Attention: The Rt. Hon. Ikuforiji Adeyemi,
Lagos State House of Assembly,
Alausa, Ikeja,
Mr Speaker Sir,
The above Subject refers:
We are Women Arise for Change Initiative and we herein petition your good offices on behalf of two Nigerian women and Lagos State Residents in Ejigbo, hereafter referred to as “The Victims,” who sometimes this year were subjected to one of the most vicious forms of human rights abuses and the unspeakable horrors of brutality by certain depraved and savage men.
Indeed, there was outrage across the nation and around the world when video shots of the victims stripped naked, and being mercilessly beaten with pepper and sodomised with strange objects went viral (Attached is a Video CD of the sordid scenes).
As Nigerians and fellow citizens of the world watched the horrific scenes, they wondered if these were shots taken in the dark ages of savagery and primitivism.
Strangely enough, a Statement by the Chairman of Ejigbo LCDA, Kehinde Bamigbetan at the height of the furore, acknowledged that this unimaginable horror took place in his domain in February this year, and that the victims were a mother and step daughter accused of stealing pepper, and that the husband and father was a palm-wine tapper; but Bamigbetan’s Statement sadly to say, failed to outline the measures his office had taken since then to assure justice for the victims and ensure that the perpetrators are punished. Ironically, it is the same Bamigbetan whose gruesome kidnap few months back elicited genuine emotions and public goodwill, and the Lagos State Government and concerned Nigerians spared nothing to guarantee his release, and bring the kidnappers to book. Why did he appear to have turned a blind eye over the ordeal of the victims, and why is he just acknowledging to the public these atrocities after ten good months? Or is that the victims lives are of no value to him because they are pepper sellers from the household of Mr. Palm-wine tapper?
Women Arise for Change Initiative hold the belief that all peoples, including women are created equal by the Almighty, and they are therefore equal before the law; women’s rights are human rights.
To this end, we request and urge you to kindly use your good offices to set up an inquiry into this shameful incident and compel the Ejigbo LCDA Chairman, Kehinde Bamigbetan to share his knowledge of the crime and what he has done in tracking down the purveyors of these bestialities so that they can be brought to justice; adequate provisions must also be made to rehabilitate the victims, peradventure they survived these cruelties.
We strongly believe that there is a redemptive value for Lagos State in fishing out these criminals for punishment so that the State is not seen as a haven for atrocious human rights abuses where barbarity and savagery are tolerated by government officials; that is surely not a good face to present to potential investors and tourists to the commercial hub of the nation.
This is certainly one issue that will not die until justice is done, and we trust that you will act quickly and ably, and use your good offices to ensure that justice is done, for justice too long delayed is justice denied.
Thank you in anticipation of your prompt action.
Yours Faithfully,
For: Women Arise for Change Inititative,
Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin



The open letter of appeal by General Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerian president 1999-2007 to President Goodluck Jonathan has continued to generate public debates in the Nigerian media. There are several views, for and against, some sensible and some senseless.

One point that was made clear in the Obasanjo letter is the fact that Nigeria has a fundamental problem with a long history to resolve.

The fact remains that the societal maladies mentioned in Obasanjo’s letter as bad as they may be, did not start with the President Jonathan administration. To continue to blame the systemic failure of Nigeria caused by decades of military rule on President Jonathan is to deliberately choose the path of deceit and confusion.

Ever before and after independence there were opinions, observations, fears and predictions that the centrally controlled system imposed on the Nigerian nation state may not endure and survive against the overwhelming forces of ethnic and sectional loyalties.

Said, Sir Alan Burns, a British Administrator and historian in 1904, six years after Miss Flora Shaw a British lady journalist had created the label Nigeria meaning the area around the River Niger. “There is no Nigeria nation, no Nigeria language and no Nigeria tradition, the very name Nigeria was invented by the British to describe a country inhabited by a medley of formally warring tribes, with no common culture and united only in so far as they are governed by a single power”.

“Nigeria is a mere collection of self contained and mutually – independent native states, separated from one another by great distances, by difference of history and tradition and by ethnological, racial, tribal and religious barriers” – Hugh Clifford 1914 Governor General.

