The Sun News » Duro Onabule - Voice of The Nation Tue, 28 Jul 2015 16:19:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 All the ‘jazz’ about Amnesty International Fri, 24 Jul 2015 01:14:12 +0000 There is a way of losing a good cause through poor argument. An example is the indictment of some Nigerian military officers by Amnesty International. Accordingly,]]>

There is a way of losing  a good cause through poor argument. An example is the indictment of some Nigerian military officers by Amnesty International. Accordingly, the humanitarian body recommended that the officers concerned be tried possibly for crimes against humanity. Without necessarily so indicating, it was obvious that the mindset of Amnesty International was that the military officers should be tried at International Criminal Court, at the Hague.

That should have made it instantly easy for Nigeria not to bother itself. All the same, two facts emerged. Amnesty International was here in Nigeria to indict our military officers without being molested. That was evidence of freedom of speech and the right of even foreigners to express opinion. This cannot be guaranteed in some countries in Africa and the developing world.

The take off is the bitter truth that no conflict of the Boko Haram stuff, local or international could pass even for a short time without real or imagined violation of human rights. The 1967 Arab-Israeli war lasted for only six days and the fall-out is partly responsible for today’s hostility between Israel and its neighbours. On the other hand, our local Boko Haram conflict (has) lasted over five years without the prospect of ending soon. In fact, only two days ago, Gombe (in North-east Nigeria) experienced four bombing incidents in less than an hour. The casualty figure is better imagined.

Amnesty International’s report, criticising Nigeria’s conduct could not have been entirely misplaced. There, therefore, might have been violation of human rights by both Nigerian soldiers and the Boko Haram insurgents. It is accordingly an act of desperation to claim that Amnesty International picked on Nigeria without reason. After all, at different stages of the conflict, Nigerian army accused Boko Haram of intimidating and ill-treating civilians suspected as informants or collaborators of Nigerian soldiers.

On the other hand, Boko Haram alleged professional misconduct by the soldiers. In such a situation of accusation and counter accusation, a probe or indeed, trial of suspected culprits on both sides is inevitable. And if such a fact-finding effort is to be frustrated, tenable ground must be established. Countries like France, Britain, Israel and United States take it on themselves to deal with such military misconduct.

France, for example, only lately indicted, at least, twelve of its soldiers to be soon tried for violation of human rights during the crisis in Mali. The same France has also indicted four more of its soldiers for violating human rights during their assignment in Democratic Republic of Congo.

What is more, even United Nations has just indicted about four soldiers for alleged violation of human rights in Southern Sudan. It was, therefore, escapist of Nigerian army to claim that the Amnesty International report was an attempt to discredit our armed forces or the Nigerian state. For a repeat, any area of military conflict will always trigger the need to bring offending combatants on either side to book.

Worse still, even if allegations of violation of human rights during a war are to be challenged, such must be based on tenable reasons rather than blackmail or group persecution complex. In that process, even the opportunity to exonerate an innocent (at least, until proved guilty) officer. General Azu Ihejirika was cited for alleged war crimes strictly in his status as a Nigerian military officer, the Chief of Army Staff for that matter and not because he is a South-easterner.

As if in anticipation of the ambush of its report, Amnesty International seemed to have employed federal character in compiling the list of Nigerian army officers accused of alleged war crimes. Still, Amnesty International could not win as the body was partly accused of trying to discredit General Ihejirika. It must, of course, be mentioned that General Ihejirika himself has, even till now not sought refuge in his ethnic origin. All the same, he could have earned some acclamation by publicly dissuading those defending him solely on ethnic ground.

Threatening hell and brimstone that General Ihejirika was picked out to be discredited? That was untrue as other officers from different parts of the country (noticeably North and South) were similarly indicted by Amnesty International. Apart from General Ihejirika, other officers indicted were his successor, General Ken  Minima, other service chiefs like Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, Generals Obida Ethnam, John Ewasiha, Ahmadu Mohammed, Brigadier General Austin Edo Kpayi and Brigadier General Rufus Bamigboye. These officers couldn’t have also been indicted because of their part(s) of the country.

Ironically, among the lot, it was (and is still) easiest to exonerate General Ihejirika, through simple logic, which could have been lost in the mob reaction supposedly in his defence. Not long ago, the very same General Ihejirika was, rather strangely, accused by a foreign confusionist, Australian Stephen Davis, of funding Boko Haram. A serving chief of army staff funding an opposing insurgent group? The Australian Stephen Davis, was embellished in Nigerian circles as an expert hostage negotiator and sympathiser of Nigerian cause. Indeed.

And then the charge that General Ihejirika spearheaded the violation of the human rights of Boko Haram. The retired army chief could not, at the same time, be playing the two controversial and indeed criminal roles. At the worst, he was one and not the other. At the best, he was neither. That was the solid defence for General Ihejirika rather than the nonsense that he was being discredited because of his ethnic origin.

Quite rightly, President Muahmmadu Buhari assured that his administration would investigate the allegations of violation of human rights made by Amnesty International against his military officers. That is in line with what France did in Mali and Congo as well as the United Nations in South Sudan. There the story must end.

Investigation of the Amnesty International allegations would return a verdict of guilty or not guilty against the accused Nigerian military officers, depending on facts available. Any officer found guilty should be tried in Nigerian court or military tribunal. That is the standard practice in United States, Israel (if at all) Britain, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Russia, etc. None of these countries surrenders its soldiers to be tried at any international court. United States and France in particular do not extradite any of their citizens to be tried for any criminal offence in another country.

Media in Britain, US and Nigeria

By centuries-old convention, British monarchs rarely get involved in controversy, especially on matters remotely related to politics at the local level. The only exception was Queen Victoria two centuries ago. She aimed at wielding more executive power with an equally stubborn Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. Between the two, it was controversy unlimited.

Current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth the second, has just engulfed herself in a controversy although for purely personal reason of controlling her media preference. Yet, in Nigeria, such an issue by a head of state or state governor, would have earned her (Queen Elizabeth) fire from the media.

Throughout the campaigns for the 2015 presidential elections in Nigeria, African Independent Television (AIT) was the most hostile to All Progressives Congress candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari. Documentaries, news items and discussion programmes were all slanted maliciously against Buhari. Contrary to the television station’s calculations, Buhari emerged the new President of Federal Republic of Nigeria. Almost miraculously, Buhari’s temporary residence in Abuja became the Mecca in Africa. The desperation was such not to be left out.

Among the organisations attracted, if only for compelling professional reasons, was the same AIT. But with sad memory of the obscene bias of AIT throughout the election campaigns, those around the new President did not, tenably, welcome the AIT crew. In a surprise twist, the politically born-again Buhari thought otherwise and reversed the ban on AIT. That, at least, ended the growing criticisms in some quarters. AIT television station was then desperate to cover President Buhari’s early days of victory? That was good news.

From Abuja, a similar story occurred at Makurdi, Benue State, where the newly elected House Speaker reportedly sent Channels Television crew packing. Benue State House Speaker also ruled that the Channels Television crew should be allowed to resume coverage. That was after some criticisms.

In Britain, BBC radio and television world services virtually monopolise over fifty years coverage of state activities, especially on all matters involving Buckingham Palace and royal family. The main feature of BBC media is not necessarily as echo chamber but for free flow of reverence and loyalty to the Royal Family. Somehow, in the past few years, the same BBC media stations at both domestic and world service levels have become radicalised at times, recklessly.

Notably, even the private lives (if anything of that exists) of key members of the Royal Family, specifically the Queen, her husband, Duke of Edinburgh, and heir to the throne, Prince Charles, are no longer immune. It is a thin line between modern aggressive journalism and undisguised hostility. Well, Queen Elizabeth, with her right to choose, has dropped the BBC media monopoly. Instead, Her Majesty has conferred on hitherto inconsequential rival, ITN (Independent Television News), to cover her 90th birthday celebrations next years.

The matter has passed almost unnoticed but certainly unquestioned as the Queen, despite her status as the British sovereign is conceded the right to her privacy. The equivalent would be a Nigerian President, offering priority to a private television station in place of NTA.

Before Queen Elizabeth’s clampdown on BBC (the most powerful and credible electronic station in the world) was United States President Barack Obama, who ended the fifty years career of Helen Thomas as a Correspondent at the White House. As the longest serving reporter at White House, Helen Thomas had covered the tenure of, at least, ten consecutive American Presidents.

Helen Thomas offence? She made remarks considered to be offensive to Jews and Israel. The poor lady apologised but Obama would have none of that. She left White House in 2010 and into retirement.

The lesson? Anywhere in the world, despite freedom of the press, journalists are circumscribed by objectivity. On that score, Britain, United States and Nigeria are on the same level.

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FRSC past and present Fri, 17 Jul 2015 01:38:31 +0000 The Federal Road Safety Corps was established ONLY to reduce alarming fatal accidents on Nigerian federal and state highways rather than the self-imposed greed of revenue generation.]]>

The Federal Road Safety Corps was established ONLY to reduce alarming fatal accidents on Nigerian federal and state highways rather than the self-imposed greed of revenue generation. Only in Nigeria would this supposed lives-saving agency require tragic and avoidable deaths of innocent travellers in successive ghastly trailer and tanker accident to remind the agency (FRSC) the purpose for which it was established in the first place.

Founded at state level by former Oyo State governor, the late Bola Ige, the FRSC mandate was unambiguous and strictly adhered to. The ever-rising  fatal accidents in Oyo State must be curbed, and those who pioneered the Road Safety Corps in Oyo State limited themselves to their duty – mainly to drastically reduce rate of accident. And they succeeded.

That success in Oyo  State attracted national impact such that former President Ibrahim Babangida found it necessary that the feat in reducing road accidents in Oyo State should be extended to all roads in Nigeria. Hence, the setting up of the Federal Road Safety Corps under his military regime. It is thus ever true that the best tribute to your fellow citizen is to acknowledge and copy his good sides.

With the new Federal Road Safety Corps, the mandate remained the same – to substantially reduce fatal road accidents on Nigerian roads. For the first time, there was sanity on all Nigerian roads. Whether as marshall or commanders, the strategy of the FRSC men was simple. Be a driver or vehicle owner, everybody on the highways, federal or inter-state roads, would not dare overtake a corps marshall or commander whose official car, so clearly marked, usually and deliberately limited himself to at most one hundred kilometres per hour or even less.

The message was clear. Any driver overtaking a Federal Road Safety Corps speed controller must have exceeded the mandatory limit of one hundred kilometres per hour on Nigerian roads. The culprit was easy to be arrested and prosecuted. Accordingly, the pile of vehicles was always behind the vehicle of the FRSC operative while immediately ahead of him, the road was very clear. Consequently, there was never the high rate of reckless driving and untimely deaths of passengers in other vehicles or those standing by.

Sadly, those days of assured safety on our roads are gone. Road Corps operatives no longer control speed on highways. These days, fast-driving vehicles on suicide or massacre missions contemptuously drive past FRSC vehicles mostly parking on a side of the road negotiating financial settlement. Even where FRSC vehicles are in motion on the highways, the corps, clearly exhibit ignorance on neglect of their main duty to drive ahead and keep in check the high speed of the murderers, presuming to be official and private vehicle drivers.

The failure and abandonment of official responsibility by FRSC operatives is bad enough. But at corporate level, the FRSC leadership is worse. Here was a public agency set up specifically to prevent road accidents in the country. Suddenly, the same FRSC at corporate level, not only led in abandoning its statutory responsibility but overnight, (FRSC that is) the power of becoming a money-spinning conglomerate eventually aiming the same level of NPA, NIMMASSA, National Communications Commission, National Broadcasting Commission if not NNPC and NLG.

In those early days, when FRSC clearly impacted on reducing road accidents, it (FRSC) never struggled for supremacy in collecting driver’s licence and vehicle registration revenue which, since colonial days, had been the monopoly, indeed exclusive preserve of local governments or at the highest state (erstwhile regional) governments. Suddenly, FRSC became the fat cat consuming (perhaps, hundreds of) billions of naira as driver’s licence and vehicle registration. To ensure its regular consumption, FRSC, apart from astronomically increasing costs of driver’s licence also reduced the life span of a new driver’s licence from five years to two years. Cost of vehicle registration was also more than doubled. All these were not the purpose of establishing FRSC.

How could this FRSC stray from its statutory function, only to grab the power of states for internally generated revenue, in any way, reduce accidents on the highway? To worsen matters, state governors, on that occasion were not even aware that a chunk of their respective internally generated revenue was being taken away from them by a straying, greedy and misguided federal government agency. Instead, the state governors carelessly and obvious ignorantly fell for assurances of FRSC for huge revenue returns to the states, even forgetting their fiscal responsibility.

On their part, as accomplices, members of the previous National Assembly were lobbied (bribed) to amend the FRSC Act to enable the agency collect revenue for driver’s licence and vehicle registration. In effect, the power thereby conferred on FRSC violated Nigeria constitution on revenue accruable to the states. In the midst of their windfall, FRSC operatives were nowhere anymore to be found, controlling speed to reduce accidents on the highways.

Till today, the function of FRSC is solely to limit speed and reduce accidents on Nigerian roads. I served in the government which enacted FRSC. I am, therefore, speaking with authority. As the FRSC abandoned its duty of controlling speed limit to reduce fatal accidents on our highways, in place of collecting revenue accruable to seven hundred and seventy-four local governments in the country, order disappeared from our highways to allow mad drivers, killing innocent Nigerians.

Such were the two successive tragic and fatal accidents on Sagamu-Benin where an unlatched container on a trailer fell on a public transport bus and killed, at least, twelve university undergraduates. The other accident involved a high-speeding petrol tanker. The latest accidents on Sagamu-Benin Expressway are the pattern on federal highway all over the country, as the FRSC no longer limits speed on the roads. The tragedy will continue to occur until FRSC operatives are returned to their duties of enforcing speed limit on the highways.

Somewhere in Anambra State, a family of three (husband, wife and son) was fatally crushed by an speeding on-coming petrol tanker despite the fact that the deceased were waiting to emerge on the main road after the tanker must have passed. That was just a week after the Sagamu tragedy. We cannot continue this way. The duty of FRSC is on the highways and not at local government council  offices, collecting driver’s licence revenue.

Poor FRSC Chief Marshall, Boboye Oyeyemi, has a task on his hand. Obviously embarrassed by the three successive fatal accidents (two at Sagamu and one at Anambra), Boboye decided that, quite rightly, henceforth, trailers carrying unlatched containers on our highways would be arrested, impounded and prosecuted. That is easier said than done. Marshall Boboye is as good as already banning the conveyance of trailers from one part of the country to another. Boboye knows too well, that by their design, there is not a single trailer with proper and secure latching device. All containers are transported within Nigeria either completely unlatched or deceitfully latched with any rope device, which can easily cut off if drawn.

FRSC will, therefore, introduce a compulsory latching device for trailers, plying Nigerian highways as applicable in very sane (yes, very sane) societies in the civilised world. Where anyway, are the FRSC operatives to stop high-speeding trailers and tankers completely disregarding major junctions, hilly sections of our highways or gridlocks? Such dangerous drivers, regularly cause fatal accidents at military or police checkpoints on highways and disappear to avoid arrest.

Currently, the preference of FRSC operatives on highways is to delay private vehicles purportedly not carrying fire extinguishers or drivers with forged licences. Who forged the licences or who issued the licences? Another set of FRSC operatives at licence issuing centres.

What happened to the patrolling FRSC vehicles of those days limiting the speed of following vehicles to one hundred kilometres per hour? If Marshall Boboye can return the patrols to lead all vehicles on our highways, that will be the beginning of once again reducing the rate of fatal accidents on our roads.

Chief Marshall Oyeyemi himself should occasionally join the traffic in mufti and unmarked vehicle to check if his men are really limiting speed on our highways.

Not again, Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is ever restless. But there is a limit. The man must admit he is not infallible. What is more, history has already adjudged him accordingly.

Obasanjo was on Channels Television still justifying his unconstitutional authoritarianism as the only Lord of the Manor of this great country.  At least, he should know that is the reputation he has created for himself. The major fault he was trying to ward off in the apparently stage-managed Channels Television interview was that he meant well in choosing successors, but the blunt truth, which Obasanjo must face and must be told by those interviewing him henceforth is that nobody (not even Obasanjo) has the right or power under Nigerian constitution, as an elected president, to handpick his successor or even take it on himself to disqualify any other person from exercising his constitutional right to aspire to public office in the country. That power rests with Nigerian courts.

Obasanjo creates the impression that Nigeria is his personal property and he can, therefore, choose whoever he likes. Pure arrogance and power drunkenness. He now turns round, even without admitting his fault, to claim that those he chose to succeed him turned out to be those he never expected they were.

It is always irritating when Obasanjo displays the air of the Almighty and Omnipotence. As a digression, Obasanjo should have published in his three-part volume of his memoirs, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s very pungent response to Obasanjo’s earlier insinuation of corruption in his letter to Jonathan. For history and record, Jonathan explained that for corruption cases like Halliburton, he was looking into them. Jonathan’s hit and run tactics earned him noticeable respite from an adversary.

Obasanjo’s chosen successors turned out to be those he never thought of? No, sir, and he cannot escape the blame. Under Obasanjo’s administration, the (then) EFCC chairman, Nuhu Rufai, publicly documented all the state governors to be corrupt. Obasanjo, also publicly rubbished Ribadu’s report and gave his own (Obasanjo’s) verdict that only four of the governors were corrupt.

If, therefore, among Obasanjo’s very clean thirty-two, Obasanjo’s chosen successors turned out poorly, he (Obasanjo) must accept responsibility for poor, indeed very poor judgment.

Again, arrogance and authoritarianism on display. EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu, might have been right or wrong on his report of the serving governors of those days. That was not for Obasanjo to determine. The procedure under the law is that every suspect should be charged to court, the only institution to clear or convict a suspect.

Ribadu himself did not help matters. All along, he vouched for Obasanjo as a saint, the same Obasanjo condemning his contemporaries. Only for Wikileaks to expose Ribadu, on a night’s visit to the residence of America Ambassador in Nigeria, Ms. Saunders, as revealing to the diplomat that “…. Obasanjo is more corrupt than General Abacha.” How true?

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Burden of leadership in Nigeria Fri, 10 Jul 2015 02:20:09 +0000 At the top, leadership confers enormous power, very sweet and enviable even if demanding. At the lowest, the same leadership is burdensome, and requires the toughest stuff to cope with insinuations, real or imagined in content. Even though he is an old war horse, yet President Muhammadu Buhari, within the first one month of his career, has attracted more than normal critical public focus.]]>

