Cameroon: Let My People Go | By Sissiku Julius Ayuktabe - Mega Icon Magazine
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Cameroon: Let My People Go | By Sissiku Julius Ayuktabe

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I write to you today from Kondengui Principal Prison, where I am unjustly detained with a sizeable part of my cabinet and with thousands of other Southern Cameroonian prisoners who have run afoul of the repressive regime of Paul Biya, the long-ruling despot of Cameroon.

We are in an increasingly dire state – overlooked and forgotten by the world at large, which allows our captors to inflict unspeakable violence upon us. This, in reality, is indicative of the broader struggle that my people have faced, often in silence and too often disregarded.

Over the past two years, I have the honor of serving as the president of the Southern Cameroons Interim Government. Several months ago, I was illegally abducted, together with part of my cabinet from the Nera Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria, and thereafter illegally transported to Cameroon, in violation of international law. To be sure, I am merely the latest victim of a catastrophe that has been long-simmering, evident today by a growing social fissure that has resulted in countless deaths and destruction.

Historically, The Republic of Cameroon achieved its independence on January 1, 1960 and became a member of United Nations with her own territory clearly defined, sharing a recognized boundary with Southern Cameroons. British Southern Cameroons was later granted its independence on October 1, 1961 with her own territory clearly mapped out as well, sharing common boundaries with the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Cameroon.

As such, the root cause of today’s ongoing crisis is the result of a severely botched decolonization process. And this must be addressed immediately before a lasting solution can be found, one that is built on a foundation of international law and a culture of justice and respect for basic human dignity. Put simply, international law provides Southern Cameroons the right to self-determination. What is more, the violence and killings that are taking place in Southern Cameroons at this time, has left us with no alternative than to fight, to defend and to liberate ourselves from the shackles of black on black colonialization.

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The unjust treatment of Southern Cameroonians is, today, an unavoidable and tragic reality. Our people are being killed not for what they have done but for who they are. Our people have indeed been described as “rats” and “dogs” by members of the Cameroon’s government. There are calls to exterminate us, and other Ambazonians, with the justification that President Biya has the right to kill everyone on the pretext of “national unity.”

Imagine being told that you are the enemies in the house; imagine your people being told to vacate their ancestral lands and villages or be considered terrorists; imagine the scorched earth policy and military operations in our villages that have spared no one, not even elderly women and young children; just imagine being made to feel like a second class citizen in the country of your birth. These are the stone-cold and brutal facts of today and living conditions in which we are forced to somehow survive.

On the basis of these reprehensible and humiliating conditions, Southern Cameroonian leaders have sought, on multiple occasions over the years, to engage in peaceful dialogue with Cameroonian authorities. We have been consistently refused this opportunity. Over the due course of time, our people – myself included – realized that we were simply victims of another broken promise and the signs of impending disaster were manifest. Our hopes were dashed and many of our leaders, both political and civic, were thrown illegally into jail. Protests had failed. Attempts at good faith dialogue also failed. We were stymied. We were beaten. And we were humiliated in the process. We thus came to the realization that collectively we had no other alternative except that of preparing for direct confrontation, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the international community.

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Put simply, the people of Southern Cameroons have lost faith in the Cameroon experiment – it is indeed an incurable disease. Paul Biya and his regime has ruthlessly cracked down on our peaceful people – our mothers, fathers and children alike – with a ferocious barbarity. War has been declared on our people. This is all to remind onlookers and readers that we did not move irresponsibly into direct confrontation with authorities in Cameroon. We have always advocated for a peaceful resolution to the root causes of this crisis. However, Biya and his regime thought otherwise, determining that violence can be the solution.

Never again can we, the people of Southern Cameroons, afford to live with the narrow and institutionalized status of second-class citizens – certainly not in the land of our ancestors.

