Nov 21, 2011

The Ethnic Groups of Plateau State

Map of Nigeria showing Plateau State (in red)
Plateau State is a microcosm of Nigeria, meaning that all ethnic groups in Nigeria are found residing and working in the state. However, the indigenous tribes in Plateau’s seventeen local government areas (in bold type) include:

Barkin Ladi: Berom, Ganang, Ron, kulere.

Bassa: Irigwe, Rukuba, Amo, Buji, Chawai.

Bokkos: Ron, Kulere, Mushere.

Jos East, Afizere.

Jos North: Berom, Anaguta, Afizere.

Jos South: Berom.

Kanam: Bogghom, Jar, Ngas, Taroh.

Kanke: Ngas.

Lantang North: Taroh.

Langtang South: Taroh.

Mangu: Mwaghavul, Pyem, Rumada, Afizere, Berom, Mupun.

Mikang: Tehli, Youm, Koenem, Piapung.

Pankshin: Ngas, Mupun, Chip, Kadung.

Qua’an-pan: Doemak, Kwagalak, Mernyang, Goemai, Jagatnoeng.

Riyom: Berom, Ateng.

Shendam: Goemai.

Wase: Boghom, Jukun, Basharawa, Taroh, Burum, Fulani.

Oct 31, 2011

History of Mining in Plateau State, Nigeria

Mineral exploitation in Plateau State is an age-old industry, starting from the pre-colonial extraction and marketing of tin from the upper Plateau to salt and lead-zinc in the lower Plateau that includes some parts of Nassarawa State. Officers of the Niger Royal Company were credited with locating tin deposits of Jos Plateau which and marked the inception of modern mining activities in Nigeria. Foreign metal merchants, mostly British, followed the tin trade route from the North African markets into Nigeria to Plateau where an aggressive and prosperous tin mining industry was established. Subsequently, the multinational companies, which dominated the industry, were joined by small local companies. While the foreign companies congregated under powerful chambers of mines, the local miners formed themselves under a less powerful organization called the “Association of African Miners.”
The tin trade boomed to the detriment of other minerals in the state. There was then the dominance of Nigerian mining activities by British companies with the backing of British banking service and supplies. At the peak of mining, there were up to 120 companies operating. Then, mining was exclusively a private sector affair. During this time, it came to a point that Nigeria was the sixth world producer of tin with a production of 16 000 tones per annum and world’s leading producer of columbite.
The Association of African Miners became heavily handicapped by a myriad of problems, ranging from lack of necessary expertise to a dearth of capital and hence the necessary equipment required for efficient performance in the field. With the aforementioned, the multinational companies piled up and repatriated huge profits while their African counterparts performed sluggishly, resorting sometimes to unorthodox practices but still managing to record success, which sometimes was questionable. The tin mining industry was swept off the Nigerian economic scene by the so-called oil boom.
During this period the government concerned itself with providing the enabling environment and necessary infrastructure in the mines field and collected royalties, rents and related rates which before the mid-fifties were collected by the Niger Royal Company. Before the takeover of the collection, the Nigerian Government has to pay an all lump compensation to United African Company (UAC). Mining operations were effectively monitored by the mines division of the then Ministry of Mines and Power to ensure compliance with the operational and safety guidelines.
In 1972 the government indigenization degree led to the compulsory acquisition of controlling shares in the foreign companies. The foreigners then lost interest in mining operations. The activities of the companies declined slowly until they finally left the mining scene in the early eighties. This led to the merger of major companies to form what is today known as Consolidated Tin Mines (CTM). CTM could not work with the obsolete machineries left behind by the expatriates. The result now is a company struggling to survive. In Zurak area of Wase LGC, some mining of lead/zinc deposits were also carried out and later abandoned. There was molybdenite mine at Kigom Hills near Riyom LGC which could not make any progress.
Also in 1972, the Nigerian Mining Corporation with headquarters in Jos was established to embark on exploitation of industrial minerals. The corporation discovered barytes at Azara in the present Nassarawa State and also established a barytes mine at the locality. This led to the discovery of the same mineral in Langtang South. Kaolin was also discovered at Kuba on the Barkin Ladi- Bokkos road and exploitation commenced in 1988.

