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ideas have consequences

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The year 2020 is verily upon us. This is the year that the entire fabric of the country was mobilised to become the top 20th economy in the world. The drumbeat of this audacious goal had entertained and grabbed public imagination for the last 10 years, but has quietened down in the last two, because of the realisation that the goal would not be met. Why? And what went wrong? The entire government of Nigeria embarked upon the ambition to “position Nigeria to become one of the top 20 economies in the world by 2020, by linking the objectives of the National Economic and Empowerment Development Strategy programme (2004-2007), the NEEDS 2 programme, and the Seven-Point Agenda”.



The Nigerian government and key Vision 2020 stakeholder groups took concrete steps towards the development of the vision such as: budget allocation, development of sectoral strategies by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, the Central Bank of Nigeria Financial Sector Strategy 2020, Federal Inland Revenue 2020 Strategy, constitution and inauguration of the Business Support Group intended to engender private sector support for the vision under the auspices of the National Steering Committee. In addition, the National Planning Commission and the Vision 2020 Secretariat, which houses the steering committee were mandated by the Federal Executive Council to produce the Vision 2020 plan for launching by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by October 1, 2009. All of that was put in place and much more.
Image result for nigeria vision 2020



An institutional framework was established to oversee the country’s arrival at the top table of the 20 largest economies in the world by this same year 2020. The National Council on Vision 2020, National Steering Committee, Project Steering Committee, National Technical Working Groups, Business Support Groups, Programme Coordination Office, Vision 2020 Stakeholder Development Committee, state governments, MDAs, Special Interest Groups, etc., all co-opted into this humongous of a vision expected to touch on the key parameters of:  quality education, which provides “the opportunity for maximum potential, adequate and competent manpower”; infrastructure to “support the full mobilisation of all economic sectors”; manufacturing to deliver a “vibrant and globally competitive manufacturing sector that contributes significantly to GDP with a manufacturing value added of not less than 40%”; health sector that “supports and sustains life expectancy of not less than 70 years and reduces to the barest minimum the burden of infectious and other debilitating diseases”, and last but not least, “a modern technologically enabled agricultural sector that fully exploits the vast agricultural resources of the country, ensures national food security and contributes to foreign exchange earnings”. All of the above to be achieved, according to the blueprint, in a “peaceful, harmonious and a stable democracy”.






We do not have the exact financial cost of this welcome party, but it is safe to assume that it is in billions of naira, involving the recruitment of experts, domestic and international consultants, thousands of support staff up and down the country. Never has so much resources been committed by so many to such a scanty outcome. As of today, Nigeria is the 27th largest economy in the world by GDP of under $500. It will take another 20 years, at least, to attain the position of the 20th largest economy in the world if at all.




Meanwhile, income inequality has widened since the vision was launched, human development index has fallen, at 0.534 as of 2018, putting the country in one of the lowest categories in the world; 158th out of 189 countries and territories, according to the UNDP. The economy which grew at close to 8% in 2009 has since contracted (i.e. shrunk) to less than two per cent, and future prognosis is even more depressing to contemplate.




This piece is not offering a comprehensive review of the Vision 2020 project; sector by sector analysis and all that. We are interested in the grand aim, which has spectacularly fallen out of reach, leading any rational observer to call the whole vision into question. Just like a top flight football manager, an ambitious target is set by the club and the manager is judged by results. Was the ambition too high for Nigeria in the first place? Or, was there not enough commitment to back it up?



To be fair, Nigeria is not alone in declaring audacious ambitions. China’s “Great Leap Forward” campaign in 1958 under Chairman Mao Zedong was an attempt to transform the country from an agrarian to a communist nirvana by organising society into “communes” in an effort to increase yield production and eradicate the urban-rural divide across the nation. Far from the increase surplus envisaged by the goal, agricultural production declined significantly, leading to mass starvation. In short, the “Great Leap Forward” turned into the “Great Chinese Famine” before long. The “Bolshevik Revolution” in Russia in 1917. They wanted to transform society into a utopian communist El dorado. The revolutionaries transformed into the communist party several years later, culminating in the eventual formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922. 



