• INTERVIEW: Reconstructing Edo State; who does the cap fit?

    26/Feb/2016 // 626 Viewers

    By Iyoha John Darlington


    PARIS, FEBRUARY 26, 2016: (DGW) - BEING THE PRESENTATION OF EARL OSARO ONAIWU, EDO STATE GUBERNATORIAL ASPIRANT BY IYOHA JOHN DARLINGTON IN AN INTERVIEW WITH RADIO FRANCE IN PARIS:


    Earl Osaro Osaze Onaiwu with his stainless reputation will bring about good governance in Edo State. A vote for Earl Osaro Onaiwu will reconstruct Edo State . This is a man who has pledged to support anti-corruption laws that will increase transparency and control of public funds.

    A vote for Osaro Onaiwu is a vote for transparency and accountability. That will mark the death of overpriced and inflated contracts. All contracts of the state and public institutions will be made accessible to everyone under Onaiwu's leadership. That remains the best prevention of over-priced contracts, unnecessary purchases or unprofitable sale of assets.

    A vote for Osaro Onaiwu is a vote for transparency, he as governor will ensure the establishment of Supervisory Boards made up of people competent enough to control company’s managers. Therefore, supervisory boards shall include, for example, former successful managers, experts in accounting and procurement or in a field relevant to the company’s business. 

    Politicians without relevant experience cannot themselves provide sufficient supervision, which is why in many countries they can only occupy some of the board’s positions, sometimes none at all. Therefore, it is necessary to establish rules for filling Supervisory Boards of state companies with independent experts and people with relevant qualification and experience.

    A vote for Osaro Onaiwu will bring to an end nepotism as he would fight toe-to-toe to ensure this social malady is extirpated by ensuring meritocracy decides the appointment of public officials. A law shall come into force that will frown on appointing “favorites” after taking office. These “favorites” who follow their instructions, for example, to divert public funds. The new law shall also significantly tightens the rules for civil servants: their decisions shall be subject to material liability, management positions.

    A vote for Osaro Onaiwu will bring about non-interference or shielding party partisans undergoing investigation in corruption cases, if any, which the new government in Edo State under Osaro Onaiwu does not anticipate. In the past, the investigations of serious corruption cases have often ended in limbo after interventions of bigwigs or grandees, whose appointments and dismissals were directly influenced by politicians. 

    Without strengthening the independence and impartiality of the prosecutors’ office, more significant success in the investigations of the most serious financial crimes and political corruption is impossible. This can be ensured by a number of rules and regulations for the appointment of the Attorney General and for the appointment of a director of a specialized unit for corruption.


    A vote for Osaro Onaiwu will ensure the total mobilization of the broad spectrum of the youth in a truly nationalistic sense. He has been a leader, a good manager of men in his capacity as the DG & Coordinator of PDP Governors' Forum and always will be. - Iyoha John Darlington.




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  • Femi Fani-Kayode: Nigeria’s third Mahdi and the last of the Amalekite Kings

    26/Jul/2016 // 1041 Viewers

     


    Forgive me for my curious silence over the last few months but this was due to circumstances beyond my control.
    As you know I was locked up in President Buhari’s gulag and I was not allowed to write from there.

    Needless to say I missed all my readers. I have chosen to share my views about our nation today because I am aware of the fact that President Buhari has not finished with me yet and I may be picked up and thrown into detention on other trumped up charges very soon. This government will do and say anything to silence my voice but they shall not prevail.

    Whatever the case my safety, life and future lies in the hands of God and not theirs. Despite the obvious dangers and various warnings that I have received from both my persecutors and well-wishers I shall continue to write as long as God gives me life and liberty.

    It is not what happens to me that matters but rather what happens to Nigeria and the millions of ordinary people that are suffering in our country from the daily oppression of our modern-day slave masters. That aside, permit me to share my views.

    A couple of weeks ago a 73 year old Christian grandmother was beheaded in Kano because she asked some muslims to stop washing their feet in front of her door before their prayers.

    A few days later a female pastor of the Redeemed Church of God was hacked to pieces by a mob of muslims in the Kubwa district of Abuja simply for doing her morning cry of evangelism and urging the people to give their lives to Christ.


    Not too long after that two hundred muslim youths burnt down a Catholic Church and attacked worshippers in Niger state claiming that they had no right to go to church on a friday because it was the muslim day of worship.

    A few days later a Christian traditional ruler in Plateau state was matcheted to death by a group of Muslim militants and Fulani herdsmen.

    Such attacks are now common place in our country and they are no longer isolated events.
    Worse still cases of institutional racism and religious bigotry are on the rise because our government appears to be encouraging it. Permit me to share one example.

    During my prolonged detention at the EFCC a group of cell mates were conducting an all night christian prayer. All of a sudden the cell guards burst in and screamed at them saying that this “nonsense” must stop and they must go to sleep immediately.

    The inmates complied sheepishly out of fear and the prayers stopped. It was one a.m. in the morning. I was in the opposite set of cells but I heard all the noise and warnings of the guards.

    I sent for one of them and I asked him why he stopped the inmates from doing an all night prayer. His response was that that was efcc policy because the prayers were too loud and they may be planning an escape. I told him that all he had to do was to ask them to lower their voices.

    And that God and prayer was all they had. I also told him that if the inmates that were praying
    were muslims he would not have ordered them to stop. He stormed off in anger.

    The efcc has become a tool of oppression in the hands of the core muslim north who are using it to crush dissent and silence the opposition.

    This assertion is confirmed by the fact that 98 per cent of those that are detained be the efcc for 2 days or more are southerners and middle belters whilst 98 per cent of those that run the agency at the top are from the core muslim north.

    Worse still the lingua franca of the agency is hausa whilst the overwhelming majority of detainees are christians both in Lagos and Abuja. Core northern detainees are treated like royalty whilst Middle Belt and southern inmates are treated like filth.

    Just as the Nigerian military was an institution that was designed and used to suppress and intimidate all the so-called lesser ethnic groups in Nigeria between july 29th 1966 and May 29th 1999 so it is with the EFCC today.

    That is how emboldened the hegemonists in our midst have become and that is the level of barbarity that we have descended to as a nation.

    Yet it gets even worse. Just a few weeks ago, the Minister of Internal Affairs told a bewildered nation that the Sultan of Sokoto (the leader if rhe Muslim community in Nigeria) “directed” him to declare a particular day of the week a public holiday. Without any hesitation he complied with despatch and, with pride, he announced it to the public. Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Nigeria where the caliphate rules.

    Is it any wonder that every single one of the numerous security and intelligence agencies in our country except for one is headed by a northerner?

