Sunday, September 24, 2017
ICHEOKU says sports is a general unifier which fans use as an outlet to relax, remove themselves from issues and temporary forget about their present troubles, including religion and politics. They go to games to momentarily zone off and be removed away from their worries. Sports fans would rather their sports hero not bring their personal politics into the court or pitch or field or in any other way, publicly display their political preferences.
This will spare them the agony of political opinions which they might not agree with but which their financial contributions to the franchise help sustain its purveyor. This is a no no for any sports and this is what the current boycott of the White House by the Golden State Warriors is telegraphing - crass partisan politics.
Therefore those professionals who play sports should be mindful of the diversity of their fan base and try to remain above board and not politicize sports with crass partisanship politics. Like with the military, it should not matter to sportsmen and women who is in the White House and regardless of the personal opinion of any individual player, collectively, the team must present a poker face of apolitical indifference, aware that some of their fans are members of the other side of the political divide, whose feelings would be hurt seeing their sports heroes boycott their political hero. ICHEOKU berates the involvement of professional sportsmen and women in partisan politics as not good for the spirit of team sports where race, religion and politics melts away, blended in a team of one.
The Golden State Warriors should have gone to the White House following tradition and allowed anyone who has strong aversion about who is presently in occupation of the White House the choice of staying out the visit. It has happened in the past and it happened recently when the New England Patriots visited the White House with Tom Brady staying out the visit. This is the proper thing to do, this is the right thing to do; because among the players of Golden State Warriors are fans of President Donald John Trump, admitted the fear of retribution may have cowered them down into a voice vote of we are staying away from the White House visit. In addition to the payers and management, are also hundreds of thousands of fans who are both Republicans and conservatives, including those of us who are Trump's irredeemable deplorables.
ICHEOKU laments the boycott and hereby put the Warriors on notice that they are threading a wrong path, becoming now involved in the "Hate Trump Crusade" and for no justifiable reason whatsoever. Their job is to play basketball and get paid for doing that. Fans contribute a lot to their well being, both in tickets sales and franchise outfits purchases, including jerseys etc. They should have factored this into consideration before deciding on the boycott which downside is that, if the needless involvement of players in partisan politics is not checked, a time will come when fans whose political viewpoint is being hurt by these activism will start their own boycott of the sports too. As is already happening with the NFL and their inability to sell out games, the NBA might also be effected, if they continue to pick and chose who to visit in the White House.
The Warriors visited President Barack Obama following their 2015 championship victory, despite the fact that many of us fans are not Obama's fans; but we did not complain and faithfully continued to go to their games and buy their jerseys etc. So why they decided not visit President Donald John Trump now following their 2017 championship can only be explained as the piling up of the sports and Hollywood elite against a man who did nothing to them other than win a presidential election which he worked his butt out to win. Just like they do in their sports, where only the best wins the trophy, President Donald John Trump was the better of the two candidates and worked hard to win the presidency. It is the sports of politics and only the better candidate won, so why this piling up, instead of respecting him for the feat he accomplished.
ICHEOKU says these political sports personalities should be mindful that, just like Collin Kaepernick found out, certain actions carries with them certain unavoidable consequences. Hopefully, they will not force the hands of fans into withdrawing their support and lets see from where the owners will find the money to pay them for the live of comfort and pure luxury which they have become accustomed to. They should play their games and leave politics out of it and any one of them who wants to play politics could do that outside the sports or privately without raising all the rancorous dust therein associated. It is not good for the team spirit of sports and it is not good for the diverse fans who share different political viewpoints. It is too bad and so SAD that the Golden State Warriors is not visiting the White House as tradition dictates. Simply put, unsportsmanlike.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
To the dead, those who received on our behalf the death brought to our doorsteps with a code name, Operation Egwu Eke II (Python Dance II), I say rest in Peace. You will not experience injustice and hatred again, you will not be discriminated against because of your tribe nor will you die anymore. You are now with the righteous King.
