Browsing Month August, 2011

Obasanjo speaks out for his tovarish, but he is wrong

By , August 11, 2011 | 2:39 am | 0 Comment

Obasanjo speaks out for his tovarish, but he is wrong

ONUMBA.COM – Ah.  “Birds of the same feather” flock to defend each other.  

Apparently, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is mad.  Hopping mad.  In his ‘holier than thou’ view, he feels that impertinent treatment is being meted out to ousted Hosni Mubarak by the mean-spirited Egyptian authority now prosecuting him for epic shenanigans and abuse of power. 

From Kenya, where he was attending a clambake with his fellow feckless African leaders, Obasanjo expressed the high-minded view that Egypt is transgressing for not showing disgraced Mubarak the ilk of respect befitting a former leader.  He loathed the 82-year-old Mubarak being wheeled into court in a cage and derided it as an infradig.  Accord him the “personal dignity” “befitting his status,” he demanded.  Worked up about this, he kvetched and fervidly assailed the conduct of the Egyptian authority as unbecoming and worried about this not being “good for the image of Africa.”

Isn’t that comical?  All that keelhaul, coming from a military-civilian hybrid with a pugnacious demeanor, whose glib acrobatic moves to cling on to power beyond his lawful duration blew up on his face and vividly exposed his power-gluttony and self-serving nature.  He and Mubarak probably swapped playbooks and his ranting caterwaul is claptrap and a mighty-bloody joke. 

Of course, Obasanjo is entitled to his sanctimonious opinion when he said that this is not good for Africa’s image.  But he is certainly not entitled to having his remarks go unchecked.  Obasanjo, if I may helpfully point out, still stokes tantrum in riled Nigerians who are still convinced he got away with his own catalogue of shady indulgencies while in office.  Some are still rabidly demanding investigation of his regime, though there’s very little chance of that happening since no one has the balls to go after him. 

What Obasanjo failed to mention in his irrational and unhinged harangue in Kenya was the ugsome truth about the factors really responsible for besmirching Africa’s image.  He should look elsewhere for why the global view of the continent is skuzzy, crummy, depressing and shameful.  The treatment that Mubarak is receiving is not it.  Perhaps, the pestiferous corruption, grand mismanagement by bumbling leaders and systemic ethics morass in Africa are the undeniable culprits.  They are the bunyanesque albatross ravaging hopes, bedeviling and dragging down the continent.  The opprobrious and pervasive culture of marauding and siphoning Africa’s exiguous financial resources into foreign bank accounts by greed-infested African governments, led by mindless byzantine charlatans do more to bedaub Africa’s image than anything else.  And then there are the vicious bloodcurdling conflicts wreaking havoc on folks and battering societies.  Jaw-dropping footage clips of morbidly skeletal-starving children of Somalia dangle as an emblem of infamy staining Africa’s image.

The furious revolt that doomed Mubarak’s monstrous 30-year long dynasty was past due.  Just look at his appalling record. He rained vicious tyranny on the Egyptian plebes while presiding over a regime involved in a smorgasbord of crimes. He is now facing a plethora of charges, some for pilfering billions of dollars from the people’s till, having ruled Egypt as his personal fiefdom.  Media reports variously peg his obscene worth at between “$40 and 70 billion,” safely stashed in Archipelago of foreign banks. 

But Mubarak is not alone.  That kind of notorious canker and perfected thievery is incorrigible in virtually all African countries where you have thriving corruption factories manned by effete Kleptomaniacs and parasitic jackasses.  Yet, you wonder out loud why these wretched countries are mud-stuck in deepening torment and apocalyptic squalor.  African governments are globally known more for pittance than advancement, more for brutal conflicts that innovation, and more for a culture of untamed hedonism than pride in self-reliance.  All of that clearly sums up to a “bad image” for a floundering continent that has become a global laughingstock wallowing in multilayered social malady and economic mess.

