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Nigeria Held Hostage By Naira Exchange Rate (2) A critique of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s policy perspective on “What Africa Must Do…”

Every country has to trade with strength or be traded as a marginal presence in the market. Not even Mexico and Canada as next door neighbors of the US economy could escape the Trump business philosophy. China for a dull Trade war from Trump before Covid- 19 changed the tempo of the agenda. The power of the respective currency of each country speaks for their relative standing in the world’s markets.

As a former Vice President of Nigeria (1999-2007) and the 2019 Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar owes his audience a high degree  of executive insight into national policy debate. But he is equally well known as one of Africa’s emerging business Emperors. Thus any one listening to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on the economy has a right to expect to hear views of how the Naira can be released from it’s prostrate position as the indicator of an economy held hostage. But did it happen?

The policy critique he published is arguably among the first well- informed, comparative and certainly purposeful analysis. It shows that Covid-19 presents a more dangerous  challenge to the economy of Nigeria and Africa’s potential as a competitor in the world market. The presentation is  brilliant and timely. It shows that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s reputation of running a back-up bench of sophisticated professionals, is quite intact.

The underlying thesis of the critique makes it clear that the first and fundamental responsibility of government (no matter where), is to create and sustain a productive economic base. That is how to gain constructive international attention and cooperation for the country.  Nigeria is therefore likely to be worse hit, unless we can begin now to take credible corrective actions. Even that point alone, is eloquently brilliant. But there is more.

The critique shows that unfortunately Nigeria is ignorantly hugging a record of wasteful and unproductive institutions. In addition we have a record of woeful incompetence by our policy managers. No Nigerian institution has risen since 1999 to gain sustained international respect for thoroughness, fairness  and efficient processes. It is not just with elections that our system shows gross incompetence. Other areas of national & international competition are affected. This situation weakens the nation’s capacity in both the domestic and external arena.

Alhaji Atiku’s piece also points out a direction that has gone missing in our national discourse lately: Nigeria is no longer a champion of any constructive agenda for Africa’s economic rebirth. Perhaps it is because government since 2015  has not committed itself to a measurable agenda to build our national economy, as a model to earn respect from other countries in Africa.

But the policy critique urges Nigeria to start now. We can present a credible multi-stakeholder focus on production and regional trade-drive, to expand opportunities for citizens of each country and investors.

There is the unspoken “what if”? Well, government can chose to start from the front or clear from the way. It happened in the US and can happen here too. For instance many State governments enlisted in the international climate change agenda, to defy Donald Trump who pulled the US (Federal Government) out of all such treaties. This policy critique by Atiku Abubakar is largely strategic for its Sector-based approach. But it appears superficial in two areas.

First, it ignores the urgency for Nigeria to lay a credible foundation for a competitive national economy. We don’t have any.  Therefore mere crisis management of Covid-19 will not give our country the quick return to “normalcy” that every country is crying for. As I have shown with exchange rate battering of the Naira, Nigeria’s economy has not had any “normalcy” in nearly 40 years. China created a normalcy defined by improvement of opportunities for her citizens and moving hundreds of millions out of poverty, within the first decade of the United Nations millennium goals.

On the contrary, Nigeria’s economy has not had a policy- driven surge of steady progress, with growing investment in productive capacities and expansion of access to business opportunities for citizens. We have not had an economy  marked out by a sustained upward improvement in the exchange rate of the national currency. Rather our country achieved the tortuous status of becoming the poverty capital of the world by 2017.

The irony is that no government in office has made it one of it’s priorities since 1999. And we should ask: why not? Perhaps it is because our political elite are groomed on a culture of consumption and a life of luxury. They have never been pushed to grow an economy.

The result is that after each adminstration’s tenure, most LGAs, States and even the Federal government has a worse productive economic base than it’s predecessors. Yet those who managed each level of government into greater poverty get themselves adequately compensated  with a mouth watering retirement package. Meanwhile the Civil  Servants who are left with the rot, are robbed daily by a diminishing Naira. The result is that 20 years after democratization, the political elite have left Nigerians with an economy that pushes the citizens into a worse hostage status with each new administration.

Not surprisingly one of the key questions the Atiku proposal dodged, is the need to encourage states to build internal economic focus and muster momentum to change the direction of our economy.  States spend about 40% of national revenue from Crude oil. In 1999-2020, most state budgets present themselves as the spending pipeline and not a productive corridor of the national economy. That is the height of economic ignorance and management mediocrity.

How do we get them to mobilize a dedicated percentage e.g. 30-45% of revenue per annum, to stimulate productive Joint Venture investments by states?  They  will create sustainable career jobs and a competitive business environment as was the case (1972-1983) when the Naira had respect. This can immediately energize the national economy through sustained collaboration in building private sector capacities. It will infuse performance focus and competitive capacities in different sectors of our national economy, including Public Sector management .

There is also an intriguing stakeholder challenge on the domestic front of each political party. In Nigeria’s  Second Republic (1979-83), each political party was identified by citizens based on what work was done in each state where the party was in power. So the relationship framework of the time made Governors a collegiate type of stakeholders working with their party’s national executives.  In such an environment Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s party would have directed state governments where it is in power, to implement smart economic measures as implied in his policy critique.

The problem with our democracy this time, is that political parties are powerless before state Governors. Each Governor owns the party in his state and does not seem to submit to the authority of the national party machinery. So our leading political parties that have won political power in any state seem to find themselves under the control of their Governors.  Thus we have a weak stakeholder network between national party machinery and state governments. Of course LGA Chairmen are still treated by Governors as their Class Monitors.

Secondly, Alhaji Abubakar’s policy critique also appears weak for underestimating stakeholder relationship issues between Saudi Arabia and Russia. There is an on-going “Premier League competition” and struggle for control of a new political economy in the Middle East.

Russia is eminently poised to profit from Trump’s apparent lack of international relations’ sophistication or a deliberate oversight masked by “rich boy” arrogance. It appears to be pushing the US to the fringe in the region. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and Turkey are now standing as leading pawns on a regional Chess board that is fast heating up.

What Nigeria must not lose sight of is the fundamental transformation of the Arab economy in the oil market. In recent years, Arab oil producing nations led by Saudi Arabia, have moved out of their hostage economy status. They are no longer a dependent and rent- claiming crowd of mere oil producers in the global market. Rather they are  now becoming competitive as manufacturing and high tech emerging economies. They are part of an ” OPEC plus” community whose  players have largely scaled up their economies. Nigeria  and Angola must be leaders of that redundant wing of “OPEC plus”, that has no economy to compete with. So the leverage Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s thought we could exact on Saudi Arabia is no longer what it used to be.

It is tougher for Nigeria to navigate the terrain because of the near collapse of multi-laterism that once defined NATO and it’s allies. Today lack of trust and inadequate level of consensus building, has destabilized NATO  considerably. Donald Trump’s unilateralism and a near blind push of “America First” philosophy, is designed to capture technology market advantage for the US, especially with 5G as the “ripe fruit in view”. China is no charity organization either. It trades on it’s own terms and as it has shown with the US, the country’s leaders know when to push the throttle for maximum advantage.