To the bereaved, I say, be consoled. Your loved ones didn’t die stealing or raping; neither did they die kidnapping. Theirs came as a belief that there is a limit to oppression, that there comes a time in life when death is nobler than slavery.
They believed that freedom is never given but earned. Like historic freedom fighters, they died on the road because their types never get to the Promised Land; they only steal its view from a distance. Look at the biblical Moses; look at Martin Luther King Jr. in America; they could only point at the Promised Land from a mountain distance.
To Nigerians, this is the time to be least proud of our origin. Our unity as a people has never come this loose nor hatred ever obviously celebrated with government army.
A month ago, I shared my dream of an impending bloodshed and went on summer break with a promise to return after six weeks. Four weeks after, I feel uncomfortable if I do not voice out my heart at this infamous moment of our history.
I have never seen an army come too low in military ethics than they have done in Operation Egwu Eke II. Dooms-week scenario! Severed limbs! Disgorged brain and viscera! Gored bodies! Scalded lapses! Bloody mouths! Shattered fists! Not even Hollywood will create such crude scene in its filming but that was how a Nigerian Army hacked her own citizens.
They were whipped to the point of death. They were ordered to get drowned in muddy waters with army boots on their heads and cudgels on their bodies to ensure they sink well. They drank until their intestines got filled up, breathing became impossible, blood gushed through noses, ears and mouths to pollute the muddy water; eyes turned brown and gave up their sight; ears got blocked; and enthusiastically the soldiers watched their countrymen twitched slowly as they turned to corpses. We have got gory videos no man should ever pray to watch again.
When we come face to face with ghastly atrocities, we are appalled and want to ask, “But what has happened to our humanity that we have become inhumane?” Is that not how we felt when we encountered the horror of Holocaust or the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when we heard of the horrible goings-on of an Idi Amin or a Bokassa, when we learned of the vicious occurrences in the killing fields of Cambodia, the excesses in Bosnia and the genocide of Rwanda?
Were we not equally appalled by the gross violations of human rights in many Latin America countries and South Africa, the massacre at Odi and Zaki Ibiam? To watch innocent citizens plying their normal trades on the streets of Aba and Umuahia being pursued, overrun, maimed and some killed by government military trucks is scary. Even prisoners of war deserve respect. Not even in Guantanamo Bay is such treatment recommended.
Hate IPOB the much you can but our common humanity is the denominator of how to treat a human person. The current Nigerian government has not hidden its hatred for Southeast in thoughts, words and action. The president said it in his post inauguration interview with foreign media; implements it in his every appointment and reinforces in all his body languages. There have been calls to balance appointments both from Nigerians and international community. The just concluded Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria decried painfully the obvious exclusion of a section by the regime in their communiqué. But the presidency remains unperturbed.
We all may not support IPOB and we don’t need to. However, the IPOB represents dominant feeling among people of Southeast. Every Jew prays for the peace of Jerusalem but differs on how to achieve it. Currently, we have Likud, Yisrael Beitenu, Zionist Union, Yesh Atid, Shas, The Jewish Home (Habayit HaYehudi) United Torah Judiasm (Yahadut HaTorah Hameukhedet), Meretz, Wamab, Kulanu. While some parties agree to a two-state solution with Palestine; some do not. Some believe in mediation; others in meditation. At the end, it is the majority that informs government’s decision.
The military invasion of Southeast in all its intents and purpose has been condemned as a calculated aggression against psychologically wounded people. The clashes were provoked to pave way for maximum damage. The statement of the presidency that IPOB is inviting them to wipe the entire Igbo race has historical antecedent. Hitler crossed his army to Poland and ordered them to fire Germany; he filmed the shooting as aggression of Polish army against Germany. Hitler might have invaded and killed many Polish but Poland has outlived Hitler.
The branding of IPOB as a terrorist organisation is not surprising either. When Taliban regime held sway in Afghanistan, what is today known as Taliban terrorist group was the national army. All freedom groups were outlawed by Taliban government until America ousted the evil regime in Kabul and installed lame democracy. When the national army is sympathetic to a jihadist government, we expect even human right groups to get terrorist tags.
