Tuesday

African-Americans Who Served in WWII Faced Segregation Abroad and at Home

Photograph by David E. Scherman / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty

CC™ Histofact 

Some 1.2 million African-American men served in the U.S. military during the war, but they were often treated as second-class citizens. 

When the Selective Training and Service Act became the nation’s first peacetime draft law in September 1940, civil rights leaders pressured President Franklin D. Roosevelt to allow Black men the opportunity to register and serve in integrated regiments. 

Although African-Americans had participated in every conflict since the Revolutionary War, they had done so segregated, and FDR appointee Henry Stimson, the Secretary of War, was not interested in changing the status quo. With a need to shore up the U.S. Armed Forces as war intensified in Europe, FDR decided that Black men could register for the draft, but they would remain segregated and the military would determine the proportion of Blacks inducted into the service.

The compromise represented the paradoxical experience that befell the 1.2 million African- American men who served in World War II: They fought for democracy overseas while being treated like second-class citizens by their own country.

Despite African-American soldiers' eagerness to fight in World War II, the same Jim Crow discrimination in society was practiced in every branch of the armed forces. Many of the bases and training facilities were located in the South, in addition to the largest military installation for Black soldiers, Fort Huachuca, located in Arizona. Regardless of the region, at all the bases there were separate blood banks, hospitals or wards, medical staff, barracks and recreational facilities for Black soldiers. And white soldiers and local white residents routinely slurred and harassed them.

“The experience was very dispiriting for a lot of Black soldiers,” says Matthew Delmont, a history professor at Dartmouth College and author of Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers. “The kind of treatment they received by white officers in army bases in the United States was horrendous. They described being in slave-like conditions and being treated like animals. They were called racial epithets quite regularly and just not afforded respect either as soldiers or human beings.”

Because the military didn’t think African-Americans were fit for combat or leadership positions, they were mostly relegated to labor and service units. Working as cooks and mechanics, building roads and ditches, and unloading supplies from trucks and airplanes were common tasks for Black soldiers. And for the few who did make officer rank, they could only lead other Black men.

As Christopher Paul Moore wrote in his book, Fighting for America: Black Soldiers—The Unsung Heroes of World War II, “Black Americans carrying weapons, either as infantry, tank corps, or as pilots, was simply an unthinkable notion…More acceptable to southern politicians and much of the military command was the use of black soldiers in support positions, as noncombatants or laborers.”

African-American soldiers regularly reported their mistreatment to the Black press and to the NAACP, pleading for the right to fight on the front lines alongside white soldiers.

“The Black press was quite successful in terms of advocating for Blacks soldiers in World War II,” says Delmont. “They point out the hypocrisy of fighting a war that was theoretically about democracy, at the same time having a racially segregated army.”

In 1942, the Black newspaper, the Pittsburgh Courier—in response to a letter to the editor by James G. Thompson, a 26-year-old Black soldier, in which he wrote, “Should I sacrifice my life to live half American?"—launched the Double V Campaign. The slogan, which stood for a victory for democracy overseas and a victory against racism in America, was touted by Black journalists and activists to rally support for equality for African-Americans. The campaign highlighted the contributions the soldiers made in the war effort and exposed the discrimination that Black soldiers endured while fighting for liberties that African Americans themselves didn’t have.

As casualties mounted among white soldiers toward the final year of the war, the military had to utilize African-Americans as infantrymen, officers, tankers and pilots, in addition to remaining invaluable in supply divisions. 

From August 1944 to November 1944, the Red Ball Express, a unit of mostly Black drivers delivered gasoline, ammunition, food, mechanical parts and medical supplies to General George Patton’s Third Army in France, driving up to 400 miles on narrow roads in the dead of night without headlights to avoid detection by the Germans.

The 761 Tank Battalion, became the first Black division to see ground combat in Europe, joining Patton’s Third Army in France in November 1944. The men helped liberate 30 towns under Nazi control and spent 183 days in combat, including in the Battle of the Bulge. The Tuskegee Airmen, the all-Black fighter pilot group trained at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, escorted bombers over Italy and Sicily, flying 1600 combat missions and destroying 237 German aircraft on ground and 37 in air.

“Without these crucial roles that Blacks soldiers were playing, the American military wouldn’t have been the same fighting force it was,” says Delmont. “That was a perspective you didn’t see much in the white press.”

After World War II officially ended on September 2, 1945, Black soldiers returned home to the United States facing violent white mobs of those who resented African Americans in uniform and perceived them as a threat to the social order of Jim Crow.

