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COVID-19: Time to go Madagascar | By Festus Adedayo

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Like many other societies in the world, Africa boasts of a past that is ambivalent, a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly. She had villains, despots, tyrants, developmental leaders and all sorts as rulers. As she had a ruthless hero in leader of the Zulu Kingdom, Shaka kaSenzangakhona, better known as Shaka the Zulu, who reigned from 1816 to 1828, so also did Africa have 16th century notorious Basorun Gaa of the old Oyo Empire Army (Oyo Ile).

 

In modern time, Africa had Ugandan Joseph Rao Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan guerilla group. Kony was queer and weird. He proclaimed to the world that he was the spokesperson of God on earth and the spirit medium through which He could be reached. He also claimed that he was always host to thirteen multinational spirits that included a Chinese phantom.

 

He led a syncretic mix that included the usage of Christian fundamentalism, mysticism, Acholi nationalism and claimed that he was establishing a theocratic state, based on the Ten Commandments. He was subsequently indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for the abduction of 66,000 children who were turned into child soldiers, as well as sex slaves and causing the internal displacement of two million people from 1986 to 2009.

 

This is not to talk of the Alaafin of old Oyo who ordered the head of his father-in-law brought on a platter because, while helping to scrub his back in the bathroom, his new wife had jokingly teased his limp manhood thus: “Kabiyesi, so you are this small, yet the whole world is afraid of you!”

 

Pre-colonial Africa was equally very rich. Egyptian civilization, for instance, has been held to be a major gladsome past of Africa, even from prehistoric times. Agricultural irrigation method that flourished in the deployment of the Nile for agricultural purposes, as well as Egyptian architecture are major sources of study in strides of prehistory. This is not to talk of Egyptian science of embalmment.

 

This method gained wide mention in its unique system of preserving the dead called mummification so as to achieve some measure of immortality, even in death. Deploying herbs and locally sourced chemicals, Egyptian native doctors dispossessed dead bodies of all moisture, leaving dried flesh that could not decay. With this, many Pharaohs were preserved for centuries and archaeologists claim to have excavated centuries-old bodies preserved with leaves and still effusing scents of embalmment.

 

On a visit to the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, some years ago, he told me of two scientific strides bequeathed by his forefathers. One was that of a fascinating palace environmental science wizardry. According to the Alaafin, no matter how heavy a downpour was in the palace, within a few minutes, you can never find its trace in the palace.

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There is an inscrutable and undecipherable flood control network in the palace which ensures that it can never be flooded. The palace is centuries old. The second, as told me by the Alaafin, is an African DNA system in the palace which enables an Alaafin to identify whether children born to the palace were genuinely of the monarchy. The third, as related by the revered monarch, is a potent local cure for cancer of the prostrate. The Alaafin told me that if local traditional doctors treat such a patient of prostrate, he will, in Alaafin’s words, “die with prostrate but never of it.”

 

There is no doubt that African medicine was potent and was efficient for centuries in treating sicknesses like cancer, diabetes, malaria, stroke, epilepsy, benign prostatic herperplasia, gout and all manner of ailments. Traditional African medicine involves indigenous herbalism that is many times mixed with African spirituality.

 

Its own doctors were known as diviners, herbalists and midwives. They are reputed to have cured complex ailments, even psychiatric disorders. I was a living witness to a then three-year old boy who was, seventeen years ago, treated for asthma. The local traditional doctor never came in contact with his patient. He merely asked for the presentation of this ailment which had taken the child’s parents to different orthodox hospitals without any remedy, handed them two bottles of herbal potion and in the last seventeen years, the parents have reported no manifestation of the sickness. To the best of my knowledge, Western medicine has no cure yet for asthma.

 

The recent altercation over the claimed remedy to the raging COVID-19 pandemic by the government of Madagascar was what propelled the above narratives. Madagascar, which is officially known as the Republic of Madagascar, but which before now was known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island.

 

A country in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is said to be approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa. It is reputed to be the world’s second largest island country. As is known with all island countries, the desire for survival usually forces them to take initiatives about their existence.

 

So when Madagascar was said to have thought out of the box, not tying its fate to the fate of a world that is hopelessly bayoneted by a tiny microscopic virus which had to date killed over 200,000 people, to those who know the initiative-driven existence of island countries, they weren’t taken aback by the Madagascar innovation.

 

When the country launched Covid-Organics (CVO) which is reportedly effective in the treatment of this strange disease, it naturally raised some dusts, especially from the World Health Organization (WHO). Since the virus cast a spell on the world, killing global compatriots like chickens, Madagascar is yet to record any death, even when it had 193 cases.

