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Anthony Obi Ogbo

Nigerian Politics and the Anambra Gubernatorial Race ―Confronting the Reality

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The purpose of this analysis is not to predict the possible winner of this race because the current structure of the Nigerian government is not compatible with such a scientific prognosis.

Monday, November 1: 3 out of the 18 governorship candidates in the upcoming November 6 governorship election in Anambra State faced off in a debate as a final chance to woo voters. The winner of this election will succeed Governor Willie Obiano. The organizers, Arise News TV, narrowed down their debate guests to just three candidates: Andy Uba for the All Progressives Congress (APC); Charles Soludo for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); and Valentine Ozigbo for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Most analysts believe that Soludo dominated the debate and is therefore the best candidate for the position. There were those who think that Uba was intellectually incompetent because he was not as eloquent and confident during the debate. Others think Ozigbo stood up to the test, arguing and counter-arguing his points, but fell short of dominating Soludo.

Since this debate, social media and news outlets have been saturated with the usual analysis of “, “who-beat-who?”, but an hour or so of debate a few days before the election cannot necessarily justify the best candidates. Furthermore, debate performance in a system where voters pay little or no attention to policy substance and communal interests merely ends up on social media walls for thread arguments.

The purpose of this analysis is not to predict the possible winner of this race because the current structure of the Nigerian government is not compatible with such a scientific prognosis. In a ramshackle election structure where most races are decided by a schismatic court system rather than voters, data-based poll forecasts are completely immaterial. Thus, this analysis uses the discipline of choice in a democracy to educate voters in how to negotiate their political interests beyond the conventional emotive attitude.

In Nigeria’s electoral system, supporters and stakeholders of the candidates need to recognize the unpredictability of poll outcomes. The central party often retains full control of both the electoral and judicial sectors. The electoral wing has full and unsupervised control of poll figures, whereas the highest court of the land is positioned to make the final pronouncement of winners.

For those unfamiliar with Nigeria’s political history, most gubernatorial elections in the south-eastern part of the country have always been contentious. Just last year, Nigerians witnessed how the Supreme Court nullified the election of the PDP’s Emeka Ihedioha as the new governor of Imo State, and, in a shocking verdict, declared APC’s Hope Uzodinma as the winner of the disputed governorship election in the state.

Such is the structure of the Nigerian election system—a pugilistic poll experience, indirectly umpired by the ruling party. This explains the confidence and optimism behind Uba’s candidacy. Here is a current senator who parades a questionable past, lacks the passion and capacity to lead, and, worse, demonstrates that he is intellectually bankrupt about core matters of political governance. But he has an edge. He represents the APC, the national ruling party with a history of overturning elections. He might be aiming beyond the poll outcomes and be hoping to secure his victory from the courts.

Soludo, on the other hand, has a good work record and parades a catalog of managerial competencies that are more than enough for this position. He has been vigorously supported by both the incumbent Governor and the local party, the APGA. But there may be concerns with his do-or-die connection with the incumbent. APGA has an ugly history of fathering election candidates with implausible quid-pro-quo conditions. For instance, Governor Obiano, who fathers Soludo, was once fathered by his predecessor, Peter Obi. This automatic handpicking of candidates leaves voters with little or no choice when electing leaders who can work effectively for them. Soludo remains confident and believes that the majority of voters are on his side.

The final candidate, Ozigbo—the least popular and most controversial of the three—is gravely sandwiched in-between two opportunists: Uba, a candidate planted by the party that controls central government, and Soludo, another spoon-fed candidate planted by the party that controls the government of the state. For Ozigbo to win would be a miracle.

Democracy can be draconian when it comes to the electoral process. In politics, a candidate’s job qualifications might not be enough in themselves. His character, party affiliation, and ideology must also be relevant to the people’s interests. So how do the trio: Uba, Soludo, and Ozigbo fare with the aforementioned perceptions?

What are their characters and individual standards? How would the influence each of them exerts on their party help Anambra State to attain superior social and economic possibilities? What are their party ideologies? In an Anambra that is currently battling with violence and security uncertainties, which party has the propensity to negotiate peace in the region? With thousands of radicalized youths roaming the streets and violently demanding to break away from the Nigerian Union, which candidate and party is ready to fill the leadership-performance vacuum that has resulted in these youths becoming vulnerable to unscrupulous activists in the first place?

These are fundamental questions that Anambra voters may need to reconcile before making their voting decisions. In other words, come Saturday, voters must leave their emotions at home and take their reasoning to the polls to make decisions that will impact their lives, community, and prospects.

