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George Floyd: Black-Americans’ Outrage and Nigeria’s Rare Chance to Course-Correct

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Whether Donald Trump and the GOP likes it or not, a movement of rage has begun in America. The movement has been largely symptomatic of the latent rage of Black-Americans and the oppressed people of colour in America, and now they appear to be determined to exact justice by any means necessary. For every tipping point that we see in any given situation, there has to be a series of preceding events. This is presently the case in America with the death of George Floyd; a black man who was gruesomely killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, who suffocated him by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes, ironically, on Memorial Day. 

 

The murder of George Floyd by a white police officer named Derek Chauvin – completely insensible and unjustifiable in any situation – has become the catalyst for a gradually escalating movement of rage in several cities in America. George Floyd’s death and the consequent rage across America reminds one of the death of Emmett Till in 1955 – a 14-year-old black boy who was lynched by a racist white family who had his eyes plucked out and was beaten severely, and then dunked his dead body in a river whilst tied to a cotton-gin fan with barbed wire. A public, open-casket funeral of Emmett Till went on to invigorate the emerging Civil Rights Movement of the time. For six days and still counting, protests have been continuously gathering steam in different American cities, just as there has been increasing instances of rioting, looting, human rights abuses by police officers and at least five dead protestors. 

One Among Many 

 

Racial injustice has been with the United States of America for as long as memory can remember. It is the Hydra-headed monster that has persistently continued to terrorize Black people across America, despite all past efforts and actions. Floyd’s death is the culmination of several deaths, cases of harassments, racial prejudice, bile, and institutionalized racism against black people in America. Within the last decade alone, for instance, there has been several race-triggered deaths of black people by racist police officers and white supremacists across America. 

 

On 22 November 2014, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was gunned down in Cleveland, Ohio by a 26-year old police officer, Timothy Loehmann. Trayvon Benjamin Martin, a 17-year-old Black teenager was fatally shot in Miami Gardens, Florida in 2012. His killer, George Zimmerman was later acquitted, just as the killers of Emmet Till were acquitted in the fifties. Still in 2012, March 21 precisely, a 22-year-old Black woman was fatally shot by a police officer named Dante Servin. He was later acquitted of all charges, too. In July 2014, Eric Garner was suffocated to death by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo. Pantaleo walked scot-free. On April 4, 2015, an unarmed Walter Scott was shot and killed by Michael Slager, a North Charleston police officer. On February 23, 2020, Ahmed Aubrey was shot dead by Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael whilst jogging in Georgia. It took a national outrage before the two were arrested in May 2020. And the cases go on and on. But these are not mere numbers or statistics — they were humans — black people.

 

In George Floyd’s case, the pithy remark of Will Smith that ‘racism is not getting worse, it is getting filmed’ manifests most obviously. Watching several video clips of George Floyd’s death was one of the most devastating things I have had to see in recent time. Not only did the officer display crass nonchalance through his vile action, but he also displayed unalloyed resolve to end George’s life on the spot. Despite Floyd’s entreaties saying ‘I can’t breathe,’ the officer pressing him to the ground whilst kneeling on his neck seemed the least bothered about Floyd’s predicament. As many lawyers have described it, I wouldn’t agree less that George Floyd’s death was premeditated murder. Although Derek Chauvin, the killer of George Floyd, is now in prison waiting to be charged, and the other officers with him during the odious incident have been dismissed, the ultimate question still awaiting answer is whether or not justice will be done in this case, and also how America will address racial injustice and institutionalized racism against black people going forward.

 

‘We Can’t Breathe’

 

The defining phrase of the edifying heroism of the protesters on the streets of America has been ‘We Can’t Breathe’ – a collective rephrasing of Floyd’s words before he eventually stopped breathing. The ongoing protests across America are indicative of the precarious condition in which Black people are expected to live and respire. Black-Americans are expected to live and breathe in America despite being deoxidized and asphyxiated by age-long cultural and institutional racism. The heroic defiance of Black protestors so far, in spite of the incredible number of victims of the Coronavirus pandemic in America; the swiftness of the protestors’ resolve to organize, and their dauntless resolve to remain in the trenches until there is justice for Floyd, is an extraordinary act of humanness and an inspiring dedication to racial justice. 