    Whether it be the army, the navy, the air force, the police, the Department of State Security (DSS), the EFCC, the National Securiry A’dvisor’s Office or the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), they are all headed by individuals that are from the north.

    The only exception to the rule is the Nigerian Iintelligence Agency (NIA), the agency which is responsible for external intelligence and international espionage and which is headed by a southerner.

    Can such a state of affairs be justified under any circumstances? Are southerners and Chrustians not Nigerians as well? Are they not qualified to head more security agencies?

    Does the concept of Federal Character have any meaning in President Buhari’s Nigeria? For how much longer will our people tolerate such reckless impunity, racism and injustice from those who believe that they are the Boers and supremacists of what is fast turning into apartheid-Nigeria?

    My father’s generation fought the battle for independence from our erstwhile British colonial masters.

    It was indeed my father, Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode, that succesfully moved the motion for Nigeria’s indepence in Parliament in 1958.

    The battle that must be fought today by my genertion is the battle for independence from the sons of Futa Jalon: our internal colonial masters who are relentless in their quest to subjugate and enslave others and who believe that they were born to rule.

    This quest for expansion and domination and this insatiable desire to islamise our nation is best reflected by the words and actions of the three Mahdis of the north.

    The first was Usman Dan Fodio, the second was his great grandson Sir Ahmadu Bello and the third is Muhammadu Buhari. The hegemonists must be stopped. It is our duty to either restructure or break Nigeria and to ensure that Buhari is the last of the northern Mahdis through a peaceful and democratic process.

    Consequently the prayer is no longer “God bless Nigeria” but rather “God break Nigeria”. It is no longer “God defend Nigeria” but rather “God restructure Nigeria”. It is no longer “God deliver Nigeria” but rather “God deliver us from Nigeria”.

    It is no longer “God preserve Nigeria” but rather “God redefine Nigeria”. It is no longer “God remember Nigeria” but rather “God dismember Nigeria”.

    We must break our chains of oppression because no one else will break them for us. We must reject slavery. We must rise up and resist our oppressors.

    We must break the yoke of servitude and set ourselves free. For this great cause no price is too high to pay. If it means laying down our lives or suffering the bitter pain of persecution then so be it.

    No price is too high to pay and no mounatain is too high to climb for attainment of freedom and the restoration of our self respect and collective dignity. No matter what it takes we shall carve out and build our own nation and we shall be free.

    The heavy yoke of the last of the Amalekite kings must be broken. The rulership of the third and last Mahdi must be brought to an end in a free and fair election. That is the challenge that we face today.

    That is the great work that the Lord would have us complete. That is our duty and our calling: to bring the unbelieving pagans to heel and to pull down the evil structures of caliphate power.

    Those that joined forces with the internal colonial masters and helped to enslave their own people shall pay a heavy price for their treachery, collaboration and betrayal.

    Our new nation has no room for such people. They will be herded into labour camps and ultimately deported. They are a shameful eyesore: animals with no sense of dignity and pride. They are not fit to live amongst us.

    Yet blessed are the courageous and faithful who speak nothing but truth, who despise the oppressor and who champion the cause of the oppressed. They shall flourish like the palm tree in season and their seed shall excel.

    Blessed are those that are persecuted for their faith and that are regarded as the “hewers of the wood and the drawers of the water”: so-called ethnic inferiors in their own nation.

    They shall inherit the land and, in the fullness of time, they shall be liberated from their tormentors and they shall rule over their adversaries.

    That is the promise of the Alpha and the Omega and the Ancient of Days. That is a sure word from He that is known as the Lord God of Hosts and the Man of War. That is the counsel of the God of All Flesh: the Adonai, the Elohim and Jehova El Shaddai. None can resist Him.


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  • Ogoniland Cleanup: Setting the agenda for peace and development in the Niger Delta

    26/Mar/2016 // 217 Viewers

    By Fegalo Nsuke

    The Nigerian goveOgoni Landrnment has not hidden its penchant for the Ogoni oil. In alliance with The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, an affiliate of Shell International, the government has in the past deployed very brutish and repressive techniques to force the Ogoni people to submission and gain access to the oilfields it abandoned some 20 years ago.

    The Ogoni struggle is without doubt, one of the biggest challenges the Nigerian government has faced outside the civil war which broke out between 1967 and 1970. More than twenty years later, the government is still grappling with an approach to resolve the problem.

    In 1994, in an effort to break the Ogoni resistance, the government laid false accusations against some Ogoni leaders. Ordered their hanging on November 10, 1995 and began a series of manoeuvre to resume oil production in the area. Both Shell and the government had disagreed with every claim of environmental pollution of Ogoniland until the damning report by the United Nations in 2011. some 21 years after the issue was raised by The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).

    Having failed to return to Ogoniland, Shell’s experiences that followed were not so palatable and i am persuaded to think that Shell, in their most difficult moments against ruthless Niger Delta militants would wish there was someone like Saro-Wiwa who commanded so much respect in the region and who could call the agitators to order. But injustice and repression had long sent Saro-Wiwa to the grave. Saro-Wiwa represented the leadership that the young people still had confidence in and would have willingly listened to and obeyed. I am certain that Saro-Wiwa had the capacity to call our young people out of the creeks. But  a Nigerian government had seen him as the threat to free flow of hydrocarbon and ordered his hanging in 1995. Today, billions had been lost to oil theft, pipeline vandalism and illegal bunkering. None had been able to fill the gap and to provide a leadership that can restore order like Saro-Wiwa, a man whose peaceful approach to the fight for freedom gave hope not just to the Ogoni people but the entire Niger Delta.

    Ogoni appear, in every way to be a special gift to the Niger Delta. It has been instrumental to the establishment of the special agencies for the Niger Delta – both the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission and later the Niger Delta Development Commission and now, the establishment of HYPREP following the release of the environmental audit report by UNEP will see to the eventual cleanup of the Niger Delta region.

    The Ogoni cleanup will indeed represent a right start to addressing this lingering problem. It presents itself as another opportunity for the government to move away from the repressive posture of trying to force the people to submission. Implementing the UNEP report on Ogoniland is a right step to peace building which will open the doors for further engagement on development.

    Saro-Wiwa’s hanging in 1995 was not just a judicial error and state murder, it was an opportunity missed to resolve the Niger Delta problem. Implementing the Ogoni UNEP report and the eventual cleanup of the Niger Delta will offer itself as another opportunity to mend fences and open doors for further peaceful engagement to address this problem. This is an opportunity the government must be fully committed to. For it it fails, it will not only destroy the people’s confidence in the Nigerian system, it will also create room for renewed agitation.