In addition to racial violence, Black soldiers were often denied benefits guaranteed under the G.I. Bill, the sweeping legislation that provided tuition assistance, job placement, and home and business loans to veterans. 

As civil rights activists continued to emphasize America’s hypocrisy as a democratic nation with a Jim Crow army, and Southern politicians stood firmly against full racial equality for Blacks, President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981 that desegregated the U.S. Armed Forces in July 1948. Full integration, however, would not occur until the Korean War.


Alexis Clark is the author of Enemies in Love: A German POW, A Black Nurse, and an Unlikely Romanceand an adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School. Previously an editor at Town & Country, she has written for The New York TimesSmithsonian, NBC News Digital, and other publications.  as second-class citizens.

Some 1.2 million Black men served in the U.S. military during the war, but they were often treated as second-class citizens.

HISTORY.COM

Monday

SPACEX STARLINK: INCREDIBLE BETA TEST PHOTOS SHOW THE FUTURISTIC ROUTER


CC™ Innovation News - Mike Brown

SpaceX's internet connectivity service has started shipping out equipment to beta testers.....

Over the weekend, participants in the "Better Than Nothing" beta test shared photos and videos of the setup box. The package is designed to get the early testers connected to SpaceX's growing collection of satellites, which will offer high speed and low latency internet access to people living in remote and underserved areas. Included in the package is a ground terminal, router, and other components to get connected.

"The router looks so clean and beautiful," wrote a Reddit user called "bigskyreleaf," who shared a photo of the new box. While many internet providers offer bland, curved wifi routers, SpaceX appears to be going for a distinctly angular white and silver design.

It bears more than a passing resemblance to the upcoming Tesla Cybertruck electric pickup truck – both firms are run by CEO Elon Musk.

It also looks a lot like Shanghai's striking World Financial Center – perhaps not the first time a gadget has taken inspiration from architecture.

Reddit-shared images also show the shiny dish – affectionately dubbed "Dishy Mcflatface" by SpaceX.

The beta test is another step toward SpaceX's goal of satellite internet at gigabit speeds, with latency fast enough to play video games. SpaceX first started launching batches of SpaceX satellites in May 2020, and has applied for permission to launch a staggering 42,000 satellites. SpaceX achieves its lower latencies by placing the craft closer to the Earth's surface, around 550 kilometers high.

The company warns beta testers that they can expect speeds of around 50 to 150 megabits per second – for context, a megabit is an eighth of a megabyte, and the measurement is common when discussing internet speeds. But Business Insider reported Monday that some users were seeing higher speeds of up to 174 megabits per second.

The beta test doesn't come free. Users are asked to pay $99 per month for the connection itself, plus $499 for the Starlink Kit containing the ground terminal. One tester on Reddit found their order came to nearly $600 after $50 shipping and Washington state taxes. They then paid a further $100 for a ridgeline mount, an alternative to the tripod mount that comes with the Starlink Kit.

Although it all sounds rather expensive and slow, it's still impressive for satellite internet. Unlike fiber optic and other technologies, satellite doesn't depend on local infrastructure to get online – just point at the sky. The United States is served by satellite operators Viasat and HughesNet, but users end up paying similar prices to Starlink for speeds in the tens of megabits. Latency also runs into the hundreds of milliseconds, around 20 times slower than wired.

SpaceX began offering services to customers in the northern United States and Canada in 2020. It plans to offer "near global coverage of the populated world" by 2021.

The company is inviting fans that are interested in Starlink to register with their name and physical address via the website.

THE INVERSE ANALYSIS – SpaceX's setup looks impressive, and the design is sleek. Company-provided routers tend to be rather drab affairs, so it's nice to see a bit of design flair from the new service's first outing.

Of course, the most technically minded may opt to switch the router for their own box when it comes to filling the house with wifi. Mesh networking setups like Google and Eero allow users to place access points in various parts of the house, ensuring there's no blind spots for service.

Fiber is likely to remain the best option where it's available, but for rural and underserved areas, flaky internet could soon be a thing of the past. As more people work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, could this ultimately change the conversation about where people can live?


INVERSE

Sunday

Buhari pampering terrorists with so-called re-integration of ex-Boko Haram killers

CC™ News

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of “pampering” Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen terrorists in Nigeria.

Kanu stated this in reaction to the graduation and reintegration of  hundreds of so-called repentant Boko Haram members into the society.

Reports that the ex-Boko Haram killers reintegrated into the society included those from Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic have infuriated many Nigerians.

The Coordinator, Operation Safe Corridor, Major General Bamidele Shafa made the announcement recently.