♦ Anthony Ogbo, PhD, Adjunct Professor at the Texas Southern University is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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Anthony Obi Ogbo

Flight KL 588 from Lagos: European airlines’ handling of its African passengers may be racially discriminatory

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In addition to a high rate of disparity in airfare, these systemic trends that emit prejudice, negligence, and thoughtlessness manifest as racial discrimination in service delivery standards.

The flight booking was the United States-based Delta Airlines, but the routing and services were provided by its partner airline, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the official airline carrier of the Netherlands. Thus, a Delta flight on January 13—originally booked as DL 9477—ended up as KL 588, a return leg originating in Lagos and heading to Houston through Amsterdam. This practice of re-booking flights under other carriers has been standard since 2020, when Air France, KLM, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic launched a partnership to provide customers with more convenient flight schedules, and a smooth and consistent travel experience, whichever airline they fly.

But just like any other European airline, flights originating from North America to Europe are often selective. Aircraft are newer and cleaner, and offer more reliable in-flight entertainment gadgets. They also have cleaner lavatories, and passengers are served fresher meals and provided with well-mannered flight attendants. Additionally, take-off delays are well-justified and are announced to passengers with the utmost respect.

However, once those airlines land at European layover airports, the story changes. Passengers transiting to African cities are hauled into dilapidated, filthy aircraft. Flight attendants may be professional and sometimes welcoming, but the evidence of systemized service shortfalls subjugate every moment. For instance, lavatories are uncared for, in-flight entertainment devices are broken-down, and the aircraft’s seat arrangement offers agonizingly tight leg room. Unprecedented take-off delays are customary, especially with flights originating from African cities to Europe.

Experience of flight KL 588 was a sorry tale of equipment breakdown and service negligence.

Accordingly, the KL 588 flight from Lagos to Amsterdam, filled with Nigerian passengers, was no different. Being a Boeing jet that looks good on the exterior, painted with KLM’s official blue color and logo, there is a mentality that because it is a KLM brand, nothing would ever go wrong. Yet the experience of flight KL 588 was a sorry tale of equipment breakdown and service negligence. The first shocker was a whopping one-hour take-off delay that left passengers seated in a crowded aircraft, grappling with hot cabin air, at a time when the highly infectious omicron variant was spreading like wildfire. Cabin attendants walked around aimlessly—a practice they were seemingly accustomed to.

The next embarrassing moment was an announcement about the nonworking in-flight entertainment system, made by a senior flight attendant, who stated, “We’re going to reboot the system, which should hopefully sort out the problem.” The system was not working at all and the flight attendants knew it, but their unethical lying to passengers about it raises other questions: Was the system rebooted? Did it work? Passengers did not receive any other explanation and instead spent six hours staring at blacked-out entertainment screens. They were equally uninformed of the progress of the trip until, finally, it was time to land in Amsterdam.

Inside this flight, Nigerian passengers narrated their past horrific experiences of flying these European airlines, and how the booking and in-flight services change when these airlines operate within the Western territories. KLM’s experience is just a yardstick, as all European airlines share this institutionalized racial service structure—an unwritten policy of discrimination entrenched in their operational standards.

A failure by these European carriers to adequately supervise their African locations in similar standards to their European bases is racist.

Flight attendants may appear professional and may wear a smiling face, yet their service system remains well-structured, bigoted garbage. KLM operatives are very much aware that their ground services at their African locations are unsupervised—usually riddled with bribery, corruption at the highest level, and unrivaled clumsiness. For example, a basic check-in process at their European locations takes less than 15 minutes, whereas it takes hours to undergo a similar process at their African locations. A failure by these European carriers to adequately supervise their African locations in similar standards to their European bases is racist.

Institutional racism is often less noticeable because of its unconcealed nature, which makes it an innocuous routine. It is illogical for these airlines to have daily flights from African to European cities—loaded with 99.9% African passengers—without Black flight attendants, without authentic African food on the menu and, worst, without African TV programs or movies in their entertainment collection. It is completely insensitive and disrespectful to the African culture to serve pasta, apple pie, rice soaked in cheese, and tasteless meat and vegetable patties on a flight filled to the brim with African natives, and to offer them entertainment devoid of African themes.

In addition to a high rate of disparity in airfare, these systemic trends that emit prejudice, negligence, and thoughtlessness manifest as racial discrimination in service delivery standards. Thus, a collective failure of these airlines to provide appropriate and professional services to their African passengers is racially prejudicial.

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♦ Anthony Ogbo, PhD, Adjunct Professor at the Texas Southern University is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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Anthony Obi Ogbo

From Texas Southern to Space: Tigers and the Strahan Success Story

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TSU’s offer was therefore the foundation of the confidence that invoked his NFL prospects in his junior season. By his senior year with the Texas Southern Tigers, Strahan was already positioned for his unexpected expedition to stardom.