    The people on their part must avoid the mistakes of the past and give their total support to this process. I believe that had the Niger Delta risen and saved Sao-Wiwa, Odi and Kaima wouldn’t have been decimated by the Obasanjo’s regime. The killing of Saro-Wiwa without acrimony misinformed the government to reason that the Niger Delta is not just weak, but are a people who are too afraid to stand in the face of terror and speak against injustice. A notion the government could by this time have clearly judged to have been misinformed. This is the time to be united for justice. It is another opportunity for a peaceful match towards development. Let us be united to make it work.

     

    Fegalo Nsuke, Publicity Secretary of The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) wrote from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

     

    Disclaimer: Views expressed in any piece we publish remains entirely the author's and do not reflect the editorial policy of DailyGlobeWatch


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  • Why I Stand With Buhari, By Jude Ndukwe

    26/Mar/2016 // 262 Viewers

    By Jude Ndukwe

     

    General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, must be a rare genius in a class of his own. A man who tenaciously pursued his ambition of ruling Nigeria till he eventually became president after failing three times, must be acknowledged and saluted.

    His love for this country is so great that he would not give up on his ambition to lead Nigeria out of the woods, from the proverbial Egypt to the biblical Promised Land. He is a great example to those who are wont to easily give up on their ambitions at the slightest obstacle or challenge. That is why I have chosen to stand with Buhari!

    I choose to stand with Buhari because of the way he was able to cajole a good number of Nigerians to vote him into office despite alleged deficiencies in leadership and anti-democratic credentials arising from when he was military Head-of-State.

    I choose to stand with Buhari because just like the chichidodo bird (apologies to Ayi Kwei Armah) that hates faeces yet feeds on maggots, Buhari’s main campaign issue was to fight corruption to a standstill, and he is living up to that billing because right before him, 10 months after he was sworn in as president, Nigeria’s corruption rating has hit an all-time high, no thanks to the padded and fraud-ridden 2016 budget that was signed and personally presented by the retired General himself and has just been passed by the National Assembly. 
     
    I stand with Buhari because that budget is, indeed, a budget of ‘Change’ as gleefully explained by Mr President to the National Assembly on the day of presentation. It was a budget that had fraudulent, frivolous, repeated and non-existent proposed expenses to the tune of about N668bn as signed, sealed and presented by the president himself. The National Assembly passed the budget after removing about N17bn from the N668bn fraudulently inserted into the budget with an undeclared instruction to the executive to “go and sin no more”.
     
     
    Never in the history of our nation have we ever heard the term “budget padding” until this era of “change”. Even the president himself alluded to this fact. Only geniuses are pacesetters. Our president is a pacesetter, reason I stand with him. 
     
    I stand with Buhari because he inherited about 5,ooo megawatts of power from the previous administration but just 10 months after assuming office, power has dropped drastically and hovers around 2,000 megawatts while darkness has risen sharply in geometric progression up to 10,000 megawatts. Rather than measure power, we now measure darkness in megawatts, no thanks to Buhari, APC and their “change” agenda. 
     
    I stand with Buhari because no other president in the world knows how best to reward those who were gullible enough to vote for him despite his obvious bogus and unrealistic campaign promises than him. The best reward for such people is to make them sleep endlessly at the filling station while waiting to buy fuel that would never come. Even the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, has since waved the white flag over the fuel scarcity issue saying the federal government has no idea about how to find a quick solution to the problem.
     
     
    I stand with Buhari because no other president in the world knows how best to reward those who were gullible enough to vote for him despite his obvious bogus and unrealistic campaign promises than him. The best reward for such people is to make them sleep endlessly at the filling station while waiting to buy fuel that would never come. Even the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, has since waved the white flag over the fuel scarcity issue saying the federal government has no idea about how to find a quick solution to the problem. 
     
    I choose to stand with Buhari and I have no regrets about my decision because in the history of our nation, no president has ever seen the naira fall so helplessly like it is doing right under Mr President. At N325/$1 and with the possibilities of further slide, our economy is surely growing stronger! Sai Baba! 
     
    I stand with Buhari because since he came to power, all the elections conducted have been inconclusive. Our president is so ingenious that we shall be having reruns of reruns in Rivers State. Never in the history of our modern democracy have we had that. While Jonathan oversaw elections that were largely peaceful even at the highest levels, conceded defeat without rancor and handed over quietly, elections conducted under President Buhari, even at State House of Assembly level, have witnessed avoidable bloodshed, militarization of the process, compromise of INEC officials and continued inconclusiveness. Surely, Buhari is growing our democracy.
     
    I still choose to stand with Buhari because under him, food prices have gone up, jobs have been lost in droves, the judiciary is intimidated and harassed, citizens’ rights are arbitrarily abridged and abused outright, dissenting voices are hounded, innocent and defenceless citizens are mowed down by security agents especially as it was in the case of IPOB members at Aba and Shiite Muslims at Zaria; Fulani herdsmen have become audacious in their wiping off of communities and occupying such without resistance or challenge by security agents. In fact, to borrow the lyrics of a popular Nigerian musician, “Nigeria scatter scatter”. These are the lofty reasons why patriotic Nigerians and I have decided to stand with Buhari, and we shall remain standing with him!
     
    *Ndukwe, a political commentator on current affairs  writes from Abuja, Nigeria.
     
    Disclaimer: Views expressed in this piece remain entirely the author's and do not reflect the editorial policy of DailyGlobeWatch. 


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  • Why the United States Dropped Atomic Bombs in 1945

    26/May/2016 // 185 Viewers

    David Kaiser

    President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, nearly 71 years after it was destroyed by the first atomic bomb, inevitably raises once again the questions of why the United States dropped that bomb, whether it was necessary to convince Japan to surrender and whether it saved lives by making it unnecessary to invade the Japanese home islands.

    Beginning in the 1960s, when the Vietnam War disillusioned millions of Americans with the Cold War and the U.S. role in the world, the idea that the bombing of Hiroshima—and the subsequent bombing of Nagasaki—was not necessary gained ground. Led by the economist Gar Alperovitz, a new school of historians also began arguing that the bomb was dropped more to intimidate the Soviet Union than to defeat the Japanese. By 1995, Americans divided so sharply on the necessity and morality of dropping the bombs that a 50th anniversary exhibit at the Smithsonian had to be repeatedly altered and eventually drastically scaled back. Passions have cooled as the generation that fought the war has left the scene and academics have turned to other topics, but the President’s visit is bound to reignite them.

    Because passion, not reason, has largely driven the debate, too little attention has been paid to a number of serous scholarly works and documentary releases that have discredited many of the new theories about the use of the bomb. As early as 1973, Robert James Maddux showed that Alperovitz’s argument about the bomb and the USSR was almost entirely without foundation, but Maddox’s work had little impact on the public perception of the event.