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This stride has confounded the world, especially many African countries who are said to be seeking Madagascar’s intervention. Explaining how the country got to this ennobling cusp, Marcel Razanamparany, who is the President of the Academy of Medicine in Uganda, said it was an initiative of the work of Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA) researchers, who he said had conducted clinical study into herbs in the quest for a connect between modern and traditional medicine.

 

In the process of seeking cure for the coronavirus, Madagascar was reported to have made use of its biodiversity by embarking on a therapy protocol that uses an admixture of chloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin, as well as deployment of medicinal plants. IMRA and the National Pharmacology Research Centre of Madagascar were said to have depended heavily on the usage of artemisia plants hitherto renowned for the cure of malaria.

 

Indeed, Madagascar, since 1975, was said to have begun researches into the potency of this artemisia annua, a research said to have been pioneered by a Professor Albert Rakoto Ratsimamanga. The result is that today, even when WHO is ululating over this splendid outcome, the world is giving thumbs up to Madagascar and the country is able to rescue her citizens from the pangs of coronavirus. Since then, the road to Madagascar has become the path to tread.

 

Madagascar has since introduced the native-brewed but effective medicine it christened COVID Organics to Guinea Conakry, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, with Tanzania about to place its order. Nigeria’s Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) has also indicated that Nigeria might also follow suit.

WHO’s reaction to the Madagascar road that has become the path to tread, was predictable. In a statement, it warned against the use of traditional herbs by African governments, saying that as “efforts are underway to find treatment for COVID-19, caution must be taken against misinformation, especially on social media, about the effectiveness of certain remedies.”

 

No one should need to tell Africans that even though colonialism ended some decades ago, neocolonialism is still ravaging Africa. While it is true, as propounded by Italian Antonio Gramsci, that physical coercion as a system of control of man had died a natural death, control of the mind of the African has hugely deputized for physical force. And because African leaders are a bunch of simpletons who have no minds of their own, they are easy recruits into the war to enslave the minds of their people.

 

Their poverty of materials and lack of the mind have ensured that they are appendages to the west. In spite of his penchant for thieving the resources of his people, Sani Abacha was about the only Nigerian leader who called the bluff of the west and who can be compared to Andry Nirina Rajoelina, current Madagascar president. The ones before and after him appear to be mere agents of the colonizers.

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If not, a government that has a mind of its own shouldn’t be deterred by the threats of the west, especially in the quest to rescue its own people from the pangs of a global pandemic. It is apparent that finding cure to a global ailment by any common African country is an effrontery, indeed insolence by Africa against her masters. How could those black niggers who cannot fend for themselves without the help of their white slavers, be the ones to find medical rescue to the problems of the world and end a superior white race’s medical agony?

 

That would surely be racial impudence. To worsen matters, what that also means is that shipment of cash from all the nooks and crannies of a world that is in search of stoppage to this colossal death, would go to Africa. Absolutely nauseating!

 

If the Nigerian government encourages traditional medicine practitioners and departments of botany of different universities to find cure to COVID-19, I am sure remedies could be found to this fiery disease and we would jump up in the estimation of the world. Yes, traditional medicine practice has been infiltrated by mediocrities, charlatans and fraudsters, but there is still a tiny window inhabited by genuine traditional practitioners. Gladsome is the news that the Federal Government, through the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Mashi Abdullahi, has directed the National Agency for Foods Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to carry out necessary procedures to assess plant-based cough mixture as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

 

Government should go a notch higher. All efforts must be made for Nigeria to follow this laudable road to Madagascar. It is a road that leads to self-sufficiency and homegrown solutions to continental and international malaises.

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National Issues

Rice Revolution And Rising Revolution In Nigeria | By Ajibola Esuola

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Rice is surely one of the staple foods in Nigeria and Africa. Children and kids are particularly covenanted to eating rice as a daily food; it takes you being defined as an irresponsible parent not to have rice for your family. Across Nigeria, from time immemorial, rice has formed huge portion of the consumption patter and budget of this massive country. Africa’s largest economy so blessed with expansive border less population with stream of people. Consequently and annually, millions of dollars are shipped offshore out of Nigeria in exchange of bags of rice shipped,  trollied and ferried back to Nigeria. Few merchants, registered and unregistered, known and coded had benefitted selfishly from both legal and illegal importation of rice in and out of Nigeria. Inside this cartel, arguably, had been the custom officials and other members of Nigeria’s security and paramilitary agencies.

