Sunday, October 21, 2007

Of power, the rule of law and the servant leader

On May 29 2007, the people of Nigeria were not prepared for anything spectacular as they were more or less disinterested with the swearing in of Shehu Umar Yar Adua as the incumbent president and commander in chief of the nation. This was coming off the heels of an Olusegun Obasanjo administration who had exhausted his constitutional two term of eight years tenure, we were made to believe later that he had actually explored the possibility of a tenure elongation via an amendment to the constitution. Although this was met with admirable resistance from the national assembley. The moment was to be a defining paradigm in thon the role of the legislature in maintaining democratic norms under the rule of law as the speech as given by the then senate president Ken Nnamani ably encapsulates.

The various motives which influenced the decisions of most lawmakers opposed to the idea although were suspect as a lot of money was reported to have changed hands among the members of the respective camps, the other camp being sympathisers of the then vice president Atiku Abubakar who was embroiled in the intricacies of high level political power play bent on scheming him out from contesting the upcoming presidential elections. The legislators would in time have their own date with the question of credibility as both houses had hitherto been embroiled in controversies ranging from the amazing to the outright absurd in their eight year lifespan. The elections in itself was mired in the midst of irregularities and various degrees of intimidation and in some cases legitimate voters were disenfranchised, the violence that characterised the conduct of the polls in certain areas were spearheaded by friends and associates of the various contending parties and most of these guys are allies of the powers that be.

A lot of them still walk the street as free men and some "cannot be arrested" as stated by the security officials of state and the unfortunate ones that lost their lives during skirmishes are regarded as sacrifices for the entrenchment of a workable electoral process as it was accepted by the majority of the populace that things were to remain the way they were and that the law was selective in it's administration of justice. Moreso when viewed against the backdrop that the new president was an obvious anointed son of the outgoing president whose eight year reign was fraught with the flagrant disregard of the rule of law, classification of a few as sacred cows and therefore above the law and the high level corruption in the system that in most cases was shielded from the scrutiny of the public under the guise of party affairs or "family affairs".

So when on may 29 2007 Shehu Umar Yar Adua took a deep breadth before he made his inaugural speech, not a few were disinterested, a lot of those people present at the Eagle Square must have felt themselves at the threshold of history as being witnesses to the installation of this man from Katsina state whose brother might had been a president of the country had he not been a victim of the military junta under the Abacha regime in those heady days of the struggle for the present democracy which some individuals are earnestly attempting to undermine as many in the podium were already dreaming dreams on how to take the opportunity to have a chair on the table where the national cake is being masticated, while others might be thinking "We can actually make this thing work!".

To the onlooker in the street it was like "Make we just hear wetin the man go talk". The words spoken that day somehow made most to have a feeling that perhaps we might just be able to get things going. As spoken by the president, he expected Nigerians to believe him and trust him, that he was going to be to us as a servant and that it is to us that he owes his allegiance. Well, no president had spoken those words before. Used to the usual brashness of the military heads of state and the repetitions that plague the efforts of politician civilians which had so largely being proven by the uneventful eight year rule of his predecessor we were consoled and our feelings were assuaged by the mien of this man whom most heard with their hearts. After the speech, it was like a cloud had been lifted, his seven point campaign agenda was made a priority and we were assured of a new arrangement where the rule of law was to be effected to the letter.

The political situation in those early days of the present administration were as terse and tense as the various machinations behind the scenes were carried out by foot soldiers of the new order and die hard loyalists of the passing one, the ways and manner in which these underhand arrangements and negotiations were carried out showed that there existed still a tug from the ruling PDP elite which somewhat restrains the progressive ideals of governance that the Yar Adua government would want us to believe they posess. The spectre of deceit and blackmail that trailed the baton of exchange of the office of the BOT chairman was a publicity nightmare that the party somehow managed. Honchos of the previous cabinet were systematically schemed out of things but hordes of loyalists were rewarded with executive and legislative positions in the various states and local government levels.