    Still, those who have continued to argue that Moscow, not Tokyo, was the real target of the A-bombs, have had to rely upon inferences about what President Truman and his top advisers might have been thinking, since there has never been documentary proof that they really felt this way. Meanwhile, other studies have made critical contributions about other aspects of the controversy. Thanks to them, we can see clearly that the Japanese were not at all ready to surrender on American terms before the two bombs were dropped, that they were planning the most determined resistance possible to the planned U.S. invasion, that they had managed to prepare for it extensively, and that the consequences of a longer war could have been far more serious for both the Japanese and U.S. forces than the two bombs.

    The United States’ objective in the war had been laid down publicly by President Roosevelt at the Casablanca Conference in early 1943: the unconditional surrender of all its enemies, allowing both for the occupation of their territory and the imposition of such new political institutions as the Allies saw fit. In the early summer of 1945 those terms had indeed been imposed upon Germany. But as a brilliant 1999 study by Richard B. Frank, Downfall, showed, the Japanese government—while well aware that it could not win the war—was not at all ready to accept such terms. They particularly wanted to avoid an American occupation of Japan, or any change in their political institutions.

    Knowing that U.S. forces would have to invade the island of Kyushu before moving to Honshu and Tokyo itself, the Japanese planned a huge, costly battle on Kyushu that would inflict enough casualties to convince Washington to compromise. More importantly, as an excellent study of U.S. intelligence showed in 1998, the Japanese had in fact managed to reinforce Kyushu very heavily, and military authorities in Washington knew it. By the end of July 1945, military intelligence estimates of Japanese forces on Kyushu had risen substantially, and Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall was sufficiently alarmed that, by the time the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, he was suggesting to General MacArthur, who would command the invasion, that he reconsider the invasion of Kyushu and possibly abandoning it entirely.

    As it turned out, the combination of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the entry of the USSR into the war against Japan—all within a period of just three days—convinced the Emperor and the Japanese government that surrender was the only option. More and more evidence has shown, however, that Japan would not have surrendered on American terms before an invasion took place in the absence of the atomic bombs.

    The United States, then, dropped the bombs to end the war that Japan had unleashed in Asia in 1931 and extended to the United States at Pearl Harbor—and thereby probably avoided an invasion that would have meant hundreds of thousands of casualties. Frank also argued in Downfall that many thousands of Japanese civilians would also have starved in the meantime.

    That does not mean that we need not ask ourselves about the moral implications of destroying two whole cities with nuclear weapons. Nothing comparable has happened since—perhaps because of the deterrent effect on all sides of seeing what atomic weapons could do—and we must all hope that it will never happen again.

    But our quarrel is not really with the use of the atomic bombs specifically, but with the attitude towards human life—including civilian life—that had grown up during the Second World War. Years before Hiroshima and Nagasaki, British and American strategists had adopted the burning of entire cities as a legitimate means of trying to defeat Germany and Japan. The firebombings of Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo and other Japanese cities had resulted in casualties roughly equal to or greater than the atomic bombings of those two cities. No historian, to my knowledge, has ever tried to trace how the idea that targeting whole cities and their populations was a legitimate tactic became orthodoxy in the British and American air forces, but it remains a very sad commentary on the ethos of the twentieth century. In any event, they had crossed that threshold well before Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The dropping of the bombs horrifies us today, but at the time, it was viewed as a necessary step to end a terrible war as quickly and with the least loss of life as possible. Careful historical research has validated that view. - Time Magazine


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  • The hope message Nigerians deserve from their leaders