Oct 19, 2011

Solomon Lar’s Report on Jos Crisis

Following the Jos Crisis of 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan who was acting at the time, set up the Solomon Lar’s Commission and vowed that he would implement the report of the commission, contrary to the attitude of the government on previous report on he Jos crisis. Goodluck Jonathan did not however live up to his promise as the report of the commission was thrown to the junk basket once again.  The resurgence of fighting sometimes in August this year has compelled the President to again request for the report and others in the past with a view to harmonizing them and implementing them this time.
Former Nigerian Ambassador to Switzerland, Yahaya Kwande is an indigene of Plateau State and who was also a member of the Solomon Lar’s Commission. He was asked recently by the Hausa Service of the German Radio International what essentially is the recommendation of the report. His answers was that the report essentially recommends that certain people who are treated as non-indigenes despite having stayed in Plateau State for decades should be embraced and treated as such.
His response to the question raises one issue and that is the fact that even though the Nigerian statutes demand that a citizen shall become an indigene of a locality other than the state of his ancestral home after staying there for a given period of time, this requirement of the constitution is not adhered to generally in Nigeria, not just in Plateau State. Thus the panel should have suggested that the federal government should revisit the issue with the aim of ensuring that the relevant section of the constitution is respected across the whole length and breath of the country rather than in Plateau State alone.
Ironically, Plateau State is one single state that has respected this angle of the constitution more than many other states in Nigeria. For instance, Wase and Kanam Local Governments of Plateau State are two conspicuous local governments were migrant Hausas and Fulanis are treated equally with all other tribes of the state. In Jos North Local Government of the state, the Hausas are the predominant tribe in eight wards out of a total of twenty one from where they produce representatives to the local council of Jos North. They also send members to the State and National Assemblies from the same local government. In contrast to Wase and Kanam Local Governments Areas however, the metropolitan nature of Jos North, where people looking for better economic opportunities keep coming every single day, makes it difficult differentiate between visiting Hausas and those that have stayed long enough to deserve citizenship.
There are thousands of Plateau indigenes in Lagos, Rivers, Kano, Kaduna and many other parts o the country that have stayed in those localities for decades without becoming indigenes. Likewise, there are tens of thousands of Yorubas, Ibos, Tivs, Ibibios, Ijaws, etc in other states of the federation other than those of their ancestors, who are not treated as indigenes despite staying there for hundreds of years. The Jos crisis should rather serve to remind the Nigerian authorities of the need to revisit the issue across board and not just on the Plateau.

Oct 6, 2011

Removal of Fuel Subsidy: Is it a priority?

The deeply upsetting subject of the removal of fuel subsidy has re-emerged again. Whether people against it will win this time remains to be seen. It is obvious however that a lot of Nigerians are against the removal due to the general belief that life will get harder. In view of the complexity of our problems, there is the need for us to examine whether the removal of fuel subsidy is a priority at this point in time or not.
During his campaign, Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, made a number of promises to Nigerians. At this point in time, it is too early to expect Mr. President to have fulfilled these promises. If the issue of subsidy removal becomes successful however, it will be his first milestone. Sadly, it was not a campaign promise. Thus the issue of the removal of the subsidy is Mr. President’s personal and hidden agenda. T Priority number I: OUR LEADERS MUST BE SINCERE AND SELFLESS.
One argument in favor of the removal of fuel subsidy is that it has been abused by two major categories of Nigerians. These are the fuel importers and their NNPC accomplices on one hand and smugglers, who cross over to neighboring nations to sell at higher prices after enjoying the subsidy of government, on the other. It is good that we have been able to identify these criminal activities. We can only proof that there is a criminal if one has been arrested. How many NNPC officials have been jailed for an offence they are known to commit? Priority number II: OVERHAUL THE JUDICIARY FOR EFFIECIENCY.
It is said that Nigeria’s petrol pump price at N65 per liter is the cheapest in the world. There is nothing wrong with this as other nations are the best in other areas. Nigeria should lead other nations in some areas too. In other nations, governments have regular allowances such as social security or welfare, usually paid to unemployment citizens. In Nigeria we don’t have this. Thus fuel subsidy is welfare or social security in disguise. Priority number III: NIGERIA SHOULD LEAD OTHER NATIONS IN AT LEAST ONE AREA.
It is said that the withdrawal of fuel subsidy will save about a trillion naira that can be used to improve the lives of Nigerians in other areas. Fuel subsidy is meant to cushion the lives of ordinary Nigerians and it is doing it. Priority number VI: WE SHOULD LEARN TO SEE ISSUES PROPERLY.
Nigeria’s electricity has not improved yet. Millions of Nigerians have been able save their jobs by the use of electric generators that run at N65 per liter. These jobs can be lost by the withdrawal of fuel subsidy since businesses thrive only when the output is higher than the input. Priority number V: THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT MUST WORK TO PROTECT EXISTING JOBS.