Reacting, the IPOB leader lamented that Nigeria was rewarding terrorism.

In a tweet, Kanu wrote: “No nation ever PAMPERS terrorists. @MBuhari’s Nigeria not only pampers terrorists but it gives them scholarships and sends them to mix with those they’ve terrorized and slaughtered.

“There’s no other way of looking at this than that Nigeria is the ONLY nation that rewards TERRORISM.”

The Fulani Herdsmen and Boko Haram have been classified as being among the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world by the requisite global organizations, including the United Nations.

But the Buhari administration has repeatedly used the organs of power, the military and the police, to in the case of the Fulani Herdsmen, force the murderous group on the Nigerian people by way of its clandestine grazing program, especially in the Middle-Belt and Southern parts of the country which are predominantly Christian. 

Buhari, a retired Army General, had campaigned on a pledge to rid the nation of the Boko Haram scourge using his military background as a talking point, as he wrested power from President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 elections. 

His administration has however falling woefully short on his campaign promise as not only has Boko Haram become even more menacing, the dynamic of the Fulani Herdsmen terrorists was added under Buhari's watch and the president, who is also Fulani, has been accused of being complicit, at least through inaction, in the murderous activities of the Fulani terrorists.

Nigeria is a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and there is ample evidence of ethno-religious cleansing that has gone on since the inception of the Buhari administration.

Friday

Immigration: The economy and the innerworkings of the H1-B visa program

Weekend Brew
CC™ Opinion - By John Smith 

Lately, there has been much fuss over the Trump administration's stringent policy regarding the H1-B visa program.Here are some hard facts about the H1-B visa program as it relates to how it actually works. 

A corporation will pay say $60.00 per hour for a temporary worker. The $60.00 per hour goes to a consulting firm. For an H1-B visa, it is normally an Indian consulting firm. For an American, it is maybe a local consulting firm. 

If it is an Indian consulting firm, they may take 40 percent and give 60 percent to the H1-B visa consultant of that hourly pay. Or maybe there will be two consulting firms involved, and the consultant may get 40-50 percent. 

For an American, the split may be a 34/66 split with 66 percent going to the consultant and 34 percent to the consulting firm. In either case, it doesn't make much difference. The big winners of the H1-B visa program are the consulting firms. For the corporations, it is also a win since they don't have to provide any benefits to the consultant(s) and they can end the contract at any time. 

The H1-B visa program helps East Indians migrate to America and subsequently take control of the IT industry with help from International Corporations. I have worked with H1-B visa consultants and for the most part, they are at best average and are definitely no better than American trained consultants. The truth is that most of these India-trained consultants can easily be replaced by American workers. 

The usual routine is an H1-B comes to the United States and gets a contract, thus displacing, in most cases, a better trained US worker. Then within 6 months they have to go back to India for a month and marry someone they will meet for the first time when they are face-to-face during the marriage ceremony. Then nine months after they've gotten back to the US with their new wife under their H1-B visa, they have what is known within immigration circles as an "anchor baby." 

You'd be surprised how many Indians who have been married in the US for ten years and have only one child. And that child is a year less than when they first came to the US. Thus, in addition to circumventing the economic system, the process also serves to do the same to the immigration system and it is rather unfair to those folks who work hard and do it by the book, especially immigrants from other parts of the world, who come to the United States legally. 

It is no secret that the Indian H1-B workers have a big advantage. The international corporations

have spent probably a quarter of a trillion dollars building Training Centers, aka Technology Centers in India. I'd say about 15 years ago, Corporations like Intel, Microsoft and GE spent upwards of $10 billion each to build Training Centers in India. In IT, you learn by doing. Either you use it or lose it. 

As soon as someone graduates from college in India (where cheating is rampant by the way) they are hired by a Training Center and go to work. 

Conversely, a US graduate, that is, a US citizen finds it harder to get a job and starts learning on the job, mainly because the jobs they would have gotten to start their careers are being filled by an H1-B visa. When I worked for EDS as a consultant, an old timer told me how it used to be. They would train people to be programmers. There were secretaries who the company let take programming classes and EDS taught them. A lot of workers ended up becoming programmers and bettering themselves. 

But over time, corporations decided to purchase an Indian Consulting firm and ship jobs to
India and also ship Indians to the US through the H1-B visa program to displace American workers for one reason alone, MONEY! It is all about cost savings or should I say, greed! 

In the end, the fact remains that the India-trained consultant is no better than the US trained one. The former is however a lot cheaper and also a lot easier to get rid off, with less complications. 

