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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hilary Clinton's Speech at Dems Convention

DENVER - Remarks of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, for her address to the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night in Denver:

I am honored to be here tonight. A proud mother. A proud Democrat. A proud American. And a proud supporter of Barack Obama.

My friends, it is time to take back the country we love.
Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines.
This is a fight for the future. And it's a fight we must win.

I haven't spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care, helping parents balance work and family, and fighting for women's rights at home and around the world ... to see another Republican in the White House squander the promise of our country and the hopes of our people.

And you haven't worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership.
No way. No how. No McCain.
Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our president.

Tonight we need to remember what a presidential election is really about. When the polls have closed, and the ads are finally off the air, it comes down to you — the American people, your lives, and your children's futures.

For me, it's been a privilege to meet you in your homes, your workplaces, and your communities. Your stories reminded me everyday that America's greatness is bound up in the lives of the American people — your hard work, your devotion to duty, your love for your children, and your determination to keep going, often in the face of enormous obstacles.

You taught me so much, you made me laugh, and ... you even made me cry. You allowed me to become part of your lives. And you became part of mine.

I will always remember the single mom who had adopted two kids with autism, didn't have health insurance and discovered she had cancer. But she greeted me with her bald head painted with my name on it and asked me to fight for health care.

I will always remember the young man in a Marine Corps T-shirt who waited months for medical care and said to me: "Take care of my buddies; a lot of them are still over there ... and then will you please help take care of me?"

I will always remember the boy who told me his mom worked for the minimum wage and that her employer had cut her hours. He said he just didn't know what his family was going to do.

I will always be grateful to everyone from all fifty states, Puerto Rico and the territories, who joined our campaign on behalf of all those people left out and left behind by the Bush Administration.

To my supporters, my champions — my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits — from the bottom of my heart: Thank you.
You never gave in. You never gave up. And together we made history.

Along the way, America lost two great Democratic champions who would have been here with us tonight. One of our finest young leaders, Arkansas Democratic Party Chair, Bill Gwatney, who believed with all his heart that America and the South could be and should be Democratic from top to bottom.

And Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a dear friend to many of us, a loving mother and courageous leader who never gave up her quest to make America fairer and smarter, stronger and better. Steadfast in her beliefs, a fighter of uncommon grace, she was an inspiration to me and to us all.

Our heart goes out to Stephanie's son, Mervyn, Jr., and Bill's wife, Rebecca, who traveled to Denver to join us at our convention.

Bill and Stephanie knew that after eight years of George Bush, people are hurting at home, and our standing has eroded around the world. We have a lot of work ahead.
Jobs lost, houses gone, falling wages, rising prices. The Supreme Court in a right-wing headlock and our government in partisan gridlock. The biggest deficit in our nation's history. Money borrowed from the Chinese to buy oil from the Saudis.
Putin and Georgia, Iraq and Iran.

I ran for president to renew the promise of America. To rebuild the middle class and sustain the American Dream, to provide the opportunity to work hard and have that work rewarded, to save for college, a home and retirement, to afford the gas and groceries and still have a little left over each month.

To promote a clean energy economy that will create millions of green collar jobs.
To create a health care system that is universal, high quality, and affordable so that parents no longer have to choose between care for themselves or their children or be stuck in dead end jobs simply to keep their insurance.

To create a world class education system and make college affordable again.
To fight for an America defined by deep and meaningful equality — from civil rights to labor rights, from women's rights to gay rights, from ending discrimination to promoting unionization to providing help for the most important job there is: caring for our families. To help every child live up to his or her God-given potential.

To make America once again a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.
To bring fiscal sanity back to Washington and make our government an instrument of the public good, not of private plunder.
To restore America's standing in the world, to end the war in Iraq, bring our troops home and honor their service by caring for our veterans.
And to join with our allies to confront our shared challenges, from poverty and genocide to terrorism and global warming.
Most of all, I ran to stand up for all those who have been invisible to their government for eight long years.

Those are the reasons I ran for president. Those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reasons you should too.

I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?

We need leaders once again who can tap into that special blend of American confidence and optimism that has enabled generations before us to meet our toughest challenges. Leaders who can help us show ourselves and the world that with our ingenuity, creativity, and innovative spirit, there are no limits to what is possible in America.

This won't be easy. Progress never is. But it will be impossible if we don't fight to put a Democrat in the White House.