President Buhari’s administration has to encourage non partisan national stakeholder community of Nigerians at home and in diaspora to do something different. Nigeria has to build a deliberate  new economy from the states and upwards to federal level, to put our citizens first. Let such a stakeholder platform begin to emerge by proposing win-win options with different countries. It needs to set up a clear agenda to transform the Nigerian economy, to give our citizens competitive opportunities. Such options must invest the Naira with purchasing power to raise the quality of life of our citizens and their natural right to dignity.

There is nothing on the table at Federal or state level in that regard.  Alhaji Atiku Abubakar only scratched the problem by drawing attention to it. Let us seize upon the idea and cut a clear path forward for the economy at Local Government, State and Federal levels.

Concluded

Brown, a veteran journaluist is emeritus national president of NIPR and Managing consultant/CEO of GRAIN Consulting, PH

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Nigeria: Not What Time, But Whose Time? A Critique of Bishop Kukah’s Convocation Lecture

The convocation lecture by Bishop Matthew Kukah did not
disappoint. It had all of the elements that have come to make Bishop Kukah an
authentic precious voice of a Nigerian society turned into a wilderness by a
feudal system that has captured our politics and economy, especially since
1999. The scope of literary evidence of his comparative framework from the
Bible to Poetry, Fiction, American Constitutional literature and Oral
literature about Nigeria’s’ search for historical relevance they are all there
plus an insight into the foundation of many anti-people policies that define
every constitution of our country.

You also see the depth of intellectual analysis with which
he approaches his assignment and the passion with which he presents a spicy
combo of facts and an alternative vision for a better Nigeria! These have
become “native” ingredients of Bishop Kukah’s dishes to the public.
They were in full play and of a richer flavour this time. The Catholic Bishop
of Sokoto used them to create the unique Kukah delicacy of a 2020 convocation
lecture, to make it a prescription diet from the North to the South and from
the East to the West.

But in my view Bishop Kukah forgot to give the hungry a
place at the table. I argue that the poor and oppressed in Nigeria are those
left hungry by the Feudal system which has run Nigeria’s democracy since 1999
as a bazaar for those who monopolize access to the treasury. They claim a right
to appropriate to themselves not only the treasury but the entire economy at
Local Government, State and Federal Government levels. It is the feudal system
by its disregard for competence and equitable access to opportunities for all
Nigerians, that has turned an overwhelming percentage of citizens into primary
victims of our nation.

 In my view the big
idea in the lecture is that it will take a group of committed elite ie people
with better dreams for Nigeria or components of it, to fight to uphold
sustainable values that can bring the society to a steady path of progress. It
seems from Bishop Kukah’s position, such struggle has not happened. Simply put,
the lecture is a call for Nigerians to define what their common goals and
values should be, in order to find the zeal of collective energy to pursue same
without being derailed.

 It would seem that
Bishop Matthew Kukah, blamed the lack of any group with such shared dream about
our nation or it’s components, as the reason for pockets of inconsistent and
individual efforts that tend to lead in conflicting directions. His position
appears to be a warning that those we call the present political elite are like
Boko Haram.

They do not mean well because they have no ideas of what
Nigeria should be for all of us. He considers them same as kidnappers and
robbers, but they                     
are only different because they are more tenacious and deadly in their
bid to snatch every lucrative space for themselves. He makes a subtle statement
about the peptic quality and general gloom arising from social injustice in
Nigeria: the personal success of today’s patrons of feudalism in Nigeria is
dragging the nation backwards into darkness.

But to me that is where Bishop Kukah’s thesis lacks
historical validity. First he wrongly assumes that the forces of feudalism are
unorganized. They may appear so, but in actual fact their common interest
brings the feudal forces in the North, South, East and West into a collective
defense of a system that benefits their “sectional” or group
interests. Political party, ethnic group and religion become mere tools for
personal gain.

For instance those who make the Niger Delta unproductive by
refusing to invest huge revenue allocations from Federal Govt into productive
industries that could create opportunities for more people, are our Niger Delta
sons and daughters. They are not Muslim or from Kano, Katsina or Maiduguri.
They want you and I to be their “slave” who obey their political
decisions. Thus even though they are our brothers and sisters they are as
negative as those Feudalists from the Caliphate 
of Sokoto, Kano, Katsina or Yola.

Secondly, it is sad that Bishop Kukah did not address the
capacity of feudal forces to expand their hold on the national economy and
politics. It is a simple process by which the Nigerian political system confers
total control of any profitable corridors, on those in political office and
their cronies. The same process disconnects the overwhelming majority of
Nigerians from state resources because they do not have political power.

Such people have limited opportunities and zero state
resources to pursue any aspirations. This tends to translate Nigerian society
into two segments, namely: the first is the group of “Masters” ( ie
those who have political power along with their cronies. They are less than 200
persons among whom are politicians, civil servants and cronies who serve as
corridors for those in power to loot public resources in each state under any
administration).

The second category is the masses who graduate from being
Supporters to Servants and finally into Slaves. In every state a growing
population is gradually dispossessed by deliberate State policies, into the
underprivileged. So we lose access to resources, we lose human dignity and we
lose the right to aspirations as citizens. This overwhelming majority of
Nigerians, are daily dragged into slavery by a feudal process which deprives
people of fair access to productive resources or social justice (even justice
in court, goes to the highest bidder).

What to do? I would hold that Bishop Kukah failed the logic
of his analysis. You cannot liberate “the enslaved” without
liberating the economy that made them slaves. To do so we must join hands to
demand that  collective resources such as
State or LG revenues be properly invested to create collective opportunities.
This struggle for deployment of our collective resources must move to that main
theatre of warfare between Masters and those they have turned into Slaves.

In the period 1999-2019 the rank of slaves continued to
increase as unemployment, mass poverty and insecurity rendered the majority of
citizens vulnerable and conquered.  What
time will such slaves begin to win the war? Bishop Kukah missed this systematic
investigation of Nigeria’s modern feudal system. That is why he failed to
answer the question: whose time is it in Nigeria?

Amaopusenibo Bobo Brown, veteran journalist and emeritus National
President of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, is the Managing Consultant
/CEO of Grain Consulting, Port Harcourt.

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We Must Move On: The Struggle Continues

As we are all aware, the election to determine the Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the November 16 governorship race in
Bayelsa State has been conducted. Even with all the inarguable inherent flaws
bordering on crass disrespect for legal procedures and party guidelines, a
winner has been declared. The delegates—whether coercively or voluntarily—have
spoken even if their voices do not represent the voice of the people.

My decision to seek election as Governor of Bayelsa State
was based both on the collective opinion of respected stakeholders of our
beloved state and a personal conviction that I have what it takes to make the
difference in the economic development of our state. Having travelled the same
route more than once, I took time to pray, plan my strategies and carry out
wider consultations more than I had ever done in the past.

My sincere desire was to bring into governance my
experiences and exposures both in the public and private sectors—spanning more
than three decades. I came with a mission and a vision clearly articulated and
made public. I was thrilled to see the Blue Economy Concept and Project Dolphin
becoming household chants, especially among our vibrant youths.

