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IBB at 78: The book that influenced his politics

General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, IBB for style, has some special dates in August. He was born on 17 August 1941. He is marking his birthday on Saturday (17 August) this week. On 27 August 1985, he overthrew Major General Muhammadu Buhari in a coup. It will be 26 years this month when he stepped aside from office (he did on 27 August 1993).

For eight years that he ruled, his regime was characterised by high dribbles (for which he was nicknamed Maradona), brutality, deceit and Don Corleone or Godfather type of generosity. And 23 years after he left power, many Nigerians still remember his government with love or hate, depending on which side they belong.

How did IBB get the ideas that gave his regime its notoriety or popularity? In the following feature, TheNEWS reveals how he and his August 1985 to August 1993 regime were greatly influenced by Niccolo Machiavelli’s classic, The Prince. We present two pieces written by Adebayo Williams (IBB: The lonely long distance runner) and Ike Okonta (The General’s Tactics):

1. IBB: The lonely long distance runner

By Adebayo Williams

Plotting scheming, neutralising and tirelessly maneuvering, Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida, a.k.a. Maradona, is Nigeria’s most nimble and politically sophisticated ruler. No one can be said to have ruled the country with a firmer grasp of its confounding intricacies or a steadier insight into its profound, unsettling dynamics. In a country of reluctant rulers, President Babangida appeared to have prepared himself for office with a calm deliberation and unflinching resolve. He is a man with an astonishing will to power.

Yet to many of his countrymen, the general remains a perplexing enigma, an impossible bundle of contradictions. No one can claim with infallible authority that he really knows the Minna-born soldier that he is privy to what goes on in the dark recesses of his infinitely resourceful mind. And here is a man who, by his own admission, has been kingmaker behind the scene and a king on the scene for a whooping twenty seven years of our chequered history: Like the celebrated Janus, Babangida is all manner of things to all manner of men. To his fawning band of adulators, he is princely here. To members of the charmed magical circle that surrounds him, he is the nearest thing to a secular saint. To many of his military colleagues, he is the embodiment of patience and understanding. But to others not so well to disposed, Babangida is ruthless and vindictive schemer, a megalomaniac on an epic ego-trip and worst political pestilence to have been inflicted on the country.

And yet there are others who see him as a misunderstood reformer, a much maligned patriot. One thing stands out in all these assessments: Babangida is a strong character who evokes strong passions.

Perhaps, then, the key to unlocking the Babangida mystery lies in the greater Nigerian mystery. If Babangida is a confounding paradox, Nigeria itself, as several commentators have notices, is the ultimate paradox like Nigeria, Babangida is a combination of astonishing strengths as well as astonishing weaknesses. Nigeria is a richly talented country which perpetually runs in the opposite direction to greatness. Like oil, a natural blessing which has turned out to be a source of profound embarrassment for the country, General Babangida’s own considerable natural endowments, his guile, his cunning, his breath taking daring, his will to dominate, his penetrating insight into the seemingly defective constitution of his fellow countrymen, may ultimately have proved an embarrassment of riches.

As a ruler, General Babangida is the most compelling embodiment of the Nigerian mystique. This perhaps is the key that unravels the riddle of the original romance. After an initial coolness, Nigeria suddenly warmed up to its new ruler in an unprecedented upsurge of affection and admiration. It was as if the country had suddenly discovered the hero it had been searching for. The summer of 1985 was unforgettable as it was memorable. Die-hard critics, age-long malcontents and the professional opposition began falling over each other to pay homage and pilgrimage to the new king. For those interested in the semiotics of official patriotism, and of power with responsibility, the image of a rain-soaked Major-General Babangida taking the national salute at that year’s independence celebrations remains fetching symbol of national rejuvenation.

But if that was a dream honeymoon, the marriage itself cannot be said to have lasted much longer. The cosy association appeared to have disintegrated in a nightmare of recrimination and mutual disenchantment. As it happened in Things Fall Apart, a Chinua Achebe’s celebrated classic, hero and society seemed to have parted ways, the falcon can no longer hear the falconer, anarchy looms. Perhaps what is unfolding before our very eyes, is one of those epic historical tragedies. And it is not an occasion for caustic virulence but an occasion for sober reflection and a reassessment of what Aeschylus, in a moment of supreme insight, has called the fundamental unhappiness of a society in search of heroes. For not even his worst detractors will deny the fact that there was a time when Babangida had virtually the whole of Nigeria eating from his palms.