 

Worthy of note, also, is the growing awareness among white folks in America that being silent in the face of racial injustice is simply being complicit. We have seen footages of white protestors standing as a defensive barrier between Black protestors and violent police officers. They chose to shield Black protestors from pepper pellets and rubber bullets, knowing that they are already protected by the system, but their Black counterparts are perennial victims of the system. We have also seen how Police officers in Miami, New York, and other places are genuflecting in solidarity with Black protestors. These heroic acts deserve mentioning and certainly imitation in other countries where racial, political and other forms of injustice are rife. 

 

Of course, we have also seen some protestors express their rage in different and even extreme ways. Some have decided to make themselves arsonists out of frustration and fury, whilst some have shown extraordinary courage by responding in kind to police officers who use pepper pellets, rubber bullets, tasers and other types of violent dissuasive methods to attempt to disperse protestors. Their courage and acts of heroism must be commended. If the situation on the streets of America wasn’t the norm but is now the case, then we cannot ignore the insightful words of Martin Luther King Jr. that; ‘a riot is the language of the unheard.’ In situations like this, people must be allowed to unrestrainedly express themselves, so long as no fatal harm is done to another in the process.

 

‘Black Lives Matter’

 

One phrase that has become a major theme of protesting racial injustice in America and across some other parts of the world is Black Lives Matter. Since its formation in July 2013, BLM has evolved beyond an activist movement founded by three extraordinarily courageous black women to campaign against systemic racism and police brutality against black people, into a global household chorus of resistance against racial injustice. It is also worth mentioning that the Black Lives Matter phrase has survived every attempt by white supremacists to water down its intended focus by occasionally substituting the phrase with ‘All Lives Matter.’ ALM is merely a sick and disingenuous trick by white supremacists to de-popularize the several injustices against Black people in America and across the world. 

 

To be clear, there is no doubt that all lives matter. Human or not. This is a simple fact of life. But we cannot allow white supremacists to cynically elevate an ‘all lives matter’ narrative when black lives are evidently endangered or when black people are fatally shot or inhumanely charged for offences they never committed. All lives matter is just like saying all child matters. But the world is often echoing the protection of the GirlChild because historically and presently, the GirlChild is more likely to be sexually assaulted, forced into an underage marriage, or compelled to submit to others forms of dehumanization, than the BoyChild. In the same way, Black people’s lives are in danger because we are ten times more likely to be assaulted or killed than any other race in the world, simply because of our skin colour. And thus America and the world must be constantly reminded that black lives matter.

 

The Bane of the ‘Age of Trump’

 

Donald Trump’s era as the President of the United States, otherwise known as the ‘Age of Trump’ has severely redefined America for the worse. In the Age of Trump, racial attacks are on the rise and racists are emboldened by his slew of savage racist rhetoric. A president should be a father of the nation, the embodiment of wisdom to guide and inspire the people; but Donald Trump has been nothing but the chief inciter and chief anarchist of the Unites States. 

 

I was unsurprised when Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, reported that “He didn’t give me an opportunity to speak… I was trying to talk to him, but he just kept, like pushing me off, like ‘I don’t want to hear what you’re talking about.’” Although Donald Trump’s explanation of the phone call he made to Floyd’s brother was, characteristically, sharply different and appeared more humane; anyone who has been following the demagogue since his campaign trail would waste no minute before believing Philonise over him. Trump’s disdain for Black people is age-long, and his link to the KKK, and love for white supremacists, has been repeatedly made conspicuous by him – and several courageous people in America.

 

It, therefore, comes as no surprise, when Trump mounted the horse of chief promoter of excessive force and violence against protestors on his Twitter page. Not only has he been vociferous in promoting the use of force against protestors, but he has also been forthright in condemning city Mayors who have chosen the honourable path of dignifying the protestors and allowing them to exercise their rights. Trump is no lover of democracy, he is only partly tamed by the fortress-like democratic institutions in America – some of which will not be the same when he eventually leaves power. Without doubt, Trump shares the same temperament with Buhari in terms of tolerance for democracy and democratic institutions. Like Buhari, he has expressed his intention to proscribe ANTIFA – a leftist political protest movement, as a terrorist group (despite the absence of information on their involvement in the ongoing rage in America) – obviously in the same way that Buhari proscribed IPOB in Nigeria. Trump’s intolerance of dissent and the ongoing outrage over Floyd’s death and racial injustice in America, will play a huge role in ultimately defining his presidency. His incapacity to lead with wisdom and unite the American people, his incapacity to take the lead in ending police brutality and racial injustice, will not be favourably recorded in the annals of history. 