When we finally picked the Nomination and Expression of
Interest Forms, we chose to run idea-based campaign. We envisioned a state
where electricity will run 24/7 in less than 18 months through planned
utilisation of abundant but wasted gas resource. We looked forward to creating
a permanent distance between our youth and violence by applying the same method
we did in the Presidential Amnesty Programme—disarming, demobilising,
rehabilitating and reintegrating them. We articulated programmes that would
produce intellectual militants in place of violent militants. We thought of a
booming economy based on sea-side industrialisation that would create jobs for
our people.

We thought of extensive road networks and bridges,
functional health facilities, among others. Drawing from my modest experience
at the Niger Delta Development Commission, my vision was to assemble a team of
experts that would conceive and execute a 25-Year Development Plan for Bayelsa
State—a plan that would outlive my administration—for the good of our people.
From all indications, these lofty plans may have to be put on hold because the
opportunity to execute them has been put on hold.

We chose to run a decent campaign in line with the
Constitution of our party, the PDP and the laws of Nigeria. We vowed never to
engage or respond to acts of violence and abuse from any quarter. We did not
envisage that the process would be smooth and easy; but we also could not
believe the depth of desperation and deadly manoeuvring that we encountered
along the way. We were called unprintable names and even labelled with criminal
tags. But we were too focused to be distracted.

To my supporters and friends, let it be known that no one
could have been more disappointed with the outcome of our governorship primary
that held on Tuesday September 3 than me. I know you are awfully disappointed
too. But our disappointment is certainly not that the outcome was against our
wish to obtain the mandate of our great party, but because of the obviously
flawed process that led to the primary.

We all know that the basis of our party is the Constitution
in addition to the rules and regulations that we set for ourselves from inception
in 1998, and the fact our party has become reformed. Consequently, for anything
to be legitimate it must derive authority from our Constitution. Unfortunately,
certain aspects of the processes of the just concluded primary election rudely
violated the provisions of our Party Constitution.

For instance, by the provisions of Section 50(1) of the
Party Constitution, the authority to formulate guidelines for all matters
relating to the governorship primary is vested in the NEC of the PDP. The
election of Ad-Hoc delegates is one of such matters. Strangely, the panel set
up to undertake this exercise simply imposed on us a list of electoral and
returning officers prepared by the state officers of the party who are avowed
members of the orchestrated Restoration Team. Thus, the process was
deliberately handed over to the Restoration Team. Our protest was ignored.

This issue of election of local council chairmen and
councillors that were allowed to participate in the primary despite a court
order was another setback. You would recall that we protested to the
appropriate organs of the party. As it turned out, the national leadership of
the party would seem not to have been persuaded by the strength of our argument
for obedience to the supreme law of our great party. Even the powers that be in
state unsuccessfully challenged the superiority of our position in court.

While we must put on record our disappointment with this
wilful disregard to our Constitution, we must take no further steps that would
merely equalize the disregard for the same Constitution. In the circumstances,
we express our serious reservations about the process that led to the primary
for its unconstitutionality and its outcome completely unacceptable because of
its illegitimacy.

However; we must move on. At the beginning of this contest,
we made our objective very clear, that we are out to take the levers of power
in order to use them to galvanise the economy of the state for the benefits of
our people—who have been kept down for too long. We believe this could only be
realised on the platform of this great party.

For us, therefore, this is simply a setback. We will remain
focused, believing that very soon we would be able to realise our aspiration.We
thank our great supporters, especially our delegates that backed us up to this
point and ask them not to despair but stand firm in the belief that sooner than
later, our just cause would prevail as the struggle continues. We thank you
all.

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‘Collective Thinking, Dialogue’ll, Solve Nigeria’s Problem’ Obasanjo Says In Letter To Buhari

Former President, Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo, recently wrote
another open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari calling for urgent actions to
tackle Nigeria’s challenges. The letter released by Kehinde Akinyemi, his
Special Assistant on Media, reads:

I am constrained to write to you this open letter. I decided
to make it an open letter because the issue is very weighty and must be greatly
worrisome to all concerned Nigerians and that means all right-thinking
Nigerians and those resident in Nigeria. Since the issue is of momentous
concern to all well-meaning and all right-thinking Nigerians, it must be of
great concern to you, and collective thinking and dialoguing is the best way of
finding an appropriate and adequate solution to the problem. The contents of
this letter, therefore, should be available to all those who can help in
proffering effective solutions for the problem of insecurity in the land.

One of the spinoffs and accelerants is the misinformation
and disinformation through the use of fake news. A number of articles, in
recent days, have been attributed to me by some people who I believe may be
seeking added credence and an attentive audience for their opinions and
view-points. As you know very well, I will always boldly own what I say and
disown what is put into my mouth.

But the issue I am addressing here is very serious; it is
the issue of life and death for all of us and for our dear country, Nigeria.
This issue can no longer be ignored, treated with nonchalance, swept under the
carpet or treated with cuddling glove. The issue is hitting at the foundation
of our existence as Nigerians and fast eroding the root of our Nigerian
community. I am very much worried and afraid that we are on the precipice and
dangerously reaching a tipping point where it may no longer be possible to hold
danger at bay.

 Without being immodest,
as a Nigerian who still bears the scar of the Nigerian civil war on my body and
with a son who bears the scar of fighting Boko Haram on his body, you can
understand, I hope, why I am so concerned. When people are desperate and feel
that they cannot have confidence in the ability of government to provide
security for their lives and properties, they will take recourse to anything
and everything that can guarantee their security individually and collectively.

For over ten years, for four of which you have been the
captain of the ship, Boko Haram has menacingly ravaged the land and in spite of
government’s claim of victory over Boko Haram, the potency and the activities
of Boko Haram, where they are active, remain undiminished, putting lie to
government’s claim. The recent explanation of the Chief of Army Staff for
non-victory due to lack of commitment and lack of motivation on the part of
troops bordering on sabotage speaks for itself.

Say what you will, Boko Haram is still a daily issue of
insecurity for those who are victimised, killed, maimed, kidnapped, raped, sold
into slavery and forced into marriage and for children forcibly recruited into
carrying bombs on them to detonate among crowds of people to cause maximum
destructions and damage. And Boko Haram will not go away on the basis of sticks
alone, carrots must overweigh sticks. How else do you deal with issues such as
only about 50% literacy in North-East with over 70% unemployment?

Herdsmen/farmers crises and menace started with government
treating the issue with cuddling glove instead of hammer. It has festered and
spread. Today, it has developed into banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and
killings all over the country. The unfortunate situation is that the
criminality is being perceived as a ‘Fulani’ menace unleashed by Fulani elite
in the different parts of the country for a number of reasons but even more,
unfortunately, many Nigerians and non-Nigerians who are friends of Nigeria
attach vicarious responsibility to you as a Fulani elite and the current
captain of the Nigeria ship.

Perception may be as potent as reality at times. Whatever
may be the grievances of Fulanis, if any, they need to be put out in the open
and their grievances, if legitimate, be addressed; and if other ethnic groups
have grievances, let them also be brought out in the open and addressed through
debate and dialogue.

The main issue, if I may dare say, is poor management or
mismanagement of diversity which, on the other hand, is one of our greatest and
most important assets. As a result, very onerous cloud is gathering. And rain
of destruction, violence, disaster and disunity can only be the outcome.
Nothing should be taken for granted, the clock is ticking with the cacophony of
dissatisfaction and disaffection everywhere in and outside the country.

