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CIES elects Nigeria in to the the Executive Committee of UREAG

Under represented Racial, Ethnic, And Ability Groups UREAG Permanent Standing Committee of Comparative And International Education Society elect Nigeria in to the the Executive Committee of UREAG.

Prof. Steve Azaiki who is the President of the International Society of Comparative Education Nigeria was first elected to Executive UREAG at the Comparative And International Education Conference CIES in Vancouver, Canada last year and reelected this year at the Atlanta Conference on Wednesday March 8. Azaiki is the first Nigerian to be so elected to the August body.

Prof. Azaiki’s election will open opportunities for Nigerian and African Academics who are looking for research grants and travel grants to world and international conferences.

The mandate of UREAG among other things is to continue efforts to remove barriers to participation and increase participation of underrepresented racial, ethnic, ability groups including other minority groups in CIES policies, programs and activities.

Speaking at the Conference Prof. Victor Kobayashi who was president of the World body said Prof. Steve Azaiki will bring the desired participation of Africa and that his election will bring opportunities to the African continent.

President Obama’s Farewell Address: Full Video and Text

President Obama delivered his farewell address in Chicago on Tuesday. The following is the complete transcript, as provided by the Federal News Service.

OBAMA: Hello Chicago!


It’s good to be home!


Thank you, everybody!


Thank you.


Thank you.


Thank you so much, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


It’s good to be home.

Thank you.


We’re on live TV here, I’ve got to move.


You can tell that I’m a lame duck, because nobody is following instructions.


Everybody have a seat.

My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes that we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks.

Whether we have seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people — in living rooms and in schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant military outposts — those conversations are what have kept me honest, and kept me inspired, and kept me going. And every day, I have learned from you. You made me a better president, and you made me a better man.

So I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, and I was still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. And it was a neighborhood not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills.

It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss.


I can’t do that.

Now this is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, and they get engaged, and they come together to demand it.

After eight years as your president, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea — our bold experiment in self-government.

It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.

What a radical idea, the great gift that our Founders gave to us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, and toil, and imagination — and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a common good, a greater good.

For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom.

It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande. It’s what pushed women to reach for the ballot. It’s what powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan — and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.


So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.

Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard. It has been contentious. Sometimes it has been bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.


If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history — if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, take out the mastermind of 9-11 — if I had told you that we would win marriage equality and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens — if I had told you all that, you might have said our sights were set a little too high.

But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change. The answer to people’s hopes and, because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.

In 10 days the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy. No, no, no, no, no. The peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected President to the next. I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me.

Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face. We have what we need to do so. We have everything we need to meet those challenges. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on earth.

Our youth, our drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention means that the future should be ours. But that potential will only be realized if our democracy works. Only if our politics better reflects the decency of our people. Only if all of us, regardless of party affiliation or particular interests help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.

And that’s what I want to focus on tonight, the state of our democracy. Understand democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders argued, they quarreled, and eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity. The idea that, for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together, that we rise or fall as one.

There have been moments throughout our history that threatened that solidarity. And the beginning of this century has been one of those times. A shrinking world, growing inequality, demographic change, and the specter of terrorism. These forces haven’t just tested our security and our prosperity, but are testing our democracy as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids and create good jobs and protect our homeland.

In other words, it will determine our future. To begin with, our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity.


And the good news is that today the economy is growing again. Wages, incomes, home values and retirement accounts are all rising again. Poverty is falling again.


The wealthy are paying a fair share of taxes. Even as the stock market shatters records, the unemployment rate is near a 10-year low. The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower.


Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years. And I’ve said, and I mean it, anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I will publicly support it.


Because that, after all, is why we serve. Not to score points or take credit. But to make people’s lives better.


But, for all the real progress that we’ve made, we know it’s not enough. Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class, and ladders for folks who want to get into the middle class.


That’s the economic argument. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic idea. While the top 1 percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many of our families in inner cities and in rural counties have been left behind.

The laid off factory worker, the waitress or health care worker who’s just barely getting by and struggling to pay the bills. Convinced that the game is fixed against them. That their government only serves the interest of the powerful. That’s a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.

Now there’re no quick fixes to this long-term trend. I agree, our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good middle class jobs obsolete.

And so we’re going to have to forge a new social compact to guarantee all our kids the education they need.


To give workers the power…


… to unionize for better wages.


To update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now.


And make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and the individuals who reap the most from this new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their very success possible.

Bottom of Form



We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.

There’s a second threat to our democracy. And this one is as old as our nation itself.

After my election there was talk of a post-racial America. And such a vision, however well intended, was never realistic. Race remains a potent…


… and often divisive force in our society.

Now I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, no matter what some folks say.


You can see it not just in statistics. You see it in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum. But we’re not where we need to be. And all of us have more work to do.


If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.


If we’re unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we will diminish the prospects of our own children — because those brown kids will represent a larger and larger share of America’s workforce.


And we have shown that our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.

So if we’re going to be serious about race going forward, we need to uphold laws against discrimination — in hiring, and in housing, and in education, and in the criminal justice system.


That is what our Constitution and highest ideals require.

But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. It won’t change overnight. Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change. But if our democracy is to work the way it should in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

For blacks and other minority groups, that means tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face. Not only the refugee or the immigrant or the rural poor or the transgender American, but also the middle-aged white guy who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but has seen his world upended by economic, and cultural, and technological change.

We have to pay attention and listen.


For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ’60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; when they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment that our founders promised.


For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, and Italians, and Poles, who it was said were going to destroy the fundamental character of America. And as it turned out, America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; these newcomers embraced this nation’s creed, and this nation was strengthened.


So regardless of the station we occupy; we all have to try harder; we all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family just like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.



And that’s not easy to do. For too many of us it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods, or on college campuses, or places of worship, or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. In the rise of naked partisanship and increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste, all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable.

And increasingly we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.


And this trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Look, politics is a battle of ideas. That’s how our democracy was designed. In the course of a healthy debate, we prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, then we’re going to keep talking past each other.


And we’ll make common ground and compromise impossible. And isn’t that part of what so often makes politics dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on pre-school for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations?

How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It’s not just dishonest, it’s selective sorting of the facts. It’s self-defeating because, as my mom used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.

Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, we’ve doubled our renewable energy, we’ve led the world to an agreement that (at) the promise to save this planet.


But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change. They’ll be busy dealing with its effects. More environmental disasters, more economic disruptions, waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary. Now we can and should argue about the best approach to solve the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations, it betrays the essential spirit of this country, the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our founders.


It is that spirit — it is that spirit born of the enlightenment that made us an economic powerhouse. The spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral, the spirit that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket, it’s that spirit. A faith in reason and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, that allowed us to build a post-World War II order with other democracies.

An order based not just on military power or national affiliations, but built on principles, the rule of law, human rights, freedom of religion and speech and assembly and an independent press.


That order is now being challenged. First by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam. More recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who seek free markets in open democracies and civil society itself as a threat to their power.

The peril each poses to our democracy is more far reaching than a car bomb or a missile. They represent the fear of change. The fear of people who look or speak or pray differently. A contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable. An intolerance of dissent and free thought. A belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or the propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.

Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform. Because of our intelligence officers and law enforcement and diplomats who support our troops…


… no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years.



And although…


… Boston and Orlando and San Bernardino and Fort Hood remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We have taken out tens of thousands of terrorists, including Bin Laden.



The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed. And no one who threatens America will ever be safe.



And all who serve or have served — it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your commander-in-chief.


And we all owe you a deep debt of gratitude.