 

Lessons for Nigeria

 

If there is any country that should pick a pen and paper to write down the several things one can learn from America’s outrage over Floyd’s death, it should be Nigeria. Like America, Nigeria is bedevilled by ethnic profiling and injustice. Religious attacks, ethnic cleansing, banditry, terrorism and communal clashes are taking multiple monstrous dimensions daily. Nigeria’s inability to deal with her problems is as much the fault of her citizens as it is her leaders. The executive mendacity and yakuza-mentality of Nigeria’s leaders continues to be a stumbling block against any chance of progress or solution in the face of these myriads of problem. 

 

In Nigeria, like in America, Buhari is bent on protecting the interests of only one part of the country and the interests of only one religious group in the country, to the traumatizing detriment of other parts of the country and other religious groups in the country. Like America, police brutality in Nigeria is alarmingly worrisome, and what’s worse, the southern hemisphere of the country is more likely to record cases of police brutality in a day than the northern hemisphere. Also, the victims of police brutality are more likely to be youths from the southern extraction than youths of the northern extraction. 

 

Whilst the unprofessionalism of the Nigerian police is a nationwide truism, the violence and brutality of the force is more likely to affect some than the others. This is a conversation that Nigeria is unwilling to have but must have nonetheless. Like America, Nigeria is presently being assailed by a clueless president, and his continued stay in power, in the long run, will exact catastrophic consequences on the country.

 

The outrage of Black people in America, accentuated by their defiance of COVID-19 to storm the streets in blizzards to protest racial injustice, is a distinct lesson for Nigerians, especially Nigerian youths, to take the bull by the horn and rise as one on the streets – beyond the comfort of character-limit media platforms and the affinity for trending hashtags with flippant attention. The salvation of the Nigerian people, and their chance at exacting justice is not on social media but on the streets and in the homes and places of comfort of their oppressors. The Nigerian people must learn from the Americans the will to be in the trenches to demand justice. The Nigerian Police must also learn from the courageous policemen in America who are genuflecting and protesting with protestors for justice. Nigerian leaders also have a chance at learning from Mayors and community leaders of different cities in America who are choosing civility and decorum over violence and use of force on protestors. Injustice can only last for so long, eventually the oppressed will rise, and when they do, it will be uncontrollable chaos. Nigeria has been presented another rare chance of learning from America and taking steps to prevent citizens’ outrage and chaos.
#icantbreathe
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APC: Oshiomhole bows, says he accepts dissolution of NWC in good faith

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Former National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiohmole, says he has accepted the decision of National Executive Committee (NEC) to dissolve the National Working Committee (NWC).

The NWC was dissolved on Thursday following the recommendation of President Muhammadu Buhari. Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, was thereafter appointed the Chairman of the party’s caretaker committee.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Saturday, Oshiomhole said he had also directed his lawyers to withdraw his appeal pending at the supreme court. He was challenging his suspension as the party’s National Chairman.

According to the former governor of Edo State, he had no regrets for the role he played in the party. He also highlighted his achievements as party chairman.

“The APC under my chairmanship has done its best and the results are there. Of course we have now been dissolved and I have accepted that dissolution in good faith,” Oshiomhole said.

“I’m not going into the question of legality or illegality. The bottom-line is that the president who invited me to lead the party and who mobilised all the support for my emergence as chairman also presided over the meeting where the NWC has now been dissolved.

“Mr President graciously invited me to run for the office of chairmanship of the party in 2018 precisely about two years ago. The president told me then that if we do not reform the APC, we can as well forget about the party.

“You know that reforms are challenging and it will entail taking difficult decisions. Mine has been a life of trouble and I accepted this and I believe I did my best.

“I’m happy that at the end of the day, 2019 elections have come and gone thanks to Nigerian people, our president had more votes in 2019 than we had in 2015. We have more members in the senate and house of representatives.”

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BreakingNews: Senator Abiola Ajimobi Burial Set for Sunday

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Burial arrangements for His Excellency Senator Abiola Ajimobi

Details of the funeral ceremony of His Excellency Senator Abiola Ajimobi have been released by the family.

In close consultation with the governments of Lagos and Oyo States, the date for the burial ceremony has been announced. Barring any changes, his body will be interred at the Senator Ishaq Abiola Ajimobi Central Mosque at Oke Ado, Ibadan at 12noon on Sunday the 28th of June 2020 after the traditional Muslim prayers.