Today, the winds of freedom and liberty beckons to your divine conscience to tell your governments and your elected representatives worldwide: Let my people go! Support our democratic aspirations. This struggle has gone beyond that of individuals like me willing to pay the ultimate price for the freedom of our people. Join our struggle for human decency and battle for respect of our bodies, hearts and minds, our traditions and values. The struggle for the complete independence of Southern Cameroons is your struggle. Please, stand with us.

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Opinion

LAUTECH: The Joint Business Gone Terrible | By Adebayo Mabayoje

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The ownership of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, has always been a source of conflict between the two-owner states, Oyo and Osun, especially after the latter established her own, Osun State University or UNIOSUN. The government of Oyo State wants Osun to transfer full ownership of the University to it while the other party disagrees. This conflict grew intense in 2010 under ex-Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State and the Osun State counterpart, Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

 

The feud, which was resolved eventually after series of intervention by notable political icons and the National Universities Commission, has been recurrent at the emergence of every new government even when the governors share political membership.

 

The feud is usually sparked off by arguments about financial responsibilities. Both owners have pointed fingers at each other regarding failure to meet up to provision of grants and other financial roles to the school. However, available records show that between 2011 and 2019 Osun Government has committed up to 26b Naira, as against Oyo’s 4b Naira, as statutory subvention to the LAUTECH.

This is even as most of the University’s teaching and research structures, as well as the administration are situated in, and run from Ogbomoso, including the central administration of the University.

The implication of this is that the “gown-to-town” benefits of LAUTECH are mostly to the full advantage of the Oyo State Government, and specifically by the Ogbomoso town. Medium estate business flourishes in the town close to three decades running because of the fact that all the campuses of LAUTECH, but one, are established in Ogbomoso town.

The town situates seven faculties and the Post-graduate school of LAUTECH, where courses are taught in various fields of pure and applied science, medicine, agriculture, engineering and technology, environmental science. At least 300 administrative staff and more than 25,000 students of the school pay rents to house owners in Ogbomoso annually . In turn, these estate business operators pay taxes and levies, which adds to the revenues of the Oyo State Government monthly and annually.

Only the College of Health Science campus of LAUTECH is located in Osogbo, Osun State. It houses the 3-years clinical study for MBBS, Medical Laboratory Science and Nursing students which are just about a thousand.

Distastefully, a part of this lone structure of the institution is taken out of Osun state and is established in Ogbomoso. Specifically, the Pre-clinical years of study of the courses in the College of Health Science hold at the main campus in Ogbomoso.

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THE FIFTH COLUMNISTS

When General Emilio Mola was leading four columns of troops towards Madrid during the 1936-1939 Spanish civil war, he declared that he had a “fifth column” inside the city. At that time, observers of the feud surrounding LAUTECH were not in existence. However, today, they appreciate how General Mola’s use of the expression, “fifth columnist”, best describes the undermining tendencies of some people, which have regularly surfaced almost at the beginning of new administration(s) in Osun and Oyo States with respect to the joint ownership of LAUTECH.

 

A plausible idea is that some overt or clandestine actions and activities of some partisan groups are aimed at ensuring that the objective of the founding fathers. regarding the joint ownership of LAUTECH is thwarted. This would be so where these fifth columnists are being tempted by what opinion moulders refer to as “structure reality”.

 

As opposed to the joint ownership idea which is mutually held and operated cognitively, the “structure reality” of the matter of LAUTECH ownership is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent of the buildings and structural facilities and management of the University, all of which are situated in Ogbomoso, Oyo State. According to this school of thought, such is the temptation factor by which the fifth columnists are being encouraged. The plan is to frustrate the other party, the Osun State Government, whose stake, infrastructure wise, is almost nothing.

 

It is thus reasonable to put into perspectives, what the stake looks like for the Osun State government. Only one, out of the entire structure of the university, is situated in Osun state. In the same vein, more than 90 per cent of the students and staff population of the school, fall in the Oyo State divide.

 

And going by the records of the financial commitments of the governments of the two states between 2011-2019, Osun government could be said to have more unnecessarily deployed resources to the joint-ownership course. This is, more so, with respect to the paltry 4b Naira subvention records of the Oyo State counterpart against the Osun’s contributions so far.