However, amongst these were some that had a belief that the nation could indeed positively realise her potentials in her peoples but others had different ideas as was to be seen in the various events that were to unfold. The various heppenings in the political arena were of less concern to the average citizen as they were viewed as amusing talk and rigmarole, what they wanted to see was concrete moves to get things going and to some extent, things are moving albeit slowly, but steadily. Given some good run up it could even fly and this fact has been realised and this is believed to have geared up the entire political-economic policy of the Yar Adua government. The power sector is being geared up to maximise the eternal power problem plaguing the entire nation. This is in fact one of the many laudable programmes that was initiated by the PDP government of Olusegun Obasanjo who actually launched a few stations before the end of his administration. The incumbent however has gone much farther by ensuring that all the power projects are concluded as soon as practicable and working at full capaity, the totality of the power stations should be able to generate about 10,000 megawatts of electricity, just about enough to ensure a steady power pool for the nation and some of her neighbours.

If this is achieved, it should be something short of a miracle considering the power crisis that is faced by most African countries. This among others has given people a hope that further gives the mind reason to believe that things could actually get better. Country wide, it was a feeling that had taken too long to come. The goal that was set was that the country would be a hub of economic activities which when translated would mean more than enough things to do to earn a good living baring the fact that one makes a conscious decision to become a deliquent, it was a laudable goal the willingness to pull together to assist in it's attainment not in short supply. A zero tolerance for corruption was declared and altercations between the EFCC and the chief law officer of the nation is believed to be the birth pangs of the delivery of an entrenched system for checking corruption as a duplication of duties should be avoided and a more streamlined and corruption detecting and investigative mechanism be realised.

The story of the Freedom of Information bill is another move that should engender transparency within the circles of government and her parastatals when it finally gets underway as expected. The search for a more acceptable electoral process has commenced as initiated by this administration and this was applauded by all with the calibre of personalities named to the commitee. The Niger Delta agitations were albeit temporarily taken care of with one of their own as the number two citizen and with concrete actions taken to formulate a long term solution to the issue. At least it was tabled as a national issue something previous administrations only paid lipservice to. The air of change was gradually blowing and the police force charged with the responsibility of maintaining law and order was working towards the modern policing methods of crime detecting as against crime fighting.

The judiciary at this time was coming off a string of decisions which had both been applauded and acknowledged as landmark right from the period of the upheavels that charecterised the run up to the 2007 presidential elections. Seeking to bar political opposition from contesting elections using the paraphernalia of executive office, the PDP government made attempts to thwart the ambitions of those categorised as opposition and disloyal, but landmark decisions ensured that reason and good conscience prevailed.

The hope of a new beginning began to take more root when viewed against the perspective that if the executive and the judiciary and the legislature do their own jobs, the wheels of this project Nigeria would move at an unhindered pace. But like in most tragi-comic scenarios, there is always a cog in the wheels of progress as is the case that it has turned out to be in Nigeria less than 200 days into his expected four years tenure. If there is one thing that the government of Yar Adua has done it is to identify some elements within the polity that seem to have a different perspective of reality from the yearnings and aspirations of the average Nigerian in the street .
Hitherto Niger Delta militants who have metamorphosed to ransom demanding kidnappers, political thugs masquerading as party leaders and political office holders who believe they are above the law.

If the words that were spoken on May 29 2007 are serious to the one who spoke it he has no choice but to take us on a carriage as he guides the way through and when we experience any cog in our wheel, it is his responsibility to take care of it. The president should be aware that aside the words he spoke on that day, he is become the president of the people and not the president from a party. This is more significant in the wise that as a party man his chairman and BOT might want him to kow tow to their leanings, but he should be mindful of the fact that his predecessor was never known for kow towing, infact he put them there especially during his second term in office.

A conflict of interest might naturally be expected as the presidency seeks to assert it's independence from the party while acknowledging the influence but a clear line of demarcation should be created as all aspects of nationhood, including her peoples and institutions are defined along the policies as set about by the government of the federation as headed by Shehu Umar Yar Adua.

The past few weeks had seen to a lot of happenings which are an amusing and interesting read, the trusted Nigerian society is never short of rumour mills and grapevine sources interspersed with the intermittent exposure of various scandals including corruption and sex. There was the story of some party officials involved in the rape of some lady and as yet, not much is being heard from the authorities, that shocking revelation presents itself as a scar on the administration.