It is the task of sober historians of the future to determine what went wrong. All we can do is to hazard a few guesses. Perhaps there was really no foundation for the optimism. It may well be a case of a tired, despoiled nation ready to clutch at any straw. Or it may be that in the long run, the general might have been manipulated by his own manipulations. How else does one explain the elementary mistakes, the bizarre miscalculations, the penchant of self destruct even when supreme glory seemed in sight? The overarching vision was wrecked in a jungle of primitive struggle and murderous power play. After all, you can only execute your grand vision if you stay afloat-and -alive-in the shark-infested and turbulent ocean of the Nigerian polity. And as the pidgin wisdom has it, there is no paddy for jungle. In that case, history may return the verdict of brilliant tactician and poor strategist on the esteemed general.

Click to read the rest here: TheNEWS

Source: PM News

Pakistan PM Imran Khan visits Kashmir amid India tensions

Khan assured the Kashmiris living in the Indian-administered part of Pakistan’s support [Mary F Calvert/Reuters]

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has arrived in Pakistan-administered Kashmir as he reaffirms his support to the Kashmiri people in their struggle for self-determination amid heightened tensions with neighbouring India

Khan’s visit on Wednesday to mark Pakistan’s independence day came more than a week after India issued a surprise executive decree stripping the special status of its portion of the Muslim-majority region.

Since the decree, issued on August 5, Indian authorities have imposed an unprecedented lockdown in the region – cutting off communication lines and restricting movement – now in its tenth day.

Pakistan launched a diplomatic offensive aimed at reversing the order and formally asked the United Nations Security Council late on Tuesday to hold an emergency session to address India’s “illegal actions”.

“Independence day is an opportunity for great happiness, but today we are saddened by the plight of our Kashmiri brothers in occupied Jammu and Kashmir who are victims of Indian oppression,” Khan said in a statement on Wednesday. 

“I assure my Kashmiri brothers that we stand with them,” he said.

Khan is expected to address the state assembly in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, later on Wednesday. 

“He is expected to tell the politicians in the legislative assembly here that Pakistan stands shoulder to shoulder with the Kashmiris,” said Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid, reporting from Muzzaffarad.

“Pakistan’s government decided that today, the independence day, is not going to be celebrated, but rather be muted in solidarity with Kashmiris on the other side of the border,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi addressed a flag hoisting ceremony in Islamabad and called India’s downgrading of Kashmir‘s status as a violation of international law.

He said Pakistan “will not leave Kashmiri people alone”. “Kashmiris are our [people]. We think of their pain as our pain. We have remained with them, we are with them today,” he said.

‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’

Both India and Pakistan claim the entire region of Kashmir in full but rule it in part. The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over the disputed Himalayan territory.

India’s crippling lockdown of the region was imposed to stave off a violent reaction to Kashmir’s downgraded status after New Delhi revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which granted the Muslim-majority region considerable autonomy.

India’s revocation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir blocks the state’s right to frame its own laws and allows non-residents to buy property there.

India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government has also decided to divide the state into two “union territories” to be controlled by the federal government.

Restrictions on freedom of movement in the region will be eased after India’s independence day on Thursday, according to Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik. 

While protests and clashes have reportedly occurred daily, the curfew and communications blackout have kept them largely subdued.

“India and Pakistan should resolve Kashmir without war,” said  Arshad Iqbal, who participated in a procession in Muzaffarabad against India. 

“War will bring more poverty and hunger. Both the countries are already in depth of  backwardness,” the 57-year-old told Al Jazeera.

In Islamabad, posters urged solidarity with Kashmiris, while roadside vendors sold “Azad (Independent) Kashmir” flags as well as the Pakistani flag commonly displayed on August 14.

Pakistan’s government also said India’s independence day on Thursday will be observed as a “Black Day” this year, with flags on government buildings flown at half-mast to protest India’s decision.

India and Pakistan gained independence in 1947 when British colonialists left the subcontinent.

Source: Aljazeera

China slams 'terrorist-like actions' by Hong Kong protesters

Two days of demonstrations caused mass flight cancellations on Monday and Tuesday [Thomas Peter/Reuters]

The government of China has called events at Hong Kong airport on Tuesday “terrorist-like actions” after clashes between police and protesters broke out.

The scuffles broke out after a small group of protesters said they had captured a Chinese ‘spy’ among them and tied up and beat a journalist, who was later identified as working for China’s state-controlled Global Times.