The 26b Naira subvention record that the Osun government committed within the periods would have made gargantuan impacts if such funds were deployed to the development of the polytechnics, colleges of education owned by government, including the Osun State University, as well as other tertiary institutions in the state.

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INTERNAL REVENUE GENERATION OF BOTH UNIVERSITIES

The National Universities Commission, NUC, approved the establishment of the Osun State University on December 21, 2006, as the 30th State University and the 80th in the Nigerian university system. This record shows that the contentious LAUTECH had been established, 16 years earlier, with records of about five convocation.

Current population of LAUTECH’s regular students is about 35,000 as against UNIOSU”s 15,000. Clearly, the former is at greater advantage with regards to revenue generation. Ironically, this relatively older university always go cap-in-hand for funds to pay salaries of its workers and for other expenditures. So, where goes the generated revenues running to billions of Naira every academic session?

 

While the Osun State Government commits billions of Naira annually to the running of LAUTECH, a joint institution, it hardly received request for subvention from the Osun State University management. This is because with seven colleges in six campuses located in the six geopolitical zones of Osun State, enough revenues are generated and are equally expended judiciously, including the payment of staff salaries and other entitlements, as well as research grants. Therefore, one is encouraged to wonder how LAUTECH had been expending its generated revenues every session over the years.

 

Two years ago, a visitation panel, chaired by Chief Wole Olanipekun was set up to investigate the crisis rocking the LAUTECH. It was discovered that the school had no fewer than 97 different bank accounts in almost all the commercial banks in Nigeria. This is contrary to the policy of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy specifically put in place to promote transparency. Therefore, the Chief Olanipekun’s panel recommended that, “the accounts of the LAUTECH and its workforce must be audited”. This development constructs a very bad representation of the officials at the helm of affairs of LAUTECH, as well as members of the unions that identify as pressure groups in the School.

Needful to recall that the contentious LAUTECH was originally established through an edict signed on April 23, 1990 by Colonel Sasaeniyan Oresanya, the then military administrator of Oyo State. Its name was changed from Oyo State University of Technology (OSUTECH) to Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) after the separation of Osun State from Oyo State in 1991.

Twenty-six years later, a seeming rebirth of the disbanded OSUTECH was suspected, bearing the name- Oyo State Technical University, Ibadan. It is referred to as “The Tech-U”, and “Nigeria’s first and only technical university”, thereby robbing off the age-long characterisation of LAUTECH as the first technical oriented university in Nigeria.

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“When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers” is an African proverb which means that the weak get hurt in conflicts between the powerful.

With news headlines such as “Ladoke Akintola University of Technology ASUU disrupts ongoing exams”, “Now that LAUTECH calls off one strike, how long will it take to start another?”, and “LAUTECH: Group alleges plans to attack VC, workers from Osun”, it is it quite obvious that it not well with the University, and this has caused devastating experiences on the lives of thousands of students of the school.

The situation has gone most awry with recent report of an uncovered plans by some workers of the school, “who are from Oyo State, to attack the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof Michael Ologunde, and others from Osun”.

In 2012, a Supreme Court ruling delivered by Justice Dahiru Musdapher, upheld the terms of settlement agreed to by the two states. By the rolling. “the Government of Oyo State by itself, Governor, Commissioners, Permanent Secretaries, or any officer or organ deriving title or authority from them, from taking any further step to give any directive or instruction contrary to the provisions of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Law, 1990 (as amended), in particular, the joint ownership structure of the university”.

However, considering the current state of affairs In the university, a question seeking answer is: how healthy is the joint ownership idea of LAUTECH at the moment, particularly as the effect of the open feud has moved beyond the usual disruption of academics to the scenario of workers of the school battling against each other. After all, the law, made by man, is amendable or abrogatable by man.