The twisted giant of Africa was bleeding, while pockets of a few were bursting with dollars and nairas. Hardworking local rice growers did not have their own locals willing to consume their own products from their own soils. Their toils were soiled, a seeming cruse became a curse. Spelled by unknown curses, black people with rice from their own backyards prefer to enrich other nationals from contemporary less developed countries and continents of the world. It is pestilential and pitiable when a giant relies on dwarfs to feed.

Then, a revolutionary policy came up. Nigeria would close its borders to prevent importation of rice from other countries, among other aims. To the worst critic of this government decision, in a time like this, the decision albeit even temporary is yet revolutionary and out-of- the box from colonial dependency and undue attachment to foreign dogmatic taste for even the most basic needs. The beauties and attractions in banning imported rice cannot be ignored. Encouragement being given to local producers of rice cannot be quantified. The step will give these neglected farmers more impetus to produce the commodity, backed by ready buyers. Unemployment will be mopped up. Many hitherto unemployed and underemployed persons will embrace rice farming realizing the new prosperities and potentials embedded in Nigeria’s revolutionized rice project.

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Savings of foreign currencies being used to import this product will go into conservations and savings. Huge amounts are already being saved in millions of dollars from partial closure of borders against rice smuggling. As at last count, close to 200 rice mills of various sizes had sprung up in many parts of Nigeria. The consciousness among nation – states  that each must produce what her citizens eat is gradually dawning of Nigeria and Nigerians. Spiral and massive engagement of human resources and ideals will come into play through the establishment of these rice mills. For many states, the revolution on the task of increasing their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is right on course. Money missing roads into the pockets of politicians are being channeled towards productive activities in rice plantation, harvesting and sales. Interestingly, since the closure of Nigeria boarders against rice importation, kidnapping, banditry, terrorism and other forms of criminal activities had reduced along the axis of Nigeria’s borders. The Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank (CBN), Godwin Emefiele had correctly predicted the reduction of these criminal activities if the borders are closed, and these predictions are coming to pass.

It is not only about the rice revolution, but the clear pointers to a rising revolution in Nigeria. The socio – political atmosphere is scheduled to pick up revolutionary trends, if the Buhari administration can step up on any success being achieved in the rice revolution. Some emerging reforms on – going as regards corruption, judiciary, politics and in many areas cannot be swept under the carpet. Except the Buhari cabals are not keen to enshrine their names in the annals of good leadership, the best option for them is to ensure a sustained and better leadership, which will not draw the nation backwards. Going forward, the need is for good leadership which will close more borders; borders of underdevelopment, borders of nepotism, borders of inadequate infrastructural development, borders of hate, borders of insecurity, kidnapping and terrorism. Politics are not as being played in the 60s and 70s in Nigeria. The stakes are higher now, participants are more educated, enlightened and sophisticated, germane issues are now being raised, even if not totally addressed.

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In the political rising revolution, more questions will be asked. For example, in Nigeria during the closing months in year 2019, both the EFCC and ICPC (anti – corruption agencies) are to participate in electoral fraud monitoring henceforth. This is to close border of vote buying. Or why should there be vote buying? Rising Revolution is not the Sowore model. Such are laden with errors and not strengthened by crafted strategies and deep reasonings. What revolution, at the onset of a fresh tenure of a government that has just won an election where you the zealous ‘revolutionary’ contested and lost. What revolution? If revolutions had been so easy, Nzeogu, Awolowo, Tai Solarin, Wole Soyinka, Ojukwu and others would have done so even more successfully in Nigeria with their highly cerebral brains and constituents. The rising revolution in Nigeria will succeed , as it is going to be engineered by scions, kiths and kind of renowned cabals in Nigeria, past and existing. It will be soon, it won’t be long.

So, it is not only about closing borders in a rice revolution. If thoroughly searchlight is beamed , fellow countrymen and women, it is a rising revolution.

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June 12 : Atiku renews call for electoral reforms

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Nigeria’s former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on Thursday called for the immediate reform of the nation’s electoral process.

Alhaji Atiku, who  was also the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election, in his Democracy Day message, emphasized on the need to ensure the integrity of the electoral process.

The PDP chieftain asked authorities to ensure that the votes of the people were not only counted but should count.

The message read, “As we celebrate today our 21st anniversary of unbroken democratic rule, it is necessary that we canonize the memories of our heroes of democracy by expanding the application of democracy as a mechanism of good governance by making sure that ballots cast during an election are sacrosanct in order for leaders who represent the true aspirations of the people to emerge.