“Nigeria is perhaps the most artificial of the many administrative units created in the course of European occupation of Africa”– Lord Malcom Hailey 1955

“The Nigeria State is “a notoriously precarious lumping together of people whose separate identity is at least as real a matter as their acceptance of national unity” – Rupert Emerson 1960, A British Notable

‘There is no universally acceptable and understood rationale for the existence and functioning of a state called Nigeria and efforts at an artificial creation of a national mythology, a Nigeria ideology will be unproductive because of overwhelming forces arraigned against it from the side of tribalism, regional diversities and culture chasms. Neither the masses nor the elite can be expected under these conditions to develop the kind of perspective – durable, constant and in dept – requiring and bringing forth sacrifices, intense devotion and loyalty, discipline, dedication and faith. Henry Bretton 1960, a British Historian

“In nearly all the matters which concern the ordinary Nigerian citizen, it is of the regional government that he is thinking when he thinks of government at all. The most important functions for the federal government for the future are just defence and external affairs” – Henry Willink 1958

“I support the Biafran cause not because Nigerian leaders are corrupt, there are corrupt leaders everywhere. I support the Biafrian struggle for national sovereignty because Nigeria is too big and complex for one man to rule.
President Charles De’Gaule of France 1968, during the Nigeria – Biafra war.

It was in consideration of these geopolitical and ecological realities that the Nigerian nationalists agreed to a federal union with regional autonomy for the corporate parts, the policies which the military later abandoned on coming to power.

General Obasanjo made so many furious allegations against President Jonathan and his team, some which are: that the President surrounded himself with sycophants, that he is disloyal to his party and does not observe the P D P ground rules: that over 1000 people have been kept on political watch list: that there was a presidential assistance to get a condemned murderer out of jail; that the government is secretly acquiring weapons, hiring and training snipers at the same underworld venue where the late General Abacha trained his hired assassins; that there was a shady deal between the President and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in 2011 for political gains and many more. The proof of these allegations are neither here nor there as they all look more like the same kind of vulgar abuses, rumors and gossips the opposition parties had continued to heap on the President Jonathan administration since his election in 2011.

General Obasanjo has to do more to help the undiscerning public by providing them with evidences to enable them reach their conclusions.
The Nigerian military departed from power 14 years age in 1999, after over 30 years of a barren rule. The index of military officers who rose to power through coup d’état or through democratic processes between 1950 and the 2000 all over the world shows that only seven made some elements of success of civil governance. They are; General Tito of Yugoslavia, Gamel Naser of Egypt, General Park of South Korea, General Suharto of Indonesia, General De’Gaule of France, General Pinochet of Chile and General Eisenhower of the United states of America. Yet, there is the caveat that they would have done better in office but for their military background. Politics with all its complications and complexities is not a game for Generals.

It is time to tell ourselves the home truth that corrupt practices in Nigerian is due to so many factors including the imposition a unitary system of Government on Nigeria coupled with the infliction of the 1999 Unitarian presidential constitution on the country instead of taking us back to the independence constitution that made provisions for the practice of true federalism.

Some of us have been around since the Nigerian independence and have found nothing on record to prove that the present administration is doing less than the previous government. For the first time we see state budgets being implemented by the civil servants unlike in the past when a few bureaucrats shared the fund among themselves, members of their families and their friends

General Obasanjo’s letter has further exhibited the high level of ignorance, lack of knowledge and information of the Nigerian state about the plight of the Niger Delta people. Development experts had always said that the nature of the NigerDelta makes development expensive and in some cases impossible.

The Henry Willink Commission set up in 1957 by the colonial administration to look into the fears of the minorities and the means of allaying them submitted its report in 1958. It has this to say about the Ijaw tribe, “the Ijaw division is inhabited mainly by the Ijaw tribe of whom there are some 80,000 in the West but over 250,000 in the creek and swamps of the Eastern Region. They are said to be a people who have lived in the area now called Nigeria longer than any other of the large tribes and probably pushed down into the Delta area in times of which no record has survived. “The country in which they live is divided by creeks and inlets of the sea and of the Niger River into many small islands which no where rises above the highest tides and floods; their transport is by water and the construction of roads or railways would be prohibitively expensive. Theirs is a country which through no fault of man, has been neglected and which is unlikely ever to be highly developed; they are distinct in their language and customs from either the Edo speakers or the Yoruba”

The Niger Delta Development Corporation which was established in 1960 at the outset of independence to develop the region as a special area was abandoned throughout the 30 years of military rule in which Obasanjo played an active part.

