How Great Is Nigeria! By Kenneth Okpomo

How Great Is Nigeria!

Nigeria is a great country. This is a fact that cannot be disputed. In five main categories I shall discuss the distinctive attributes of this country with a view to capturing the real depths and dimensions of her greatness.

  • Geography

With a land area of 923, 768 sq. Km (and an arable land area of about 34,000, 000 hectares), Nigeria is certainly a big and fecund country. The country’s savanna, mangrove and rainforest vegetation is distinctively suitable for various kinds of commercial and livestock agriculture. Crops such as millet, sorghum, cowpea, soybean, groundnut, tomato, sesame, melon, bean, cashew, tomato, onions, etc, grow well in the northern belt where livestock such as cattle, ram and goat are commonly reared. In the southern belt, palm kernel, cassava, plantain, yam, cocoyam, potato, cocoa bean, rubber, plantain, okra, grow well while poultry bird, goat, rabbit, snail, pig, etc, are commonly breed. Assorted sea animals are plentiful in the country’s expansive rivers and water bodies.

In terms of food sufficiency and the export market, Nigeria occupies a top spot on the African continent.  The country is the leading cultivator of staple crops such as cassava (with annual production of up to 45 million tons) and yam (with annual production of over 30 million metric tons) as well as cash crops such as cocoa (with annual production towering above 140,000 tons) and natural rubber (with annual exports exceeding 60,000 tons). The country’s tropical monsoon, wet and dry, sahel and alpine climate is steady and reasonably predictable. Never in her annals have there been cases of extreme weather (such as heat waves, wildfire, cyclones or tornadoes) or deadly natural disasters (such as earthquakes, mudslides, volcanoes, avalanches or tsunamis).

With a population of over 190 million people (based on recent United Nations estimates), Nigeria remains the most populous country in Africa and, by extension, the most populous black country in the world. This population is a big commercial asset in terms of consumption levels and appetite which easily translates to high demand for essential goods and services.

  • Natural Resources

Nigeria is blessed with abundant mineral resources which includes oil, gas, coal, limestone, tin, bitumen, granite, iron ore, zinc, lead, salt, tantalite, gemstone, bentonite, laterite clay, potash, bauxite, spring water, glass sand, to mention a few, most of which are yet to be fully exploited. In terms of quality, Nigeria’s Bonny light and Qua Iboe crude are among the finest in the world. In the oil-rich Niger-Delta region International Oil Companies such as Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Agip, among others, have extensive exploration platforms. In 2011 there were 37.2 billion barrels (5.91×109 m3) of proven oil reserves in the country (which ranked her as the biggest oil producer in Africa and the 11th biggest in the world). Potential gas production stands at 2.5 million barrels per day (362×103 m3/d) on average. However, due to the incessant and frequent restiveness in the oil-producing areas, production has dropped to an average of 1.5 million bpd in the current dispensation. The country has about 188 trillion standard cubic feet of gas reserves (which makes her the 7th most endowed gas nation in the world). At present the country produces about 1.35 Tcf of dry natural gas (which puts her among the world’s top 30 largest producers).

  • Human capital

Nowhere else is the greatness of Nigeria more pronounced and accentuated than in human capital. Without doubts Nigerians are cerebrally knowledgeable and brilliant while being exceptionally entrepreneurial in disposition. Examples of this abound. Her past nationalist heroes (such as Sir Ahmadu Bello, Dr. Nnamdi AziKiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and Anthony Enahoro, among others) had worked hard (through intellectual engagement and non-violent orchestration) to get political independence for the country from Great Britain, the colonial master.

In terms of medicine, Nigeria has first-class professionals. There are over 15,000 Nigerian doctors practicing abroad in fields such obstetrics, orthopedics, pathology, radiology, dentistry, among others. Recently a U.S.-based Nigerian doctor, Oluyinka Olutoye, made global headline when he performed a delicate surgery operation on a 23-week- old fetus – which he removed from the mother’s womb, operated upon, and then successfully returned with complication.

Philip Emagweali’s groundbreaking work on the Connection Machine had earned him the Gordon Bell Prize in 1989. In sports, Nigeria can boast of exceptional talents that have performed excellent feats. Soccer stars such as Kanu Nwakwo had played for big English clubs such as Portsmouth, Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion. He won the UEFA Champion’s League medal, FA Community Shield, Olympic gold medal, among others. Jay Jay Okocha had played for Bolton Wanderers, Hull City, Paris St. Germain and Fernerbache, among others. He was named the BBC African Footballer of the Year and had taken the Golden Boot at the African Cup of Nations.  Oguchialu Chijioke Onyewu currently plays for Charlton Athletic in the United States, Kelechi Iheanacho for Manchester Unity, Alex Iwobi for Arsenal, to mention a few.