But, protecting our way of life, that’s not just the job of our military. Democracy can buckle when it gives into fear. So just as we as citizens must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.


And that’s why for the past eight years I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firmer legal footing. That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, reformed our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties.


That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans…


… who are just as patriotic as we are.



That’s why…


That’s why we cannot withdraw…


That’s why we cannot withdraw from big global fights to expand democracy and human rights and women’s rights and LGBT rights.


No matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem, that’s part of defending America. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism and chauvinism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.

So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight.


Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world — unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.

Which brings me to my final point — our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.


All of us, regardless of party, should be throwing ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions.


When voting rates in America are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should be making it easier, not harder, to vote.


When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.


But remember, none of this happens on its own. All of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power happens to be swinging.

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning — with our participation, and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge.

Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law, that’s up to us. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.

In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken… to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth.”

And so we have to preserve this truth with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.


America, we weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character aren’t even willing to enter into public service. So course with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are seen, not just as misguided, but as malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others.


When we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt. And when we sit back and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.


It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy. Embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours because, for all our outward differences, we in fact all share the same proud type, the most important office in a democracy, citizen.


Citizen. So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when you own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life.


If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing.


If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.


Show up, dive in, stay at it. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir in goodness, that can be a risk. And there will be times when the process will disappoint you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been part of this one and to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America and in Americans will be confirmed. Mine sure has been.


Over the course of these eight years, I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I have mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in a Charleston church. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch. I’ve seen Wounded Warriors who at points were given up for dead walk again.

I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us through their actions and through their generosity of our obligations to care for refugees or work for peace and, above all, to look out for each other. So that faith that I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change, that faith has been rewarded in ways I could not have possibly imagined.

And I hope your faith has too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home, you were there with us in 2004 and 2008, 2012.



Maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off.


Let me tell you, you’re not the only ones.





Michelle LaVaughn Robinson of the South Side…



… for the past 25 years you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend.



You took on a role you didn’t ask for. And you made it your own with grace and with grit and with style, and good humor.



You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody.


And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model.



You have made me proud, and you have made the country proud.



Malia and Sasha…


… under the strangest of circumstances you have become two amazing young women.


You are smart and you are beautiful. But more importantly, you are kind and you are thoughtful and you are full of passion.





… you wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I have done in my life, I am most proud to be your dad.


To Joe Biden…



… the scrappy kid from Scranton…


… who became Delaware’s favorite son. You were the first decision I made as a nominee, and it was the best.



Not just because you have been a great vice president, but because in the bargain I gained a brother. And we love you and Jill like family. And your friendship has been one of the great joys of our lives.


To my remarkable staff, for eight years, and for some of you a whole lot more, I have drawn from your energy. And every day I try to reflect back what you displayed. Heart and character. And idealism. I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, start incredible new journeys of your own.

Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. You guarded against cynicism. And the only thing that makes me prouder than all the good that we’ve done is the thought of all the amazing things that you are going to achieve from here.


And to all of you out there — every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town, every kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change — you are the best supporters and organizers anybody could ever hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because you did change the world.


You did.

And that’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans — especially so many young people out there — to believe that you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves.

Let me tell you, this generation coming up — unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic — I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, and just, and inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, that it’s not something to fear but something to embrace, you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands.


My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days. But for now, whether you are young or whether you’re young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your president — the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.

I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.

I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:

Yes, we can.


Yes, we did.


Yes, we can.


Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America. Thank you.





The World Congress of Comparative Education Society (WCCES) conference taking place in Beijing China, has admitted Nigeria into the world body. The special membership committee recommended Nigeria to the World body and the Executive committee unanimously approved Nigeria’s membership, as the third African country to join the organisation after South Africa and Egypt.

Prof. Victor Kobayashi Emeritus Professor, university of Hawaii and President of CIES 2006 with Prof Steve Azaiki at the 2016 CIES Conference in Vancuover Canada
Prof. Victor Kobayashi Emeritus Professor, university of Hawaii and President of CIES 2006 with Prof Steve Azaiki at the 2016 CIES Conference in Vancuover Canada

Prof. Victor Kobayashi (president CIES 2016), Prof Steve Azaiki and Prof David Turner at Vancouver for CIES conference
Prof. Victor Kobayashi (president CIES 2016), Prof Steve Azaiki and Prof David Turner at Vancouver for CIES conference

L-R: Dr, Carlos Alberto Torres (former WCCES president 2014 , Professor Otsuka Yutaka, past president of the Japanese Society of Comparative Education; Torres, Professor Shoko Yamada, Nagoya University; and Arnove. (WCCES Membsrship committee)
L-R: Dr, Carlos Alberto Torres (former WCCES president 2014 , Professor Otsuka Yutaka, past president of the Japanese Society of Comparative Education; Torres, Professor Shoko Yamada, Nagoya University; and Arnove. (WCCES Membsrship committee)

Congratulating the president of the International Society of Comparative Education, Science and Technology Nigeria (ISCEST), Prof. Steve Azaiki and members, WCCES said it is a big achievement for Sub- Saharan Africa and Comparative Education in Africa because of Nigeria’s population and potentials.

Prof Steve Azaiki and Prof Zehlia Babaci-Wilhite at the CIES conference vancuover in March 2016
Prof Steve Azaiki and Prof Zehlia Babaci-Wilhite at the CIES conference vancuover in March 2016

Prof Adebiyi Daramola; VC FUTA, Amb. Valerii Aleksandruk; Ukranian Ambassador to Nigeria, Prof Steve Azaiki; Iscest Chairman and Prof. Humphrey Ogoni VC Niger Delta University
Prof Adebiyi Daramola; VC FUTA, Amb. Valerii Aleksandruk; Ukranian Ambassador to Nigeria, Prof Steve Azaiki; Iscest Chairman and Prof. Humphrey Ogoni VC Niger Delta University

Former Consular General of Ukrainan Embassy; Mykola Samosvatov and Ukranian Ambassador Valerii Aleksandruk at ICSEST 2015 Conference in Yenagoa
Former Consular General of Ukrainan Embassy; Mykola Samosvatov and Ukranian Ambassador Valerii Aleksandruk at ICSEST 2015 Conference in Yenagoa

Responding, Prof Azaiki said Nigeria can take its rightful place in the world body and contribute meaningfully to globalised world Education. 
Congratulations to our members and the Nigerian Nation he said !

SHETTIMA ALI MONGUNO (1926 – 8 July, 2016)

Alhaji Shettima Ali Monguno died on Friday in Maiduguri at the very ripe age of 90.

I know you want to know who he was.
Well he was a politician of 1st and 2nd Republic about whom I think many politicians today should learn. He was a man of , not just high but very high integrity.


In 1974, as Federal Commissioner of Petroleum and Energy, Shettima wanted to build his personal house in Maiduguri. He applied to the bank for a loan of N40,000. The bank wanted a guarrantor. He approached his boss, General Yakubu Gowon, Head of State and Commander-in-Chief, for a letter to this effect. Gowon refused, saying that it would amount to abuse of office for him to allow him take a loan to build the house.
End of story.

Shettima mulled his options.
Julius Berger was already well established then. He approached them to build the house for him.  They agreed. On one condition:
JB would build the house and then rent it out for the number of years it would take to recover the N40,000.
Shettima agreed. That was how he built his house in Maiduguri.

Wait a minute.

He was Minister of Petroleum Resources then.  He was President of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC.
Yet he didn’t have the resources to build a house!

He could only do it via a BOOT (Build, Own, Operate and Transfer) arrangement with JB.
Why can we have such men in power today again?