The Presidency and the Congress in the US have signalled to
us to put our house in order. The House of Lords in the UK had debated the
Nigerian security situation. We must understand and appreciate the
significance, implication and likely consequences of such concerns and
deliberations. No one can stop hate speech, violent agitation and smouldering
violent agitation if he fans the embers of hatred, disaffection and violence.
It will continue to snowball until it is out of control. A stitch in time saves
nine, goes the old wise saying.

With the death of Funke, Chief Fasoranti’s daughter, some
sympathetic Nigerian groups are saying “enough is enough”. Prof. Anya, a
distinguished Nigerian merit Laureate, has this to say “We can no longer say
with certainty that we have a nation”. Niger-Delta leaders, South-Eastern
leaders, Middle-Belt leaders and Northern Elders Forum have not remained quiet.
Different ordinary Nigerians at home and abroad are calling for different
measures to address or ameliorate the situation. All the calls and cries can
only continue to be ignored at the expense of Nigerian unity, if not its
continued existence.

To be explicit and without equivocation, Mr. President and
General, I am deeply worried about four avoidable calamities: 1. abandoning
Nigeria into the hands of criminals who are all being suspected, rightly or
wrongly, as Fulanis and terrorists of Boko Haram type; 2. spontaneous or
planned reprisal attacks against Fulanis which may inadvertently or advertently
mushroom into pogrom or Rwanda-type genocide that we did not believe could
happen and yet it happened. 3. similar attacks against any other tribe or
ethnic group anywhere in the country initiated by rumours, fears, intimidation
and revenge capable of leading to pogrom; 4. violent uprising beginning from
one section of the country and spreading quickly to other areas and leading to
dismemberment of the country.

It happened to Yugoslavia not too long ago. If we do not act
now, one or all of these scenarios may happen. We must pray and take effective
actions at the same time. The initiative is in the hands of the President of
the nation, but he cannot do it alone. In my part of the world, if you are
sharpening your cutlass and a mad man comes from behind to take the cutlass
from you, you need other people’s assistance to have your cutlass back without
being harmed. The mad men with serious criminal intent and terrorism as core
value have taken cutlass of security.

The need for assistance to regain control is obviously
compelling and must be embraced now.

A couple of weeks ago at a public lecture, I had said, among
other things, that: “In all these issues of mobilisation for national unity,
stability, security, cooperation, development, growth and progress, there is no
consensus. Like in the issue of security, government should open up discussion,
debate and dialogue as part of consultation at different levels and the outcome
of such deliberations should be collated to form inputs into a national
conference to come up with the solution that will effectively deal with the
issues and lead to rapid development, growth and progress which will give us a
wholesome society and enhanced living standard and livelihood in an inclusive
and shared society.

 It will be a national
programme. We need unity of purpose and nationally accepted strategic roadmap
that will not change with whims and caprices of any government. It must be
owned by the citizens, people’s policy and strategy implemented by the
government no matter its colour and leaning.

Some of the groups that I will suggest to be contacted are:
traditional rulers, past heads of service (no matter how competent or
incompetent they have been and how much they have contributed to the mess we
are in), past heads of para-military organisations, private sector, civil
society, community leaders particularly in the most affected areas, present and
past governors, present and past local government leaders, religious leaders,
past Heads of State, past intelligence chiefs, past Heads of Civil Service and
relevant current and retired diplomats, members of opposition and any groups
that may be deemed relevant.”

The President must be seen to be addressing this issue with
utmost seriousness and with maximum dispatch and getting all hands on deck to
help. If there is failure, the principal responsibility will be that of the
President and no one else. We need cohesion and concentration of effort and
maximum force – political, economic, social, psychological and military – to
deal successfully with the menace of criminality and terrorism separately and
together.   Blame game among own forces
must be avoided. It is debilitating and only helpful to our adversary. We
cannot dither anymore. It is time to confront this threat headlong and in a manner
that is holistic, inclusive and purposeful.

For the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians, I pray that God may
grant you, as our President, the wisdom, the understanding, the political will
and the courage to do what is right when it is right and without fear or
favour.

May God save, secure, protect and bless Nigeria. May He open
to us a window of opportunity that we can still use to prevent the worst
happening. As we say in my village, “May God forbid bad thing”.

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Amosun Arms Stockpile Story. Alpheaus Paul-Worika, Ph.D

The Presidency has in a swift involvement in the evolving
story of arms stockpile allegation made by an online media (Premium Times)
against former Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikinle Amosun, made a
clarification that further exacerbated the contradictions in the story.

Premium Times had stated that the former Governor on the eve
of his departure from office handed over a cache of arms and ammunitions and
other security items to the Ogun State Police Commissioner, Mr Bashir Makama.

The news outfit has reaffirmed its story in deference to the
governor’s denial of any wrongdoing in the submission of the items or even in
their procurement and storage. Such courageous reaffirmation should elicit a
major concern and investigation rather than a quick response such as has been
given by the presidency. Senator Amosun is not a staff of the Presidency.

What are the issues: According to Premium Times, Amosun
purchased truckloads of arms and ammunition and hid his cache of weapons under
the radar of the security authorities. As his tenure came to an end,
Amosun  told the Ogun State Commissioner
of Police, Bashir Makama that he had thousands of arms and millions of
ammunition at an armoury in Government House, and that he had decided to hand
them over to the police.

Makama  was said to
have  gotten  to Government House and Amosun reportedly
handed over  four million rounds of
ammunition, 1,000 units of AK47 assault rifles, 1,000 units of bulletproof
vests and an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) to the police.

Amosun reportedly told the police at the event that he
procured the arms and ammunition to check the widespread insecurity in his
state and decided to keep the cache of weapons at the Government House armoury
to ensure they were not allocated indiscriminately by security agencies.

Amosun through his media aide  Rotimi Durojaiye admitted handing over some
armoured vehicles and light weapons to the Ogun State Police Command at the
twilight of his government, but vehemently denied that guns were involved in
the handing over exercise.

Amosun further clarified that he imported the security
hardware with the approval of the Presidency, under Goodluck Jonathan in 2012.
to tackle the state of insecurity that made Ogun state unsafe and unattractive
to investors. 

He got all necessary approvals from the Office of the
National Security Adviser to procure the 13 units of Armoured Personnel
Carriers (APCs), the 1000 units of AK 47 rifles, 2 million rounds of
ammunition,1000 units of bullet proof vests and 500 bullet proof helmets and
other security communication gadgets.

Amosun  gave what seem
like a detailed report on the entire transaction restating that due process was
followed and the purpose for purchase was patriotic, sublime and noble.

 The president’s
Senior Special Assistant, Mallam Garba Shehu in response to the allegation said
preliminary investigation by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed
Adamu, showed that there was no sinister motive in the former governor’s
action.

But the presidency’s defence of Amosun from any illegalities
has thrown up fresh issues that a quick response cannot diminish, especially
now, when the issue of insecurity in the country has reinforced calls for the
establishment of state police.

For greater public enlightenment, can  a state governor can be authorized to procure
as much as 1000 rifles and millions of bullets to support the police for any
security operations; and why should states 
not be allowed to establish their own police force? Should state
governors fund the police and not be interested in how their support materials
are deployed and utilized?