We need to elect Barack Obama because we need a President who understands that America can't compete in a global economy by padding the pockets of energy speculators, while ignoring the workers whose jobs have been shipped overseas. We need a president who understands that we can't solve the problems of global warming by giving windfall profits to the oil companies while ignoring opportunities to invest in new technologies that will build a green economy.

We need a President who understands that the genius of America has always depended on the strength and vitality of the middle class.

Barack Obama began his career fighting for workers displaced by the global economy. He built his campaign on a fundamental belief that change in this country must start from the ground up, not the top down. He knows government must be about "We the people" not "We the favored few."

And when Barack Obama is in the White House, he'll revitalize our economy, defend the working people of America, and meet the global challenges of our time. Democrats know how to do this. As I recall, President Clinton and the Democrats did it before. And President Obama and the Democrats will do it again.

He'll transform our energy agenda by creating millions of green jobs and building a new, clean energy future. He'll make sure that middle class families get the tax relief they deserve. And I can't wait to watch Barack Obama sign a health care plan into law that covers every single American.

Barack Obama will end the war in Iraq responsibly and bring our troops home _a first step to repairing our alliances around the world.

And he will have with him a terrific partner in Michelle Obama. Anyone who saw Michelle's speech last night knows she will be a great first lady for America.
Americans are also fortunate that Joe Biden will be at Barack Obama's side. He is a strong leader and a good man. He understands both the economic stresses here at home and the strategic challenges abroad. He is pragmatic, tough, and wise. And, of course, Joe will be supported by his wonderful wife, Jill.
They will be a great team for our country.

Now, John McCain is my colleague and my friend.
He has served our country with honor and courage.
But we don't need four more years ... of the last eight years.
More economic stagnation ... and less affordable health care.
More high gas prices ... and less alternative energy.
More jobs getting shipped overseas ... and fewer jobs created here.
More skyrocketing debt ... home foreclosures ... and mounting bills that are crushing our middle class families.
More war ... less diplomacy.
More of a government where the privileged come first ... and everyone else comes last.

John McCain says the economy is fundamentally sound. John McCain doesn't think that 47 million people without health insurance is a crisis. John McCain wants to privatize Social Security. And in 2008, he still thinks it's OK when women don't earn equal pay for equal work.

With an agenda like that, it makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they're awfully hard to tell apart.

America is still around after 232 years because we have risen to the challenge of every new time, changing to be faithful to our values of equal opportunity for all and the common good.

And I know what that can mean for every man, woman, and child in America. I'm a United States senator because in 1848 a group of courageous women and a few brave men gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, many traveling for days and nights, to participate in the first convention on women's rights in our history.

And so dawned a struggle for the right to vote that would last 72 years, handed down by mother to daughter to granddaughter — and a few sons and grandsons along the way.

These women and men looked into their daughters' eyes, imagined a fairer and freer world, and found the strength to fight. To rally and picket. To endure ridicule and harassment. To brave violence and jail.
And after so many decades — 88 years ago on this very day — the 19th amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote would be forever enshrined in our Constitution.

My mother was born before women could vote. But in this election my daughter got to vote for her mother for president.
This is the story of America. Of women and men who defy the odds and never give up.
How do we give this country back to them?
By following the example of a brave New Yorker, a woman who risked her life to shepherd slaves along the Underground Railroad.

And on that path to freedom, Harriet Tubman had one piece of advice.
If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If they're shouting after you, keep going.
Don't ever stop. Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

Even in the darkest of moments, ordinary Americans have found the faith to keep going.
I've seen it in you. I've seen it in our teachers and firefighters, nurses and police officers, small business owners and union workers, the men and women of our military — you always keep going.

We are Americans. We're not big on quitting.
But remember, before we can keep going, we have to get going by electing Barack Obama president.
We don't have a moment to lose or a vote to spare.
Nothing less than the fate of our nation and the future of our children hang in the balance.

I want you to think about your children and grandchildren come election day. And think about the choices your parents and grandparents made that had such a big impact on your life and on the life of our nation.

We've got to ensure that the choice we make in this election honors the sacrifices of all who came before us, and will fill the lives of our children with possibility and hope.

That is our duty, to build that bright future, and to teach our children that in America there is no chasm too deep, no barrier too great — and no ceiling too high — for all who work hard, never back down, always keep going, have faith in God, in our country, and in each other.

Thank you so much. God bless America and Godspeed to you all.

If elections were won based on speeches alone, then the Democrats need not campaign again. What do you think of the speech? Comments are invited.

