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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.
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Monica Commends Catholic Church for brokering peace amongst Umahi, Anyim and Egwu

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Technical Adviser to Governor Umahi on Media, Lady Monica Chidinma Ada Eze has commended the efforts of the Catholic Church in resolving the fuss among her boss who doubles as Chairman, South/East Governors Forum, Dave Umahi and two other key political leaders of Ebonyi State; former Senate President, Senator Pius Anyim and the first Executive Governor of Ebonyi State, Senator Sam Egwu.

In a statement made available to the media, Monica expressed delight over the truce, describing it as the greatest gift the church has given to the people of Ebonyi State in the New Year.

Referencing the Bible Book of Psalms 133:1 where the Psalmist exclaimed how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity, Lady Monica Chidinma Ada Eze who also doubles as the founder and President of David Umahi Nweze Akubaraoha Ebonyi Transformation Agenda (DUNAETA), a grassroots NGO based in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State, emphasised that no society can thrive and no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of chaos and prayed that the truce reached amongst the trio be nurtured and sustained for the greater good and  continuous growth of Ebonyi State.

She recalled that conflict arose among the leaders when Governor Umahi, in his foresight saw the need to take Ndi Igbo to the party at the centre, an idea which some leaders misconceived and as a result, hurriedly and ignorantly too, tried to make themselves available as clogs on the wheel of progress of the Igbo nation, contrary to the good intentions of the South/East political leader cum Chairman, Governors Forum, South/East zone, His Excellency, Dave Umahi.

With the establishment of peace and enthronement of harmony among the trio, Lady Monica, aka Ada Ebonyi expressed optimism that Senators Anyim and Egwu will soon join Governor Umahi in the APC as the party stands as the only alternative and machinery through which the Igbo’s can position themselves to vie for the office of the President of Nigeria as the PDP which Ndi Igbo laboured for over 16 years is hellbent at picking her presidential candidate from the North, unless Anyim and Egwu are not seeing the looming danger in the umbrella party which informed the defection of Umahi to the ruling APC.

Monica commended the Catholic Bishop of Abakaliki diocese, Bishop Nnachi Okoro for wadding into the clash of political interest that had ensued between Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim and others, and brokering peace among them.

Recall that Umahi, Senator Anyim, Senator Sam Egwu, former Governor of the state and all the serving senators/members of the House of Representatives currently in the National Assembly have not been having good political relationship, since Umahi’s defection to the All Progressives Congress, APC.

This development had created a sharp political division, alignment, realignment, and reemergence of political camps among stakeholders in the State thereby placing the State in the likelihood of crisis.

The Bishop, in collaboration with the founding fathers of the state, engaged Governor Umahi, Sen. Anyim, Dr. Egwu and other political actors in a closed-door meeting that took place at the Bishop’s house. He tasked Umahi, Anyim, Egwu to give peace a chance and put away their differences for the sake of peace in the State. The Governor had some weeks ago apologized to his political opponents and charged them to stop attacking his opponents and leaders of the state.

Monica quoted her boss as saying, “I offer apologies to them. I am not going to sit on the judgment with anybody. This apology and forgiveness should be enough to settle all bad blood. And I have no regret for that. God directed me to do this. And I thank all our leaders who have intervened; I am the father of the state. And I should be ashamed of myself if the state of Ebonyi is allowed to go into bitterness and into disunity.”

Ada Ebonyi further quoted her boss as stating, “I thank the Catholic Bishop Nnachi Okoro, I thank CAN people led by the chairman Rev. Dr. Abraham Nwali. I thank the founding fathers, I thank the Ohanaeze leadership led by Chief Nnia Nwodo and all the leaders of the South-East, who made this reconciliation possible”.

“This feat simply demonstrates that Umahi is truly an Apostle of Christ”. Monica said.

In another development, Lady Monica congratulated and commended Senator Sunny Ogbuorji who was the erstwhile Ebonyi APC gubernatorial candidate in the last general election for resolving to work with the new leader of the party in the State, Governor Umahi into building a virile and vibrant chapter of the party in the State. This development surely will make the Ebonyi State one of the most organised chapters in the nation.

She however cautioned Barr. Silas Joseph Onu, the Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Ebonyi State Chapter to desist forthwith, from any act or comment that is capable of causing disharmony and disaffection among people the State as his pleasure in raising false and unsubstantiated allegations against the Governor and the APC government in Ebonyi State will no longer be treated with kid’s glove.

She however counseled Silas Onu and his perforated umbrella party –

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Demand for Oxygen Jumps From 70 To 350 Cylinders Per Day In IDH – SANWO-OLU

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Following the increase in number of recorded cases of coronavirus in Nigeria, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Tuesday said that any malaria-like symptoms should henceforth be considered as COVID-19 virus infection unless and until proven not to be one.

He therefore advised that anyone with such symptoms should proceed to any of the State’s public health facilities or laboratories to get tested for free, noting that “Seeking help early and quickly significantly improves the chances of survival for severe to critical cases.”

Speaking during a Press Conference on COVID-19 Update at the Lagos House, Ikeja on Tuesday, Governor Sanwo-Olu said it is important that Lagos State residents begin to learn to live and act responsibly, in order to augment the government’s efforts and previous success of flattening the curve.

The Governor also said that the increase in the positivity of coronavirus cases in the second wave has necessitated the greater amount of oxygen for the moderate to severe cases of admission in all the isolation centres.

