(To my brothers Augustine, Blaise, Igwe jr and my sweet sister Chiamaka. To SCOBA 06, and all those that really made life interesting as a teenage Solowise,Mccarthy,Ata ado,Napoleon,Vino,Izunga War,Mbada,Tempus,Cybucu and all those I can’t possibly mention here. Especially SCOBAs. LOVE)
Tonight is indeed
Thicker than usual
The Lightening blinding
The painful screams of
Tempted me to ask
Thee my little princess
Tell me, if this be?
The Cold Day In Hell. )
The lack of money l must say shaped the very basics of my life. As a child I lacked this almighty entity. I grew up in a small town that’s not more than 20 minutes drive from the famous NKPOR JUNCTION. A town known by the name umuoji. A name that can be translated into “Children of Oji”. That was where I received my nursery and primary education. I can still vividly remember trekking down a foot path that snaked through the bush popularly known as “AJO OFIA” (Evil Forest) to where my school building stands. It was not like there were no better roads that leads to my destination. There are tarred roads that were motor-able. But when your parents weren’t rich enough to own a car or give you a 100 naira transport fare on daily basis. Then you have to resort to transporting your self with the cheapest form of transportation that God provided, to at least the fortunate 98% of the world’s population. I fell under this category. I trek to school every morning. Which was not as exhausting as trekking back home at noon when the sun is shinning with a fierce force. My childhood was not all that colourful like the rich kids that grew up in a more civilised settlement would think. We had our own happy and colourful moments. Created our own ways of having fun without giant toys inside our school premises. I remember the little song we tailored together for the most brilliant boy in my class. A song that was indeed forged just for the purpose of having fun. His name is Chidiebere Amah. He had jealously seized the 1st position as his and his only. it doesn’t slip his grip. From term to term, Year to year. Amah remains on the wanted throne of the first position. There was a popular herbal doctor then that goes by the name Doctor Amah C Amah. So because of their Identical name we changed Chidiebere Amah’s name to Doctor Amah C Amah. Whenever the school dismisses. Amah will go and get a very long cane on his way home, waiting for the students that will gather behind him to chant him a hymn. Students will then find Amah where ever he was, gather behind him and will start chanting behind him. Then we use to have a lead vocalist that will be singing in a very loud scream ” Chief doctor Amah C Amah” The others will now give him a loud joyous response of “Ozo Ndi Igbo!” (Saviour of Igbo people). We will be repeating this behind him till he turns unexpectedly with his cane to come after us. We will then took to our heels and in a second we will gather back behind him. That’s how joyous Our free young spirit were. Feeling safe and happy in our little world. Living in a noisy concrete jungle that crawls with lions, tigers and bears in a human form, or licking sugary creams instead of consuming akpu (Pounded cassava) with a good vegetable soup doesn’t mean your life is colourful. Material things I think can lower your depression rate but cannot provide you true joy, and true joy was one luxury we were blessed with. We were all young but the fact was we also had big dreams of one day becoming a pilot, medical doctor or a Legal practitioner.
I am the first child of my parents with a brother and two sisters. We attended the best elementary school that was in the sub-urban settlement we grew up in before moving to a more civilised settlement for our secondary school education.
I love my secondary school days. Life at the hostel taught me a lot about life generally. Nobody can deny the fact of the positive, as well as the negative impact that the hostel life had on us. There was a popular saying among my school peers that since we survived in St Charles, we can survive anywhere. But then I don’t think we fully grasped the gravity and reality of that statement. Think of whatever you can possibly find inside a boys hostel in a school that is situated in the heart of the commercial city of Onitsha. St Charles College and Special Science. Then you might understand where I’m coming from. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Wolves dressed in a sheep clothing. Boys with that kind of brilliant minds that scares their teachers. Crooks and Criminal minded individuals. Rich as well as poor kids. Homosexuals that often fell into the merciless hands of blackmailers. Mean and funny teachers. The seniority hype. Nights that we sneaked out from the school compounds to get ourselves some cheap beers. The October first marching and the sagas that usually accompanies it. The fear of being caught by the most intelligent mind I’ve ever seen. Our School Principal. Sir Emanuel Ezenduka, nicknamed “Onyeoma” (Good man). The tense atmosphere whenever we are about to gather for monday morning assembly for the fear of the punishment of the sins we’ve heaped upon our heads during the weekend. The irony of the whole assembly thing was that while some were reciting the morning assembly prayer for the sake that it was a boring daily routine. Some actually, were in a deep state of prayer for God to send Onyeoma to an emergency meeting so that their punishment can be averted, for at least that morning. And then the business. St Charles Special Science have the reputation of hitting jack pots on our W.A.E.C scores. These Good, Bad and Ugly I must confess were the best company I had growing up. Life was beautiful when we were young I must confess. May be because we were still being catered for till we have to do it for our selves, feed, cloth and shelter ourselves. Till we have to deal with the harsh realities of life.