It is a well known fact that some of these cases of sexual assault are not reported, but for one to be done so brazenly and consciously to beats the imagination and for the perpetrators to still be left as free men lends credence to the failure of the rule of law in a security apparatus that claims to uphold the ideals of the president.

Macabre as the drama gets, we see a hitherto demi god wanting to be god within his territory disregarding the governor because he is his political godson and disregarding the federal government because even the last president was more or less defferential to him, it will be trite to see how his story ends as he has begun to thread on some sacred and time worn waters of culture and tradition. Now the above would not bother most as they are those involving private citizens like themselves, but when feelers started being filtered that things were not right in the House of Representatives, no one ever dreamed it would snowball into the type of national and personal embarrassment of the magnitude it has assumed.

From commitee appointments to the birthday party in the United States which the embattled speaker Patricia Olubunmi Etteh pulled through successfully, nothing was to prepare herself and her followers for the oncoming torrents as there was no inkling that the next card to be played by her growing number of disgruntled members would lead her to the bind that she has found herself. At the height of the allegations of a contract that was awarded for the purchase of vehicles and renovations of quarters of principal officers, the aloofness of the speaker was aluded to the presumed spuriousness of the allegations. It was likened to a smear campaign of sorts, however the idoko panel report has raised issues that need be addressed. Thus the current posturing by the speaker is not only uncalled for but irelevant and totally out of place.

Looking at the proceedings in the lower house is entertaining and exciting as the unpredictability of honourable members can be counted upon. As usual, many are in the various camps for different reasons, but I do hope that the lesson that would be learnt at the culmination of this impasse would be that no matter who one is, they cannot claim superiority to the rule of law.

The only option open to Mrs. Etteh now is just to cling on to power, maybe if she is lucky she might ride the storm and it will all end up a family affair with an amicable settlement. Otherwise, she should spare herself any more ignominy and shamefacedly resign and keep quiet in the house, Nigerians being who they are would forgive her in a few years and maybe she might be the first female vice president someday if the respect for the rule of law dies today.

But alas, the drama is enough, irrespective of who her sponsors, frontmen and backers are, they are not the ones being spat on, she is. Her sitting, staring and smirking poise at successive sittings of the house watching her colleagues who are inherently her peers singing war songs, battling and dying all on the supposedly hallowed floor of the house should be tiresome to her at least by now. Power corrupts only those who are drunk from it and it would show an immense power if one can let go of what one hitherto held, that is "will power". The stance of the speaker and her supporters show a very discernible power behind the scenes working in the favour of Mrs. Etteh, but clearly, it has been confirmed that she indeed has issues to clarify.

The proponents of the probe were not much interested in the mode of atonement but were particular about the process followed in the approval of such contracts as the initial cry was to the fact that due process was not followed in the award of the said contracts. From the truly credible members of the house to the new comers wanting to make a name for themselves and even those who got the short end in the appointment of commitee chairmanship positions, there was a new unifying bond of camarederie insisting that the panel report must be read on the floor after the speaker must have stepped aside which to all intents and purpose was the sane, rational and normal thing to do but we have been treated to an amazing show of the physical and aggressive abilities of our lawmakers who are fathers, mothers and supposedly respected members of society.

If this show can become a reality in one of the prime institutions of our democracy under the Yar Adua government, then what right do they have to occupy the exalted positions in which they have found themselves in? What moral justification do they have to tell their kids that violence does not pay? What right do they have to preach about patriotism and nationhood when by their nvery actions they demean the very character of Nigeria? These are some of the questions that should be asked to each and every member of the house and each and every holder of political office in the nation who think that the fate of over 140 million people can be toyed with.

The president must put his foot down and ensure that his dreams are not scuttled by the very factors which seek to ensure his failure as these factors are within and around him. He should prove himself to be the president of the people and not the president of the party. Are we to believe that under this dispensation there still exists some who can lord it over the law? The last bastion that stands for the common man is the law, but what happens when the law hangs like a sword of Damocles on the heads of the common man, when one can be arrested for days without trial, where one can have rapists on the loose ready to pounce again, where known killers and murderers are adulated and feted in state banquets.

