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By Mike Utsaha

This isn’t the best of times for us as a people and as a nation, and the reason is pretty obvious. This notwithstanding, the Benue Political Community seem to have taken a break from concerns around combatting the effects of COVID – 19, and has rather focused attention on the recent resignation from the Peoples Democratic Party by the erudite Professor of Creative Writing and former member of the Benue State Executive Council Prof. Terhemba Shija.

Professor Terhemba Shija

The resignation of Shija from the PDP, after many years sojourn in that Party, has unsurprisingly, elicited mixed reactions. Although the text of the public statement which he personally signed, gave no indication as to his immediate next steps, there are speculations already that his resignation is a first step towards the actualisation of a gubernatorial ambition come 2023, on an alternative political platform, a platform which he allegedly undermined during the 2019 general elections.

A little bit of a background here, just so that base motives are not ascribed to this alternative viewpoint.

As a much younger person I loved books a lot, I read practically everything that was in sight, newspapers, novels, journals, etc. and that is how I first came in contact with Terhemba Shija many years ago, through his first published work “Whispers of Distant Drums”.

Then, by October 1995 when I was called to the Bar, Shija was the then Head of the Benue State Liaison Office in Lagos where I had undertaken my mandatory Law School Studies. Without any prompting, and without any prior notification, but obviously in honour of my parents, who were in Lagos to share in the joy of my admission to the prestigious legal profession, Shija hosted a large Party in my honour in his official residence somewhere in Victoria Island.

Many years later, coincidentally in the month of October 2012, when my younger Sister Alu got married to her heartthrob Pius Ayoo, Shija was there once again, to host a sit out in Hallydays Hotel Makurdi, this time around, in honour of the Ayoos and Utsahas.

Even here on Facebook where we maintain an enduring bond of friendship, we share a commonality of interest on issues of diverse interests, and I am constantly intrigued by mass hysteria that usually accompanies his outings.

Naturally, I have had and maintained more than a passing interest in Shija even as I owe him a debt of gratitude for his thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity, and I needed to mention this upfront.

I think it is a great act of disservice to our great Party the All Progressives Congress (APC) to even contemplate a cold shoulder for Shija. Globally, political parties thrive on membership, the more the merrier. The political process is a market place whose legal tender is the freshness of ideas that one brings to the table. It is decidedly a market place of ideas.

Besides, if Shija worked against the APC during the 2019 general elections in favour of his Party the PDP, then he was discharging the responsibility expected of a loyal, forthright and committed Party man. Rather than condemn him for this, he ought to be commended for his exemplary conduct, notwithstanding the motivation, if any, for this line of action. So, if tomorrow Shija decides to pitch his tent with the APC I personally consider it a salutary development.

It should be stated, without equivocation of any kind whatsoever, that the 2019 electioneering campaign of the APC in Benue was poorly conducted quite frankly.

We went into that election as a fragmented Party with disparate and varied interests.

We refused to take advantage of resources at our disposal and relied essential on the feeble and capricious efforts of spent political forces of yester years.

Indeed, in some cases, we were pants down in bed with the most vociferous opposition elements. We squandered our chances and goodwill as a party, we took a lot of things for granted even as we were in a contest with a formidable incumbent governor who was too well aware of the consequences of losing his seat, and with it, his constitutional immunity.

So, to now turn around and blame Shija for our lack lustre performance in that election is for me akin to playing the game of the proverbial Ostrich.

Like I mentioned earlier on Shija has been an active member of the PDP since 1999. In my view, it is a fitting testimony to his selflessness and consistency of character that, notwithstanding the fluid nature of our political process, he has never ever contemplated, until now, a change of platform.

Conversely, it is also a fitting testimony to the soul and character of the PDP that it could not retain or at least tolerate Shija within its fold, in spite of his many years of committed and dedicated service and sacrifice to the Party.

Let me conclude, not only by wishing Shija all the very best in his future endeavours, I additionally urge him, most respectfully, to consider taking up membership of the APC, if and when he decides to continue making modest contributions to the democratisation process in our country Nigeria. The fortunes of our great Party will be significantly improved if he takes this step.

We look forward to working very closely with him and benefitting from his wealth of experience, depth of knowledge and the network of friends and associates he has cultivated within and beyond our country Nigeria.