At the top, leadership confers enormous power, very sweet and enviable even if demanding. At the lowest, the same leadership is burdensome, and requires the toughest stuff to cope with insinuations, real or imagined in content. Even though he is an old war horse, yet President Muhammadu Buhari, within the first one month of his career, has attracted more than normal critical public focus.
Broadly, the impression so far is that President Buhari is too slow if active at all, (b) he exhibits nepotism in appointments made so far and (c) he is not well-meaning in the transfer of criminal detainees or even Boko Haram convicts to Anambra State. It is immaterial if the Controller General of Nigerian Prisons merely performed his routine administrative function.
These observations are amusing but also irritating in the light of our notorious pastime of acquiescing in or rejecting government decisions only depending on what part of the country affected or the constituency of the man taking the decision. We must not forget that even at a stage, South-Southerners accused ex-President Goodluck Jonathan of not necessarily all Ijaws of Bayelsa State. In most cases, the exercise is all blackmail, desperation and persecution complex.
Uppermost were the stupid events leading to the dismissal of Mr. Ekpenyong, as Director-General of State Security Services, our secret police. Undisputed media reports were that the former Director-General of SSS (Mr. Ekpenyong) and one of his officers, Mr. Abdulrahman Mani, the Chief Security Officer to President Buhari, dared Buhari’s ADC, Lt. Col. Lawal Abubakar,  on his orders for redeployment of SSS operatives away from the vicinity of the Commander-in-Chief’s office and residential quarters. In which case, both the former Director-General of SSS and President Buhari’s former Chief Security Officer must have been very lucky for their mild punishment.
Countermanding the order of the commander-in-Chief? An ex-military officer at that? Maximally, both offending officers would have ended in guardroom for eventual trial. Whatever the situation, specifically on security matters on the safety of the Commander-in-Chief, nobody, repeat, nobody can best serve the Commander-in-Chief’s interest than himself, be he a bloody civilian or an ex-military officer.
Whatever the regulations compelled by the instrument, establishing the State Security Services, the final order is that of the Commander-in-Chief. Disobeying or challenging him is fraught with unpredictable consequences on all matters, pertaining to his personal security. Where in the world would a Director-General of SSS or his equivalent be more powerful than his Commander-in-Chief? It seemed a showdown was being deliberately provoked. Against a civil war veteran Commander-in-Chief?
If unchecked, such SSS defiance would a creeping and eventual erosion of the authority of the Commander-in-Chief, better put bluntly as an oncoming coup. Former president, General Ibrahim Babangida, signed the instrument establishing the State Security Services into law in 1986. Whatever power or authority today’s SSS is flaunting was never on display even if available until he (IBB) left office in 1993. Indeed, his two successive ADCs, current National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, and the late Colonel U.K. Bello were the most powerful and since unrivalled. U.K. Bello was assassinated by the April 22, 1990 coup plotters. No Chief Security Officer (to President Babangida) ever argued with the ADCs, including the one who served IBB last in office, Colonel Nuhu Bamali, killed (as a Major-General) in the Obudu military plane crash under the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Although a Chief Security Officer, Major Hamzat Al-Mustapha invested with unlimited power on all matters, especially General Abacha’s personal security. Only Commander-in-Chief, General Abacha, could overrule Major Al-Mustapa and if he did, Mustapha would never, have, as a CSO, countermanded his Commander-in-Chief. What is more, CSOs are normally SSS operatives but Mustapha was a serving military officer, an attestation to his special status as General Abacha’s choice. It may, therefore, not necessarily be sacrosanct that a CSO must be an SSS officer.
There can, therefore, be no comparison between Major Al-Mustapha’s powers under General Abacha to the authority the SSS (under Ekpenyong) tried to enforce on President Buhari. Over the armed forces, especially a paramilitary wing like the SSS, a Commander-in-Chief is a Kabiyesi next only to God.
The dismissal of Mr. Ekpenyong, as the Director-General of State Security Services? First, there was the insubordination if not mutiny. When the ADC speaks, that is the voice of the Commander-in-Chief. A Chief Security Officer (CSO) has no such authority more so above the ADC in such circumstances. Any CSO and indeed his boss, Director-General of SSS, unaware or ignorant of such unquestionable higher if designated authority is a misfit for his position. It is even worse if such authority is deliberately defied.
A Chief Security Officer telling the ADC that the latter is ignorant and naïve of the role of CSO at Aso Villa? Impossible. That message was directed at the Commander-In-Chief (President Buhari). A CSO’s verbal challenge of ADC’s authority as designated (by the Commander-in-Chief) was even deniable. But to have written the ADC accordingly? That letter from the CSO was, in fact, meant for the Commander-in-Chief. Therefore, did the SSS former Director-General (Ekpenyong) know about the letter?
Worse still, what was the idea of leaking the disagreement among security operatives to the media? It was most unlikely that a Chief Security Officer would have written that letter without clearance from, if not the prompting of the Director-General of the SSS. Whichever was the case, the DG of SSS is responsible for the actions of his officers and operatives.
In such a controversy, the Director of State Security Services should have inquired from the ADC proper clarification of reasons for the deployment of his officers and men from inside Aso Rock. And if such was considered infra dig, the SSS chief should have inquired from his Commander-in-Chief. It was unfortunate that the tenure (career?) of Mr. Ekpenyong as DG of State Security Services had to end abruptly. Otherwise, it is on record that his tenure, especially amidst the tension created by Boko Haram, was the least (if at all) controversial in the history of SSS. At least, the media, usual combatant with SSS, had a free ride under Mr. Ekpenyong.
It was quite logical that a successor must be appointed after the dismissal of Mr. Ekpenyong as Director-General of SSS. The choice of Alhaji Daura expectedly generated obvious blackmail on the ground that he is from that same town like the man who appointed him President Buhari. So what? There is nothing unprecedented. If the fact of coming from the same town with President Buhari must not enhance Alhaji Daura’s prospects as a qualified appointee for the post of Director General of SSS, must that fact militate against him?
What is more, former President Goodluck Jonathan, on assumption of office, inherited Mr. Afakriya Gadzama (Taraba State) as Director-General of SSS. Without any official reason, Jonathan (South-South) removed Gadzaman and replaced him with Mr. Ekpenyong (South-South). A North Westerner has also removed a South Southerner (for reasons of insubordination) and replaced him with a North-Westerner as the new DG of SSS. Shikena.
Also, with barely a month left before leaving office, former President Jonathan dismissed Police Inspector-General Abba (North West) and replaced him with Mr. Arase (South-South) as the new Inspector-General of Police. Nobody complained.
Above all, throughout his eight-year tenure as Nigeria’s (elected) president, Olusegun Obasanjo appointed and retained a fellow Egba (Ogun State), Colonel Kayode Are, as DG of SSS.
So much is being made of the decision to distribute Boko Haram detainees or even convicts to Anambra State. Consequently, there had been public protests either spontaneously or instigated. The protesters must have been under the impression that the transfer of the prison detainees to Anambra was some kind of punitive measure.
Governor Obiano of Anambra State did not help matters by washing his hands clean and that his predecessor was in office at the time the prisoners were transferred. The truth is that right from Colonial days, Nigeria’s prison system is that detainees, convicts or not, can serve time in any prison anywhere in Nigeria. So, whoever was the Anambra State governor, Obiano or Peter Obi, the prisoners would still have been transferred. The impression should not been created that former Anambra governor Peter Obi either collaborated with federal government or ignored the transfer of the Boko Haram detainees to Anambra.
With jail houses constructed by colonial and subsequent (Nigerian) federal government all over the federation, detainees are sent from any part of the country as a matter of administrative routine as vice-chancellors from any part of Nigeria are appointed for federal universities in any other part of Nigeria. The same conditions of service apply to federal civil servants.
MASSOB members, led by Uwazurike, or Niger Delta militants, led by Asari Dokubo, must, at one time or another, have been detained at prisons outside their states. Frederick Faseun, leader of his faction of Odu’a  People’s Congress was last detained around Niger State and admitted to government hospital at Abuja when he took ill. Were he detained in South-West, Faseun couldn’t have been treated at a hospital in Abuja.
There also had been other prominent detainees distributed far away from their states of origin. Obafemi Awolowo was detained for years at Calabar prisons, Gani Fawehinmi was detained at Gashua prisons in Yobe, Obasanjo was detained at Yola prisons.
Shehu Sani, newly elected senator was detained at Yola prisons, Nosa Igiebor Editor-in-Chief of TELL Magazine was detained at Minna prison, etc.
It is a standard prison system, which obtains throughout the world. Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners and even detainees were scattered by British government to various prisons in England away from Northern Ireland. Even American government detain suspects and convicts at Guantanamo Bay, more of an Island near Cuba.
Poor Mrs. Zakari, newly appointed acting national chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, a post so far an exclusive preserve for men. Critics, especially the PDP, have so far pounced on the poor lady that her appointment arose from nepotism by President Buhari.
Nepotism? Who is that Nigerian to be appointed to public office without some tie to somebody somewhere not related to somebody in government? Who is that Nigerian, no matter highly or lowly placed, gets a job for offsprings without some contact somewhere? How many Nigerians secure jobs for fresh graduates relations without some contacts? How many fresh graduates secure jobs in Nigeria purely on merit? It is all hypocrisy?
There had been an army chief of staff who survived the dismissal of his fellow service chiefs on, at least, two occasions merely because of his marital tie to a First Lady.
Even before President Buhari was sworn in, various women groups were demanding that their gender should be substantially allocated in public appointment. Now, the first of them to be appointed, Mrs. Zakari, is being pilloried as being favoured. Yet, not a single Nigerian woman or women organisation has defended Mrs. Zakari’s appointment.
Nepotism? My foot. Former President Jonathan pardoned his ex-convict boss, former governor Diprieye Alamieyesiegha. Jonathan was defended in this column except that he left out Major-General Tajudeen Olanrewaju who, till now, is yet to be pardoned, even when his (Olanrewaju’s) co-treason convict, the late General Abdul Kareem Adisa was posthumously pardoned.
Gbemiga Obasanjo was alleged to be security contracts and lifting oil under his father’s administration. The poor lad was defended in this column on the ground that no law disqualified him from bidding for contracts like his fellow Nigerians and especially foreigners.
Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello was hounded for allegedly exploiting her father’s name for political appointment/elections as commissioner, senator and state governor. She was stoutly defended in this column that other people’s daughters exploited Obasanjo’s name for public appointments.
Nepotism? My foot.

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The ups and downs of party supremacy Fri, 03 Jul 2015 00:57:29 +0000 At various history-making moments of Nigerian politics, row over supremacy of the party had always been contentious, with both sides in the dispute over opportunistic. The (current) plight of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is, therefore, not an exception. ]]>

At various history-making moments of Nigerian politics, row over supremacy of the party had always been contentious, with both sides in the dispute over opportunistic. The (current) plight of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is, therefore, not an exception. In that situation, the political party concerned assumes the posture of determination to contain rebellion or disloyalty while the battle cry of the other side is resistance to dictatorship.

Depending on which side or vested interests, any idea of party supremacy is attractive or deplorable. For example, ex-Kaduna State governor, Balarabe Musa, is a strong advocate of supremacy of the party. In fact, in the  ongoing dispute in APC, Balarabe  Musa’s position is that the APC must insist on supremacy of the party. Thirty four years ago (1981), Balarabe Musa was in twin rebellion against supremacy of the party. Musa, along with his Kano State counterpart, the late Abubakar Rimi, defied the policy of their party, People’s Redemption Party, led by Aminu Kano, for co-operation with the ruling NPN federal government.

The PRP, therefore, had to remain indifferent when the NPN-controlled Kaduna State House of Assembly impeached Balarabe Musa. On his part, since he could not comply with supremacy of the party, Kano State governor, Abubakar Rimi, lost or surrendered his membership of PRP and joined the NPP (Nigerian Peoples Party), the platform on which he contested and lost the 1983 re-election  bid.

History of supremacy of the party or defiance of party leadership is, therefore, as varied as those involved, especially since return of civilian rule in 1999. Winning or losing against the party does not necessarily portend loyalty to the party.

Incidentally, it is not always clear, in our present confusing political situation, who is being  defied, the party, the leader or both? In 1999, one of the political parties, Alliance for Democracy (AD) had a collective leadership comprising Chief Onasanya, Canon Alayande, Mr. Abraham Adesanya and Chief Ayo Adebanjo.

AD’s nomination process earned the party’s presidential ticket for Olu Falae instead of the very confident Bola Ige, who was abroad. For unstated reason(s), Bola Ige subsequently secured a ministerial appointment under President Obasanjo, very much detested at that time by the Alliance for Democracy hierarchy. After alerting government of his decision to quit as a minister and (to) contest the 2003 presidential election on the platform of AD, Bola Ige was assassinated  in his house at Ibadan.

For the 1999 gubernatorial elections, the duo of Mr. Abraham Adesanya and Chief Ayo Adebanjo influenced the nomination of the party’s (AD) candidate for Lagos State. With Funsho Williams ahead in the primaries, the AD leadership (Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo) found it necessary to nullify the results from certain constituencies on Lagos Mainland, a decision which paved the way for Bola Tinubu, as the party’s candidate for Lagos State governorship.

Despite grumblings in sections of the party, Chief Adebanjo and Mr. Abraham Adesanya were vindicated by Bola Tinubu’s victory. But that was the end of all collaboration immediately after which BolaTinubu asserted his independence by totally marginalising if not alienating his political benefactors.

Bola Tinubu was further helped by vast resources in Lagos State for political patronage with which erstwhile party leaders were isolated to attract easy followership around himself. He (Tinubu) was further helped by his foresight in opting out from tactless Alliance for Democracy endorsement of former President Olusegun Obasanjo for second term in 2003. Tinubu was the only AD governor who survived Obasanjo’s ingratitude in rigging out (of office) all other AD governors.

So, it happened that Tinubu’s defiance of party leadership went virtually unnoticed, not the least because he emerged the last AD man standing and around whom the politically needy and hungry AD faithful danced. In return, Tinubu was very obliging, a strategy, which proved useful to create a power base for him.

In that position, after the 2011 elections, the new Action Congress (AC) recovered Ogun and Oyo in direct elections, Osun and Ekiti through election petitions. Who else could be the leader of the biggest opposition party ACN, whether anointed, self-proclaimed or unelected?

PDP’s four successive victories to retain Aso Rock made it imperative for all the opposition parties to merge and dislodge the ruling party. The effort succeeded only on the second attempt by four opposition parties to merge under the name of All Progressives Congress, which eventually captured Aso Rock.

In that situation of combined efforts, who would be supreme, the party, the leader or the entire membership? Would the leader of the defunct ACN necessarily automatically transform to the leader of the new All Progressives Congress to be deciding who and who for which and what positions in the party and the government? These are the posers with which a war for internal democracy silently waged in the defunct ACN and openly declared in the new APC.

Seen by some as a sort of parliamentary coup, the action of the APC dissidents in the first place was more of political gerrymandering to intensify the war for internal democracy in the APC. Snipers had been on the prowl it is the exclusive right of the party’s members of the National Assembly to elect their officials rather than impositions by party leadership.

That challenge from the ACN days withered, at least, to make it easy for the merger of the component parties, which comprised the APC.

Defection of some PDP, ANPP and APGA governors almost created leadership problems in the states concerned. The APC then decided that the incoming defecting governors should automatically assume the party’s leadership in those states, decision which compelled the loyalty of governors in ACN segment of APC to Bola Tinubu as their mentor. But such would not be without repercussions. Hence the exit of some former governors, Shekarau (Kano), Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto) and Segun Osoba (Ogun State).

Other APC members are not even bothered by the prospects of the row leading to collapse of the  APC coalition. An insider was even irritated by that “crap”, as he described it. According to her, “Nigerian voters contributed to APC entry into Aso Rock. Didn’t (you) journalists contribute? Above all, APC’s success would have been impossible without God’s Grace, which gave the party a credible/winning candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, without whom the APC couldn’t have won. Did ACN (led by Tinubu) not present a presidential candidate in 2011? What was the result?”

She did not even concede any threat to APC in 2019, as her argument went on, “2019 is tomorrow. As for today, we all want to assert ourselves so that nobody is nose-led. We need proper leadership. In any case, we have an elected national chairman, John Oyegun. We have President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, elected on our party’s platform. He does not impose his wishes on us. Such a liberal posture, coming from a former military dictator is even more impressive.”

In the Nigerian politics of today, the women seem more bellicose.

Now that Fayose shines…

There is no doubt that Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State is a controversial figure, incurring criticisms all over the place. When, therefore, he sows some good gesture, he must be acclaimed.

A candidate was selected to end a chieftaincy succession dispute in Ikere Ekiti suburb of Ogoga. It is not often that selection of an Obaship candidate is peaceful.

Elders of the Ekiti town, therefore, met Governor Fayose and implored him to nullify the selection of (Prince) Odejimi Adu as the new Oba of Ogoga. Fayose reportedly rejected that invitation to a new controversy.

Even if the Ekiti elders were correct that Odejimi Adu was a wrong choice to fill the stool, Governor Fayose was not the proper arbitrator. We have laws in Nigeria and procedure on such matters is very clear. Governor Fayose, as the political chief executive of that state, lacks the power to interprete law, guiding chieftaincy dispute(s). That responsibility lies with the law courts, which aggrieved parties must approach.

If Governor Fayose exceeded his powers and nullified the selection of the new Oba, the protesters would have been happy. What would happen in the future if the same Fayose similarly exceeded his power and nullified the selection of a rightful candidate in a chieftaincy dispute, could he (Fayose) be faulted?

Trust the same Nigerians. They would then turn round to challenge Fayose’s power for such action. For now, Fayose is correct.

As usual, the C–130

The military mass transport plane, C-130 is in the news again, as usual for reasons of national tragedy. This time, in far away Indonesia rather than Nigeria. Otherwise, the fatal casualty figure of one hundred and forty two in Nigeria would have been sourced by mischievous elements to state massacre.

Last time at Ejigbo in Lagos State, a C-130 conveying middle-rank officers, including those from other African countries attending a course at Jaji Kaduna State, crashed. And poisonous tongues went wagging. Instantly commenced malicious speculations that Nigerian government caused the mishap.

Less than six months later, another C-130 military plane conveying Zambian national football team from a southern African country to a West African nation for a World Cup qualifying match crashed into Atlantic Ocean on the West Coast of Africa. All the footballers perished along with the team officials.

There had been many other fatal crashes, involving C-130 planes since then. The latest is the one in Indonesia.

Manufactured sixty years ago by the Americans, the C-130 plane in terms of crashes, seems to be competing with the French air-bus.

Again, we are lucky the latest C-130 crash did not occur in Nigeria.

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Without Britain and United States, why Africa at International Criminal Court? Fri, 19 Jun 2015 01:30:18 +0000 The recent summit of African leaders in South Africa would be remembered more for the one more attempt to get one of them, President Al-Bashir of Sudan extradited to]]>

The recent summit of African leaders in South Africa would be remembered more for the one more attempt to get one of them, President Al-Bashir of Sudan extradited to the Hague at the request of International Criminal Court to be tried for crimes against humanity. The incident was the latest to which African leaders had tactlessly rendered themselves vulnerable by signing the Rome Treaty despite the discretion available to them to opt out.

Clearly, in anticipation of such avoidable intermitent embarrassment for African leaders, a lone crusade was launched in this column two years ago, for President Uhuru Kenyata of Kenya against humiliation for alleged crimes against humanity. Such was the humiliation that Britain and United States even waged a personal campaign against his election. Kenyans were warned that there would be consequences if they voted a particular way (that was Uhuru Kenyatta).

The rescue mission for Kenyata in this column was that Kenyata (or any African leader) should not be subjected to any treatment to which European and American leaders are immune. The agency employed against Kenyata was the International Criminal Court at Hague, Netherlands. Championing Kenyatta’s cause was for all African leaders. Unfortunately, the same African leaders did not even understand that their cause was being pursued. Hence, they remained indifferent as Kenyata suffered his ordeal.

President Kenyata himself was worse as (a) he flew to Nigeria to thank the then President Goodluck Jonathan. Kenyata’s impression was that views expressed in this column on his behalf against ICC were instigated by Nigerian government as would be the case in other African countries, especially Kenya. Media in Nigeria are not government controlled and, indeed, are often critical of Nigerian government. Kenyata, therefore, owes all appreciation to this column rather than Nigerian government.

Lately, both Nigerian government and other African leaders have been paying dearly for their timidity and cowardice in combating the racist undertone and superiority complex of powerful nations and their collaborators in ridiculing African leaders. Here is a supposed International Criminal Court founded on a so-called Rome Treaty aimed at bringing to book culprits of crimes against humanity mainly in domestic conflicts although international wars like Iraq and Afghanistan are not exempt.

It is also the prerogative of each nation to sign or opt out of the treaty. Hence, powerful and influential nations like Russia, United States, Israel, Britain, etc. opted out. In effect, ICC would not dare arrest or issue any warrant of arrest against ordinary citizens of these non-signatory nations. Yet, in that strange situation, only African leaders are vulnerable ICC’s intimidation. So, far, Liberia’s ex-President Charles Taylor is serving life sentence for crimes against humanity.

Kenya’s Uhuru kenyata had to condescend to a make-acquitted on charges he had earlier been virtually tried and convicted by Britain and United States in advance of being elected President of his country.

Lately, Sudan’s President Al-Bashir was humiliated by ICC with request on international warrant to arrest the Sudanese leader while attending the African Union Summit, and to be surrendered for trial for crimes against humanity. Al-Bashir, with connivance of South-African government, had to defy South African court order not to leave the country.

Nobody should be deceived that South African government would ever have surrendered the Sudanese President to ICC. But the fact remains that Al-Bashir had to sneak out of South Africa, not only before the end of the African Union Summit he was attending, but also before the court’s final ruling. The Sudanese leader’s sneaking out of South Africa was a repeat of the same episode in Nigeria two years ago while attending a meeting at Abuja.

The point should be made clear that culprits  of crimes against humanity must face trial. But such punitive action must apply to all over the world. Africans only cannot be liable while Americans, Britons, French, Saudis, Israelis and Russians are completely immune, solely because their countries are non-signatories to the Rome Treaty.

Obviously, were Charles Taylor and Al-Bashir Britons, Americans, Russians, Israelis or Saudis, ICC would not have been valid in seeking their arrest, let alone conviction.

In its present form, it is easy to exploit the Rome Treaty to implicate innocent parties as culprits of crimes against humanity. Such were the damaging allegations by blackmailers and political desperados and impliedly along with their foreign backers against the (then) CPC  presidential candidate in Nigeria’s 2011 elections, General Muhammadu Buhari, rather falsely for instigating the poor-election protests. Buhari had to be stoutly defended in this column that such protests had been part of Nigeria’s political history, especially in South-West – 1958, 1962, 1965 and 1983 (Ondo State) – when General Buhari was not a candidate.

Yet, General Buhari’s political enemies were calling for his indictment at the International Criminal Court. The same Muhammadu Buhari is, today, the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria with total goodwill of Britain and United States. As it is written in the Bible “the stone which the builders rejected is now the cornerstone of the house.”

Again in the 2015 elections in Nigeria, Patience Jonathan, wife of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, made silly inciting remarks during the campaigns. Duly reported, Patience Jonathan became the subject of investigation by the International Criminal Court. If found culpable for trial by the ICC, would Nigerian government extradite her after twice being party to refusing to surrender Sudanese President Al-Bashir to ICC?

Does Nigeria need to wait for that development before taking a stand for its continued signatory to the Rome Treaty? If some other countries opted out of the membership of ICC and yet, heavens did not fall, why should Nigeria not quit ICC?

Two years ago, the same ICC was contemptuously rebuffed by Britain on its request to interrogate a British soldier on suspicion of crimes against humanity in Afghanistan. The then British Foreign Secretary William Hague, outrightly rejected the ICC request. Today, that British soldier remains a free citizen.

To be fair to United States, Britain and Israel, allegations of misconduct against soldiers in local conflicts like Northern Ireland or international wars in Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan, are duly investigated and where found guilty, especially in United States, the culprit soldiers are tried and convicted. It is, therefore, not as if erring soldiers are covered up.

That is the same policy African nations must adopt in combating crimes against humanity. African Union must, therefore, establish a continental Criminal Court for such cases or each country must set such court(s) as it may apply, to try all cases of crimes against humanity.

Through mass withdrawal of membership, African countries can render the International Criminal Court completely ineffective or, as a saving grace, membership of ICC should be compulsory for all member-countries of the United Nations to ensure equal status for all suspects of crimes against humanity anywhere in the world.

In the days of Kwame Nkruma and Sekou Toure, Ghana and Guinea respectively, would not dignify the International Criminal Court in its present form with their signatures.

At 80, Amuka still goes four rounds

The publisher of Vanguard Group of Newspapers, Sam Amuka, is now an octogenarian and yet remains the master humorist himself, a status he acquired over the years. Soft-spoken, harmless and entertaining, his greatest gift is turning imagined or real sadness  into humour.

It is a gift that has won him friends and admirers among every group in the country. In return, Sam Amuka is about the only one among his generation of journalists still in circulation. He also holds that distinction as an employer of emerging journalists.

Neither a recluse nor some kind of a man about town, Sam Amuka is admired and loved by the young and old because he makes himself likeable. For Sam, there is no moment of sadness as there is no need for sadness. As Sam Amuka would put it, “my friend, visit orthopaedic hospital or the mortuary. You will realise how happy you should be all the time.”

Ten years ago, friends, associates, past and present staff of Vanguard newspapers celebrated Sam Amuka at Muson Centre, Lagos, as a septuagenarian. Tributes paid and thanks expressed to God for Sam’s journey so far at that time, it was the turn of the celebrant to respond. What emerged was that age had not diminished Sam’s distinction as a humorist.

Way back to the post-civil war ills in Nigeria, one of which was corruption in public life, there were demands for death sentence, and indeed public execution for convicted culprits, the same sentence for armed robbers.

Sam Amuka, in his ever natural sarcasm entered the debate with posers in his Off Beat Sam column: Who will make the law? Who will try the case? Who will pass the judgment? Who will carry out the sentence?

Nigeria’s civil war ended in 1970 and Sad Sam’s questions, like Fela Anikulapo’s lyrics remain valid today. Even with that, nobody at the Muson Centre gathering for Amuka’s 70th celebration bargained for what came from the guest of honour.

Expressing how physically fit he was at 70, Sam Amuka, almost from nowhere, dropped the clanger “I can still go four rounds.” Responses from the gathering was a mixture muted excitement and anxiety. Sam Amuka then produced his joker with a reference to his swimming exercise everyday at home.

Therefore,  it is very safe to maintain that at 80, Sam Amuka can still go for his four rounds. Exercising in swimming pool.

Again, Sam Amuka is the only one among his generation of journalists with the distinction of establishing two newspapers, one after the other even though, today, he totally owns only one of them. Thanks to boardroom friction.

In his well-known simple countenance, Sam Amuka moved on to found the Vanguard Group of Newspapers. Our man is fulfilled.

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APC slept off for Senate election Fri, 12 Jun 2015 04:07:17 +0000 In politics, a case can be argued for or against party supremacy. Inescapably, a public office holder or even an ordinary top party member is obliged to his party, on which platform he got elected. ]]>

In politics, a case can be argued for or against party supremacy. Inescapably, a public office holder or even an ordinary top party member is obliged to his party, on which platform he got elected. Equally, that very reason will not justify an atmosphere of serfdom, where party members must toe whatever line, whatever the consequences.

All over the world, public office holders are elected/appointed to serve larger interests of the society. Where party interests conflict with the good of the public, the choice is clear which issue should prevail. The dominant All Peoples Congress is currently engrossed in that age-long controversy of party supremacy. On the approach of the recent proclamation of the National Assembly after the 2015 general elections, the APC shortlisted its choices as officers of the twin-chamber. In total disregard of that party decision, dissident APC members of National Assembly enlisted the support of their opposition PDP colleagues to humiliate APC.

Nigeria is, therefore, once again backing at controversy over party supremacy. The first known case was in 1941 when Samuel Akinsanya (later Odemo of Isara) defied Nigerian Youth Movement official candidate, Ernest Ikoli, and contested as independent in the bye-election to the old Legislative Council. Ikoli, the party’s official candidate, won the election.