There must not only be the rule of law, "The law should rule!". This should be the point that must be made and the president of the federation, Shehu Umar Yar Adua must realise that somehow, the people are watching these unfolding events and will use it as another yardstick to measure the sincerity of those words spoken by him on that Tuesday of May 2007.

This piece was contributed by Areghan Emmanuel

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Origins II

The first Oba of Benin was a scion of a Yoruba prince, that is a fact of history that will come to be accepted in due time, but there is no dispute as to the first Ooni of Ife (and the founder of the Yorubas as they are known today in historical analysis and study) who was a Bini prince. The history of these two nations located in the western coast of Africa are as related as siblings from the same womb.

Selfishly, claimants of ethno/tribal nationalities propose sentimentalities as to the origins of these two nations who asserted themselves creditably at a time where contact with the west was nonexistent or at most minimal. The Binis and Yorubas were companions in the same migratory journey from the north of the continent and as some scholars of history would conclude settled in the region they now find themselves at almost the same time in history.

It is significant to point out here the similarities that they share in their mythology and legends, moreso as they believe in similar spiritual beliefs of a coterie of deities with one supreme being at the head.

Prior to the advent of the Obaship, the Ogisos were saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the governance of the peoples and like all civilisations would evolve to a system of unitary leadership. This was to occur soon after the yearning of the people saw to the ascendency of the primogeniture system of monarchy with the Oba at the head. However, while the Ogisos were thriving, the people further west were at a stage where political organisation was at it's infancy which led to the need for a central authority that conveniently provided itself with the coming of the hitherto Bini prince condemned to die but divinely let free by his executors to fulfill a long expected prophecy of the Yorubas.

It is this first Ooni of Ife that sent his son from a Yoruba woman to commence the monarchy in Benin, and this monarchy has lasted till the present day.

There is an ethno/tribal struggle for supremacy amongst contemporary scholars of these two nations albeit misdirected, up to the point that the Yorubas claim ancestry with the Itsekiris of the delta denying the bond that ties them with Benin. It is worthy of note however that rational thinking contemporary scholars with no room for bias have begun a process for the study of what binds these two peoples together and not the divisive elements which tend to create differentiation. This is a study that should throw more light on the origins of these two peoples.

It is this hope that should see the strenghtening of ties between these two great African civilisations instead of the constant bickerings that have been fuelled by historical accounts originating from European historians, thus unduly influencing the approach to the study of these peoples by generations of indigenous history and anthropology scholars.

Edo Maiden

Sweet Edo maiden
Clean of mind pure of soul
Let your morality fill all bowls
Alas! Your pride enlivens

Fair Edo maiden
Let loose your heart of gold
Sing for thy children, clear and bold
Sing for joy is waiting

Oh Edo maiden
A flower that blooms at noon
Hearken, your brave heart comes soon
Let down thus your heavy laden

Great Edo maiden
Diligence becomes your legacy
Amiability bestowed and industry
From mother earth and heaven

Saturday, July 14, 2007

14 July 1790, the day democracy died

After the French revolution climaxed by the storming of the Bastille in 1789, the spirit in the air gave rise to expectations of the dividends of democracy.

Politicians however took over and precisely a year later in the 1790 Fete de la Federation, the story was different as the commoners were still without succour as a new set of tyrants in democratic garb took over. Till date, it is still an impossibility to define the boundaries of democratic norms and this inconsistency had been exported to all nooks and crannies of the globe.

Certainly nation states in Africa and most developing countries are definitively practicing a dead or dying brand of democracy, and the originators of the idea in Europe and America are certainly having a hard time ressurecting their own democracies, not mentioning those of others.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lights, Camera, Action, Edo Style

They are there, tens of them all eager for a shot at the limelight. Eagerly they step into the rehearsal grounds at Brodricks Inn, a hangout for most of the budding actors and actresses that are within the Benin metropolis. Their display as the rehearsal went in full swing was adjudged okay by the producer and director and the curtains was called for the day.

This is the hub of the home video industry in Benin and a great many indigenous language productions had their conception here. Populated by young school leavers keen on occupying their time productively to undergraduates and proffessional actors. All together in one conundrum, giving life to some script.

As one of the actresses who called herself Osas said, "I love to play roles, and even if we are not as appreciated as our colleagues in Lagos and in the East, we must build our own local industry and promote our own culture. I believe that we are creating a legacy for the industry in Benin and in the entire Edo (state)."