According to Amosun’s spokesman, Rotimi Dunojauye, “routine,
bona fide and patriotic disposition of the Senator was bring savagely twisted
in a premeditated effort to serve some vested interest.   But in the face massive proliferation of
arms that have resulted in several mop up operations across the country
especially during the build up to the general elections  , the when some governors were accused of
sponsoring cultists and bandits it beggars belief that one governor had
securely  under his control an arms stock
of such magnitude.

Perhaps, it serves better security interest and strategy
that the Government House should also be a warehouse or an amoury for police
weapons.  If that is legal, why was the
Police commissioner not aware and why should they be handed over to the police
commissioner a new governor was to take over. Methinks the Government House and
all government materials should be handed over to the new governor.

This action seems to give life to the claim by Premium Times
that the former governor’s action was taken to avert the unlikely response of
an unfriendly successor. But we have come to know that this could not be the
case because the new governor as we have been told is also a contractor who
supplied some of Armed Personnel Carrier purchased by Amosun for the police.

So the former governor and his successor have something in
common,

Now a simple patriotic and official duty is enmeshed in
controversy and as Amosun’s spokesman said: “It is important to clarify that
not a single AK47 rifle was handed over at the event.” So what is the fact
about bullets and rifles and how can such issues be reconciled if not by an
investigation of the entire custodial and handover process.

 The presidency is
better positioned to understand the possibility of subterfuge in such
transactions and handling. indeed the predilection to pre-emptive defence
should give way to greater circumspection.

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New Minimum Wage: New Work Ethics

The man who is now presiding over kaduna state amidst
inter-ethnic and inter-religious turmoils, was once the beloved minister of
federal capital territory.

Although as the Abuja minister who gained notoriety as an
Anti-poor bureaucrat, he was also praised in official circles for embarking on
some policy implementation that at least on paper, made people to become
conscious of not patronizing the many land speculators that flooded the Federal
capital territory.

Nasir El Ruffai who has so far proven to be a terrible
choice of a governor in the complex state of kaduna, he was however the public
office holder who made the shocking discovery that over 40% of the choice
houses in Abuja belong to civil servants in the federal capital.

Ironically, soon after he left office, the national Assembly
indicted him of a range of misconducts connected with land redistribution just
as he was alleged to have coverted several landed property in Abuja to his
cronies and family members.

The senate also banned him from holding public office for
ten years. Nasir El Rufai fought this indictments in court. It would seem that
he got a judicial reprieve.

The kernel of making reference to the Nasir El Ruffai
persona is to bring out the larger issue of poor work ethics and corruption
amongst the top echelons of the civil and public service cadres who work in the
diverse governmental agencies in Abuja. These sets of workers used to earn a
national minimum wage ofN18,000 per month which isn’t even enough to pay their
transportation costs to their work places. But from this sane segment, you find
a greater percentage of them in the directorate cadres owning virtually all the
top notch housing assets in the Federal capital territory which are obviously
proceeds of frauds.

It was because of deep-seated corruption and the culture of
bribery within the hierarchical structure of the civil service that has totally
undermined the economic advancement of Nigeria. Nigeria is obviously a crippled
clay giant.

The diminished work ethics seen in the civil and public
service of Nigeria is to be blamed fundamentally for why Nigeria does not work.
However, the civil service ought to be the heartbeat of any nation and it is so
in many foreign jurisdictions.

In Britain, civil servants are some of the most respected
citizens. During my recent visit to the United Kingdom, I picked up a book
tittled “Dictatorland:The men who stole Africa”, written by Paul Kenyon, a
distinguished British Broadcasting corporation’s correspondent and BAFTA award
winning journalist who had travelled all over Africa.

The chapter five of this beautiful book is devoted to the
issues of underdevelopment of Nigeria even as he began the chapter five which
he subtitled Nigeria with a rich demography of Nigeria, by recollecting the
words of Ken Saro Wiwa who stated thus:” I am unfortunate to be a Nigerian. I
would rather not be, but I am doing my level best to be one and a good one at
that”.

Recall that Mr. Saro Wiwa was killed by Sani Abacha, the
military dictator at one time who had him and a few of his other environmental
campaigners killed for opposing the devastation of their oil rich region of the
Niger Delta by shell and a plethora of other multinational oil drillers. Due
largely to corruption in the civil abd public service the remediation processes
that would have addressed the environmental abuses suffered by the Niger Delta
region couldn’t be addressed and redressed till date.

In this chapter five also, the author narrated how the
bureaucracy of Abuja works and swims in corruption.Those experiences he
narrated are very much alive as i write and have even escalated making life in
Nigeria to become miserable, brutish, short and uninteresting.

He wrote thus: “In the 1990s, OPL245 was much coveted
throughout the oil world, with shell and the Italian supermajor Eni emerging as
the two frontrunners. The person who would decide the allocation was the
Nigerian oil minister.”

He also stated that: “In a country where people joke that
their leaders are ‘professional fraudsters playing at being politicians’, the
oil job was open to abuse like no other. The ministry of Environment, or
transport, was happy to skim off the conventional ten cent, but the oil
ministry had the potential to catapult its boss into the realms of the
fabulously rich. Fees to middlemen alone could amount to tens of millions of
dollars, and to the minister himself, hundreds of millions.”

To be very specific, the author stated further that: “Dan
Etete was a boisterous cannonball of a man, who ricocheted around social
gatherings, glasses of champagne in one hand, silver-tipped cane in the other,
recounting tall stories about his shipping business or his connection in
government, promising something to everyone and everything to someone. His
tailor? Yes, he’d put you in touch. The wine? Always French, he had some
properties there. The silk cravat? He knew a little shop in Abuja.”

He wrote that Etete was a social whirling, an honorary chief
always looking for a deal, and precisely the kind of man who, in Nigeria, is
destined to enter the political arena. Revealing that Etete took a seat in the
senate, representing an area right in the heart of the oil producing delta, and
soon began to attract the attention of the military chiefs who ran Nigeria, not
just for his giant white checked suits, but for his eagerness to take part in
illicit schemes, and to keep his nose out of other people’s.

“When the big job finally came his way in 1991, it was the
gift of military dictator General Sani. Dan Etete was to become oil minister.

The author narrated that an application for OPL245 landed on
Etete’s desk at the oil ministry in Abuja sometime in April 1998, from a small
start -up company no one had ever heard of. It was called Malabu, incorporated
just days before specifically for the purpose. Malabu had no employees, no
capital, no offices, just the names of three company directors on a sheet of
paper. Its bid for what promised to be Nigeria’s richest oilfield was just $20
million. It was like trying to buy a Rolls Royce for the price of a hubcap”.

Dan Etete he recalled had numerous options, and might have
wished to discount Malabu and its three aspirant directors without so much as
an interview. But Etete knew something about the company no one else did.
Within a matter of days, he had chosen Malabu for ownership of OPL245.

As can be attested to, the above celebrated or is it
notorious story is still trending as i write. The matter has escalated to a
level that the international police has been asked to pick up some of the
suspects connected with the Malabu deal. The matter which started due to
bureaucratic corruption in Abuja has seen many companies quized and litigated against
in UK; France and Italy.