In 1953, the NCNC, led by Nnamdi Azikiwe, rejected the proposed governor John Macpherson’s constitution for Nigeria and directed its federal ministers, A.C. Nwapa, Eni Njoku and E.M.L. Endeley to resign. The three of them defied the party and refused. As the crisis lasted, they were labeled by the press as “sit-tight ministers.” To compound the problem, the leader of NCNC government in the defunct eastern region, Professor Eyo Ita, joined in defying the party and openly supported the ministers.

At that stage, the NCNC officially informed the governor that the three ministers had been expelled from the party. In the East, leader of government business Eyo Ita, was faced with a “no confidence” motion, which he lost massively and had to resign. That was the episode for which Zik was always falsely faulted for allegedly supplanting Eyo Ita.

In 1962, a similar development occurred in Western region where the official Action Group policy was not to join Tafawa Balewa’s federal coalition government. But premier Chief S.L. Akintola defied the party and opted for coalition at the federal level, a defiance which led to the formation of alliance of his faction of Action Group (the NNDP) with Ahmadu Bello’s Nigeria Peoples Congress in a new set-up known as Nigerian National Alliance. Obafemi Awolowo’s faction of Action Group then teamed up with NCNC (led by Michael Okpara) and Joseph Tarka’s United Middle Belt Congress to form United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA).

These events eventually led to the intervention of the military in January 1966. The emphasis here is that over the years, assertion or defiance of party supremacy had been part of Nigeria’s political history.

In the present controversy over some senators’ defiance of their party to elect their preferred choices as officers of National Assembly, the lot of APC is like that of the defunct Action Group, which openly supported NCNC’s sit-tight federal ministers in 1953 to defy their (ministers’) party’s directive to quit federal cabinet. Only in 2011, the ACN (which later teamed up with other parties to form APC) openly supported dissident PDP members to elect Aminu Tambuwal as Speaker, House of Representatives rather than Mulikat Akande, PDP’s nominated choice as House Speaker.

Worse still, when former Speaker Tambuwal (now Sokoto State governor) crossed the carpet from PDP to APC and his former party (PDP) demanded that he should surrender the Speakership to PDP on which party he won elections to House of Representatives in the first place, the reaction of APC (strongly supported in this column) was that PDP did not elect Aminu Tambuwal as House Speaker. Instead, as the arguments continued, Tambuwal was elected by his fellow House of Representatives members.

The same argument can be made for the election of Bukola Saraki as Senate President in defiance of his party’s (APC) candidates as officers of National Assembly. In short, there cannot be anything sacrosanct in APC’s nominated choices for Senate Presidency and the deputy. However, there is a noticeable difference. Tambuwal was elected Speaker by a session attended by virtually all members of House of Representatives.

On the contrary, Bukola Saraki’s election as Senate President was the outcome of more than half of the one hundred and nine members. It was also not clear whether the absence of over half of senate’s  full membership was contrived or inadvertent as the APC senators, who joined in electing Bukola Saraki, were, in fact, at that very minute, expected to be at a meeting along with their APC colleagues to be addressed by President Muhammadu Buhari, leader of the APC.

Consequently, questions arise. Was the absence of substantial APC senators schemed? How was the decision taken and where was the decision taken? Was the APC hierarchy aware or not that the National Assembly proclamation was fixed for a particular time? Who fixed the purported meeting with President Buhari to clash with the time fixed for the proclamation of National Assembly? As the two engagements clashed, was National Assembly informed to shift the starting time?

Aside from the National Assembly proclamation, any APC schedule, even with President Buhari, was an ordinary party affair, which was inferior to or, at least, not the same with a state function, as important as proclamation of National Assembly. If the National Assembly was not informed about APC senators’ planned meeting with President Buhari or no official request was made to delay the proclamation of National Assembly, the Clerk of National Assembly (CNA) was duty bound to proceed with the inauguration.

The whole show was not neatly handled. In the absence of a documented acknowledgement from the National Assembly to postpone or delay the proclamation, Bukola Saraki and other APC senators concerned were at liberty to have placed proclamation of National Assembly above political party schedule. The President of the Federal Republic has no executive authority over the National Assembly. That is why all requests (and they are requests rather than authority) from the Presidency to either the Senate or House of Representatives are ever documented and read in the arm of National Assembly concerned. That also compels official responses duly documented to the Presidency. Such should have been the case in this controversy over the election of Senate President.

To worsen matters, there are two sources on events leading to the controversial election of the Senate President. None of them helped the situation. In fact, the two sources deepened the confusion. Senator Barnabas Gemade, on the floor of the Senate, revealed that the National Assembly was informed of the planned APC senators’ meeting with President Buhari and a request was made for some delay to accommodate late arrival of the senators. Rather carefully, Gemade did not mention who informed or who was informed at the National Assembly.

Almost immediately, another Senator, Dino Melaye, denied any such information to the National Assembly. Which version must Nigerians believe? As a civil servant, the Clerk of National Assembly is answerable to government and not a political party. Even, any letter requesting for a postponement of proclamation of National Assembly for the convenience of a political party lacks the force of a directive. Such details or distinctions may be taken for granted but if affected, the outcome can be uncomfortable if not devastating.

In the midst of the political row over the election of Bukola Saraki as Senate President, South-East zone partly recovered what it earlier seemed to have completely lost out in the political configurations. When the APC emerged to have failed to win a single senatorial seat in South-East, the party claimed that the zone thereby lost its waiting prize of Senate Presidency. Luckily, a South-Easterner, Ike Ewerenmadu, was re-elected Deputy Senate President, even as a PDP senator.

As Yoruba put it, “ibi ti elekun tin sun ekun, ibe ni alayo nyo.” As the bereaved mourn their dead, others are blessed to rejoice. There is this very emotive issue to which the APC dissidents are clinging and they are attracting sympathy even if minimally. The cry for internal democracy within the various political parties is not going unnoticed. In fact, that cry was partly responsible for the defeat of PDP at the national elections.

Outgoing state governors and other National Assembly members who ensured unopposed nomination of former President Goodluck Jonathan on the assurance of themselves being nominated to contest elections, turned out to have been deceived as they were rigged out at the primaries.

According to one of the PDP dissidents at the National Assembly, “by asserting our right to elect our leaders at the National Assembly, the message to them out there is that internal democracy in APC is not negotiable.”

On the whole, APC slept off and PDP ran away with their prize.

For my friend, Owelle Azikiwe

Chief Chuma Bamidele Azikiwe died a few weeks ago. He was the eldest child of that great Pan Africanist, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first Head of State.

Chuma was everything his father – tall, slim and dark, with trusted close associates and, of course, also an Owelle of Onitsha. Some years ago, I went  to Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, for the weekend, only to find a note dropped for me at my country home, by Chuma.

For about a fortnight, Chuma had been the guest of his friend (also my friend), a neighbour, Bode Ladejobi (now deceased), and his wife, Jumoke. That was Chuma Azikiwe. He had such friends in different parts of Nigeria. A recluse, Chuma Azikiwe was just not a publicity seeker, given his famous family background.

The easiest way to upset Chuma Azikiwe was to introduce him for the first time as the son of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. Yet, he was very proud of his father. Indeed, throughout the political campaigns in the Second Republic, Chuma was virtually his father’s undesignated Chief of Staff if not Chief Security Officer. Chuma Azikiwe merely considered it cheap and inadvertently favour-seeking to be dropping his father’s name on being introduced.

In the early 80s, I was his guest at Onitsha for a week to attend the funeral of his mother, Flora Azikiwe.

During my occupational hazards, I was detained by the military authorities. Chuma took it on himself to make necessary contacts, only to discover the laziness and ethnic prejudice of our security personnel. Yes, I was critical of military authorities for detaining politicians without trial.

For that reason, the security report labeled me as a stooge of Chief Obafemi Awolowo who, according to them, was instigating me to criticise the government. Chuma Azikiwe inquired if there remained other offences to warrant my detention and none could be cited. Chuma Azikiwe then told his contacts “you are detaining a wrong person. If you said my father (that was Zik himself) is responsible for his (Duro Onabule’s) criticism of government, you might be given benefit of doubt. Duro Onabule is a Zikist and Chief Awolowo  could not have been instigating him, against the government.”

Chuma Azikiwe’s intervention complemented erstwhile efforts of my publisher at Concord Newspapers, Chief MKO Abiola, to get me released.

That was Chukwuma Bamidele Azikiwe, the Owelle of Onitsha, a friend in need and indeed.

He will surely rest in peace.

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A valedictory session that was Fri, 29 May 2015 03:45:08 +0000 As expected, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s last meeting with his ministers in council was quite illuminating. He was sober, reflective, perhaps, resigned to his imminent status as former president but not necessarily defeated. All the same, Jonathan was dramatic in his observations.]]>

As expected, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s last meeting with his ministers in council was quite illuminating. He was sober, reflective, perhaps, resigned to his imminent status as former president but not necessarily defeated. All the same, Jonathan was dramatic in his observations.

At last, Jonathan commented on the month-long fuel scarcity and blamed the oil importers for the blackmail with which his administration was being sent into history. Second, he requested that any planned probe of his administration should be extended to his predecessors’ tenure. He also admitted that some decisions during his tenure might have been bad or were actually bad and concluded that he did his best.

What instantly emerged was that Jonathan hurt himself with the negative publicity. So, the fuel crisis was a blackmail? The scarcity lasted for over a month and affected all parts of Nigeria and virtually brought the country to a standstill. Yet, Jonathan kept quiet. In the process, the impression created was that, given the bitter campaigns the PDP waged for the presidential elections, the fuel scarcity crisis was aimed at dragging the country to a halt to create a difficult take-off for President Muhammadu Buhari.

Even if that were so, it could only have earned Buhari instant public acclamation for ending the fuel scarcity, restoring electricity supply, etc. It was an irony that Jonathan allowed himself to be discredited by ungrateful oil importers, most of them PDP supporters, the same beneficiaries of government patronage in committing fraud in the name of fuel subsidy.

The first hint of Jonathan’s lamentation on the fuel scarcity crisis was given two days earlier by former Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the Senate hearing when she accused the oil importers of political/economic sabotage. According to her, the oil importers never created any problem when government owed them over one trillion naira. She then wondered why the oil importers capitalised on the ongoing verification of the suspected false claims of less than two hundred billion naira as outstanding payment to throw the country into political/economic crisis.

Jonathan should not have waited till his last twenty-four hours in office to expose the economic saboteurs. It was even untenable for the former Nigerian President to demand that any intended probe of his administration should be extended to his predecessors. As far back as when? 1999? Or 1960? That was desperate and self-serving. The standard is that no former Nigerian Head of State should be subjected to such humiliation.

That is not to say every transaction was clean. Much must have happened in the six-year tenure of Jonathan, facts of which might crop up only in the scheme of things. Cropping up of such facts must not necessarily be seen as a probe of the Jonathan administration. For example, none of the criminal suspects in the fraud of over two trillion naira as fuel subsidy so far has been successfully prosecuted. Jonathan had nothing to do with the scandal.

Rejuvenating such prosecutions, leading to convictions or, at least, recovery of the huge amount is not a probe of Jonathan as a former president. After all, both Jonathan and former Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala are on record that the entire fuel subsidy transactions up to that stage were carried out by NNPC without their knowledge. It is also on record that National Assembly never appropriated the huge sum of over two trillion naira purported oil subsidy NNPC paid to the criminals.

Rather than witch-hunt, it will be a recovery of stolen public fund or conviction of the culprits, whoever they are. Again, there should be no deliberate probe of Jonathan. But if down the line, facts emerged on illegal or criminal acquisition of wealth, the only restraint is that there should be no fun-fare of such discovery. Otherwise, any of such abuse of office should be disgorged.

Witch-hunt? Definition of such is ever self-serving. Was it witch-hunt when the son of Sule Lamido, ex-governor of Jigawa State was prosecuted for criminal currency trafficking? Was it witch-hunt when ex—PDP national chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor, was hunted out of office with a criminal offence allegedly committed eight years earlier? Was it witch-hunt when ex-Kwara State governor, Bukunola Saraki, was serially questioned by EFCC on financial transactions at his father’s defunct bank about ten years before he was elected governor? Was it witch-hunt when ex-Bayelsa State governor, Timipre Sylva, was arraigned by EFCC for alleged looting of public funds during his tenure?

They were only made to account for their conduct during their tenure. If found liable, Jonathan’s aides must also legitimately be arraigned. After all, one of them, Doyin Okupe was arraigned by the EFCC only after Jonathan lost the presidential elections. Had Doyin Okupe been arraigned under the new administration of President Buhari, meanings would have been read into the prosecution.

Then, according to former President Jonathan’s self-confession at the valedictory session of the Federal Executive Council, mistakes might have been made or, in fact, were made in some of the decisions he took. In that situation, it is only fair for the succeeding administration to correct such mistakes and that cannot be any sort of witch-hunt.

Correctly put, if Jonathan were still in office and detected those mistakes, he would himself have corrected what he admitted could have been or were indeed real mistakes. Why, for example, did Jonathan continue, in couple of days left for him in office, making fresh appointments to major public offices or reconstituting membership of federal agencies?

If constitutionally possible, Jonathan would have reconstituted the federal cabinet of ministers (and would have) handed to President Buhari as fait accompli.

Jonathan said he did his best for Nigeria. Of course, anybody in Jonathan’s position is expected to do his best, leaving history to be the judge. He can console himself that all his controversial predecessors were eventually appreciated for one distinction or another.

Beckoning to anarchy

Whatever crime for which Buruji Kashamu (a senator-elect) might have been accused, the fact remains that as a Nigerian and indeed, a citizen of the world, he is entitled a fair trial and should be treated as innocent until he is found guilty in a Court of Law.

Despite that constitutional and legal right, it is disappointing that National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is hell-bent on denying the man his rights. Faced with the prospects of being kidnapped and bundled to United States, Buruji sought and obtained the protection of Nigerian courts against violent denial of his legal rights by NDLEA.

It is, therefore, a shock that NDLEA could treat our law courts with outrageous contempt by describing as trivial, a court order, restraining NDLEA from infringing Buruji’s freedom of movement. If Buruji is guilty as charged, that should be established in a Court of Law. Instead, NDLEA has assumed the position of the complainant, the prosecutor and the judge, even without trying the accused in a Court of Law.

So far, at least, two Nigerian courts have refused to sanction Buruji’s kidnap and extradition to United States and three Nigerian Courts have restrained Nigerian government, including NDLEA, from unilaterally extraditing Buruji. Earlier, a British court similarly inquired into the charges against Buruji for up to two years and ruled that Buruji should not be extradited to United States on grounds of mistaken identity.

Buruji might yet be liable to criminal prosecution but NDLEA or even Nigerian government must prove that guilt in our law courts to warrant any extradition to United States.

Here is the difference. On the eve of the last presidential elections in United States, Barrack Obama issued a vote-catching proclamation halting further deportations of illegal immigrants. Aggrieved groups went to challenge the legality of Obama’s amnesty. The court, this week, ruled that Obama must withhold his amnesty pending the trial of the suit challenging the legality of the amnesty.

Obama has complied. In short, American government will not defy their law courts. In contrast, why must our NDLEA or even Nigerian government defy the court ruling halting Buruji Kashamu’s extradition?

It is a question of law and an issue for Nigerian Bar Association to be concerned with. Can a government agency or even Nigerian government disobey/disregard a court order? NBA’s interest in this matter is in preserving the sanctity of law courts.

If Buruji is considered liable for deportation, NDLEA and or Nigerian government must appeal to a higher court. Otherwise, we are beckoning at anarchy.

Sacking of UI council

Retired General Adeyinka Adebayo might not have bothered himself in ticking off former President Goodluck Jonathan for the latter’s discourtesy in removing General Adebayo as Chairman of Governing Council of University of Ibadan.

Jonathan dissolved that Council less than three weeks before his (Jonathan’s) tenure expired. If the former president could not see it, the certainty was that in dissolving the University Council about two years into the statutory four-year tenure, Jonathan only rendered his new appointees all over the place to be similarly dismissed by the new Federal Administration.

It should be emphasised that General Adebayo’s concern was even the discourtesy of not being informed. Can Jonathan henceforth exercise such power?

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2015 winners and losers unlimited Fri, 22 May 2015 01:24:56 +0000 As in any contest, the 2015 general elections (in Nigeria) produced sensational winners, massive losers and dramatic comeback elements hitherto virtually consigned to political history. The focus here can only be on prominent ones rather than the entire list.]]>

As in any contest, the 2015 general elections (in Nigeria) produced sensational winners, massive losers and dramatic comeback elements hitherto virtually consigned to political history. The focus here can only be on prominent ones rather than the entire list.

Whenever the history of the election victory of President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari is written, it will specially be noted as unprecedented in Nigeria since the out-going PDP administration, even as the results commenced, never bargained for defeat while the APC itself seemed half-hearted in expectation of victory. But one man was out there for over two years leading to the elections chesting out for the defeat of a non-Northern candidate of any of the contesting political parties namely PDP and APC.

Against the background of the zoning cutthroat rivalry in the PDP, especially in the wake of the succession battle after the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, the demand of the North was understandable and was not lost on the APC hierarchy as a winning tool in any electoral challenge to the PDP.

Today, not many seem to remember Professor Ango Abdulahi ex-vice-chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University and his one-man battle cry of “It is a question of numbers.” Abdulahi became more unrepentantly confident after the APC candidate, General Buhari secured his party’s nomination.

The election turned into a “make or break” for the North and Southeast respectively to throw in their support. The result was inescapable as Northerners especially the normally indifferent women turned out in hundreds of thousands on Election Day to vindicate Ango Abdulahi as a winner with his “we have the numbers” strategy. Where is the man hiding after completing his task?

Correspondingly, a major loser in the election also seems not to be attracting the necessary attention. We have this tendency to confer bogus status on foreigners as experts on our politics. One of such experts for no other reason than formerly serving as his country’s ambassador in Nigeria was Mr. Campbell. The man was on record with a book a few years ago predicting Nigeria’s disintegration in 2015. We may, for now, ignore Ambassador Campbell as long as Nigeria survives as one country.

How much of Ambassador Campbell’s expertise on Nigerian affairs was on display on the eve of the 2015 elections when he unleashed another of his bizarre predictions that Goodluck Jonathan was “likely but not certain” to win the elections, whatever that meant. Well, Nigerians in millions came out with their own version of not just prediction but result of the elections. Expert on Nigeria, Ambassador Campbell has since been reeling in embarrassing silence and not one Nigerian remembers the man.

There were attempts to disqualify through legal means one or the other presidential candidate for the rival. While lawyers trooped to argue the case for one candidate as the legal fees would be paid by the state, lawyers even declined to appear, or withdrew their appearance for the other candidate. Yet, former Nigerian Bar Association President, Wole Olanipekun and another senior lawyer Lateef Fagbemi led other colleagues to affirm General Buhari’s eligibility to contest the elections. Also, a university don Taiwo Osipitan wrote a comprehensive, informative expert opinion widely published in a reputable newspaper. How easily victory came the way of these men as the other side suffered legal technical knockout and the other side voluntarily withdrew their case even without trial.

Outgoing Senate President David Mark was heading for a third term tenure but unfortunately fell victim of the collateral damage of his party the PDP which, owing to unprecedented loss of popularity, was massively defeated in the National Assembly elections. Down along with David Mark was Deputy Senate President Ike Eweremadu, for the same reason.

About eight new ministers sworn in by President Jonathan only two months ago would appear to have lost out with the defeat of PDP in the presidential elections. This might not be entirely so even as they will leave office with the outgoing administration. On January 14, 1966, independent member of the House of Representatives, T.O.S. Benson, was re-appointed into Tafawa Balewa’s federal cabinet and was to be sworn-in on Monday January 17. Unfortunately, the army struck in a coup through the early hours of January 15. It was therefore not even possible for T.O.S. Benson to be sworn-in. Comparatively, Jonathan’s newly appointed eight ministers at least served for two months. Winners in their own right?

Outgoing House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal did not lose out in the elections even if he did not win. According to information straight from him, some of his friends obtained a nomination for him to vie for the presidential ticket on the platform of APC but, as he added, he would make consultations. Eventually, he reported to the country that the time did not appear auspicious for him and therefore stepped down. But the same Aminu Tambuwal was richly rewarded as he went on to easily win the governorship race in Sokoto State.

The lot of Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha is particularly pitiable. Four years ago, he shot to fame in a legislative coup staged by dissident PDP members in collaboration with opposition APC (then ACN) members against Mulikat Akande-Adeola, a member from Oyo State already zoned by the PDP for the Speakership. Against the decision of their party, Aminu Tambuwal emerged new House Speaker with Emeka Ihedioha as the deputy.

Partly owing to his performance as Deputy Speaker and partly owing to the widely assumed invincibility of the PDP throughout the 2015 elections, Ihedioha appeared to be politically heading for the sky. The outgoing Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives therefore eyed the governorship of Imo State especially with the massive endorsement of President Jonathan and the PDP by Southeast political hierarchy. As it seemed, Ihedioha’s chances were boosted by Governor Rochas Okorocha’s embrace of the newly formed APC. It was going to be an easy win for Emeka Ihedioha.

Then the shock! First was the massive victory of APC in the 2015 presidential and National Assembly elections, without a single senatorial seat for the party throughout Southeast. A worse shock was what emerged that the loser in the Southeast in that situation was not even the APC but the Southeast itself, which from the election results, had no candidate to occupy the third powerful post in Nigeria – presidency of the Senate, earlier zoned to the Southeast by the APC before the elections.

Despite the bold faces to the contrary, that sense of loss spread like wildfire throughout the Southeast and instantly turned Emeka Ihedioha into a kind of sacrificial lamb to ensure that the Southeast did not lose out completely in the in-coming APC federal administration. Hence, the defeat of Emeka Ihedioha in the governorship race in Imo State despite his initial very bright chances.

Segun Oni was a governor of Ekiti State until an election petition ended his tenure. Series of political hiccups in the PDP compelled his resignation to join the APC especially in the same camp with the man who replaced him, Kayode Fayemi. Unfortunately in last year’s Ekiti State governorship elections, Fayemi lost to Ayo Fayose of the PDP and once again, Segun Oni appeared heading for political oblivion. But as a major national officer of the victorious APC, Segun Oni has resurrected into top political reckoning.

Formerly bitter rivals in PDP and ACN, Segun Oni and Kayode Fayemi respectively eventually ended up as comrades in APC and even though Fayemi lost the governorship of Ekiti State, he too is back in very strong political posture. In fact, he was widely speculated as one of those considered for the vice-presidential slot.

Depending on an observer’s views, Ekiti State governor Ayo Fayose throughout the 2015 election campaigns emerged either popular or notorious. Whichever he was, the outcome of the elections seemed to have tamed the Ekiti State governor who is now fighting for his political life against the now openly combative APC members of the state House of Assembly.

Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi seems tired not necessarily because of the disputed state elections claimed by his major opponent Nyesom Wike but the gory details of the murders of his (Amaechi’s) supporters in various parts of Rivers State by political thugs. If not accounted for by the culprits according to the punishment for murders, nobody should feel safe in Rivers State in particular. On the brighter side, Amaechi won the battle to install an APC administration in Aso Rock.

Former Ogun State governor Segun Osoba is not known for losing battles, and he has fought or faced so many in life. In 2003, when Osoba was rigged out of office by Obasanjo, Egbas later regretted the exit of their son, Osoba. That was a factor which Egbas were not prepared to taste again with the showdown between Osoba and current governor Ibikunle Amosun especially in the light of his performance in the first term.