Such is the enthusiasm expressed by these young men and women, crowds are mostly encountered on days scheduled for auditionings. Edoland is beginning to experience the birth of a new generation of artistes who are alive to their cultural endowments, they provide ample role models for the younger generations of Edo born.

This land is the Arts and cultural heartbeat of all Africa. The churning out of home videos, done in indigenous dialects and subtitled in English is a veritable means of re-engineering the cultural, social and political renaissance that is expected from a people that has been so gifted in resources and people.

It is hoped that recent reforms of the entertainment industry would not stifle the existence of these productions as the strategy employed should create room for the many positive effects that the burgeoning of indigenous productions creates for the individual as a part of society and also part of a nationality...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The announcement

See am, na me! Ajadrage, I dey announce BC
No try am, for we dey on stage, now y'all listen

From days of yore, the minds dem dey firm
The hearts of men and the rest from a womans bosom

Announce yourself, I be Edo Nation!
Ajadrage na me, copy?

Na so we go dey do am, come see for BC
"From thenceforth the trumpets blare, beyond the plains and the mountain tops

From henceforth the hornets nets been stirred and the wind worries even in the air
Whenceforth the sea's tell stories only they know for they grow as peers with the earth"

You know am?
No try yourself, great Bini, oma easy

Great Edo Nation
This na still part of the the introduction

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Birthday blues

Give me a heart beat

"Dum dum"

A heart beat

"Dum dum"

Give me a hand

"Clap clap"

A hand

"Clap clap"

Give me a greeting

"Domo, wa domo"

A greeting

"Edo domo, wa domo"

Happy Birthday, HRM Omo N'Oba N'Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa

Monday, June 18, 2007

Something to ponder about

What is the world coming into as we move beyond two thousand years of contemporary human society? What has been the one sole achievement of man in all these years that overwhelmingly overrides all others?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Ode to Edo

From ages of stealth in culture and wealth
A land from of old filled with people so bold
Come see for BC, visit the city
Come show for Edo, sample our ema and ogbono

See the streets so broad and big even the Portuguese dem really dig
The British came and were wide eyed, so our treasures they plundered
Now we be in the area between and betwixt the Niger
Now we reawaken, now we become stronger

Great Edo we hail, your walls of sand and clay
Great Edo we say, wa domo nowaen
Our land an inheritance of legends born and lived
Great Ewuare, Akenzua, Erediauwa, Oba gha to okpere

Come see for Edo, na here dem pour the sand
Where Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth after the flood dem stand
The giants of the ancient days once trod this very soil
And the moat they stand today as evidence of their toil

A thousand years of mystery and another thousand years
A monument to victory as said in history
A fulfilling of prophecies amidst hypothesis
Now understand the soul and mind of a people good and kind

Great Edo calls one and all as we're of one accord
Before the men of babel released the spirits of discord
Osanobua the almighty looks down on one and all
And great Edo once again is standing straight and tall

Nigeria, all systems are go

Now that everything about the new political dispensation has settled down, with the various state executive inaugurations also replicated at the federal level and with the dissolution of the fifth house of assembly and the commencement of the majority freshmen and women in the legislative arm, there is an expectation of vibrancy in the manner of approach that the new administration of Shehu Umar Yar Adua is wont to take.

Exercising patience in the way he handles the assigning of responsibilities, he should ensure that he balances well the need for a kow towing to the systemic process of governance and a personal need for a fulfillment of those yearnings he holds close to his heart. The millions of Nigerians, not minding highfallutin talk by the political gladiators are united in the belief that this seemingly simple man can actually offer them a better deal than his immediate predecessor.

Having roots in an era of individuals where political ideology was a matter of principle, it would be interesting to see how he successfully wrests with the various pulls and pushes that emanates from the behemoth of a party on whose platform he has earned the mandate to lead one of the worlds most gifted and blessed nations of the earth.

This appelltion sadly has not been realised with almost fifty years as an independent nation state, encompassing the areas from the bight of Benin in the western coast of Africa to the very fringes of the great deserts to the north. This areas having being populated by various peoples and with varying cultures and beliefs over the centuries are now all lumped into fashioning out a collective destiny for their on nation.