Jos Crisis and Corruption

The American Government was recently quoted as saying that corruption is the single most important reason why the Nigerian government will not be able to end the current state of insecurity in the country.
Many times, people have been told that what has prolonged the Jos crisis is the fact that many people reap bountifully each time there is an outbreak of fighting in the Tin City. How this happens is not exactly clear to most members of the public.  Recently, a Nigerian daily newspaper publication reported that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has resettled one million victims of the Jos crisis in neighboring Bauchi State.
The report turned out to be about the first tangible proof that some people are indeed benefiting from continuous fighting in a city that was once the most peaceful in Nigeria. According to the 2006 population census in Nigeria, Jos North where the resettled person where said to have come from has a total population of 437,217. There is no way all the residents of Jos North would have been resettled in Bauchi. The total population of Plateau State as a whole is 3.2 million based on the very population census. What the report is saying is that a third of the population of the state was resettled in Bauchi State. The culprit here is NEMA that must have given this figure to justify its bogus expenditure. The journalist who wrote the story without cross-checking the figure is also a potential accomplice.
Government departments or agencies are not the only ones benefitting from persistent fighting in Jos. It will surprise people to know that many religious leaders are beneficiaries of perpetual fighting on the Plateau. The impression one gets from the behavior of religious leaders in the aftermath of conflict in Jos is that they see it as a period bountiful harvests. Relief materials usually do not just come from the different tiers of government but also from non-governmental organizations, local and international, women groups and many others.  These relief materials are given through these religious leaders. Of course, there have often been suspicions that the supplies don’t eventually percolate down to the bottom which is the reason why the donors insists on giving their donations before television cameras. Other religious leaders form non-governmental organizations, design websites on which they upload some of the goriest pictures and absurd statistics on the degree of destruction of lives and properties, all with the aim of wining the sympathy of financial donors. There is no doubt that the only way these fraudulent NGOs can be sustained is by persistent fighting in Jos.
One can say without any fear of contradiction that one fundamental source of irritation to Nigerians is the dire absence of discipline within men of the Nigerian Military such that the force is one sad repository of corruption in the coutry. You see this in the way they abuse the rights of ordinary and ignorant Nigerians by intimidating them in order to extort money, getting involved in matters that should be the exclusive jurisdiction of the police just to be able to take bribes from the situation, violation of traffic laws and general molestation of members of the public. The Nigerian Army should have been a model of discipline to be copied by other Nigerians. This has undermined the ability of the force to carry out its function optimally.
Since the killings in the village of Dogo Na Hauwa in Jos South in early 2010, it became necessary to post soldiers in nearly every village or along the roads leading to the villages in a manner that attackers cannot invade any village and stay below the radar. Despite these security measures, the attacks continued non-the-less. The proximity of security outposts to scenes of a good number of the attacks are such that the solders cannot claim not to have been alarmed by the sounds from the automatic weapons that are often used. The military men have never been successful at preventing a single case of these night attacks to give us the news at dawn. This is despite the frequency of the attacks.  In one incidence, it was alleged that an ID card belonging to a military man was said to have been recovered from the scene. This has led people to conclude that the solders are accomplices in the killings and that they take bribes to get involved or turn a blind eye to the killings. This has led some villages start rejecting military outposts in their localities. Recent involvement of men of the Nigerian Army in the kidnap of Michael Obi, the father of ace footballer John Mikel Obi confirmed that the men of the Nigerian Army have indeed been secretly involved in shady dealings.
Our military friends who made money during ECOMOG operations in Liberia in the 90s often confessed to us the horrible things they did to make the money. It is a tradition among peace-keeping missions that conflict and chaotic situations provide opportunities to make money particularly where there is corruption or the absence of order within the ranks. In the DRC too, India troops to the United Nations peace keeping delegation are known to have exchanged weapons in return for gold.  In the case of Plateau State, it is believed that soldiers either give their weapons for hire or are themselves hired as mercenaries. A friend of mine told me he ran into a meeting of soldiers and Fulani cattle herdsmen on the way to his farm after Gero village in Jos South.
There are emergency lines that the public is supposed to call when in distress. These lines are direct lines to the different Joint Task Force (JTF) squads working to enforce peace. In a situation where members of the JTF are accomplices to a particular attack, one could imagine how it will seem for a victim to call any of these lines.
If the Federal Government feels it can end the killings in Plateau State by simply throwing military and financial resources at the problem, then it is making a dire error such that the new command structure put in place to end the crisis will end up like the ones before it. What the government in Abuja needs to do is to enforced discipline and order and the NEMA report provides an opportunity to demonstrate what it can do and that it is truly committed to ending the blood bath in Jos.
For long, it has become apparent that corruption has undermined all previous efforts at restoring peace in Jos and Plateau State at large. Corruption should not be tolerated where it concerns even a single life. What we lose when peace is gone is far more than what corrupt officials “lose” when there is peace. We should understand that each time we fail to act, the world watches and our reputation gets messier. Problems are not solved by ignoring them.