(Mike Utsaha is a legal practitioner based in Abuja)

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The uneasy thing about Nigeria’s Independence Day celebration reminds me of Frederick Douglas’s thought-provoking speech which he delivered on the 4th of July, titled “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”. This famous and powerful address was made on July, 5, 1852. Douglas, an African American abolitionist and former slave questioned the hypocrisy of celebrating American independence and freedom while the black people were inhumanely treated under the shackles and manacles of slavery.

In that famous address, Douglas argued passionately that the celebration of freedom and independence was a hollow gesture for the African slaves and thus challenged the moral conscience of white America, urging them to confront the moral depravity and injustice of the institution of slavery.

Douglass began by acknowledging the significance and achievements of the American Revolution, praising the architects of the American republic for their commitment to the cause of liberty and justice. However, he quickly shifted his focus to highlight the stark contrast between the ideals professed and captured in the preamble of the American constitution -“we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal…” in the one, and in the other, the horrid condition experienced by the enslaved African people. In that speech, Douglass draws heavily and eloquently from the Bible, the American Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence to reveal the contradictions and ironies inherent in the American society.

It is in that sense, that we as Nigerians must reflect on Frederick Douglass’ powerful words and draw parallels from that knowledge and experience with a view to inspire us to critically examine the significance of Nigeria’s independence. Although Nigeria’s independence from colonial rule on October, 1, 1960 marked a pivotal moment in our history however, it also revealed the complexities and challenges that accompany self-rule 63 years down the line.

Like Douglass, who highlighted the stark contrast between the ideals of liberty and the reality of slavery in America, we must also interrogate and understand the overreaching implications of independence for Nigerians.

Independence should not just be about political freedom or self-rule, but entails also, the responsibility to harness our God given potentials-both human and natural in order to live up to the promise of a free and prosperous nation. This would mean, tackling poverty, misery, unemployment, inequality, illiteracy, insecurity, corruption and ethno-religious tension that persist within the Nigerian society.

Similar to Douglass’ call for justice and equality for all Americans, it is crucial to recognize the fact that true independence encompasses freedom from man-made hardship and suffering, systemic oppression and other forms of insecurity.

Frederick Douglass believed that the Fourth of July should be a time for reflection and self-assessment, urging Americans to confront the hypocrisy of celebrating freedom while denying it to a significant portion of the population. In the same vein, Nigeria’s Independence Day should prompt us to critically examine the discrepancies between the nation’s founding principles and the troubling reality of a vast majority of Nigerians today. By every conceivable standard, Nigeria is a deeply troubled nation.

We therefore must engage in introspection and ask ourselves challenging questions: Are we truly living up to the ideals of a united, prosperous, and just nation? Are all Nigerians able to fully enjoy the benefits of independence, irrespective of their social class, religious and ethnic background? How can we genuinely address the governance deficit and put an end to the failure of successive administrations with a view to better the social and economic conditions of all citizens in Nigeria? Do we really deserve the kind of leadership foisted on us for decades? Must Nigerians continue to adjust and readjust in order to survive under the grip of a highly perfidious elite operating an economic and political system that thrives on injustice and corruption?

Think about it!


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The presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 elections, Peter Obi, says Nigeria is “gradually losing one of the biggest intangible assets that make a nation strong, which is respect for the rule of law”.

In a statement he posted on his X handle in celebration of International Democracy Day on Friday, Obi said “our dear nation has continued to swing dangerously away from the boundaries of true democracy”.

He said that Nigerians must “remind ourselves of the need to work together to build and deepen our nation’s democracy”.

The former Anambra State governor called on all Nigerians to remain committed to building and reinforcing our nation’s democracy.

“As witnessed in the country today, the mindless erosion of the very ideals and tenets on which Nigeria’s democracy was built, if not checked, will only push the nation deeper into lawlessness,” he wrote.

“The current trend of endemic corruption, abuse of the constitution, disrespect for the rule of law, and transactional politics which cuts across the executive, legislative, and judicial arms of government, have continued to conflict with our nation’s enforcement of democracy.
Source: (

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Admiral Jibrin Akpabana: The Definitive Choice for Kogi East to Reclaim Power



By Comrade Shaibu O

In the lead-up to the pivotal Kogi State Governorship election, the residents of Kogi East, particularly the Igalas, find themselves at a crossroads, compelled to closely scrutinize the political landscape and deliberate on the most fitting candidate to challenge the incumbent Yahaya Bello’s bid for an extended tenure through Ahmed Usman Ododo.