The proscription of IPOB by Southeast Governors’ Forum reflects the language and personality of her chairman more so when he is the smartest of the ignoble five fingers of a leprous hand who can trade entire race for their political ambitions.
Sieve the leaders alphabetically!
The Abia heavyweight has spent two years battling to save his first mandate. The mud and pools in the viral videos show how the state has decayed under his watch. The Anambra guy-man is only good in concluding investigations into terrorist attack in ten minutes just to move ahead with his re-election matters.
The Ebonyi Machiavelli is a PDP governor who wastes no opportunity praising APC government at the national level and has vowed to vote against the PDP come 2019 presidential election. He was the first governor to promise Fulani herdsmen grazing routes in Nigeria. The Imo self-acclaimed orator is a jihadist-drone planted in Igbo land. He lost sense of governance before ever assuming office. The big brother from Enugu sank in his ottoman while Fulani herdsmen slaughtered his people; he then commanded them to fast and jetted off to prostrate before the President and share wine with him in As Rock. The national assembly members are personal assistants to their respective governors who need 2019 badly too.
The sad news? The Igbo have no leaders but politicians who immediately after inauguration start thinking of next elections. People do not expect them to support IPOB but to provide them leadership. If they could rise from their meeting without condemning the invasion of their zone and the killing of their people who were not all IPOB members, they have failed their people again.
To other Nigerians mocking IPOB, I hear your voices but I take you to the Scriptures. Once in Israel, Galileans led by a certain Judas denounced Caesar, resisted foreign domination because only God is king. As the Roman governor in Syria, Pontius Pilate wanted his water project to be financed with certain Temple monies. Perceived as a sacrilege, the Jews were up in resistance. Pilate instructed his soldiers to disguise, infiltrate and disperse the crowd with cudgels.
Acting far beyond their instructions, the soldiers killed a considerable number of Jews. This sowed enmity between Pilate and Herod which was later reconciled during the trial of Jesus. Referring to that incident during His ministry Jesus said, “Do you think that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans because this happened to them?” “I tell you, No,” he answered.
Mockery is a tribute a coward pays to the brave. Our Galilean brothers drank mud, received gunshots and died once. But as long as we remain excluded in governance we remain perpetually trapped in muddy water of Nigerian ethnic politics.
To remember that we have no leader makes it more painful. But the sight of young men holding stones and resisting soldiers armed to their teeth paints a picture of future Nigeria if she refuses to reform. Biafra agitation resurfaced after the war ended 50 years ago because army can never bring peace; only justice does.
- The author Felix Uche Akam is a reverend father, Catholic priest.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
"Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates: Welcome to New York. It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world.
As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country, I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid. The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.
Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th. The stock market is at an all-time high — a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time.
And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been. For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly. Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed.
We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity. Breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve.
But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value. Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.
Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.
International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders; and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.
To put it simply, we meet at a time of both of immense promise and great peril. It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.
We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.
This institution was founded in the aftermath of two world wars to help shape this better future. It was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security, and promote their prosperity.
It was in the same period, exactly 70 years ago, that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe. Those three beautiful pillars — they’re pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity.
The Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free. As President Truman said in his message to Congress at that time, “Our support of European recovery is in full accord with our support of the United Nations. The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members.”
To overcome the perils of the present and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past. Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world.
We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government. But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation. This is the beautiful vision of this institution, and this is foundation for cooperation and success.
Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect.
Strong, sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny. And strong, sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God.
In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch. This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example. We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution — the oldest constitution still in use in the world today.
This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law.
The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words. They are: “We the people.”
Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country, and of our great history. In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.
In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens — to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.
As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first. (Applause.)
All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.
But making a better life for our people also requires us to work together in close harmony and unity to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.
The United States will forever be a great friend to the world, and especially to its allies. But we can no longer be taken advantage of, or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return. As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else.
But in fulfilling our obligations to our own nations, we also realize that it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous, and secure.
America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations Charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies, from the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia.
It is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerged victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion, or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others. Instead, we helped build institutions such as this one to defend the sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.