In the financial sector, Nigeria has many sterling professionals. Lamido Sanusi, who as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria reformed the country’s ailing banking sector, was named the FORBES Person of the Year in 2011, World Central Bank Governor of the Year in 2011, sub-Saharan Central Bank Governor of the Year in 2011, and the African Central Bank Governor of the Year in 2010. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a two-term Finance Minister, who began the publishing in national newspapers the monthly allocation each state of the country received from the federal government to increase transparency in governance, had been the Managing Director of the World Bank.

In music, older generation musicians such as Jim Rex Lawson, Victor Olaiya, Victor Uwaifo, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, etc, had taken indigenous Nigerian music to international heights, thereby setting the stage for the latter generation. Today’s younger generation artistes such as Tuface, D’bang, Davido, Wizkid, Banky W, to mention a few, have conquered the musical world and struck fame and wealth with their eclectic style of music. Tuface has four MTV Africa Music Awards, Ice Prince won the BET Award for Best International Act from Africa in 2013, D’bang was named the bestselling African musician at the World Music Awards in 2014.  In literature, Wole Soyinka won the highly coveted Nobel Prize in the 1980s, Chinua Achebe the Man Booker Prize in 2007, Ben Okri the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Best book, Africa region) in 1987 and the Booker Prize in 1991, to mention a few. I could write a full-length book on the many achievements of Nigerians both at home and abroad and still not be able to completely exhaust the topic.

  • Tourism potentials

Tourist attractions abound. For example, the Ikogosi Warm Springs, Olumo Rock, Erin-Ijesha Waterfalls, Zuma Rock, Ogbunike Cave, Obudu Cattle Ranch, Tinapa Resort, Yankari Games Reserve, Gurara waterfalls, Okomu Forest Reserve, Kamji Dam, Gashaka Gumti National Park, and so on. There are also highly calibrated cultural festivals such as the Osun Osogbo, the Argungun fishing competition, and the New Yam, among others, which are spectacular and enthralling to witness. Nigeria’s tourism potential can earn her enormous foreign exchange if well harnessed.

  • Cultural heritage

Nigeria has over 250 ethnic groups and more than 500 spoken indigenous languages.  The predominant ethnic groups are the Hausa-Fulanis (who constitutes 29% of the population), Yoruba (21%), Igbo (18%), Ijaw (10%), Kanuri (4%) , Ibibio (3.5%), Tiv (2.5%), according to the fact sheet on Nigeria by the Economic Section of  United States Embassy in Nigeria that was published in 2012. Despite the increased upsurge of ethnic and regional agitations and the security threats in the North east, Nigerians remain inextricably united. Inter-ethnic marriages continue to take place to underscore the resolve of Nigerians to live peacefully together and the old bonds of brotherliness and solidarity.

Traditional rulers such as the Sultan of Sokoto, Emir of Kano, Shehu of Borno, the Tor Tiv, Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba of Lagos, Oba of Benin, Obi of Onitsha, the Obong of Calabar, Amanyanabos of Ijaw land, Olu of Warri, among others, are strong testaments of the historic strength and prowess of traditional Nigerian kingdoms of the past. Traditional cuisines such as edikangikong, egusi soup, suya, moin moin, goat-head pepper soup (or isi-ewu), banga, etc, are nourishing and delicious.  Some of them have made their mark in the intercontinental food market. Suya, for instance, has become a regular feature of the Notting Hill Carnival in London.

In 1977 Nigeria hosted the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (dubbed FESTAC’77) during which over 16,000 participants (from 56 countries in Africa and the Diaspora) came to Lagos for a month to showcase black values and civilization through enchanting cultural dances and displays as well as drama performances and poetry recitation.

In conclusion, from the foregoing, it is not farfetched to see that Nigeria is truly a great country.  What remains is for her leaders to properly harness the above potential for sustainable development.

 

Kenneth Okpomo

Kenneth Okpomo

I am a graduate of University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) with a degree in Sociology & Anthropology. I am currently enrolled for the M.Sc program in Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at the National Open University of Nigeria.

My research interests are in the areas of democracy and good governance, rural and urban development, poverty alleviation and economic empowerment, race and ethnic relations, among others. I have an immutable faith in the Nigeria and in her potentials and as a patriot, I will continue to project Nigerian values and cultures in positive light both at home and abroad.

Winners Of 2017 Global Shining Light Awards

Premium Times’ Editor-in-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed, and award-winning Freelance Investigative Journalist, Emmanuel Mayah, have jointly won the 2017 edition of the Global Shining Light Awards.