The impending decision carries profound implications, as the Igalas, who have been witnessing a gradual erosion of their majority status, must strategically navigate this juncture in their political trajectory. Amidst the complex interplay of contenders, one figure stands out as a beacon of hope and transformation: Admiral Usman Jibrin, affectionately known as Akpabana, representing the Accord party.

In order to fully comprehend the stakes at hand, it is paramount for the Easterners to internalize a pivotal truth: their prospects for success hinge on presenting a unified front in the upcoming election. A fragmented approach, characterized by multiple contenders, could inadvertently pave the way for their collective failure. Hence, the Easterners ought to acknowledge that a singular, unifying figure is needed to carry their aspirations forward, and that figure is none other than Admiral Usman Jibrin.

While it is undeniable that Hon. Muritala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party has garnered substantial popularity, particularly among the youth demographic, it is imperative to acknowledge that popularity alone cannot guarantee victory in the political arena. Ajaka’s commendable financial capabilities and potential as a leader notwithstanding, the formidable challenge presented by Bello necessitates a more comprehensive strategy. The Kogi election landscape echoes the adage, “The Kingdom of God suffered violence and the violent took it by force.” Triumphing over Bello’s entrenched influence demands unwavering determination and an audacious display of political force.

Governor Yahaya Bello has demonstrated an acute understanding of power dynamics and has wielded his authority with unapologetic vigor since assuming office. The echoes of his previous triumphs in 2019 serve as a stark reminder of his tenacity and the necessity of matching his resolve with equal determination. The assertion that Bello’s hold over the East has waned due to personnel changes in his camp is a misguided notion.
The new cadre of individuals supporting Bello in the East have proven themselves to be even more formidable and relentless than their predecessors.

Admiral Jibrin Akpabana is a figure whose very name reverberates with promise and the potential to disrupt Bello’s dominion. This assertion is substantiated by the fact that Governorship elections are intricately interwoven with national influence, and in this realm, Jibrin stands on a more favorable footing. Unlike Muritala Ajaka, who has seen his national influence dwindled since departing from the All Progressives Congress, Jibrin’s affiliations, including his role as a former Chief of Naval Staff and his familial connection to a former Chief of Defense Staff (Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi), positions him as an unassailable force, impervious to Bello’s manipulation of security agencies.

It is imperative to grasp that victory in a gubernatorial race transcends monetary largesse. The bedrock of a successful campaign lies in cultivating a cadre of loyal supporters who are willing to lay down their lives for the cause. Admiral Akpabana boasts a robust network across the state, built upon his legacy as a naval leader, wherein job opportunities were facilitated for numerous individuals. Kogi Easterners stand to capitalize on this deep-seated loyalty, galvanizing it into an insurmountable wave of support.

Furthermore, Admiral Jibrin has meticulously cultivated an array of influential backers on the national stage. While the identities of these individuals may remain shrouded in secrecy, the telltale signs were unmistakably on display during his son’s recent wedding, where distinguished personalities graced the occasion. These influencers hold the key to determining the fate of Kogi’s governance.

The power of social media, while undeniably significant in contemporary politics, should not be overestimated. The tale of Peter Obi’s campaign serves as a poignant reminder that virtual support does not invariably translate into electoral victory. In contrast, Admiral Jibrin has garnered the unwavering endorsement of key political elders and opinion shapers in the East, signaling a formidable groundswell of support. These venerable figures possess the resources and influence to decisively tip the scales in Jibrin’s favor.

As the days unfold, Admiral Jibrin Akpabana is poised to ascend the Eastern social media landscape, wielding an arsenal of compelling narratives and rallying cries.

The winds of change are palpable, as erstwhile supporters of Muritala Ajaka recognize the pragmatic imperatives and align themselves with Jibrin’s compelling vision. The writing on the wall indicates a shift of seismic proportions, compelling a collective shift towards Akpabana, propelled by the realization that, in the best interests of the Igalas, Muri must gallantly cede the spotlight to the Admiral, whose prospects shine luminously on the horizon.

The impending Kogi State Governorship election beckons the Easterners to embrace Admiral Jibrin Akpabana as the transformative leader capable of wresting power from the indomitable Yahaya Bello. With an unparalleled grasp of security agencies, unwavering loyalty from across the state, and a constellation of national backers, Akpabana is primed to restore the East to its rightful place of prominence.

As the tides of change surge inexorably forward, the Easterners stand at a historic crossroads, poised to recalibrate the trajectory of their political destiny by placing their unwavering faith in Admiral Jibrin Akpabana.

Comrade Shaibu O.
Political Analyst
Writes from Lokoja

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