Alhaji Monguno was truly a great and patriotic Nigerian. I personally have met him and I do testify to his integrity and greatness. His death remind me of another leaving legend and a truly great Nigerian , Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari, Turakin Sokoto. Acknowledge friends who has expressed condolences to the families. Steve

Issues In Handling Niger Delta Avengers

Issues In Handling Niger Delta Avengers – By Steve Azaiki

There is a sense of déjà vu in the rise of the Niger Delta Avengers, whose activities of sabotaging oil and gas infrastructure have brought about dramatic impact on Nigeria’s economy, which is already faced with recession. A little over a decade ago, the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) and other groups ruled the creeks in what can be described as the first major wave of militancy anchored on agitation for resource control by radical elements in the Niger Delta. However, MEND and others were only a recent historical experience. We have to reach far into the 1950s to search out the basis and recommendations of the Willinks’ Commission, come to the 1960s when Isaac Adaka Boro led the 12-Day Revolution, and in the 1990s when the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) rose through non-violent agitation—all this excursion is to enable us get a proper perspective on the here-we-go-again feeling which the Niger Delta Avengers bestir in those know, or should know, where the shoe pinches.

Niger Delta Avengers

I was Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government, under Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, at the height of MEND activities in the Niger Delta. I had first-hand experience coping with daily reports of kidnapping, disruption of oil production, exodus of companies and their staff, and the drastic slow-down in the pace of infrastructural development. The first-hand experience also included being involved in negotiations to free hostages ransomed by MEND and others. Out of office, I continued my contributions to public discourses on how best to resolve the Niger Delta crisis at the time. My contributions were majorly through newspaper articles and high-level private meetings. As National Coordinator of the National Think Tank, I also directed focus groups to marshal out workable solutions to the crisis. Some of my published contributions form part of my book, Thoughts On Nigeria. And while the Amnesty Programme for the militants can rightfully be claimed by many as its progenitor, of whom I am one, ultimate credit goes to the late President Umaru Yar’Adua for his buy-in and eventual transformation of the idea into State policy.

So, how does the nation respond to the Niger Delta Avengers?

From far and near, there has been no shortage of calls for dialogue between the Federal Government and the Avengers. This is a welcome disposition that subordinates the option of all-out military response to the Avengers. And there are good grounds for keeping the guns silent in the meantime, even beyond the two-week ceasefire the government has imposed on the military, in order for dialogue to be explored. While military reaction clearly reasserts the authority of the State to deal with any untoward challenge or insurrection, that approach is not necessarily a solution. It can be an aggravator.

Thus, full-scale military response to the Avengers (as in the reported earlier directive to “crush the saboteurs”) will have its own immediate collateral consequences, the first of which will be internally displaced persons in the theatre of conflict. At a time the country is grappling with the appalling welfare of millions of IDPs produced as a result of Boko Haram terrorism, the country can ill-afford to open up another production line of IDPs, as the humanitarian crisis is bound to escalate in the Niger Delta in the event of full-scale military assault on the Avengers. We had seen it in the past when the military took on MEND and other rag-tag groups before the Amnesty Programme. Already, there are reports of villages sacked, and hundreds displaced, as the military seek out the Avengers. The numbers of IDPs is bound to escalate once the military raise the tempo and intensity of their intervention.

A humanitarian crisis in the Niger Delta at this time will cost both the military and the Federal Government enormous goodwill—in the region and beyond. Care must, therefore, be taken not to accelerate a groundswell of popular support for the Avengers. This is because scenes of humanitarian crisis, including collateral deaths, are bound to lead to the question: “Is it because of the oil under our soil that all this is happening to us?” (Read: The Evil Of Oil, a book by Steve Azaiki). Once goodwill is lost in the area, there is no foretelling what the grave consequences might be.

Furthermore, the Federal Government must consider the restoration cost in the aftermath of decisive military action. The military will not merely explode their arsenal in the creeks. They will raid and bomb human settlements in order to smoke out their targets. Those places will suffer devastation and destruction. Who will rebuild them? Who will bear the cost? I think there are pertinent lessons to learn from the difficulties in raising, and managing funds, to repair the North East region, hit hard by Boko Haram.

Another dimension to restoration cost relates to future environmental remediation. Admittedly, by blowing up well-heads, pipelines, and other oil facilities, the Avengers are further polluting the Niger Delta. But the rate and scale of pollution is bound to increase where there is coercive State action to contain and overwhelm the Avengers. The scenario is something like this: as the Avengers are being pounded, arrested and/or detained, elements of the group will engage in further acts of sabotage, if only to, at first, mock the firepower of the military, or just to bluff that they have not been silenced. In that case, the Niger Delta should brace up for more destruction of its flora and fauna. But whether this is a palatable option is answerable by recalling that on June 2, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, flagged-off the clean-up of Ogoniland.  It is a project that will cost about US$ 1 billion, and last between 25 and 30 years. Already, voices in the oil-producing states are calling for the extension of similar clean-up programmes to other impacted sites in the Niger Delta. Just think about how the restoration cost of the Niger Delta will be aggravated by an all-out war on the Avengers.

In the light of the foregoing, the case for dialogue between the Federal Government and the Niger Delta Avengers, as has been widely advocated, is cogent. However, what has not been so widely canvassed are the context and content of the proposed dialogue. As it were, dialogue presupposes negotiation. Getting fit and proper persons to represent either side in the dialogue is one of the initial hurdles. While there might be little challenge on the side of government to nominate its negotiators, what is certain is that the kingpins of the current campaign of sabotage are most unlikely to present themselves at the negotiating table. They can only test the waters using proxies, until such a time when greater and mutual trust is established, then they might present themselves, if at all that is considered necessary.

Perhaps more intruiging is the context of the proposed dialogue. A lot has happened between the first major wave of militancy a little over a decade ago, and the new wave of militancy spearheaded by the Avengers. There is now no “Governor-General of the Ijaw Nation” following the demise of Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha last year. Part of his added value while he was around, especially during the first wave of militancy, was his capacity to rally the boys and men, and ultimately contribute to the development of the Amnesty Programme. Alamieyeseigha was a respected voice in the region. Even with the disagreement he had with President Olusegun Obasanjo, over his (Alams’s) frontline campaign for resource control, which was partly the reason for his orchestrated impeachment and removal from office as Bayelsa Governor, Alamieyeseigha and President Obasanjo were in constant dialogue over the MEND crisis, and on some occasions received presidential mandate to undertake sometimes dangerous journey by sea, to secure the release of oil workers taken hostage by militants in offshore locations.

Also, at the time of the first wave of militancy, most leading political figures in the region were virtually on the same page. Today, partisan politics has deeply fractured the Niger Delta, breeding suspicion, allegations of treachery, and witch-hunt. As it were, all but one state (Edo) in the South-South zone is controlled by the People’s Democratic Party. I believe President Buhari should personally take the lead in forging a bipartisan consensus in finding solutions to the rise of the Avengers, which means that the President has to rapidly build upon the initial step taken by the Vice President who met recently with Governors from the oil-producing states. It would, therefore, be a significant achievement if the mutually antagonistic political forces in the Niger Delta today were to find a common platform to resolve the current wave of militancy through dialogue. Such feat can come about by addressing the factors that have stoked the fierce political competition in the region.

Another important context is the Amnesty Programme that has been running since it was proclaimed by the late President Yar’Adua in 2009. While the Disengagement and Disarmament phases of the three-phase programme have been widely acknowledged as successful, the Reintegration phase has proved to be quite challenging. Ex-militants, some of whom went for training abroad, have had difficulty securing gainful employment. So, will further extension of the lifespan of the Amnesty Programme be a bargaining chip for the Federal Government in the proposed dialogue with the Avengers? Yet, one cannot gloss over the sometimes trenchant position of those who contend that the Amnesty Programme is an appeasement mechanism that will have no end in sight, as new groups might emerge, rattle the federation, and then get to be appeased through a variant of the Amnesty Programme.

