It was Prof. Tanimu Abubakar, I believe, of the Political Science department and Ahmed Aminu Yusuf, a postgraduate student at Ahmadu Bello University, the one a stalwart of the ABU branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the other of the campus student movement at the time, who (if my memory serves me well), were fond of repeating this intriguing question whenever the moment came to drop the gown and bring some town — nay, village — perspective to our discussions of how to save Nigeria. Ogaga Ifowodo “The peasants are saying,” they would remind us, with just the slightest sense of bemusement, “when will this independence finish?” It was always meant as a reality check. Something to inspire us, radical lecturers and students, indeed all who laboured for the fundamental re-ordering of the awkward colonial bequest called Nigeria, towards an undying commitment to the sorely needed transformative change ever so difficult to bring about. It was a reminder that as intolerable as we were wont to think our personal circumstances were in a rapidly decaying country, especially in the aftermath of General Babangida’s no-alternative-to-SAP (the IMF/World Bank’s Structural Adjustment Programme) economic terrorism, we were nonetheless kings and queens by comparison to the vast army of peasants, workers, the under-employed, the never-to-be-employed, the unemployable, the whole wretched lot of the Nigerian earth.
For the question, in full, was this: When will this in-dependence, meant for the ruling class of rogues, of daylight armed robbers, of heartless exploiters, end and the people’s independence begin? When shall we be truly free of vicious colonial dispossession, by European imperialists or by their local inheritors? As I ruminated on what to make of the 55th anniversary of our nominal independence, the thought, retrieved from two-and-half decades ago, stole into my mind. And it would not be dislodged; not even with a determination to focus only on comforting thoughts of the glimmer of light now flickering at the end of the long, dark tunnel of Nigeria since the change in government from the Peoples Democratic Party’s 16 years of political gangsterism. Why not, after an entire adult life of lamentations for a mother-land raped nearly to death by her own children, address your mind solely to the promise of a healing and rehabilitation project, the rudiments of which are slowly being hashed out against an implacable storm of mindless violence and looming anarchy? After all, how much pain can a heart take — how much longer can it defer the dream of happiness?
I couldn’t. Simply because the word independence evokes the best hopes of a nation-people as of an individual. It connotes freedom, self-determination, sovereignty, autonomy, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness once the constraints of the dependent state, the condition of bondage, have been removed. But no citizen who has not been a direct participant in the national orgy of looting while treating the country as a no-man’s land, a foreign booty-land or treasure island that exists solely to be pillaged, can associate any of the happy meanings of independence with his or her life experience. Quite on the contrary, and very sadly, the experience of being a Nigerian has grown progressively worse to the point where Nigerians fail on every index of a good quality of life. The litany is too heart-breaking to bear rehashing, though we must: no pipe-borne water as Nigeria has become the land of bore-hole wells; no electricity (though the flicker has lately been lasting longer); no healthcare system worth the life of a dog, never mind of a human being; no schools that can beat back ignorance and impart useful learning; no roads that do not require prayer to complete a journey alive or without a broken limb; no factories to employ the jobless multitude who, when they tire of cursing their luck and their land, become ready recruits into the devil’s army of violence and mayhem; no corps of truly patriotic leaders who will put service to nation and the improvement of the lives of their fellow citizens above their insatiably greedy selves; no . . .
The Zaria peasants are right: the independence we celebrated—for those who could and did celebrate—six days ago, meaning a remembrance of the lowering of the British coloniser’s flag and the raising of the dull green-white-green to mark the transfer of irresponsible power from foreign conquerors to local conquistadors, must end now. It has to be everybody’s hope and prayer, irrespective of political persuasion, that President Buhari will, in the midst of the grunt work of clearing the rubble of the PDP and former President Jonathan’s perfect demolition work, deliver on his promise of change. That would mean that Nigeria will cease to be run as the personal farm or fiefdom of certified kleptocrats who steal from the country with such obsessive compulsion, while caring nothing about governance, nation-building and societal upliftment, that they ought to be permanently confined to a mental institution.
But it is going to be such bone-breaking work to make Nigeria work for all, the masses in particular, that I find myself almost pitying Buhari, wondering for how long he will keep that famously straight back of his upright. No one needs to tell him that if he finally assembles a team that inspires the nation to self-renewal and the attainment of its manifest destiny of leader of the black world, then he will have answered the prayer of the peasants for this independence, the sort he celebrated for the first time as a “born-again democrat,” to end and for our true independence to begin.
As reported in the media, the immediate past governor of Rivers state, Chibuike Amaechi has dragged the Rivers state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), its Chairman, Chief Felix Obuah, and two others to an Abuja High Court over allegations that he embezzled and operated a private foreign account where he lodged funds belonging to the state to the tune of $757 million while in office as governor of the state.
Whether anybody wants to hear this or not, Amaechi is the man unusual and this is not praise singing. He would always be remembered as the man (bold/smart) who despite his travails has always played on the laws of the land believing that the Court is the final spot to settle issues particularly matters that border on political differences.
Is it not interesting that while most politicians including those from Rivers state are running from the Courts, Amaechi is providing what seems like an excellent opportunity for his accusers to hang him - if they are truly motivated by truth and not unjust mutilation of his posterity and further contribution?