All through last week, NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan dominated the news media. Every news outlet featured him on the screen and in print because of his latest career endeavor. Strahan, who won Super Bowl XLII during his 15-year career with the New York Giants, will join Laura Shepard Churchley, the eldest daughter of astronaut Alan Shepard, on a December 9 mission aboard the New Shepard, a spacecraft named after her father and the first American in space.

It was exciting to find out that Strahan, an African American who is also with ABC’s Good Morning America, will fly as a guest of Blue Origin with Churchley. They will join four paying customers: philanthropist Dylan Taylor, investor Evan Dick, Lane Ventures founder Lane Bess and his son, Cameron. But the media has been agog with this event, projecting Strahan’s success from the NFL through his mainstream media confraternity.

Strahan’s life and career success are a household story. We know, of course, that he was born in Houston; we know that at the age of nine he moved to Germany to join his father, who was stationed there as a major in the U.S. Army. We are familiar with his family’s football history: his mother, Louise Strahan, was a basketball coach whereas his uncle, Art Strahan, is a retired NFL defensive lineman. Strahan’s career is notable for several positive highlights that are well known to media outlets.

However, there seems to be something missing from the stories and documentaries that trail Strahan’s latest landmark: his college background. Strahan attended Texas Southern University (TSU) and would be the first alum of this institution to explore space. As we know, TSU is a historically Black public university and is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the nation, with more than 10,000 enrolled students engaged in over 100 academic programs.

But there is something in TSU’s culture that propelled Strahan to his latest career and life endeavors

But there is something in TSU’s culture that propelled Strahan to his latest career and life endeavors and that is the institution’s unyielding desire to nurture and offer opportunities to prospective students of color. He was offered a scholarship by the Tigers of TSU; the very same opportunity that signaled the beginning of what is now celebrated as history.

TSU’s offer was therefore the foundation of the confidence that invoked his NFL prospects in his junior season. By his senior year with the Texas Southern Tigers, Strahan was already positioned for his unexpected expedition to stardom. He chronicled 68 tackles and broke the school record with 19 quarterback sacks. He was selected as Division I-AA Defensive Player of the Year by The Poor Man’s Guide and Edd Hayes Black College Sports Report. By 1992, Strahan was named the Team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. He was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame in 2014.

But the lessons of the Strahan success story are a reflection of the core significance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the nation’s advancement and future. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the academic year 2018–19, some 48,400 degrees were conferred by HBCUs. Of those degrees, 73 percent were conferred to Black students.

Indeed, the philosophy of HBCUs is not about African-Americanizing the education system at all. HBCUs were created to provide Black Americans with a route to higher education and, for the record, it was not until the 1960s that more primarily white colleges began admitting Black students. There is also a psychological relevance. Because their historical background is based on a system that is more or less antagonistic to their prospects, African-American graduates from HBCUs are more likely to prosper in career determination than non-Black students attending HBCUs.

The philosophy of HBCU is liberty and equality in providing access to quality education for people of color. Strahan remains a success story of this, benefitting both his alma mater and the entire nation. Strahan understands his role as an HBCU alum and has facilitated several programs to benefit his hometown of Houston as well as his alma mater, TSU.

Finally, TSU, just like any other HBCU, has a story tied to racial inequality that affected the education system during the 19th century, which was an era of intense and systemic discrimination against Black Americans. In a system where exceptional prospective Black students and athletes struggle to gain entrance to traditionally white colleges and universities, it might be fair to state that TSU provided Strahan with the inclusive route not only to an impeccable career path but also to space.

♦ Anthony Ogbo, PhD, Adjunct Professor at the Texas Southern University is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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Anthony Obi Ogbo

The Dr. Stella Immanuel Lunacy—Get this Brute Out the White Coat

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Her diabolical demeanor over systematic knowledge, observable facts, and actions of fundamental laws are proof of professional incompetence.

Earlier this month, the Texas Medical Board took what it called “corrective action” against a notorious Houston physician, Dr. Stella Immanuel, who had stubbornly prescribed hydroxychloroquine to treat patients’ COVID-19 infection without adequately explaining the health consequences.

Immanuel, tagged the “demon sperm” doctor for ascribing gynecological issues to people “having sex in their dreams with demons and witches”, gained national attention in 2020 for pushing hydroxychloroquine as a “cure” for COVID-19. In numerous studies, however, COVID-19 patients experienced no meaningful benefit from this medication, with some studies indicating a greater risk of heart rhythm problems.