Those are the facts!

Wednesday

The ten best football (soccer) players of all time

CC™ Sports Perspective

There is no question that 'the beautiful game' has been blessed with some of the most glorious talent ever assembled in any sports, over the generations. Here are the ten best football (soccer) players of all time according to a consortium of ardent analysts and personalities in the game. 

The list allows many fans of the beautiful game to offer their own opinion and suggestions on the veracity of the rankings.

1) Edson Arantes do Nascimento - Pelé (Brazil) 

Peak: 1958-70   

Major Achievements: Most career goals (of any footballer ever, like ever), FIFA Player of the Century, France Football's greatest FIFA World Cup player, TIME 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century list, Brazil's all-time leading goalscorer, Santos' all-time leading goalscorer, youngest FIFA World Cup winner, most assists in FIFA World Cup history, 1958, 1962 & 1970 FIFA World Cup, top goalscorer in FIFA World Cup finals, two Copa Libertadores titles, six Campeonato Brasilerio Serie A titles, two Intercontinental Cups, 1970 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 1958 FIFA World Cup Best Young Player, 1970 Bola de Prata. There isn't really much that needs to be said here. Pele was simply the best and the only player that could have possibly eclipsed him from the premier position would have been Maradona, if the latter had won a second FIFA World Cup.



2) Diego Armando Maradona (Argentina) - RIP

Peak: 1985-90

Major Achievements: 90min's Greatest Footballer of All Time, Corriere dello Sport's Best Athlete in History, 1986 FIFA World Cup, 1986 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 1985 Serie A Footballer of the Year, FIFA World Cup All-Time Team, FIFA Goal of the Century, Argentine Sports Writers' Sportsman of the Century, two-time South American Footballer of the Year, four-time Argentine Football Writers' Footballer of the Year, two Scudetti, one Coppa Italia, one Copa del Rey, one UEFA Cup. The late Maradona was a football genius and took over a game like no other player did, probably not since the number one player on the list, Pelé.


3) Zinedine Zidane - Zizzou (France and of Algerian descent)

Peak: 1997-2006

Major Achievements: 1998 Ballon d'Or, 1998, 2000 & 2003 FIFA World Player of the Year, 2002 UEFA Club Footballer of the Year, 2000/01 Serie A Footballer of the Year, UEFA Champions League Best Player of the Past 20 Years, L'Equipe Best French Player of All Time, 2006 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, only player to be named Player of the Year in three of the top five leagues, most goals in FIFA World Cup finals, 1998 FIFA World Cup, 2000 UEFA European Championships, one Champions League, two Scudetti, one La Liga title, one Intercontinental Cup. Zizzou should have won two FIFA World Cups and the evidence of his genius was in taking an average and aging French side to the FIFA World Cup final in 2006, while eliminating a star-studded Brazil side in the process. Zizzou never lost to Brazil when it mattered and he was 2-0 against two of arguably the best Brazillian teams of all time, the 1998 and 2006 teams with stars like Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo ("O Fenômeno"), Roberot Carlos and Cafu, just to name a few.


4) Johan Cryuff (Netherlands aka Holland)

Peak: 1971-75

Major Achievements: 1971, 1973 & 1975 Ballon d'Or, 1974 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, FIFA World Cup All-Time Team, three-time Dutch Footballer of the Year, two-time Dutch Sportsman of the Year, three European Cups, one La Liga title, nine Eredivisie titles, one Copa del Rey, six KNVB Cup, one Intercontinental Cup. Johan Cryuff was 'Total Football' and he was the architect of modern football, as we know it.


5) Franz Beckenbauer (Germany aka West Germany)

Peak: 1966-76

Major Achievements: 1972 & 1976 Ballon d'Or, FIFA World Cup All-Time Team, 1966 FIFA World Cup Best Young Player Award, four-time German Footballer of the Year, 1974 FIFA World Cup, 1972 UEFA European Championships, three European Cups, five Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokals, one Intercontinental Cup. The Der Kaiser, as he is fondly called, won the FIFA World Cup as a player and also as a manager. He is also one of only two defenders to ever win the Ballon d'Or and he infact won it TWICE!


6) Ronaldo aka "O Fenômeno" (Brazil)

Peak: 1995-2002

Major Achievements: 1997 & 2002 Ballon d'Or, 1996, 1997 & 2002 FIFA World Player of the Year, 1998 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 2002 FIFA World Cup Golden Shoe, 1996/97 European Golden Shoe, 1994 & 2002 FIFA World Cup, 1997 & 1999 Copa America, two-time Pichichi winner, 1998 Serie A Footballer of the Year, two La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, one KNVB Cup, one UEFA Cup, one Intercontinental Cup. Ronaldo easily could have become the greatest football player of all time, but his knees and overall lack of personal discipline, did him in. He was simply a joy to watch!