 

 

Adebayo Rasheed Mabayoje, writes from Osogbo, Osun State.

 

 

 

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Opinion

OPINION: My Advice to Hajia Aisha Buhari | By Bakare Oluwatobi 

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Aisha, Aisha, Aisha, how many times did I call you? Be careful! Don’t embark on a battle you cannot win. Some battles are not worth fighting. It is better not to fight, at all, than to fight and lose. Losing such a battle would have unravelled your invincibility.

Mamman Daura is your husband’s nephew. In Yorubaland, we call them ‘baba oko’. Fatima Mamman, no matter how young she is, she remains your iya oko. They are your in-laws. Show some respect. They are your husband’s family. They are an integral part of your family. They are not strangers.

Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari (Chief of Staff) are two personalities you cannot push away from President Buhari, your husband. Fine, you’re his wife; however, what these two have contributed in the life of your husband is inestimable and unquantifiable. Buhari is Abba Kyari. Abba Kyari is Mamman Daura. Mamman Daura is Buhari. They are inseparable.

L’ojo ririje, l’ojo airije (through thick and thin), Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari were there for your husband. They staked everything for the success of your husband. Your husband knows and appreciates their contributions. No matter what anyone says, Buhari will not leave them.

I don’t know of any individual who has contributed, financially, morally, spiritually and physically to the success of your husband more than them. The journey among the trio of Buhari, Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari is a journey of more than 40 years, even before you came in as a wife. After all, you just came in 1989.

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In 2003, 2007, 2011 presidential campaigns, Abba Kyari was your husband’s chief financier. They risked everything for your husband. It is the outcome of that risk you are enjoying today, as the First lady. Indeed, God has used them for you also.

That your husband wants them around him is a sign of gratefulness. It is a clear manifestation that Buhari is not an ingrate. He appreciates favour. Thus, he will not pay favour with ingratitude. One thing is certain, the Buhari we all know will not trade his trusted allies for anything or anyone.

Aso Villa is a temporary residence. In the next four years, you will pack out. Life in the Presidential Villa is transient, ephemeral and short-lived. Don’t be overwhelmingly obsessed with it. The Villa is not a family house and it’s not your husband’s house. Soldier go, soldier come. I was a bit emotional the day Goodluck Jonathan visited Buhari in the Villa. Many changes have been effected. Buhari was the one showing Jonathan the way. Imagine. A place Jonathan just left in 2015.

Hajia Aisha, if anything is wrong, which you don’t feel comfortable with; amicable resolution is the way-out . You need not fight anyone or take anyone as a foe. Show love. Show respect. Show tolerance. Mamman Daura’s children are your children. Show no discrimination or animosity. What goes around comes around. No one knows tomorrow. Those we meet in the course of climbing the ladder of life are the same people we will meet while coming down.

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Ejekaseyi Jobs: Exploring An Unusual Employment Creation Model That Works | By Sayo Aluko

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In just six (6) months, a dossier of data detailing the progress of beneficiaries from the “Ejekaseyi” empowerment programme shows that over 50 percent among them now run thriving businesses, making up to ₦60,000 every month. But the most striking part is the fact that these beneficiaries are set to re-empower other unemployed youths in their respective communities.

In the month of December, 2018, 100 unemployed youths across the eight (8) communities of AFIJIO local government in Oyo State were enrolled into this empowerment program that was ran by the 7Eleven Foundation, and the singular aim was to not only give them a source of income, but to start a chain-reaction of job creation in the zone.

The impactful outcome of this empowerment programme as stated above, has caused statewide buzz, such that it is being widely touted as a readied template to be deployed by other facilitators in other zones in the state and across the country.

Buoyed by the need to do things differently and achieve an unusual result, the facilitator of the empowerment programme, one-named Seyi Adisa, a politician who at the time was the All Progressives Congress House of Assembly candidate for Afijio, was quoted saying that the idea of the Ejekaseyi Jobs was birthed from his team’s mantra of running a campaign of substance as against a campaign of merely-mouthed political promises.