Sadly, previous attempts at this venture has woefully failed due to a juxtaposition of the selfish interests of the political class influenced by both primitive capitalist accumulation tendencies and sinister motives to whipping up ethnic sentiments to gain ascendency. The nation survived a failed seccession and the notes of marginalisation are still being heard today, even from different unexpected quarters.

The man in charge now has a unique role thrust upon him. Much as most despise his predecessor, rational reasoning folk would agree that there were some needed changes that had to take place, and somehow or the other, some of these things would work. But the entire machinery of governance is a system, and should one part of the system fail, the efficiency of other parts is retarded. Yar Adua must as a matter of priority address head on issues of relevance to the majority of Nigerians who want to know why after all the encomiums being poured on the last administration, they still feel as far away from all the promised goodies.

A totality of issues must be addressed totally, Nigeria as a system is capable of running efficiently with abundance of reserves of energy which can be channelled to other productive ventures. The mind is a wonderful tool, our president should use his mind. We need a leader and not a president. The followers will have a direction if there is the presence of a leader, a president can just give orders and we all know what has turned out of the road construction orders and power resuscitation orders of the previous administaration.

Nigeria is on the threshold of a long and pregnant historical voyage and you, sir, Mr. President are the chief navigator. All systems are go.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Blair's African visit and the issues surrounding those Initiatives

It is very trite the way that the outgoing British Prime Minister is calling for the fullfillment of aid pledges to African nations. Much as it is in line with his initiative proposed at the G8 summit in 2005, it is somewhat contradictory reality that we experience.

The Edo nation and other such peoples of Africa over the centuries were strangers to poverty and want. Somehow, in a bid to civilise Africa according to her whim, Britain and the rest of Europe has foisted on Africa the upheavels, humanitys suffering and anguish and dissatisfaction and violence and thus more poverty arising from misrule (which method infact has been borrowed from the west).

Tony Blair should begin to champion the cause for a righting of the wrongs done and an all encompassing, just and thorough treatment of the issue be undertaken. One of the first among a list of sincere actions by any initiative should be to seek to adhere sincerely to prior treaties and agreements reached at meetings between these European countries.

The return of artefacts carted away from thriving and living cultures should become a priority as the presence of these artefacts would serve in no small way to improve the wellbeing of the people by employing varied ways of maximising their cultural, academic, spiritual, economic and political value as well as their legacy as a heritage.

No better place to commence this redress than the place which called Benin in Edo State, Nigeria.

This action would in no small way have a resounding impact on the developement of the area of Benin, this would have an effect all over the Niger delta region of Nigeria, creating stability for the superstructure of the country. The tourism and commerce potentials are immensely enormous and her millions of peoples yearn for something to complete them and satisfy them.

It is worthy of note that the Edos are among those regarded as peaceful and non aggressive among the many peoples of Nigeria who is viewed as a stabilising force in all of Africa. They however have the most cause to be a thorn in the flesh of not only the Nigerian psyche like her neighbours in the delta, but also to the entire globe, the risk is tempting, but the people are reasonable enough to be realistic.

Any initiative should consider the possibilities and probabilities and proceed to provide the neccessities, the opportunities would present themselves. Having held the position of the political head of the Britain that took away Benin's artefacts so many years ago, he might just be within the fringes of history's heroes if his Initiative is agreed and acted upon by the participants of G8 Summit in Heiligendamm in a few day's time. Nice to know also that a Germany who would soon be assuming leadership of the body is in support of this initiative.

The Edo nation applauds Angela Merkel, the Chancellor in Germany. It is hoped that these words would not turn out to be rhetorics as most are wont to be. The call for a timetable for the return of these relics would commence and we would see a great wrong by one people on another righted in our lifetime.

Ill intentions

These were the events that transpired prior to the invasion of Benin Kingdom in 1897. From the text of the following , it is obvious that there were already ulterior motives governing the minds of the officers involved.

Ralph Moor, the Consul General of the Niger Coast Protectorate, felt hampered by the Foreign Office's reluctance to allow him to mount an armed expedition against the kingdom of Benin. This is the background against which the events of 1987 occurred, when Moor was on leave in England and a newly arrived Acting Consul General, James Phillips took up his post.