7) Ronaldinho (Brazil)

Peak: 2002-06

Major Achievements: 2005 Ballon d'Or, 2004 & 2005 FIFA World Player of the Year, 2005/06 UEFA Club Footballer of the Year, 2004 & 2005 FIFPro World Player of the Year, one UEFA Champions League, two La Liga titles, one Scudetto. 2002 FIFA World Cup winner. Ronaldinho was one of the most gifted geniuses with the ball at his feet. He was exquisite to watch and played with so much joy that his passion seemed like par-for-the-course, even in the most energy-sapping of games. Just ask England in 2002 and they will tell you that no one 'smiled while killing you' with so much ease as Ronaldinho. 


8) Alfredo Di Stéfano (Argentina)

Peak: 1956-62

Major Achievements: 1957 & 1959 Ballon d'Or, five European Cups, one Intercontinental Cup, eight La Liga titles, five-time Pichichi winner, World Team of the 20th Century, one Copa del Rey.
Alfredo Di Stéfano is considered by some to be the best player of all time, and many consider that he should be ranked above fellow Argentines Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. Indelibly associated with the Real Madrid side that won 5 European Cups between 1956 and 1960, remarkably Di Stéfano did not even come to Europe until he was in his late 20s. It was during his time in Spain with Real that created his legend. In 11 seasons, in addition to the European Cup triumphs, he helped them win 8 league titles and the Copa del Rey, scoring 308 goals in 396 appearances for Los Blancos. His partnership with Ferenc Puskás became legendary, exemplified by the 1960 European Cup Final, where Di Stéfano scored a hat-trick, and the Hungarian four in the 7 – 3 defeat of Eintracht Frankfurt, still spoken of, nearly 60 years later, as one of the finest games of club football ever played. 
9) Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Peak: 2010-18

Major Achievements: 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 & 2017 Ballon d'Or, 2008, 2016 & 2017 FIFA World Player of the Year, 2014, 2016 & 2017 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, four-time European Golden Shoe winner, two-time PFA Players' Player of the Year, UEFA Champions League all time top goalscorer, Real Madrid's all time top goalscorer, five UEFA Champions Leagues, two La Liga titles, three Premier League titles, one Scudetto, two Copa del Rey, one FA Cup, one UEFA European Championship and inaugural UEFA Nations League Championship.


10) Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Peak: 2009-18

Major Achievements: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 & 2019 Ballon d'Or, 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year, Barcelona all time top goalscorer, La Liga all time top goalscorer, six-time Pichichi winner, Argentina's all time top goalscorer, most goals scored in a calendar year, 2011 & 2015 UEFA Men's Player of the Year, seven-time La Liga Player of the Year, 2014 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 2005 Young European Footballer of the Year, five-time European Golden Shoe winner, four Champions Leagues, nine La Liga titles, six Copa del Rey. 

Saturday

Still on Constitutionalism: A wake-up call

Late Nigerian Dictator Sani Abacha

CC™ Nigeriaworld

By Abdulrazaq Magaji

Over the past several months, the restructuring debate has understandably been pushed to the front burner with opinions on the issue being as impassioned as they are divided. Expectedly, every Nigerian appears to have an idea on how, when and what to restructure.

That is the way it should be! But, with popular opinion in support of preserving the continued existence of Nigeria as one, united country, attention should be focused on restructuring to strengthen political structures. It is good that the ninth Senate has activated a nationwide debate on securing a people-oriented constitution.

It might not have been top on the agenda when then Head of State, General Sani Abacha, convoked the National Constitutional Conference in 1994, but, little did he know that he had surreptitiously set the country on the path of restructuring.  Had death not abridged General Abacha’s plans, it is safe to say that all the hot air over marginalization, more imagined than real, and some of the ills we are grappling with, would have been consigned to history.

Reference here is to stillborn report of the 1994/95 National Constitutional Conference. A review of salient provisions of the report shows that, had it seen the light of day, Nigeria would have transformed from a country of contending ethnic nationalities into a modern nation-state in a matter of thirty years! In a manner of speaking, the Abacha draft is the best effort at constitutionalism since independence in 1960.