Many of the younger elements in the Niger Delta including the late Adaka Boro and the late Ken Saro-Wiwa who tried to sensitize other Nigerians to know about the harsh environment under which the people live met with violent death in the hands of state agents who saw them as intolerable irritants that must be stopped. Nigeria has been so unfair to the Niger Delta people.
General Obasanjo said and correctly too that the international community knows us as we are and may be more than we claim to know of our selves. It is observed that most of the decisions the Nigerian federation had taken about the Niger Delta in the last three decades at the international scene had only put the country at odd with the rest part of the human race.
It has been established within the international community that the situation in centrally controlled nation states is worse than the situation under slavery and colonialism.
In 2007, when the United Nations voted for the adoption of the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples after 20 years of debates at the floor of the General Assembly in New York, the whole of Asia led by India, the whole of Latin America led by Brazil, the whole of the European Union including the UK, the Commonwealth of Independent States, South Africa, Ghana and some progressive minded African states voted for the Declaration Nigeria was among the only 13 African states that abstained from voting.
It is true that Nigeria has lost its prestige and integrity both at home and abroad, since the beginning of the democratic experiment in 1999, due to its policies and actions at the International scene which have become embarrassing.
Those calling for the indictment of President Jonathan or even making attempt at impeachment are not fair to the political class and they know it. The political class had been the most maligned in the 30 years of military ruling in Nigeria.
As soon as the military took over power in 1966, they consolidated the executive arm of government, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, the Foreign Service, cultivated the media, dismissed the constitution and left the political class in the cold and in the wilderness of misery. If the politicians are bungling in their actions today it is because they have no political elders from whom to learn the ropes. Though lack experience, the political class should know that the General Obasanjo’s open letter is only gunning for the soul of democracy in Nigeria. It is wrong to continue to stress only on National unity without regard for ethnic diversity.
It is General Obasanjo by the contents of his open letter that should be invited to throw more light into his allegations and how to move the country forward and not the other way round.

Reading through all the wild allegations leveled against President Jonathan by General Obasanjo reminds me of the false and horrible allegation by political opponent against the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, leader of the Action Group and his colleagues in the first republic that led to the culture of violence that has griped Nigeria since 1962.

All that has been said in Obasanjo’s 18 page open letter can be summed up in only one word – duplicitous.

Alfred Ilenre is Secretary General, Ethnic Minority and Indigenous Rights Organisation of Africa (EMIROAF).

The Memoirs of a Labour Leader

Book Review

Title: The Memoirs of a Labour Leader
Author: Comrade Elijah Okougbo


Review By Alfred Ilenre

A number of books have been written by labour leaders touching on the intricacies of labour management in Nigeria under a socio-economic process in transition, but none is yet to match the kind of a theory base for practical labour management revealed in the Memoirs of a Labour Leader by Comrade Elijah Okougbo, Secretary-General (Emeritus) of the National Union of Petroleum and Gas Workers (NUPENG).

Comrade Okougbo has produced a book that will for a long time serve as a manual for labour management in both government and the industrial sectors of the economy. It is a practical work document on how to make leaders in business, corporations, government, employers, employees and other stake holders in the labour world have the correct information and knowledge before making decisions.

The book is made up of experiences and reflections, comprising the author’s articles and features in the media, lectures, seminar papers, excursions, pictorial events, May day testimonies, goodwill messages, letters to management and government agencies, communiqués and resumes at various workers negotiation meetings, stretching over his 33 years trade union career.

It is a book whose contents remind the readers that mankind today lives in an era where changes in government and the industrial sectors have continued to be rapid. The desire for changes without the capacity to execute work programme necessitated by the forces of change, the book inferred is just a futile dream.