For the diverse nations of the world, this is our hope. We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife. We are guided by outcomes, not ideology. We have a policy of principled realism, rooted in shared goals, interests, and values.
That realism forces us to confront a question facing every leader and nation in this room. It is a question we cannot escape or avoid. We will slide down the path of complacency, numb to the challenges, threats, and even wars that we face. Or do we have enough strength and pride to confront those dangers today, so that our citizens can enjoy peace and prosperity tomorrow?
If we desire to lift up our citizens, if we aspire to the approval of history, then we must fulfill our sovereign duties to the people we faithfully represent. We must protect our nations, their interests, and their futures. We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea. We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow. And just as the founders of this body intended, we must work together and confront together those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil, and terror.
The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries.
If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.
No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more.
We were all witness to the regime’s deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America only to die a few days later. We saw it in the assassination of the dictator’s brother using banned nerve agents in an international airport. We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea’s spies.
If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life.
It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict. No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.
The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.
It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future. The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council. Thank you to all involved.
But we must do much more. It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior.
We face this decision not only in North Korea. It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime — one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.
The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people.
Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors. This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.
We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. (Applause.) The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.
It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. And above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.
The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict Internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protesters, and imprison political reformers.
Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror? Or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth where their people can be happy and prosperous once again?
The Iranian regime’s support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its financing.
In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them.
We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world.
We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology. We must drive them out of our nations. It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban and others that slaughter innocent people.
The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people.
Last month, I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operations, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians.
I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups. In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined.
We seek the de-escalation of the Syrian conflict, and a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens — even innocent children — shock the conscience of every decent person. No society can be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.
We appreciate the efforts of United Nations agencies that are providing vital humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from ISIS, and we especially thank Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees from the Syrian conflict.
The United States is a compassionate nation and has spent billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort. We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people, and which enables their eventual return to their home countries, to be part of the rebuilding process.
For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region. Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region, and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible. This is the safe, responsible, and humanitarian approach.
For decades, the United States has dealt with migration challenges here in the Western Hemisphere. We have learned that, over the long term, uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries.
For the sending countries, it reduces domestic pressure to pursue needed political and economic reform, and drains them of the human capital necessary to motivate and implement those reforms.
For the receiving countries, the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are borne overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.
I want to salute the work of the United Nations in seeking to address the problems that cause people to flee from their homes. The United Nations and African Union led peacekeeping missions to have invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflicts in Africa. The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief in South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen.
We have invested in better health and opportunity all over the world through programs like PEPFAR, which funds AIDS relief; the President’s Malaria Initiative; the Global Health Security Agenda; the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery; and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, part of our commitment to empowering women all across the globe.
We also thank — (applause) — we also thank the Secretary General for recognizing that the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security, and prosperity. Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process.
In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution’s noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them. For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more. In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes. The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but, to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it.
Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell. But the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems.
The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world. In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially. Nations of the world must take a greater role in promoting secure and prosperous societies in their own regions.
That is why in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has stood against the corrupt and destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom. My administration recently announced that we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms.
We have also imposed tough, calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse.
The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country. This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried. To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule.
The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing. Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. This situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch.
As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal. That goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy. I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people.
The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable. We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.
We are fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with many of the Latin American countries gathered here today. Our economic bond forms a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors.
I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis. We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela. (Applause.)
The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. (Applause.) From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.
America stands with every person living under a brutal regime. Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action. All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their wellbeing, including their prosperity.
In America, we seek stronger ties of business and trade with all nations of good will, but this trade must be fair and it must be reciprocal.
For too long, the American people were told that mammoth multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals, and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success. But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared. Others gamed the system and broke the rules. And our great middle class, once the bedrock of American prosperity, was forgotten and left behind, but they are forgotten no more and they will never be forgotten again.
While America will pursue cooperation and commerce with other nations, we are renewing our commitment to the first duty of every government: the duty of our citizens. This bond is the source of America’s strength and that of every responsible nation represented here today.