Monday, August 25, 2008


It is hardly surprising that the quaint interest which the group called “Africans for Obama… 2008” has taken in the Barack Obama campaign is causing some furore in the polity. It is so because there is something untoward and questionable about the claim the group is making in this regard.

The group led by Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, the Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), had organized a fund-raising dinner ostensibly in support of the presidential bid of Obama, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party in the United States.

However, the Obama campaign organisation was quick to dissociate itself from the fund-raising especially in the light of the fact that it runs against the grain of the American Electoral Law. In fact, the Foreign Election Campaign Act of 1974 expressly forbids foreign nationals from donating funds to American elections.

But even as the Obama campaign organization distanced itself from the fund-raising, discerning Nigerians took interest in the ethicality or otherwise of the fund-raising dinner organized by Okereke-Onyiuke. Consequently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is beaming a searchlight on the fund-raising dinner. It has invited Okereke-Onyiuke for questioning with a view to knowing how much was raised at the fund-raising and who the beneficiaries are.

In the face of all this, the group is claiming that it never announced that it was raising funds or soliciting donations for the Obama campaign. Instead, it said that the dinner/concert was designed to sensitize and mobilize Africans worldwide as well as eligible American citizens to register and vote. It also explained that any excess fund realized after this was to be utilized for advertisements to encourage Africans that are of voting status and all other Americans to exercise their franchise.

The involvement of Okereke-Onyiuke in this exercise simply reminds us of her earlier association with an organization which went by the name, “Corporate Nigeria” during the administration Olusegun Obasanjo. Then, the promoters of “Corporate Nigeria” came under intense criticisms as they were accused of using their corporate positions and platforms to promote the presidential bid of Obasanjo.As in the case of Corporate Nigeria”, there is everything untidy about what “Africans for Obama… 2008” is doing now, regardless of the denials and clarifications by Okereke-Onyiuke, its chairman.

The whole idea of the organization putting together a dinner/concert for the purpose of the Obama campaign is questionable.The issue here is not whether people were coerced or cajoled to donate money to the campaign fund. Rather, we are concerned about why allowance was made at all for any form of donation, whether it was meant for the campaign organisation or just to “sensitize” and “mobilize” as the group would have us believe. The latter-day clarification the group is making looks like an after-thought. It does not detract from the fact that the idea is repugnant.

For Okereke-Onyiuke, this is another wasteful engagement. It was bad enough that she and others who belonged to “Corporate Nigeria” compromised their professional integrity to campaign for Obasanjo. It is worse that she has deepened her participation in such questionable ventures by globalising her partisan inclinations in matters where she ought to be just an active observer.

As the Director General of the NSE, Okereke-Onyiuke should not be seen to be overtly involved or interested in partisan politics. She ran foul of this in the years of Obasanjo. Her latest involvement in the Obama campaign shows that she has not weaned herself of such obscene indulgences.It is in fact, surprising that she can still find the time for distractions such as this when she ought to be deeply concerned about the declining fortunes of the Nigerian stock market.

It is therefore gratifying that the EFCC has moved in to ascertain what the group is really up to. The commission should do a thorough job here. In the end, we would like to see an action that will definitively discourage others who may want to get involved in this corporate irresponsibility in future. Culled from Daily Sun.

What do you make of the whole uproar about the fund raising for Obama Campaign? Post your comments here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I now know what it means when writers say they are experiencing a 'drought' or writer's fatigue. They cant think of anythiing to write. I have been like that for some days now, racking my poor head to see whether I might have something still stored in the recess of my memory that would be worthy to post on this blog but it seems like the more I try to think up something to write the farther they get away from me.

I am very sure there must have been times when we (including myself) must have had the believe that journalists, authors, etc have a very easy job to do. Just sit in front of a computer as the case may be now and just type away. But This past fews days have taught me a lesson that things are not always as easy as they seem and that writing is as hard as any other so called hard jobs that we all know of.

What do you think about this? have you ever tried to do something that you've always considered to be easy but only to find out that its not as easy as you think? Make your comments.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I saw a thief got burnt alive a couple of days ago in Lagos, Nigeria and the image is still ingrained in my head. I wonder how it would feel to stare death in the face and know that the inevitable end has finally come?

Am left wondering what would have been going through his mind as the mob surrounds him with clubs and other dangerous weapons. Maybe he must have tried to talk his way out of the predicament ( he is suppossedly a member of a gang of armed robbers terrorizing the neighbourhood before luck ran out on him) but with that not working, the pleadings and cryings will start from him with the aim and hope of striking a chord of mercy in the heart of any/many of the bystanders to come to his assistance and plead for mercy, plead for another chance to turn a new leaf, another chance to start a new life of making amends but alas mercy did not come from anybody. Maybe they would just beat me and then let me go or hand me over to the Police, he says to himself out of a dying hope.