The Rivers State PDP on August 6, and August 21, 2015, had alleged that Amaechi stole the sum of N80billion and $757million of Rivers money and stashed them in foreign accounts in his name in banks including Bancorp Bank in Minnesota, United States of America and a bank in Switzerland. The Rivers PDP claimed that revelation of Amaechi’s various foreign accounts were made by Christiane Amanpour of America’s Cable News Network (CNN) in some episodes of her programmes. It was also alleged that the US-based bank had revealed to President Muhammadu Buhari that part of the money lodged therein were meant to purchase a house for him (Amaechi) in America.
However, the former governor in this fresh suit filed before an Abuja High Court, FCT, stated that “each of the said malicious publications by the defendants (PDP, Felix Obuah and two others) are untrue, false, motivated by ill-will and without any foundations in truth whatsoever and further avers that the defendants made the said libellous publications after the PDP failed in the presidential election and with a view to rubbishing him in the eyes of right thinking members of the society and the persons.” He noted that part of his worry is that the defendant (PDP, Obuah and two others) had further circulated the alleged malicious publications that exposed his person to ridicule, public odium, contempt and disparagement in the eyes of right thinking members of the society. The former governor is demanding N300 billion as damages for harms which he claimed the allegations had done to his person.
It is an absurd argument for some people to say the former governor should have gone to the Wike’s investigation panel to clear himself rather than going to court. Does Amaechi need the outcome of a panel to fight against the defamation of his character? The answer is no! He has simply taken his fundamental human right to sue those defaming his character. So why hate him for doing so? If those accusing him are so sure, let them go to court to establish their case with facts and figures.
This is not defending Amaechi but a reminder that we should not muddle up every issue in the dirty water of political smear campaigns. The tragedy of it is that we end up just throwing mud and shouting for nothing without achieving a single step as progress in correcting the wrongs of our leaders past and present. Even if Amaechi had misappropriated the state funds, the way and crude manner state government and PDP officials were talking in Port Harcourt could best be described as very counter-productive to the genuine interest of the battered and short-changed people of Rivers state.
The campaigners including Governor Wike and Chief Obuah seemed to be more interested in destroying Amaechi’s integrity and credibility than even recovering whatever fund that was alleged to have been stolen by the former governor. This is the truth! The incumbent governor and the entire Rivers state PDP have been using Amaechi’s name to seek political support and acceptability from the people and the powers that be at the centre. This is true also!
Let me ask: Is stopping Amaechi from getting an elite posting in the Buhari government more important to Rivers people than recovering the hundreds of billions Naira which the new gang in Port Harcourt is accusing him of stealing? It is baffling how the minds of our people work! Let’s even look at it, what has Wike and Obuah done since May 29th to reach out to the banks they alleged these monies were stashed since they have convincing evidence? You see deceit! When are we going to wake up our ideas and introduce some creativity in governance in this country? Any sensible Nigerian would know that what is happening in Rivers state is all aimed at destroying Amaechi, and if PDP had won the election, he would have been on the run except he wants to be a dead man or a vegetable tucked- off in an obscured corner of Bauchi or Buguma prisons.
Everything thrown on Amaechi as it stands today remains mere accusation. If PDP government in Rivers state had real facts, they wouldn’t waste time setting up panel of enquiry to dramatize the issue of looting as claimed. They would in fact have started under the Jonathan administration to publish details of cases alleged to be frauds and corruption, but they did nothing, only waiting that Jonathan will win the election so that they can send him to the gas chamber.
The question is: did The Bancorp Bank, Minnesota, United States, at any time write or communicated with President Muhammadu Buhari in whatever form over this said sum of $757million allegedly looted by the former Rivers state governor as publicly claimed by the Rivers state government?
If actually all that has been said about Amaechi’s plundering of Rivers state funds were concrete and genuine, what has stopped his accusers from taking such evidence to the appropriate authorities to slam charges against him, instead of just accusing him for mere political gains? From May 29th to this day, how many months have gone? Abeg make una go sit down!
Since Amaechi has refused to subject himself to Wike’s probe panel, insisting it is not a regular court of law, this court action is a life line for Wike and PDP as it presents an opportunity for them to prove that Amaechi is actually guilty by showing concrete proofs to that effect. Amaechi has taken up the gauntlet and it is now left for PDP to match him in court. The era of unsubstantiated ranting is gone. For me, this Amaechi’s court action is a good avenue for PDP to present all the evidence they have to proof their allegations against him. This is exactly what Amaechi needed to do to clear his name. God bless Rivers state!
After the 2015 election, I predicted on Twitter that when critical decisions are to be taken, Yemi Osinbajo, the token Southerner in Aso Rock, would be sent to go and buy “guguru and epa.” This has proved prescient. The Vice-president was reportedly barred from attending a national security briefing on grounds he did not have security clearance. But who can have more clearance than a man elected by the people? How did Buhari himself get his?
On 30th August, 2015, the vice-president was again publicly embarrassed when armed men shut down Aso Rock Chapel; preventing him from worshipping there.
