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14082018 - POPULATION GROWTH : Danger looms for Nigeria

Vanguard Newspaper 14 April 2018

88—SATURDAY Vanguard,

88—SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 14, 2018 Between Danjuma and Umaru Dikko Dead men do not see, that explains why Alhaji Umaru Abdurrahman Dikko is apparently unaware of happenings in the country today especially one big inexplicable mind game between two men who were fingered in his abduction 34 years ago. Dikko was kidnapped in London by operatives of the Israeli secret service, MOSSAD, backed by the government of Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari who was Nigeria’s military ruler at the time. It took the wits of a young British Customs officer, Charles David Morrow, to foil the move. As minister of Transport under the Shehu Shagari government, Dikko, had stepped on many big toes. Former Army Chief, Gen. Yakubu Danjuma, was affected in the Niger Delta. When the President moved Dikko to the Special Duties Ministry, he seemed to have become even more powerful. According to him, the problem with Danjuma began when the ban on politics was lifted by General Olusegun Obasanjo and of the six parties registered, Dikko, joined the National Party of Nigeria[NPN]. Danjuma was alleged to have told the politician that the NPN would not win the presidential elections. Of course, the party did. There was the impression that Dikko’s problem with Buhari could have started in the Second Republic when the former worked for the creation of another state from Kaduna State, which meant excising Katsina from the old state. That did not go down well with the latter. Dikko, was smart from cradle. With a First Class degree in Mathematics from Birkbeck College, University of London, he veered into journalism working with the British Broadcasting Service[BBC]. Buhari was also in the United Kingdom but chose the military through Mons Officers Cadet School, Aldershot. When Gen. Yakubu Gowon balkanized the nation into 12 states, Buhari and Umaru Dikko found themselves in North Central State, Danjuma is not happy with President Buhari, because herdsmen are killing Jukun villagers. Dikko made up with Danjuma before death governed by Maj. Abba Kyari, a Kanuri Artillery officer. Dikko was from Wamba, near Zaria, Buhari’s hometown is Daura, both men, Fulani. Kyari picked Dikko, 31, as Commissioner for Finance in 1967.Lt. Buhari,24, was gearing up for the Civil War and his first posting was in the frontlines around Enugu- Nsukka under the First Infantry Division, commanded by Lt.Col. Mohammed Shuwa, another Kanuri man. Dikko and Buhari are Fulani, Danjuma is Jukun, from Takum. Infact, Dikko boasted that he was not just an ordinary Fulani but a descendant of Sheik Uthman Dan Fodio, the jihadist. Many thought the mathematician was so full of himself. When political power was added to the swashbuckling nature, probably a few individuals wanted to check him. Those who finally sacked President Shagari were majorly his Fulani kinsmen. They included such young officers as Majors Mustapha Haruna Jokolo, Sambo Dasuki, Abdul Mumini Aminu, Abubakar Dangiwa Umar and Lawan Gwadabe. And who was to benefit from the coup? Maj. Gen. Buhari, the one who irked Dikko by not listening to the Commander-in-Chief as he marched to Ndjamena, the Chadian capital in the bid to teach that country an evergreen military lesson for invading Nigeria in 1983. Buhari was in Jos as General Officer Commanding, Third division, when he was chosen as a Head of State. It was ironical. The night they struck, December 31, 1983, was Dikko’s 47th birthday. It is difficult to believe that Buhari chose that date because he was not part of the plot, in the first place. Buhari and Dikko are December children. The general was born on December 17. Dikko was not comfortable. He disappeared to the UK, through the now famous NADECO route, Benin Republic, along with his Private Secretary Elizabeth Hayes. They journeyed to Togo and took a flight from Lome. Hayes would later save his life. She would also become Mrs Dikko. The Buhari government was not comfortable with the flight to London. Dikko did not keep his mouth shut either. He mounted a strong campaign against the Beret Boys. Minister of Information, Group Captain Emeka Omeruah, told the media that the former Transport minister stole in billions, without mentioning the currency. The official charge was one billion dollars. Many years after the failed kidnap, Jokolo told the world that the plot had the hand of Danjuma and the seal of Buhari. He could have been in the know because, Jokolo, who was later to become the Emir of Gwandu, ended up as Buhari’s Aide de Camp after the December 31, 1983 coup. It was strange that although there were no diplomatic ties with Israel, the Nigerian government involved MOSSAD. Jokolo gave it to Danjuma, who would later deny this in 2001, at the Justice Chukwudifu Oputa led Human Rights Violation Investigations Commission. Perfectly executed, it was. Ex- MOSSAD officer, Alexander Barak, was picked for the job. He got in touch with Dr. Lev-Arie Shapiro in Jerusalem and Felix Abitbol. A Nigerian retired Military Intelligence agent, Maj.Mohammed Yusuf was involved. He drove a van to Dikko’s 48 Porchester crib, in Bayswater, London. Dikko was abducted and whisked away. They tranquillized him, moved and shackled him to a crate with Shapiro as his ‘room mate’, just to make sure he did not give up and drove him straight to Stansted Airport, 64 Kilometres North of London. Not Gatwick, not Heathrow. Another crate contained the other kidnappers. Both crates were tagged as Diplomatic bags. The import was that they would not go through thorough customs check. Miss Hayes had alerted the Police and they swung into action. Morrow saved the day, for Dikko was almost gone. The Nigeria High Commission headed