Both Sokoto State ex-governor Attahiru Bafarawa and his Kano State counterpart, now Education Minister Shekarau must have overestimated their political weight in the defunct ANPP, to have dreamt of damaging General Buhari’s and APC’s chances in the North in the presidential and the nation-wide elections. Voters just did not seem to pay any attention to the two ex-governors who woefully failed to win votes for President Jonathan throughout Northwest. What value was the defection of the two ex-state governors to the PDP? Nil.

Determined to be a state governor, Nuhu Ribadu went back to his vomit. All those he had in the past described as being unsuitable to hold public office turned out to be his (Ribadu’s) benefactors in his desperation to be elected governor of Adamawa State. So crooked was every arrangement that even the primaries election to select PDP governorship candidate for Adamawa State was hurriedly moved to Abuja, the only one so held. Yet, Nuhu Ribadu lost among others, in the wave of anti-PDP loss of popularity.

For the first time since 1962, the Akinjide political dynasty in Ibadan, Oyo State crashed in 2015 and will require yeoman’s effort to resuscitate it. In 1962, following the political crisis in Western region, Richard Akinjide, then a member of the NCNC followed Remi Fani-Kayode in defection to the NNDP, an amalgamation of deserters from Action Group and NCNC. After the 1964 federal elections, Richard Akinjide was appointed Education Minister till the military coup of January 1966. When politics returned in 1979 to end army rule, Richard Akinjide emerged as Federal Attorney-General, again till December 1983 when army struck again.

On return of civilian rule in 1999, father stepped back and prompted the daughter, Jumoke Akinjide, who eventually was appointed Minister of State at Federal Capital Territory. In that position, the aim was eventually for the governorship of Oyo State on the platform of PDP. The death of PDP’s garrison Commander Lamidi Adedibu seemed to make the governorship ticket in Oyo State an all comers affair.

Jumoke Akinjide, initially, clandestinely and eventually started, with daddy’s support daring rivals, mainly political sons of the late Adedibu. But the PDP in Oyo State was ever obstructionist. Eventually, Jumoke Akinjide gave up the Oyo race and became a favourite of Patience Jonathan especially at campaign meetings. For the 2015 elections, her father Richard Akinjide went on record that President Jonathan had performed excellently and would win the elections for the second time “hands down.”

If that happened, Jumoke Akinjide would have been appointed a Minister of full cabinet rank. Unfortunately, Jonathan lost the elections, and with it also lost was Jumoke Akinjide’s as well as Akinjide dynasty’s immediate future political prospects. At least for now.

Down and out? Surely not Stella Oduah, ex-Aviation Minister dropped amidst the row over purchase of bulletproof official vehicle. After almost two years, the lady is back as a Senator on PDP ticket, at a time her political rivals are counting their remaining days as public office holders. Also from Anambra State elevated from House of Representatives to the Senate is Uche Ekwunife. But her own victory seems to leave her in the cold as most of her colleagues in the upper and lower chambers lost the elections.

Mike Ahamba is not a politician but a legal practitioner with prospects of political limelight eventually. He handled General Buhari’s petitions as lead counsel in his previous three elections. He was still close to General Buhari until the last election of national officers for the defunct CPC in which Tony Momoh was elected national chairman.

Ahamba then left and joined PDP. 2015 elections came, President Jonathan along with PDP lost, and General Buhari won the elections, though on the platform of APC following the merger of ACN, ANPP, CPC and a faction of APGA. When eventually General Buhari emerged President of Nigeria, Mike Ahamba was on the losing side, the PDP.

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Comradeship with Uche Chukwumerije Fri, 15 May 2015 01:03:55 +0000 The death of former Secretary for Information, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, was a shock, as it was not widely known that he was under treatment for a terminal ailment. ]]>

The death of former Secretary for Information, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, was a shock, as it was not widely known that he was under treatment for a terminal ailment. The last time I met him was at the commendation service for Ikemba Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu at Tafawa Balewa Square, in Lagos.

He offered pleasantries to “Triple Chief, long time.” I teased him that “Comrade, you are no longer one of us, the masses. You are now a member of the bourgeoisie in Abuja, all of you feeding fat on our wealth.” Responding, Chukwumerije said: “Triple Chief, that’s not true o. I am there representing the masses.”

In fairness to him, the series of tributes by his numerous colleagues in the National Assembly attest to his distinction on that score.

We were more of mere acquaintances but got closer on his appointment as Secretary for Information while I was Chief Press Secretary to former President Ibrahim Babangida. Rather humbly and humorously, Chukwumerije did not shy away from requesting for how not to upset our colleagues in the media. Unknown to non-journalists, Ministry of Information is virtually a cemetery for journalists.

What first emerged in Uche Chukwumerije in the first few months as Secretary for Information was his appreciation of fellow journalists. All alone, Chukwumerije observed the performance of Yemi Fakaiyejo, then Voice of Nigeria correspondent at Dodan Barracks. He observed the man’s competence in asking diligent questions at media briefings and therefore informed me of his (Uche Chukwumerije’s) decision to reward Fakaiyejo by elevating him to the next grade on salary scale.

It should be noted that Chukwumerije was just being altruistic and nationalistic, since Fakaiyejo is Yoruba. Much as I supported him in his decision to encourage Fakaiyejo, I pleaded with Chukwumerije to ensure fairness by also moving FRCN correspondent at Dodan Barracks, Reginald Okochi to the next grade of his salary. The main reason was that Mr Okochi had served in Dodan Barracks equally competently but far longer than Mr. Fakaiyejo.

Chukwumerije agreed with my argument, and took action. But I alerted him to be prepared for the reaction of Mr. Okochi’s colleagues back at FRCN station at Ikoyi, Lagos, who would accuse Chukwumerije of promoting his fellow Igbo. Chukwumerije laughed at me somewhat skeptically, saying: “Triple Chief, Nigeria is not that bad.” But I insisted he should take note of my premonition.

Less than a fortnight after Chukwumerije recommended Mr. Okochi’s elevation, I got information that NUJ chapel members at FRCN were complaining and had planned a protest and demonstration against Information Secretary Uche Chukwumerije for allegedly singling out a fellow Igbo for such favour. I cannot remember how the information reached me. But I took instant action by writing FRCN chapel of NUJ informing them that I was responsible for Okochi’s elevation and that I am Yoruba. Okochi was not elevated as an Igbo. Instead, I added, Chukwumerije promoted a Yoruba, Mr. Fakaiyejo of Voice of Nigeria, who by that time had served less than Reginald Okochi at Dodan Barracks.

On Uche Chukwumerije’s next visit to Dodan Barracks, I gave him his copy of my letter to FRCN NUJ chapel to let him know of the plot against him. He was shocked that Nigerians could think so low and that I so much understood the depth of ethnic phobia in Nigeria. Still, he was relieved that at least, I saved him unnecessary embarrassment.

Fast forward to June 23, 1993, the day the Presidential election result was annulled, by former President Ibrahim Babangida. Earlier in the day, Yaya Abubakar, then Director-General of Voice of Nigeria phoned me, requesting to confirm an unsigned statement announcing the annulment of the election. I was shocked since I did not make any such announcement.

All Yaya Abubakar requested was a confirmation before running the story to the outside world. President Babangida had flown to Katsina to attend the burial of General Shehu Yar’Adua’s father who died the previous night. Still, I could not stop or even delay Voice of Nigeria from running the story lest I be labeled M.K.O. Abiola’s mole, the laziest angle for security to adopt in such circumstances. When I asked Yaya Abubakar how his reporter at Aso Rock came about the unsigned statement, he said Vice President Augustus Aikhomu’s press secretary, Nduka Irabor, gave it to reporters.

That was authority enough. At that stage, I advised Director-General Voice of Nigeria, Yaya Abubakar to commence running the story. That prepared for my next encounter with Uche Chukwumerije, a few hours later. He got into my office at Aso Rock, sweating profusely and asked “Triple Chief, is this how you people run your government?”

According to him (Chukwumerije) he was summoned from Lagos the previous day and landed at Abuja before learning about the annulment of the election and yet, nobody was around to brief him on when, why and how. He was visibly so upset at least, about being kept in the dark that he was to resign. I advised him to be  more circumspect. I further advised him to wait for President Babangida’s return from Katsina, (to) meet him and register the protest even if he was to resign thereafter.

Still calming Chukwumerije down, I then told him “you have no problem. What do I do? Before coming on this job, I was third in rank at Concord Newspapers next to Doyin Abiola, Editor-in-Chief/ Managing Director, and Chief M.K.O. Abiola, chairman and publisher, Concord Group of Newspapers. Should I endorse the injustice done to Chief Abiola?

On the other hand, if I quit, even you, Uche, would join critics to conveniently accuse me of turning Chief Abiola’s national mandate into a tribal, even a clannish affair since, like Chief Abiola, I am a Yoruba and from Ogun State.

Chukwumerije calmed down and conceded “Triple Chief, you have a valid point. I will follow your advice.”

There was another issue arising from the June 12 crisis in which I had to use my authority as Chief Press Secretary, separate from the Secretary (Minister) for Information. The prolonged June 12 crisis brought to the fore, series of visits by Nigerian hypocrites parading as dignitaries to Aso Rock privately approving government’s annulment of the election while at the same time requesting NTA to be reported as condemning the election annulment.

To avoid controversy, NTA’s policy is to catch such reports on camera/microphone.

I suddenly got a letter from the Director-General of NTA substituting Chris Ngwu for Sola Atere. The wordings of the letter were particularly offensive. Partly the letter read “following discussions between the Secretary for Information and the Director-General of NTA, bearer, Mr. Chris Ngwu is posted as the new NTA correspondent at State House to replace Mr. Sola Atere,” etc.

Unless so directed for very compelling reasons (and that happened only twice) I never requested any NTA or FRCN or Voice of Nigeria correspondent to be replaced. I therefore inquired three times if Sola Atere had any problem with his bosses back in office. Satisfied that there was never such situation, I duly responded to the DG of NTA in very stern language.

“Since I was not party to the said discussions between the Secretary of Information and the Director-General of NTA, can you, please, acquaint me with the details of the said discussions. And please, note that this office (of the Chief Press Secretary) is neither subordinate to nor an extension of the Federal Ministry of Information. Accordingly, Mr. Sola Atere remains as NTA Correspondent at State House.”

I invited Mr. Ngwu to my office and explained to him that there was nothing personal.

“Correspondents here are my troops. I protect and enhance their interests jealously. It is Sola Atere today. If I allow him to be withdrawn in these circumstances, when it is your turn, I won’t be able to fight your cause.”

Really, my official authority was only a part of the issue. Withdrawing Sola Atere would worsen the prevailing political tension over the annulment of the June 12 election. The man fighting against the annulment of the election, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, was a Yoruba. NTA Correspondent to be withdrawn is a Yoruba. Solidarity of journalists on such matters is always spontaneous and never compromised.

If I allowed NTA to have its way, Nigerians would be well-fed by the media that even after the annulment of the elections, ethnic cleansing of Yorubas from Aso Rock had commenced with the withdrawal of Sola Atere. That would further inflame the June 12 crisis. I had to pre-empt such a situation.

Obviously, because of my firmness on the issue, a security chief sought my view on the restructuring of the media going on. I reported that I knew nothing about that development and he agreed that I was correct to resist NTA’s attempt to replace its correspondent.

Uche Chukwumerije was understanding enough about the situation. That was the man. May he rest in peace.

Burundi in history

Following the rare example last year in Egypt, a military coup commenced Wednesday afternoon in the East African country of Burundi. The coup was led by Major-General Godefroid Niyonbare who announced the dismissal from office of President Pierre Nkunrunziza while the deposed leader was attending a meeting of East African leaders in neighbouring Tanzania.

The coup was the inevitable consequence of deposed President Nkunrunziza’s attempt to violate the country’s constitution limiting the presidency to two terms. He was forcing himself on the country for an unprecedented third term. The constitutional court which was to determine the legality of the third bid, had earlier split, forcing the court’s deputy president to flee abroad for reasons of threat to his life. Other members of the constitutional court, obviously for fear of their lives ruled in favour of the president to contest for the third term.

The coup in progress apparently was sprung into operation to end the inordinate ambition of President Nkunrunziza.

All along during the crisis, there were nationwide protests and demonstrations against the deposed president. For now at least, he has been shut out from returning to Burundi.

The on-going military coup in Burundi is an opportunity for African leaders to stand firmly in compliance strictly with each country’s constitution to comply with provisions of term limit and non-rigging of elections.

Who any way would have acquiesced in the violation of the constitution hiding under the obnoxious principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of Nigeria.

All along, during the crisis, there were protests and demonstration against the attempt of the president to run for the third term. He was attending a meeting of East African leaders in Tanzania who, anyway, would have acquiesced in the violation of the constitution, hiding under the principle of non-intervention. African leaders would not intervene whatever the outcome of this coup in the making.

The Burundi president would by the way, not be the first African leader to be removed while abroad. Nigeria’s Nnamdi Azikiwe was holidaying in the Caribbean when Tafawa Balewa was overthrown by the military in 1966. While still gloating over the overthrow of Nigeria’s Balewa, Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah was toppled by the army six weeks later on February 24, 1966. He was not even around as he was in far away China.

In 1971, President Milton Obote of Uganda was attending Commonwealth conference in Singapore, when he was overthrown by General Idi Amin Dada.

In 1969, Morroco’s King Hassan was returning from holiday in France when he was to be assassinated by air force officers. But he survived and landed safely.

In July 1975, Nigeria’s General Gowon was in Kampala for OAU annual conference when he was overthrown by Murtala Muhammed. In 1982, Sudan’s President Nimeri was on a visit to Egypt when the army overthrew him. In 1985, Nigeria’s strong man Tunde Idiagbon was on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia when the duo of General Babangida and General Sani Abacha overthrow the Buhari-Idiagbon regime.

About 20 years ago, Gambia’s President Dauda Jawara was holidaying in England when he was overthrown by the army back home.

Military rule may not be tolerable. But then who says so. Soldiers are members of society. They are the only ones who can call the impunity and election rigging of civilians to order.

What is more, civilian leaders must learn to stop violating the constitution through graft, self perpetuation through election rigging. After Burundi, these political criminals still exist in Mugabe, (Zimbabwe) Museveni (Uganda) Nguesso (Congo) the Gambia etc.

Burundi offers a lesson. African Union or not. What was African Union on the Burundian president before he was overthrown? Nothing.

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How now, President Jonathan? Fri, 08 May 2015 01:22:03 +0000 Almost throughout the campaigns of the recent presidential elections, in which he was defeated, Goodluck Jonathan was advised in this column, not so much on how he could win but repeatedly on how he was sure to lose the elections. ]]>

Almost throughout the campaigns of the recent presidential elections, in which he was defeated, Goodluck Jonathan was advised in this column, not so much on how he could win but repeatedly on how he was sure to lose the elections. Failing to heed the repeated advice, Jonathan, as predicted, was massively defeated much to his shock and chagrin.

In this their moment of weeping and gnashing of teeth, who have now testified publicly and critically to how and why Jonathan lost the elections? The hierarchy of National Working Committee (NWC) of People’s Democratic Party who this week not only absolved themselves of any dereliction of duty but also went on to detail those and what made Jonathan lose the elections.

In what was supposed to be a press conference addressed by PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, the entire text was virtually a script of series of criticisms in strategy of employing intellectual thugs who, instead of promoting Jonathan’s candidacy, only succeeded inadvertently, in alienating decent minds. Such decent minds were in different parts of the country but particularly in the North, General Buhari’s major stronghold.

The only reservation about the scarcely veiled criticism leveled by members of the National Working Committee of PDP is the timing, with Jonathan down and kicking him. The alibi of the PDP NWC would have served better as an alarm for Jonathan when the election was being lost. Instead, all of them in the PDP either enjoyed the dirty tricks or maintained criminal silence.

If preventable, why allow death to occur and then embark on a hypocritical inquest? Where were the PDP national working committee members when Jonathan’s wife, Patience was spreading her political poison, which killed her husband’s prospects for second term?

Did these PDP strong men warn Jonathan all through the campaigns that it was politically suicidal to ridicule Northerners as well as their leaders and expect their votes?

The analogy drawn by PDP National Publicity Secretary Olisa Metuh was particularly interesting except that again, he should have drawn President Jonathan’s attention to that political reality when matters were going wrong. According to Olisa Metuh, in the 2011 elections, Jonathan’s wife Patience never denigrated the person of the late Ikemba Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, or Jonathan would have massively lost Igbo votes.

That was an understatement. For the 2015 elections, General Buhari meant more to Northerners than the Ikemba would have meant to South-Easterners in 2011 or even 2015. Since 2003, North had been vying for the Presidency while Southeast had been half-hearted with the best hope slated for 2019 after Jonathan. Fortunately for the North unlike in the past, Buhari was their only presidential candidate in the elections. The irrelevant insults on him by Jonathan and his wife Patience therefore only further galvanized and solidified Northern votes for Buhari.

What therefore gave Jonathan and or his campaigners the impression that denigrating the person of Buhari would win him (Jonathan) the votes of Northerners? As strongly argued in this column, the more Buhari was vilified, the more he attracted public sympathy in the North and Southwest more than Jonathan attracted support in the South-South and Southeast.

Again, the submission was made continuously in this column that Nigerians already made up their minds on which way to vote in the presidential elections and no amount of insults on General Buhari would change the situation. And that exactly was what happened. Instead of facing that fact, Jonathan delusioned in the disgraceful performance of the intellectual thugs in his campaign team now denounced by the PDP National Working Committee.

To worsen matters, Jonathan’s wife, Patience, turned out to be Queen Marie, who in the days leading to the French revolution of 1789, irritated hungry protesters on high cost of food, to eat cake if they could not afford bread. It was obvious throughout the campaigns that eventually, Jonathan would be disowned and even booed by those around him.

With even top ranking PDP members impliedly criticising President Jonathan for the handling of his campaigns, the question can therefore be asked of the outgoing Aso Rock tenant, “how now, President Jonathan?” Even fellow African leaders have no sympathy for Jonathan. At least, that was the revelation of four African heads of government/states.

According to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, not less than four of them were delighted at Jonathan’s defeat. These were the same African leaders regularly visiting Aso Rock, eulogising Jonathan at state banquets. Has Jonathan also noted the exodus of those deceiving him all along about their largest party in Africa?

Where are the foreign and local political consultants deceiving Jonathan that Muhammadu Buhari did not enjoy the support of Northern elites, and therefore defrauded Jonathan with the eve of election bogus opinion poll that Jonathan would win in Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa and the entire Southwestern states? Has Jonathan noticed that even the NTA is gradually easing him out of the nightly network news in contrast to the choking of viewers with everything on Jonathan only a few weeks ago?

Jonathan’s plight is that he refused to learn from history. The 2015 election was a massive revolt, not only against him whatever his performance in office, but particularly his party, the PDP. It is human nature to desire a change especially in government after 16 years of economic strangulation of the people by a ruling party. Any experienced politician would never have been caught napping as Jonathan and his sycophants were trapped.

Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of Britain in a Conservative government for 13 years and was succeeded in the same government as Prime Minister for at least another five years. Britons thereafter effected a change for a Labour government with Tony Blair for 10 uninterrupted years. When he quit, the Labour government continued in office for at least the next three years under Gordon Brown as Prime Minister.

After that spell, Britons once again effected a change and returned a Conservative government under David Cameron as Prime Minister. And yesterday, Britons were at their game again with total uncertainty on the fate of the contesting parties.

Jonathan and his PDP never believed Nigerians had the right to, or could even effect a change. Today, they know better. Even the in-coming APC now know Nigerians, some day, can effect a change. That is what democracy is all about.

Lessons from Indonesia

There should be no doubt the right of the government of Indonesia or any country for that matter to enforce any existing law duly enacted. Such is a standard diplomatic lesson. Not long ago, the far Eastern nation (Indonesia) enforced its death penalty for drug trafficking and executed not less than 10 convicts including one Indonesian.

Somehow, the focus was on foreigners among the convicts including four Nigerians. As if to vindicate Indonesia in its enforcement of its death penalty, less than a week later, Saudi Arabia also executed three female Indonesian convicts. They were in Saudi Arabia under a programme of the Indonesian government for domestic servants in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

Despite the foreign official status of the domestic servants, there could not be any extenuating circumstances to save the convicts from execution. That was the lesson the Indonesian government should have learnt or has now learnt. All the same, the Indonesian government in its reaction has suspended if not cancelled its programme of sponsoring female domestic servants for employment in Saudi Arabia.

If Indonesia could turn down all pleas by foreign nations of the nationalities of the convicts executed for drug trafficking, it (the Indonesian government) could not have expected to be taken seriously on its plea to the Saudi government against the execution of the Indonesian domestic servants.

The offence in both cases was the same, i.e. violation of an existing death penalty. That is also the justification of the Indonesian government in executing four Nigerians, among others, for drug trafficking. The Indonesian government was criticised by some Nigerians. Were the criticisms justified?

Every country in the world has its sets of laws. No matter how unacceptable such laws might be for other countries, it is the right of the country concerned to operate its laws to ensure order, peace and good government within its territory. In any case, the four Nigerians in Indonesia were not the first set to be executed for drug trafficking in Far East countries. Yet, the convicts never learnt and proceeded to violate Indonesia’s laws.

Indonesia therefore does not owe Nigeria any apology for firmly enforcing its anti-drug trafficking laws. In any case, such laws are not specifically for only foreigners. If other nations, including Nigeria, are too feeble to enforce their laws and therefore encourage directly or indirectly, outright lawlessness, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and China should be commended for enforcing anti-drug trafficking laws within their legislative territories.

When the issue of the fate of Nigeria drug criminals was first raised in the National Assembly, Senate President David Mark, quite rightly warned that Nigerians who risked violating strict criminal laws of foreign countries would be on their own. That was a warning that still stands. And why not? Does Nigeria spare foreigners who violate our laws? Even if we do, that is no reason to expect other countries to spare Nigerian convicts, especially drug traffickers or murderers in their midst.

Ordinarily, the execution of those four Nigerians in Indonesia, should serve as a lesson for other potential drug traffickers. No matter the desperation which might lead them to violate the laws of foreign countries, such Nigerians should be prepared to face death penalty as provided in the laws of those countries.

And why was Nigeria expecting its citizens to be spared death penalty for drug offences abroad? Such amnesty would create problems for other foreign convicts who might then join in exposing the countries concerned to unlimited drug menace.

Foreigners abroad must be disciplined enough to obey the laws of host countries even if such laws are harsh.

We cannot dictate to Indonesia how to handle drug traffickers.

Governors divided

A fall-out of the 2015 presidential and National Assembly elections is that it solved the argument of which party controls the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. Each of APC and PDP claimed to have 19 governors even when it was clear to Nigerians that one of the two parties in fact enjoyed the support of only 16 governors.

After the 2015 governorship elections, 22 of them emerged on the platform of APC, while APGA had only one, leaving the PDP with 13 governors, far less than either 16 or even 19.

The argument on which party controlled the leadership of the Governors’ Forum was one of the unnecessary controversies Jonathan attracted to himself. He obviously saw state governors as under his political control. Would that include APC governors at that time? The position is now clear.