The aim was first, to “catch up” with the West, and overtake it in human, technological and scientific development. The USSR survived for over 70 years before collapsing under the weight of its internal contradictions in 1989 without ever achieving any of its lofty aims. Japan was an imperial power destroyed by America’s dropping of atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9 in 1947 at the height of the Second World War. It led to Japan’s surrender on the promise to the Americans never to be a military threat again. Without further ado, the country with little or no resources, quietly went underground, rebuilding their society along education and technology with no grandiose “visions” to boast of. It has since risen to be the third largest economy in the world. There is no household in the world without at least one electronic item made in Japan.




Germany under Adolf Hitler went through a similar scenario following defeat after World War II. No ambitious economic plans or dreams of surpassing anyone on the technological front, only a desire to rebuild a war-ravaged economy. Germany has since also risen to become the biggest economy in Europe and fourth largest in the world. Malaysia and Singapore went through a period of colonial repression under the British, got their independence in 1957 and 1963 respectively. The two countries once tried to merge into one entity, but went about their separate ways to become the leading lights in the creation of the so-called “Asian Tiger economies” almost literally from the ashes, and without grandiose visions beyond hard work, dedication and forthrightness.



What do these analogies from the outside world tell us here in Nigeria? That you can have big dreams on paper and indeed by intention such as the old USSR and China, but without the backing and collective will of the people, it is doomed to failure as it did for those two countries. On the other hand, you can nurse big dreams to become successful as indeed happened in the cases of Japan, Germany, Singapore and Malaysia, if the people plug into the same aspiration as the government pushing it. Nigeria’s “Vision 20:2020” was long on ambition, but short on commitment of the people. It fell short because it failed to carry the people along. Any such vision in the future must be anchored in a belief in “project Nigeria” first. It is the basic minimum, and by far the hardest to achieve, but without which no foundation for a successful nation can exist.

 

Image result for tayo oke Tayo Oke is a Nigerian academic analyst

Image result for senator menendez letter to Nigeria


The United States  Senator Bob Menendez issued the below press release and letter that subsequently  brought about the release of Sahara Reporter publisher  Omoyele Sowore.

"Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after Omoyele Sowore, a prominent Nigerian-American journalist and activist, was arbitrarily re-arrested yesterday by Nigerian authorities. Sowore, a New Jersey resident, was first arrested in August and despite two court orders for his release, Nigerian security services refused to release him until yesterday. Hours later he was re-arrested.  Senator Menendez has been involved in securing Mr. Sowore’s release after his family in New Jersey approached his office about it. Amnesty International declared Sowore a prisoner of conscious on November 20th."

“I am outraged by the blatant harassment of Omoyele Sowore, an activist and journalist whose only crime appears to be exercising his right to free expression.

“In a concerted effort to secure his release on behalf of the Sowore family living in New Jersey, my office has been working closely with the State Department as Mr. Sowore’s case languished following his arbitrary arrest back in August. While we continue to seek immediate answers about Mr. Sowore’s treatment and conditions in jail, I will be further engaging directly with U.S. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard in Abuja to raise this case at the highest levels of the Nigerian government so the Buhari Administration gets the message that we are committed to defending Mr. Sowore’s rights and securing his release.  “This blatant miscarriage of justice is symptomatic of closing political and media space in Nigeria.”

AFRIPOL INTERVIEWS Chief (Dr.) Victor Ide Okoye


Dr. Victor Ide-Okoye has been elected the president general of Umuoji Improvement Union (UIU) USA and North America since 2017. Okoye in his capacity as the leader of UIU North America promised to move forward with the  building of a medical center in Umuoji. But in the course of his tenure, issues arose that brought about division, impeachment imbroglio and consequently two fractions of UIU in America.  Ide-Okoye never ceased with the project and has just completed the physical  building of the medical center.  AFRIPOL interviewed him on  all the issues that brought about the division and separation, on how he did manage to complete this project of medical center and his vision of peace for  UIU North America.


Afripol‘s cultural and Entertainment Analyst, Mark Wooten and Emeka Chiakwelu, Afripol founding director  conducted the below interview. Chief Dr. Ide is always a pleasure to speak to you and AFRIPOL thank you for making out time for this special interview with AFRIPOL….


QUESTION 
At the July 2018 Umuoji convention held in New Jersey USA, in your capacity as the president general of Umuoji Improvement Union of North America you pushed a bold and ambitious agenda of building and equipping a modern medical center in Umuoji.  How far have you gone with the project?