Sadly, General Abacha died suddenly after holding the country together for five impossible years. Imperatively, survival instincts demanded that General Abacha be disowned by those who succeeded him. The national emergency then was to heal wounds and woo the aggrieved South-west geo-political zone back into the fold. It was, therefore, expedient for his stopgap successor, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, to distance himself as much as possible. The biggest casualty was the report of Confab ’94.

One of the committees hurriedly assembled by the new administration to explore the way forward was led by an eminent jurist, late Justice Niki Tobi. The Committee appeared to be in a haste to deliver; after all, it had its briefs well spelt out. The Committee took one hasty look at the Abacha Report and dismissed it offhanded as ‘anti-people’. Remarkably, the eminent jurist rationalized the decision to throw away the Abacha document by claiming it was the ‘product of a disputed legitimacy’. In its place, the 1979 constitution was lazily window-dressed and closed shop!

As things stand today, Nigeria continues to grope partly due to the lethargy with which the Abacha document was handled. The nation’s official six geo-political zones remains an enduring legacy of General Abacha. In any case, the zones were meant to be the building blocks for the fundamental changes envisaged by the 1995 draft constitution which made provision for the offices of president, vice president, senate president, house speaker as well as the position of prime minister and deputy prime minister. A five-year single-term for political offices. Public office holders were restricted to a five-year single-term tenure.

The ‘Abacha document’ had something for everybody. Had political exigencies not prevailed on General Abubakar into literally throwing away the baby with the bathwater, Nigeria would, by now, have experimented with the Abacha formula for twenty-two   of the ‘thirty-year transition period’ which aim was to ‘promote national cohesion and integration’, after which merit and competence would replace rotation in determining who gets what.

In strict adherence to the principle of rotation envisaged by the Abacha document, at no point in time would any of the six geo-political zones have cause to complain of marginalization since there was always going to be one ‘juicy’ office to be vied for by each of the zones every five years. What this means is that, in 2018, the fifth of the six zones would have produced a president for the country and, by 2023, all six key political offices would have gone round the six geopolitical zones on rotational basis.

Of equal importance is that the unique provision eliminates the incumbency factor and its attendant abuses. Since the draft envisaged its replication at state levels, the president and other principal officers as well as state governors and stand disqualified from standing election for the same office during their five-year single term incumbency!

More than two decades after ‘throwing away the baby with the bath water’, Nigerians are still playing the ostrich instead of sobering up and still living in denial.  overgrowing the prejudices of the Abacha era. As a matter of fact, the Abacha document was so comprehensive to have anticipated the untenable and wrong-headed agitations across the country and the hollow talk of marginalization that comes with it. Now, can and, should Nigerians continue to play the ostrich and allow lawlessness to dominate the political scene? Are we to allow a rambunctious few to continue to stampede us and dominate national discourse in the face of quick-fix solutions?

Of course, the talk of dissolving Nigeria is hot air that lacks substance. Yes, there is need to restructure and this should not be mistaken for a breakup as some have been programmed to believe. We need to restructure in a way every section of the country will, at all times, be appropriately represented in governance. The ‘Abacha document’ took care of these and more. The document suggested a five-year single-term for elective posts. To restructure in a way that lawmaking will be inexpensive and effective, the draft made provision for part-time lawmaking!

Of course, Nigeria should restructure in a way that treasury looters will not get dubious clean bills from regular courts or be shielded from prosecution. It may interest Nigerians and their elected representatives that there is no proclamation for the much-abused immunity clause for any public office holder in the Abacha draft for the president and vice president as well as governors and their deputies. The pestiferous eighth Assembly that canvassed for a dubious immunity for its principal officers was not expected to look at the document; it didn’t!

Nigerians should give the thumbs-up to the leadership of the current Senate for taking the bull by the horn. To achieve desired results, Nigerians must begin to look beyond General Abacha and ditch the prejudices that characterized his days. The task ahead may seem insuperable but it is not invincible. 

The task will be made easier if we tinker with report of Confab ’95. 

Friday

The Hushpuppis and Nigeria’s image

CC™ Opinion - By Eleanya Ndukwe Jr.

The arrests of Ramoni Igbadole Abbas, commonly known as Hushpuppi; Jacob Ponle, known as Woodberry; and ten others last year by the expert combination of the FBI, INTERPOL, and the Dubai police in the United Arab Emirates has reopened the unpleasant conversation about international cybercrimes. It has equally re-centered the issue of Nigeria’s image vis-à-vis crime and the most populous African nation’s citizens.