    27/Apr/2016 // 360 Viewers

    By Femi Fabiyi

    Nigerians are one of the most religious people in the world. By noon on Fridays, Muslims all over the country close shops and offices, and head to the mosques for prayers. On Sundays, streets and shopping malls are deserted while Christians are glued to church programs, praying for Shelter, Prosperity, Grace, Wisdom, and Understanding. Every Nigerian spent part of their weekends listening to the teaching of endurance, perseverance, miracle, love and passion. On weekdays, however, Nigerians watch politicians mumbling their theatric messages, loaded with untested and undefined analytics. In some cases, theories are concocted;taunting the minds of the needy.
    In the past few weeks, various scripts have been flying around, illustrating the next path of recovery the country should tow. I had the opportunity to listen to a Nigerian senator lecturing its people about the successes of eminent personalities like Dangote, Alakija, Adenuga and a host of other successful Nigerians. Interestingly, he also extended his rhetoric to identifying successful Nigeria students in the USA Ivy League and British schools to Nigeria structure. Well, Nigeria leaders owe the people a well-thoughtful road map to resurrection, highlighting issues that are holding the country back and efforts that are being made to move the country forward.
    Critical on Nigerian’s menu lists are food, power, gas, water, health care, shelter, security, improved education systems and a responsible welfare programs. Small business owners in Nigeria face the most challenging business uncertainties in any evolving market. Government and small business employees have had their salaries hedged against unending debts. Big corporations are struggling to manage their recurrent budgets – a good chunk goes to power and security. Importer’s lifeline is at the mercy of the Custom’s controller.Graduates are walking the streets helplessly. Transporters are constantly on the edge;traffic conditions are unpredictable.Nigerian consumers are at the mercy of the $$ benchmark. In summary, the prognosis is weak for an economy with growth aspiration.
    The most single attribute of a good leader is its values. Great leadership is about heart and passion – how you treat people and how you want to be treated. Leaders fight intellectually and approach issues responsibly.True leaders express in character,the plight and burden of its people, and embark on mitigating actions to stop their hemorrhaging. They also share sincere and thoughtful vision of comfort and hope. 
    Nigerian’s efforts to a realistic rebuilding process should focus on a three-tier approach:
    First, Nigerians in general must be encouraged to embrace the culture of selfless servicing; community development and volunteering programs should be an integral part of the rebuilding process. Personal sacrifices - financial commitments and direct labor towards tertiary roads reconstruction, community drainage systems, security of lives and properties are key incentives to encouraging local and international investment in our communities for growth and development. Today, we have more Events and Worship centers in our communities than Medical and Innovative centers. We drive some of the most expensive cars on some very bad roads in our communities, resulting in Nigerians wasting billions of naira on repairs and maintenance (from personal experience, Nigerians prefer to spend their precious time and money in the repair shops than to make a lasting solution to their road hazards by joining hands and fixing their local roads). There are many internationally based agencies and millions of charity dollars that could be funneled towards community development, provided the initiatives to revamp our communities come from within. Habitat for humanity, H2O for Life, Health Alliance International, Mercy Ship, Salvation Army, and Red Cross are some of the African focused charity organizations that are awaiting our conscious action towards a joint developmental effort.
    The Nigeria corporate environment, particularly the oil and financial sectors that have benefited from the radical fiscal and structural changes Nigeria government have implemented since the emergence of third republic have demonstrated little appetite for organic-solution-driven-initiatives. Rather, the enormous insurance premiums, billions in naira from pension funds and the non-proprietary oil revenue are either redundantly sitting in the federal government treasury and bond markets or they are locked in other emerging market portfolios. Time and time again, history has shown that most thriving economies are built on macro-level corporate initiatives that focus on stable and efficient systems. Nigeria corporate institutions, especially the financial and oil sectors should be geared to working with government in ‘underwriting’ investment projects aligned to other key sectors of the economy, particularly manufacturing, power, small-scale businesses,farming, water and health care. This effort will not only unlock opportunities for the local people, but will put a halt to companies relocating to neighboring countries,attracts angel investors all around the world and begin an era of finding a lasting solution to the FOREX issue (Nigeria’s current GDP position need to change for better). There are millions of Nigerian professionals, in and outside Nigeria whose expertise includes identifying business opportunities, and marrying those opportunities with passive investors. Time is now for Nigeria leaders to focus on creating a platform where community leaders, corporate institutions, and Nigerian expertise abroad are encouraged to collaborate on growth and value-driven ideas.
    The most critical of these approaches is what direction the federal government chooses to steer its wheel. The key responsibilities of any government is to ensure it creates an enabling environment that supports fairness, law and order, entrepreneurship, creativity, efficiency, effectiveness and security of lives and properties. These qualities are lacking in Nigeria leaders, hence, they are unwilling to hold the bull by the horn. Some leaders or politicians, in their mono-focus attitude, have begun to challenge Nigerians to go back to farming.But what they have not done is to provide a government scheme of support system that will ensure such initiative is a viable business option for anyone who may be willing to take the risk. In the 1980s when India economy was depressed, their politicians made the same call, and its citizen responded to the challenge. The Indian government made a judgmental error on the importance of transportation, irrigation and storage facilities; thus resulting in almost 65% wastage of their harvested crops. Today, they have addressed some of the inefficiencies, and India is the second largest farm producers in the world.
    Nigeria leaders are ignoring basic economic principles of Competitive Advantage and Economic niche, but are fixated with the complex global economic concepts of equity and derivatives. Between 1998 and 2003, Argentina politicians took a risky bet in Wall Street aggressive equity market, and ignorantly hedged the country’s valuable assets to invest in some toxic portfolios. Things went horribly bad,and the presidency office changed batons multiple times in 5 years. In time, their leaders responded to the challenge by going back to the basics – revitalized economic sectors where they have competitive edge; agricultural and industrial sectors. Similarly, between 2005 and 2008, the big international investment bankers connived with some Greek politicians and conned the country into some very complex derivative deals where receivables and swaps were bogusly reported as earned income on their balance sheets as a measure to attract foreign investors. After series of hand-twisting with some powerful European country leaders and a near collapse economy, Greek leaders quickly come to terms with reality, apologized to its people and went back to reactivate their hospitality business – the foundation of Greek economy.
    The most vocal fiscal and structural economic strategy I have listened to from our able leaders is their intent to align our deficit trading imbalance from dollar to Chinese Yuan benchmark. Our leader’s permutation seems to ignore the consumption habit of Nigerians, and the current economic challenges China may be confronting. The stack truth is, Nigerians will continue to patronize western education system, remain attracted to consuming western culture, relied on western medicine and will continue to enjoy western hospitality services. This explains why dollar demand is not going away from Nigeria systems anytime soon.China on the other hand is facing an acute economy slowdown particularly from its steel and chemical industries. China’s steel market is reported to have lost about $2 billion in the first 2 months of this year and a potential loss of about 500,000 jobs in the next two years. To compound China’s economic misery, the West is cracking an anti-dumping international laws in steel and chemical industries, leaving China one key option – “explore Africa for opportunities to neutralize their current economic challenges”.
    Nigerians do not deserve fake leaders of hope, believing an economy built on shaky fundamentals, weak structural apparatus, and an open-ended deficit balance sheet will swing into prosperity by fiercely benchmarking Naira to Chinese Yuan. The survival of Nigeria economy lies in its leader’s ability to effectively and efficiently manage the country’s lush resources, to creating opportunities not just for the powerful few but for every hard-working Nigerian home and abroad.
    The government should demonstrate boldness by promoting financial discipline and drive growth based initiatives. They should engage and encourage Nigeria professionals abroad to invest their knowledge and expertise in the Nigeria systems, and not to indulge them in running for office to share the cake. If need be, they should borrow money to invest in the country’s dilapidating infrastructures particularly our highways and the power grids. They should find a lasting solution to gas issues and declare a state of emergency on the security apparatus. They need to promote a liberal socioeconomic agenda that will attract international investors in all sectors of the economy and not just oil and gas. The country cannot continue to watch its best professionals leaving its shores every year for greener pastures abroad, and allow its established professionals (the most needed resources for nation building) to continue to stay away from the rebuilding process due to lack of basic services.
    Nigeria have all the pieces to the puzzle, all that is needed is to put a round peg in a round hole and every other thing will fall in place.


    *Femi Fabiyi wrote from  Connecticut, USA

    Email: femif826@gmail.com

     

    Disclaimer: Views expressed in any piece we publish remain entirely the author's and do not reflect our editorial policy. DailyGlobeWatch shall, therefore , not be held responsible for any of its contents or any part thereof.

     


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  • Rise up, bow and take your award for non-performance

    27/Dec/2015 // 195 Viewers

    By Babajide Alabi

     

    Sometimes last week I had this beautiful idea of making myself the judge for a man or woman or agency of the year in Nigeria. This idea did not just come out of the blues, I was only trying to follow the tradition that is worldwide. At the end of a year, personalities are named as people who had one way or the other influenced the world or their corner of the world. An example is Angela Merkel who is Time’s Person of the year 2015.

    A very good idea which has all the years been inspiring people to want to do noble things. The interesting thing about these awards is that “baddies” are never named. This has denied many underperforming personalities or agencies the opportunity of taking the centre stage for “recognition”. I am aware that some are named and shamed for one reason or the other during the year, but they should also take their places on the podium at the end of the year so they can have as much publicity as they deserve.

    I didn’t realise that my self-imposed mission would be tedious. I set about by pencilling down a few individuals I think deserved mentioning. From the former President Goodluck Jonathan, being named as the Hero of the 2015 General Elections to the enfant terrible Ayo Fayose, the new face of grassroots politics in the south west of Nigeria. Along the line, I abandoned the list as I discovered there was constant tinkering with the criteria for nominations.