He explained, “When you look round Afijio at that time we started, what you’d observe, just like you will in some other parts of the country, is a pool of youths not getting productive with their time and energy mostly because of the lack of opportunities to thrive. We saw a situation of youth unemployment tethered to the lack of opportunities.

“But then, we also noticed that this situation has been persistent despite supposed empowerment programmes that have been brought to these youths. At that point, we were tasked with the question – What could be missing? Why are these pools of youths unproductive and unemployed despite a handful of opportunities they’ve been exposed to by successive empowerment programmes in the past?”

“Well, we discovered three major gaps which were –  a lack of financial and business management skills, a lack of mentoring and also a lack of supervision. And, these are the components we decided to add to our style of empowerment, much more like wholesome human capital development”.

“Our team accepted the fact that it will take more than arming these youths with vocational skills to make them gainfully empowered first, and also so well enough to re-empower others. Tasking as it looked, still, it wasn’t rocket science”.

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Seyi Adisa’s team partnered with the 7eleven Foundation, a non-profit known for empowering entrepreneurs with life skills right from incubation to activation, to train these 100 selected youths in 5 different crafts namely catering, tie and dye, paint making and painting, shoe-making, and fish and snail farming.

A week-long intensive training of this lot involved masterclass from different professionals who took the beneficiaries through practical layers of financial and business management. Together with the tools given to each of them after this training in form of their take-off support, they have been undergoing continued mentoring and supervision in these 6 months, a process which will go on for another 6 months.

These successes recorded so far with the EJEKASEYI JOBS isn’t unconnected to this unusual process of empowerment detailed above. It is clearly a story of pure desire to get youths off the streets, which then gave birth to a thorough and exemplary solution that seems to last.

In Afijio today, the graduands from that programme are not only gainfully employed, but are indeed creating employment themselves. They are the success stories of this unusual incubation-to-activation style of empowerment.

There is the story of Olabiyi Tolulope and Akano Mary, who are beneficiaries from Ilora town of Afijio Local Government Area, have grown productively with the skill they learnt during the one week intensive vocational training. They both learnt catering and had in the last six months made several moves among which are: supplying snacks to private schools, doing home and office deliveries, as well as rendering catering customized services to grow their business.

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The story of Oladejo Veronica is a single mother from Fiditi town is particularly more intriguing. She also learnt the craft of catering and in the last six months, she hasn’t only established a living, she has also been able to scale up the business with the purchase of an additional 6kg Gas cylinder. That’s how successful the knowledge they were impacted with, works. According to her books, she makes an average of N2100 daily profit from the business, from which she’s been able to enroll her child into school, as well as greatly improve her standard of living.

If this data coming from the Afijio 100 is to be believed, beneficiaries who trained in the tie and dye craft are now “busy merchants”, as they are now the go-to people for both day-to-day and ceremonial clothes in the entire Oyo area, at the famous central Iware market, and as far as Ibadan, the state capital.

For Oguntokun Samson, Ojediran Remi and Salisu Ali, they have successfully given “birth”. These trio benefited from the vocational training, learning shoe making, tie and dye, and paint production respectively. In the last six months, Oguntokun, Ojediran and Salisu have been able to court one (1) apprentice each under their wings, channeling the training into them and setting another three (3) erstwhile unemployed individuals on their way to become gainfully empowered too.

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Exploring the rave behind these testimonies of Ejekaseyi jobs is just very timely, as it will not be untrue to now admit that, if it works in Afijio and for Afijio youths, it will definitely work anywhere else where there is a lingering situation of unemployment amongst our energetic youths.

Furthermore, it is quite clear that this veritable and mentor-friendly empowerment idea behind Ejekaseyi jobs is steadily proving to be a potent antibiotic against the infection of unemployment, as far as the youth is concerned, and you wouldn’t be wrong if you’re unable to resist the temptation to give deserved kudos to Seyi Adisa and his team.

 

 

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