The mob would have been unrelenting in their quest to shed blood, albeit a tainted one to them. Then the beating starts, blood is drawn and the mob is further thrown into a frenzy, a boodthirsty one! A voice is heard from amidst the chaos unfolding 'Lets Burn the B********D' its says, almost immdediately out of nowhere a car tire appears, then matches, then petrol and at that very moment with body battered and twisted, eyes nearly popping from their sockets the thief knows his hen has come home to roost.

Minutes later, passersby glances, whispers and shake their heads at the charred remains of what was once a breathing organism.Its a jungle out here.

Man's Inhumanity to Man.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Unsung Black Heroes

Here is a piece from about blacks that really made a difference in advocating the dictum that men should not be judged by the colour of their skin. enjoy the article as written by Prof. Olu Obafemi.

This time last year was a rare high-point of the Black History Month for me. I was taken by my hosts to Lincoln Home in Springfield, capital city of Illinois State, at the tail end of the Black History Month. This Month, as we know, is set aside every year to commemorate and celebrate the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas—two people usually remembered as key factors in the emancipation of slaves in the United States. In the specific case of President Abe Lincoln, his celebration in American history is a double bill; as the President who prevented the break-up of the Union and the one who signed the Emancipation Act of 1861, which history has usually taken and embraced as the signal pointer to the end of slavery in the United States.

You would then imagine the level of my uncritical thrill, when I got the invitation to take a ride to the place that has become a National Monument and a must-visit for anybody even vaguely familiar with the events and the struggle for black emancipation and the verdict given to history as to who the real heroes of the emancipation are.

Who would not relish the chance, as I did, to go to Abe Lincoln’s (as President Lincoln was generally, fondly called) city of birth, to drink from history in a place now declared a pilgrim’s site, along with its immediate neighbourhood, preserved and reserved as a sacrosanct spot for tourists and citizens who needed to catch up with a critical moment in America’s history?

I relished my chance and luck—and I was able to visit the Museums in Springfield and Chicago (the myriads of Museum sites in Chicago is any tourist’s delight and home of historical information and intellectual leisure). But I was later treated to some shocking discussions with a historian in African-American Studies, Dr. Musa Abdullahi, at the Western Illinois University—one of the locations of my residency duration, who could not care less, in fact, who was virtually scandalized by the kind of hilarity that I passionately demonstrated at the end of the visit. I had settled to a consultation experience with a female Professor of English, who is African-American and whom I was just sharing my blissful tour to the Lincoln Home with, when the historian expressed his surprise that there could be African and African-American intellectuals who would still be deluded enough to grant the heroes’ accolade of the ‘so-called’ Emancipation Act to both Lincoln and Douglas. If I was shocked by this ‘subversive’ statement, my reaction was less emotional than the African-American, who also considered Lincoln and Douglas as key heroes of the Black History Month. We thus combatively engaged this unorthodox historian to prove his point about Lincoln, especially. Who else, besides the modern heroes of the black struggle in America since Emancipation—Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and so on - who could qualify as heroes worthy to be celebrated in advance of Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas?

The discussion, or the educational project which followed, was a monologue, a one-way business, an instructional hand-out, backed by facts and figures, to which I believe the audience of this column will lose nothing being co-students of, as we reflect on the events that justify the commemoration of the Black History Month. First, he asserted that far ahead of Lincoln and Douglas, two white men sacrificed their lives and those of others, including those of their children, to wage armed struggle to free slaves and end slavery in America—the consequence of which was that, the Emancipation Act, which Lincoln signed did not really free any slaves. The details of these have been well documented.

These two heroes of the Emancipation of American slaves were Love-Joy, a white man who committed his life to an armed opposition to slavery in America and who was killed for that purpose and John Brown, who actually led an armed revolt against slavery in America.