After shouting myself hoarse, warning Nigerians on electing Buhari as president, I decided to keep quiet and watch things unfold from the sidelines. Fela said about Buhari’s first-coming: “The people wey no sabi dey jubilate, the people wey sabi dey shake their head.” It is now 100 days since Buhari became president and many of my worst fears have been confirmed.
In the middle of a national economic crisis, the president has been comatose. He made himself the Sole Administrator of Nigeria; a role not envisaged by the Constitution. These 100 days, Buhari has been the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Petroleum, as well as the Attorney-General. He has been the Minister of Education. He alone has been the minister in all the ministries of the federal government.
As a result, the country has ground to a halt. There has been no national direction, no economic policy. Only bombastic anti-corruption rhetoric. Not surprisingly, the economy has gone from bad to worse. Official reports from the National Bureau of Statistics indicate that our GDP has plummeted to 2.35%; a 40% decline under Buhari. Job-creation has dropped by 69%.
The CBN, in its Monetary Policy Committee Report of August 2015, complained that: “lack of fiscal directives is behind (Nigeria’s) current economic woes.” This is a big indictment of the administration. The coming of Buhari has brought about stagnation in domestic and foreign direct investments. The stock market has nosedived with investors scared away due to uncertainties arising from the government’s indecisiveness in the face of national economic adversity.
It is now clear that Buhari obtained votes from Nigerians during the election by false pretenses. Contrary to his highfalutin campaign promises, he has not stabilised the international price of oil. Instead, it has fallen drastically from $60 to $40. Buhari has not made the naira equal to the dollar. As a matter of fact, it has depreciated considerably under his short watch. He has not used his vaunted military experience to defeat Boko Haram. On the contrary, the insurgency has become far more deadly, with over 1,000 innocent Nigerians killed within just three months.
Buhari’s promised free meals for school-children, allowances for discharged Youth Corpers, and 5,000 naira monthly allowance for indigent Nigerians have all turned out to be poppycock. He has not even mentioned the coal industry in Enugu, how much more made any moves to revive it. His boast to APC governors that he will recover billions of dollars of stolen funds within three months has proved to be hogwash. With the election over, he quickly backtracked on Chibok, saying: “We do not know if the Chibok girls can be rescued.”
In my years as a public policy analyst, I have never seen a government anywhere spend its vital first 100 days doing very little like this one. In defense of the president, Lai Mohammed said in a recent interview that: “Buhari never promised he was going to do anything in 100 days, that’s the honest truth.” This admission by the mouthpiece of the APC confirms conclusively that President Buhari has wasted 100 days of Nigerian lives.
Such improvements as are noticeable are legacies of the Jonathan administration. It is the height of deception that the Buhari government has been trying to take credit for them.
NERC Chairman, Sam Amadi, stressed that the recent improvements in power supply are the result of the efforts made by the Jonathan administration. That should put paid to bogus attempts to attribute them to the effects of Buhari’s “body language.” Neither does “body language” bring about a turnaround maintenance of our refineries. The credit for this goes to “clueless” Jonathan.
If we are now celebrating the end of polio in Nigeria, it has nothing to do with Buhari, and everything to do with Jonathan. If we are indeed well on our way to self-sufficiency in rice production, it is because of the activities of Jonathan, and not because of the inactivity of Buhari. In three months, the Buhari administration has added nothing to past achievements. On the contrary, it seems inclined to bring things to a standstill.
Instead of providing effective leadership, Buhari’s government has opted for a campaign of calumny against the Jonathan administration. Day-in day-out, we are regaled with outrageous declarations without substantiation about how bad the previous government was, and by how much it ran down the economy. Only the gullible would fail to realise this is just a pathetic attempt to divert attention from the poor performance of the Buhari government.
Buhari claims he inherited an empty treasury. Nevertheless, he found over $30 billion in our foreign reserves. He says: “Jonathan’s ministers stole 150 billion dollars;” without telling us where he got this figure from. We are told one million barrels of oil was stolen everyday under Jonathan; without any shred of evidence to back this up. Buhari even went on record to claim Jonathan diverted $700 million from the $1.1 billion Chinese loan for the Lagos/Kano rail project. But the evidence shows the loan was for three different projects, with only $400 million earmarked for Lagos/Kano rail.
Governor Oshiomhole of Edo State says a senior official of the Obama administration revealed that a Jonathan minister stole $6 billion dollars no less. This has been denied by the Americans. He claims a consultancy fee of 140 billion naira was paid for the Second Niger Bridge project. However, the Bureau of Public Procurement says the total cost of the bridge is 108 billion naira.
Oshiomhole should face his state and desist from further cheap newspaper blackmails. Someone needs to remind the APC that election campaigns are over. Once bitten, Nigerians are now twice shy. APC won by manipulating the media. It cannot expect to rule using the same trickery.
Anti-corruption media distractions
Buhari’s so-called fight against corruption has already become a farce. The first salvo was to lock up former Jigawa governor and prospective 2019 PDP presidential candidate, Sule Lamido and his two sons in jail. Then when Saraki rocked the boat by steamrolling himself to the Senate presidency without APC endorsement, his wife was peremptorily invited for lunch by the EFCC. The Senate has now retaliated by putting the EFCC Chairman himself on trial on allegation he stole trillions of recovered naira.