But it also adds up to why Obasanjo’s audacious demand for “dignified” treatment for Mubarak is utterly misplaced.  And the suggestion that he is not being treated courteously is a profound departure from basic candor.  How much more respect can the Egyptian authority show him that he is not currently enjoying?  Mubarak is not in a Gulag receiving shabby treatment.  He is facing justice for his crimes, for crying out loud.  It is not supposed to be a leisure walk through a flowery park with canorous songs from crooning birds.  But if somehow, a gold-trimmed Jacuzzi and a plush Benz to ferry him back-and-forth to his trial is what Obasanjo has in mind, then that’s a quixotic wish. 

Stick with me guys as we meticulously examine the treatment that Mubarak is receiving and wrap this up.  He is enjoying a VIP treatment for his array of illnesses.  He is being well fed when he is not on hunger strike.  And since his ouster, they have sheltered him in a cozy country-side hideout.  Anyone else would have been dumped in a tartarus calaboose.  Taken together, Mubarak is being accorded far more succor than the innocent and defenseless pro-democracy minions brutally mowed down by his camorra of butchers on his ukase. 

What’s more, he is receiving far more respect that the Egyptian rank and file he robbed of a better future.  For his museum of atrocities as the leader of power-grabbing and looting corruptocrats that studded his vicious tyranny, Mubarak certainly deserves all that is being hurled his way.  Yep, ‘facingthemusic bologna’ is a sandwich better served cold.  I’m just glad that justice for brutally shady politicians in Egypt is not as mushy and laughable as it is in Nigeria.

My advice for Obasanjo is to go back to his Ota Farms and butt out of it.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus.  He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com

Copyright 2011 Onumba.com. The information contained in the Onumba.com news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group.

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One-on-One with Sen. Eric Kearney

By , August 11, 2011 | 2:24 am | 0 Comment

One-on-One with Sen. Eric Kearney

ONUMBA.COM – A conversation with State Senator Eric Kearney, Ohio Senate, representing District 9

Ike Mgbatogu – Let me start by asking you to introduce yourself to our readers – your hometown, your background, the district you represent, and of course, whatever else you would like to say about yourself. 

State Senator Eric Kearney – I am a State Senator from Cincinnati, Ohio.  I grew up in a community called Hollydale, which was an African-American community in the Cincinnati area.  I went to college at Dartmouth College.  And I went to law school at the University of Cincinnati.  And I practiced law for a number of years, for two different law firms and subsequently bought and worked for the Cincinnati Herald which is a Black weekly newspaper in Cincinnati.

Mgbatogu – The governor recently signed the $55.8 billion bi-annual budget, cutting funding to education, local government, school districts, and others.  What’s your general take on the governor’s budget?

Sen. Kearney – Well, I think the governor’s budget took drastic and radical steps that are not in the best long term interest of Ohioans.  For example, I think cuts to education were harmful and detrimental.  So, I think that many aspects of the budget we would see that in the long run, it was not in the best interest for the state.

Mgbatogu – Opponents of SB 5 will try to overturn the law in the November Ballot.  How would you assess the chances of SB 5 being struck down by Ohio voters?

Sen. Kearney – I would say that the probability is quite high. Please recall that they gathered over one million signatures in opposition to SB 5.  So I think that bodes well for its prospects. Additionally, I would add that they gathered signatures from all 88 counties in Ohio.  So, I think there’s a high probability that SB 5 will be overturned and then the legislature will likely come up with another bill to address the issue of public sector unions.

Mgbatogu – Gov. Strickland lost the last election to Republican John Kasich by 2 percentage points.  Strickland being the incumbent, that’s rare.  What happened?  What went wrong?  Why did the governor lose?

Sen. Kearney – Well, I think that there were some strategic mistakes at a very high level that were made by people associated with Gov. Strickland’s campaign.  But I don’t think that these were fatal or detrimental; rather I think that the key thing that happened was the economy.  The economy did not improve and Ohioans held Gov. Strickland responsible for the state of the economy and the downturn of the economy.  So, I would say that was the reason Gov. Strickland lost.