Winners of the seventh Global Shining Light Awards were announced at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. The prize honors investigative journalism conducted in a developing or transitioning country, done under threat, duress, or in the direst of conditions.

The 2017 Global Shining Light Awards drew a record 211 submissions from 67 countries, more than double the number of entries in the previous GSL Award in 2015. The award this year is for stories published or broadcast between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016.

Two investigations were awarded first place: Inside the Massive Extrajudicial Killings in Nigeria’s South-Eastand How the Onitsha Massacre of Pro-Biafra Supporters was Coordinated,” on extrajudicial killings of a minority ethnic group in Nigeria, by Premium Times; and Project No. 1,” by Beladi TV channel, on corruption in Iraq’s Ministry of Education.

In addition, the judges honoured two other projects with citations of excellence: Making a Killing,” for the joint investigation that exposed an arms pipeline between Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East worth €1.2 billion; and Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Coverup,”, for an undercover investigation revealing India’s top officials’ complicity in the 2002 Gujarat Riots.

According to Sheila Coronel, Academic Affairs Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, one of the judges:

“The judges were particularly impressed with the solo investigations that were conducted with minimal resources amid real threats and intimidation.

By honoring the extraordinary work of these journalists at risk, we pay tribute to all the good work being done in so many places where courageous journalists keep the flame of watchdog reporting alive.”

The winners were chosen from a dozen finalists from 11 countries, and included exposing false claims of a corruption crackdown in Serbia, gold smuggling in Peru, land theft in Brazil, judicial bribery in Ghana, financial manipulation in China, vigilante killings in India, military conscript murders in Egypt, and corruption among Azerbaijan’s ruling family.

An international panel of judges selected this year’s winners and found the competition extraordinary.

The winners of the 2017 Global Shining Light Awards are:

Winner (Joint)

Inside the Massive Extrajudicial Killings in Nigeria’s South-East” and “How the Onitsha Massacre of Pro-Biafra Supporters was Coordinated,” Premium Times, Nigeria (2016). Reporter: Emmanuel Mayah; Editor: Musikilu Mojeed

A two-month long investigation by Mayah uncovered multiple mass graves, lending support to allegations that police and military forces have been targeting a minority ethnic group for abuse and extrajudicial killings. Following reports that included photo evidence, human rights groups called for an independent probe and the army announced another investigation.

Winner (Joint)

Project No. 1,”Beladi TV channel, Iraq (2016), Investigation: Asaad Al-Zalzali; Photography: Thaer Khalid

When $200 million allocated for public schools in Iraq went missing, reporter Al-Zalzali followed the money, which led him to a bank and to another country. The story exposed the magnitude of corruption in the country’s Ministry of Education and led to a conviction and a settlement that returned half the stolen money.

Citation of Excellence

Making a Killing,” Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (2016) Reporters: Lawrence Marzouk, Ivan Angelovski and Miranda Patrucic; Additional reporting: Atanas Tchobanov, Dusica Tomovic, Jelena Cosic, Jelena Svircic, Lindita Cela, RISE Moldova, Pavla Holcova, Stevan Dojcinovic and Pavle Petrovic; Editors: Drew Sullivan, Jody McPhillips, Rosemary Armao, Gordana Igric and Anita Rice

The joint investigation uncovered an arms pipeline between Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East worth €1.2 billion. The weapons flow, reporters found, were being financed by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE and Turkey, and systematically diverted to extremist groups, including the Islamic State.

After the story was published, the European Union announced it would monitor the flow of weapons and several countries reviewed their policies.

Citation of Excellence

Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Coverup,” self-published, India (2016). Rana Ayyub

Reporter Rana Ayyub went undercover for nine months to record top officials speaking candidly about the 2002 riots in Gujarat, which left at least 1000 Muslims dead. When one of the targets of Ayyub’s investigation was poised to become the country’s new prime minister, Indian media houses got cold feet. Despite threats and surveillance, Ayyub self-published the transcripts that revealed complicity by India’s top officials in the attacks.


The Global Shining Light Award is sponsored by the Global Investigative Journalism Network, an association of 155 nonprofit groups in 68 countries that work to support and spread investigative reporting. Founded in 2003, GIJN helps organize regional and international conferences and workshops, assists in the formation and sustainability of organizations dedicated to investigative and data journalism, and provides resources and networking services for investigative journalists worldwide.

For more information contact: secretariat@gijn.org.

230 Nigerians Under UNMIL Awarded UN Peacekeepers Medal

At least 230 Nigerian peacekeeping troops serving under the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) have been awarded the United Nations, UN peacekeepers medal.

The UNMIL, which announced the awards stated that the peacekeepers were conferred with the UN medals at a ceremony in Morovia in recognition of their contributions to peace and stability in Liberia.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, SRSG, Farid Zarif, presided over the ceremony at Camp Abuja in Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia.