I recruited into the military 3 years after I graduated from Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Anambra state from the department of business administration, with the help of colonel NNajiofor whom presently has been promoted to the office of the General. The general is more of a military godfather to me. The only soldier within Nigeria’s top military circle that never turn his back on me, never let the military politics snatch me away from his immediate cartel. He was like a father to me and the best I can do was to remain an obedient son to him. I can remember about 4 years ago. I got my self into a mess. I left the barrack to visit my family at home without permission and couldn’t make it back before the daily evening attendance. The next morning he summoned me up in his office. When I came in he was sitting on his arm chair studying a file that laid on his elegant table. He raised his head when he heard the door open. Saw me through his golden rim reading glass, and focused back his attention to the file before him.
“Good morning sir” I greeted him. He raised his head again and regarded me with a cold stare for a moment.
General Nnajiofor is a man known for his habit of not saying much. But then It is rumoured by those that occupies the offices around his, that sometimes the inside of their offices becomes unnaturally warm even with the Air Condition systems on. That these mostly happens whenever the General returns from long military meetings.
When I entered into his office that morning. I noticed that the air condition system was on and yet the general was sweating under a faint morning sun. The inside of the office unnaturally warm and I began to wonder whether my sin is having the same effect that the long military meetings do have on the general.
“What were you thinking?” he finally asked
“Sir I am sorry but please can I explain the situation?”
“Are you deaf?” He asked again.”Since when did you start answering questions with one? You missed the daily attendance yesterday, you left the barrack without permission, and now you are answering my question with a question sergeant”
“I am sorry sir”
“For you” he replied
Not allowing me to digest the “sir”.
“I have to pull some strings to get you out of the mess you landed yourself in”
I didn’t know what to say. The truth was that I was overwhelmed with joy when I heard him say that. Dumb founded were the only words that could literally define my state at that moment. I knew the consequences of my sins and it have kept me awake through out the night and now like a lucky-go-happy they’ve just been washed away by the string pulling of this man here. I really didn’t know whether to thank God or the General.
“Thank you sir” I finally uttered
“Don’t thank me” he shot back “rules are rules”
“It won’t happen again”
“I hope so for your sake blaise”
I stood there not breaking the moment of silence that engulfed us for that seconds before his sharp deep voice came cutting through the damp air. “
“I need you to go and pick my son from the school.
‘It will be my pleasure sir’
I went over to the table and he gave me the keys to his green peugeot and I left to bring his last son from the school .
to be continued
Its better to be lonely than to be abandoned.
8 people have were killed and a major bridge destroyed after suspected members of the Boko Haram sect yesterday night July 28th launched an attack in Katarko town in Yobe State. Katarko is 22km South of Damaturu, the state capital and is said to be very near the dreaded Sambisa forest.
According to reports, the sect members arrived the village around 7.30pm in motorbikes and operated unhindered till 2.00am. The men had unsuccessful attacked a military base in the town before moving into a residential area. Continue…
“They stormed our village with some vehicles and many motorcycles, shooting and chanting Allahu Akbar (God is Great). The soldiers in Katarko had to flee after seeing the large number of the attackers. After attacking the village and killing about eight persons and injuring some others, we later heard a thunderous explosion at the location of the bridge; we all fled into the bush. But in the morning, we later found out that the bridge had been destroyed with bombs”, said Mr. Lawan, a resident of the village said.