In the age of the computer and the internet, many labour problems which had never been anticipated are surfacing daily and they require the act of individual and group thinking to resolve them.

The age in the industrial sector when problems are allowed to accumulate before trying to solve them is gone. The management and workers in an establishment must always anticipate that there would be problems in order to adopt mechanisms on how to resolve them before they occur.

The author went into philosophy to cite the different kinds and patterns of leadership settings including charismatic, traditional, bureaucracy, theological, revolutionary, intellectual and labour movement leadership among others. In each case, it is the view of the author that the acquisition of knowledge and information is a vital instrument for the attainment of true justice in order to ensure even development in a participatory democracy.

The lectures, correspondences and papers delivered at different occasions at the local, national, regional and international levels by the author as relayed in the book are all sources of learning materials for the present and future generations of trade union activists, bureaucrats, leaders and academics.

In a paper presented at a conference on the world press freedom day celebration held at the United Nations Headquarters, New York in 2009, the author touched briefly on the events that led to the struggle for the actualization of the 1993 presidental election won by the late M.K.O Abiola in which the NUPENG led by the then Secretary-General, Comrade Frank Ovie Kokori played a frontline role in collaboration with the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and other pro-democracy organizations, in bringing an end to military rule in Nigeria.

Going through the Memoirs of a Labour Leader reminds readers of the bare fact that the world is neck deep in the technological age where mankind has to do more re-appraisals and re-thinking in order to be able to withstand the vagaries of the computer era. Only countries and communities that invest in information and knowledge acquisition through individual and group training of their citizens have the chance of sustainable development and survival in the new age.

The book enumerates so many of the conflict breeders and labour induced problems in the oil industry, at both the onshore and downstream sectors which will always demand the thinking ability of the ablest men and women to resolve. The author continued to stress and laid emphasis on sustained training for both the management, senior and junior staff in the oil industry and other organizations.

The author showed that it was not all toil, tension, stress and no leisure throughout his trade union work life, a journey started at the Nigeria Airways in 1979, from where he switched over to NUPENG as Organizing Secretary and rose through the ranks to Deputy Secretary-General (operation) and later as the substantive Secretary-General before his well earned retirement in 2012.

The various positions he held gave him the opportunity to meet with many of the world’s prominent leaders, inside and outside the labour movement circle. He traveled wide to so many exotic countries in the different continents of the world; visiting oil installations and seeing workers at work for comparative analysis back home in Nigeria. The author’s excursions to Houston in the United State and Dubai in the Middle East had a particularly self rewarding and informative experience on him.

At the launch of the Memoirs of a Labour Leader on November 22, 2013 at the National Theatre Iganmu, Lagos, the author called for the establishment of a Labour College by the industrial unions under the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC).He advised that the labour building inherited by the NLC from the late Wahab Goodluck led Nigerian Trade Union Congress(NTUC) be converted to a workers training institute as the government owned Labour College in Ilorin, was not in position to train the professional trade union cadres in the rudiments of trade union activism.

In a grand ceremony in the theatre hall filled by trade union activists, oil workers, a large section of the civil society organizations, market women and human rights activists, it was quite odd that officials of the Ministry of Labour, and Productivity as well as the Petroleum ministry were conspicuously absent. Such a gathering of labour intellectuals and activists would have been a great opportunity for state officials to enunciate on government policies relating to the current labour matters in the country including the Petroleum Industry Bill, government and the university teachers face off and other labour issues of national interest.

The Memoirs of a Labour Leader is a book rich in detail with a worthy theory base for practical work. It addresses so efficiently, the most important problems facing the Nigerian labour movement in the area of skill and knowledge acquisition.

The author proved the point that there are more salient issues of conflict besetting the Nigerian oil industry, which often demand shrewd management and the use of conflict prevention mechanisms beyond what is published in the mass media, due to their confidentiality and security implications.

The book is a ground work of long years of research and experiences garnered on the job which government officials, management, employees, scholars and teachers of contemporary labour politics must read.

By Alfred Ilenre.
Secretary-General, Ethnic Minority and Indigenous Rights Organization of Africa(EMIROAF).