The truth of the matter is that any anti-corruption probe is likely to open up a can of worms. Buhari is surrounded by corrupt politicians.
After claiming he did not have the 27.5 million naira required for the APC presidential nomination papers and had to borrow it, Buhari now claims he has 30 million naira sitting pretty in his bank account. How does he account for this discrepancy?
If the president wants to probe, he should go right ahead and do so. However, the current shenanigans of trying people in the media, and declaring everybody PDP guilty without trial, only attests to lack of sincerity. APC governors, including Amaechi and Kwankwaso, are also accused of corruption. Fashola of Lagos is alleged to have spent 78 million naira setting up a personal website. These are the president’s political buddies. We are waiting to see if his famous probe will also reach them.
Fighting corruption on the pages of newspapers cannot surely be the only preoccupation of a government. One trenchant observer said: “Probing is not governance neither is body language a substitute for economic policy.”
With 100 days in office, Buhari’s chauvinism is no longer hidden. We have now discovered that what he meant to say on his inauguration was : “I belong to every Northerner , and I belong to no Southerner.” The president went on official trip to the U.S. without an economic agenda, but with 29 Northerners and only 4 Southerners. While there, he declared that: “The constituents (that) gave me 97% cannot in all honesty be treated on some issues with constituencies that gave me 5%.”
We now understand his thinking. Fulani herdsmen continue to kill innocent farmers while Buhari sees no evil and hears no evil; after all, he called them “my people” to Lam Adesina of Oyo State. Of the 32 critical appointments he has made so far, 27 are from his native North and only 5 from the South. Not a single appointment from the South-east. When queried about this blatant discrepancy, Femi Adesina , and not Garba Shehu, was craftily trotted out.
Tongue-in-cheek, we are told the appointments were made strictly on merit. But since when did the North acquire a monopoly of merit in Nigeria? How can the region with regularly low cut-off JAMB scores suddenly become the citadel of the most meritorious public servants in the country?
Sound and fury
The Buhari administration is shaping out to be full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
After 100 days, it should now be abundantly clear that Buhari may not be president of 21st century Nigeria. The president has neither agenda nor direction. His cardinal objective is apparently the prosecution of a hegemony. The APC desperately needs to organise an intervention, before Buhari drives the country into the ditch. How can this biased person be expected to lead Nigeria into the future?
It is time to admit it. Nigerians were wrong about Buhari.
The speculations surrounding the would be cabinet Ministers in the President Muhammadu Buhari’s led government has been finally laid to rest by the release of the nominees on the senate floor today. I have monitored views all over the social media. Many as usual are not devoid of sentiments and partisanship. It is pathetic to read from the APC apologists on how PDP destroyed the country for the past 16years and yet the list submitted was partially filled with same people. Personally, I am not excited about some of the nominees who have been part of the agents that ridiculed governance and fingered in various dubious dealings across the nation. Some may quickly point out to me that none of the appointees have been pronounced to be corrupt by a competent court of law, but then we know our judicial process has been deeply bastardized. From time immemorial, there has been no serious corruption cases successfully prosecuted, maybe a few exceptions here and there.
But if truth must be told, at this stage we cannot totally exclude politics from governance. The fact is without politicians, even the finest leaders will find it difficult to navigate the political terrain or attain political leadership position. Hopefully the senate will depart from the typical tradition of “bow and go” to at least do some diligent work. But again, one must not forget the senate is filled up with corrupt politicians, fraudsters and drug barons so our hopes must have limits. Even the Senate President who is to chair the screening process to ensure Ministers with clean records emerge, himself is battling corruption charges at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
That being said, the noise about the list should be laid to rest, but then we should rather redirect our energy to other important things. I think President Buhari should be given the benefit of doubt and be supported as he steers the ship of Nigerian state from the imminent wreck it has been positioned by previous administrations which extends beyond the infamous administration of Goodluck Jonathan. So my expectations were not to see saints really, but at least to see the fine mix of politicians and technocrats led by a leader who understands the vision, and communicates it clearly.
However, the game changers should be the citizens who as a matter of urgency must resume and take serious the office of the citizen. The office is the highest office attainable in the land. As citizens, we must play active role in defining issues, considering solutions and identifying resources and priorities for action. To see the “change” we want to happen, there must be meaningful involvement of individuals in policy and program development. We must make government answerable and accountable to us. This is not negotiable, and must never be sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity.
Some other the key places we must beam our searchlight into; legislative arm, judiciary and local government administration. Often times we keep our eyes on the Executive arm government and give room for evil to thrive at other levels. We must keep our eyes on the legislators who often times are known for their notoriety in smuggling and promoting self serving laws. Also the judiciary which rarely protects the interest of the common man deserves keen attention. Like Daniel Webster said, “Justice is the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together. Wherever her temple stands, and so long as it is duly honored, there is a foundation for general security, general happiness, and the improvement and progress of our race.”
To change everything, we need everyone. The future we want to see is not all about Buhari and his ministers, but rather it is about us! We are the change.