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Britain set for General Elections Fri, 01 May 2015 00:14:26 +0000 General elections in two countries always compel world attention. While Americans hold Presidential elections in November next year, Britons go to the polls next Thursday to elect a new government. The current Conservative Party Prime Minister, David Cameron was elected five years ago when he hurried to office in a coalition administration with a minority party, the Liberals, otherwise known as Lib-Dems.]]>

General elections in two countries always compel world attention. While Americans hold Presidential elections in November next year, Britons go to the polls next Thursday to elect a new government. The current Conservative Party Prime Minister, David Cameron was elected five years ago when he hurried to office in a coalition administration with a minority party, the Liberals, otherwise known as Lib-Dems.

In next week’s elections, the personal/political integrity of the Liberal leader, Nick Clegg will be at stake. He may just succeed in retaining his seat in parliament while many of his colleagues in the House of Commons are expected to be defeated. As opposition minority leader before the last elections, Mr. Clegg made several major policy commitments like unyielding opposition to increase in students’ fees. Prospects of the Liberals ever forming government in Britain were always far-fetched.

Unfortunately, the 2010 elections were inconclusive and therefore compelled coalition of any of the two major parties (Labour and Conservatives) with the minority Liberals. Such a coalition would involve compromise or even breach of previous public commitments on policies of political parties involved, for which, inevitably such parties would pay the price in the subsequent elections.

However, the most remarkable of public disgust against the leadership of the Liberal Party is the self-confessed political fraud with which the Conservatives were stampeded into a coalition by the Liberals. From the results of 2010 elections, the Labour Party and the Conservatives were equally placed to form the coalition with the Liberals, depending on the terms of agreement. While no such agreement existed between Labour and the Liberals, Nick Clegg, leader of the minority third party deceived the Conservatives into a hurried agreement for coalition in which he emerged as Deputy Prime Minister, to pre-empt an alternative coalition with the Labour Party, an agreement which in fact, never existed.

As Deputy Prime Minister in the coalition government, Nick Clegg also abandoned an  election pledge of opposition to rise in students fees. Mr. Clegg’s reputation on these two issues is up for the verdict of voters in the elections.

For Prime Minister David Cameron, it is an up and down situation. One of the most successful to rule Britain, Cameron restored his country’s economy as the fastest growing in Europe currently, quite away from the depression he inherited from the defeated Labour government of Gordon Brown. However, in the process, Britons paid heavy price of austerity measures with which substantial voters are dissatisfied.

Worse still, if South Africans employed violence to exhibit xenophobia, Britons are expressing resentment with their votes. There is undisguised fear of being overwhelmed by ever increasing immigration from European Union. An essential condition of EU membership is freedom of movement of all citizens of member nations. Contrary to Cameron’s election pledge to limit and indeed reduce immigration to tens of thousands annually, immigration control has burst, and for this, Prime Minister Cameron is facing a major task in next Thursday’s elections.

The situation is not helped by the policy threat of the new United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) whose sole electoral policy is to halt further immigration to Britain by withdrawing from European Union membership. This is a threat that Prime Minister David Cameron is combating with the offer of referendum for Britons to determine future membership of European Union, a disguise for withdrawing from Europe, considering hostile public opinion against ever increasing immigration. Yet, Europe offers the biggest market for British economy, which will be grossly affected by withdrawal of membership.

Opposition Labour Party is haunted by its dismal record leading to election defeat in 2010. Two other factors militating against prospects of Labour victory are the party leader’s strength of character in times of international crisis and a renewed surge of Scottish nationalists in Scotland, an erstwhile stronghold of Labour Party.

With United States and Britain poised for leadership of other joint allies to confront the tragedy of Syrian civil war, Labour leader Ed Miliband suddenly developed cold feet and frustrated the debate in the House of Commons, leading to the voting down of British participation in the move against the Syrian government.

Ed Miliband also has to cope with the challenge of Scottish Nationalist Party after the failed referendum to break from the United Kingdom. Until now, Scotland was a major stronghold of Labour Party in British politics. So close is the election battle in Britain next week that the ruling Conservatives are drumming the fear of Labour forming a coalition with the Scottish Nationalists Party still aiming at breaking up United Kingdom. In response, Labour are ruling out any coalition with the SNP.

The last time Britain had a very close election was in February 1974 when Prime Minister Edward Heath narrowly lost to opposition leader Harold Wilson. The Tory Prime Minister however eventually conceded defeat after he unsuccessfully negotiated a coalition government with the Liberals led by Jeremy Thorpe.

Harold Wilson, who earlier in 1970 lost office as Labour Prime Minister then led his party to return to office in 1974. Can the current Labour leader, Ed Milliband repeat history in next Thursday’s elections?

Heat for Mayweather?

It is billed to be the boxing tournament of this century so far as defending champion Floyd Mayweather and Filipino Manny Picquaio clash on Sunday morning at Las Vegas, United States for the world middleweight title. The contest has aroused worldwide interest but will still fall short of producing the greatest boxer of all time.

Mayweather is the latest to be so touted after others like Joe Louis, Muhammed Ali, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Frazier had been similarly touted one after another. Mayweather may live up to his reputation of being undefeated after Sunday morning’s showdown in Las Vegas.

If being undefeated is the yardstick for tipping the greatest boxer of all time, Mayweather, apart from reigning in a lower division than heavyweight, would still not match the only undefeated world heavyweight champion, Rocky Marciano, the Italian American.

Sunday morning’s big contest in Las Vegas is also an opportunity for Mayweather to lay claim to being the greatest even if he remains undefeated. A great boxer gives as much as he takes and never retreats to retain his title. Only Rocky Marciano fitted that bill.

Always there in the centre of the ring absorbing whatever punches the opponent might land, or chasing his opponent all over the place, the only business every fight might hold  for Rocky Marciano was to demolish his opponent and he demolished all of them, one after another. Marciano never stalled any fight nor did he bore fans by tightly holding opponents and if any opponent tried such escapism, Marciano rained destructive blows to the ribs and head to free himself.

That is the real test for Floyd Mayweather on Sunday morning. For much of the time in a contest, Mayweather charges at opponents and holds rather tightly to avoid being hit, tactics which keep the referee busy throughout the contest shouting “break, break” while separating the boxers from a rather tight hold.

Very strong and agile, Mayweather still has the edge in dancing away from trouble. He is also swift in counter attacks. Yet, can Mayweather overcome the handicap of excessive holding to avoid an opponent’s potentially damaging blows?

Pacquiao is, by any means the underdog if only because of older age. Blessed with fast footwork and not used to retreating, he may be forced for once, to learn to adopt such defeat-saving tactics.

In total confidence, Pacquiao self-assures of victory. But then, such salesmanship is tolerable for a take-home purse of about 80 million dollars.

Irony, even hypocrisy of impeachment

Since the return of civilian rule in 1999, impeachment of public office holders – mainly state governors, deputy governors, speakers and deputy speakers of state and Federal Houses has been so trivialized to turn the victims into slaves of those wielding the power.

This is contrary to the real purpose of the impeachment weapon in our constitution. Impeachment is very rare in civilized democracies. Hence, in its almost 300 years of existence, the number of impeachments of federal and state officials is far less than Nigeria’s within the last 16 years.

Furthermore, in Nigeria, even chairmen of local government councils are impeached at the whims and caprices of state governors, their “creator.” Were these politicians the Almighty, lives would be taken off Nigerians just for the fun of it.

The latest is the purported impeachment of Ondo State deputy governor, Alhaji Alli Olanusi. The whole episode lasted hours and yet, these political “killers” will attend mosques today and churches this Sunday. Praying to God for forgiveness or blessings? The whole saga is amusing although in fact, irritating.

Very conveniently, APC for example poses as arch defenders of deputy governor Olanusi. APC?

To start with, no state governor needs to qualify as a legal practitioner to exercise the restraint ordered by a court of law to maintain an existing situation to enable the court inquire into a complaint (or challenge) brought before a court. Court judges themselves are not firm as their orders are routinely disregarded in such matters by politicians.

It is true that Ondo State governor Segun Mimiko decamped from Labour to PDP and still retains his post. Is this man aware of the Supreme Court ruling on carpet crossing recently delivered on an APC member of House of Representatives who crossed from Labour Party? If that APC member was adjudged by Supreme Court to have forfeited his seat, does Mimiko not feel worried?

Meanwhile while the focus is on the impeachment of deputy governor Olanusi by PDP members of Ondo State House of Assembly, we must also recall the impeachment of two deputy governors in Lagos State successively. Even after she had resigned, deputy governor Kofo Bucknor-Akerele was deposed by AC House of Assembly in Lagos.

Her successor as deputy governor Femi Pedro was similarly deposed by the same Lagos House of Assembly also after the deputy governor had resigned. The aim in the two cases was to deny them their entitlements as ex-deputy governors.

Those actions were condemned in this column just as the purported impeachment of deputy governor of Ondo State is condemned without overlooking the dangerous precedent set by Lagos House of Assembly, which obviously Ondo State House of Assembly followed.

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So soon, an ex-Inspector-General of Police? Fri, 24 Apr 2015 01:55:34 +0000 Barely seven months in office, Suleiman Abba, during the week was summarily reduced to an ex-Inspector General of Police by his Commander-in-Chief, outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan. After series of dramatic events, Mr. Abba became another ex of those controversial public office holders.]]>

Barely seven months in office, Suleiman Abba, during the week was summarily reduced to an ex-Inspector General of Police by his Commander-in-Chief, outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan. After series of dramatic events, Mr. Abba became another ex of those controversial public office holders.

Ordinarily, his dismissal would have been shrouded in mystery. But even in these dying weeks of his tenure, Commander-in-Chief Goodluck Jonathan remains determined to assert his authority. What is more, for the ex-Inspector General of Police, he is a victim of a system he did not understand, (as Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, assessed the fate of Tafawa Balewa’s political assassination in January 1966).

Events leading to ex-IG Abba’s dismissal were induced by previous events, which exposed his disorientation as a police officer, especially Inspector General. Since his appointment, the dismissed IG condescended so low to be taking and obeying even glaringly unlawful orders bordering on criminal subversion or indeed treason. The orientation that any order from the Commander-in-Chief must be obeyed belongs to the past and had long been advised by military authorities to be weighed and obeyed ONLY and if only found to be justifiable.

The advice followed the painful decision to execute innocent junior soldiers involved in failed coup attempts for no other reason than obeying the actual coup plotters. Better still, obeying a senior officer (or even the Commander-in-Chief) is not the only proof of loyalty. A more compelling aspect of loyalty is the courage to also acquaint the man issuing the instruction with the possibility that his order might violate existing laws guaranteeing security of lives and property. More of that below.

For now, the instant dismissal of former Inspector-General Abba was caused by what could amount to disloyalty even though he obeyed the order of Commander-in-Chief Goodluck Jonathan. In such situation of disloyalty, outgoing President Jonathan or anybody in his position could not be blamed. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo once found himself in similar situation and struck. Nobody complained.

The accusation against the former Inspector-General of Police that he was trying or lobbying to keep his job under the in-coming administration of General Muhammadu Buhari is debatable. At best, such accusation could only be part of the reasons, specifically a convenient reason. The violence in Rivers State in the past six weeks is so alarming and yet, elections were supposed to have been held, the first of which were for the President and National Assembly.

As it turned out, against all their expectations, South-South became a mass murder zone, victims of which were mainly opposition members. The shocker was that rival All Progressives Congress won in other parts of the country to defeat the PDP and President Jonathan out of office. Former Police Inspector-General at that stage realized his job was at stake. He could then no longer allow the PDP the latitude or lawlessness to rig the elections especially in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, as was done in the national elections. For a repeat, the latitude of violent murders had to be contained.

Former Inspector-General Abba then fortified Rivers State on such scale that would not allow continuing murders as well as election rigging and perhaps to impress the in-coming APC government. The former IG at that stage was ordered to completely withdraw whatever security he had installed in Rivers State – some 2,800 armed policemen, three police commissioners of police and an Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Tunde Ogunshakin.

Rather meekly, ex-IG Abba obeyed and the murders as well as election rigging massively took place in Rivers State. Former Police IG Abba therefore owed nobody any explanation once he agreed to obey the order to withdraw total security. Unfortunately, the APC gubernatorial candidate, Dakuku Peterside, appeared on Channels Television, Lagos, this week and narrated how somebody in Aso Rock, on the eve of elections ordered the former Police IG to withdraw all security in Rivers State which paved the way for the murders and election rigging.

Pressed how he got that information, Peterside revealed that Rives State governor Chibuke Amaechi told him. That was tactless. His indiscretion landed the former Police IG in trouble. Before then, somebody must have narrated the disturbing facts of order to withdraw police security in Rivers State to Governor Amaechi.

Since the order to withdraw massive security in Rivers State allegedly came from somebody in Aso Rock to the Police Inspector-General, only these two could have known about all the discussions and surely President Jonathan could not have disclosed the security directive to Governor Amaechi since only Jonathan’s PDP stood to benefit. There is no doubt the leakage came from the former IG’s side, even if not from him directly.

The mole could have been one of the ex-IG’s lieutenants or those around him when he was taking the orders from Aso Rock. But whoever might have leaked the secret discussions on the sensitive police operations in Rivers State was not Jonathan’s business to investigate. The former Police IG partly created problem for himself in rendering his person subservient to obeying not just unlawful but criminal orders. For example, why did ex-Police IG Abba obey the order to send armed police to the National Assembly last time? That was subversion and therefore treason.

Except that we have a totally ineffective National Assembly, such incident could not have passed without impeachment of whoever gave such order, especially, if, as claimed by the ex-IG, the President. Mr Abba also said during that controversy that he did not recognize the duly elected Speaker of House of Representatives. By whose legal interpretation and on whose order? Would the ex-Police boss claim he did not recognize the President of the Federal Republic?

The same election which brought the President into office also got the Speaker to the House of Representatives to be elected by his colleagues who are also the only authority to remove him. Any other attempt by whosoever – the President through Police IG – amounts to overawing the sovereignty of the National Assembly with its separate authority guaranteed by Nigerian Constitution. The offence is treason.

Since ex-IG Abba was used to taking orders without courage to point out if such orders were unlawful, he could not disobey President Jonathan’s instruction to withdraw the entire security in Rivers State on the eve of elections.

Still, President Jonathan, in firm action against leakage of discussions with a government scribe, was only following a precedent laid by one of his predecessors, former President Olusegun Obasanjo who instantly sacked a former Director-General of Nigerian Television Authority, Ben Bruce. Obasanjo and Ben Bruce obviously had discussions at Aso Rock on arrangements and expenditure of the Commonwealth Games held in Nigeria during Obasanjo’s tenure as elected President.

The discussions touched on the integrity of one of Obasanjo’s top lieutenants. A week later, a comprehensive report of Obasanjo’s private discussions with Ben Bruce was published in a national weekly magazine, THE NEWS.  Normally on sale on Mondays, my complimentary copy on Sunday compelled my call to the publishers of the magazine drawing their attention to the trouble created for Ben Bruce. Further reference was made to the fact that since the discussions took place in Obasanjo’s office at Aso Rock between only two men, Obasanjo and Ben Bruce, it was obvious who briefed THE NEWS Magazine.

As predicted, Obasanjo sacked Ben Bruce the following day as Director-General of NTA. I then had to remind publishers of THE NEWS Magazine of my alert the previous day. President Jonathan was therefore correct to sack the Police Inspector-General Suleiman Abba.

Did Jonathan have any alternative? Perhaps, only because of a slight difference in their respective circumstances. At the time Obasanjo sacked the NTA Director General, Ben Bruce, he (Obasanjo) had at least two more years in his tenure. On the other hand, Jonathan has barely a month to go after losing an election that suddenly ended his tenure. He (Jonathan) therefore could have devoted the next four weeks to garnering and preserving whatever public goodwill possible. But the choice is his and he has acted the way he prefers.

The ex-Police Inspector-General was by the way anonymously accused of partly conducting his official duties to give the impression of lobbying especially the in-coming administration to keep his job. References were made to IG Abba’s attendance at the Conference Centre at Abuja when General Muhammadu Buhari was collecting his certificate from INEC as President-elect, and at the airport returning to Abuja from any part of the country.

There should be nothing wrong in IG Abba’s actions on this score. Both out-going president and president-elect logically are entitled to the loyalty of the Police Inspector-General for their respective personal security. Surely, it is not being suggested that until he is sworn in, a president-elect does not deserve security best guaranteed by the Inspector-General of the Police.

From the minute General Buhari was declared President-elect, he deserves equal if not more but certainly not less security than outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan. In his present status of out-going, Jonathan is exposed to far less danger. But as President-elect, General Buhari is exposed to more danger from political anarchists. Such anarchists cannot target President Jonathan.

On the other hand, even when results of the presidential elections were being announced, the venue was subjected to political terrorism, which today we all seem to be underestimating and maybe have even forgotten. Ex-Police IG Abba was therefore discharging his duty to pre-empt any untoward event at the airport or the venue where General Buhari was collecting his election certificate.

Should anything happen to General Buhari, even though he would not be involved, the first suspect would be out-going President Jonathan, whole interest was therefore being served by the ex-Police IG ensuring the security of President-elect General Muhammadu Buhari

Ohanaeze’s political interests

The other day, Ohanaeze Ndigbo re-affirmed that the cultural organization had no regret for supporting President Goodluck Jonathan in the recent elections won by General Muhammadu Buhari. The truth is that even if Ohanaeze had any regret, it would not be expected to so declare publicly.

However, why should Ohanaeze have any regret? In any election anywhere in the world, special interest groups would always back candidates of their choice, successfully or unsuccessfully. In 1999, Ohanaeze Ndigbo successfully backed Obasanjo while Yoruba South-West completely voted against him. In fact, Obasanjo lost his ward. Heavens did not fall.

Then in 2011, Yoruba South-West abandoned General Buhari at the last minute and voted for President Jonathan even against all expectations that the then ACN presidential candidate Nuhu Ribadu would attract votes in Yoruba South-West. And when eyebrows were raised, the convenient explanation was that Yoruba South-West in 2011 voted for Goodluck Jonathan rather than the PDP.

What is more, the entire Nigerian voters could not have endorsed APC or its Presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari. One hundred percent votes for only one candidate or one political party completely destroys all ideas of democracy and the beauty of the outcome of the recent elections is that never again can any party exhibit arrogant contempt of elections being mere rubber stamping of a party’s or leader’s tenure.

If the PDP could be voted out at federal and many states levels, any other party can similarly face voters’ wrath in the future. In such situations, Ohanaeze, Arewa or Yoruba South-West will always choose according to their respective preferred interests. But it is against national interest for the entire country to vote one way.

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A contaminated statesmanship Fri, 17 Apr 2015 00:22:43 +0000 We have so diminished value and character in Nigeria, such that no matter the demeanor, all a culprit needs is a band of chorus men if not hypocrites praising ]]>

We have so diminished value and character in Nigeria, such that no matter the demeanor, all a culprit needs is a band of chorus men if not hypocrites praising instead of rebuking him. The latest is the accolade of purported statesmanship being heaped on outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan despite his desperate conduct in the 2015 presidential elections.

To start with, we must acknowledge the fact that anybody privileged to become the country’s first citizen instantly becomes a statesman but what will determine his merit and indeed his character is what he displays as statesmanship. In short, a statesman may not necessarily have the attributes of statesmanship.

Looking back now, those who tried in the law courts to stop President Jonathan from contesting the 2015 elections, even if against the constitution, were not being fair to ordinary Nigerians. Had the litigants succeeded, Nigerians and the whole world would have been denied the privilege of knowing who really is Jonathan. But the 2015 elections revealed Jonathan’s desperation to retain political power despite his public assurances to the contrary. Is such desperation part of statesmanship?

A convenient excuse was found in the palpable ignorance that Jonathan’s congratulatory message or concession of victory to General Muhammadu Buhari was the first time in Nigeria’s history. Jonathan gesture is indisputably remarkable. But there ends the appreciation. After losing the 1956 west regional general elections to Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group, his staunch political rival, NCNC’s Nnamdi Azikiwe wrote an open letter of congratulations to Awo.

Then last year after the Ekiti State elections, defeated Governor Kayode Fayemi made a television broadcast to the people and admitted defeat. So what was the big deal about Jonathan’s concession of victory?

Most irritating was the false impression being spread that by his gesture, Jonathan saved Nigeria from political and constitutional crisis. That’s untrue. Instead, Jonathan saved himself from political and constitutional disaster. Did he have any choice? Definitely not after Jonathan saw his ill-planned strategies for staying in power collapse one after another.

Over two years ago, Jonathan flew a kite to nowhere in particular when he assured that despite being the most criticized Nigerian leader in history, he would eventually be the most celebrated. With that part indication that he might not run for second term, it was quite within his constitutional right to change his mind except that Jonathan did not learn from history. After the assassination of American President John Kennedy in 1963, he was succeeded by Vice-President Lyndon Johnson who then in 1964 (like Jonathan in 2011) contested the presidency but ran into political crisis over the Vietnam war, which he inherited from his deceased predecessor, John Kennedy.

President Lyndon Johnson, unlike Nigeria’s President Jonathan, correctly read the mood of the public and voluntarily decided not to run for second term. That was statesmanship. In contrast, even if Jonathan was not aware that he had become unpopular and could not win the elections, the media in Nigeria and abroad did much to acquaint him with his hopeless position.

In fact, BBC correspondent in Nigeria pitifully asked Jonathan if he thought he could win the election and Jonathan answered confidently. The BBC correspondent further prodded Jonathan why he thought he would win the elections and the Nigerian President said his party, the PDP had a branch in every corner of Nigeria.

Was that a basis for being re-elected for another four years? Actually, Jonathan was relying on a so-called incumbency, completely away from reality of political situation in the country. Such illusion is partly responsible for the hypocrisy that in accepting the result of the elections, Jonathan saved Nigeria from constitutional crisis. Otherwise, why for the second time within five years should Jonathan be remotely at the centre of a political crisis? Last time also, for the sake of Jonathan, Nigerian constitution had to be mutilated for a dubious doctrine of necessity to smuggle Jonathan into the Presidency.

Where was the same doctrine of necessity when three state governors Dambaba Suntai (Taraba) Liyel Imoke (Cross River) and Sullivan Chime (Enugu) were abroad for medical treatment lasting over six months? Why were their deputies not sworn in to replace them?

That aside, in his determination to retain political power, President Jonathan was involved directly and indirectly in acts that were not statesmanlike from the beginning to the end. There was the gentleman’s agreement even confirmed by his major political mentor, former President Olusegun Obasanjo that Jonathan would run for only one term. Quite bad that such an agreement was breached but it was even more dishonourable to have demanded any written agreement to that effect. Such dishonour clearly stained even a merit thereafter for statesmanship.

For encouraging known financial criminals moreso facing trials in law courts to seek safe haven in hurried membership of PDP to the extent of having their cases in courts suspended, withdrawn or poorly prosecuted in an era of widespread corruption in society, President Jonathan does not deserve any accolade for statesmanship.

For a repeat, Jonathan’s eventual acceptance of defeat in the 2015 presidential elections was self-serving to save his neck, left with no choice. The election he conducted was, at every stage never geared towards peaceful change of government. Rather, the plan was to perpetuate himself and his party in office. Yet, nowhere in the world would any government of Jonathan’s administration in the past three years have earned a new mandate.

The determination and vigilance of Nigerians for a new government were unmistakable and freely expressed. In return, Nigerians were provoked and threatened with political pranks capable in the past not only in Nigeria but some other parts of the world of triggering military intervention.