Community Policing or a Caricature

In simple terms, community policing refers to the participation of members of a community in the fight against crime.
Criminals are members of the society and reside within the community. If members of the community are involved in the fight against crime, it implies that there will be no hiding place for criminals. In community policing, members of the community are expected to watch out for criminals or criminal activities in their communities and report same to the police, who will then swoop on the criminals.
Nigeria is a nation where nearly everything is either rhetorical or political. There was a time when rapid response approaches where the in-thing around the world. We adopted it too. Funny enough, Nigeria is the only place where a rapid response squad can sometimes have an operational vehicle without fuel in it. Now that we are hearing about community policing in the developed nations of the world, we have decided to also have it without taking time to do what it takes for such a tactic of crime fighting to succeed.
There are cases of financial swindlers better known as 4-1-9ners who live among the people. When reported to the police, the security agents come, arrest them and release them almost immediately even though their deeds are obvious. This is the single most important reason why 4-1-9 has thrived in Nigeria.  Since the public has come to see the police and criminals as partners in progress, the feeling is that if you report a criminal to the police, the security men will in turn reveal your identity to the criminal who  comes back to hunt you.  This evil tradition has eroded any faith the public would have had in the Nigerian Police. It is the reason why the police ought to have known that community policing will work only when certain things are in place.
The case of the Niger Delta is a conspicuous and ideal scenario where community policing has failed because the public lacks faith in the police. In their frustration, the police sometimes resort to dealing with innocent citizens in the belief that they are aiding the hoodlums.
When members of the fundamentalist Islamic militia, Boko Haram, discovered that coming out to confront the police in an all out battle will not work for them, they resorted to undercover approaches where they sporadically lunch attacks on victims and then disappear into the public.  In view of how deadly they are, killing the police, other Islamic preachers who don’t roll with their religious philosophy and anybody who stands in their way in any way, the public has learnt to remain safe by standing on the fence. This has worked frustrate community policing at a time when it is, more than ever, desired.   
For a government that loves and holds their citizens in high esteem, the police is one organization that should have enjoyed utmost attention. Successive governments have sadly failed to see it that way leading gradual and total decay in the Nigerian Police.
The force has been so ignored that the best materials from our schools consider themselves too superior to spend their lives in a force that is not respected by the people it is meant to serve.  The outcome is that people who eventually sign up for the force are mostly those who don’t seem to have an option because they have not been able to compete for the most enviable jobs. Still this problem is complicated by absence of best practices in recruitment exercise where politics and godfathers determine who gets taken rather than merit..
One outcome of the challenges with which the force is faced is the ignorance that runs through the ranks. The ignorance in many police personal is so grim that many policemen are of the superstition that criminals are sometimes invincible that facing them will only amount to a senseless risk of ones life.  Ironically, the police are an organization where a strong belief in laid down principles and intelligent research is fundamental to the success of its operations.
It has been said that corruption is one bedrock reasons why the Nigerian Police has grossly underperformed. People are susceptible to corruption when they are underpaid to a point where they can not afford the basic needs of life. Members of the Nigerian Police will also want to live in better homes, place meals on their tables and with ease, enroll their children in good schools, drive cars and avoid been seen as societal failures. Most police officers cannot afford all these with legitimate incomes and feel cheated by the rest of society. Thus they set up road blocks not for the sake of enforcing the law but to generate enough to enable them meet their routine demands of life. The twenty naira (N20) policemen receive at check points is the reason why somebody can beat checkpoints with contraband, such as bombs or dangerous weapons and eventually hurt the society. Naturally, there is that tendency to overlook the real issues once bribes are the preoccupation of their minds.
The Nigerian government must be interested in what goes on within the Nigerian police force. To this end, their professional needs should be provided regularly and not only when there is increased social instability or increased criminal activities. The men of the Nigerian Police must attend and pass the relevant courses in the profession. Furthermore, promotion should be based on excellence and the ability to apply the things learnt in their trainings rather than just passing the courses or serving for a long time. 