If this organization is to have any hope of successfully confronting the challenges before us, it will depend, as President Truman said some 70 years ago, on the “independent strength of its members.” If we are to embrace the opportunities of the future and overcome the present dangers together, there can be no substitute for strong, sovereign, and independent nations — nations that are rooted in their histories and invested in their destinies; nations that seek allies to befriend, not enemies to conquer; and most important of all, nations that are home to patriots, to men and women who are willing to sacrifice for their countries, their fellow citizens, and for all that is best in the human spirit.
In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil also fought for the nations that they loved.
Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.
Today, if we do not invest ourselves, our hearts, and our minds in our nations, if we will not build strong families, safe communities, and healthy societies for ourselves, no one can do it for us.
We cannot wait for someone else, for faraway countries or far-off bureaucrats — we can’t do it. We must solve our problems, to build our prosperity, to secure our futures, or we will be vulnerable to decay, domination, and defeat.
The true question for the United Nations today, for people all over the world who hope for better lives for themselves and their children, is a basic one: Are we still patriots? Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and to take ownership of their futures? Do we revere them enough to defend their interests, preserve their cultures, and ensure a peaceful world for their citizens?
One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was “effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.”
That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation. We realized who we were, what we valued, and what we would give our lives to defend. From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.
The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.
Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism.
History is asking us whether we are up to the task. Our answer will be a renewal of will, a rediscovery of resolve, and a rebirth of devotion. We need to defeat the enemies of humanity and unlock the potential of life itself.
Our hope is a word and — world of proud, independent nations that embrace their duties, seek friendship, respect others, and make common cause in the greatest shared interest of all: a future of dignity and peace for the people of this wonderful Earth.
This is the true vision of the United Nations, the ancient wish of every people, and the deepest yearning that lives inside every sacred soul.
So let this be our mission, and let this be our message to the world: We will fight together, sacrifice together, and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice, for family, for humanity, and for the almighty God who made us all.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless the nations of the world. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
ICHEOKU says the wonderment of science at its best, that a man made super machine could travel 932 million miles at 77,000 mph from this planet earth to another planetary space; and survived there for another 13 years. It wrecked in 5 billion miles of travel through the rings of Saturn, orbiting it 294 times before finally being vaporized through a controlled crash and burn orbital maneuver.
Cassini was indeed a thing of beauty, a stellar product of the extraordinary ingenuity of some brilliant minds; and it handsomely rewarded the world of Planetary and Rock Science.
The numbers associated with Cassini are simply mind blowing: it took a 7 years of traveling, at a speed of 77,000 miles per hour, to traverse the distance of 945 million miles between earth and Saturn. Once aligned within the rings of Saturn, it clocked in another 5 billion miles during its 13 years of life orbiting and observing Saturn. The Saturn probe rocketed off in October 1997 and reached the rings of Saturn in July 2004.
Just close your eyes for a moment and imagine the science that went into building this super machine; factoring in the rocket fuel that sustained the engines for that long and length of travel; the communication instruments that kept on going for the duration of the mission and the distance it took to bring back to earth all the information mined while observing Saturn, transmitting bits of data at the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second,which took 83-and-a-half minutes to cover the distance back to earth.
During the course of its 13-year mission, Cassini executed 2.5 million commands, carried out 360 engine burns, completed 162 targeted flybys of Saturn's moons, took more than 453,000 images and discovered six previously unknown moons, covering 4.9 billion miles since launch in 1997. Most important, the spacecraft collected 635 gigabits of data resulting in nearly 4,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers.
How they did it, ICHEOKU cannot begin to conceptualize; only to say that the team are exceptionally awesome. They are science par excellence and brilliance personified. The Cassini Project was indeed a true mission accomplished and a testament to what the human brain could and is capable of accomplishing.