God bless Nigeria
Some years ago, I visited Angola. On a sight-seeing tour around Luanda, my guide took me to an area of the city where the powers-that-be lived. The houses were obviously more elegant than those in other areas. The streets were tarred and the gardens manicured. He then said something that caught my attention. He said: “There are no power-cuts in this part of the city.”
For some reason what came immediately to my mind was that Nigeria is an egalitarian country. Don’t ask me to justify this questionable distinction, but I thought: “There are no parts of Lagos where there are no power-cuts.” All Nigerians enjoy power-cuts. Even the powerful are not denied this benefit.
While that might suggest there is little discrimination between the rich and the poor in Nigeria, it is not intended here as a compliment. It means we have not been able to define exclusion zones to power-cuts. Let me put it this way: Nigeria seems to be currently incapable of identifying an area, city or region where there would be no power-cuts for whatever reason. Years back, there were power-cuts in the middle of the African Cup final football match between Nigeria and Burkina Faso.
Given our current romance with power-cuts, is it possible for Nigeria to define an area of excellence with regard to something as basic as electricity?
The President of Nigeria is the patron of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs. In that capacity, he gives an annual speech on the state of Nigeria’s foreign policy under the auspices of the Institute. I recall one of those speeches when General Babangida was Head of State. The venue was the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos. In the middle of the president’s speech, there was a power-cut that lasted thirty minutes.
The back-up generator failed to come on. Everyone remained there in the dark in silence, waiting for the light to come back on. The security implications were not lost on me. Given Nigeria’s checkered history, there might have been a coup d’état at that very minute and the president could have been attacked.
My problem with that incident lies in our inability to guarantee electricity even when the president of the country is giving a major speech. In other countries, heads would roll for such a blunder. In Nigeria, it is par for the course. We are not bothered because power-cuts are “democratized.” Nobody is excluded. Today, I bet there are power-cuts even in Aso Rock. The only thing will be that standby-generators are turned on when they occur.
Nigeria is a country of mediocrities. Anybody can be anybody in Nigeria. A carpenter can be appointed as Minister of Health. A doctor can become the Minister of Mines and Power. Qualifications matter little. It is “Turn-by-turn Nigeria Limited.”
An indolent man wakes up in the morning, has a long stretch and then comes to a sudden decision: “I am going to run to be President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” Two weeks later, he is interviewed about his candidature in one of the country’s major newspapers, after having given a bulging brown envelope to a strategically-placed journalist.
Does anyone really believe this nincompoop has a chance of becoming president of Nigeria? Yes, indeed! In Nigeria, all things are possible. Even a blind man can become the goal-keeper of the Super Eagles. Nigeria is a democratic country in a truly Nigerian sense of the word. Just about anybody can be president of the country.
Chris Okotie was a musician. Then he morphed overnight into a pastor. From there, he received a divine call to run for president of Nigeria. Nobody seemed to be bothered by this. Nobody laughed at his presumptiveness. He filled the newspapers with adverts proclaiming his divinely ordained candidature. He never thought it necessary to start off by running as a local government chairman.
He overlooked his state legislature. He refused to consider running for membership of the Federal House of Assembly. He considered the Senate to be beneath his aspirations. He clearly felt running as the Governor of his state would not cut it. In Nigeria, experience is irrelevant. Presidents don’t get much done anyway. Therefore, the first choice of a political neophyte by name of Chris Okotie was to run as president. Presumably, as president, he would run the country by prayer and fasting.
Nigeria is a country where true presidential materials never get to be presidents. Many are celebrated in death as the best presidents Nigeria never had. On the contrary, we have many examples of men who glory at becoming presidents unexpectedly, without plan or purpose.
Obasanjo became president and claimed: “Not My Will.” Shagari became president when all he wanted was to be a Senator. Goodluck Jonathan became president essentially as a result of his good luck. Buhari became president, but has no presidential agenda. That means people become president who don’t have a clue what to do when in power. When they become president, they register in a school and start to learn the ABC of public policy. By the time they reach JSS 1, their term is over. Then they might shoot for a third term.
Challenge of leadership
Different countries define their areas of specialization; not Nigeria. When you think Brazil, you think football. When you think of Cuba, you think Olympic boxing. When you think of Jamaica, you think of world class sprinters. When you think of Japan, you think electronics. But when you think of Nigeria, nothing of excellence comes to mind.
When you think of Nigeria, you think of corruption, kidnapping and armed-robbery. When you think of Nigeria, you think of 419; “yahoo yahoo” and other scams. We only specialize in the negatives. We have not yet decided as a nation to be good at anything or to be known for anything good. In 52 years of independent existence as a country, we have still not even decided to be a nation.
And yet, it is a decision that can very easily be made. All it requires is a leadership that can challenge Nigerians to excellence. There is no question that Nigeria is full of remarkable people who are exceptional in virtually every area of human endeavor. You will find them all over the world, in key and strategic areas of the economies of foreign countries. But you will struggle to find them in Nigeria. The same Nigerian who fails to pull his weight while working at the federal Ministry of Education, undergoes a metamorphosis when he moves to the British Council where he puts up a stellar performance.
“We choose to go to the moon,” declared John F. Kennedy as President of the United States in 1962, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” By 1968, United States had landed a man on the moon. That is proof of leadership. A decision is taken and resources are marshaled to bring it to fruition.