    To save myself an unnecessary headache, I shifted my attention from individuals to agencies. And with a twist, I decided to search for underperforming agency or arm of government of the year 2015. Rarely do we scrutinise the activities of government bodies or agencies in Nigeria. To some members of the public, the executive is seen as the “government” without realising that there are actually three arms. This is understandable, though, as the executive arm is the most prominent over the Legislature and Judiciary.

    As a result of this public perception pf government, the legislative arm has therefore literally gone to bed. Therefore, the  2015 award for the Underperforming Agency/Arm of Government goes to the National Assembly of Nigeria.

    Since the inauguration of the present legislature, the members have strengthened Nigerians’ opinion that it is nothing more than a talk shop.

    There is something about the Upper Chamber, particularly that gives one an idea that it is not a place for serious business. I am definite I am not the only one who feels this way. The idea in the constitution is that the Senate is the highest legislative body of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, yet it comes across as not a tad different from states houses of assembly.

    This is not to say that the “junior” House of Representatives is any better or can be viewed as a ground for the “sharing” of intellectual ideas. No. You will be forgiven if you paint the two with the same brush. I have never been on the floors of both houses, but I do follow proceedings on the broadcast media, and by the contributions, there is not much to write home about.

    The vibrancy of the Legislative arm of government in any part of the world is determined by the quality of individuals that populate it. In some countries, the best of the political class are always guided towards the legislature. We can say this is not the case in our beloved country. Therefore, the result that is produced is less than what can move the nation forward.

    While the legislature is just an arm of the government, it is understandable that it is often referred to as the brain box. In here are bills designed to make governance easy expected to be discussed and passed into laws. In the principle of separation of power, the legislature should operate parallel to the other arms of government.

    The Nigerian assembly is interesting. It lacks all the qualities of a modern legislature. While, in other climes, there are “intellectual” arguments, in Nigeria, the law-makers are not in this league. Their arguments are usually rowdy and bother on either how to share available posts or improving their own welfare. We can recollect how the legislature was almost shut down at the start of its tenure a few months ago. No thanks to intrigues displayed by these lawmakers who obviously are more interested in their pockets and affiliations than national interests.

    There is a marked difference between the present day legislature and what was obtained in the Second Republic, which was operated under the Presidential style of government. In those days, the conduct of the lawmakers was very dignifying while their contributions were matured than what we have nowadays. I remember those days with nostalgia. My closest encounter as a teenager with the Legislature was mainly on the national television. I remember those days all news only came via the National Television Authority (NTA) before the advent of states and private television stations.

    The Legislative arm of the government in the Shehu Shagari-led government operated from the grounds of the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos. I remember a visit as a teenager where I got carried away with the illusion that I was close to a vital arm of government. I fell in love with the serene atmosphere around the place and the fact that I was close to the hall where political juggernauts meet to make laws for the country. In those days, the Senators and House of Representatives members were actually sponsoring bills and involved In the governance of the great country, Nigeria. The calibre of people in the National Assembly was quite impressive.

    After this encounter with the “grounds”, I was so sure a political career was on the table for me. It was a dream of a career that never came through. With the military intervention in 1984, all “affiliation” with politics came to an end. The pace at which the country travelled in the dictatorial “space of time” has been unprecedented in history.

    Many observers have argued that this long period of military intervention has actually been a curse rather than blessings on the country. They believe that this is what has contributed to the backwardness of the present political class. This is not far from the truth considering the fact that the present crop of politicians had no mentors or leaders to emulate. Those who were supposed to have learnt one or two tricks in politics were forced to look into another “trade” to survive.

    Please discount the experimental type of government that the evil genius, Ibrahim Babangida “threw” up in those days. His contraption of a civilian legislature under a military rule did no good to the polity at all. Rather, it bred a new set of desperate politicians with no ideology. It will be an understatement if IBB’s attempt at democracy is described as a disaster.

    The award of incompetence and non-performance for the present federal legislature is based on the proposed bill for the “gagging” of the Nigeria social media space by these legislators. I have tried as much as possible to balance the reasons as advanced by the honourable gentleman and his supporters. On every occasion, I concluded that the house has only allowed the reading of this bill not for anything else but out of nothing to do.

    Please let us rise and congratulate the federal legislative houses for the award of non-performer of the year 2015. They sure deserve it.

     

    Disclaimer: Views expressed in any article we published remain entirely the author's and do not reflect the editorial policy of DailyGlobeWatch


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  • Between Buhari and Jonathan

    27/Feb/2016 // 343 Viewers

    By Godday Odidi

    It is glaring that President Mohammadu Buhari has no political direction to pilot the affairs of Nigeria than throwing unnecessary blame games on former President Goodluck Jonathan who came into power by divine providence while the former came into power by Nigerians who felt change must come into existence. For the Nigeria’s economy to be nose-diving, indicates that the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the federal level only used the ‘Change Mantra’ to deceive Nigerians to vote massively and never fulfilled the magic leadership promised in 2015 general elections.
    The poverty rescue mission and leadership development being promised by President Buhari’s government only succeeded on the pages of newspapers and social media platforms while some social media writers of the ruling party went viral to describe former President Goodluck Jonathan as ‘Clueless leader and Ineffectual Buffoon’ that cannot take Nigeria to the promised land. While President Buhari’s leadership is being technically described as ‘Inconclusive government with mendacious propaganda.
    The reverse is now the case where the present government is impoverishing Nigerians with incompetent hands to handle the economy of the country. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ruled Nigeria for 16 consecutive years and promoted corruption and allowed few people to enrich their pockets. Either the APC or PDP has any political future for the Nigerian youth.

    President Buhari came to power with many political promises and only denied some of the promises recently as mere media propaganda from desperate writers in Nigeria. None of these promises made had been technically fulfilled as a result of many propagandists in his government. Those that praised Buhari as the best President ever elected in Nigeria are now crying for economic revolution in the country.
    With the present economic situation shows that this government never prepared for national leadership with errors and omissions in the 2016 budget submitted to the National Assembly. This government has technically failed to fight Boko Haram insurgence to stand still in the last eight months while human beings mean nothing for these criminal elements. It is now difficult for a common man on the street to eat three square meal per day in this government.
    The eating ratio now 0:1:0, 1:0:0, 0:0:1 while in Jonathan’s government, the eating ratio was manageable. Nigeria has depended solely on mono-economy which has adverse effect on the present government that fails to assemble economic experts to proffer solutions to the dwindling economy.
    Moreover, all the foreign trips embarked recently by President Buhari, has not yielded any positive result than breeding hardship to many Nigerians in the country. In as much as we criticized former President Goodluck Jonathan, he had a robust leadership structure where economic experts were employed to proffer solutions to the economy but political propagandists have taken over Buhari’s government to the debris for selfish interests.
    Even in Jonathan’s government, electricity was partially guaranteed but Buhari’s government, there is short of power supply.unemployment,scarcity of food items, increasing in dollar against naira, leadership inefficiency, security challenges in the North East and just mention but a few. This present government promised to tackle all these problems if elected and many Nigerians were overwhelmed to queue behind a man many called’ Messiah’ against former President Goodluck Jonathan.Presdent Buhari’s aides keep defending his foreign trips which had not yielded any economic change than breeding penury among Nigerians. 

