Not since the dreadful days of Josef Stalin who ruled the Soviet Union for 31 years has any Russian leader mesmerized the Russian populace with such a vice-like grip on their lives as Vladimir Putin has done since 1999. Josef Stalin never took prisoners. He caused 53 million people to disappear to preserve his power. Vladimir is not as bad as that. Think of Don Corleone of the Godfather fame and think of Vladimir. A total stranger walks up to you and pricks you with a substance. A plane drops from the sky. A bullet-ridden body is found in a car park in a remote town in Spain. A critic falls in his own Yacht and breaks his neck. Yup.

Actually, if you ask me, Vladimir whose Slavic name speaks to a man of ‘great power’ has been trying to modernize Russia, but he has received little cooperation from the West. For the West to make money which is the reward of capitalism, it must create an enemy. A unipolar world without enemies is an unprofitable business proposition for the West. To Vladimir Putin’s credit, he tried to get his country to join NATO in 2000. He asked that his country be allowed to join without the stringent conditions normally applicable. He was turned down. However, NATO entered into some form of agreement with Russia to cooperate on security matters. The West broke terms of the agreement by bombing Yugoslavia during the Civil War that eventually fractured the country. Russia was not treated as an equal. Putin did not like it. He went on to do his own thing. He invaded the country of Georgia (a country next door to Russia) in 2008. He took Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. He also went into Syria to complicate matters for the West. Basically, he set out to irritate the West. In a vicarious way, this is the kind of irritation the West craves to paint Russia with a broad brush, create the threat of an enemy, build more killing machines, and make more money.

In many ways, casting aside the evils of communism as it was practiced in the 1900s, the East has been more beneficial to African countries in matters of infrastructure development. We can begin to count, but let’s leave it there.

In the last three days, elections have begun in Russia. Putin is running again and he will win. There’s no opposition the way we know it elsewhere. He will take office again officially this week for the next 6 years. He’s still a young man at 71, even by Western standards considering that Biden is 81 and Trump is 78. Imagine for one minute if these were African presidents running in their 80s, we would be getting high-level delegations coming to threaten us with sanctions for fielding old men!!! So much for a tale of two worlds—the world of the rich and powerful countries who operate by a different set of rules, versus the rest of us—struggling countries who have so badly mismanaged our countries that we often go cap-in-hand to ask for money that we already have, deposited in their banks—our stolen patrimony. That is the lot of Africa. That is the burden of Africa. Go Putin!!!!

The latest threat to Africa is the LGBTQ phenomenon. African countries are being threatened with sanctions, withholding of loans, etc if they do not embrace new LGBTQ laws. Ghana is the latest victim in this game of intimidation. Considering that it took hundreds of years for America to allow slaves to be free; considering that it took another 100 years to allow Black people to vote; considering that it took over 200 years to allow women to vote, I just wonder why they cannot give African countries another 200 years to evolve and embrace LGBTQ laws! I thought what was sauce for the goose was also great sauce for the gander? Oh, sorry, we are a struggling country. I almost forgot. Any wonder why everyone is looking to China? The Chinese don’t care whom you choose to marry. The people just want to do business.

Imagine if the West knew the true definition of fairness—if Haiti would have remained so impoverished being the oldest independent black populated country, and especially, sitting in the Western Hemisphere. These folks beat up France in a war they did not ask for. France went on to beg their Western friends to impose a blockade on Haiti. Haiti was forced to pay reparations to France for whooping them. Meanwhile, descendants of slaves are still waiting for reparations. The matter is not even being discussed. Does anyone dream of the day Nigeria will be a great nation that does not take instructions from anyone? Now, Haiti is in turmoil as bandits are about to take over the country. The West will “rally” to send “help” to a country that ordinarily should have been a prosperous haven, had they not meddled with their destiny.

Gaza burns still.

The war in Ukraine grinds on.

Inflation in Nigeria continues to send more people into poverty as the Nigerian Senate that should be coming up with solutions to alleviate poverty is embroiled in a national embarrassment of budget padding. Stealing.

When I wrote last week, I asked the question: What was Fani Willis, the prosecutor in Trump’s election case in Georgia thinking, dating a prosecutor whom she hired on the case? Well, the Judge has ruled. I think he was being very lenient in his ruling by giving the option of either the District Attorney stepping down from the case or having the lead prosecutor step down. Gratuitously, Nathan Wade, the lover boy has sent in his resignation. Fani Willis is going into this big battle now like a wounded lion on the one hand and like a weakened gladiator on the other. I will be surprised if this matter is settled for the Trump side. She’s given them a weapon, and they will milk it to the hilt. In the Judge’s ruling he wrote, among other things, that the testimony given by Nathan Wade, the Prosecutor, emitted “an odor of mendacity.” That’s a euphemism for untruthfulness. A lie.

Again, last week, I wrote that the PDP would do well to hire a steady, peaceful, competent, dutiful, and highly skilled political mind such as Osarodion Ogie, the current SSG of the Obaseki government to pair with Asue Ighodalo, a man who by himself comes into this high stakes political game with impeccable credentials. This is a dream team that the opposition may not have the common sense to match because of matters of ego.

Travel with me into the minds of the opposition right now, this minute. The mantle of leadership of the opposition has fallen into the hands of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu with the choice of Senator Monday Okpebholo. This temporary dethronement of Comrade Oshiomhole is an unacceptable situation to Oshiomhole. So, if you were in Oshiomhole’s shoes, what would you do? Would you fold your hands and let the faction that produced the top of the ticket also produce the deputy? This is where I talk about common sense versus ego. Earlier this past weekend, there was a big buzz that Hon. Ogbeide-Ihama had been chosen to be deputy to Okpebholo. This choice, according to close watchers, could have the potential of giving the PDP a big fight. We will find out in a few days which virtue prevails: common sense or the ego.

On three sad notes, firstly, over 300 students kidnapped in the North remain in captivity. Their captors are asking for the nation’s entire budget to set their captives free. It looks like they are taking a cue from the Senate. When will the state take charge of our security again?

Secondly, the Edo State Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Tony Aziegbemi, has been kidnapped. We know that Fulani herdsmen do not come into the city to take captives. Is this a political hit? Will Edo State drift into dark territory over politics? We pray for his safe return.

In Delta State, a community feud has erupted, eating up our gallant soldiers who were sent on a peace mission. This is a sad development, ominous echoes of days gone by in Odi. What is it about us that makes us so vicious? Have we as a people lost total respect for the uniform? May God comfort the families of men of the Armed Forces who have been affected by this dastardly act.

God bless Edo State, and may God bless Nigeria.

*Ovienmhada, author, poet, playwright & public affairs commentator, can be reached via [email protected].