Phillips had met Consul General Moor only once, in London, just before his departure. Moor, who had a history of violence against African rulers who did not submit to his authority, had already proposed a military operation against Benin but had been prevented by his more cautious superiors in Whitehall (military expeditions could become very expensive and produce disappointing returns).

Phillips intentions become clear in his despatches to the Foreign Office. Immediately on arrival he called a meeting of traders and officials and wrote a report to Whitehall:

"The whole of the English merchants represented on the river have petitioned the government for aid to enable them to keep their factories (trading posts) open, and last but not least, the revenues of this Protectorate are suffering ... I am certain that there is only one remedy. That is to depose the King of Benin ... I am convinced that pacific measures are now quite useless, and that the time has now come to remove the obstruction ... I do not anticipate any serious resistance from the people of the country, there is every reason to believe that they would be glad to get rid of their King but in order to obviate any danger, I wish to take up sufficient armed force ... I would add that I have reason to hope that sufficient ivory may be found in the King's house to pay the expenses incurred."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Story story

A very very long time ago, a certain man and his family lived peacefully and were relatively happy and prosperous. His children were strong and hardworking and their products were renowned far and wide.

After some while, some strangers came to visit and were welcomed for they were interested in how to make existence more enjoyable. However, while these strangers were in the mans house, they saw the beauty of the products of his sons and their minds changed.

They gave a dog a bad name and then hung it. They accused him wrongly before the world and then sought to humiliate their hosts. Their accomplices pillaged the mans house and went away with things that were not theirs.

Thus the children of the man were disillusioned and lost, but they continued to survive and they continued to exist, over the years and over the generations.

As they traverse the world, they see the belongings of their fathers and their brothers, the long lost family treasures that they only knew existed in tales and legends and their joy knew no bounds for here at last were the legacy of which was stolen.

Please, I would like someone to end this story for me taking into consideration that the latter paragraph of the above story was playing itself out today...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ask yourself a question

Have the Edo people, both individually and collectively lived up to their fullest potentials as a people?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Move Has Begun

There has been a wish held by all of Edo origins to relive the glory days of when the empire was flourishing. Contemporary Edo nation encompasses the majority of modern day Edo state, Delta state and most parts of the Western region of Nigeria up to the boundaries of Lagos state.

It is wishful thinking to believe that the old boundaries of that great empire could still be redrawn but the present Edo speaking peoples of Bini, Esan, Afenmai, Akoko Edo etc all belong to that great family who hitherto had the Oba sitting in Benin as the unifying factor and rallying force.

Though the present population of this people is as yet to be confirmed due to the various controversies that has plagued prior attempts at a population census, it is estimated that all Edo indigenes within the geographical delineation of the nation Nigeria and in the diaspora total over five million and this is being very modest.

There exists nations of the world today who have their sovereignty and can boast of less than half our population and that is a fact.

For over a hundred years, our valuables and cultural legacies pillaged during the punitive expedition of 1897 has been all over Europe, aside the financial behemoth that we have bequeathed to the globe, it is a travesty of justice that in this day and age where states and nations seek to live within the confines of our common global village, that certain vested interests are still holding on tight to those artifacts which were wrongfully wrested from our forefathers in the guise of a punitive expedition.

Meanwhile, it is a well known historical fact that these expeditions carried out in far flung places such as Japan and much closer to us here in Ghana were as a result of the need for conquests and more exactly arose during the scramble for Africa.

Now that the world has been civilized by these same interests, it behooves on all lovers of justice to seek for a reparation of these artifacts. There is no gain saying that were it to be in the present day, the perpetrators of the acts in Benin in 1897 would have been made to face war crimes charges of genocide for the acts done against the Bini people.

A hundred years have come and gone and no answers to the questions that were raised, rather we have seen the systematic erosion of historical values and norms.

We do not need another hundred years to elapse before we are given our due. Our cultural heritage must come home. With you as a part of our efforts, we shall not fail in this regard, and we will live to see that those our brothers who were sacrificed on the alter of colonial dominance and conquest did not make that sacrifice in vain.

We must one and all face this challenge as a united and Great Edo Nation...


Where are we really from?