    One issue that many social writers failed to address is that President Buhari never promised Nigerians at his inaugural speech any significant agenda to follow than ‘I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody’. To my own definition, President Buhari simply means, he has no political agenda for the country. Those that run the past government with venomous write ups are now burying their heads in shame.
    The commonsense advocate, Senator Ben Bruce must be commended for his political advocacy on the present Buhari’s government 9 months of this administration; no achievement could be traced than inflicting hardship on the people in spite of the unflinching support being demonstrated by Nigerians at the 2015 elections.
    Former President Goodluck Joanthan took a right decision to accept defeat and allowed democracy to prevail. No doubt about the past government, cesspool of corruption and security challenges was well-pronounced. There is need for the Minister of Finance and CBN governor to honorably resign and allow competent hands to handle the economy right away.
    Finally, if President Buhari continues with this kind of leadership to Nigerians, for sure, 2019 is no longer met for the APC than looking forward for another viable political party to save Nigerians from this poverty leadership.
    Godday Odidi
    Social Media Analyst
     Disclaimer: Views express in any piece we publish remain entirely the author's and do not reflect the editorial policy of DailyGlobeWatch


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  • A dying nation, Its travelling President and the lying party

    27/Feb/2016 // 299 Viewers

     

    In the run up to the 2015 presidential election, leaders and members of APC were very vocal in condemning the then president of the country, President Goodluck Jonathan, for every step he took. This even included attending churches on Sunday, Jonathan's religion's holy day of obligation. It was Babatunde Raji Fashola, the then governor of Lagos State and now Honourable Minister of Power, Works and Housing, that succinctly captured the mind of the All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders and supporters then when at the sixth Bola Tinubu Colloquium in Lagos some time in March 2014, he charged at his listeners by asking them if they wanted “someone who spends most of his time in church or mosque, or the man who is ready to spend his time on the job.” That was when life was very sweet as an opposition party especially with the tolerance level of Goodluck Jonathan. At least, Goodluck was spending his time in the country even if, in the hyperbolic words of Fashola, he was spending “most” of it in church.

    However, fast forward to today, we have the same Fashola who is currently serving as a minister under president Muhammadu Buhari who would remain Nigeria's most travelled president for a long time in our history. So far, since his inauguration into office on May 29, 2015, President Buhari has traversed 24 countries of the world within a short period of 9 months.

    Considering our scarce resources, this is too frequent, too costly and is a disturbing development as the nation is in its worst economic quagmire since independence. Never in the history of our nation even when we thought we faced economic recession and hyper-inflation has our exchange rate run on auto-devaluation as it is now. The prices of food stuff and basic items are climbing higher and out of the reach of the common man. The purchasing power of the citizens has been badly eroded while people are not only not getting employed, those who are employed are losing their jobs in droves.

    The economy is at a standstill! No gainful economic activity going on anywhere. Infrastructural development that characterised Goodluck Jonathan's administration has since been brought to a halt; our revived agricultural sector is now in a speedy reverse course. While harmless and armless youths protesting peacefully within their constitutional rights are regularly mowed down by mindless security agencies in Zaria, Aba, Onitsha etc, the supreme court has come under several severe attacks from the ruling party as the Honourable Justices of the apex court have resisted the “body language” charm and refused to do the bidding of the party in some of the judgements given by the court recently. Kidnapping has not only returned but assumed a more dangerous and fearful dimension, and the security agents seem overwhelmed.

    Power supply has become more epileptic than ever even as the DISCO's have hiked their tariff by about 40% and they still expect Nigerians to pay for darkness supplied in the midst of gross financial powerlessness. There is general disenchantment in the land as the Buhari administration has sufficiently demonstrated a total lack of idea on how to run our economy to attain its full potentials at this time. This fact is further strengthened by the shambolic and embarrassing preparation of a simple budget that

    is a normal ritual of governments all over the world. Nigerians believe that the budget was fraught with fraud and an indication of the hypocrisy of the current government's anti-corruption stance. Having suffered so much, the Buhari budget is widely believed to be the “most stolen”, “most missing”, “most padded”, “most denied”, “most investigated”, “most withdrawn” and “most re-presented” budget, yet, there is no outrage in the land over that garbage. If PDP had made that “mistake” during its time, of course, the country would have been on an uncontrollable conflagration, set on by APC.

    Despite the rapid descent of the country into catastrophic and unbelievable state of socio-political and economic anomie within a very short period, President Buhari carries on as if nothing is wrong. There is no sense of urgency or even needed level of concern for the state of the nation. Buhari keeps globe-trotting as if the solutions to the nation's woes lie abroad. The sophistry peddled by the administration's spin doctors, as it was during the presidential campaigns, that the president's frequent travels has already yielded much fruits for the country is only a lullaby-like tale told to children in order to put them to sleep and prevent their usual late night tantrums. Obviously, the complaints of Nigerians about the worrying situation of things in the country would no doubt have been sounding like tantrums to the ears of government.

    Given Fashola's lamentations about former president Jonathan's frequent presence in church, one would have expected this same man and his likes to caution the president about his needless travels, sit back at home, consult with his cabinet and concerned Nigerians on how we can all move this country forward rather than junketing all over the world in search of foreign solutions to local problems.

    The argument that he is in talks with some oil producing countries to see how they could help increase the value of oil in the international market by scaling down on output is akin to pouring water in a basket for the purpose of storage. If we are able to get Saudi Arabia to reduce output will a country like Iran not take advantage of that and flood the market with their own oil especially as they have a lot to unleash on the market having been shut out from the international market for a long time as a result of US sanctions until recently. This is more so especially when one considers that Iran would be very happy to do the exact opposite of what Saudi Arabia does even if it is just to spite the Saudis owing to the frosty relations between the two countries. In addition, the pro-Shiite Iranians expressed very strong diplomatic reservations over the recent killings of Shiite Muslims in Zaria by a band of military men led by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai. This might just be an opportunity for a pay back by them.