The bus-sized spacecraft was fast running out of rocket fuel and crashing just anywhere was not an option acceptable to the mission controllers and they had to force crash and burn it Saturn's atmosphere all in the name of protecting the planet's natural satellites. In NASA's own words explaining their action: Cassini is ending its 13-year tour of the Saturn system with an intentional plunge into the planet to ensure that Saturn's moons — in particular Enceladus, with its subsurface ocean and signs of hydrothermal activity — remain pristine for future exploration.
Continuing, "This morning, a lone explorer, a machine made by humankind, finished its mission 900 million miles away. A superb machine in an amazing place, doing everything we could possibly do to reveal the mysteries and secrets of our solar system. As you just heard, the signal from the spacecraft is gone and within the next 45 seconds, so will be the spacecraft. I hope you're all deeply proud of this amazing accomplishment. Congratulations to you all. This has been an incredible mission, an incredible spacecraft and you're all an incredible team. I'm going to call this the end of mission." With these words by Project Manager Earl Maize, the Cassini Mission to Saturn came to an end and it was indeed a mission accomplished. ICHEOKU says the world is proud.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Fellow Nigerians: Hate or love Nnamdi Kanu, it is undeniable he has brought the issue of injustice in our country to the front burner. But Biafra is not about him. It is about all of us. If you a Nigerian then you are a Biafran. Unless, of course, you are one of the perpetrators of injustice against the Nigerian people.
BIAFRA IS AN IDEOLOGY that cannot be extinguished by military force. We tried in the 1960's but did not succeed. You do not defeat an ideology with brute force - this is the same argument I have been making about jihadist extremism. If we had addressed the issues that led to the Nigerian civil war in 1963 we would not be here today talking about Biafra. Nigeria is not working for the common man and we cannot continue like this. Anyone who has the best interest of ordinary Nigerians at heart would agree we need to restructure this country.
I now understand why a revolution is impossible in Nigeria. We are too divided and distrustful of one other. Biafra is bigger than Nnamdi Kanu. Biafra is about the injustice suffered by the ordinary man in Kano, Maiduguri, Birnin Kebi, Owo, Asaba, Yenagoa, Kalabari, Orlu, Abeokuta, Makurdi, Ilorin, Jos, and in every nook and cranny of this country. Biafra is the fight against the injustice of our corrupt leadership. Biafra is about all of us!
The fundamental concern of Biafra is an injustice. Our citizens are literally eating from bins whilst our political elites are feeding fat on our commonwealth. A few days ago, a seven-year-old child died from typhoid fever that was complicated by a bowel perforation. His father took him to several hospitals including a tertiary hospital but he did not get the care he needed because the hospitals were grossly under-resourced and poorly staffed. This child suffered right until the last seconds of his short life. Meanwhile, Buhari spent nearly three months in a London hospital. It was reported that the presidential aircraft was parked in London all that time.
Think about the high-quality medical care he received which this child had no access to. Consider the number of dead children that could have been saved with the parking charges of Buhari's aircraft. I shudder to think what his medical bills amounted to. What does Aso Rock clinic do with its generous budgetary allocations that it cannot treat an ear infection? Is Buhari's life more valuable than the life of this child? For as long as our public officials can continue to treat themselves and their families abroad they will have no incentive to fix our broken healthcare. For as long as these people can continue to school their children abroad they will have no incentive to fix our broken schools and stop the incessant strikes. But I digress.
Predictably, some of us are blinded by our hatred of Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB and the Igbos, and cannot see past the distractions and the smokescreen. You may rejoice the government has used the "terrorism" card to crush IPOB but you can be sure they will deploy the same tactic against you tomorrow. What you do not realise is this: the government is also sending a clear message to you - put up with your suffering or complain and get crushed. Citizens have a right to protest against injustice and bad governance. In Nigeria, instead of listening to the legitimate concerns of its citizens the government just rolls out armoured tanks.
What makes IPOB a terrorist organisation? When were Fulani herdsmen killing innocent citizens - how many of them were charged to court or even arrested? When Buhari was in the opposition, he was widely reported to have asked the Jonathan government to stop killing Boko Haram jihadists and to grant them amnesty. To my mind, Boko Haram is not comparable to groups like MEND which received amnesty from the federal government at that time. MEND was campaigning for resource control, better governance and an end to the exploitation and degradation of the environment. Therefore, it seems to me that the people who question Buhari's judgement have a valid argument.