The bridge attacked is the bridge linking Buni Yadi and Damaturu, the state capital.
A bomb went off this afternoon around 1.40pm at the Trade Fair Complex on Zoo Road close to the popular Shoprite shopping mall in Kano State. According to police report, a female bomber about 18 years old died, while at least six people were injured. The area has been cordoned off by security attached to Shoprite. Details later…
A female suicide bomber died in a separate incident.
A bomb targeting church worshippers at the Sabon Gari area of Kano killed five people early Sunday, witnesses and police said.
The victims include a soldier, two men, a lady and a child.
At a separate location, a female suicide bomber targeting the North West University in Kano was forced to detonate her explosive vest by the police at Kofar Nasarawa gate.
The spokesperson of the police in the state, Magaji Majiya, who confirmed the incident to PREMIUM TIMES over the telephone, said the attack in Sabon Gari was from an Improvised Explosive Device that was thrown at the crowd of persons returning from church.
“The bomber threw the bomb which exploded by the road side killing the five persons instantly,” he said of the first attack.
On the blast at North Western University, Mr. Majiya said “only the young female suicide bomber was killed by her device, while five of our officers sustained injuries and were promptly taken to the Hospital”.
Four of the officers have been discharged, he added.
The attack followed a blast on Thursday that killed at least one person in a bus park in the city.
Also on Sunday, police authorities said they foiled another bomb near a Mosque on Saturday.
Police said anti-bomb personnel arrived and detonated the explosive device after packed in a 406 Peugeot car near the Isiyaka Rabiu Mosque after residents raised the alarm.
Mr. Majiya said three persons were arrested in connection with the attack on Sabon Gari church goers, while two others were arrested in connection with last night bomb discovery.
“All the arrested suspects are being interrogated now,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan expresses sympathy to those who lost their lives in the bomb attack.
President Goodluck Jonathan said calamity would have befallen Nigeria if former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari and Islamic scholar, Sheik Dahiru Bauchi, were killed in the July 23 bomb attacks in Kaduna.
The two leaders survived the attacks that killed more than 40 people.
Speaking when a delegation of the Muslim community, led by Vice President Namadi Sambo, paid him Sallah homage at his official residence, in Abuja on Sunday, President Jonathan appealed to clerics in the country to preach peace and unity to their followers “and not the gospel of hate”, saying that the country could not develop without peace.
He said, “Not too long ago we had these dastardly attacks in Kano and Kaduna. We stand to condemn these acts of terror on our people.
“And, we extend our condolence and sympathy to the bereaved and those who might have been injured.
“The recent attacks in Kaduna, especially where Sheik Dahiru Bauchi and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari were targets are quite instructive.
“You can imagine if these two people had died in the attacks.
“Sheik Bauchi is one of our top Islamic preachers; he has millions of followers. Buhari, a former Head of State and leading political figure, has massive supporters.
“On the same day, people wanted to kill them; those who planned the attacks are clearly sons of the devil, because if they had killed these two people, we wouldn’t have been here today; this country would have been in turmoil.
”We couldn’t have gathered here to celebrate.”
Mr. Jonathan thanked God for saving their lives and preventing “a major calamity” that would have befallen the country.
The president restated that the Federal Government was doing everything possible to end the activities of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in the country.
He used the opportunity to renew his call on Nigerians to continue to
work with government in that regard.
“Government is looking on how to raise funds; in fact, we are launching the fund on Thursday.
“This is to ensure that the widows, orphans, those whose business premises have been vandalised and even our worship places, mosques and churches, that have been destroyed, we will rebuild.
“Government alone cannot do it because we will need huge sums of money. The Nigerian private sector is vibrant and willing if they see sincerity in government.
“We have demonstrated that very clearly and we are hopeful that on that day, reasonable amount of money will be raised.
“And, we will continue to raise money until we are able to cushion the effect of these excesses and at the same time, we are strengthening our security services so that they will be able to confront this menace,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan said that he was honoured by the visit of the Muslim community after the Ramadan and prayed God to listen to and answer their prayers.