According to official news sources, at the time of the 38-year-old’s arrest, Hushpuppi had victimised over 1.9 million people, 21 laptop computers, 15 memory storage devices, 5 hard drives, 47 smartphones, and 15 flash drives. Investigators announced that he, alongside his aids, defrauded people up to the tune of $435,611,200 (N169.01 billion) based on documents recovered to indicate fraudulence “on a global scale.” Did I mention that he was the owner of 13 luxury cars worth up to $6,806,425 (N2.640 billion) too? 


Hushpuppi displaying his ill-gotten wealth on his Instagram account draped in designer wear.






It is erroneous to assume that Hushpuppi’s case is isolated. The pattern and frequency prove otherwise; they show that the menace is not only endemic, but extensive. Last year, much-celebrated Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 2016 honoree and chairman of Invictus Group, Obinwanne Okeke was arrested and recently pleaded guilty to FBI charges for $11 million (N4.2 billion) internet fraud facing up to 20 years imprisonment sentence; in August 2019, the FBI released a list of 80 wanted Nigerian cybercriminals for an alleged $6 million cybercrime noting that “the overall conspiracy was responsible for the attempted theft of at least $40 million,” while arresting two co-conspirators: Valentine Iro and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe; 6 Nigerian nationals—Richard Izuchukwu Uzuh; Alex Afolabi Ogunshakin; Felix Osilama Okpoh; Abiola Ayorinde Kayode; Nnamdi Orson Benson; and Michael Olorunyomi—are currently on the FBI’s “Cyber’s Most Wanted” list for defrauding “over 70 different businesses in the US with a combined loss of over $6,000,000” according to its official twitter account.
Underlying all these cases is a certain measure of self-indulgence which seeks to exploit the efforts of innocent victims, capitalising on codified methods of cybercriminality frowned upon by international laws, and counterproductive to the image-building goals of Nigeria. Acts such as phishing, engaging in Business Email Compromise (BEC), ransomware, banking malware and other widely recognised cyberthreats have been at the forefront of their activities.
Following Hushpuppi’s arrest, social media platforms began witnessing a sense of distancing. But unlike the social distancing globally induced by the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), we became accustomed to social media distancing initiated by those who had once dined with the overtly brash Hushpuppi. More importantly though, the often-repeated lines of denunciation by Nigerian public officials greeted our airwaves as expected. The central message was the same as always: ALL Nigerians should not be lumped into the soiled perception of fraudulence, uncharacteristically championed by most recently arrested infamous nationals like Hushpuppi, Obinwanne, Mompha and their ilk.
“This is really denting to our image as a people, but like I always say, fraud does not represent who we are as Nigerians. Hardworking. dedicated. committed,” the Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa retweeted to a tweet detailing Hushpuppi’s fraudulent acts on June 25, 2020. Public relations messages like the one by Hon. Dabiri-Erewa are, perhaps, important in the fight to redeem Nigeria’s already battered image—somewhat reminiscent of the late Information Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili’s campaign: “Nigeria: Good People, Great Nation.” However, they reek of gross unexamined self-reflection in many forms. And I will highlight some.
First, at face value, these cybercrimes committed by Nigerian nationals portray a certain get-rich-quick syndrome which has become a deified, noticeable trend mostly exhibited—to varying degrees—across social media platforms. Exotic cars are flaunted, designer wears rocked, glittering accessories are customary looks across verified pages and profiles, as if to separate those that have “made it” from those trying to stay as legitimate and clean as the strength of their manhood and the integrity of their professional crafts entail. That these self-acclaimed “made men” have millions of followers on their social media accounts portrays the alternate universe we live in, where the disenfranchised see them as role models to aspire to become. Yet, there is a profound truth to be gleaned from this aforementioned syndrome.
On deeper observation, it epitomises the present spirit of Nigeria’s younger generation. In terms of age structure according to the 2019 CIA World Factbook, Nigeria’s “early working age” and “mature working age” boast a population pyramid combination of 15-24 years (19.81%) and 25-54 years (30.44%). That equals a combined 50.25%. To put it differently, a 2020 pew research notes that only 5% of Nigeria’s population is 60 or older with a median age of just 18. In other words, 95% (or 195,700.000) of Nigeria’s 206 million population is under the age of 60—a rather astronomical figure that has been failed by the Nigerian experiment with no hope in sight.
The loss of hope in a nonexistent socioeconomic structure is a direct indictment of Nigeria. As Chinua Achebe aptly quips, it is a reiteration of “a failure of leadership.” Admittedly, this does not cloak the blame due these few fraudulent Nigerian nationals. Integrity is an intrinsic, conscious value to be continually upheld as a self-guide by every individual regardless of external forces of failure. To blame the vices of evil without highlighting the deepening failures of governance across all dynamics though, is to be selective about the realities of our normative socioeconomic and political truth.