He said the alarming trend of COVID-19 has necessitated the reopening of some of the previously closed isolation centres, such as the INDO Isolation Centre and Gbagada Isolation Center to contain the rising cases and re-flattening the curve in the shortest possible time.

“Over the last few weeks, the demands for oxygen has risen from 70 six-litre cylinders per day to 350 six-litre cylinders in our Yaba Mainland Hospital. This is projected to more than double to 750 six-cylinders, before the end of January 2021.

“ln addition to providing oxygen at our isolation centres, the Lagos State Government has decentralized the availability of oxygen across the State through the provision of 10 oxygen and sampling kiosks. Oxygen therapy and other related services will be provided to patients that require them.

“Five of these 10 oxygen centers have been commissioned while the remaining five will be ready for use within the next four weeks. It is our expectation that these sampling kiosks would be easily accessible to residents that require oxygen therapy at the level of LGAs as stabilization points prior to onward transmission to our Isolation centres, if required.

“This strategy is to further increase the fighting chance of Lagos residents that have contracted the virus and require immediate oxygen therapy,” he said.

Speaking on issues surrounding the resumption of schools in Lagos State in compliance with the directives of the Federal Government, Governor Sanwo-Olu said commencement of school activities yesterday (Monday) “was a difficult decision to make in light of the second wave of covid-19, but I assure you it was the best decision for our children’s safety and long-term development, especially our most vulnerable children.”

Stressing the need for students to return to school to continue their education at various levels, Governor Sanwo-Olu disclosed that almost 24,000 students are yet to report in public schools after last year’s lockdown necessitated by the first wave of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

“Last year after the first lockdown and kids have to come back to school, we are still looking for about 24,000 of them that have not come back to school. So, there is a challenge if you keep them out for that long and their parents or guardians now turn them to other things instead of ensuring that they have time to come back for learning even if it is twice or thrice a week.

“At least they have been registered since the beginning of a session and they can be monitored. If not, they will just be roaming the streets and become endangered. We have seen incidents of child abuse and all unprintable things that are being done to these children. So, we believe to a large extent that schools sometimes happen to be the safe haven for them. We have done the roster in which we ensure they keep social distance and we are monitoring,” he said.

Governor Sanwo-Olu also revealed that Lagos State Government has opened discussions with some vaccine manufacturers to ensure that residents are catered for.

He said: “We are closely monitoring ongoing action by the Federal Government to procure COVID-19 vaccines for use in Nigeria. We have also opened discussions with vaccine manufacturers so that when the vaccine comes eventually we can ensure that Lagosians are catered for.

“In the meantime we are developing a strategy that will articulate the criteria, guidelines and regulatory framework for providing and monitoring vaccinations in Lagos.

“The Lagos State Government is actively partnering with the private sector in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the areas of testing, oxygen deployment, as well as the clinical management of moderate to severe cases. These partnerships have helped enhance the State’s response to the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic.

“In a bid to further explore this proven synergistic approach, the Lagos State Government is currently reviewing the feasibility of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) for the management of some of our public isolation centres. It is our hope that this would expedite the re-opening of previously closed centres, and also avail us the benefits of the operational cost-efficiencies that experienced private sector management can bring to bear.”

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2023: USE WISDOM NOT POWER, OONI URGES TINUBU CAMPAIGNERS

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The Arole Oduduwa & Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, on Monday urged politicians promoting the presidential ambition of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to deploy wisdom and avoid arbitrary use of power.

The Ooni who doubles as the Spiritual Head of the Oduduwa Race worldwide explained this while receiving organizers of the South West Agenda (SWAGA); a political group projecting the ambition of Senator Tinubu.

Ooni Ogunwusi who explained that the reported ambition of the former Lagos State Governor is a good signal for the Yoruba race, added that such lofty dream could only be realized through unity.

“Asiwaju Tinubu is a very great descendant of Oduduwa. He’s such a unique Yoruba son and we are always proud of him. He is popular and known for uprightness.

“But first, I want to challenge all politicians here this afternoon to first go and work on yourselves, you must be United if you are indeed for the Yoruba race. It is you people that form political parties, change from one party to another among other things.

“With all that said, I want you to know that many will rise with similar interest and it is allowed. I implore you and your principal to deploy wisdom not power so that we will all be on the same page.

“We Yorubas are Omoluabis and I want you all to know that everything is not politics. With these in mind, it shall be well with us and we are good to go.” The Ooni admonished.

Earlier in his address, the Chairman for the South West Agenda (SWAGA), Senator Dayo Adeyeye, explained that the visit was to seek the spiritual blessings of the Co-chairman of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria(NCTRN) in recognition of his status as the head of the Yoruba race worldwide.

“Baba, this is the highest throne in Yorubaland and Ile-Ife is the town that gave birth to all the entire Yoruba race. We have come here today seek your blessings and support towards the actualization of having a Yoruba man as the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023. In this quest, we have found Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu worthy and that is why we have embarked on this assignment even without being sent.

“We Yorubas must unite ourselves to realize this and not make ourselves tools in the hands of those who might be willing to divide use against ourselves. SWAGA is well known to almost everyone in the country including those from other parts who have declared support for the movement.”

In the same vein, Osun State coordinator of the group, Hon. (Mrs) Ayo Omidiran, noted that they are always in touch with the Ooni and will always keep him informed on all activities.

The event which was spiced with several traditional performances was well attended by top politicians across the country including Hon. Ajibola Famurewa, Hon. Rotimi Makinde, Hon. Bisi Odewumi, Tilewa Sijuwade among others.

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