Sep 8, 2011

History of Electoral Bodies in Nigeria

The history of electoral bodies in Nigeria dates back to the post-independence era when the Electoral Commission of Nigeria (ECN) was established. This body was responsible for conducting the federal and regional elections of 1964 and 1965 respectively.

The military coup in 1966 led to the dissolution of the body, leading to the establishment of the Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO) in 1978. FEDECO organized and conducted the 1979 and 1983 General Elections. It was dissolved by the military junta of General Mohammadu Buhari on 31St December 1983.

 In 1987, another military junta led by General Ibrahim Babangida established the National Electoral Commission (NEC) with a mandate of overseeing the transition programme put in place by the administration with the aim of returning the country to civilian democratic rule. NEC conducted the general elections into all elective offices which included the presidential, national, state and local government elections in 1993.

In December 1995 when late General Sani Abacha became Head of State, NEC was dissolved and subsequently replaced by the National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON). NECON conducted the 1996 Local Government and National Assembly Elections. The sudden death of General Abacha 1998 inevitably brought about the death of NECON as is the tradition in the country.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was established by the transitional administration of Abdulsalami Abubakar the same year.

Aug 18, 2011

The Federal Character Principle

Coming from a complex ethnic and cultural background, Nigeria at independence was faced with a huge challenge of getting the hundreds of tribes to trust themselves, at least to a degree where the progress of the nation will not be held back. Overcoming the challenge was difficult leading to a situation where members of the spectrum of tribes were more or less interested in helping just their tribes or regions to the resources of the country. The trend was setting a tone for disaffection particularly among minority tribes. It was feared that such a trend if not checked will bring about disunity and eventual collapse of the federation. Some wise men started thinking of a way of avoiding the possibility of a bitter outcome for the nation.

During the 1978 Constitutional Conference some members suggested the constitution of a body that will be charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all regions and tribes across the country were not marginalized as far as benefitting from what the country had to offer to its citizens. The idea did not however saw the light of day. During 1994 constitutional conference convened by the military junta of General Sani Abacha however, the issue resurfaced and was given the desired attention, this time leading to the creation of Federal Character Commission in 1996.

The Federal Character Commission has its head office in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. It is made up of thirty seven federal commissioners representing the thirty six states and the FCT. Each of these commissioners is appointed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In additional to the head office, the Federal Character Commission has branch offices in each of the thirty six regions and Abuja. This administrative structure is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the Federal Character Principle which is ensuring that all citizens of the federation have equal opportunities to the resources the nation has to offer regardless of tribe, region, color or creed.

The Federal Character Principle demands that whenever there are job vacancies in the Federal Civil Service, each of the thirty six states of the federation is entitled to 2.5% of the available vacancies while the FCT is entitled to 1%. The federal character principle also demands that such vacancies must be published in a national daily newspaper six weeks before the recruitment exercise is conducted. Furthermore, all applicants must be short-listed regardless of whether they are qualified or not. From the list, the qualified candidates are then chosen and given the opportunity to take part in the interview.

Situations do arise where certain states lack qualified persons for the vacancies available to their states. When that happens, the opportunity is thrown open to other candidates from the geo-political region of that state.

Every state of the federation is entitled to 75% of the job opportunities for junior officers who fall within Grade Levels 01-07 I in a federal organization located within that state. The remaining 25% is set aside for other citizens within the same geo-political region.