Let us also throw into the mix some other issues of which Niger Deltans are keenly aware, but which the Avengers are now articulating in other ways. For instance, Nigerians know that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has suffered a long stay in the National Assembly, because of some contentious provisions, including benefits to host communities in the oil-bearing states. And yet, some of the loudest voices opposed to the proposed benefits are far removed from the oil-producing communities which daily endure the hazards associated with crude oil exploitation. Nigerians have been witnesses to how the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has been grossly underfunded, never receiving its full yearly allocation, and therefore hampered in fully achieving its mandate, even if the Commission’s internal squabbles were discounted.

Above all else, there was the 2014 National Conference, which made  about 600 recommendations covering a wide variety of national matters. We cannot forget easily that advocates for the various regions/zones came to the Conference, talked, debated, disagreed, and when sometimes it appeared the roof would collapse, the delegates reached a consensus. Those 600 recommendations are the collective resolve of Nigerians, notwithstanding the opinion of some who sneered at the idea of the Conference in the first place.

Just how valuable the Report of the 2014 National Conference is, can be gauged partly from recent comments of distinguished statesmen, senior citizens and pressure groups calling for a restructuring of the Federation. These are among the demands of the Avengers and Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), which is also creating tension in the polity on the South-East flank. So, what will be the content of the proposed dialogue between the Federal Government and the Avengers, if fundamental issues are swept under the carpet? To buy time? Or, to create room for another group to re-emerge in the future and demand resolution of the fundamental issues? On the other hand, if the Federal Government were to proceed with the implementation of the far-reaching recommendations of the National Conference, that would weaken the position of the agitators.

In itemizing and discussing the several issues raised above, my intention has been to indicate that the dialogue option with the Avengers, which is desirable, will not be a stroll in the park. There will be temptations to break off the talks, but the alternative might be worse. Nominated negotiators should have in their minds issues raised in this piece, and prepare their agenda for resolving the knotty points once they arise, as they are bound to. A haughty disposition will be most unhelpful. It’s a long road ahead.

  • Prof Azaiki, former Secretary to Bayelsa State Government, and National Coordinator of the National Think Tank, contributed this piece from Kiev, Ukraine.

Obasanjo: A Great Diplomat

So far, my expectations have been misplaced. In the last few weeks,
I have deliberately engaged in a great deal of content analysis of major Nigerian newspapers. Each time I pick the papers these days. I seek out the reactions of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s unrepentant critics to the recent debt relief granted Nigeria by the Paris Club of creditors.


The debt write-off was a huge economic and diplomatic breakthrough for the country and I had expected even the most ardent critic of the Obasanjo’s administration to at least, for once, heap praises on the president for the great feat. But rather than speak out to congratulate the administration for the accomplishment with the same fervour with which they had disparaged the President’s “excessive foreign trips” in the past, some of the critics have opted to keep mute while others have dismissed the gesture as mere political gimmick.

But the mere fact that critics of the President’s diplomatic shuttles have been silenced by the development is itself an indication that every Nigerian appreciates the enormous significance of the $18 billion debt noose that was taken off the country’s neck. Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the $1 billion (132.8 billion) the country channels into debt servicing annually can now be diverted to critical social infrastructure such as roads, water supply, education and health. If the government sticks to its promises, there will be tremendous transformation of the Nigerian economy. Expectedly, more resources will be available to government to fund agriculture, social infrastructure and the foreign exchange market.

The trickle-down effect on the economy will be phenomenal. The expected improvement in infrastructure will surely boost foreign investments, create employment and strengthen the naira. Every Nigerian, sooner or later will be better off and the country itself will be on the path to real development. However, one important fact is that the debt write-off is a great diplomatic mileage which journey began over six years ago. Immediately the Nigerian people gave him their mandate in 1999, the President began the great race to position Nigeria as the number one black nation on earth. Insisting that the country had no reason not to be the leader of Africa, Obasanjo hopped on the plane travelling all over the world with a view to convincing the world that there was a new dawn in Nigeria and that the country should therefore be stripped of its pariah status.

Obasanjo shuttled frequently and extensively to all parts of the world up to the point that Nigerians became deeply irritated that their President was ruling them from the air. Then, there was a deluge of criticism with some Nigerians describing Obasanjo as “a flying President” who is more at home abroad than in Nigeria. Some Nigerians even got to the ridiculous extent of derisively compiling Obasanjo’s numerous trips into a book. But despite the unceasing scathing criticisms, the President kept his focus, intensifying the drive to position his country as the real giant of Africa and a prominent player in world politics.

The result of the President’s effort to make his country a strong voice in world affairs is now there for all to see. No matter what anybody thinks, President Obasanjo has taken Nigeria to another level. The country now has a tremendously good image and is gradually inching its way towards becoming the greatest black nation in the world. Today, because of the admirable leap in its stature occasioned by President Obasanjo’s deft diplomatic shuttles, Nigeria is highly favoured to clinch a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. Recently when African leaders converged on Sirte, Libya, it was clear that Nigeria’s international profile has been gradually dwarfing that of all other African countries hitherto believed to be ahead of it in terms of political stability and economic advancement.

In the context with South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, Senegal and Libya who are also in contention for the UN seat, Nigeria’s prospect appears brighter. And that was because President Obasanjo made it appear so. He has met with several African leaders and has been shouting himself hoarse that Nigeria’s democratic credentials have shone brightly.

The President, in his characteristic witty way of doing things, said in Tokyo in April 2005, that the world is made up of the white, yellow, brown and the black people and that Nigeria constitutes 20 percent of the blacks in Africa and should therefore be the automatic choice for the United Nations Security Council seat. Obasanjo has no doubt championed the cause of Africa and fight for Africa’s place in the sun. Nigeria has had 45 years of diplomatic and peacekeeping experience and has the highest troop’s deployment in UN operations at the moment.

Again, since he came to power six years ago, Obasanjo has intervened successfully in political crises in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Sao Tome and Principe, Rwanda and Sudan. In some instances, the President had summoned warring factions to Abuja for the resolution of the crises in their various countries. In the case of Sao Tome and Principe, Obasanjo ensured that the democratic head of the country, which was toppled by the army, was reinstated. Nigeria even risked the goodwill of some Western countries when it gave political asylum to former Liberian President, Mr. Charles Taylor, for the sake of peace and stability in the West African sub-region.

In recent times, the innovative New Partnership for Africa Development, NEPAD, championed by President Obasanjo and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, has blazed the trail for the mobilisation of western capital for Africa’s development. The country is able to do this because of its relatively comfortable foreign reserves, which is currently the highest in Africa. Besides, the Nigerian leader has ensured that the country continues to share the expertise of her people with countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands by sending technical aids to them under the Technical Aid Corps at great cost to the country.

The fact is that President Obasanjo has carved a new niche for Nigeria. The country is now admired and respected by the rest of Africa and indeed the world. Most countries in Africa now look forward to Nigeria for the resolution of their internal conflicts. Even countries in Europe and America are beginning to realise that Nigeria can no longer be ignored in the comity of nations.

To summarise all these is to say that the dividends of the President’s democratic shuttles are now tumbling in. Foreign investments are pouring in and will continue to pour in. The country’s rating in the international community has improved tremendously. Now that more than half of the country’s debt has been written off, Nigeria may as well be on the path of economic recovery. If the country eventually gets the permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, then that would be a deserved icing on the cake. And it may just be around the corner.