To ensure that strict COVID-19 protocols are adhered to and in light of the current circumstances of our national health challenges, the family appeals to the public to observe strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols in their participation. Furthermore, details of the live media coverage of the funeral ceremony will be made public by tomorrow.

In the near future, details of a larger funeral gathering will be announced where a lot more of his well wishers will have the opportunity to pay him their respect.

Signed

Bolaji Tunji
SA Media
26 June 2020

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$2.8 BILLION AKK PIPELINE PROJECT: BUHARI STRIKES AGAIN!

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By Femi Adesina

Something good is already happening. Something marvelous is in store, as Federal Government kickstarts the $2.8 billion Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) National Gas Pipeline Project next Tuesday. It’s another humongous signature milestone by President Muhammadu Buhari, which will leave his footprints inexorably on the sands of time.

Roads. Bridges. Rail. Airports. Social Investment. And many others. Buhari is doing great things, which will pedestal him in the pantheon of great Nigerian leaders. And now, he has struck again. He is kicking off the AKK pipeline project, which will carry gas between the southern and northern parts of the country. The project will eventually extend to North Africa.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) initially announced tenders for the project in July 2013. A project proposal was submitted to the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission in June 2017, and the Federal Executive Council granted approval in December 2017. I tell you, this President Buhari has the heart of a lion.

If the intention was to continue to run the NNPC as an automated teller machine (ATM), as we have seen before in this country, will such staggering project ever be approved, not to talk of taking off? And some people are still asking for Change, when it is right before their very eyes.

The 614 kilometers-long national gas pipeline is Phase One of the Trans-Nigeria Gas Pipeline (TNGP) project, to be done on build and transfer public-private-partnership. It will transport 3,500 million metric standard cubic feet per day of dehydrated gas from several gas gathering projects located in southern Nigeria.

The project will be in three phases. Phase One is 200 kilometers-long, between Ajaokuta and Abuja, at a projected cost of $855 million.

Phase Two is 193 kilometers-long, between Abuja and Kaduna, to cost an estimated $835 million, while Phase Three is 221 kilometers-long, between Kaduna and Kano, at an approximate cost of $1.2 billion.
The project will eventually reach North Africa in subsequent phases.

What will AKK pipeline project do for Nigeria? Great and wonderful things. It will create steady and guaranteed gas supply network between the North and South, and will enhance power generation capacity. The industrial sector will be strengthened, local usage of gas will be promoted and increased, and the country’s revenue generation boosted through export of natural gas.

Nigeria is ranked the 7th most endowed natural gas country in the world. She sits on about 180 trillion cubic feet of natural gas deposits, which can be utilized as gas to power, gas to petrochemicals, liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG), among others.

Over the years, Nigeria has exploited its oil resources more, to the detriment of gas, which incidentally fetches more revenue, but is also more expensive to prospect.
One big advantage the average Nigerian can look forward to is the evolvement of compressed natural gas (CNG), which is still at pilot stage in the country.

While presenting his performance report to the Federal Executive Council recently, Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, spoke extensively about CNG, and what it can do for Nigeria as an alternative to petrol.
He listed the challenges of the oil and gas sector to include; under-recovery, crude theft, insecurity, high cost of production, very low LPG penetration, refineries shutdown, long contracting cycle, among others.

Sylva stressed that the oil and gas sector remains critical to the Nigerian economy, even as we strive to diversify. He identified CNG and LPG penetration as priority.
Said the Minister: “The switch to CNG will help reduce the burden of petrol subsidy on the finances of the country, and government should encourage Nigerians to use CNG as fuel for transportation.”

CNG began as a pilot project in the country in 2006, but target for conversion workshops was not met till 2015. About 4,000 vehicles run on CNG in Benin, Edo State, and it’s about 50% cheaper than petrol.
Vehicles running on CNG, statistics show, save about N1,143 daily, compared with petrol. This amounts to over N30, 000 monthly. The cost of converting the car can thus be recovered within six months.

Gas is cleaner energy, cheaper than petrol, and more friendly to the environment. Global warming will, therefore, be slowed down.

More than 175,000 vehicles run on CNG in America today, and 23 million worldwide. Nigeria will join the number, and boost productivity.

The Buhari signature projects will remain landmarks in Nigeria. Help me count them: Roads, rail, bridges, airports, agriculture, AKK… and may more.

Surely, we will always remember this President for good.

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