Earlier, Mr. Sambo commended the president for fasting with Muslims during the Ramadan, and for welcoming the delegation to his residence.
He prayed God to continue to give the president wisdom and guidance to lead the country to greater prosperity.
The vice president also prayed for peace in Nigeria and for Allah to bring all evil, including Boko Haram, to an end.
He urged Nigerians to be their brother’s keepers “for peace, tranquility, total reconciliation and stability to reign in the country.”
During the visit, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, paid homage to the president on behalf of Abuja residents.
He said; “We have always enjoyed humane and civil disposition that is why you see Muslims and Christians coming to pay homage in line with your exemplary leadership.
“We pray that Allah will grant you courage and wisdom to continue to steer the ship of leadership despite the current security challenges.”
Nigeria is the only country in the world whose Muslim faithful are celebrating Eid-El-Fitri (the end of Ramadan festivities) today following the controversial announcement by the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad, on Saturday night that the new moon of Shawwal was sighted in some cities across the country, PREMIUM TIMES can report today.
This newspaper gathered, through extensive investigations and interviews with leading Islamic clerics, that the Ramadan fast in other parts of the world would only end today (Sunday), with the Eid-El-Fitri celebrations holding on Monday.
The Chairman of the Nigerian National Moonsighting Committee, Hafiz Wali, as well as a member, Sheikh Habeebullahi Al-Ilory, told PREMIUM TIMES that in no other country was the sighting of the moon reported by anyone.
“It will interest you to know that Nigeria is the only country celebrating Eid-El-Fitri today,” Dr. Wali said. “That is because it is the only country where people claimed they sighted the moon.”
Dr. Wali said his committee advised the Sultan that it was impossible for the moon to be sighted on Saturday but that the Sokoto monarch came under pressure from people who claimed they sighted the moon.
“By the estimation and calculation of our committee, the moon could not have been sighted and we did not sight it,” the moon sighting committee chairman said.
“We gave a report that the moon was not sighted but the Sultan received a lot of messages from people who said they sighted the moon. The Sultan could not tell them they lied. He made his announcement which is the right thing to do.”
Mr. Wali said he and his committee would however continue the search for the new moon on Sunday night and that the Sultan and other NSCIA officials would be briefed on the outcome of the exercise.
In his own comment, another member of the moon-sighting committee, Sheikh Al-Ilory, the Rector of the Marcaz Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies, said the Sultan’s announcement misled Muslim faithful in the country and made Nigeria the only country on earth observing the Eid celebration on Sunday.
“The moon was not sighted anywhere in the world,” Sheikh Al-Ilory said. “As at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, our committee advised that the moon was not sighted but the Sultan still went ahead to announce the end of Ramadan. I’m just wondering why we have to do this to Islam. Is our own moon different from the rest of the world?
“As far as we are concerned, tomorrow (Monday) is Eid-El-Fitri.”
Sultan Sa’ad, who is also the President of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, had around midnight on Saturday announced the sighting of the new moon and therefore the end of Ramadan.
“The new month of Shawwal was sighted in different places within Nigeria and therefore tomorrow (Sunday) is the first day of Shawwal equivalent to 27 July 2014,” the Sultan said in an announcement aired on the Nigerian Television Authority [NTA].
The Sultan made the announcement despite receiving the report of Mr. Wali’s Moon-Sighting Committee that the moon was not sighted.
But when contacted after the Sultan’s announcement, the Secretary-General of the organisation, Is-haq Oloyede, a professor of Islamic Studies, said he was not aware that the moon had been sighted.
“I spoke to the Sultan about four times tonight and he did not tell me that the moon has been sighted,” Mr. Oloyede told PREMIUM TIMES. “In any case, any such claim is ridiculous and unscientific. It cannot be right.
“The National Moonsighting Committee has not informed us of any credible sighting of the moon.
Rather, they said the moon wasn’t sighted. The new moon was only born at 11:45 P.M. tonight (Saturday) and it will take several hours for it to be sighted.
“Is our own sky different? Is our own moon manufactured in Nigeria?”