Anyway, was that not exactly the plan? And for that, Jonathan is being pampered for a purported statesmanship? Does statesmanship come that cheaply? Only in Nigeria! President Jonathan (through his henchman Doyin Okupe) both at Abuja and London dared that General Muhammadu Buhari would never administer Nigeria and that if he (Jonathan) lost the elections, he would rather handover to the Armed Forces instead of Buhari. That was after Nigerians would have elected their new President. Till now, Jonathan never denied or disowned Doyin Okupe’s statement.

Is that part of statesmanship? Nigerians stood their ground and sent Jonathan packing. Have we stopped for a moment to consider the anarchy inherent in the threat of Jonathan to ignore election results and plunge the Armed Forces into politics against their will? Armed Forces would be divided on line of action in such unsolicited situation and struggle for survival of the fittest. The nearest example would have been the disturbances in the Armed Forces in July 1966.

Statesmanship for a man who hired indefinite characters as devil’s advocates for postponement of elections for two years? Under what law? Jonathan was credited for dousing political tension. Who created the tension in the first place? That tension could not be separated from the consequences of the conduct of Jonathan’s group during the campaigns. Have we forgotten so soon? The campaign organization, or the utterances of Jonathan’s wife? Was Patience Jonathan the candidate?

Following the example of President Jonathan who said General Buhari could not remember ordinary phone number(s), Patience Jonathan described General Buhari as brain dead. Where in the civilized world do statesmen and their wives employ such low language in pursuit of political power?

Britain holds general elections in three weeks’ time and campaigns are in full swing. There is not tension in that country because of the civilised approach of Prime Minister David Cameron and opposition leader Ed Miliband. Have we heard Mrs. Cameron throughout the campaigns? Did we hear much of Michele Obama during her husband’s campaigns for re-election two years ago?

If ever, the contributions of the wives of the British and American leaders were never personal insults on their husbands’ respective opponents. Culture, good breeding and education are the hallmarks in such situations. Till now, Nigeria’s President Jonathan keeps quiet on his wife’s (mis?)conduct during the campaigns. Any control over the lady? Yet, talks of statesmanship?

Never in Nigeria’s political history had voters been treated to such dirty campaigns and repulsive campaigns expenses as Jonathan’s group displayed during the 2015 elections. Could that ever be part of statesmanship anywhere in the world?

And then the Orubebe affair! A supposed ex-Minister invaded the venue of election results and held INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega hostage with the ultimatum of suspension of further release of the results. Beamed live to the outside world through satellite television, the plan was to terminate the entire election process and throw Nigeria into political constitutional crisis.

Who is Orubebe? Jonathan’s party’s agent. Did he come from nowhere or did he act alone? The stage of the elections results the previous night indicated defeat for President Jonathan. The buck for that political terrorism therefore ended on Jonathan’s table. To be rewarded with statesmanship?

Most unusually in election periods in Nigeria, former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s peace committee emerged with repeated visits to Aso Rock pleading for peaceful outcome of the elections. Only in Nigeria could such be rewarded with attributes of statesmanship. It is dangerous to elevate gross political misconduct into a rewarding act, or such precedent would be followed by others in the future.

There must not be the remotest idea of Mo Ibrahim’s award to Nigeria for the current political rascality or the prize would have been devalued.

While appreciating General Abdulsalami Abubakar and his peace committee colleagues, there was no way Nigerians could have been denied their choice of a new President. The fact is that Nigeria has a reputation of surviving every leadership no matter how self-assumingly seeming invincible.

Limit for erring politicians

Quite understandably, President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari took his time throughout the campaigns, a posture of modesty which created the wrong impression that he is weak. Now, he is toughening up by acting firmly to stem the outflow of PDP members into APC, dignified as defection.

Very soon, only President Jonathan and few of his colleagues might remain in PDP. What suddenly happened to turn the party into a poison chamber from which everybody is escaping? Jonathan should now be seeing Nigerians for who they are, crass opportunists and traitors without abiding loyalty.

Where were they all along throughout the campaigns to the elections on March 28? Would the dubious elements have abandoned PDP for APC if Goodluck Jonathan had won the elections? General Buhari was therefore correct in his red signal that there is no room in his administration for the fleeing PDP members. In short, a political party has the right to limit its membership to only men and women of integrity and compatibility.

For the past 16 years, Nigerians of Middle-Belt origin claimed they are not core Northerners. Now with the election of General Buhari as the President, the Middle Belt political “asylum seekers” will return home.

General Buhari also said election offenders would be prosecuted. In particular, murderers among the offenders should be treated for their offence and executed if found guilty. The criminals took the lives of innocent fellow citizens mainly for political rivalry.

Now is the time to make the point that the murderers would not go unpunished. If up to five accused were found to have murdered one political rival, the law approves all the five to be executed. In 1953 under colonial era, 12 convicts were executed in Lagos for the murder of one preacher, Alfa Apalara. Also in 1958, many convicts were executed for the political murders that followed the death of Adegoke Adelabu, the popular Ibadan politician in a motor accident.

The law is the law and must be enforced.

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A Kabiyesi on the throne Fri, 10 Apr 2015 00:45:30 +0000 In those days of valued culture, a traditional ruler (especially in Yorubaland) was presumed to be next in authority and finality to only God Almighty (Ekeji Orisha). So immense and ]]>

In those days of valued culture, a traditional ruler (especially in Yorubaland) was presumed to be next in authority and finality to only God Almighty (Ekeji Orisha). So immense and seemingly unlimited were the powers that a female of whatever status, (even anybody’s wife) carelessy passing by the Kabiyesi’s palace might fall under the Kabiyesi’s proclamation as the next Queen, and there could be many of them.

Kabiyesi, the unquestionable! But that was long long ago since when even Kabiyesis had been diminished and subordinated to and routinely humiliated by political authorities. Deposition and banishment far away from their domain are now the possible lot of any Kabiyesi.

Despite the fall in aura and authority of Kabiyesis, Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos must have been unable to appreciate that loss of influence. Only this could account for his authoritarian hand down to Igbo leaders that they and their people must vote for his candidate in the Lagos governorship election or consequently suffer perdition.

Understandably, unnecessary political controversy, bordering on threat to inter-ethnic disharmony erupted. In Lagos? That will underestimate the row on hand. With luck, the reverberations of an avoidable royal zeal might not spread beyond Lagos.

Every aspect of the row generated by Kabiyesi Oba Akiolu of Lagos is indefensible. Some effort was made at damage limitation but this was unconvincing. The clearly struggling explanation by one of Lagos chiefs on what Oba Akiolu said was better not attempted as the complete truth was on video tape on television stations in the country (Channels for example) and the social media. Liberal-minded Yoruba still feel embarrassed since they would lose their voice if, for example, Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar or Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, had summoned or hosted Yoruba in their respective domain (Sokoto and Kano) and confronted them with the ultimatum to vote for his candidate or await the wrath of some deity in Sokoto or Kano.

Even in private, it would not be proper for Oba Akiolu to have ill-treated his Igbo guests as he did. It is therefore all the more inexcusable of the Oba to have damned the consequences of public reaction by going on videotape. An act of courage or plain speaking? Could the Sultan of Sokoto have hosted non-indigenes from the South (or specifically Yoruba) and contemptuously bragged about how he single-handedly picked Aminu Tambuwal as his candidate for the governorship of Sokoto State?

In effect, details of Oba Akiolu’s speech for his Igbo hosts are even more disturbing. Confronting them with fait accompli, he said not only must they vote for his candidate but must not also try in Lagos what they would not allow in Aba or Onitsha. What was that supposed to mean? Have non-indigene voters outside Lagos (be they at Kafanchan, Ahoada, Auchi, Malumfashi or Uzuakoli) ever been threatened not to vote for their preferred candidates in an election?

Clearly, Oba Akiolu’s grouse was against the election of some six non-Lagosians (two of them Igbo) to the House of Representatives in the 2015 elections. Senator Grace Bent is a Yoruba and yet was elected from a senatorial district in Adamawa. If Adamawa did that, why not Lagos? What is more, Lagos is neither Anambra (Onitsha) nor Abia (Aba). In fact, only Lagos and Abuja enjoy such special federal administrative status of offering equal opportunity for any resident, indigenous or not.

As the country’s first Federal Capital, Lagos, like in other parts of the world, attracted everybody from the countryside just as Abuja, as the latest capital today. After over 60 years as resident, I know more of the nooks and corners of Lagos than I know of Ijebu-Ode in my Ogun State. Equally, there are Igbos and Hausa born in Lagos and Sagamu in the last 70 years who are never compelled to vote against their conscience in any election. In fact, the law specifies only ten years of permanent residency to qualify for standing for an election, like all indigenes. Ditto applies to any election aspirant in Abuja.

Hence, so far, there had been non-indigenes elected as chairmen of area councils in the new Federal Territory, an ordinary 40-year-old (1976) compared to Lagos of more than over 150 years old (1851 to date). If therefore Aba or Onitsha had ever been a Federal Capital, Nigerians including Lagosians would have made home there and would have similarly qualified to either vote according to their conscience or to stand for elections therefore to the House of Representatives in Abuja.

It might also have been Oba Akiolu’s understanding that Igbos were elected from Lagos State to the House of Representatives by fellow Igbos. The reality is that there is no such exclusively Igbo enclave in Lagos State to ensure such success. Every constituency comprises a combination of sorts and certainly, Isolo constituency from where one of the Igbos was reportedly elected to the House of Representatives is not an Igbo enclave. Sharing border with Mushin, an Egba enclave, Isolo most likely harbours more Yoruba than Igbo. Yet the Igbo candidate on the platform of PDP won the constituency. There is preponderance of Yoruba in that constituency. Yet they voted for the candidate of their choice – PDP rather than Igbo.

The truth was that well in advance of the elections, there was a determined direction for enthusiasts of the various parties. Partly, Yoruba were dissatisfied with political issues in Lagos and seized the opportunity of the elections to register their protests. Did Igbo voters cause the upset at Ekiti and Ondo states? Yet, the parties least expected won the elections in the two states over a year ago.

What is more, if Nigerian emigrants could settle abroad to be elected mayors in different American and English cities, why do we debar fellow Nigerians from winning or even contesting elections at all in any part of the country? The import of Oba Akiolu’s controversy on the fate of Igbo residents in Lagos will be determined by the outcome of the Lagos governorship election. In one vein, Oba Akiolu’s threat might have cowed Igbo voters from supporting candidates of their conscience. On the other hand, the threat might have provoked defiance among Igbo voters to make them dare the Kabiyesi. Whatever happens, Igbos in Lagos have now become Oba Akiolu’s group human protectorate against whom nothing must happen.

Yet, there are some palliatives. Some Nigerians blamed the Igbo elders for not walking out on Oba Akiolu. That was barely a week after the same Nigerians acclaimed Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega for maintaining his cool in the face of provocation by a political terrorist. The Igbo elders must therefore be praised for respecting Oba Akiolu’s crown and throne throughout the session.

Second, Nigerians are opportunists. There is this Lagosianphobia, a political disease, symptoms of which the sufferers selectively exhibit only when it suits their purpose. Very often, they invoke the name of Obafemi Awolowo for cheap political purposes parading themselves as Awoists. If only the man were alive to see the bogus elements.

In 1991, Awolowo’s daughter, Tokunbo Dosunmu was to contest for the governorship of Lagos State. But the bogus AWOISTS ganged up against her on the ground that she is not a Lagosian. That was a fellow Yoruba resident in Lagos for over 40 years. Igbos should therefore be consoled to be grouped with a prominent Yoruba lady, Tokunbo Awolowo. But that wall of discrimination was broken by Igbos who successfully contested the recent elections to the House of Representatives.

The third palliative is that even if inadvertently, the Oba Akiolu controversy turned Igbos into a powerful bloc in Lagos State politics, which can no longer be ignored. The PDP, including, ironically, an erstwhile Igbophobist Femi Fani-Kayode of all people, came out as stout defenders of Igbos’ right of political choice.

On the other hand, the APC, including governorship candidate Akin Ambode, had to make their stand clear that the threat against Igbos is unauthorized nor is it the party’s policy. A beautiful spinster being courted by two attractive male suitors?

What else do the Igbos in Lagos want? I beg, troop to the polling booths tomorrow and vote for your voice.

By the way, as we are exhibiting small-mindedness back home, a Nigerian Biton, ebony black Mr. Umunna, is a ranking member of British House of Commons, a shadow minister and with age on his side, widely speculated in British press as a potential Labour Prime Minister. The man was elected from a largely white populated constituency.

*Next week: A Contaminated Statesman


Governors on their own

The massive victory of President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, in the recent election seems to have taken the shine from tomorrow’s governorship polls throughout the country. But the candidates, especially incumbent PDP governors, will not share that view. Instead, PDP governors in particular are more of orphans struggling to attain or retain respectable identity.

APC candidates are not better off. They are either out to repeat their part in the glorious victory of General Buhari or they are under the tough task of retaining the states won by their presidential candidate. Nonetheless, the outcome in many states generated excitement and expectations. Imo State is a good example. Initially, with his decamping from APGA to join in the formation of APC, Governor Rochas Okorocha was virtually sold out by the entire South-East as a sort of prodigal son.

Still, Okorocha soldiered on, only to be vindicated by the presidential elections with the massive victory of APC candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari. But more than that, the failure of APC in the general elections without a single elected Senator exposed the handicap of South-East from producing the Senate presidency as allocated to South-East by APC before the elections.

That handicap is the main fillip for Okorocha who is now the major voice of APC in Igboland and for Igbo in the federal government of APC. It is not clear if voters will throw away everything without the zone having a powerful voice with the next federal government. In addition, the army and police, by the account of APC national leadership, subverted Okorocha’s efforts in the presidential elections.

Tomorrow, however, voter’s card reading machine will be in force to eliminate rigging. The machines operated in most parts of the country except South-East and South-South. Results of tomorrow’s elections from those two zones especially from states like Imo, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Enugu, will be very exciting.

Lagos is another state attracting very close public attention. As reported in this column a fortnight ago, the battle for Lagos is not only very tight, the situation is in fact sending jitters to both camps.

The latest indicator is the row over the threat of Oba of Lagos against a section of the voters. How far will the threat influence the voting intention of the electorate? The result in Lagos on the presidential race was the closest despite that Lagos State is a presumed stronghold of the APC. General Buhari won by barely 120,000 votes more than President Jonathan’s.

The two governorship candidates in Lagos are also each formidable – one acting as the voice of the oppressed/aggrieved interests while the other enjoys the backing of well-entrenched political interests.

Bayelsa State is of particular interest where incumbent Governor Seriake Dickson is fighting for his political life. Keen observers are aware of the governor’s cat and mouse game with outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan, also an indigene of the state. Jonathan employed Seriake Dickson to dislodge his pet hate, ex-Governor Timipre Sylvia from office. Down the line, Dickson also fell out of favour with Jonathan as completely undisguised by his wife Patience Jonathan whose candidates for state House of Assembly elections are on the platform of APGA.

Victory for PDP’s Governor Dickson will be a slap in the face for President Jonathan, leader of the PDP, his wife Patience, both now with lives after power.

The main interest in the races in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states is that tomorrow will be the real elections unlike a fortnight ago in the presidential poll when the old method of rigging prevailed. Tomorrow, with change of government at federal level, chances of police and army complicity of rigging elections will be virtually eliminated.

There certainly will be a change in Kaduna State partly because of General Buhari’s massive victory in the state in the presidential elections but also because of the formidable status of the APC candi- date, Nasir El-Rufai.

Odunsi of SDP as both are from the state’s west senatorial district. Above all, Amo- sun’s achievement in Ogun State so far merits him the edge to be re-elected.

Governor Ahmed will be easily re- elected in Kwara State especially with the membership of the entire Saraki family
in APC. Latest addition on the eve of
the presidential election, Senator Gbemi Saraki seals the victory for Governor Ahmed. This of course is in addition to the governor’s record in his first term.

The protest votes of Plateau Christians against Fulani herdsmen invaders may still retain Plateau State for PDP, the very single factor that lost the state for presi- dent-elect General Muhammadu Buhari.

Even with the speculated possible collaboration of PDP and SDP in Ogun State, Governor Ibikunle Amosun has won, no matter the margin. His victory is therefore more certain with the denial of any collaboration between PDP and SDP. General Buhari won narrowly in the state but Amosun will still retain the bulk of the votes and probably attract more.

In contrast, Benue State, hitherto a seeming stronghold of PDP, is now dicey. The party lost the presidential race in
the state to APC’s General Buhari and two senatorial seats to the APC. Among the candidates defeated was the outgo- ing governor Suswam. That verdict may still be reflected in the governorship race tomorrow.

On the other hand, Jonathan’s votes in the presidential elections would be split between Gbenga Kaka of PDP and Akin

General Buhari’s combined political in- fluence with that of former vice-president Atiku Abubakar will win Adamawa State for the APC. Otherwise, there would not have been a last minute fraud of touting Atiku Abubakar’s name with a purported support for Nuhu Ribadu, PDP’s candi- date.

Which way, Taraba State?

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President-elect, Federal Republic of Nigeria Thu, 02 Apr 2015 23:47:58 +0000 It is impossible to be in power for six years without noticeable achievement. With eight weeks more for President Goodluck Jonathan to quit, there is adequate time to assess his achievements for his place in history. The immediate focus therefore is on the significance and underlying factors for the resounding victory of General Muhammadu Buhari to emerge the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.]]>

It is impossible to be in power for six years without noticeable achievement. With eight weeks more for President Goodluck Jonathan to quit, there is adequate time to assess his achievements for his place in history. The immediate focus therefore is on the significance and underlying factors for the resounding victory of General Muhammadu Buhari to emerge the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Since General Buhari succeeded as an elected number one citizen only on the fourth attempt, stubbornness must have been a major driving force.

According to Nigerian educationist and newspaper columnist, Tai Solarin, stubbornness is a virtue. Even then, in Solarin’s theory, there is positive stubbornness alongside negative stubbornness, a stupid venture on which only the suicidal can embark.

Colonel Muamar Gadaffy, the late Libyan leader, ruled the country for at least 42 years after which he obviously lost touch with reality. Facing people’s revolt, Gadaffy had the opportunity even in the midst of the crisis, to quit into exile in any friendly country. He refused and ended up being lynched by the mob.

Ex-Cote D’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo similarly exhibited stupid stubbornness. After ruling for ten years, Gbagbo organized elections which he lost. Rather than getting the message or realizing the risk, he stayed put until he was overpowered by people’s revolt. Today, Gbagbo is on trial at International Criminal Court, The Hague for alleged crimes against humanity.

Unlike these two, General Buhari’s stubbornness is the positive type, a personal conviction in a cause for public service without any risk, but quite legitimate.

Today, we all remark General Buhari’s political success. Everybody, typically Nigerian, has forgotten that in his sincerity to serve the public, General Buhari at a stage wept in the public, not for himself or his family but for the poor. As he explained, with Nigeria’s huge omnibus resources, he could not think of any possible or justifiable reason for the level of poverty in the country. Buhari unsuccessfully contested the presidency for the third time and called it a day.

Ever deteriorating level of poverty in the country compelled other opposition parties to reach a consensus aimed at continuing efforts for a single powerful party to challenge the ruling PDP. The success of the merger ended in the selection of General Buhari as the most popular among rival aspirants. That same positive stubbornness earned General Buhari the victory over President Jonathan. The emphasis therefore is not just on General Buhari’s stubbornness but the positive aspect and selflessness – service for millions of the poor in Nigeria.

Equally if not more significant is the fact that General Buhari’s victory shattered certain long-standing political illusions. Money, so-called incumbency and sit-tightism. Up to the commencement of the presidential elections, while conceding Jonathan’s poor chances of winning, even elites betrayed their trauma and helplessness by holding out incumbency as the major hindrance to make it impossible to defeat Jonathan.

With that erstwhile bogey of incumbency shattered, that factor will never be exploited in future to rig elections in Nigeria. And the lesson or indeed warning is not only for People’s Democratic Party but also for the victorious All Progressives Congress. It is now firmly established that henceforth, success in elections will be determined by performance in office.

General Buhari’s victory is also significant of rending the illusion that elections can be purchased especially by an incumbent public office holder especially with access to public treasury. In the just concluded elections reports openly circulated in the last weeks of money in foreign currency or oil pipeline contracts to presumed dignitaries or political heavyweights in South-Western part of Nigeria.

This partly accounted for an advertised public opinion survey three days to the elections showing that General Buhari would lose not only entire South-West zone including Lagos but excluding Osun. The concocted survey, obviously heavily paid for, also purportedly forecast that General Buhari would lose in his major stronghold of North-West zone.

General Buhari, with his sweeping victory all over South-West zone (except Ekiti State) and throughout three Northern zones (except Plateau, Nasarawa and Taraba) ended the notorious notion of money to buy votes in Nigerian politics and elections. Any candidate affected can now return to South-West for post-mortem on (a) why votes were not delivered as promised (b) what happened to the money freely distributed in South-West and (c) who really are genuine Yoruba leaders as distinct from political mercenaries who could not even come out to fight for the votes for which they were paid?

General Buhari’s victory is also significant for diminishing the illusion of running from one mosque or church to another supposedly for prayers to be successful in elections. In any case, the truth which also emerged from the victory of Buhari/Osinbajo ticket was that God would always answer deserving prayers. Or since a church leader or a Chief Imam offered prayers for the two sides in the elections, how did it happen that one side lost and the other side won? Not even the submission at the East Wall in Jerusalem could win the elections for President Jonathan while at the same time, submission at the East Wall at Jerusalem by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu led to his shock victory to retain him in office for a new term.

General Buhari’s victory also produced a major factor that on issues so glaring, voters easily make up their mind and no amount of mudslinging or delay can shift their minds. Apart from INEC’s ill-preparedness, postponing the elections for six weeks, if anything, enhanced General Buhari’s chances of victory rather than improve President Jonathan’s very low rating among the electors.

To worsen matters, the six weeks’ postponement of the elections offered Buhari’s political opponents camp the opportunity for more dirty tricks. Ironically, the negative effect was more on President Jonathan’s prospects as reflected in the election results.

The battle line was clearly defined from the minute the two presidential candidates emerged from their respective party’s primaries. General Buhari’s victory was therefore significant that with a just cause, an election candidate stood a better chance for victory, especially with public goodwill. On the other hand, President Jonathan, with seemingly unlimited campaign funds, was misled, deceived and defrauded. What else could account for the false projection of his victory or the distasteful colour advertisements of sometimes 15 to 20 pages in various newspapers almost everyday and on television networks costing tens or scores of millions of dollars from which discounts of not less than 25 percent are collected by Jonathan’s handlers, all unknown to him?

In the last three weeks of the campaigns, such advertisements were repeated several times in newspapers just to finish the campaign funds and laugh to the bank with the discounts collected.

The elections also established that votes might not necessarily be for the candidate. In 2011, President Jonathan attracted votes from South-West owing to a secret pact with major stakeholders. By 2015, such agreement had expired. Hence, the votes went to General Buhari. Also in 2011, Jonathan attracted votes from the North because many governors in those zones were also defending their tenure and easily delivered the votes for Jonathan.

For the recent elections, many such governors had either left office or joined the APC and thereby did not owe Jonathan any obligation to deliver votes. Yet, Jonathan was conned with bogus opinion polls survey.