We need to refocus this debate. You can disagree with Kanu and disapprove of his methods but your enemies are not Kanu or IPOB. Your real enemies are the people who make it impossible for your children to have quality education and healthcare. They are the people who benefit from the current system and who tell you Nigeria cannot restructure. Therefore, let us unite and seize this moment to demand reform and the restructuring of our nation. Enough of the bickering and the divisions.
How do you deal or engage with a government that refuses to listen and slams the "terrorism" label on you in order to legitimise military action against you? This strategy of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it is not new. It was used by the South African government against Nelson Mandela and ANC. But as someone said: those who make dialogue impossible make violence inevitable. Mandela eventually took up arms against the apartheid government. His organisation was labelled a terrorist organisation by enablers such as the British and American governments. In truth, the terrorists were the apartheid government and its sympathizers.
The solution to this impasse is dialogue. IPOB has a legitimate grievance - this country is not working for ordinary Nigerians whether they be in the north, south, east or west. It is much easier to label IPOB a terrorist organisation and crush it militarily. But this does not solve the problem that gave rise to IPOB in the first instance. If I were to advise the President, I would tell him to dialogue with IPOB. Listen to their concerns. Treat the disease, not the symptoms.
Friday, September 15, 2017
If we talk now, dem go brand us “Enemy of the State” and start chasing us upandan with police, DSS, Customs, Immigrations and even vigilantes. But how do you criticize the deployment of soldiers to the private residence of a man without incurring the wrath of the presidency?
I have an idea: blame it on the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai; blame it on Chief of Defense Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin – for those two must be in the know before troops are deployed within and outside Nigeria. We can take the blame for this aberration a little higher. How about laying it at the doorstep of President Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari? Wouldn’t he have been the last person to know before the president himself knew? Buratai would have communicated his plans to Olonisakin, who would, in turn, have asked Abba Kyari for a meeting with the President so he could brief him. Abba Kyari would likely have just given the go-ahead in the name of the president because Mr. President was indisposed, or just didn’t have the time to see everybody and every file all of the time. Right?
Wrong. In this day and age, nations don’t send soldiers chasing after their own civilian citizens. Responsible nations spend too much money on the training and welfare of their soldiers for them to be deployed on such trifle mission as “show of force” on the street of a rabble-rouser. That is so Hitlerian; so tyrannical and so out-of-date. The blame lies squarely at the doorstep of President Buhari. And as the saying goes, the buck stops at his desk.
I understand that section 217(2) of our Constitution authorizes the president to deploy troops to any part of the country to support the efforts of other law enforcement agencies in order to help suppress “insurrection.” This is akin to what the U.S. National Guard, which is under the command of individual state governors, does in the U.S. But where is the insurrection in Abia State?
One definition of insurrection is: “an act or an instance of rising in revolt, rebellion, or resistance against civil or an established government.” Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), who, obviously, was the target of the military deployment, had threatened all of the key elements that define insurrection; “threatened”… but not yet carried them out. He has promised to burn down Nigeria more than once. He has promised to prevent elections from taking place in Anambra more than once. He has promised to carve out Biafra from Nigeria more than once. But he has yet to actualize any of those threats.
What he has done is flagrantly violate some of the conditions for his bail. In April of this year, when virtually all the elders from the east pleaded for his release from detention, ostensibly because his health was failing and he was at the point of death, Justice Binta Nyako offered Kanu 12 conditions for his release, and the continued enjoyment of the temporary freedom. Those conditions included, but were not limited to, the following: he must not be in a crowd of more than 10; he must not hold rallies; and he must not grant interviews. But what did he do as soon as he was released? He not only got in a crowd of more than 10, he held rallies. Apparently, his health got better as soon as he exited the court premises in Abuja. He not only granted interviews; he threatened to burn down Nigeria. For those alone, all that government needed was a court order to re-arrest him. And because of his notoriety - the touts and the hoodlums with whom he has surrounded himself and the nature of his threats against Nigeria, the government probably needed a hefty dose of a combined police/DSS operation. No reasonable person would have argued against that because it would have been lawful. That would have been an appropriate show of force.