Secondly, that the indictments of these cyber-criminals have been executed by such international law enforcement bodies like the FBI, INTERPOL, and the Dubai Police Force, reiterates our perceived views about the interests and mandates of the anti-graft commission. It exposes the failures of Nigeria’s national anti-crime agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), again, making a mockery of the nation’s image as one only interested in selectively fighting against crime.
Since the Commission’s creation in 2004 to “prevent, investigate, prosecute and penalise economic and financial crimes and is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the provisions of other laws and regulations relating to economic and financial crimes,” its results have been, to put it bluntly, abysmal. In May 2018, the EFCC’s Head, Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren claimed that the Commission had, within three years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, secured 603 convictions: 103, 195, and 189 for 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively. He also claimed that the Commission had recovered about 500 billion naira in Nigeria’s embezzled commonwealth. Fast-forward to this year’s Democracy Day, June 11, while speaking at a press conference, the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu noted thus: “Our scorecard in the area of conviction is 2,240 in the last five years and we recovered assets in excess of N980 billion, with quite a large array of non-monetary assets.”
Juxtaposing these “recovered” stolen funds with the 2018 Brooking Institution report that every minute, six people in Nigeria fall into extreme poverty—defined by the United Nations to mean those who earn $1.90 (a meagre N760) or less daily—is a tough task. In the same year, Nigeria would become the “poverty capital of the world” overtaking India—a nation with more than six times its population size—and is set to remain so for the next generation. That we have reportedly recovered N980 billion ($2,529,977,800.00) under the present administration by the EFCC alone, even as Nigerians fall into extreme poverty, is almost unimaginable. There have also been allegations of Magu “relooting the loots”—a codified notion that the recovered funds have been used for personal gains instead of being reimbursed into the coffers of Nigeria’s commonwealth.
As at the time of writing this piece, Ibrahim Magu has been arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Supposing we even ignore these random convictions and focus on the assumed big fishes as my curiosity suggested during the writing of this piece, my inquiry into the most sensitive cases betrayed hope as well. Of all 43 cases termed “high profile cases being prosecuted by the EFCC” as shown here with the earliest dated 2007, only four (a measly 9.30%) of the cases have been “dismissed.” A massive 39 of the cases (90.7%) are still “ongoing” or have “commenced” including those on “interlocutory appeal at the Supreme Court.” The perception is thus that Nigeria’s anti-crime agencies are mere watchdogs for political witch-hunting, readily available and only potent against targeted individuals and organisations.
This endemic betrayal of trust in the Nigerian system and the astronomical surge in cybercrimes by its nationals, have come at a grave cost to Nigeria’s international image. 419—the section of the Nigerian Criminal Code—is now an emblem of our economic and financial realities. Cybercrime is now an automatic indictment of both the average Nigerian and Nigeria’s character, just as our comatose international image lies critically at the selective mercy of western propaganda. It has equally fostered an unconscious guilt we have to bear across all international institutions as Nigerians. And its implications have been even more damaging: our emails are rejected; our notices for denial are stamped with imperialist prejudice; our visa applications—whether for tourism, work, or studies—are denied with reckless abandon; our green international passports are treated with utter disdain. We are judged based on our perceived unscrupulousness than on the merits of our individual characters. And even when meritorious acts are associated with the Nigerian nationality, there is the preconceived idea that an ill must have contributed to the outcome. Through it all, no iota of success or failure of the Nigerian is without the asterisk of potential criminality.
Thankfully, international anti-crime agencies have been successful in fishing out these hoodlums and charging them appropriately. However, what does not fall under the jurisdiction of INTERPOL, FBI, or any other anti-crime agency is the urgent need to redeem Nigeria’s image. To do this, is to reexamine the erroneous one-way-street perception of criminal acts, which is to call out the failures of both the leaders and the led. To do this, is to admit the failed Nigerian socio-economic and political systems, and to rebuild them on the foundations of integrity, transparency, truth, and justice. Until we do so, the Hushpuppis and Obinwannes of our existence will continue to dent our collective image with their cybercriminal acts. Until we do so, others will continue to look up to these criminals as role models and answers to the questions Nigeria fails to address.
Eleanya Ndukwe Jr. is a sociopolitical critic and graduate student of Political Science at California State University, Los Angeles majoring in Global Politics. He writes from Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @The_New_Mind
This opinion piece originally appeared in The Guardian.