Dr. Azaiki is Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government. This piece was published in The Guardian, July 20, 2005.

Alamieyeseigha Goes Home 9th April 2016


To save your world you asked this man to die: would this man, could he see you now, ask why?
Wystan Hugh Auden (1907- 73)

Today 10/10/15 our Iroko fell. A fearless man. The Adukali 1 of Epie and Atissa people. Mark Twain had Alamieyeseigha in mind when he said “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

Alamieyeseigha was a man of many parts. From 2005 Alamieyeseigha’s health has been a subject of discussion for us his friends and family. But Alamieyeseigha being a strong man had fought his Health issues gallantly. Yesterday his health suddenly became difficult to manage and today he was rushed to the hospital and he died.

I have lost a brother and a loving friend. Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha was many things to many people. What ever we think we know of him, what ever we want to say of him, let us remember that he is dead and dead person do not speak. Lynn Caine was speaking to us when she said “Since every death diminishes us a little , we grieve – not so much for the death as for ourselves. Alamieyeseigha and his family has suffered enough. Let the dead be.

To me Alamieyeseigha was the senior brother I never had. He was good to me and my family. He showed me love and respect. I will always remember the words of Marcus Tullius Cicero , ” The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.”

I am crying writing about him in the past tense, it confirms to me that truly Alamieyeseigha is gone. Alamieyeseigha died carrying the burden of his deprived and depressed people. Martin Luther king, Jr. Said “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live”.

We know and you know that Alamieyeseigha died for something greater than himself. Like Isaac Boro and like Ken Saro – Wiwa our people will always remember them. Albert Pike told us that “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.

What ever any one will say about him let that person not deny him this; Alamieyeseigha loved his people, Alamieyeseigha was passionate about the Izon Nation, the Niger Delta, and Alamieyeseigha was a Nigerian patriot.

John Wise ( 1717) was right; “Death Observes no Ceremony.” To para phrase Quintus Ennius, “Let no one weep for him, or celebrate his funeral with mourning; for he still live, as he pass to and fro through the mouths of men.



TRIBUTE TO CHIEF DIEPREYE SOLOMON Peter ALAMIEYESEIGHA (“DSP”) (16 November 1952 – 10 October 2015)
By Prof. Steve Azaiki
Many times we wait until a friend has died to tell the world what a wonderful person they were, and I’m just as guilty as the next person about that. Today, I would like to pay tribute to a very dear friend, brother and Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Let me describe my friend. We call him Governor General of the Ijaw nation because he was one of the most focused and intelligent political leaders of our time.
 He always listened to his people however trivial the problem was. Alams, as we called him for short, always wanted to be strong for everyone and hated being vulnerable. As the rest of us whined about life, he was always optimistic and believed in tomorrow even in ill and deteriorating health conditions. Governor General was so full of life, so much that some of us forgot about his terminal illness.
I am deeply saddened by the passing of my dear friend Alams. When I heard the news, I immediately began reflecting on all the outrageously funny and wonderful times we spent together while in government, at home, during our travels within Nigeria and beyond.
He was a truly remarkable man who possessed the gift of laughter when necessary and strictness when required. He loved his people and did everything possible to promote their identity
Governor General was my boss, beloved by many who knew him.  He was an exceptional leader because he tries to hire the best and allow them work with little supervision. Our team then, when he was Governor was an assemblage of some of the best our new state then could produce. He made us work so hard as though we were running against time to catch up with other states in terms of development projects.
 Alams had a simple philosophy about what makes success in government business. “hire good people and have them do their jobs” he would say.
He was never overbearing, in humility he correct his lieutenants in simplicity he deciplines. Governor General gave people opportunity and then got out of the way allowing them to perform their best.  His greatest gift was that he made our job fun. His leadership never changed even outside government.
The mind is sharp; it recollects. As I write, I can almost hear his voice with every word I pen. I figure, I can almost say these words the same exact way he does. Oh, the things I remember now. I remember the happy times, the tough times, and serious times. I remember his humility in character and firmness in belief. My last meeting with him, the laughs, the hugs, the instructions, the pessimism’s and the last phone call. I wish I knew that was our last.
My spirit is high because I know Alams lives on. The flesh may have returned to the dust, but his dreams of his people, his hopes of better days, and his cry for justice will live on.
Yes, I remember so many things about Alams. But what I remember, most of all that he was my friend, colleague and my boss.  I am deeply saddened by his loss. I pray that God accept him unto His bosom and give his family the fortitude to bear the loss.
Rest in Peace, my friend.

Madam Abirindi Stephen Azaiki Passes On To Glory!


Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of children – William Makepeace Thackeray


2I was with my mother in her farm at Ovom bush that November afternoon, when two men came to talk to her, and then she screamed, fell and cried. I do not remember how we got home. I was crying because my mother was distraught, crying and wailing. But, later that evening I cried for the reason that would come to define my life. I was ten (10) years old when the news came that day that my father, one of the best brains in Attissa, son of Yenebebeli, one of the first people to build a modern (block) building in Yenagoa, a headmaster of outstanding pedigree, was dead. I cried. For me, I thought to myself that my life had come to an end.

The next day, my mother, Abirindi, daughter of Chief Fefegha, who challenged the Colonial Royal Niger Company, picked herself up, dusted herself from the floor where she sat, took me by the hand, walked me to Yenagoa waterside, bathed me properly and said to me, “Son, your father wanted you to go to grammar school, that was his wish. I will sell my last wrapper to make sure you go to grammar school. Weep no more.”

Maxim Gorky, that Great Russian writer was right when he said, “Only mothers can think of the future – because they give birth to it in their children”. The love of a mother can propel a child to greatness. I was raised by a single mother who worked twenty-five hours a day, to make things easy for me. She would leave home for her farm before the cock crows at dawn, and return at dusk, rarely before 7pm, and still go to the village square to buy ingredients for soup, having brought yam and plantain from her farm. On her way home from her farm, she would stop to check on her fishing trap, but she must come home to make that late dinner. Then, according to her, by her culture she must clean up the dishes. Then, she will begin to prepare and select the Adia (yam seedling or the Okile (cocoyam) for planting, and then again she would begin to weave the Ikeli (traps for shrimps) or the Ukpom (Basket) that she must sell on Edeafieki (market) Day. Thinking back now, those memories remain hazy, yet vivid at the same time, and I am at a fog in remembering those events or happenings. Were they real? Did my mother normally stay awake all night? Oh yes, I remember when she was weaving the Ikeli or Dumu Utaran (Pounding the Fufu). She told me and friends, especially my Cousin, Domokumo, tales of her great grandfather and father; how her grandfather gave the land to the Anglican Church and St. Peters school, Yenagoa. She also told me then that my paternal grandfather, Iwemu, was a wrestling champion and how my grandfather brought the Anglican Church to Yenebebeli, and how my father, Christian Stephen, was the most handsome Headmaster in the country. I never was interested in this part of her stories. The part that captivated my attention was Ifiama, a wizard, a woman that was operating an invisible television in Yenagoa. She could tell tomorrow. She predicted outcome of wrestling competitions. She was simultaneously feared and revered throughout the land. She also told me stories of her forefathers’ immigration from the Bini Kingdom. In fact, she told me about Oguara, a great Bini giant of a man, who could uproot a palm tree to sweep his compound. A man who could pull down Aka (Iroko Tree) with one hand. She told of the great deceit of Iwiri (Tortoise) and how he manipulated the birds to let him fly with them and explained why tortoise has cracked shells.