Dr. Victor Ide Okoye: Yes my brother, during our 2018 National Convention the National Congress, the general membership unanimously voted 49 – 0; to build a modern medical center for our people back home. As you must have heard, those opposing the project continue till this day to fight and to obstruct all of our efforts, but I must give thanks to God Almighty, because today, it is near completion.  You know the saying “pictures don’t lie”.  Here is the current picture of the Medical Centre at Nkwo Dimechem Umuoji


QUESTION
We remembered your rallying words, “Let us build a medical center in Umuoji”.  You called for a collective effort, for one tree does not make a forest. How was the level of cooperation from Umuoji sons and daughters worldwide?

Dr. Victor Ide Okoye: Good question, the truth of the matter was that during our 2018 National Convention in New Jersey, we debated passionately about the Medical Center Project; the oppositions were fierce and nasty. Some people wanted us to go and rebuild the Abor Maternity Home and most of us wanted to build a more modern medical center for Umuoji; that one we could call our own. After debating and deliberating for over 4 hours, the votes were called and the votes were 49 - 0 to build a new medical center. Those fiercely against this project were acutely aware they were losing big time and decided not to vote against it because they didn’t want the record to reflect their opposing to a life-saving project for our brothers and sisters back home. Today, they are openly and brazenly showcasing their disgust at the project making every effort to thwart the project. I guess when one is on the right path, God would find ways to make it happen.  We just refused to take “NO” for an answer.  They have come against me with everything they had.

As everyone must have heard those opposing our Medical Center project have formed their own UIU/NA faction.


They have created their own WhatsApp forum and announced there that they have impeached the elected National President of UIU/NA, removed the National Vice President, and removed the National Secretary. Yes, true story, does it sound like a “Banana Republic” You guessed it right. Some of them are having a field day defaming my good name. But there is a price to be paid if you defame someone’s good name. we are currently sorting those out in the courts here in the United States.


Also, as most of you might have heard, during my visit to Umuoji in December of  2018, I found out that those opposing the Medical Center project at Nkwo- Dimechem Umuoji , wrote a petition against me to the Inspector General of Police, alleged that the initial $9,000.00 we paid to the contractor  building our Medical Center at Nkwo-Dimechem Umuoji was stolen by me. They planned their evil act to have me harmed and detained. I was able the secure the fictitious petition they wrote against me. My investigation exposed that their plan was to harm me personally. Their goal was also to make sure that they stopped our planned fundraising in Umuoji to enable us complete the project. Bottomline, I do what I do for the love of my people.

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Even with a viable and credible opposition, you thrived and accomplished your agenda. What is the source of your optimism and motivational energy?

Ide Okoye: The love I have for my beloved town Umuoji is my driving force.  I love my town and I wanted to be a part of something big that would truly meet the needs of our people.  One thing about me is that whenever I am told that I can’t do something that I know I have the right to do; I become unstoppable. All my life, that word, “no” has never been a part of my lexicon. You know me from high school and you know how we roll!!! Laughter. Honestly, I just want to give back and I am so lucky to have found others like me who are willing to give back. I am so tempted to mention some names here, but I will wait. We are working on recognizing and honoring some of our folks behind this our project during our upcoming 2020 National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

Whose brainchild was it to build Umuoji Medical Center? Has it always been in the pipeline before you became the leader of UIU North America branch?

Ide Okoye: It doesn’t even matter whose idea it is, can we all just get things done for our people and have them benefit from our collective effort! But on different note, I have read somewhere some folks are claiming that it was their idea or they had the idea in mind or whatever. But the funny thing is that those who were claiming that it was their idea were the biggest opposition to this project. So, I don’t get it. . ., you’re opposing your idea? Let me give you a little perspective; When asked what I hoped to accomplish if elected the National President of UIU/NA, during our National convention in Maryland in 2017, I promised to do the following:


(1) Secure a land and build a brand new, ultra-modern medical Center in Umuoji;
(2) Get our young adults completely involved and inaugurate the youth wing of UIU/NA;
(3) Inaugurate more branches, because since our union began; some 20 years ago, we had never added any branch, we were stagnating;
(4)  re-organize our Annual National Convention and
(5) continue our yearly medical mission;


Well let’s evaluate our achievements 2 years later; here are what we have done thus far:


1.   the goal of Inaugurating the UIU/NA Youth Wings was accomplished during our 2018 National Convention; mission accomplished.
2. We have created two new branches; Canada Branch and Western Region Branch.
3. Held two highly successful National Conventions 2018 New Jersey, and 2019 Toronto Canada. Both National Convention were totally successfully,
The 2018 National Convention in New Jersey was where we voted unanimously to build the Umuoji medical center at Nkwo Dimechem, Umuoji. Toronto Canada was the first National Convention held outside United States. Its tremendous success speaks to the inevitable success birthed whenever like-minded people dedicate themselves to rising beyond their personal agendas while serving a greater good.