The bureaucratic corruption and bribery mentioned above are
very much in widespread practice but amongst those supporting All Progressives
Congress. It used to be Peoples Democratic party for the last 19 years until
2015 when Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress came on board after
winning the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan who handed over without any fight.

Corruption and bribery in Nigeria is turn by turn. As yours
faithfully was picking up this book from the bookshelf somewhere in central
London last week, the news from Nigeria emerged that the Federal government has
Okayed the new minimum wage for all workers.

Relatively speaking, this is good news, but at the same
time, it would seem that not much will change if the decadent work ethics of
the public and civil servant do not change. Nothing may change with the
enforcement of the new minimum wage if widespread corruption, bribery and
bottlenecks slowing down governance in Nigeria are not defeated.

Nothing may change if the retinue of challatans recruited as
special assistants by political office holders and these office holders who
consume over 70% of annual budgets on salaries and allowances are not made
subject to the application of the new national minimum wage.

 Onwubiko  head of Human Rights Writers Association of
Nigeria. Courtesy: Daily Post.

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Fearless Judiciary, Antidote To Impunity

As soon as the Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC) released the time table for the conduct of the 2019 General Elections,
the various registered political parties set the machinery in motion for the
conduct of Primary Election in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act
2010 (As Amended).

While the conduct of primary election was smooth in many
states of the federation, the story was not the same in States like Rivers and
Zamfara particularly under the All Progressive Congress Party (APC) being the
ruling party in Nigeria.

The APC in Rivers State was barred by the Supreme Court from
participating in the 2019 Election because of its flagrant disobedience of
lawful orders from a court of competent jurisdiction, the High Court of Rivers
State.

In Zamfara State, like the case of Rivers State, two
factions of the APC have been enmeshed in legal tussle over its primary
election leading to the 2019 General Election.

While one faction claimed that the party conducted primary
election on the 3rd and 7th October 2018 for the governorship, National
Assembly and State House of Assembly Election, another faction said there were
no primary elections conducted in Zamfara State under the APC. The courts were
therefore called in to resolve the controversy.

The High Court of Zamfara State in resolving the controversy
surrounding the primary election of the APC held on 25th January 2019 that the
party conducted primary election in Zamfara State, and ordered INEC to accept
the list of candidates submitted to it by a faction of the party.

The other faction not being satisfied with the judgment of
Honourable Justice Shinkafi of the High Court of Zamfara State appealed to the
Court of Appeal and the Court of Appeal in a well-considered judgment set aside
the judgment of the High Court of Zamfara State directing INEC to accept the
list of candidates submitted by a faction of the APC after having found that
there was flagrant breach of the Electoral Act 2010 and the Party Guidelines
for the conduct of the party’s primary election.

The pronouncement of the Court of Appeal (Per Tom Shaibu
Yakubu JCA) is quite instructive and revealing and I wish to quote from the
judgment of the Court when it found as a fact that no primary election was
conducted in Zamfara State under the All Progressives Congress Party for the
2019 General Election.

“From the provisions of paragraphs 14 and 20 of the
guidelines, there is very clear emphasis on the person to be recruited for the
purpose of conducting primary elections, both paragraphs placed emphasis on
recruiting persons from outside the area where elections are to be conducted,
the power to appoint the 7 man Committee is vested in the National Working
Committee, PW1 stated in his evidence that Lawal M. Liman is the Chairman of
the party in Zamfara State, he is not a member of the National Working
Committee, he was not appointed by the National Working Committee to conduct
primaries.

‘In the face of all these hard facts, he crafted Exhibit 6
signed and sent list of allegedly successful candidates to the Resident
Electoral Commissioner Zamfara State, forwarding list of successful candidates,
and the list included his name as a successful candidate, he is also one of the
Respondents in this appeal.

‘I must say it loud and clear, that Lawal M. Liman the Chairman
of All Progressive Congress Party in Zamfara State had no slightest power to
conduct primaries and forward list of successful candidates to Independent
National Electoral Commission.

‘He acted illegally against his party’s Constitution and
guidelines with respect to conduct of primaries. He had no authority or
slightest business conducting primary elections and forwarding list of
allegedly successful candidates including his name to Independent National
Electoral Commission. His action is incongruous, patently bizarre and
detrimental to healthy competition in politics.

‘It is also strange that PW1 insisted that Primary elections
were conducted, his stance was either founded on ignorance or a calculated
design to stick to falsehood and hoodwink the lower Court. I must also add that
PW1 is not a reliable witness because he has a mission and a purpose to serve.
He is a candidate and a product of the purported party primaries, hence he has
a stake in the purported primary election, which he tried to defend by all
means, all be it very unfairly.’’

A consideration of the relevant provisions of the Electoral
Act, particularly sections 31 (1) and 87 (1) of the Act, may throw more light
into the decision of the Court of Appeal regarding the primary election of the
APC in Zanfara State. Section 31 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended)
provides that:

“Every political party shall not later than 60 days before
the date appointed for a general election under the provisions of this Act,
submit to the Commission in the prescribed forms the list of the candidates the
party proposes to sponsor at the elections.

The above provision of the law, takes me to section 87 (1)
of the same Electoral Act the section also dealing with primary elections
provides as follows: 87(1). A political party seeking to nominate candidates
for elections under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective
positions.

From the finding of the Court of Appeal, the provision of
Sections 31 (1) and 87 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), and the All
Progressive Congress Party Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for the
2019 General Elections – Direct Primaries, prescribed the mode of producing
candidates for 2019 General Election.

In this instance, therefore, there is no gainsaying the fact
that the procedure circumscribed by the Electoral Act, and the APC Guidelines
for the conduct of primary election into the office of Governor, membership of
the National and State House of Assembly must be followed for the conduct of the
primary election to be valid in the eye of the law.

This is so because, the law is very clear that when a
statute dictates a certain mode of doing an act, then that method and no other
must be employed in the performance of the act. See Bernard Amasike V.
Registrar General, Corporate Affairs Commission (2018) LPELR – 456 (SC). See
also CCB Nig. Plc v. A.G. Anambra State (1992) 8 NWLR (Pt. 261) 528 at 556.

I am extremely sad that our courts are often called upon to
perform the onerous and difficult task of interpreting our laws in the face of
obvious impunity and flagrant disregard of extant provisions of our laws by
political actors. I say I am sad because the rules for the conduct of primary
election do not require a third party’s interpretation for their observance by
the participants in the electoral process who are part and parcel of the making
of the laws and designing the procedure.

However, the judiciary cannot shirk its sacred
responsibility to the nation to maintain the rule of law. It is both in the
interest of the government and all persons in Nigeria. The law therefore,
should be even handed between the government and the citizens.

This is why I have no hesitation in commending the judicial
boldness displayed by the Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto in the Zamfara
State APC primary election when it set aside the judgment of the High Court of
Zamfara State recognising the primary election that never took place from the
evidence placed before the Court.

The statement must be made that the rule of law is the
opposite of the rule of power. It stands for the supremacy of law over the
supremacy of individual will. In this instance, I have no doubt in my mind that
the Supreme Court without hesitation will affirm the sound judgment of the
Court of Appeal.