Mgbatogu – It’s been quite an interesting 100 days for Gov. Kasich.  During the campaign, he did say he would pursue some of the policies he is pursuing today, and yet folks voted for him, including some who are now angry about his policies.  Certainly, the governor did not get a huge mandate, but he won.  What’s your reaction to that, and what message do you have for the people of Ohio in the next election?

Sen. Kearney – Well, a couple of things.  I would disagree with the premise of the question.  I think that the Ohio Republican Party received a big mandate.  They won two seats in the Ohio Senate, 16 percent gain.  They won one of the historic Black Senate seats, one of the crown jewels of the African-American community.  They also took back the Ohio House, winning over 17 seats there, and then they won all the executive branch, so I think they have a mandate, and what they have chosen to do with that [mandate] is some of the policies that people are seeing right now.  With respect to the African-American community, I think that we need to wake up and work harder and get out and vote.  We have to be engaged in the political process if we are going to have a government that’s fair and represents all people.

Mgbatogu – Ohio law requires the state to set aside 15% of its contracts for minority businesses.  Recently, Kasich hinted he is thing about raising that number.  One thing is very clear.  The goal of 15% is not currently being met.  What should the administration do to meet that goal, which by the way wasn’t met in the Strickland administration, either?

Sen. Kearney – Well, I think you have to follow the law.  The prior administration didn’t meet the law, and I sat on the Finance Committee and I would raise that very issue during the finance committee [meetings], and people would try and tap-dance around the answer.  But you know, we have this law that the state, in buying goods and services, is supposed to utilize minority vendors.  We should enforce the law.  I mean, it’s pretty straightforward.  And our state-run universities and colleges need to do the same thing.  They are under the same obligation.  I think only two in the state have been able to meet that criteria, one of them is Central State University, which is probably not a surprise to anyone.

Mgbatogu – Gov. Kasich appointed the first 23 members of his cabinet before naming one African American.  That didn’t sit well with you and the other Black lawmakers.  But since then, he has named two African Americans to the cabinet, Michael Colbert in the Department of Job and Family Services, and Harvey Reed to run the Department of Youth Services.  How would you assess the governor’s mindset when it comes to question of inclusion and diversity?

Sen. Kearney – Well, I think he has a ways to go in terms of understanding the importance of diversity, both in terms of ethnicity and race and gender.  I have to tip my cap to Sen. Nina Turner and Sen. Shirley Smith and Sen. Charleta Tavares for raising the issue and for making some bold announcements about it.  So, I think they have done a good job of exposing some of the inconsistencies there.  I would also say that, if the governor were to take a broader approach in including people in leadership positions, he would see that the result would be better.  I think that many of the great organizations in our country realize that diversity is an asset and that’s one thing that’s currently lacking in the governor’s cabinet.

Mgbatogu – Do you think that a Black person can win a U.S. Senate seat in Ohio?

Sen. Kearney – Yes.  How do I put it?  I was intimately involved in now President Obama’s campaign when he ran for senate.  And have known him since before he was a state senator. And the thing that I would say is that circumstances have to be right; the planets have to be aligned, to use that analogy.  Ohio is a state where it can happen.  We would certainly need to work together.  I am not going to put a date or timeline on it.  Frankly, I think if the right person had run last year, it could have happened [when Republican Rob Portman ran against former Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher].  I think it can happen and I think it will happen once in our lifetime, and I believe the same is true that we will have an African-American governor of our state.

Mgbatogu – Growing up, did you aspire to be a politician or did you consider going into a different career?