Looking back now, I continue to marvel at the intelligence, wisdom and the information that was stored in that smallish head. Engr. Izi Faafa, who has interacted with my mother on many occasion, particularly during our time in Lagos, concluded that Abirindi was one of the most intelligent women he had ever met.

Truly, my mother did not attend a formal school, but in my mind, she was one of the most educated persons I have ever met. If I am to score my mother I will give her an ‘A’ in Literature, an ‘A’ in History, an ‘A’ in Languages (my mother could speak many languages – pidgin English, Nembe, Kolokuma, Epie, Kalabari, Okirika, passable Yoruba, passable Hausa, passable Bini), and an ‘A’ in Agriculture. It was years later when speaking with Professor Zehlia Babaciwilhite, a Professor of linguistics at Berkeley that I began to appreciate the depth of knowledge stored in my mother’s head. In fact, my mother was the unrecognized professor of languages. Long before I went to study Agriculture to Ph.D. level, my mother had taught me crop rotation, land fallow system, shifting cultivation, irrigation, seed multiplication, bio fertilizer, compose manure, multiple cropping, erosion control, crop preservation and a host of other concepts related to sound farming practices.

I arrived in the Soviet Union on a Federal Government scholarship to study medicine, but the authorities decided that in the city where I was posted, the quota for medical students had been exhausted, and consequently, I was redirected to the field of agriculture. I spent days on my return to Nigeria during the holidays, explaining to my mother that I was actually studying agriculture, not medicine, and when she finally understood what I was saying, she smiled and said “You see, that’s why it is good to follow your mother to the farm; I have already taught you all of that.” Indeed, she had taught me all that. Mother had several farms. One was in Uto Kpakaram at Ikolo, and others in places like Azibani, Ukobode Yenebebeli, Otoro Famgbe, Azi Swali, Okotumo Ovom, Eti Fitepigi and Igbene Ozubidebide. We would go from one farm to the other, planting and harvesting the crop of the season.


Yesterday my paternal cousin, Effort Dokubo, sent me a text commiserating with me on my mother’s death and brought sweet memories to my mind’s eye. He reminded me that, he, along with his mother and others in a canoe, as well as me with my mother in a canoe, all rowing by hand, were travelling from Yenagoa to Warri and my mother, ever caring, would call out Etiemo (my sister), that we should stop at the next fishing port to eat something before moving ahead. It was a tedious, painstaking job, manually rowing a canoe on a journey which took about five days, a journey in which we would sell our wares in villages along the way. I travelled on many occasions with my mother to far flung places such as Ukubie, Ozezama, Basambiri, Ogbolomabiri, Okpoama, Twon Brass, etc. My mother would buy plantain, yams, cassava at Oyoyo Market at Ovom and would sell these items by barter (in exchange for dry fish), from village to village during the flooding season when there was no farming, and bring this fish back to Yenagoa to sell them at the Oyoyo Market. Years later as Secretary to the Government, I was instrumental to moving the Oyoyo Market to Swali when Governor Alamieyeseigha completed the building of the Swali Market .

My mother taught me about the power of inspiration, hope, love, compassion, generosity, sincerity and loyalty.  She did it with the strength and passion that I wish could be found in every mother. By the time I was in my teens, I had unknowingly become a gentleman, respecting and treating women with absolute respect and tenderness.

My mother and my late sister, Cecilia Zifawei, taught me how to respect the virtues and values of a woman. Both overworked themselves trying to play the dual roles of man and woman, father and mother, in the home. Unfortunately, Cecelia died five (5) years ago, and I am yet to recover from her untimely demise. I blame her for making me an only surviving child. I blame her for dying; leaving me alone to bury my mother, a task that she could have done much better than me. I blame her for leaving me alone. I blame her and I refuse to forgive her. Her death has given me too much pain and now this blast – “Alamieyeseigha”.


You can shed tears that Abirindi is gone or you can smile because she has lived the fullness of life. Abirindi lived for over ninety (90) years. Her only surviving brother and my uncle, Chief Costman Fefegha, told me that by his calculation and judging by his own age, my mother was at least ninety (90) years old, maybe even more.

Abirindi had two surviving sisters –Baby and Erebigha, and a brother, the aforementioned Chief Costman Fefegha. Their parents, my grandparents, died when my mother, Abirindi, was about fourteen years old. To take care of her younger ones (Baby, Erebigha and Costman), she decided to marry at an early age in order to provide for her siblings. By all accounts, she did a great job, as each of them became successful in their own right. Both of her sisters had many children and my mother’s only surviving brother has more than seven children and many grandchildren.

So, who motivated me to be the man I am? The answer is simple – my mother. My mother may have been considered “illiterate” by academic parlance, but she was by far, the wisest and most learned person I have ever met. She was a peasant woman, petty trader, basket weaver, fisher woman. She struggled all her life and did menial jobs, such carrying loads, cleaning. She taught me about the dignity in labour, a lesson which proved invaluable during my years in the Soviet Union.

Throughout my life, my mom has been the person that I have always looked up to; her smile an inspiration, her suffering a source of courage and her lack of a formal education, a vivid reminder for me to remain humble.

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. I believe even now as I write, mother is still praying for me and my family.


The legacy of my mother, to me, is her generosity, kindness and love, all of which were infectious. Her humility, Godliness, and smiles were the true manifestation of Godliness – love. Growing up, my mother’s house was a dormitory, kitchen, restaurant, store, bank, market, school, everything. My mother, unlike most women I knew who would send you away when it is time to eat or will tell you your friend is not at home because it is time for them to eat, was quite different in this regard. My mother would actually send me three (3) kilometers to go call my friend or cousin or whoever, to come and eat with me during meal time. She taught me values which I never believed possible to practice. She was Mama Azaiki, Mama Yenagoa, Ina Gene, Ina Eni and later people began calling her Mama Africa. How this Mama Africa came about I do not know.

Growing up, I saw my mother as the most beautiful woman – dark, petite, white teeth, swaging steps, curvy lips and a fixed smile. My mother never forgot, not even for a moment, that she was the daughter of Chief Fefegha and a princess. It was that dignified humility that distinguished her in a crowd – stoic and proud, yet calm and humble with impeccable comportment. I owe everything I am today, to my mother, and even then, I cannot compare to her greatness. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.

In 1992, I returned home finally from the former Soviet Union with a Ph.D. in Agriculture. The Epie and Atissa Communities decided to do a befitting welcome party for me. Thanks to Patterson Kikile, Amasamana Ikiobofa, Sinivie Ototo, Noble Akenge and others. At that reception Chief Frank Omeleh of Yenaka was the Chairman. In attendance was the Obeni Ibe Epie (Clan Head), Chief Charles Agulata and Ebeni Ibe Atissa (Clan Head), Chief B.L.W. Mabinton. It was at that occasion that the greatest gathering of the two clans to celebrate an illustrious son took place. It was at that gathering that I saw an emaciated, worn-out, malaria/typhoid ridden, almost dead woman – Abirindi, my mother, my Inaa, my Mekiviewo. When our eyes met I saw many stars in hers. But I also saw tears and sadness, om addition to joy and may be hopelessness or may be like she was saying I’m done or maybe she was saying I told you at the waterside you will go to college, or like she was saying we did it for Christian Stephen. Or maybe she said none of these people here gave me food when I was hungry, gave me water when I was thirsty. I wept.