The law remains the same that if an act is void, it is
incurably void, and every other proceeding which is founded on it is also bad
and incurably bad. For you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to
stand. It will surely collapse. This impunity and reckless disregard of our
laws must stop and the antidote is a bold and fearless judiciary.

 Ogwemoh (SAN) writes
from the United Kingdom

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Tribute To The Redoubtable Ogu Amazons. Amb S.M.K. Taribo

The Ogu women, under the inspirational leadership of Barr.
Christianah Tamunoberetonari, Vice Chairman of Ogu/Bolo LGA, manifested the
patriotic heroism implied in the foregoing quotation.

In the evening of Saturday March 9, they assembled
spontaneously, and under a nonpartisan impulse or platform, to protect the
mandate of the electorate as freely, peacefully and orderly expressed through
the ballot papers at the just concluded Rivers State Gubernatorial and House of
Assembly Elections.

They did so because a contingent of armed soldiers had
invaded Ogu, Head quarters of the LGA, for the predictable purpose of hijacking
the ballot materials to a destination outside the the legitimate one with a
view to corrupting the results.

By then, the materials had all been gathered from the
various polling units/wards, and conveyed to the LGA Secretariat for collation
by the pertinent INEC officials accompanied by all the accredited agents of the
contesting political parties.

In attendance were also independent observers. The
unexpected arrival of the soldiers and the coercive exhibition of their illicit
design triggered the instinctive mobilization of the womenfolk. They besieged
the Secretariat to the end of preventing the uniformed invaders from gaining
unauthorised access to both the materials and their custodians.

Unarmed, warily dressed and courteously behaved, the wailing
Amazons confronted the armed intruders, chanting comic songs in vernacular and
pidgeon English, pleading with the soldiers to either abandon their demonic
mission or slaughter them! A video of the scene has since gone viral! It
captures a soldier trying to scale the perimeter fence of the Secretariat to
seize the ballot documents!         

The protestation turned into a vigil that lasted from 6pm on
Saturday to the afternoon of the following Sunday. It held hostage not only the
armed encroachers and the demonstrating women but the chairman of the LGA, the
INEC personnel, the party monitors and agents, but some Ogu luminaries who
acted as mediators. The assorted barricades and road blocks which the protesters
efficiently mounted at strategic spots, hindered the entry into, and from, the
vicinity of the historic encounter.

It remains the dispensation of God’s singular Grace that the
confrontation ended bloodlessly even as the Guardian Spirit of Ogu radiated the
virtues of caution, meekness and forbearance among the embattled trespassers.
It should be recalled in this regard that earlier on, in the night of Wed.6th
March, a horde of soldiers had invaded the community for the ostensible purpose
of arresting youth activists of the PDP, the homes of some faithful were raided
with the aid of pointers. This resulted in the abduction of two young men,
namely: Nathan Opeks Iruenabere and Gift Jeremiah, and their cynical detention
at Bori Cantonment, Port Harcourt. This repulsive incident occurred at the
admitted behest of a rival candidate for election to the Rivers State
Legislature.    

This was the pregnant atmosphere that impelled the chiefs to
personally undertakIa town- crying tour round the community on Friday, 8th
March after the Amanyanabo-in-Council meeting. During the tour, they warned the
populace against perpetration of violence,be it provocative or retaliatory, in
the course of the imminent election. They further cautioned against collusion
with external elements to sabotage the regular and tranquil conduct of the
exercise. They sternly reminded the citizens of the DIVINE CURSE contained in
their COVENANT WITH GOD by the OATH they swear annually and publicly.

They finally re-invoked its imprecation on any violator! It
is against this complex background that the exceptional heroism of the Ogu
Amazons should be appreciatively applauded. By their impulsive and pacific
action, they vigilantly defended, advanced and edified the honour, legendary
prowess, values, integrity, prestige and indomitable will of the Ogu, aka, “the
ashes of our fathers and temples of our gods”! They should be celebrated as
HEROINES, and their names grafted in the Kingdom’s Pantheon!  

Equally deserving our admiration and eulogy are the agile
and resilient youths: they very wisely and tactfully watched from the sides
like concerned spectators; they exercised the necessary restraint and
discipline in the face of vexatious intrusion! This extraordinary attitude has
saved the community from the premeditated and preplanned ransacking and
desolation of our renown “ fast developing home by the raiders to the sadistic
delight of the schemers!          

 As for the misguided
Ogu traitors and quislings that facilitated the unwarranted invasions in
confederacy with frustrated and hostile outsiders, aimed at wreaking havoc on
our collective psyche, comfort and peaceable existence, let them hasten to
repent and beg God for pardon , lest they incur the retributive justice that is
prescribed in our annual Covenant with God!

Chief Amb. Taribo-Amgbara, a retired Diplomat is a war-canoe
chief of Ogu Kingdom.

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Political Lessons From The February 23 Election Bayo Onanuga

As  the Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC) declares Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress inner of the
presidential election, there had been surprises and upsets in many states as
the results were announced. But not predicted was that the candidate, would
return a resounding victory against PDP.

Here are some of the lessons
learnt in the February 23 election:

 Social media power overrated: If elections are
won on Twitter and Facebook, President Buhari would by now be writing his
handover notes and be preparing to tend his cows on his farm in Daura. But the
limitations of the social media platforms especially Twitter have just been
exposed by the results of the election. The candidate of the PDP got more retweets,
more likes for tweets by supporters on Twitter, but such preferences count for
nothing in the real voting.

For information, although there
are over 92 million Nigerians using the internet, not all of them are connected
to the social media platforms. According to some verified statistics, about 25
million Nigerians use Facebook, with 16 million being active users. Twitter
users are in several millions, representing just 8.83% of social media users.
At 8.29 %, users of Pinterest are surprisingly close to users of Twitter.
Instagram commands just 2.0 per cent and Facebook 78.47 per cent as at 2018.

This may explain why the
orchestrated campaigns of falsehood and calumny against the APC candidate did
not get much traction going into the election. As past elections had shown in
Nigeria, the people who vote are the ordinary people, the peasants, petty
traders, artisans who are not wired to the social media platforms. And they
have spoken in favour of the candidate they believe is the greatest friend of
the ‘Talakawa’.

Elite, pulpit power smashed.
Those hate preachers who abused the pulpit to command their congregation to
vote for the PDP have been put to shame. Elite in the north and south who
believe Buhari has been ‘bad business’ and worked vigorously to dethrone him,
now also know their powers are limited. The ordinary masses hold the master key
to ‘people power’. Buhari, like in 2015, has overcome elite gang up and
conspiracy of the churches. In Abuja, the votes recorded in Kubwa, Garki,
Mbappe and some other places with a wide Christian population and civil
servants against Buhari were to some extent offset by farmers living in the
villages around the capital.

Politicians who put a lot of
score on endorsement should know better. The Afenifere in Yorubaland and the
various political groups largely failed to mobilise the votes for Buhari in the
region, despite their endorsement. The results in Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Ondo,
Ekiti, Oyo were too close to show that the people did not heed the instructions
of the groups. Ohanaeze was also rebuffed to some extent in the south east
states. The Northern Elders Forum of Ango Abdullahi, the Middle Belt Forum, the
Arewa Consultative Forum need some reality checks about their power as opinion
moulders.