4. We secured a land at Umuoji from the UIUN for our medical center project, thanks a bunch to our indomitable PG, Dr. Victor Okechukwu Anyaegbuna’s administration.
5.  Our very own Modern Medical Center; Umuoji medical center is completed, and we are currently working on equipping this project as we speak,  we are planning to open it for our folks on or before December of  2020. My brother talk is cheap.

 

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Now you have completed the physical structure of the Umuoji Medical Centre.  What is your strategy for the equipping and running of the medical center?

Ide Okoye: Like I said, we are securing equipment as we speak, and other minor work in the center is still ongoing. We have 10-year plan strategy on running the Medical Center; it is going to put Umuoji on the map. Every equipment and all the medications are going from the United State of America. Trust me my brother when we are through with the center, it is going to be one of a kind in Anambra States. Our folks are excited and we are looking forward to doing something great for our folks. Knock on wood.

 


It is not news any more that UIU in North America have split into two fractions and you are leading the fraction that is building the medical center. Can you enlighten us or rather tell us to the best of your knowledge what caused this division among brothers and sisters in a foreign land?

Ide Okoye: As you know we live here in the US, which is a civilized society but it seems some of us are still behaving like they live in a Banana Republic.

Our constitution is very clear; the only people who have power to elect or not elect the officers are the General Assembly which happens once a year. Couple of guys who think for some reasons they are the owners of UIU/NA went to WhatsApp forum to publish that they have removed the National President, removed the National Vice-President, and I think they wrote that they removed the National Secretary as well.  I truly don’t know why they decided to defame my name by writing about impeachment and misappropriation of funds and other defamatory write-ups.


They took me to court in the State of Nebraska, alleging that I stole $9,000.00 from UIU/NA and that I needed to return the money. They should have simply started their own faction which they have every right to do. Initially, I had no interest in going to court with these guys, but you know sometimes people take your kindness for weakness.
Well to answer your question, yes, we have two factions now, honestly, if that would bring more development to our dear town, so be it.  Remember we have had this UIU USA since 1999/2000 and yet no tangible achievement until I became the National President and decided to do something tangible for our folks. I guess some of them wanted to keep things the way it has been.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Dr-Victor Ide-Okoye, people smiling, people standingIde and wife


Two separate conventions were held this year July by the two fractions. One convention was held in Canada and another in Dallas USA. Your own group was in Canada convention.  How did Umuoji arrive at this juncture in a foreign land and how can we come together again?

Ide Okoye: Listen, our doors are open, my people and I, our interest now is to give Umuoji a Modern Medical Center, and if anyone wants to join us, let them come on down. We are not getting any younger, we cannot just meet once a year and contribute money and nobody gives account of this money. Our people are done with contributing money and nobody is giving them an accurate account of their contributions and you know we have done the same thing for 20 years and counting. Come on man, it doesn’t make any sense at all and I refuse to be part of a legacy like that.

Our convention in Canada was one of the best UIU/NA National Convention ever, we raised enough money to almost complete our medical center. I have to tell you; our people witnessed a different kind of convention and it will be impossible to convince them to go to convention again and just fight from morning to night in the name of a ‘meeting.”   Bottom line is this, we had a great convention in Canada, and our accounting was done within 24 hours and all the money raised deposited, all within 24 hours. This had never been done before.



Before the division and separation of North America UIU, you were accused for overstating and going beyond your constitutional power as the president and for allegedly financial misappropriation?

Ide Okoye: Yes, my brother. These people are bent on defaming my good name and you just cannot do that and get away with it. I have sued them for defamation of my good name.