That moment, I realized that if my mother is to live another day, if my mother would ever smile again, if my mother will be happy again, it will depend on the decisions I make. I decided from that moment in 1992, that my mother will be my child and I will take her to the riverside and reassure her that she will be happy again. She will be the giver again. She will live as long as she would want to live. I took my mother back to Lagos with me. When I was posted to Ibadan, Odede (my sister’s daughter that came to live with me at age ten) and my mother accompanied me. From Ibadan I moved back to Lagos, and from Lagos to Port-Harcourt; my mother lived with me till I married my wife, Mimi.


Mimi and my children – her grandchildren, accepted and loved the women I loved most – Abirindi and Cecelia. One day, my mother told me “son, you know I worked hard, but I own nothing, and am so very happy I chose to be your mother instead of properties.” That night I thought about my conversation with mother, then I told myself I will work very hard so that I can get my mother those basic things she missed by paying my fees and providing for me when I was a child. I bought a house in Port-Harcourt, built a house for her in Yenagoa and provided for her to the beset of my humble abilities. My mother was never excited about material things. In fact, to my surprise, when I told her that I have built two small houses for teachers and finished the building of a Primary school in Yenebebeli, she stood up and hugged me. I saw my mother again the way she looked at me when I told her I “passed” and that I was going to grammar school.

Last year, upon roofing of the Yenebebeli Anglican Church, I came to Yenagoa, and in her bedroom, I whispered to her that I have just completed the roofing of the Yenebebeli church. Again, I got my reward on earth with the most beautiful smile I have seen in all my life. My mother told me on several different occasions, that she was living her dream vicariously through me. She once said that I was getting to do all the things that she would have wanted to have done. I knew then, as I do now, that God actually lived in my mother. As I write this, I am 100% certain my mother is with God. I asked for proof and God gave it to me.

God showed me the proof by the way she died. For more than eight months as the President of the International Society of Comparative Education, Science Technology, Nigeria, I had been preparing to host the world to a conference starting from the 3rd to 8th October, 2015. The conference date was shifted to 10th December through 14th December, 2015 to allow the Bayelsa governorship election to come and go. Now, my mother also knew that her son, a visiting professor to several institutions overseas, may not be around when she dies. She, like Chief G. M. Odumgba, had raised this issue with me. My mother also knew that by the tradition of the Epie/Atissa people when an elder dies, one must be present for four days and on the fourth day celebrate Ede Peletiemo, that day is set aside for relatives to celebrate the dead or better, put relatives to present themselves for recognition. For our custom and culture and tradition, it is a taboo not to be present. My mother was thinking of all these cultural and traditional commitments and wondering how I will be able to manage it. But, for the hundredth time, my mother did it again, proving to me the love, the affection and appreciating all that I have done for her (I know that whatever I did for my mother she had paid in full, I was only trying to thank her for the twenty-hours hours a day she gave in for me). That 10th of December morning, at about 5a.m. she came to my Hotel room at Aridolf Hotel and told me “mebidam” (I am leaving). Thinking she was going to the farm, I asked which of the farms – and she said “to Heaven”. My mother died 6:30am that same morning.

By dying on the 10th of December, the same day we were starting the conference, it allowed me to give my mother the respect and dignity she so deserved, allowing me to honour the four-day tradition of celebration.


I will always remember my mother. My sweet mother. Keep praying for me and my family. Do what you know best. Do not forget Ikolo, Famgbe, Swali, Yenagoa, Ogbogoro, Yes and Akaba and Ovom and Onopa and Agudama. I have named the street where you lived after you – Madam Abirindi Stephen Azaiki Street. It will probably be here for a long time. But, it is not in the naming of street that we will remember you. You will be remembered for your generosity, for your neighborliness, for your kindness, for your compassion and for your humility.

Albert Pike was right when he said “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal’’. You will never die. From your rotting body flowers shall grow and you are in them and that is eternity.

Prof. Steve Azaiki, OON

President, International Society of Comparative Education, Science and Technology, Nigeria.

Alamieyeseigha – His Day Is Done

By Steve Azaiki

Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha was undergoing treatment in Dubai, when he and I spoke on the 3rd and 4th October, this year. We discussed political developments in Nigeria and the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State. He assured me as usual that he was on the side of truth and that the Ijaw nation must stand united. Then, he called me on Monday, 5th October, but I missed his call. I returned his call in the evening, he informed me that he was back to Nigeria.  We discussed the rumour making the rounds that he was to face extradition to London. He was his normal self, except that he was interested in seeing me and would be in Yenagoa the next day.


That night (Monday) I called Governor Seriake Dickson, to discuss Alamieyeseigha and the extradition rumour.  The Governor and I agreed that the rumour was locally generated, designed and calculated to embarrass Alamieyesigha. That same night, because it was too late, I decided against calling Alamieyesigha, but instead sent him a text message thus: “I discussed with the Governor, we do not see any reason for this rumour, we do not believe it. When you come I will go with you to see the Governor. Sir, can you come with the first flight, I am going with my friend to Agbor, to attend his mother’s funeral.”


Chief Alamieyeseigha called me around 1.30 p.m. the following day, at that time I was already at Warri on my way to Agbor. Since I received the news of his death, I have often contemplated the fact that, if only I had seen him, he probably would not have died.

On Friday, 9th October, I had a very bad dream. In it, I saw a man holding a torch, he was giving a group of people direction, saying, “We are almost there, I am very tired, you guys should move ahead, that is the place. I will not go with you, because I have done everything to make this long journey possible. I have done it for you. Now, I will stay here and not allow the evil trees grow.” By 5p.m. on Saturday, 10th October, I received news that Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha was gone. He did not arrive at the Promised Land with us. He stood there as the gatekeeper so that evil doers would not cross over.


I had known Alamieyeseigha since 1998. Over those years, I can only testify to his goodness. I cannot speak of his sins, that is for God. But my testimony is that Alamieyeseigha was a good man. He loved life, native soup, vegetable soup, eba, unripe plantain, fine and spacious house, but not a vanity for clothes, he loved cars, he loved to dance and he admired beauty. Alamieyeseigha carried his burden of leadership with a smile. Never complaining, always cheerful, always optimistic and always positive.

Alamieyeseigha was forceful, open and accommodating. He was never rigid; he would say, “if you convince me I will bow to superior argument. “ Alamieyeseigha was a man of peace, never confrontational, never argumentative but persuasive, though firm in his belief. He hated oppression, he hated injustice and he passionately hated hypocrisy.


Alamieyeseigha’s strength, which most people mistook for weakness, was his large heart. Alamieyeseigha forgave unconditionally. He forgave all the members of the committee that recommended his impeachment in 2005. He told me, “I have forgiven the Chief Judge, Justice Emmanuel Igoniwari; I have forgiven the Speaker and fifteen members of the Assembly that impeached me.” He said, Steve, “I have forgiven our sons and daughters that plotted my arrest and impeachment. I have even forgiven the British Police, I have forgiven former President Olusegun Obasanjo. I have forgiven all those who plotted my downfall, including those who carried coffin on the street.”

I testify that, in truth and indeed, Alamieyeseigha forgave them all. He attended their mother’s funerals,   father’s   funerals, birthday parties, daughters and sons weddings; he celebrated with them and mourned with them. To paraphrase Ralph Mc Gill (1898-1969), “One of the shameful chapters of this country was how many of the comfortable— especially those who profited from the misery of Alamieyeseigha – abused him. But he got even in a way that was almost cruel. He forgave them.”