“However, to ensure the integrity of the electoral process, that votes are not only counted, but that they do count, there is an urgent need to accelerate needed electoral reforms that will address the lapses in previous elections”.

He added that celebrating Democracy Day is an affirmation of the nation’s collective struggles towards a system of participatory government.

While urging Nigerians to use the occasion of the Democracy Day to remember the nation’s fallen heroes of democratic rule, as well as the anonymous ones whom he said lost their lives as a result of bad governance, the former vice president, however, regretted that many compatriots paid the ultimate price along the line in the struggle which spanned decades.

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“Just like the late Bashorun MKO Abiola continues to be the symbol of the June 12 struggle, there are many others like the late Chief Alfred Rewane; my mentor, Tafida Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola and many more too numerous to mention who lost their lives in order for us to have a democracy.

“Yet, there are so many other heroes who remain unsung. They are Nigerians who have fallen victims of bad governance.

“While we may have a day dedicated to celebrating democracy, it remains saddening that we have not delivered enough dividends to our people to be happy over.

“Between 1999 to the present time, our democracy has thrown up all shades of characters at the leadership levels. Many, if not all of them have tried their best to deliver good governance to the country. But the results of their efforts, judging by what we have at hand today, clearly shows that our best has not been good enough thus far.

“It is clear that the problem of leadership is at the epicenter of governance issues that has afflicted Nigeria since the restoration of this democratic dispensation. To get at this problem would require the voting citizens of the country to undertake a more critical evaluation of national leadership recruitment – a rare gift which democracy guarantees through the instrumentality of periodic elections.

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“It is when we do that, that democracy can pass as a self-correcting mechanism and when it is denied, we are left with a pseudo-democracy which is counterproductive to the notion of participatory democracy”, the message concluded.

 

 

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National Issues

Abacha loot: Mai Gaskiya, can you see your world in the open? |  By Festus Adedayo

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late General Sani Abacha

Profound apologies that I chose to do a literal translation of Yoruba into English in the above headline. Can you see your world in the open is a direct translation of the Yoruba se o r’aye e l’ode? It’s deployed at a moment of extreme let-down, incomparable frustration, an intersection where a misdemeanor has absolutely ridiculed and discredited the person in question.

The heist of the late General Sani Abacha, stashed away in different countries of the world, that are coming in droves back to the country, is my subject.

This was a heist which the self-same Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, had persistently denied as non-existent, literally beatifying his late benefactor, Sani Abacha, as above board.

Excluding tranches of the loot recently returned to Nigeria, the countryside’s has, in the past 18 years, recovered $4.6 billion (1.4trn) of her treasury looted by Abacha. While the United States Embassy in Nigeria recently announced the sum of $319m (N121bn) loot repatriated from the United Kingdom and France and handed back to Nigeria, this repatriated fund was different from one of about a week ago where the sum of $311 million Abacha loot from the US and the Bailiwick of Jersey were also funneled back into the country.

In a statement last week, the embassy said: “The funds returned last week are distinct and separate from an additional $167m in stolen assets also forfeited in the United Kingdom and France, as well as $152m still in active litigation in the United Kingdom.”

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At every point of the looted funds’ repatriation to Nigeria, these countries where the looted funds were earlier domiciled diplomatically but unambiguously made it known that they do not trust Nigerian leaders not to re-loot the looted funds. In fact, their trenchant shouts while returning the funds are revelatory of their disposition.

The one of February, 2020 even came with the caveat and a tripartite agreement signed by Nigeria with the US government and the Bailiwick of Jersey that upon the return of the money, it would be spent on specific infrastructure projects, to wit the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge and the Abuja-Kano Expressway.

 At another point, there were frenetic moves by the US and United Kingdom governments against the plan of the Nigerian government to gift Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi State governor, who was alleged to be an enabler and accomplice of the laundered money, the sum of $110 million out of the recovered funds.

Recently too, a warning came from the United States Justice Department that, should Nigeria fail to spend the repatriated funds on the agreed public projects, she would refund the money.

I don’t know if you know that these veiled threats didn’t come without an underlining perception or intelligence reports about our government’s disposition to public funds in its care. Nigerian governments, the so-called Mai Gaskiya’s inclusive, are known to the globe to be rapaciously corrupt, adding to this corruption medal another medallion of shamelessness. The way the globe polices monies that are Nigeria’s but stolen by a Nigerian despot of incomparable filching mentality, is embarrassingly unprecedented. Can Mai Gaskiya see his world in the open is the most fitting epithet to describe this shamelessness

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