By the same token, Nigerians can and should choose to excel in something for a change. We cannot continue in the current pattern where we chose to go to the Olympics and are determined to win no medals whatsoever. The last Olympic outing was nothing short of disgraceful. We tried our very best to fail and succeeded.
The best sprinters in the world are naturally produced in Nigeria, the same way the best middle-distance runners are naturally produced in Kenya and Ethiopia. Nevertheless, we continue to watch on the sidelines as a small country as Jamaica, with only 6 million people, dominates the sprints in the Olympics.
Nigeria is a nation of footballers. Visit any major Nigerian city on a public holiday, and you are likely to find that many streets have been converted to makeshift football pitches. However, since our local football league is still under mismanagement, Nigerians adopt clubs of the foreign English Premier League. The London clubs are the most favoured, especially Arsenal and Chelsea. As a matter of fact, the European Champions League is hotly contested in Ibadan and Enugu.
There is no reason why a Nigerian team cannot win the World Cup in football, and yet we even fail to qualify for participation. Nigeria has a comparative advantage in producing excellent footballers. For some reason or the other, we produce quite a number of world class footballers who give good accounts of themselves all over the world.
Nevertheless, we fail again and again to put together a world-class national football team. When we manage to qualify for the World Cup, we choose our coaches four weeks to the competition and train a ragtag team for no longer than a fortnight. Is it any wonder why we always come back with eggs on our faces?
Finally, after a 19 year hiatus, we won the African Nations Cup in spite of ourselves. We did our very best to ensure failure as usual. But somehow, we succeeded most unexpectedly against the odds. The coach, Steven Keshi, claimed he only had five weeks to prepare. He refused to include some of the country’s best players in the squad.
By the last World Cup, we could not go past the first round. Then we showed our mettle as African champions by failing to qualify for the next African Cup. We sat on the sidelines while other nations took the limelight.
Something needs to be done about this failure-driven Nigeria. Something needs to be done about our penchant to be mediocre. We need to stop squandering our riches. Nigeria needs to become a serious country.
A country where a chronically sick man is “selected” President and then dies in office is not a serious country. A country that cannot increase its power output in sixteen years, in spite of spending billions of dollars for that very purpose, is not a serious country. A country that cannot even conduct a true census is not a serious country.
We were expecting the unlisted in the ministerial list, instead we were presented with the motley of the common and the known. The list was disappointing and it is hard to imagine that this list of the common and the expected was vetted for so long and under a notorious veil of secrecy. This list is anything but bold. It is more of mannerly discretion and pointless deference to party loyalists and the old establishment.
The list was not much of an overhaul in quantitative or qualitative terms and far from any notion of novelty. With this list, President Muhammadu Buhari has made it even clearer that he intends to run the administration with his own people. So far, the entire cabinet is a parade of loyalists. Only those people whom the President can trust are his men.
President Muhammadu Buhari has made his choice and he is entitled to them. He seemed convinced that he can effect his change agenda by his own crowd, I wish him luck, I wish Nigeria well. There is no denying the fact that there is an advantage to having a cabinet of loyalists. It can be easier to get things done when everyone believes in the same things and are on the same page. It is also a given that information will be more tightly restricted within the administration. And we are finding that out as in the Akwa Ibom State raid etc.
On the other hand, it also means that any kind of novel or bold change in approach may be too much to hope for. At this moment, in this nation’s history, given the landmark election that upstaged an incumbent; this time calls for the injection of new blood to surprise the public and win it back. President Buhari, went the exact opposite route by choosing to keep it all in the family. We have been presented with more of the same, there is nothing remotely exciting nor surprising about this motley of the common list.
It did not end there. As it is usual with President Muhammadu Buhari, he seem determined to reinforce his own priors and the priors held against him. The inclusion of women in the ministerial list is on the paltry side. It makes a growing case of a man stuck in an era he was raised and grew up in. The rub in this is that the male experience and perspective is still seen as more universal, more public, more valuable and more germane to national development than the female.
It is more disappointing knowing that there are many smart, hardworking and patriotic females in this country whose life and work defines the female perspective as normal and the female experience as mainstream, as universal, as the male. The list reinforces the belief that President Buhari has a distant political and emotional relationship with women and he must find a way to change this. There is a reason why more men voted Buhari than women on March 28, 2015. He must look to fix his women problem by deliberate effort at inclusion and by funding targeted programmes for women. Nigeria has plenty of experienced, talented, professional women available to fill any of his cabinet posts.
For what it is worth, the President, his party – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and whoever the President appoints to work for him and with him must make this government development driven. A new political, economic and national development culture must be sought after as a critical imperative. Greater emphasis must be placed on ensuring the state institutions are made more accountable and profitable. All state institutions must be restructured with a culture of responsibility and accountability as opposed to the endemic culture of mediocrity, corruption and waste.
In addition, the shrinking of the cabinet will be a welcome development. We did not vote for a change in government only to see the new regime follow the patterns of the old one. We voted for change, we voted for a departure from our bad ways of pork, gravy And impunity. The President’s modest lifestyle and lean and mean approach to governance is an asset and he must lead the charge at curing us of greed, profligacy and waste. We are in the fifth month of his presidency, the government must start taking shape and present to Nigerians its platform and operating guidelines.