Sen. Kearney – Growing up, I always wanted to be an architect.  That didn’t materialize.  Then I wanted to be a writer.  Some may say that has materialized to a certain extent.  And then I practiced law and following practicing law, I started a company to acquire businesses and do turnarounds.  And then after bought a Black weekly newspaper, the Cincinnati Herald, then got into politics.  So, I did not grow up thinking that I would ever hold a state senate seat, and I am very thankful everyday that people elected me and I consider it a blessing and an honor to serve.

Mgbatogu – Outside of folks in your family, who would you consider your hero(s), living or deceased?

Sen. Kearney – Well, I would say that I have a lot of them.  To a certain extent, I would say President Obama for some of the things that he has been able to do.  Martin Luther King would be an obvious one, for his struggles in the civil rights movement.  George Washington Carver is another one for his innovation and leadership in the areas of science.  Richard Wright for his work.  Kenneth Chenault who is the President of the American Express would be another person. Earl Graves in publishing.  Johnson, obviously, in publishing.

Mgbatogu – Have you been to Africa?

Sen. Kearney – No, I have never been to the continent of Africa.

Mgbatogu – If you get a chance to go, what country would you like to visit?

Sen. Kearney – That’s an interesting question.  My senior year in college, my roommate was from Ghana.  Right now, we go to church with a couple that we are quite close to, and they are from Uganda.  And Egypt being the cradle of civilization is attractive to me.  But to answer your question directly, I would think that I would like to go to Rwanda and the reason is, I have read so much and heard so much about the conflict that’s gone on there between the Hutus and the Tutsis.  My wife and I were at one point thinking about adopting a child from that country.  Despite the conflict, I hear that it is very beautiful there, that the people are wonderful people.  And so, I would be interested in seeing that contrast up close.  And then I just heard today on the radio about a cycling team from Rwanda that’s supposed to be exceptional, so perhaps, that’s why it sticks in my mind so much.

Mgbatogu – Should Blacks do more to acknowledge and salute the life and work of Minister Malcolm X?

Sen. Kearney – Yes.  It’s been something that people talk about constantly.  Yes, I think so.  In my view, Malcolm X is certainly one of the pioneers.  If we were to make a Mt. Rushmore for freedom in America, civil rights movement, he would have to get a very strong consideration as one of the four faces on that wall.  But I believe he gets a great amount of respect.  I think that he is due a great deal of respect, certainly.  This country would not be where we are without him.

Mgbatogu – Kind of a curious question.  If Gov. John Kasich decides to offer you a lofty position in his administration, will you accept it?

Sen. Kearney – One, that would never happen.  And two, no.

[Mgbatogu]  You know, he is a maverick, and you don’t really know what he would do?

Sen. Kearney – That’s true, you don’t know what he would do.  And that’s one thing I do like about his personality; that he is kind of, hey, let’s try it, let’s do it.  That is one thing I do like about his personality.  However, in his broad maverick behavior in the broadest most imaginative moment that he has, he would not pick someone like me.

Mgbatogu – After this gig, what’s next for you as a politician?  Are you eyeing any higher office?  What’s in the future for you?

Sen. Kearney – At this point, if the opportunity occurred, I would certainly look at it.  Right now, President Obama called me a few months ago and asked me to raise money for him in the state of Ohio.  And that is what I am going to do.  And fulfill my responsibilities to the citizens of the 9th district in the state of Ohio; I have 3 ½ years in my term, and so, that’s what I plan to do.

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One-on-One with Senator Edna Brown

By , August 3, 2011 | 2:52 am | 0 Comment

One-on-One with Senator Edna Brown

ONUMBA.COM – A conversation with State Senator Edna Brown, Ohio Senate, representing District 11

Ike Mgbatogu – Let me start by asking you to introduce yourself to our readers – your hometown, your background, the district you represent, and of course, whatever else you would like to say about yourself. 

State Senator Brown – I am Sen. Edna Brown.  I am from Toledo, Ohio. I represent the 11th Senatorial district.  I am starting my 10th year in the legislature.  Prior to that, I served 8 years on the Toledo City Council.  Prior to that, of course, I was a municipal employee for the city of Toledo.  I served 32 years with the city of Toledo.