Alamieyeseigha was a patriot to the core. When, in 2003 and 2004, kidnapping was finding its way into the Nigerian vocabulary;  when the reason for kidnapping was not for the  demand of millions of Naira, but out of frustration of the people deprived of their God-given  wealth and right to manage their resources, denied of participation in the  politics of their country. The youths were demanding for attention, calling on the Federal Government to take notice of their suffering in a land of plenty, a land that is benefiting from the crude oil in their underbelly, yet they have nothing to show for it. At that time I had the rare courage to dare go with Alamieyeseigha to Sangana Sea to rescue thirteen foreign nationals held hostage on an oil platform. We risked our lives. I thought I would die. In that boat at that point when I was sure we would not return back home, Alamieyeseigha told me: “My brother, remember we fought for Nigeria, the Ijaw Nation is the thread holding Nigeria together, we must do our best for our country.” When those young Ijaw boys saw Alamieyeseigha, all of them prostrated and greeted him: “Governor General nuooo, Governor General carry go.’’ That was the respect, that was the esteem, the man commanded. Alamaieyeseigha was a great man, a great Ijaw man, above all he was a Nigerian patriot. At that time, President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote him a letter thanking him for risking his life, “Our Nation owes you a debt of gratitude.”


Alamieyeseigha was truly detribalized. He was the Ganuwan Katsina; his friends were the true sons of the North: Abdulsalami, Hassan, Bayero, General Ibrahim, Abubakar, Sale, Aliyu. He was honoured in Yoruba land. The Oba of Lagos was his friend, the late Ooni of Ife was his friend, Tinubu, Bukola, Olubolade, Olurin, Akande, AVM Adeleye who was the Military Governor of old Rivers State appointed Alamaiseyegha his Military Assistant (M.A). The Ibos loved him. Uche Chukuwumerije who appointed him Special Assistant when he was Minister of Information; Okolo, Ojukwu, Osifo, Pius and many others were his friends from the South-east. In the South-South, Alamieyeseigha was the Niger Delta Resource Control Champion, irrepressible and unstoppable.


In all his actions Alamieyeseigha was always in support of one indivisible Nigeria. He had made it clear that fighting for resource control was a National responsibility, he used the Niger Delta only as a reference place, that the country must be fair to all.

Alamieyeseigha –-His day is done. While we cry and mourn, what will we remember him for?  I will remember Alamieyeseigha as a man who loved unconditionally. I will remember how Alamieyeseigha approved N24million for Mrs. Ojoru, a Level 10 civil servant, to fight cancer in London, I will remember how he approved N9million to a first class Chief to travel overseas for treatment, I will  remember how he asked me to go see an Ibo man in the hospital, in Lagos, how the man was flown overseas on the instruction of Alamieyeseigha, I know of a Brigade Commander, that the Army could not help, Alamieyeseigha and sent him overseas for treatment, I know of one Sanusi  who Alamieyeseigha sent to India for surgery, what of a Director in the SSS that was attacked by armed robbers at Abakaliki in Ebonyi State, I reported the critical condition of the man  to Governor Alamieyeseigha and he immediately sent his Commissioner for Health Dr. Baralete to fly the officer to Germany.


On 18th October, young men and women dressed in black marched through the streets of Yenagoa to condole with the family of Alamieyeseigha at Opolo. I know most of them; these are young Bayelsans Alamieyeseigha had sent overseas, specifically to study in Russia, Belo Russia and Ukraine. Bayelsa state, I remember vividly as pioneer Commissioner for Agriculture, had only one veterinary doctor, Dr. Seiyefa, who was my Permanent Secretary, the Yenagoa General  Hospital probably had only two indigenous  doctors. Today,  thanks to Alamieyeseigha, Bayelsa has upward of hundred medical doctors, numerous master’s degree holders and PhD’s. I remember that even while he was in detention he directed that Bayelsans who had applied for the special scholarship programme be given their monies. At a special ceremony at the Women Affairs Auditorium, I handed over cheques worth millions of Naira to beneficiaries: N5million for Master’s degree and N10million for  PhD students going overseas. Today, most of them are back and contributing to the development of our country.


Alamieyeseigha established the Niger Delta University at Amassoma to check youth restiveness in the Niger Delta. To support the University faculty, Alamieyeseigha established a special scholarship programme to send University lecturers overseas to study for Master’s and PhD. Today, some of the beneficiaries are Professors at the University. I know this, because I was there and I am still at NDU as a member of the University Governing Council.


I remember Miss Yokorigha who received US$100,000, to study in Brazil. I know of Dr. Owei, current Commissioner of Health, who Alamieyeseigha sponsored to Germany to study plastic surgery; I know of Engr. Agina of the Ministry of Works Alamieyeseigha sent to Germany to study Bridge Engineering. These people I have written about are alive and I do expect them to speak up and honour this lover of education.

I once asked Alamieyeseigha how he would like to be remembered. “Alamieyeseigha,” he paused. “Izon man, from the Niger Delta. I am a full Nigerian, I am very proud of this privilege God has given me. Nigeria has been unfair to me yes, but many Nigerians have been good to me, I love Nigeria.” Then he burst into laughter. Alamieyeseigha’s legacy, to me, was his faith in his country, his humility, his courage. Alamieyeseigha was a fearless man. A man who spoke the truth, a man who stood for justice and equity. A man who stood up for the minority. A man who gave his all to and for his people, the Izon Nation.


Now, let me say this. My opinion may not be popular; but this is what I know of the man. Alamieyeseigha was a good man. Writing about him in past tense brings tears to my already over-worked eyes. Alamieyeseigha was truthful to us. He apologized for the pain he caused us. He cried for the humiliation his family, his friends, and the Izon Nation suffered on account of his sins. He asked for forgiveness, just as he forgave us all. Lois McMaster Bujold said: “The dead cannot cry for justice, it is a duty of the living to do so for them.”

To the Izon nation, to the people of Bayelsa, now that Alamieyeseigha is no more, the one the wife calls Caterpillar, the one I call General, the one Izon people knew was their leader, the one we knew as our Governor General of the Izon Nation, the one Nigeria knew was a patriot. We must now bury our differences, political, social, cultural, whatsoever and come together as a people, work for the development of our people and state. John Donne (c. 1571-1631) wrote: “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th American President, said famously: “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what he did here. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honoured dead we take increased devotion to that cause  for which    he gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.’’

In conclusion, let the world know that Alamieyeseigha as Governor of Bayelsa State did so much. However, he could have done much more if he had been allowed to finish the race. He commenced the construction of the 500-bed hospital (Dickson is improving on it), he built the Banquet Hall, he built the Opolo Commissioner Quarters, he built the Azikoro Housing Estate, he built the Treasury House, he built the super guest lodges behind the banquet hall, he built the Sani Abacha Road. He proved to Nigeria that the Niger Delta terrain should no longer be an excuse, by constructing the Yenagoa – Amassoma Road, the first time anybody or government had dared to construct a road to the heartland of the Delta. He dualized and built the first major highway in Bayelsa – the Yenagoa–Mbiama  Road, he built the College of Arts and Science, he built the Secretariat, etc.

Now, therefore, I will end this testimony with the words of Benjamin Franklin, American scientist and Philosopher, “The body of Chief D.S.P Alamieyeseigha PhD, JP, First Civilian Governor of Bayelsa State, Governor General of the Izon Nation, Politician, (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and  gilding) lies here, food for worms, but the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the author.” Chinua Achebe in his book, “A Man Of The People,” (1966) Chapter Thirteen wrote: ‘‘In such a regime (the government of Chief Nanga in Nigeria), I say, you died a good death if your life had inspired someone to come forward and shoot your murderer in the chest without asking to be paid.” No one will kill to revenge Alamieyeseigha’s death, but I tell you today that history will be very kind to him. I know this, because his biography will stand the test of time for generations yet unborn.

  • This piece was sent in from Johannesburg, South Africa, by Prof. Steve Azaiki (OON), former Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government.