We understand that the opportunity to answer the public’s hopes with some new faces may have passed, but hopefully the next set of appointments at least will be handled with some semblance of surprise and skill.
Bamidele maintains a weekly column on Politics and Socioeconomic issues every Tuesday. She is a member of Premium Times Editorial Board.
By Dr Idris Ahmed
Without shred of a doubt, Bukola Saraki is the most dangerous politician today in Nigerian political landscape. Unlike any other politician in APC or PDP, he remains a divisive figure and a real threat to the corporate existence of the Nigerian state.
Here are some of the legal reasons and why we strongly believe that #Saraki_Must_Go!
Did you know that the Federal Ministry of Justice had since 29/7/2015 recommended the prosecution of Bukola Saraki and his co-conspirators, who forged the Senate Standing Orders to fraudulently elect him as the Senate President?
Ministry of Justice document with reference number DPPA/ADV/258/15, had recommended that Saraki and his co-conspirators should be prosecuted for criminal conspiracy, forgery, breach of official trust and unlawful assembly.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Criminal Investigation Department, Force Headquarters, Dan’Azumi Doma, had earlier conducted a preliminary investigation of the forgery of the Senate Standing Orders and filed a 13 page damning report with with reference number CB: 3514/XFQ/ABJ/Vol./23/17.
This report was sent to the Ministry of Justice by Doma, seeking for legal advice on the line of action to take
. In preparation for court appearance, the police gave the forgery scandal a case reference number: FHQ/X/ABJ/SEB/365/2015.
DIG Doma's 13 page preliminary report made 7 startling findings, which are outlined below:
(1) That on the 9/6/2015, a document titled “the Senate Standing Order 2015 as amended” was unlawfully distributed to senators of the 8th Senate for their inauguration as members
(2) That the contents of the Senate Standing Order 2015 as amended are substantially different from the Senate Standing Order 2011 as amended. Sections 2(iv), 3(3)E, I,ii,iii, G and H, 5 and 7 of the Rules are different in the two Orders.
(3) That the Senate Standing Order 2015 as amended was used by the clerks of the National Assembly and the Senate as the Senate Standing Orders to fraudulently inaugurate and conduct elections into the offices of the presiding officials of the Senate, namely the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President etc.
(4) That the testimonies of some members of the 7th Senate including that of the chairman of the Business and Rules Committee and Senators of the 7th Senate indicate that the Senate Standing Order 2011 was not amended during the tenure of the 7th Senate which ended on the 8/6/ 2015.
(5) That the procedure for the amendment of the Senate Standing Order as contained in Section 110 of the Senate Standing Order 2011 as amended stipulates that any amendment to the Senate Standing Orders should be in line with the following procedures:
i Any senator desiring to amend any part of the Rules or adding any new clause shall give notice of such amendments in writing to the President of the Senate giving details of proposed amendment.
ii. The President shall within seven working days cause the amendment to be printed and circulated to members. Thereafter it shall be printed in the Order Paper.
iii. The movers of the amendment shall be allowed to explain in details the proposed amendments, thereafter the Senate shall decide by simple majority votes whether the amendment should be considered.
iv. If the decision is to consider the amendments, then another date shall be set aside by the Rules and Business Committee, whereby opportunity would be given to Senators to further propose amendments but must strictly be confined to the original amendments.
v. Two third majorities shall decide the amendments and such amendments shall form part of the Rules of the Senate.
(6) That the Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Benedict Efeturi, who doubles as the Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly confirmed in his statement that the Senate Standing Order 2015 as amended was produced on the orders of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, without following the amendment procedures as contained in the Senate Standing Orders 2011 as amended.
(7) That the allusion by the clerk of the Senate to procedure of amending the Standing Orders of Parliament through “practice and not necessarily by procedure” is a misplaced analogy and undemocratic because the Nigerian Senate has clearly laid-down without a proviso, the procedure to be adopted in amending its standing orders as contained in section 110 of 2011 Senate Standing Orders.
The Ministry of Justice legal opinion document (DPPA/ADV/258/15), which reviewed and analysed the report submitted by DIG Doma had concluded that the leadership election of Bukola Saraki was based on forged documents. It cannot stand in the eyes of the law and is therefore null and void!
The document further advised DIG Doma to carry out additional investigation to establish the following facts:
1. Who authorised the promulgation of the Senate Standing Order 2015.
2. Who published the Senate Standing Order 2015.
3. Who approved the Senate Standing Order 2015.
4. Who paid for the publishing of the Senate Standing Order 2015.
5. Who distributed the Senate Standing Order 2015.
When the above facts are established, it would be found that none other than the fraudulent “Senate President”, Bukola Saraki, made the orders.
Everything about Bukola Saraki is fraudulent. His wealth, his election to office as a governor and subsequently as a senator have all been fraudulent. His accession to the Senate Presidency is also fraudulent.
Whatever happens at his ongoing trial at the CCT, which we believe Saraki will be found guilty of all the 13 charges, we contend that he will never be able to escape the charges of criminal conspiracy, forgery, breach of official trust and unlawful assembly as outlined in the DIG Doma's 13 page police report.