In return, Beijing claimed the “spy” was a citizen of neighbouring Shenzhen city who was merely visiting Hong Kong.

Police responded by making arrests and firing pepper spray at the protesters.

One police officer was captured on video drawing his gun at protesters after they attacked him for trying to detain an unarmed woman, pinning her on the ground.

Other officers were also seen beating the protesters.

We express the strongest condemnation of these terrorist-like actions,” said Xu Luying, spokeswoman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.

According to Xu, the actions “seriously damage the international image of Hong Kong, and seriously hurt the feelings of a vast number of mainland China compatriots”.

She added that “extremely abominable violent crime must be severely punished according to the law”.

After Tuesday’s late-night scuffle, which left several people injured, most of the protesters and police eventually cleared the terminal.

On Wednesday, operations at the airport were back to normal, according to Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdelhamid, reporting from the airport.

“We’ve seen some of the employees come back to their counters, and some of the stranded passengers trying to figure out when they will be able to catch their flights,” she said.

“It’s not clear whether the protesters will come back tomorrow.”

The unrest at the airport had continued on Tuesday afternoon, as thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators returned to the terminal to express their outrage over what they say is increasing police brutality

The renewed protest forced aviation authorities to cancel hundreds of flights for the second day in a row.

Order to remove protesters

Despite the relative quiet on Wednesday morning, the problems may be far from over, following reports that aviation authorities have obtained a court order to remove protesters from the terminal.

“Persons are also restrained from attending or participating in any demonstration or protest or public order event in the airport other than in the area designated by the airport authority,” the court order read.

Chinese state media have also reported that the Chinese government is building up a large police force in Shenzhen, a city in mainland China only 30km from Hong Kong.

Videos from earlier in the week showed large columns of police vehicles entering the city and gathering near a sports stadium in Shenzhen.

On Monday, China said violent anti-government demonstrations were the first signs of “terrorism” and called for the “severe” punishment of perpetrators.

The comments on Monday by Beijing’s top office on Hong Kong policy came a day after tense clashes between police and protesters on Sunday, and as thousands of demonstrators flooded the city’s international airport and prompted the cancellation of all flights

‘Controlling Hong Kong’

Hong Kong’s 10-week political crisis, which has seen millions of people take to the streets calling for a halt to sliding freedoms, was already the biggest challenge to Chinese rule of the semi-autonomous city since it was handed over by Britain in 1997.

US President Donald Trump called for calm, saying US intelligence had confirmed Chinese troop movements towards the Hong Kong border.

China also denied access to two US navy ships that wanted to dock in Hong Kong, CNN reported.

“The Chinese Government denied requests for port visits to Hong Kong by the USS Green Bay and USS Lake Erie, which were scheduled to arrive in the next few weeks,” Commander Nate Christensen, deputy spokesman for the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet, told the news channel.

The two ships, a transport ship and a guided-missile cruiser, were expected to visit Hong Kong later this week and in September respectively.

In an interview with Al Jazeera on Wednesday, China expert Gordon Chang said that one way for China to defuse the situation would be to force the resignation of Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive.

“But they won’t do that, because they don’t want the protesters to have a victory,” Chang said. “If she leaves, she would trigger renewed calls for universal suffrage.

“What Beijing needs to do is to stop doing what it is doing, which is encroaching on the autonomy of the Hong Kong government.

Source: Aljazeera

Princess Peters drops video for URHUESE

Princess Peters, a Nigerian gospel music minister, and Nollywood actress has released the video for her latest single titled URHUESE.

Princess Peters

The release of URHUESE follows immediately after the release of her songs ERHUN and AIGBOVIOSA which dropped in June this year.

“URHUESE ” is a song of thanksgiving to God for His Goodness, Blessings and faithfulness.

READ ALSO: Juliet Ibrahim’s ex-boyfriend, Iceberg Slim, apologises after failed relationship

On how she expects the song to impact listeners, Peters said, “My expectation is for the song to lunch them into the attitude of gratitude to God almighty”.

Image may contain: 2 people, text

Image may contain: 2 people, text

The song drops today 14th of August 2019 under the platform of Lightworld Productions LTD and her YouTube channel Princesspeterstv.

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Man City Avoid Ban, Fined £315k For Transfer Breaches

Manchester City have avoided a transfer ban after being fined £315,000 by FIFA for breaches relating to international transfers and registration of players under the age of 18.