Why, you may quip, will Lincoln not be honoured as a main factor in Emancipation? After all, history is resolute about the fact that only leaders and war commanders win wars, and are credited and immortalized for them. Only Napoleon is remembered in the Napoleonic Wars in France and Europe. For good or for ill, and in spite of the pogrom and tragedies of the Second World War, only Adolf Hitler is credited with the victories and failures of Nazism. Ditto Mussolini for Italian Fascism. Even our own traumatic Civil War in Nigeria between 1967 and 1970: The homilies of the war are sung after the names of Yakubu Gowon and Odumegwu Ojukwu. The thousands and millions that perished in these wars—their orphaned and widowed loved ones -- are victims of history’s convenient amnesia. Nobody remembers the real heroes of warfare, who perished or suffered from wars which they did nothing to perpetrate and whose lives served as mere fodder to surfeit the appetite of dictators.

In the case of the Emancipation and the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln as President of America, stole the show and recorded history affirms him so and decorates his head with immortal garlands. Yet, as we were persuasively informed, with documents, Abe Lincoln was concerned, principally, to save the Union. If in the process, emancipation—or the freedom of the slaves in the slave states-- became imperative, expedient or a condition for the salvation of the Union, so be it. Just one or two statements quoted against President Lincoln’s name will suffice in this brief reflection. In the Speech at Peoria on October 16, 1854, he had been quoted thus: “Free them, and make them politically and socially, our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this, and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not”.

Should this quotation sound as a cursory statement from a non-committal, private lawyer, Lincoln, who was not fully enthralled by the praxis of presidential politics, the quoted statement from his Inaugural Speech as President on March 4, 1861, reflected the truism of his perceived preference, as regards ending slavery in the Confederate States (States where slavery existed). He had said: “I have no purpose directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so”.

Other statements accredited to the great Lincoln indicate his intrinsic belief in the superiority of the white race to the black one. The credit that can be granted to him of course is that he discouraged slavery in states where it was not in operational practice. His paramount “object in this struggle (the war) is to save the Union and it is neither to save nor destroy slavery”. He would save the Union without freeing any slave; he would also free all the slaves to save the Union. It is to this that we owe the fact that it was President Abraham Lincoln that signed the Emancipation Act. It is for this, mainly, that he won the declaration of the Black History Month partly to festivate his birthday, which was in February, alongside the Black emancipator, Frederick Douglas, who would not take up arms, alongside John Brown, the unsung hero, because Douglas thought it was a futile exercise that would fail.

John Brown, then, with a group of twenty-one men, in an October 16, 1859 downpour, attacked the Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, with the sole intent of taking over the town, free the slaves and distribute arms for them to spread the revolt across the South. The result was catastrophic. His two sons were killed along with a handful other black fighters. He was, himself, sentenced to death and killed. I recall quite faintly, once in a while, echoes of the song that we sang (obviously without the correct lyrics or sense) in the primary school in the late fifties. It was “John Brown’s body lies amouldering in the grave (3x)…And his soul goes marching on”. With a chorus like: “Glory, Glory Hallelujah! (3x) And his soul goes marching on”.

I do not wish to rob this hero, Abraham Lincoln, the way none of his predecessors was ever robbed of their immortality, wisely or otherwise. But I believe that nobody who is prescient of this version of the anti-slavery struggle will deny the exhumation of unsung heroes of the Black History (Month.) John Brown died in the, now, prophetic conviction that the voluntary sacrifice of his life, his soldiers and his sons would not be in vain, when he said, a few hours after his capture that: “I am nearly disposed of now, but this question is still to be settled—this Negro question, I mean—the end of that is not yet.”. Henry Thoreau must have the last word: “Old John Brown is dead—John Brown the immortal lives”.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


The Niger Delta region is fast becoming one of the most unsafe places to be on earth today.
Respected Journalist Simon Kolawole wrote a piece which caught my attention on the Thisday Newspaper of 3rd August. The piece is extracted below for you to read and form your own opinion about the whole crisis altogether. Enjoy!