Mgbatogu – The governor recently signed the $55.8 billion bi-annual budget, cutting funding to education, local government, school districts, and others.  What’s your general take on the governor’s budget?

Sen. Brown – Well, the governor’s first budget, I must say really was intense, demanding a lot of attention on my behalf and others.  In my opinion, the budgets itself, there were a number of things in that budget, I believe, in spite of what the governor says, that the budget is a job killer, actually.  I think that it rewards the wealthy.  It’s going to cause the local government to increase taxes because of the reduction in funding to counties, cities and townships.  I really think that much of what is in that budget will not create jobs as it has been portrayed.

Mgbatogu – Opponents of SB 5 will try to overturn the law in the November Ballot.  How would you assess the chances of SB 5 being struck down by Ohio voters?

Sen. Brown – I feel confident that SB 5 will be struck down.  The public is very much in support of public employees.  That was shown through their response to the rallies here in Columbus as well as in the number of people who are not public employees who circulated the petitions.  The number of signatures gathered shows that people are very, very much opposed to this law.  I believe that enthusiasm will carry forward to November and people will strike that [law] down.

Mgbatogu – Gov. Strickland lost the last election to Republican John Kasich by 2 percentage points.  Strickland being the incumbent, that’s rare.  What happened?  What went wrong?  Why did the governor lose?

Sen. Brown – Well, I can tell you this, if I knew the answer to that, I would never have to work another day in my life.  Honestly, I do not know what happened there.  There was a lot of negative campaigning.  And I was as shocked as anyone when not only the governor but other Democratic statewide office holders lost their positions.  So no, I do not have any idea, except that he did not get the necessary votes to win.

Mgbatogu – It’s been quite an interesting 100 days for Gov. Kasich.  During the campaign, he did say he would pursue some of the policies he is pursuing today, and yet folks voted for him, including some who are now angry about his policies.  Certainly, the governor did not get a huge mandate, but he won.  What’s your reaction to that, and what message do you have for the people of Ohio in the next election?

Sen. Brown – My advice would be to take to heart whatever the person who is campaigning for the office (now I assume it is going to be Gov. Kasich or whomever) say in the campaign.  I believe, even though Gov. Kasich stated that he planned to bring some of these issues forward, people thought it was just political rhetoric and did not heed that.  But of course we see that is not so.  That he is in fact putting forth the radical changes that he spoke of during his campaign.  He, as a matter of fact, came in and started to make policy changes immediately.  His programs are on the fast track.  I believe that it is because we have so many new legislators, new Republican legislators that he wants to get things done before they really learn their way, and before they have had an opportunity to really get their own agendas.  Naturally, they would follow their leader, anyway, but now, I don’t think he is getting as much push back as he would if they were more experienced. 

Mgbatogu – Ohio law requires the state to set aside 15% of its contracts for minority businesses.  Recently, Kasich hinted he is thing about raising that number.  One thing is very clear.  The goal of 15% is not currently being met.  What should the administration do to meet that goal, which by the way wasn’t met in the Strickland administration, either?

Sen. Brown – When it comes to set aside, that’s a difficult pill for some providers, contractors and service providers to swallow.  What we need is a better monitoring of the procedure being used.  I believe that something along the lines of before contract are awarded, as a matter of fact in the bidding process, I believe that the prime contractors or prime bidders should be required to actually list within their bid who their subs would be and show how they would meet the set aside.  I believe if that’s done upfront and monitored (because I can see where someone would come to Joe Smith and put him on as a sub, and then later after the contract is awarded, not use his services.  So, I believe that’s what needs to happen.  It needs to happen in the bidding process and then monitored later.