by Maj. Gen. Anthony Haladu Hananiya, played a huge role. Two diplomats, Okon Edet and Peter Ayodele, were active participants. A Nigeria Airways Boeing 707 flight was ready at the cargo terminal. Group Captain Bernard Banfa made sure of that. All four who tried to abduct Dikko were arrested and jailed. Dikko died in 2014.Today, Danjuma is not happy with President Buhari, because herdsmen are killing Jukun villagers. Dikko made up with Danjuma before death. I wonder how the dead feels in his grave. If only he could see. When Bill Gates some weeks back, told Nigerian political elites that the country is one of the most dangerous places on earth to give birth, not many would have thought of the drama that played out in Akure, the Ondo State capital, the other week. Pregnant women were reported to have paralyzed activities in the State Specialist Hospital while protesting against outrageous medical fees introduced by the state government. Numbering about 200, the women with their bulging stomachs, blocked the main entrance to the hospital for hours, demanding that government reverses the new N25,000 charges for normal deliveries and over N50, 000 for complicated deliveries. This amounted to about 300 per cent increase. Gates, who is co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, had, during an expanded national economic council meeting, also affirmed that Nigeria has the fourth worst maternal mortality rate in the world, ahead of only Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, and Chad. Worst still is that one in every three Nigerian children is chronically malnourished, he had told the gathering. A UNICEF report on maternal and child health in Nigeria also indicates that the country loses about 2,300 under-five year olds and 145 women of childbearing age, every day. This development, unfortunately, places her as second largest contributor to the under–five and maternal mortality rate Cost of having a baby in Ondo in the world. Put differently, a woman’s chance of dying from pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria is one in 13. While many of these deaths are preventable, coverage and quality of health care services in the country mostly fail the women and children. But if as has been established, a close relationship exists between the well being of the mother and the child, there’s therefore, every need to integrate maternal, newborn and child health interventions in our health policies. The Ondo example, it appears, would only work to the contrary, for if a poor, village and possibly illiterate woman is slapped with a 300 per cent increase in cost of delivering her baby at a hospital, it is very unlikely she would afford to pay for the service. Next thing will be a resort to local and, possibly, crude ways of delivering her baby, which sometimes result in permanent disabilities or even death. More pathetic is that this is happening in an environment where those in authorities mostly send their wives abroad to have their babies with looted funds. It is also very sad that at a very difficult time like we are in, when many people are losing jobs and new ones hardly created, governments at all levels would be churning out policies that further diminishes human existence. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the number of people within the labour force, who are unemployed or underemployed, increased from 13.6 million and 17.7 million, respectively in second quarter of 2017 to 15.9 million and 18.0 million in third quarter of 2017. And the downward trend seems to be the order of the day, even right into the first quarter of 2018. The situation is so bad, to the extent It is also very sad that at a very difficult time like we are in, when many people are losing jobs and new ones hardly created, governments at all levels would be churning out policies that further diminishes human existence that preventable or treatable infectious diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, HIV/AIDS etc, now account for more than 70 per cent of the estimated one million under-five deaths in Nigeria, simply because most parents cannot afford the needed healthcare services and medicines. The Ondo 300 per cent increase in charges for deliveries is not just outrageous but smirks of government’s insensitivity to a people, whose plight is mostly as a result of greed on the part of those in authority, who wantonly steal from what was meant to take care of all. Unfortunately, in the same Ondo state, students of Adekunle Ajasin University have been protesting government’s increase in school fees by over 500 per cent, a development they described as unacceptable as their parents would not be able to pay? It is worthy to note, however, that most of the policies devoid of human face are not peculiar to Ondo state. In many states of the federation, the masses are heavily taxed... and made to pay for the reckless and extravagant life styles of the governors, their families and associates which have left almost all the states broke. So, if per adventure the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), and indeed, all state governors that constantly come up with unrealistic charges that pauperize their people did not get the Gates’ message clearly as regards the nation’s economic recovery and growth plan, it is necessary to refresh their memory thus: “When you invest in the health, education, and opportunities of the people, you are laying the foundation for sustained prosperity. When you fail to do the above, there is asharp limit on how much the society can grow. By introducing very harsh economic policies, like the unrealistic increase in costs of healthcare and education, will mostly ensure reduction in the quality of life of the people, which right now is even at its lowest.

C M Y K SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 14, 2018 — 89