In the run-up to the campaigns, PDP hierarchy was strongly advised in this column against a kite-flying of threats of boycotting the elections. Such a step would make PDP forfeit all uncontested posts since the law, (as decided in 1965) does not recognize election boycott. As it happened, it was the APC that boycotted the elections in Rivers State. Luckily the party still won the presidential elections. Otherwise, no court would have endorsed election boycott.

Honourable South-Easterners

The recent elections put South-East on the spot almost on a winner takes all basis with a stark choice to either support President-elect General Muhammadu Buhari or out-going President Goodluck Jonathan.

At best, the choice was either the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know with the possible imminent end of his tenure or (to) go for broke with all the potentials including equal possibilities. Virtually, the entire South-East opted for President Jonathan as the guarantor of Igbo interests. As it turned out, everything crashed with the risk taken.

This does not and should shot mean total loss of South-East interests in the emerging dispensation of Buhari presidency. On the contrary, other prominent South-Easterners distanced themselves mainly to protect, enhance and ensure (no matter how limited) Igbo interests. Limited in number but in line with William Shakespeare’s philosophy in Henry V on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt that “the fewer men, the greater the share of honour.”

The few Igbos who spoke out in favour of General Buhari have, in effect, emerged greater heroes (than their majority ethnic group) whose courage and sacrifice must be appreciated.

Erstwhile ANPP leader Ogbonaya Onu passionately appealed to Igbos at campaign and town hall meetings not to put all their eggs in one basket. Public analyst C. Don Adinuba was even more daring with his bold verdict that the election was already divided against President Jonathan and PDP. That was more than straight-forward that General Buhari was the next President Igbos chose not to support. Adinuba (has) turned out to be prophetic.

In the midst of malicious allegations against General Buhari, my professional colleague (now) Pastor Angus Okoli, publicly testified that at a critical stage of the civil war, General Buhari extended to him (Okoli) most unexpected humanitarian gesture of looking after him to ensure his (Okoli’s) safety in a war torn area. Former Central Bank governor Charles Soludo, gave a lengthy three-part widely publicized overview of the economy in which he rated General Buhari far higher and stronger to handle the economy than President Goodluck Jonathan. Soludo’s submission neutralized the economic claims of the Jonathan administration.

Eze Festus Odimegwu, ex-Managing Director of Nigerian Breweries, was even in a special class with his own two-part diagnosis of the capability of each of General Buhari and President Jonathan to run an effective administration. Soludo and Odimegwu, at their stage of intervention succeeded in properly shaping public perception of General Buhari in handling the economy and providing sound leadership to be respected at home and abroad.

When General Buhari’s electoral chances appeared threatened by seeming unenthusiastic support of South-Easterners in Lagos State, two intellectual giants, Professor Nwokobia and APC’s publicity secretary in Lagos State, Joe Igbokwe, within days and over a period, heavily mobilized South-Easterners in Lagos State to support General Buhari’s presidential aspirations. In view of the narrow victory of General Buhari in Lagos State, the saving grace was surely the efforts of both Joe Igbokwe and Professor Nwokobia, better suited as national orator, which clinched Lagos State for General Buhari. Igbos were reminded of Lagos as their home base since the proclamation of Nigeria in 1914.

Ohanaeze, like the dwindling Afenifere (of Yoruba South-West zone) endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan. Unlike the clear political worthlessness of Afenifere’s endorsement of Jonathan, the Ohanaeze thumb up was more threatening for General Buhari. But two courageous South-Easterners, old man veteran nationalist Mbazulike Amaechi and Ralph Obioha (of NADECO days) challenged and disowned the faction of Ohanaeze, which endorsed Jonathan.

It was the bold public stand of these admittedly limited number of South-Easterners that should provide voice for Igbo interests in the Buhari administration.

What can we say of Imo State governor Rochas Okorocha and former Abia governor Orji Uzor Kalu? Governor Okorocha led his faction of APGA to merge with other parties to form the new APC and maintained the voice of South-Easterners throughout the election campaigns, which produced the in-coming APC administration led by General Buhari.

Former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, publisher of SUN Group of Newspapers? He could have turned his publications into rag sheets of the PDP. Instead, Orji Kalu allowed editors and contributing columnists the freedom to cover and comment on both APC and PDP activities.

With the circulation of SUN newspapers throughout Nigeria and substantially in South-East, that was an unquantifiable publicity for the APC, free of charge.

These are all men of foresight of South-East origin whose direct or indirect contributions towards APC victory in presidential elections more than make-up for any possible backlash of South-East endorsement of President Jonathan.

The less their number, the easier for the APC in-coming administration to reward South-Easterners.

Up and down for Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo eventually succeeded in unseating President Jonathan. On the other hand, his other political enemy Buruji Kashamu won the East senatorial district election in Ogun State. That is some ninety percent score for the oracle of Owu.

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Grudge elections, as never before Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:51:58 +0000 The presidential election expectedly holds tomorrow. The gratitude for that certainty goes not just to God and Nigerians for their patience, but also the international community for standing firm. Otherwise, tomorrow in Nigeria’s political history might also have been once again shifted on convenient and circumstantial excuse.]]>

The presidential election expectedly holds tomorrow. The gratitude for that certainty goes not just to God and Nigerians for their patience, but also the international community for standing firm. Otherwise, tomorrow in Nigeria’s political history might also have been once again shifted on convenient and circumstantial excuse.

That was the situation seven weeks ago when government conspiracy with Independent National Electoral Commission led us to the dark alley only to choose the dead of night for the shock message of “here and no more.” However, the world including determined Nigerians, except our ruling gang, would have none of that arrogance. In the air all along at home and abroad, Nigerians were worried over ever mounting speculation(s) of an interim national government following a postponement and indeed possible cancellation of the presidential elections.

To fuel the speculations, those known to be close to President Goodluck Jonathan, specifically ex-delegates to the constitutional conference – Tunji Braithwaite, Tunde Bakare and Ayo Adebanjo– were calling for the postponement of the presidential elections by at least two years. Jonathan kept quiet without dismissing the speculations. If we all kept quiet beyond the statutory time limit in our constitution for holding presidential elections, there would have been a constitutional crisis and another doctrine of necessity to legitimize the interim government or national chaos.

In the midst of such political storm building up, Nigerians had to be alerted in this column to note that only Yoruba top voices were clamoring for postponement of elections for two years to make way for the interim government. Still, Jonathan said nothing.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, quite rightly seized the uncertainty to publicly accuse his erstwhile political godson, President Jonathan, of plotting to postpone the elections with a view to heading an interim national government of not less than two years’ tenure.

Angrily, Jonathan not only denied such plot but also openly accused Obasanjo in return as the architect of a major lobby for interim national government to be headed by Obasanjo himself. Surely, one of the two men is a liar, yet to be known to Nigerians.

It was, therefore, ridiculous that a week to tomorrow’s elections, President Jonathan, obviously under campaign stress, threatened to prosecute anybody speculating or alleging interim national government. Did Jonathan not openly allege that Obasanjo was lobbying for an interim government? Would Jonathan therefore also prosecute himself in addition to those of who, very early, reported the plot for an interim government?

The fact that the allegation of the interim national government was eventually followed by INEC’s postponement of the elections seven weeks ago partly so much repulsed the electorate, which therefore became more determined to assert their voting right. That was the background to tomorrow’s elections, at which the turnout is expected to be massive.

Revenge, grudge, backlash, anything rebuking will vividly describe the robust determination of voter turnout in tomorrow’s elections, higher than in 2011, when everything was in favor of Goodluck Jonathan against Muhammadu Buhari. Not the least was natural sympathy for Jonathan against perceived injustice as a minority in the constitutional crisis on the succession battle for the seat of th late President Umaru Yar’Adua.

Money, media and momentum, the main essentials for successful political campaigns, easily flowed for Jonathan in 2011. In fact, he virtually monopolized the social media, all in sympathy for a seeming underdog.

The campaign journey for tomorrow’s elections featured a dramatic change. A future research for sociologists should be on why and how Jonathan, this time, lost the social media even before the commencement of the campaigns, although a major blame must be on the wife, Patience, who regularly provides ammunition for social media hostilities against President Jonathan. Hence, the social media, which favored Jonathan in 2011, abandoned if not destroyed him for the 2015 campaigns.

In contrast, it would never be clear, at least not yet, how the same social media in the 2015 elections virtually threw its entire weight behind General Buhari. Dominant among the social media commentators were South-Westerners and some South-Easterners. On their part, Northerners, perhaps for tactical and cultural reasons, had been low-key in the social media commentaries and even the campaigns proper in Nigeria.

Again, Jonathan’s wife, Patience provided them political ammunition for possible non-support when she, during her campaigns, accused Northerners of uncontrolled breeding of children they hardly cared for, as she alleged, who ended up as almajiris to be catered for by Jonathan. The same Patience Jonathan will, of course, not be forgotten for assessing General Buhari as brain dead, a claim that caused very serious anger among Northerners. Their quiet campaign is to respond with their votes tomorrow.

Jonathan’s election expenses in 2011 provided him excuse to attempt a prolonged tenure thereafter with a futile effort to introduce a single six-year tenure of which he would have been the major beneficiary, even though he denied. In the just concluded campaigns, Jonathan’s staggering election expenses rendered the 2011 funds a chicken feed. While public funds depleted, specifically foreign reserves, private sector, on the surface donated at least 21 billion naira to Jonathan’s campaign funds.

Among the private sector donors was ex-MAMSER boss Jerry Gana who, reportedly, along with his friends donated six billion naira. Fifteen pages color advertisements in a single newspaper and spread among four other newspapers on a single day would cost hundreds of millions of naira. Not left out were also many slots of advertisements on uncountable television networks costing scores and perhaps hundreds of millions of naira every day in the past six months.

Never in the political history of this country had the campaign expenses of one candidate cost so much. The cost would have been more were Jonathan desperate to cling to office.

In contrast, General Buhari’s campaign task was made easier by an unprecedented social media commentators’ volunteer force. Logic, argument, humor, ridicule and history were all on hand to unleash in favor of General Buhari against President Jonathan. Very rare in Nigeria’s election history for observers to be treated to such vibrant commitment of social commentators on the Internet.

As for financial strength for the campaigns, General Buhari was no match for President Jonathan. In fact, Buhari relied more on goodwill. In fact, the National Communications Commission was ordered by a Federal High Court recently to pay damages of five hundred million naira to General Buhari’s party, the APC, for stopping mobile telephone networks as a conduit for campaign donations.

There was of course no doubt on who between President Jonathan and General Buhari had the political momentum for the elections. So clear was that issue that owing to various factors, chief of which was the duplicity of INEC’s leadership, it was widely held that excuses had to be found to halt Buhari’s momentum by postponing the elections for six weeks. Until the elections were postponed on February 7, INEC was assuring Nigerians and the world that all preparations were perfect for the elections against February 14.

Yet, INEC and Aso Rock knew that the elections could not hold as planned for that day. Since Nigerians on both sides of the campaigns already made up their minds, the momentum stands as at the time the elections were postponed on February 7. The most charitable of Jonathan’s supporters now concedes that tomorrow’s race is too close.

And what makes the race too close? Sponsored opinion polls survey stretched the joke too far by reporting that Jonathan would win Kano, Jigawa and Kaduna states as well as the entire South-West including Lagos but excluding Osun state. On the other hand, the same survey reported that Jonathan would win 98 percent in Bayelsa and Rivers leaving only two percent for Buhari in each of the two states.

The bright side of the postponement of the elections must be conceded. Within the seven weeks, over ten million Nigerians were able to collect their permanent voters cards without which they would have been disenfranchised if the elections held on February 7. But then INEC’s Attahiru Jega should have been assuring falsely that he was fully prepared at that time.

Since federal elections started in Nigeria in 1954, tomorrow’s turnout may likely be the highest if, as the opposition is alleging, the conduct is not scuttled partially or completely through some simulation. Irritating as it was, postponing the elections instead, galvanized Nigerians more to vote tomorrow.

There is a worldwide interest in tomorrow’s elections. Two international journals – the ECONOMIST and New York Times already endorsed General Buhari, actions which, understandably, Goodluck Jonathan bitterly criticized. Nigeria’s past poor election records also attracted the attention of international observers from all over the world – United States, Britain, European Union, United Nations, African Union, ECOWAS and of course within Nigeria. The twin emphasis is on peaceful and credible elections.

America’s President Barack Obama had to make a special broadcast to Nigerians on the peaceful and credible aspects of the elections, something unheard of in our history.

It’s been a long time waiting and coming. Eventually, tomorrow is around provided INEC does not behave to type by shifting the elections tonight. But then, it is no longer between INEC and angry Nigerians. Even the outside world has been insisting elections must hold as schedule. Here we go tomorrow.

Obasanjo vs Jonathan

In tomorrow’s elections, there is a separate contest between a godfather and a godson. The contest is so frightening because of the mutual bitterness. The political history is that without former President Olusegun Obasanjo, (through God’s instrumentality) President Goodluck Jonathan might not have attained today’s political prominence.

Among the 36 state governors of that time, Obasanjo in 2007 handpicked both Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan to succeed him and vice-president Atiku Abubakar as president and vice president respectively.

Yar’Adua died in office from terminal ailment. Before Yar’Adua’s death, political difficulties arose for Jonathan even to act as President while Yar’Adua was still lying ill. The constitution had to be hurriedly amended to pave the way for the acting president.

When eventually Yar’Adua died, Jonathan still had to battle in their party, the PDP, on whether he was to complete Yar’Adua’s tenure or (to) proceed to seek his own mandate as of right. Obasanjo encouraged and supported Jonathan to go for the rich prize.

Down the line, disagreement arose between daddy and son, leading to open exchange of letters and mutual name-calling, one as a mediocre and the other as a motor park tout. Diagnosing Jonathan as incompetent and corrupt, Obasanjo vouched for General Buhari’s integrity and effectiveness in governance.

That is partly, the background of tomorrow’s elections. Obasanjo believed he could determine Jonathan’s political fate. Jonathan called Obasanjo’s bluff in the belief that he could win his second term without Obasanjo, or if he (Jonathan) lost, he would retire to Otuoke in Bayelsa State.

Both men have much at stake. Tomorrow will determine not just Jonathan’s fate but also Obasanjo’s future political relevance in Nigeria.

PDP vindicates Buhari

The campaigns for tomorrow’s elections featured personalized and orchestrated criticisms of General Buhari by the Jonathan campaign organization. One of such criticisms was on the death penalty General Buhari introduced for drug barons, two of whom committed the offense even after the decree was promulgated.

It was immaterial to Buhari’s critics that without the death penalty for drug traffickers, the Nigerian traders grew wings only to be trapped in Far Eastern countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and China, where on conviction, Nigerians were always executed, the last of where two of them were executed in Malaysia two months ago. At least, ten more Nigerian drug convicts are awaiting execution in Malaysia.

Whether out of frustration, desperation, reality or regret, General Buhari’s accusers in PDP are now demanding death penalty for drug traffickers. The Chairman of PDP’s faction of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Plateau State governor Jonah Jang made the call in Jos, the state capital.

In effect, PDP’s criticism of General Buhari on death penalty for drug trafficking was sheer hypocrisy. Since Governor Jang demanded the death penalty for drug traffickers, the PDP has neither disowned him on that issue nor dissociated itself (PDP) from the death penalty call. In effect, the PDP has vindicated General Buhari.


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Battle for Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna, Borno, Lagos and other states Fri, 20 Mar 2015 00:36:16 +0000 It is a week to the presidential elections and a fortnight after which serving as well as aspiring state governors will also know their fate. There is therefore the general assumption of bandwagon advantage for the gubernatorial candidates depending on who or which party wins the presidential elections.]]>

It is a week to the presidential elections and a fortnight after which serving as well as aspiring state governors will also know their fate. There is therefore the general assumption of bandwagon advantage for the gubernatorial candidates depending on who or which party wins the presidential elections.

Much as this is part of political turf, it may also be accountability time for some of the candidates, either as second term seekers or new aspirants, owing to dramatic developments in their states.

There was this story of a public function somewhere near Lagos/Ogun states border. Lagos State governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, on introduction, was loudly cheered. The acclamation was not lost on his Ogun counterpart Ibikunle Amosun who humorously assured guests that at the end of his first term, he too would be widely acclaimed for his achievements. How far has Amosun lived up to that assurance?

Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah submitted that what matters in life, is not a man’s achievement(s) but the depth from where he leapt.  There is therefore no basis for comparing Ogun State governor Amosun to his Lagos counterpart Babatunde Fashola. Unlike in Ogun State, Fashola inherited an already developed state/capital by preceding administrations as well as the Federal Government. The sources of revenue of Lagos State are matched only by the Federal Government.

To be fair to Fashola, he brought quality and distinction into governance. Also, to his credit, Fashola sustained modern rapid development of the state, to make his administration an easy reference point.

In contrast, how has Amosun fared in Ogun State? The state was created 39 years ago and remained completely rural especially with no visible state capital in the real sense or what passed for the state headquarters was not better if not worse than other towns like Ijebu-Ode, Sagamu, Ilaro and Ijebu-Igbo. However, Amosun’s assumption of office as state governor changed the entire face of Ogun State such that in terms of modern infrastructure, the capital, Abeokuta has overtaken many of the remaining state capitals in terms of modern development.

The main concentration is on good roads and bridges to open up not just Abeokuta as the capital but the countryside. Today, Ogun State remains the only one to experience simultaneous modern development of major towns unlike most others that are one city states. Even non-indigenes of Ogun State now recognise Abeokuta as a befitting capital with other areas like Aiyetoro, Sagamu, Ijebu-Ode, Ilaro now adorned with infrastructure to make any of them suitable for, if circumstances warrant, alternate capital.

With overhead bridges spread over many towns in Ogun State to ease traffic, one of such is at the Ijebu-Ode junction of Sagamu-Benin expressway, an erstwhile major accident spot claiming the lives of travelling passengers and pedestrians crossing the expressway. One such tragedy at that junction before the construction of the overhead bridge claimed not less than 50 lives. With the new bridge, only God’s anger or the stupidity of human beings can cause accident at that junction.

Through Ogun government’s policy of liberal land allocation and incentive of tax holidays to potential investors, gradual industrialisation has spread through the state.

By the way, Governor Amosun has been short-changing himself. There is regular argument that the overhead bridge constructed by Ogun State government at the Ijebu-Ode junction of Sagamu-Benin expressway is a federal government project since the bridge crosses over a federal highway. There must be an indication that it is a project of the state government.

Abeokuta is not Lagos and may never be, but the Ogun State capital now stands as a modern capital. From its erstwhile archaic state to its modern status, Ogun State owes everything to Amosun.

If the governor cares to know, his achievements will not be complete without reconstructing the Ilishan-Ago-Iwoye bridge, either as overland or overhead. It will be a gesture to Ogun State university students.

Quite unusually, the battle for Lagos State is now the most competitive. Six months ago, that same battle appeared a potential walk-over for APC. Thanks to the performance of succeeding administrations in the state. But the entry of one man – Jimmy Agbaje on the platform of PDP – has completely shattered that equation. With royal and political endorsement, it all looked already decided in favour of APC’s Akin Ambode.

The APC candidate’s chances were further enhanced by the dogfight nomination battle for PDP ticket between Jimmy Agbaje and Musiliu Obanikoro. Agbaje won and his candidacy proved a tremendous value to his party, the PDP. So far, Agbaje has been tactful not to engage in or get involved in the dirty tricks of his party in the presidential race.

Agbaje’s campaigns have featured class, distinction, authority, good carriage and concentration on issues of the moment, particularly notable grievances of potential voters. Agbaje’s campaign style has shortened the PDP gap, such that forced the APC administration in Lagos State to make panic concessions. (a) Land charges in Lagos State were slashed from ten percent to two percent. (b) Approval was given for 12 year-old vehicles to operate as taxis in the state instead of the existing limit of only five-years-old vehicles. (c) The ban on Okada operators in Lagos State was re-clarified.

Taxi drivers/owners, Okada riders and similar interest groups suddenly emerged political kingmakers whose disenchantment posed threat to the race for the governorship of Lagos State. Jimmy Agbaje, the candidate rather than his party the PDP, captured the attention of voters with articulate presentation of his case without the campaign blight of his party.

Agbaje might not have forced his opponent to a corner or on the ropes but certainly, the two of them are there in toe-to-toe encounter in the centre of the ring. Ambode, on his part, has the benefit not only of his over 25 years career as a proven civil service administrator but also the well-oiled campaign machine of his party, APC. This is an even-matched contest, the verdict of which is eagerly awaited by the spectators.

Everything seems to be against Governor Yero of Kaduna State. He is more of an orphan at a wrong place at the wrong time and against a formidable opponent, Nasir El-Rufai of APC. Following the death of his predecessor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa in a helicopter crash in Bayelsa State, Yero, would, under normal circumstances be poised for his own direct mandate.

Unfortunately for Governor Yero, his party, the PDP, has lost much support in Northern parts of the country and he is one of the victims of that development. The message became clear during President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign at Kaduna stadium. Not only was the venue barely half-filled but even among the crowd were those who would rather acclaim “Sai Buhari” than Jonathan. APC candidate and former Federal Capital Territory Minister Nasir El-Rufai stands to benefit from such massive boost of his party, making allowance of course for the swing voting minority in Southern Kaduna.

Oyo State governor Abiola Ajimobi may be facing the jinx of one term for all his predecessors. But these are different times. The factors which created that jinx in the past, do not exist today. In 1983, the ruling NPN was determined to win Oyo State and there was a formidable candidate in the son of the soil, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo, even against Bola Ige. Today’s PDP is surely not the NPN of those days.

The late Governor Kolapo Isola elected in 1991 lost office because of the June 12, 1993 crisis, which does not exist in Nigeria today. What is more, Governor Ajimobi apart from contesting on the platform of APC, the political party of the moment, also faces a weak opposition in split for votes between Accord Party’s Rasheed Ladoja and Labour Party’s Alao Akala, both former governors of Oyo State. Also, to the credit of Governor Ajimobi, his tenure so far recorded near-total containment of the notorious violence of Oyo State politics especially in Ibadan, the state capital.

Not to be left out is, like his APC colleagues in Southwest, Ajimobi’s concentration of provision of infrastructure and very green environment. In Ibadan in particular, such achievement is unmistakable. Solving the traffic lawlessness at Ojoo end of the expressway is also noteworthy of Governor Ajimobi.

One man whose merit for re-election does not seem to attract public attention is Governor Shettima of Borno State. If only for his courage in standing up to both Boko Haram insurgents who most of the time distracted  Shettima’s administration, and the indefinite stand of Aso Rock in dealing with Boko Haram. Taking every risk as the man in the midst of the storm, Shettima spared no words in condemning Boko Haram. It was a risk but the governor took it.

More than that, Governor Shettima took the Boko Haram reality to Aso Rock where he made it known that Boko Haram insurgents were better armed than Nigerian soldiers. Whatever credit for subduing Boko Haram today, majority goes to Governor Shettima, without whose courage Aso Rock might not have reaslised the magnitude of the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State.

There are two candidates fighting to retain the governorship of Kwara State. One known and the other unknown or at least unnoticed. Governor Abdufatah Ahmed is relying on his administration’s performance to earn a second term. But the other unnoticed candidate on APC platform is ex-governor Bukunola Saraki. Formerly elected even currently as a Senator on the platform of PDP, Saraki was one of the prominent members who decamped to APC and the 2015 elections offer the first test of his hold on Kwara State, a fate that will devolve on Governor Ahmed.