The staff of the regional offices are shouldered with the responsibility of ensuring that the federal departments and agencies within the region comply with the federal character principle. To achieve this, they regularly visit such offices to conduct staff audits to ensure compliance. When recruitment exercises are being conducted, a staff of the commission is also part of the panel conducting the interview to ensure compliance with the demands of his organization.

The Federal Character Principle is not exclusive to federal departments alone but also state and local government offices as well and the staff of the Federal Character Commission are also backed by law to go to such offices to carry out staff audits to ensure that the employment rights of every local government within the state or ward within a local government are not violated.

Jul 2, 2011

Joshua Talena Insults Nation

Joshua Talena is a new generation pastor whose church headquarters is located in Jos Plateau State Nigeria. He must be quite rich, judging from the frequency of the TV broadcast of his teachings weekly.

In one of his teachings televised on Plateau Radio and Television, PRTV, in Jos a few months back, he talked about vision and its significance.

Vision as we all know, is what an individual, group or organization intends to achieve within a specified period of time. As a result setting up a vision spurs one to work harder to ensure he achieves his goal within the given time. Thus teaching about vision is a bedrock module of prosperity preachers.

To me that edition of Talena’s message would have been total except for an instant where he imagined himself as a teacher holding a piece of chalk to teach Mathematics for the State Ministry of Education and prayed that such shouldn’t be his portion. One could see a sense of approval among members of the congregation. Since it is known that one can be a teacher and still be prosperous if in the end he lived a happy life, the message placed a finger on what prosperity is in the eyes of Talena. If prosperity is all about financial abundance, then Talena was right.

Even a moderately educated person however knows that prosperity is life that ends in happiness while on earth. In the Bible, the concept of eternal life is added to the meaning. What will it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his soul? Coming back to the secular horizon, if you have all the money in the world but spend a greater part of your life on a hospital bed in pain and without happiness as a result, you cannot be said to be prosperous. Also there are people who have all the money their enormous potential can bring but are without children. Such persons spend their lives wishing there were children to spend and inherit the financial wealth. Such childless families are far away from complete happiness. The absence of happiness could also be as a result of life on the run because the law has refused to recognize the source of your wealth. Hence prosperity cannot be total if the society fails to recognize it as such. People may give beautiful testimonies at your funeral. It would however be of no worth if the testimony is not coming from the bottom of their hearts. When loved ones eventually get relieved of the pain of losing you, society will begin to tell them the truth either by word or action. As long as your family is not happy as a result, you will also be sad up there because you worked to give them happiness but in the end you left them sad.

That teaching also amounted to disrespect and insult to the nation of Nigeria. Teachers work to give education to the children and build the nation. Since we cannot have a society without teachers, the comment amounts to undermining the effort of the government to provide education to the people. Undermining the effort of the government could also come from the impression such teachings create in the minds of young children as it teaches them that you are never prosperous as a teacher.

Perhaps Talena could suggest an alternative to education without teachers. Perhaps he never went to a school where he was thought by a teacher. If he did, then he is not only ungrateful to his teachers but has insulted them as well. As far as this issue is concerned, there is a strong line of correlation between Talena’s comment and the views of Boko Haram whose fundamental principle is kicking against western education.

Following incessant sectarian violence in the north of the country that have often been ignited by hate preachers, the state governments of some of those states came up with the idea of issuing licenses to preachers which can be withdrawn when it is perceived that the activity of a preacher can weaken the foundation of peace. The comments of Talena in that edition of his sermon worked to bring to the surface the fact that the snooping eyes of government should be on all persons with followers that can be influenced by his views, religious or secular.

Talena ought to apologize to the nation.

Aminci FC Bukuru

Feeder Team Extraordinaire
Aminci is a Hausa word that means resourcefulness. In the town of Bukuru in Jos-South of Plateau State, Nigeria, a local football team by the name of Aminci that started from extremely humble beginnings about a quarter of a century ago has grown to become resourceful in so many ways.

In the mid-eighties when Aminci was founded, football has not become big business as is the case today. The mass appeal of the game at the time was solely the result of the amazing beauty of the game that attracted all regardless of geographical location or culture. This love of the game is the motivating factor that got some people mostly the Hausa community in Bukuru to set up Rangama Football Club that evolved over the decades to become Aminci Football Club.