Here is the truth of what actually transpired: In my “State of Union Address” in October  2018, I delved into the detail of how the medical center project was approved in New Jersey and also I detailed the process we undertook in selecting our medical center building committee members; the committee’s selection/award of the contract and their request for release of money to the contractor; the NEC meeting authorizing the release of the money to the contractor;  the refusal of the Treasurer to transfer the money as approved by the NEC; occasioning my reasons for effecting the transfer of $9,000.00 to the contractor account.
This was a project approved by the national body at the national convention. The few guys who opposed the project thought that they can stop the will of the people. But, no! Not on my watch.


Believe it or not, the only UIU/NA money in this project is only $9,000.00. Let me say it again, the only UIU/NA spent in this our Medical Center at Nkwo Dimechem Umuoji is only $9,000.00 which I transferred to the Contractor after the approval by the National Executive Council (NEC). Any other story by those opposing the Medical Center are all lies and slanderous.


The money we used to build the Medical Center was contributed singlehandedly by members of my group. It is the $9,000.00 that they wrote that I misappropriated, unbelievable, you just can’t make this up. I have contributed thousands of dollars to make sure that this Medical Center is not one of those abandoned projects in Umuoji. I thank God, my family is blessed and I would continue to give to make our town a better place.



We heard about the legal actions on both sides.  Suing and counter suing. What is the truth?

Ide Okoye: Well, it is true, like I stated before, they filed suit against me after I transferred the money to the contractor who is building our medical center. So, three of these guys claimed that they filed the lawsuit on behalf of the UIU/NA. In essence, they fired the first shot, so we decided to fight back.  One thing I can assure you is this; when anyone impugns my character in anyway, I will defend my good name with the last blood in my vein.



There was also an accusation of alleged award of contract to the building contractor without open bidding to the general public.  Not carrying along your executive members and creating your own inner caucus?

Ide Okoye: Well, my brother I have heard all sort of rubbish. But one thing I can tell you to take one look at the people making all these crazy allegations and rubbish write-ups, and compare these people to the caliber of  Umuojians who make up the building committee members like;  Mrs. Ngozi Stella Nkulume, Ike Ofoje, and Dr Jacob Mgbemena; I rest my case. Everything we have done is well documented. Remember at one point, they claimed that no land was given to us for this project. Some folks are really the enemies of our beloved town, honestly…



Finally let’s talk about peace and unity. How can unity emerge and once again UIU North America becomes one entity and to end this unwise division and separation?

Ide Okoye: Honestly, I don’t really think this is a serious division. Bottom line, is that some people want us to go and remodel Abor Maternity health center and some people want to build a brand new Medical Centre at Nkwo Dimechem and have already spent tens of thousands of dollars to achieve that objective. Sooner or later we will all get back as our big family. I don’t think any person from Umuoji would be denied treatment at any of those two medical centers. At the end of the day, we are one big family.


QUESTION
One more question Chief Ide, what is your next agenda and vision for Umuoji?

Ide Okoye: Honestly, I would like to tackle one more project before the end of my tenure in 2021. Stay tuned and thank you very much! You are awesome!


AFRIPOL: Thank you Chief, it is a pleasure speaking to you again and your cooperation was highly appreciated.

ggggMark wooden, Afripol's cultural and Entertainment Analyst.

AFRIPOL  works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. Afripol  writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning including Harvard Education and Oxford University. Africa Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Disclaimer:

The opinions, comments   or views expressed here do not reflect the opinions of AFRIPOL  or any employee thereof. AFRIPOL do not  endorse any perspective. All rights reserved. This material and any other digital content on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from AFRIPOL

 

Orji Uzor Kalu, the former governor of Abia State and the present Senate’s Chief Whip of APC dominated senate was sentenced to 12 years in prison at Federal High Court in Lagos by  Justice Mohammed Idris. Kalu was found guilty of 39 counts of N7.2 billion fraud and money laundering.


Kalu’s co-defendants are his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and Udeh Udeogu. Udeogu was the Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure as governor was  sentenced  for 10 years  in prison

The court also ordered that the Slok Nig. Ltd. should be wound up and its assets forfeited to the Federal Government.



Kalu after the judgment was seen wiping his tears with a white handkerchief, the Nation reports.



Speaking after sentencing while been whisked away by the warders, Kalu said: “‘2023, here we come.”



He, however, begged the wardens not to handcuff him in public.



“Where are you taking us to now?




” Please don’t handcuff me. I will follow you,” Kalu requested.

 

Credit Daily Post

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