Mgbatogu – Gov. Kasich appointed the first 23 members of his cabinet before naming one African American.  That didn’t sit well with you and the other Black lawmakers.  But since then, he has named two African Americans to the cabinet, Michael Colbert in the Department of Job and Family Services, and Harvey Reed to run the Department of Youth Services.  How would you assess the governor’s mindset when it comes to question of inclusion and diversity?

Sen. Brown – I cannot read the governor’s mind.  I did not know the governor prior to him being governor.  So, I have no basis other than his current actions to base my opinions on.  The governor, when he met with the OLBC said to us that he wanted the best.  That he wanted people, who were, I am using my own words, loyal to him.  And that he had offered positions to several African Americans who had not accepted the positions. He called a couple of names, but I won’t repeat them.  That’s up to the governor to repeat it to the press if he would like to, but he did, when he met with us, called a couple of names of persons, either offered positions to or talked about positions, and they had refused.  It did happen.  I was sitting there.  And I remember one name in particular.  I can only take him at his words, and hope that he would look deeper and farther for qualified individuals and there are many out there to put into positions.  I understand what he is saying, the radical changes he is making, naturally, he wants people who would support him and his agenda.

Mgbatogu – Do you think that a Black person can win a U.S. Senate seat in Ohio?

Sen. Brown – I do believe a Black person can.  This is the right time for that to happen – a well qualified person, a person with necessary financial wherewithal, I believe can win a U.S. Senate seat.  We look at this senate seat which I currently hold; I am the first African American from North West Ohio to ever serve in the Ohio senate.  And so, if I can do it, then someone else can become a U.S. Senator as well.  There was a time when there are those who would say that we would not have an African American president at this time in history, but here we are.

Mgbatogu – Growing up, did you aspire to be a politician or did you consider going into a different career? 

Sen. Brown – No, I did not.  It’s interesting that I ended up in politics.  When I was growing up, my ambition was to be able to get an education so that I would be in a position to have a professional job; to have an occupation.  Actually, once I started to think about my career, I wanted to be an educator.  I wanted to be a business education teacher.  After retiring, at the urging of some other people, ran for Toledo City Council, and was elected on my first try.  So, that’s kind of how I got into politics.

Mgbatogu – Outside of folks in your family, who would you consider your hero(s), living or deceased?

Sen. Brown – I will tell you who has had the most influence on me, one person, since I have been in political office, and that’s former State Representative and former mayor of Toledo Jack Ford. I believe he influenced my political career more than anyone else.

Mgbatogu – Have you been to Africa?

Sen. Brown – I have been to South Africa.

Mgbatogu – If you get a chance to go again, what country would you like to visit?

Sen. Brown – I’m really not sure.

Mgbatogu – Should Blacks do more to acknowledge and salute the life and work of Minister Malcolm X?

Sen. Brown – That’s a question that I don’t have an answer for.  It would depend on the individual, what their mindset is, and how much they would want to salute his life and career.  Because he was a religious leader, and so, it would depend, particularly because some denominations do not align closely with Islam, and so that’s why I said it would be more or less individual type of thing rather than a huge overall endeavor.

Mgbatogu – Kind of a curious question.  If Gov. John Kasich decides to offer you a lofty position in his administration, will you accept it?

Sen. Brown – No, I would not, for this reason, and this reason only.  I really enjoy what I do.  I enjoy being as much of a free spirit as the position would allow me to be.  I had a regular 8 – 5 and 40 for 32 years, and although this position utilizes and takes up a lot of my time, I am more or less in control of my time.  That is my reason and my only reason and has nothing to do with Gov. Kasich personally.

Mgbatogu – After this gig, what’s next for you as a politician?  Are you eyeing any higher office?  What’s in the future for you?

Sen. Brown – I do not aspire for a higher office.  I plan to run for reelection for this position, which would mean I have seven more years that I could serve in public office.  By then, I hope to have mentored and encouraged someone else to run for this position, and then it would be time for me to go home and perhaps enjoy the grandchildren and great grand children.

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