Initially, Aminci was founded as a team for the development of local talents. Eventually it grew to become a feeder team for the Nigeria domestic football leagues. One of Aminci’s coaches, Nasa Raphael, boasts that the club is Nigeria’s leading feeder club, supplying an average of fifteen players to different clubs across the country every year. These players eventually find their ways to different clubs across Europe.

Aminci also serves the need of players wishing to reinvent themselves after losing form and teams as a consequence. They come there, rediscover themselves and find new clubs.

In the morning hours when Aminci trains, there are avid football fans around the perimeter of the pitch. They come to watch high quality football for free but also to shake hands with Europe-based stars they had seen only on TV. There is hardly any Europe-based star with roots from Jos who does not come to Aminci during the off-season in Europe. They range from Isaac Promise, to Ezekiel Bala, Enyi, Ahmed Musa, Kelechi, etc. When the richest sportsman in Nigeria, John Mikel Obi is around, the crowd becomes tremendous as fans use their mobile phones to call friends to come and see the Chelsea superstar. On the day of getting this story, I was told that had Mikel not honored a wedding invitation, I would have seen him live for the first time.

The presence of European stars is a confidence booster for the local talents on whose reason Aminci was founded. To some extent, Europe ceases to be a mystery in their minds. Playing with stars of the European Champions League should be the ultimate.

The same stars that play at Stanford Bridge, the Emirates, Old Trafford come to the dusty pitch of Baptist Primary School, surrounded by shacks to keep fit and respect that which paved the way. The pitch slopes to the east at a gradient of about seven degrees with pools of water that often deceive players by suddenly holding a fast-moving ball. These raise the question of financing. The impression is that Aminci is a place of financial drought. It was in the beginning when Aminci was a mundane club but not now that the club feeds the Nigerian and eventually European professional leagues with players on one hand and the pockets of the coaches with cash on the other. As a matter of fact, Aminci has a Director and Proprietor who goes by the name of Ibrahim ‘Bros’ Ahmed, a pale-looking man who is nevertheless feared by support coaches and players alike for his ruthlessness at shattering dreams when crossed. In view of the big business that football is currently, Mallam Ahmed regularly travels around to get players to whom he becomes a manager. At the time of compiling this story, it was rumored that about seven players were staying in his house and training with Aminci, waiting to be sold.

Jos the capital city of Plateau State has been the epicenter of Nigeria’s most ferocious religious conflict. At Aminci’s home town of Bukuru, there are separate markets, residential areas and even schools for the two major religions, Islam and Christianity. Aminci Football Club however presents an exceptional photo, that of an unusually united Nigeria. According to Coach Raphael, 60% of the players are Christians with the rest as Muslims. Over 90% of the fans are Muslims. Each time, fighting breaks, out he says, there are Christian players living under the same roof with the proprietor, a Muslim who lives in an otherwise deadly Muslim neighborhood for a Christian. Three days after the bomb blast of 24th December in Jos, the players trained together. While the fighting in Jos is essentially between the Berom and Hausas, Aminci has Berom players from the Gyel District, a no-go area for a Hausa.

What is to be leant from the coaches, footballers and fans of Aminci is that, in different ways, football is so important to them that they can carefully work to ensure peace so that they can continue to enjoy their assorted dividends of the game.

If people in Plateau State can see their possessions, loved ones and friendship as being of utmost importance, then they could also thread carefully to ensure that peace becomes enduring in the state. Aminci football by this has laid bare the fact that its resourcefulness is boundless.

Jun 24, 2011

Ahmed Musa: The Waiting is Over

In 2007, the News Tower Magazine approached local coaches in Bukuru, Jos South and requested to be introduced to any local player who is yet to find a professional site despite been good enough. We were introduced to Ahmed Musa. We then published his photo on the sports column with the title “Waiting for Siaisa.” The aim was to sell him.

Subsequently Musa found a local professional site, Kano Pillars, and went on to break the record of the highest goals ever scored in the Nigerian Premiership League. He scored eighteen goals to break the record set by Ishaya Jatau sometimes in the early nineties. That caught the attention of people scouting for talents and Ahmed found his way to the Netherlands. Another important milestone is the fulfillment of the prophesy we made as he eventually became a player under coach Siasia.

Back in 2007, Musa who played for Aminci Football Club of Bukuru an amateur site told us that he was waiting for any good club that God sends, but his ultimate dream was to play for Arsenal of England. We at the News Tower believe that he is just inches away from his ultimate dream.