In view of the above compelling factual revelations, we call on all patriotic Nigerians at home and around the world to support operation #Saraki_Must_Go!
Unless we collectively force Saraki out of the Senate to face his various criminal charges in the courts, he will keep holding Nigeria to ransom. This Mafia don has no regret pulling Nigeria down as he is put down for his criminality.
Fellow compatriots, Nigeria is a great nation of over 180 million people who deserve better. For all intent and purposes, we deserve a democratically elected National Assembly with legitimate, patriotic and visionary leadership, to work in harmony with the President, to deliver the aspirations of the masses.
May God save Nigeria and Nigerians. Amen.
Dr. Idris Ahmed.
Ola Shamsuldeen Adeniji
Disclaimer: Views we publish remain entirely the author's and do not reflect our editorial policy. DailyGlobeWatch, shall therefore, not be held responsible for any of the contents or its parts thereof
By Abraham Ukpong
The Buhari presidency has exposed many Nigerians for the soulless hypocrites they really are. During GEJ tenure, fuel scarcity was seen as
a sign of ineptitude on the part of Jonathan but today under Buhari, fuel scarcity has suddenly become the fault of oil marketers.
We now sleep at the filling station just to buy fuel and kerosene
at exorbitant prices if you are lucky to even get the products at all. During GEJ tenure, we swore we would never sleep until we #bringbackourgirls. Today, we no longer wanna bring them back.
Aunty Oby has since retired. Govt is no longer a continuum, you know. Back then, under GEJ, once boko haram strikes, we would call for Jonathan's head but today, we now dismiss victims of boko haram attack as 'soft targets'.
Hearing us call them 'soft targets', you would be forgiven to think those innocent victims weren't Nigerians who deserve protection from their own government. Fulani terrorists now kill and maim Nigerians while we limit the blame on just the security agencies alone forgetting that President Buhari is the man we employed to keep us safe.
Today, some of my atheist friends who almost lynched Jonathan for praying to a wall in Israel then are now the ones reminding me that
President Buhari had a right to practice his religion when I drew their attention to the photo of him (Buhari) praying in Saudi Arabia dressed
like my 'Ogboni' uncle.
I remember how he almost sent 'Amadioha' after Jonathan for attending a campaign rally in kano less than 24 hours after dozens were killed in Nyanya bomb blast. But when hundreds of people mostly women and children were burnt alive in #Dalori by boko haram, the next day, Buhari was laughing, dancing and cutting cake in Ogun state, yet, there was no outrage.
If you are among those now celebrating all the things you frowned upon under Jonathan, it is high time you had a one-on- one with your conscience.
Supporting your President and urging him on even when it is very clear that he is progressing in error, is not you being a patriotic citizen. That is you being a hopeless pathetic soulless sycophant!
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 the contents or its parts thereof.
By Edward Oparaoji
President Muhammadu Buhari granted an interview to Al Jazeera English while on his official trip to Qatar. The interview was aired on Saturday, March 5, 2016 to the chagrin of Nigerian around the globe. Here are six quick notes:
• On why he should continue to fund his children in foreign schools while restricting foreign exchange for most families that have pupils in schools abroad, Buhari acknowledges its “tough luck”.
• On presenting the “worst budget” ever, Buhari blames it on sabotage by technocrats, and also denies knowledge of details of his budget when challenged on specifics, such as amount budgeted for books for the VP, and the Aso Rock Clinic. He accused the interviewer of assuming better knowledge of his budget.
• On security votes, which had been source of corruption, which we had been told were scrapped. he defended the need for the security votes, and promised to punish anyone found misappropriating the funds.
• On why no convictions since his much vaunted fight on corruption, he queried the motives of his critics, and why similar expectations were not made of previous administrations.
• On whether Nigeria will join the Saudi Arabia led Islamic Coalition Force Against Terrorism, he said YES, which is in contradiction to what we were previously told. When asked if this decision was insensitive to the desire of Christians that make up 50% of Nigeria’s population, Buhari retorted [with hate] that Christians complaining should “Go fight terrorism in Nigeria, or fight militants in the South”. Those complaining Christians he referred to as religious bigots.
• On Buhari’s promise to defeat Boko Haram, he was declared a “failure”, to which he angrily declared “I haven’t failed, I haven’t failed, I haven’t failed…”. His rationale was that Boko Haram now only has capabilities to attack and kill only civilians, but not police posts and military institutions. What low value placed on Nigerian lives by the President charged with the responsibility of protecting them. By the way, Boko Haram bombed a police headquarters in Adamawa last month.
• On the killing of IPOB peaceful protesters by Nigeria’s armed forces, Buhari wickedly refused to watch the video when offered. He accused the movement of “interfering with movement of troops and the economy”, and declared the movement as “joking with Nigeria’s security and Nigeria will not tolerate it”. He then cajoled them, since we are in a democracy, to organize and vote for a “state within a state”
The level of inconsistencies, ignorance, and insensitivity displayed by this president, for lack of better word, is pathological.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in any piece we publish remain entirely the author's and do not reflect the editorial policy of DailyGlobeWatch