So, why send a platoon, company or battalion of soldiers to intimidate him? The answer is simple. The Buhari government, like all the ones before it, and like most African governments, is afraid of empowering the police like it is done in the western world. The ideal thing would have been to allow the states to have their own police. Those who argue against that cite the potential for abuse by some of our vindictive and petulant governors, and the general “immaturity of our democracy.” If we are leaving the police as it is under the federal government, it needs to be numerically strengthened to accurately cover the whole country (stop assigning police officers to all manners of political office holders); improve their general welfare – salary, training, weapons – and truly empower them to carry out law enforcement duties across the whole country.
It is an onerous, almost revolutionary task that requires laser-focus attention from the president. But it is wishful thinking on my behalf. Knowing the bushman, brute force mentality of our military, I can’t imagine a police officer enforcing the law on a military officer. A good example of the subordination of the military to civil rule is the U.S. military, which boasts of some of the most lethal men and women in its forces. Yet, those highly trained members of the military are some of the most humble, most deferential and most respectful individuals when you see them about town. Other than members of the National Guard whom you’d see in town with arms during natural disasters, I have never, in 30 years, seen armed American regular soldiers in town. Even when going from their bases to training grounds, they move about in such a way as to not draw attention to themselves, using civilian license plates on their plain-colored vehicles. Even wearing the camouflage uniforms in town is often discouraged. The idea is to protect the crown jewel of the American power – the soldier. Would you be surprised to see an American police officer arrest an American soldier? It happens all the time. Such a thing can happen in a society where the military is completely subordinated to the civilian leadership. Can that happen in Nigeria? No. Our military is still tethered to its inglorious past of dehumanizing jungle-justice treatment of the so-called bloody civilians.
In its characteristic lethargic attitude to important matters, this government dilly-dallied on this Kanu matter until the fellow became a martyr for the Biafra cause. Kanu was charged to court for some of the most egregious offenses you could commit against your country; one of which was treason. The man was seen and heard all over the world on video and radio openly soliciting contributions for the acquisition of arms to wage war against Nigeria. With two passports at his disposal – Nigerian and British – the man entered Nigeria illegally without a British visa on his British passport and without an entry stamp on his Nigerian passport. Now, why did someone like that get put in detention for over a year without his trial moving an inch? Where is Attorney General Abubakar Malami on this issue? Isn’t the APC government the government of “Change” the one that promised an overhaul of the judiciary?
So, why send the army to harass Nnamdi Kanu? Could it be that our soldiers don’t have much to do anymore? Is Boko Haram now completely crushed? Have we traversed the entire Sambisa forest and mapped out every inch of it? If not, shouldn’t those soldiers riding around in Umuahia be deployed to Maiduguri?
Who does not know that the Nigerian Army is by far the superior bet in a showdown with IPOB and Biafra? It has to be the suicidal goons following Kanu around. And I think there is something in the water or food they are consuming over there that makes them think they can stand toe-to-toe with the Nigerian Army. I saw some of them on video armed with cutlasses, machetes and bottles, throwing stones at the military convoy. I heard warning shots being fired by the soldiers and saw the idiots still moving in the direction of fire. If you look in the dictionary for the definition of stupidity, it would be illustrated with the picture of a mob armed with sticks, cutlasses and bottles attacking a military element protected with body armor and armed with semi-automatic weapons, fully-automatic weapons and grenade launchers. Don’t come crying to me when you are blown to smithereens.
I have never been a fan of armed soldiers dressed in combat uniforms dealing with civilians in town. I have so much respect for the military that any misuse of them, any scorn and derision thrown their way makes my blood boil. Even the “ineffectual buffoon” and “bloody civilian” had enough sense to declare a state of emergency in the northeast before sending soldiers there. I expect our sage and former general to know better…unless his sentience is in question.