The medical board’s decision come across as a mild slap on the wrist, however, based on Immanuel’s destructive anti-COVID crusading and the amount of risk she currently poses to society. The board ordered Immanuel to submit proof of informed consent—permission given by a patient who understands the possible health outcomes—for all off-label treatments she provides. Furthermore, she must adopt policies that require all consent documents to be reviewed and signed by the patient for off-label treatment. She must also pay $500 to the medical board, which seems inconsequential.

In July 2020, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube removed a video that went viral featuring a group of doctors making reckless and dubious claims about the coronavirus. The individuals in the video presented themselves as a group wearing white laboratory coats and referred to themselves as “America’s Frontline Doctors”, and claimed to have staged a press conference in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, where they denounced the deadly impact of COVID-19. The video became a cornerstone of Donald Trump’s anti-COVID-19 campaign. He shared multiple versions of the video with his 84 million Twitter followers and publicized its content in his campaign speeches.

America’s Frontline Doctors is a notorious right-wing political organization affiliated with Tea Party Patriots co-founder, Jenny Beth Martin. From masks to lockdowns and vaccination, this group is opposed to measures intended to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

It appears, however, that Immanuel is the most notorious among these white-coated touts. She has taken her vicious crusade far beyond the front steps of the US Supreme Court and pushed it to a deadly level of falsehoods. She has created anti-science campaign literature and platforms that push inconceivable conspiracy theories that are antagonistic toward the discipline of medicine.

Roughly in July 2020, when Immanuel was on the rampage with her anti-COVID gospel, the US had recorded 1.87 million new casesf COVID-19, with total infections numbering 4.5 million, representing a 69% increase since the pandemic. During the same period, Texas recorded its third-largest increase of approximately 260,000. At the time of writing, the US has recorded 46,697,360 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 755,950 deaths due to the virus.

Nonetheless, a defiant Immanuel created controversial viral videos that claimed an anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, as a cure for COVID-19, even when such claims were widely disputed by most medical experts, the World Health Organization, and the US Food and Drug Administration. The most dangerous aspect of these false claims is that they went viral worldwide after President Trump and one of his sons shared Immanuel’s conspiracy videos. She created videos consistently and used several social media accounts and platforms to disseminate them. Some of these videos were cited and taken down by YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook for violating their misinformation policies; this did not, however, stop Immanuel. She forcefully criticized Facebook and Twitter after the social media platforms removed one of her controversial videos touting hydroxychloroquine, and declared on Twitter that “Jesus Christ would destroy Facebook’s servers if her videos weren’t restored to the platform.” In a recorded voice message, she stated, “Hello Facebook, put back my profile page and videos…or your computers [will] start crashing [until] you do,” in an overnight post. “You are not bigger than God. I promise you. If my page is not [put back up] Facebook will be down in Jesus [‘] name.” These comments were made by a supposed medical doctor, a pediatrician overseeing patients who were primarily children.

Immanuel insistently denounced the use of face masks, claiming that they were not necessary to stop the transmission of the highly contagious COVID-19. It is also surprising that Immanuel, who is both a pediatrician and a religious minister, had been allowed to get away with making bizarre claims about core medical matters. She has often claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are caused by people having sex in their dreams with “demons and witches”. She alleged that “alien DNA” was currently being used in medical treatments, and that scientists were creating a vaccine to prevent people from being religious. She also said that “the government” was run in part not by humans but by “reptilians” and other aliens.

What will it take to realize that this woman is mentally unstable and should not be allowed to practice medicine? What other evidence will be required to prove that her relentless anti-science, anti-medicine, and anti-COVID promotions exaggerated the surmounting skepticism that hampers America’s path to recovery from the pandemic? Indeed, Stella Immanuel violated the State’s administrative code concerning misleading and deceptive advertising. For example, she “disseminates false, deceptive, or misleading” materials; her claims are false, harmfully deceptive, and cannot be substantiated, and she consistently and falsely promoted hydroxychloroquine as a permanent cure for COVID-19.

The Texas Medical Board must review its decision about this “doctor” and remove her from healthcare before she causes more harm. Her diabolical demeanor about systematic knowledge, observable facts, and the actions of fundamental laws are proof of her professional incompetence. Scrutiny of Stella Immanuel should not be limited to the wrongful prescription/treatment of COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine, but must also entail a thorough investigation of her efforts in spearheading a deceptive anti-COVID-19 campaign in the current pandemic context. The destructive impact of her anti-mask and anti-vaccine campaigns must be considered when deciding disciplinary measures against her.

♦ Anthony Ogbo, PhD, Adjunct Professor at the Texas Southern University is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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