 
Igbo have learnt  from their
one-basket political disposition in 2015. In 2019, they did not put all their
eggs in one basket, as they gave Buhari more than 25 per cent in Ebonyi, Abia
and Imo. Only Enugu and Anambra gave Buhari the snub as the opposition recorded
a thumping victory here, 355,553 votes in Enugu to Buhari’s 54,423. Anambrans
understandably gave their son Peter Obi massive support by giving Atiku 524,738
votes and Buhari 33,298.

In Lagos, however, Igbo voting
pattern like suspected in 2015, unsettled their Yoruba hosts, leading to
threatening inter-ethnic hostility. Yoruba believe that Igbo should always
support their interests, afterall ‘When in Rome, one is expected to behave like
the Romans’.

 All politics is truly local. Kwarans
demonstrated this in the way they humiliated the PDP and its chief strategist,
Bukola Saraki, rejecting the campaign of ‘better Nigeria’, ‘making Nigeria work
again’, for home grown wild fire campaign of ‘O To ge’, which translates to
“Enough is Enough’. The campaign dethroned Saraki from Kwara central senate
seat and smashed the PDP into political irrelevance, with the APC recording
308,984 votes, two and a half times more than the 138,184 votes recorded by the
PDP.

 In Daura, Katsina voters showed the APC
senatorial candidate that he needed to settle with them as they clobbered him,
by voting for the Accord Party candidate, in the same polling unit, where
Buhari recorded over 700 votes to three for Atiku. In Kogi state, Dino Melaye
won a return ticket to the Senate despite all the controversies he generated.
He will need to thank fumbling ex-police chief, Ibrahim Idris for making him
popular with his people. And in Bauchi, speaker Yakubu Dogara survived his
expected political demise and won fourth term ticket in his Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa
Balewa Federal constituency.

Buhari , politician with a home
base. President Buhari has proven once again that he is the Awolowo, Aminu Kano
of our time, posting overwhelming victory in his home state of Katsina and
other states, such as Kano, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna, Jigawa in the North West
that he had consistently won since 2003, when he made the first bid for
Nigeria’s presidency. Buhari also showed commanding presence in the North east.

Atiku failed to show such
political force in his state of Adamawa that he won with a few thousand votes.
Then to show how Buhari has gathered much political traction since elected in
2015, he had a strong showing in states, such as Benue, Plateau, Taraba,
Nasarawa, with high Christian population, that Atiku thought he would have won
convincingly, based on the propaganda that Buhari is anti-Christian. Buhari
similarly cut inroads into South South and South East states, denying Atiku any
Tsunami effect from the zones.

 
Lies, falsehood do get their comeuppances

This election has proven this.
Buhari in the run-up to the poll was the target of so many vicious lies and
propaganda. The most reprehensible lie was that he was a clone from Sudan
planted in Aso Rock. He was also painted as a hater of Christians, who allowed
Boko Haram to seize a Christian girl Leah Sharibu. They accused him of
promoting an Islamisation agenda and of being an ethnic bigot who favoured his
region in appointments. Some even said he had finished Nigeria with foreign
debts, a claim that was not supported by available facts.

 
Onanuga wrote for News Agency of Nigeria.

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Postponed Elections: Concerns On Ethnic Stereotyping Prof. Adele Jinadu

We learnt that Professor Okechukwu Ibaenu, INEC
National Commissioner was summoned to report to the Department of State
Security (DSS) for interrogation. Others from INEC summoned with him include
Chidi Nwafor, the Director of Information and Communication Technology (ICT),
Ken Ukeagu, Director of Procurement; Osaze Uzzi, the Director of Voter Education
and Publicity and Bimbo Oladunjoye, the Assistant Director of ICT. The DSS has
the responsibility to convene and interrogate anyone suspected to be a threat
to national security and we do not in any way question that.

We understand that the DSS has since withdrawn the
summons but we remain concerned. Our concerns stem from a web design that
suddenly emerged on the social media presenting alleged linkages between the
Atiku Campaign Organisation and leading civil society activists of Igbo
ethnicity and Professor Ibeanu in INEC. Key civil society activists were
targeted in the campaign – Olisa Agbakoba SAN, Clement Nwankwo, Sam Amadi,
Innocent Chukwuma and Chidi Odinkalu. Alleged linkages were then drawn to
Professor Ibeanu and Mike Ogini of INEC, Bukola Saraki in Senate and the
Ballard facilitation of the Atiku trip to the United States and even Donald
Trump. Within hours of the circulation of this web, a massive social media
campaign with the hashtag #INECIbeanuMustGo was trending presenting Ibeanu as
the Atiku Campaign mole in INEC with responsibility for scuttling last
Saturday’s election and rigging the forthcoming elections.

We know Okechukwu Ibeanu to be a committed democrat
who has devoted his life to the struggle for peace and democracy in Nigeria. He
is a respected professor of political science and was in charge of logistics,
having taken over from Amina Zakari in October 2018. Subsequently, a different
ad hoc committee was set up specifically for the elections. The ad hoc
committee has 17 members, and is headed by Ahmed Tijjani Mu’azu, a retired Air
Vice Marshal. Making Ibeanu the fall guy for the botched elections is therefore
completely wrong. INEC has collective responsibility for the failure.

There appears to be an orchestrated campaign
against Okechukwu Ibeanu. His house in Enugu and his car have been broken into
with valuables, including laptops and iPads, taken away. On Monday, an article
written by Ibeanu in December 2015 resurfaced on the social media followed with
a comment: “Nigeria has a Biafran agitator as the REC for Logistics, no wonder
this unpatriotic individual, Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu who has made his
mission to undermine the Nigerian state.” The article in question was a
rejoinder to an opinion written by Ibrahim Jibrin (“Jibo”), one of the
signatories of this press release on perceptions of the Igbo Question and
Biafara

Professor Ibeanu has had a distinguished academic
career at home and abroad and was special rapporteur of the United Nations from
2004-2010. In 2016, he was appointed INEC national commissioner representing
the south-east. He was the Chief Technical Officer to Professor Attahiru Jega,
the INEC Chairman between 2010 and 2015 and contributed enormously to the
success of the 2011 and 2015 elections.

We have the following concerns:

1) There are too many conspiracy theories in
circulation and a great deal of mudslinging in the campaigns. In addition, the
campaign has been characterized by strong ethno-religious mobilization on all
sides, which can be harmful to nation building.

2) This is a clearly orchestrated campaign to smear
the names of these people, most of whom have devoted their lives to the
struggle against military rule and for democracy for the past three to four
decades.

3) The said campaign is divisive and is geared to
smear an ethnic group and present them as enemies of democracy and free and
fair elections.

4) The smear campaign can only do harm to the
difficult process of consolidation of Nigerian democracy.

We therefore appeal to all stakeholders to desist
from pursuing campaigns of calumny against any group, and to instead, focus on
ensuring that the elections hold in a spirit of nation building that would
allow the winners of the elections carry forward the Nigerian national project.
Let us all work with INEC and all other authorities involved in the electoral
process to re-build trust, and to ensure that there is peace and concord
before, during and after the elections.

A press statement by Prof. Adele Jinadu, Femi
Falana and other leaders of civil society and democracy groups.

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