Jun 9, 2011

Economic Networking in Africa

A neighbor of mine once took a decision to move away from his parents immediately he got married in order to prevent the possibility of rivalry between his mum and wife. He moved to another suburb of town about thirty kilometers away from his parents. After just about eighteen months he realized he had made a mistake and decided to go back to his parents. In the new environment, he discovered that each time he was broke there is no one to come to his rescue as he was completely a stranger.


In Africa where a lot of people are poor, a kind of economic networking becomes a solution through which people help themselves to overcome economic challenges. Students studying far away from their parents often survive difficult task of ensuring daily meals through networking. The wisdom here is that for a group of six friends, for instance, all of them cannot be without money at the same time. If you happen to be without money, you depend on your friends for your meals until when money comes from home. Tomorrow it will be your turn to support another friend. By so doing they beat the economic challenges that come with feeding.
Economic networking is also the wisdom used by persons that earn modest incomes that they cannot afford certain things like cars and houses of their own. Here, colleagues working in the same organization agree to be making contributions on a monthly basis that is given to a single member. Ten colleagues can decide to be making contributions of about $65 each every month end. The total is given to a member who uses it to buy an item that is highest in his demand scale of preference. A member’s turn to take the contribution is based on a raffle. In some cases a member can agree to be the last on condition that he will be the first in the following year. By that he saves his earlier contribution for just about a month or two at the end of which he adds that to the amount from the new year.

Economic networking can take the form of committee of friends. These are groups of friends who hold regular meetings. At the end of each meeting a fixed amount is paid by each member. The total sum is taken to a bank account belonging to the group. Members then resort to the fund when one of them is in need. The need could be wedding, ill health or other economic challenges that may be unpredictable.
My late mum used to belong to a committee of friends with other women. The meetings are held every month-end. A different member hosts the meeting every month. During her turn she prepares a variety of meals for members who come, feast and chat. At the end, every member gives a fixed amount to the host. The amount is not meant to cover the cost of hosting alone but is substantially huge enough that the excess is used by that member to address immediate economic needs. We often looked forward to our mum’s turn as we inevitable join in the feasting of the variety of dishes albeit behind the curtains.
Economic networking does have risks. A member could have his turn early in the year and refuse to give his own contribution to other members in subsequent months. If series of attempts made to recover the money fails, the other members can forget about it especially when the amount involved is deemed as something that can be sacrificed. If the amount involved is significant however, other members involved third parties, usually a respected person that is feared as a result. It does not always get to the police as it is something that was based on friendship. Rather members could decide to sacrifice what was involved but relationship with that member and his reputation are badly damaged.

Another member can die before his turn. When his turn eventually comes however, the only members that contribute to him are members for whom he had given, prior to his death. His contribution is taken to the closest relation that could be his wife, children, father, brother, etc. Boyfriends and girlfriends and exempted.

Tarokland and Possible Fluorine Deficiency

Township water treatment plants usually involve filtration of large millions of gallons of water at the end of which certain chemicals are added. Chlorine is added to kill germs, Iodine to prevent goiter and Fluorine to prevent tooth decay. In normal situations however, these chemicals are naturally present in various sources of water be they wells or rivers. Situations do arise however where an anomaly in the local geology of a region results in the deficiency of some of these elements. When this happens the local population stands the risks becoming victims of the corresponding ailment.

I have noticed that my friends who come from certain parts of Tarokland better known as Langtang in Plateau State in central Nigeria often have brownish dental coloration that could be tooth decay. That could mean that the water available in that locality has a deficiency in fluorine. I told this to one of my Tarok friends. He later told me that ever since I said this, he has come to the conclusion that it could be true. This is because he has noticed that he and his brothers that were born and raise in the city in Jos don’t have this dental coloration but he has noticed that his cousins, born and raised at the village all seem to have the problem.

Sadly, our governments always place emphasis on urban areas when it comes to modern water supply provision. There is though an effort to provide treated water to the people of Langtang that has however stalled for years despite the obvious difficulty of sourcing for water for domestic activities by the people of the area particularly in Langtang South where people walk for kilometers just to get a few jerry cans of water that is never good enough for human use. There is the need for the relevant government to be conscious of this and do the right thing to end the problem of the wrong water supply that could have unpleasant consequences.

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