"We’re back to the Niger Delta issue again. If anybody had told me 10 or 20 years ago that the Niger Delta would be such a hot item on the world’s agenda today, I would have accused the person of not only exaggeration but “over-exaggeration” – if the Queen would allow me to do such grammatical damage to the English language. Now we are here. We need to get out. How do we get out? Nobody should be surprised that there is no consensus on this. Many favour military action as the militants continue to strike at oil installations onshore and offshore. Others believe dialogue, or a stakeholders’ summit, is the way out. Some have argued quite passionately that what is happening in the region is nothing but criminality which must be crushed with military precision. A few people have also argued that the militants are fighting a just cause and deserve a listening ear. My own argument, which I have often canvassed in this space, is that something bred the criminality over a period of time and the root issues must be addressed squarely. Except those issues are addressed, the criminality will continue to fester. Unfortunately, because criminality is now so profitable, it will be extremely difficult to clamp down on it. What kind of job can you give to somebody who is already making hundreds of millions of naira from an illegal activity?My argument also suffers on one count: how do you address the “real issues” when bombs are being splashed all around? How do you tackle the problems of, for instance, physical development when construction works are being sabotaged and workers kidnapped for ransom? How do you build roads, bridges, hospitals, schools and water treatment plants under such an atmosphere? How do you even make efficient use of resources when billions are going into payment of ransoms? So, in a way, we are in a dilemma. But I want to insist that name-calling and scapegoating will not bring the kind of peace we seek – except we want to settle for the peace of the graveyard. Having said that, I want to identify with those who argue that the first step to achieving development in the Niger Delta is peace. Peace as in peace. Get the militants to lay down their arms first. There are various factions and tendencies among the militant groups, but we must get the core groups to openly agree to lay down their arms. That is key. When there is an open declaration of ceasefire, this has the potential of alienating the criminal gangs – that’s if you agree with my argument that it is wrong to dismiss all that is happening in the region as “criminality”. Some believe all the militants should be treated as criminals – I strongly differ on this. That attitude will be unhelpful and unfruitful.The opportunistic criminals can only be effectively dealt with by their own people. I’m not saying the military cannot do the job – but local knowledge is certainly a better option. The moment the criminals are alienated by their own people, it makes the job of the state security forces easier. There will be no more hiding place for those who are taking advantage of genuine agitations to foment criminality. So the strategy will be to get the locals to help in tracking down the criminals. I’m not unaware of the fact that the militants themselves are accused of crude oil theft; that is why it is very critical to secure their co-operation in the first instance. It’s a delicate task, but worthwhile. Local knowledge works quite well. In my village, if any crime is committed, we can easily narrow down on the likely perpetrators and smoke them out. If the crime is committed by “outsiders”, the “insiders” can tap into their “network” to fish out the culprits. How then do we secure the co-operation of the locals? This is where Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan has to pull all of his weight. I believe his choice as VP was influenced one way or the other by the role he was expected to play in bringing peace to his “region of origin”. I’m aware he has been working underground on the militants for a peaceful resolution. President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, I was told, specifically saddled the VP with the responsibility of coordinating processes and designing a roadmap towards achieving peace and development in the oil region. This passes the “local knowledge” test, at least. The process of resolving the Niger Delta problem should be Niger Delta-driven, with a national consensus – we are all stakeholders in this matter, after all. I’m also aware that Jonathan has held consultations and discussions with virtually all the stakeholders and interest groups in the Niger Delta – including militants, pressure groups, elder statesmen, youth leaders, community leaders, opinion leaders, representatives of oil firms – in trying to accommodate them. He has met with various ethnic nationalities in the region. I was reliably informed that the release of Asari Dokubo and freedom deal for ex-Bayelsa Governor DSP Alameyeseigha last year were products of these meetings which, initially at least, contributed to dousing the tension in the area at the time. The VP also held wide-ranging consultations with Nigerians both at home and abroad – he travelled to the United States and then to the United Kingdom and South Africa, reaching out to as many influential people as possible.Jonathan also visited the creeks to meet with the dreaded militants. He seemed to be making some headway as a result of these meetings and consultations. I remember there was a time we saw less of militant activities. But as soon as Henry Okah, the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), was arrested and put on trial for gun-running, the relative peace was shattered. Threats and ultimatums were being dished out and now there is complete chaos again. The recent pronouncement by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that he would offer “help” to Nigeria in dealing with “criminality” in the Niger Delta has obviously poured petrol on the peace process which was already in flames. We can see how the militants have stepped up attacks on oil installations in response to Brown’s offer.To kick-start the process, Okah must be freed – no matter how it hurts the ego of Yar’Adua and the Federal Government. There must be some compromise. It’s a gesture of goodwill. Then we can begin serious discussions or dialogue. The VP has the responsibility of driving the process and he must see it to a logical conclusion. He must build on the relative success he had garnered before the Okah case. My argument is: whether or not they are criminals or militants, we first must win the peace in the Niger Delta by using “local knowledge” – from where we move on. The militants must “buy in”. They are in a better position to tame the criminality. So while the government should not relent in its obligation of providing security for the citizens of this country, the other options for the peaceful resolution of the conflict must be pursued with equal vigour and tenacity. We all need the peace so that at least one problem will disappear from our bundle of problems. Maybe we can begin to think clearly thereafter."

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