Chelsea were handed a one-year transfer ban and fined more than £460,000 in February after being found guilty of breaching rules about signing minors by FIFA.

FIFA officials have clarified why City were fined for breaching the same article as Chelsea, who were banned, with the world football’s governing body revealing City’s admission of responsibility was a factor in determining their punishment.

“In its decision on Manchester City, FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee took into consideration all specific circumstances of the case as well as the club’s cooperation in clarifying the relevant facts,” a FIFA spokesperson told Sky Sports News.

“It is important to stress that the specific circumstances of this case differ from previous cases involving breaches relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.”

City said the breaches arose after a “misinterpretation of the regulations in question”, adding in a statement that they have been fully compliant since December 2016.

City, who are still currently under investigations from FIFA and UEFA with regards to financial fair play, were found to have breached article 19 of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.

Source: Complete Sports

Simon Armitage pens poem on cancer pill

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has had his latest work micro-engraved on to the face of a replica cancer pill.

The poem, entitled Finishing It, is his second official offering in the new role and was commissioned by The Institute for Cancer Research.

It’s intended “to promote and celebrate” the work being done for the advancement of cancer treatment.

The writer said he’s “optimistic about the about the potential of medicine and of poetry.”

Armitage’s words were skilfully inscribed on to a 20mm x 10mm plaster-based replica cancer treatment tablet by micro-engraver Graham Short and will be displayed in the new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery when it opens next year.

‘Common ground’

The Yorkshireman told the BBC although the arts and science are two completely different fields, there is “a lot of common ground there” with regard to “creative thinking” and figuring out life.

“I’m not a scientist by any means but I imagine what goes on in those labs is as much about trying to imagine a future,” he said.

“So I started thinking about the idea of writing on a tablet and we associate that phrase with the Old Testament and the idea of the tablets given to Moses that were supposedly written by God’s finger.

“I then started making the connection between a cure for cancer, miracles, and the fact that I couldn’t deliver either of those in a poem.”

He added: “But what I can offer, in the shape of a poem, and in the shape of this little pill – this little magic bullet – is a kind of hope.”

Armitage was personally affected by the disease after his friend, who was “very much involved in poetry”, lost his battle with bone marrow cancer.

Before his death, his mate spoke in glowing terms about the treatment he’d received at London’s Royal Marsden hospital – a close partner of the ICR.

“That’s one of the reasons why I’m very happy to get involved in this,” said the poet.

As well as stressing the need for “emotional hope” in both laboratories and libraries, the wordsmith noted the engraving of poems is “a really rich tradition in English literature.”

He pointed to the Romantic poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake, who made etchings and engravings of his work, as an example.

“Blake was a great visionary and I think there is something visionary about this project.”

The 56-year-old was appointed Poet Laureate back in May and said it’s been “really exciting” so far.

He declared this piece was “exactly the kind of project” he had in mind when he when took on the job, which has previously been undertaken by Carole Ann Duffy, Sir John Betjeman and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

“This is about a subject that affects most families at some time and I’m very happy that the poem’s used by the Institute in whatever way they want,” he said.

“I’ve only been doing this job if you can call it up for a couple of months now but this feels like the work I should be doing as a public poet.”

‘Exquisite precision’

Professor Paul Workman, chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, believes the tiny piece of poetry is symbolic of the work being done under the microscope by some of the country’s top scientists.

“Simon Armitage’s poem engraved on a pill perfectly conveys the exquisite precision of the work the ICR’s scientists will be conducting in our new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery,”

“The aim is to create a new generation of cancer medicines,” he added.

Speaking over the phone from the new research centre, Armitage concluded “it seems inevitable” this kind of research would soon put an end to cancer as we know it.

“In my lifetime, a cure for cancer is is one of those things that people talk about – ‘Will we ever see a cure for cancer?’

“And now, talking to somebody earlier here they were slightly reframing the question in terms of – ‘Can we can we find a way of managing cancer and living with cancer? In a way that’s happened with other ailments and illnesses’, and so on.

“So it might be that there’s a philosophical aspect to this, as well as a medical one.”

Finishing It by Simon Armitage

I can’t configure

a tablet

chiselled by God’s finger

or forge

a scrawled prescription,

but here’s an inscription, formed

on the small white dot

of its own

full stop,

the sugared pill

of a poem, one sentence

that speaks ill

of illness itself, bullet

with cancer’s name

carved brazenly on it.