The UNIMIL said the UN medals were also presented to Staff Officers, Military Observers, and the Pakistani Medical Contingent, PAKMED.

In his remarks, Mr. Zarif said the peacekeepers contributed towards strengthening and consolidating peace and stability in Liberia.

In his words:

“They have brought pride and honour, not just to their contingents, but also to their nations.

You have also given meaning to the United Nations services throughout the world by helping nations in distress in order to fight back some of the challenges that may have gone beyond their capacity.”

The SRSG urged the peacekeepers to take pride in their contributions to serving the common cause of the United Nations by helping humanity and nations in distress.

He said by so doing, peacekeepers justify the presence and continuation of the work of the United Nations as the most indispensable organization without which humanity would be in difficult distress.

Mr. Zarif further stated:

“Be proud of what you are doing in supporting and maintaining peace around the world and helping other nations.”

The event was graced by top officials of UNMIL and UN Country Team, including the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, DSRSG, for Peace Consolidation, Yacoub El Hillo, Force Commander, Salihu Zaway Uba, a major-general and Director of Mission Support DMS, David Penklis.

However, UNIMIL said the Security Council at its 7851st meeting held on December 23, 2016 adopted the Resolution 2333 (2016) that extended its mandate for a final period until March 30, 2018.

A request has also been sent to the Secretary-General to complete the withdrawal of all uniformed and civilian UNMIL components, other than those required to complete the Mission’s liquidation, by April 30, 2018.

Nigeria Bobsled Women Qualify For 2018 Winter Olympics

The Nigerian Women Bobsled Team (Driver Seun Adigun and brake women Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga) has qualified for the first time ever, for the bobsled event at the 2018 Winter Olympics Games in PyeongChang.

Driver Seun Adigun, Brakemen Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga completed the fifth of their required five qualifying races, becoming the first African team, men or women, to qualify in the Bobsled category.

The Nigeria team, led by Driver Adigun – a former African 100m hurdles champion and 2012 summer Olympian – completed races in Utah, one in Whistler, and their final two races in Calgary.

Driver Adigun stated:

“This is a huge milestone for sports in Nigeria, nothing makes me prouder than to know that I can play a small role in creating opportunities for winter sports to take place in Nigeria. Our objective now is to be the best representation of Africa that the Winter Olympics have ever witnessed.”

Solomon Ogba, President of the Bobsled and Skeleton Federation of Nigeria, was understandably thrilled at the achievement, saying via a media statement:

“I commend the personal dedication and commitment of these women. Their hard work was inspiring and I hope Nigerians can appreciate what it took for them to achieve this – the work, the discipline, and the personal sacrifices. They were amazing throughout this journey. They are all very successful people in their own right – in sports and out of it, and somehow they are still motivated and still push for more success.

I have watched them train and work hard to represent Nigeria at the Winter Olympics in a very technical and high risk sport and they have achieved that. They should be very proud, and I am very proud of them.”

Nigeria could yet secure another spot at the 2018 Winter Olympics Games, with Driver Simidele Adeagbo just three races away from qualifying for the Skeleton competition.

Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon Is Appointed ILO Assistant Director-General & Regional Director for Africa

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has appointed Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon as its Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Africa.

According to Guebray Berhane, the Senior Communication Officer of ILO Regional Office for Africa in Abidjan, in a statement:

“Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), after having duly consulted the Officers of the Governing Body, has appointed Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon of Nigeria as Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Africa, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire with effect from Nov. 10, 2017.’’

Until her new position, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon was the Deputy Regional Director for Africa, a post she held since July 15, 2016.

She joined the ILO in 1995, where she held different positions in the field and Geneva, including Chief of the ILO Programming Unit for Africa and Deputy Director of the ILO Office in Pretoria.

She has been a member of the senior management team of the ILO Regional Office for Africa for more than nine years.

The Nigerian has played an important role in the development and implementation of regional strategies to deliver quality programmes, fostering opportunities for cooperation, particularly with the African Union and Regional Economic Communities, and alliance building throughout the region.

Born in 1961, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon holds a B.Sc in Sociology and a Masters’ Degree in Industrial and Labour Relations from the University of Ibadan.

With more than 32 years experience in the world of work, she had worked as Assistant Director of the Nigerian Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA).

She also worked as a lecturer on gender, industrial sociology and group dynamics at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Ms. Samuel-Olonjuwon was appointed to the Board of the International Sociological Association (Research Committee on Women in Society) from 1986 to 1990.

She has significant experience in leadership, management and strategic partnerships to promote decent work and development outcomes at regional, sub-regional and national levels.