerian cuisine is poised for a renaissance.

Championing Nigerian Food through Digital Platforms

One of the most effective ways to bring the knowledge of Nigerian cuisine to the global audience is through digital platforms. These platforms are now diverse. They range from YouTube, to Instagram, Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Snapchat amongst others . Also included are food blogs, food websites and vlogs.

YouTube, in particular, has emerged as a powerful tool for sharing culinary traditions with a wide audience. Channels dedicated to Nigerian cooking, like the one I run, are playing a crucial role in this movement. By offering step-by-step DIY tutorials, we are not only teaching people how to cook Nigerian food but also sharing the stories and cultural significance behind each dish.

These digital platforms offer an interactive and engaging way to learn about Nigerian cuisine. Viewers from around the world can watch, comment, and even share their attempts at cooking these dishes, fostering a global community of Nigerian food enthusiasts.

Preserving Cultural Heritage
For many Nigerians living abroad, cooking traditional dishes is a way to stay connected to their roots. It is an act of preserving cultural heritage and passing it down to the next generation. By teaching the younger generation how to cook Nigerian food, we are ensuring that these culinary traditions are not lost in the face of globalization.
Moreover, sharing these recipes and stories with a global audience promotes cultural understanding and appreciation. Food, after all, is a universal language that brings people together. By inviting others to experience Nigerian cuisine, we are fostering a sense of unity and cultural exchange.

The Future of Nigerian Cuisine
The future of Nigerian cuisine on the global stage looks promising. With increasing interest in authentic and diverse food experiences, Nigerian food has the potential to become a beloved part of the world’s culinary repertoire. However, this will require continued effort in promoting and sharing these rich culinary traditions.
Initiatives such as food festivals, cultural exchange programs, and collaborations with international chefs can further boost the visibility of Nigerian cuisine. Additionally, support from the Nigerian government and private sector in promoting food tourism can open new avenues for showcasing the country’s culinary wealth.

As we look towards a future where cultures and cuisines are celebrated for their uniqueness and richness, Nigerian food stands as a testament to the country’s vibrant heritage. By telling the story of Nigerian cuisine to a global audience, we are not only sharing delicious food but also promoting cultural understanding and appreciation. Let us embrace the flavors of Nigeria and celebrate its place in the global culinary landscape.

For further about some Nigerian recipes and cooking tutorials, visit GOURMET GUIDE234 on YouTube, and the food blog GOURMETGUIDE234.COM where you can embark on a culinary journey through Nigeria’s diverse and colourful food traditions.

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Opinion

Of June 12, 2024 Democracy Day Dinner and the President’s Speech

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By Dipo H. Aka-Bashorun

“The lizard that jumped from a high Iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no one else did” – Chinua Achebe

On October 1, 2005, our father, Alao Aka-Bashorun, passed away at his home in Gbagada, Lagos. He would have turned 75 years old in December later that year. Shortly after his passing was made public, tributes began pouring in from across the country and beyond. One of the first calls of condolences my mother received was from His excellency, the Governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He followed it with a public tribute and the condolence book was signed thus:
“You were a source of inspiration to your generation, you were a dogged fighter for TRUTH, JUSTICE, FAIRNESS and EQUALITY in your nation. You shall be sorely missed”
– Bola A. Tinubu Lagos State Governor

He didn’t stop there. At the condolence visit to my mother, he was alarmed at the poor state of the road leading to the house and felt it would discourage visitors from coming to the house to pay their condolences. He promised to do something about it. The next day saw workers begin road repairs of all roads from the highway leading to the house.

At the Old man’s Lying in state, held at the Nigeria Law School, I gave the Vote of Thanks for the family. Our father had been sick for several years, the onset of which was traced to that fateful day in 1996. I thanked everyone I could remember and those I couldn’t for supporting him and the family throughout those difficult years for the family. One of the special mentions was that of the Governor’s unwavering support for my father’s medical expenses, at home and abroad. 1st class Flights for my parents to seek medical treatment from specialists in London, Frankfurt and New York City. All expenses paid, out of the public eye.

When the family requested that we should respond to the absence of his name during the President’s June 12 dinner speech, it was not because we were lacking in recognition of our father’s contribution to the actualization of Democracy in Nigeria and June 12, in particular. He wouldn’t have wanted us to seek recognition but he would have wanted us to set the record straight with anything attached to his name. And June 12, my fellow Nigerians, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, like so many notable noble Nigerians, is inextricably connected to his name. To list his contributions and commitments to democracy and June 12 will take more time and space for my allotted time and space for this essay and medium.

Where to start? His conviction of G.O.K Ajayi SAN, to join him and mount the legal defense of Chief M.K.O Abiola, the widely acclaimed winner of June 12, at his trial for treason? His public warnings to the Nation and to foreign governments, years prior to the elections, that the Babangida Junta government were not the purported mid-wife to democracy in Nigeria and there was a “Hidden Agenda” afoot to manipulate the elections?

How about his years in exile ? Having had to leave Nigeria with a passport issued by the United Nations after the People’s Chambers (his law office) had been raided, sealed off and his Nigerian passport seized? His role as a leading member of the Human Rights movement to take the case of Nigeria’s human rights abuses to The United Kingdom and the United States?

September 6, 1990? A day that should have its rightful place in the history of Nigeria’s democratic infamy. The date should go down as the first attempt to strive for better, coherent national debate through national conferences. It was the date the Sovereign National conference was to kickoff at the National Theatre after he had successfully campaigned and organized civil societies in 1989 to establish a National conference. Unfortunately, the conference was disrupted by the Babangida junta.

His unwavering support of Mrs Kudirat Abiola’s resolve, commitment and determination to see the actualization of her husband’s mandate?

The omission of his name at a dinner speech notwithstanding, history has been kind to his legacy. Associations like the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association who have held a widely acclaimed annual lecture since April 29, 2010, in his name as Bar leader and incomparable activist have lived up to the creed; “the labour of our heroes past, shall never be in vain” and are doing their part so his name and achievements are not overlooked at the dinner table.

On June 4, 1996, Alao Aka-Bashorun was one of the first people to see Kudirat Abiola’s bullet-ridden body at the hospital. She had been on her way to pick him up for a meeting. The shock was too much to bear and he broke down at the scene and would never fully recover his memory again. Such was the price of Democracy, his price to pay for Democracy, in our beloved country, Nigeria.

Dipo H. Aka-Bashorun writes from Lawrenceville, New Jersey

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