    It is also instructive to note that a majority of our oil patrons have either found new buyers or have embraced alternative sources of energy. So, whichever way one looks at it, embarking on extensive and expensive diplomatic shuttles majorly for this purpose is not only illogical, it is also antithetic to common sense and beats the imagination of even elementary economists. Little wonder then our president seems to be the only president among the oil producing countries who think the best way to shore up the price of oil worldwide is by diplomatic shuttles. No other president worldwide is travelling for this purpose.

    Our nation is dying, the president is travelling and his party is parrying the truth about the situation of things and the true outcome of the president's frequent travels. Let the president return, sit back and spend quality time at home and stop working like a distant learning student!

    Written by Jude Ndukwe
    jrndukwe@yahoo.co.uk
    @stjudendukwe

     

    Disclaimer: Views expressed in any piece we publish remain entirely the author's and do not reflect the editorial policy of DailyGlobeWatch


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  • Russia's Ruling Regime Must Modernize or Face Collapse

    27/Jan/2016 // 373 Viewers

     

    By Nikolai Petrov

    In 2014-2015, Russia's domestic policy was pushed abroad — first toward Ukraine, then toward Syria. In 2016 the Russian authorities will have to shift their focus away from shaping the world order and toward putting their own house in order. Otherwise, they will not survive.

    Over the last two years, President Vladimir Putin has confirmed his legitimacy through the use of extraordinary measures — war and the mobilization of public opinion. But that type of legitimacy desensitizes a society that requires ever more frequent and grandiose "feats" to evoke a comparable response. Russia's dealings with Crimea, Novorossiya, Syria and Turkey being the most recent government actions to a rouse public response.

    Ordinarily, officials gain electoral legitimacy simply by winning in fair elections. But a national leader like Putin needs a larger, more commanding mandate. That sort of orchestrated legitimacy is incompatible with competitive elections. That is why the Kremlin has been eliminating the direct election of mayors and has made regional governor elections a foregone conclusion. As well as trying to kill the public's interest in elections, the Kremlin prohibited the democratic opposition from participating in elections in 2015 — the authorities feared not that the opposition would win too many votes, but that its participation would lead to legitimate criticism of the ruling regime.

    Electoral legitimacy grows from the bottom up, while "forced legitimacy" is imposed from the top down. Those diametrically opposed models are set to collide in 2016.

    The internal balance between the ruling elite has changed significantly over the last two years. Russia's foreign wars have greatly increased the influence of the siloviki —a word that refers to "strongmen" officials with roots in law enforcement — and the military-industrial complex. But the collapse of Russia's raw materials economic model, Western sanctions and the resultant reevaluation of assets has also caused a major shift in the balance of power among the ruling elite.

    Most importantly, shrinking government coffers have prompted more intense infighting among the ruling clans as each vies for their place in the sun. The problem is that the current system is based on ever-expanding revenues that provide enough for all. There is no functioning mechanism for resolving conflicting interests and redistributing property and incomes among contending groups. Each new situation requires an executive decision, which increases the frequency of conflict among the elite spilling over into the public eye — such as the sharp confrontation last spring between the leadership of the Federal Security Service and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who heads his own siloviki force. Such clashes strain the system at the seams.

    The main goal of these struggles is access to the crisis-stricken budget and the chance to curry favor with senior leaders. Therefore, parliamentary elections in September will be held against a backdrop of increased competition among the elite.

    The Russian political system is archaic. It was created during a historical period when rulers were awash in petrodollars and there was simply no apparent need for democratic institutions, checks and balances, independent judiciary, strong parliament, federalism, local government and so forth. Without easy money, the ruling regime will not survive without modernization.

    Formal institutions such as elections, the courts and so on were already weak, but over the past two years, the accepted rulebook governing their operation —previously strictly observed — also has been tossed aside. The same trend can be seen in Russian business. Consider, for example, the sudden arrest of Kremlin-loyal oligarch Vladimir Yevtushenkov. Neither have the regional elite been spared — the authorities arrested two regional governors last year alone, and the list of those affected includes the siloviki. Old rules and "understandings" have ceased operating and no one has announced new rules to replace them.

    Against this backdrop, Russia will hold early elections in September for the State Duma and almost half of all regional parliaments.

    The previous parliamentary elections in December 2011 sparked mass political protests and the situation has only deteriorated since then. Governors are finding it increasingly difficult to secure the election results they need. Money is running low and the Kremlin more often resorts to various "sticks" rather than "carrots" when managing regional elections. Citizens feel the decline in living standards, and the Russian people now have the memory of the protests in 2011-2012. The only thing making life easier for the authorities is their successful dismantling of the system for the independent monitoring of elections.

    The authorities plan to implement a strategy for the September elections that was tried in the 2014-15 regional elections. That tactic is best summed up as "manipulation rather than falsification." When, for example, leaders were afraid to risk a resurgence of political protests in connection with gubernatorial elections in the Irkutsk region in 2015, the Kremlin weighed the relative costs of possible mass protests against the election of a Kremlin-loyal but communist governor — and chose the latter. It was the first time since gubernatorial elections were reinstated that an incumbent governor failed to win re-election.

    The Duma elections this September will be held according to a new scheme: half of the seats will go to the parties, and the other half will be parceled out among individual candidates — as was done in Russia prior to 2007. However — one of the examples of the manipulation — the Kremlin has cannily delineated misshapen electoral districts that lump independent and protest-minded residents of major cities alongside Kremlin-loyal and conformist rural residents. This will make it all the more difficult for progressive candidates to secure Duma seats.

    Preparations for the Duma elections are already underway, and the conflicts that occasionally flare-up between regional governors and pro-Kremlin United Russia party and the All-Russia People's Front movement suggests that the elite are busily horse-trading. This will reach its climax in May when United Russia holds its so-called "primaries."

    The Duma to be elected this September will look very different from the present Duma. This time, deputies will be much more independent than before — even in cases where the incumbent is re-elected. These deputies will profess loyalty not only to the Kremlin, but also to the regional elites, business groups and voters. It will prove far more difficult for President Putin to maintain a hard-fisted legitimacy over such a parliament — if it is possible at all.

    The changes that this year will inevitably usher in have already begun, but it is still too early to predict their scale or consequences. As of today, it appears the authorities intend to emulate the Chinese — that is, to normalize relations with the West on the foreign front and liberalize some aspects of economic policy while keeping or even tightening the screws on the political scene. However, there is no use taking the Kremlin's plans too seriously because there are too many variables beyond its control that could come into play, and Russia's political system is far too unstable to predict how all of this will end.

     

     *Nikolai Petrov is a professor of political science at the Higher School of Economics.

     

    The post headlined  'Russia's Ruling Regime Must Modernize or face Collapse' appeared first in The  Moscow Times


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