At the last elections, in 2011, Bukunola Saraki, in effect, challenged the political stronghold of his father, the late Dr. Sola Saraki who carried out a personal campaign for his daughter, Senator Gbemi Saraki, younger sister of the former governor. This time, there is a difference. Last time, ex-governor Saraki employed the platform of the formidable PDP to successfully challenge his father’s stronghold.

Today, on a different political platform, the APC, Bukunola Saraki is defending his Kwara stronghold. Governor Ahmed should win the elections and that will re-enforce Saraki’s political dominance in that state.

In Sokoto State, out-going Speaker of House of Representatives is not expected to have difficulty in emerging as the newly elected governor.

No thanks for tariff cut

On the eve of the presidential elections, President Goodluck Jonathan once again in a panic for his prospects, granted a concession to voters by bringing down tariff for power supply half way. The implication, rather than be seen as of any benefit to consumers, should be a major concern.

Where was Jonathan when the unwarranted increase was imposed not long ago? As if to sympathise with an already economically overburdened Nigerians, the explanation for the purported tariff cut was that it was in response to widespread criticisms. Shouldn’t the inevitable complaint have restrained the government from approving the increase in the first place?

The excuse would be that since the power industry had been unbundled, it was impossible for government to determine whether prices should go up or not. Where then did the same government get the power with which it reduced the tariff? It only shows we have very wicked human beings lording it over us in this country. Now that votes are needed, tariff was reduced by 50 percent.

Their mentality is that no matter the prices or charges, Nigerians especially the poor ones will pay. Which tariff, anyway was reduced? Tarrif for power not supplied? If power were regularly supplied, would every home in Nigeria possess a generator or lantern? Nigeria is largest importer of generators in the world.

What is more, the so-called reduction in tariff is a clear political fraud. Elections hold on March 28 and the purported reduction in tariff is effective only from March 30, two days after elections. A blank cheque with which to defraud Nigerians of their votes? If on March 30, the reduction is not effected, Nigerians would have been conned for their votes. Any redress in that situation?

If Jonathan is serious about reducing economic hardship in the country, he should cut fuel pump price to 50 naira. This will cheapen transport, food items, generate less production costs, increase purchasing power, more recruitment in industries and increase public demand for products.

And who are being deceived? Let’s have some sincerity. Chipping 25 percent off salaries of public office holders is a raise. Jonathan is challenged to reduce the allowances of public office holders by 25 percent. Yes, allowances. Such is more than fifty percent of salaries.

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Tits-bits towards March 28 showdown Fri, 13 Mar 2015 03:28:18 +0000 Watching President Goodluck Jonathan, crisis-crossing South-West with seeming life-saving hope of securing votes therefrom in the presidential elections, the instant but wrong impression is that the entire constituency for the election ]]>

Watching President Goodluck Jonathan, crisis-crossing South-West with seeming life-saving hope of securing votes therefrom in the presidential elections, the instant but wrong impression is that the entire constituency for the election is only South-West Nigeria. Even at that, the desperation is such that has metamorphosed into the beautiful bride of the 2015 elections.

Flying into the South-West virtually every weekend consecutively in the past almost a month and spending three or four nights in Lagos far away from his otherwise ever busy schedule at Abuja, the situation must be very compelling for Jonathan. Sadly enough, the energy and money thereby expended are just not fit for purpose.

As pointed out in this column many times since the commencement of political campaigns for the 2015 presidential elections, whether for or against General Muhammadu Buhari or President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigerians are already firmly decided on their voting intention on March 28. No amount of money will make them shift position. And this is not saying that the bribe offer should be rejected from oil and gas Federal Government contractors, the proceeds are from our national revenue.

The immediate implication of the desperate concentration on South-West votes for the presidential elections is that all hope has been given up on the North while the South-East has been taken for granted as “sure-banker” by Jonathan. That might be realistic enough. The experience of barely half-filled stadium at Kaduna on the day Jonathan went  on campaigns worsened by unfriendly repeated shouts of “Sai Buhari” at every effort to sell the PDP candidate, delivered the message beyond every doubt.

That was even more civilised than the irresponsible and criminal conduct of the stoning crowd at Katsina, who should have better reserved their resentment for March 28 with their votes. The only difference in an even more hostile crowd at Bauchi is that it was more of desperation to expose who really undermined the other between governor Yugada and Federal Capital territory Minister, Bala Mohammed, also from Bauchi, to impress President Jonathan on who caused his electoral plight in that state.

That still does not detract from the message of the people that Bauchi is also a “no hope” state for Jonathan. That is the message all up the North, such that anywhere the highest hope reserved is the mandatory quarter of total votes in Northern states. With some luck, that is.

Hence, the shift to South-West by President Jonathan, who, sadly does not seem to be reckoning with the history of voting character of Yoruba. The story so far of Jonathan’s political life-saving total investment in Yorubaland is inducing so-called traditional rulers in Yorubaland. Poor Goodluck Jonathan. Whoever told him traditional rulers and self-parading leaders in Yorubaland could and would deliver votes for him?

No political leaders and no traditional leaders have in their command, such persuasive power in history. Yoruba votes are earned and not purchased. Even Yoruba leaders had to merit the votes. While argument still raged on who actually won the the 1951 elections in western region,Yoruba made their position clearer in the 1954 federal elections to the House of Representatives in Lagos with 23 seats for Zik’s NCNC over Awo’s Action Group with 18 seats. Two years later, Awolowo as premier of western region merited Yoruba votes to be returned to power in western region, a distinction also repeated in 1961 even when Awolowo had left western region for the federal parliament. What won him the 1961 regional elections was memories of his performance as regional premier.

Chief MKO Abiola’s initial entry into politics in 1979 did not earn him favourable results in Yorubaland. But by 1993, the same Chief Abiola had established himself not only in Yorubaland but throughout Nigeria. Hence, his landslide victory in the presidential elections.

Neither was General Obasanjo embraced in Yorubaland in the 1999 presidential elections even while other parts of Nigeria massively voted for him. Despite the fact that Yoruba reversed that trend in 2003 and joined in returning him for a second term, the same Yoruba were in the forefront to scuttle Obasanjo’s attempt to perpetuate himself in office.

Jonathan himself was luckier among Yoruba than Awolowo, Abiola and Obasanjo. From the time of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s indisposition to the day of his death, the crusade for Jonathan’s entry to Aso Rock was mostly led by Yoruba with their Save Nigeria Group. If six years later, there is a change, it is insulting to presume he (Jonathan) could secure himself by bribing Yoruba leaders. Where were the Yoruba leaders and traditional rulers when Save Nigeria Group was pursuing Jonathan’s cause in those days?

Who, anyway, are these so-called Yoruba leaders? The very same nominees of President Jonathan to the so-called Constitutional Conference for which each of them collected twenty million naira as attendance dues, even when some of them did not contribute a single sentence?

Other Yoruba leaders being induced by Jonathan have emerged as beneficiaries of billions of naira – worth pipeline protection contract award, who blackmailed Jonathan for earlier similar contract awards to Niger Delta ex-terrorists.

Who among Jonathan’s favoured Yoruba political leaders and traditional rulers in the present political weather dare address or even join Jonathan at public rallies, campaigning for votes.

It also seems Jonathan, in looking for votes in South-West is dangling anything and everything. A university of co-operative studies in South-West? This is hardly warranted. South-West already has the largest number of universities – oldest and newest – in Nigeria and the same South-West is being offered an extra university for nothing more than political expediency. Is that why and how universities are set up? How well equipped are the existing universities. Where are the necessary requirements – teaching staff, physical structures, administrative staff, etc.?

Already, there are not less than ten universities in Ogun State (note, Ogun State and not South-West). A school of co-operative studies at any of the existing universities in South-West will suffice, especially, with Federal Government approval of three new private universities in Ogun State only a week ago.

Also towards the March of showdown, Jonathan’s political opponents have alleged that plans are being made by government agents to launder their bank accounts with huge amounts preparatory to arraigning them by EFCC. And APC leaders are worried? I wished the millions of dollars were laundered into my bank account. I won’t complain. It will be too exciting to face EFCC at any trial.

All I have to do is to refuse to co-operate with EFCC by remaining silent throughout. But EFCC will then have to establish the source of the millions of dollars laundered into my account – agents of Jonathan’s administration and I will sue for defamation and hold on to the money. Why should APC leaders worry?

Mushroom political parties existing only on pages of newspapers (some twenty of them) have already endorsed Goodluck Jonathan for the presidential elections. All these parties do is to collect government subvention at election time.

The tricks of the mushroom political parties already exposed in this column, as collecting bribe to endorse a particular presidential candidate. If any doubt, such has been removed by the man who should know – Jonathan’s godfather, Edwin Clark. While in Ogun State, Clark expressed frustration with the failure of the mushroom political parties after, as he said, the parties were paid not just to endorse Goodluck Jonathan but to join at or organise their own campaign rallies, soliciting votes for Goodluck Jonathan.

Edwin Clark further accused the mushroom parties for being too cowardly to perform the function, which they were paid to do for Jonathan.

Jonathan must have unmitigated contempt for Igbo in the coming presidential elections. Otherwise, who did he send to Igbo heartland, Umuahia, to canvass votes for him? Igbo hater, Femi-Fani-Kayode?

Fortunately, like other Nigerians, Igbo already decided for whom to vote. They, therefore, do not need Femi Fani-Kayode to champion their cause for Jonathan’s election bid.

Fani-Kayode can never be a genuine advocate of Igbo. Some two years ago, purported Igbo destitutes in Lagos were deported by the government to their home state of Anambra. The cause of the Igbo destitutes was championed in this column, as a violation of their constitutional rights to movement and permanent abode in any part of Nigeria.

Against that plea, Fani-Kayode descended on the entire Igbo, as a race with virtually no right in Yorubaland. Self-respecting Igbo can google the Internet for Fani-Kayode’s tirade on the Igbo, as a race. The sum total of Fani-Kayode’s onslaught against Igbo was to expose himself, as an ethnic supremacist.

The same Fani-Kayode reduced entire Igbo female gender to his cheap play thing. Outraged Igbo males had to defend their women folk’s image on the Internet, alleging the escapades of his relatives – daughters and sisters.

A coward of some sort, Fani-Kayode thereby felt the damage he had done to fellow Nigerian citizens. Instantly he immediately modified rather insincerely all the damaging view on his purported Igbo girls.

The same Fani-Kayode, pretending to champion Igbo cause by poisoning their minds with political wounds of the past? Igbo have the right to vote for the candidate of their choice, already largely in favour of Jonathan. Jonathan earned that support on his merit. Igbo must not allow Fani-Kayode to claim the glory of Igbo support for Jonathan.



Row over Gen. Agwai’s exit

It was quite predictable that erstwhile chairman of SURE-P, retired Chief of Defence Staff, General Martin Agwai, would be removed by President Goodluck Jonathan. General Agwai’s dismissal followed the lecture he gave at the 78th birthday of one of his former Commanders-In-Chief, General Olusegun Obasanjo. During the lecture, General Agwai warned the Armed Forces against getting involved in politics, as lately experienced when statements from the army directly strictured two known opponents of Jonathan. The first was General Muhammadu Buhari and former President Obasanjo.

In this uncertain period of imminent political future, Jonathan’s removal of Agwai is an expression of authority and confidence. More than these, despite Agwai’s concern on danger of military’s involvement in politics, Jonathan’s punitive move is a tacit approval of army’s rare politically biased public posture on contemporary issues, something unprecedented in non-military era in Nigeria. In short, that is the policy of Jonathan’s administration and General Agwai, in his political patronage post of SURE-P boss is not expected to oppose that policy.

However, was General Agwai justified in his view against involvement of Armed Forces in politics? The timing and venue might be wrong. Obasanjo’s house and at a time relationship between Obasanjo and Jonathan was not harmonious, were obviously not tactful. Otherwise, Agwai was correct to raise the alarm against Armed Forces involvement in politics.

Who expected former Chief of Defence Staff, Agwai, to remain unconcerned at the deterioration of the army, a security institution to which he devoted his entire life career? Such prospects are too terrifying even for a bloody civilian observer to see the Armed Forces collapse and splintered into political animosity along religions and ethnic lines. Yet, that is the situation unconsciously descending on us.

On the other hand, did President Jonathan have any choice than the dismissal of Martin Agwai? Putting it bluntly, even Olusegun Obasanjo (in Goodluck Jonathan’s position), as President and Commander-In-Chief, given his record of obsession with drama in the exercise of political power, would have dismissed Agwai from the SURE-P job before he (Agwai) ended his lecture.

In another vein, Agwai was justified in warning against politicising the Armed Forces. In the current atmosphere of political campaigns, President Jonathan (through his Special Assistant, Doyin Okupe) threatened that if he lost, he would never handover to his challenger,  General Muhammadu Buhari. Rather, as Jonathan further threatened, he would rather handover to the army.

Given such spectre of anarchy, only ex-army generals are competent to raise the red flag. And whoever cares to listen, General Martin Agwai could not have been speaking for himself alone.

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Before boycotting 2015 elections Thu, 05 Mar 2015 23:55:23 +0000 Nigeria continues to amuse the world, especially after attracting the international community. Ordinarily, it was mere routine as in other parts of the world to have ]]>

Nigeria continues to amuse the world, especially after attracting the international community. Ordinarily, it was mere routine as in other parts of the world to have arranged presidential elections as due in 2015 as stated in the fixed tenure of every four years. The only difference was that we alarmed the world without shame by taking one step forward and at the same time blocking the way against any resultant move.

All alone, we, or Nigerian government, through the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over a year ago, fixed the elections for February 14, 2015. Rarely does a serious country dramatically develop cold feet on such a monumental decision. But this is Nigeria.

Suddenly, every aspect of the arrangement towards the elections was rendered impossible, leading to the postponement of the elections a week before voting. A new date was fixed for March 28, making a total of seven weeks extra waiting for an anxious electorate. Sudden postponement of the elections was, the first of series of rumours bandied about.

Elections would not hold. Tenure of Goodluck Jonathan as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would be extended. The elections should be put off for, at least, two years, even if in violation of Nigerian constitution. So far, history has recorded mainly Yoruba as champions of that idea. Tunji Braithwaite, Ayo Adebanjo, Tunde Bakare and others. This should be noted.

Nigerians and the outside world kicked against all such ideas. Postponement of the elections till March 28 was, therefore, a face-saving ploy of those afraid of the outcome of the elections. Aso Rock played its part, security forces played their part and surprisingly, even INEC played its part in giving Nigerians the impression that all was set for the elections while, in fact, as it was later to emerge, the electoral body under the leadership of Attahiru Jega was barely ready, according to the submission presented to the National Council of State.

As if March 28, 2015 was ten years away if not eternity, it soon dawned on them that the date, today, is only three weeks to clock. Then we once again started amusing the world. The man to conduct the elections, INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, must be sacked. Some ten million voters were yet to collect their permanent voter’s cards. The inevitable question is: What would have been the lot of such voters if the elections were held three weeks ago, February 14? That was the risk of the deceit INEC boss, Attahiru Jega, played on Nigerians that he and his colleagues were all set to conduct the elections.

Once more, Nigerians started experiencing a fresh set of rumours. The elections fixed for March 28 were to be further postponed or indeed cancelled to confront Nigerians with the fait accompli of an interim national government through another doctrine of necessity. The permanent voters card must not be used for the 2015 elections. Instead, INEC must fall back to the discredited temporary voter’s card with which elections were massively rigged in the past.

There is then the latest threat by, at least, fifteen so-called political parties to boycott the 2015 elections unless INEC discarded its plan to use the permanent voters card for the elections. It was not immediately clear if Goodluck Jonathan would lead the pack in boycotting the elections. But the director of publicity of Jonathan’s campaign organisation, Fani-Fani-Kayode, carefully chose his words that the PDP would “resist” any attempt by INEC to enforce the use of permanent voters card for the 2015 elections.

For various reasons, criticisms of permanent voters card are untenable either against the background of its innovation or with only three weeks to the elections. INEC came up with the idea of permanent voters cards for future elections over a year ago and there was no opposition. Second, the permanent voters card is meant to eliminate election rigging through multiple voting in the past. The master stroke of permanent voters card is to break the back of election riggers.

The intention of those threatening to boycott the elections, especially the PDP, is open to only guess. The party controls the Senate before which INEC boss, Jega, displayed the use of permanent voters card and read it through the machine. Senate President David Mark and his colleagues popularly endorsed the use of permanent voters card for the elections. The Senate is an arm of the National Assembly, which legislates laws for the nation.

What is more, a High Court in Abuja, before the latest threat to resist or reject the use of permanent voters card for the 2015 elections, dismissed a suit challenging INEC’s power to use permanent voters card for the elections. The dismissed suit also claimed that electoral laws in Nigeria were against electronic voting.

For a start, the so-called fifteen political parties, threatening to boycott elections are rabble-rousers, existing only on papers and coming to life only at election periods to collect state subventions to political parties and disappearing from any political activities until another election period when “Ghana Must Go” (these days filled with American dollars) circulate clandestinely.

Furthermore, fringe political parties are no more than agents provocateur, playing the spoilers game to either discredit  or make elections possible for a price, to create the necessary vacuum for the interim national government. After all, did Jonathan’s Special Assistant, Doyin Okupe, not threaten that even if Jonathan lost the elections, power would be handed over to the army rather than General Buhari?

Most of the fringe parties have, in any case, endorsed Goodluck Jonathan for the elections. So, which elections are they threatening to boycott?

If, however, the PDP, as threatened by Jonathan’s campaign director of publicity, Femi Fani-Kayode, is bent on boycotting the elections, then bad news is ahead. There is no law in the land – Nigerian Constitution or the Electoral Act – which recognises election boycott, as a legal basis for annulling any election. Should PDP, therefore, decide to boycott the elections, INEC has no choice than to proceed with the elections in which other candidates and political parties will participate.

The law recognises even scores of votes to be valid for upholding any election, which featured deliberate boycott of the elections by a petitioner. That was the verdict of series of election petitions dismissed after the 1964 federal elections. Owing to alleged irregularities preceding preparations for the elections, two major political parties, the NCNC and Action Group, under the umbrella of United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA, not APGA) completely boycotted the elections in areas under the control of the two parties in the alliance, the defunct East and West regions as well as the Federal Capital of Lagos.

Especially in Western region and Lagos, candidates of rival political party, Nigerian Democratic Party (in alliance with the Northern People’s Congress under the umbrella of Nigerian National Alliance, NNA), were elected to the House of Representatives each with less than five hundred votes in some cases.

A memorable victory upheld by the High Court was that of TOS Benson in Lagos. Elected on the platform of NCNC in 1959 and seeking re-election in 1964, Benson lost the nomination to a rival aspirant in the party, F.N. Moronu. In protest, Benson resigned from the party and contested as an independent candidate. Luckily, NCNC, along with the Action Group, boycotted the 1964 elections, and Benson gathered barely five hundred votes.

The subsequent election petition against TOS Benson was dismissed on the ground that the electoral law did not recognise boycott. That is still the law today, in case Goodluck Jonathan and his PDP aim at joining boycott of the elections in protest voters card for the elections.

In reality, the fifteen political parties are not in the 2015 elections. The choice is PDP’s.

Ignoble election debate

With only three weeks to the presidential elections fixed for March 28, the so-called Election Debate Group is clandestinely gasping for life to organise a debate for the presidential candidates. Towards that end, the impression created is that the exercise will put Nigeria at the same level with other parts of the world.

Mere circumstantial evidence. In other parts of the world, those behind such a debate enjoy such credibility among the public, leaving no doubt about their (debate group’s) impartiality.

We cannot say the same about the key sponsors of the so-called debate in Nigeria – NTA and AIT. All the time and especially in the last three months, both stations have exhibited such scandalous professional degradation.

We may even understand but not excuse AIT, as a privately-owned station. But what can be said of NTA, a  station completely run with tax-payers money? View any current affairs slot on NTA, especially the nightly network news and other features. The only impression created is that only one candidate, Goodluck Jonathan, is contesting the March 28 presidential elections.

That being so, against whom is the station, NTA, organising the debate? A rival candidate the same NTA station has tarnished his hard-earned reputation through deliberate blackout of news of his campaigns or transmission of documentaries, denigrating the family and prospects in the coming elections?

Since the NTA devotes up to fifty minutes of its one-hour network news to positive coverage of only Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign activities, does he still need any debate to put himself across to Nigerians?

NTA and AIT lack the fairness to handle any genuine debate in the present atmosphere. Neither is it an excuse that NTA is government-owned.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) radio and television are equally government-owned. Britain goes to the polls in two months time. Those concerned and those interested should watch the coverage of the elections, if any lesson can be learnt.

Meanwhile, anybody in doubt should for the next one week view NTA’s nightly network news at 9p.m.

Again, what debate? Did Jonathan debate with the major rival candidate in 2011? What, therefore, is so special this time for him to debate with a rival candidate?

Incidentally, both Muhammadu Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan, in the past two months, have taken their respective case to Nigerian people at public campaigns. Whether in weaknesses or strength, Buhari and Jonathan can now be more fairly judged. All we are asking for is to be allowed to so vote on March 28.

There is this free offer. A top television journalist, Tom Adaba, aptly reflected very objective assessment of the coverage of the current presidential elections campaigns. His view was published a few weeks ago in a weekly Nigerian newspaper, The SUNDAY VANGUARD. Even Tom Adaba could not hide his disgust.

Fani-Kayode’s libel threat

Nigerians cannot forget that Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign director of media, Femi Fani-Kayode, in one of his denigration of General Muhammadu Buhari, queried the state of the health of Jonathan’s challenger in the March 28 presidential elections.

Fani Kayode’s exact words were “… state of health.” It is now interesting that the same Femi Fani-Kayode has issued libel threat to his political opponents in APC for allegedly referring to his (Fani-Kayode’s) mental state.

There should be no compromise on this matter, which should be dragged to court so that Nigerians can have full details of claims, grievances and defence.

Once again, there should be no compromise. Medical experts should be available.

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Of health challenges and obscene land grab Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:10:00 +0000 Every (one) day nearer the 2015 presidential elections postponed till March 28, public attention gets more focused on the leading contenders for the splendour of Aso Rock, President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP, and his All Progressives Congress challenger, General Muhammadu Buhari. Such focus is either self-attracted or inflicted by adversaries.]]>

Every (one) day nearer the 2015 presidential elections postponed till March 28, public attention gets more focused on the leading contenders for the splendour of Aso Rock, President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP, and his All Progressives Congress challenger, General Muhammadu Buhari. Such focus is either self-attracted or inflicted by adversaries.

The latest is the pounding of General Buhari on alleged frail health and that his trip abroad is for medical attention even when it is clear to the world that he was on a working visit including meetings with major public figures.

On the other hand, Goodluck Jonathan was exposed for obscene land acquisition for farming purposes. It is obscene in the sense of not necessarily acquiring the land itself but the greed in the area of the land acquired by one man among over one hundred million fellow citizens. In short, what qualified Jonathan for such land except the tenancy of Aso Rock?

General Buhari’s prospects in the 2015 presidential elections are largely if not solely the fallout of the war of personal denigration on anything Buhari by the opposing camp. If Buhari sneezes, if he takes water, if he eats or if he checks his blood or sugar level, all mere routine for anybody aged 40 and above, it is a sign of health hazard.

Therefore, even if, for purposes of argument, General Buhari’s trip is for medical check up, is that peculiar to the APC presidential candidate? Is it the case that regularly, repeat regularly, Goodluck Jonathan’s health is not checked at home and abroad? Is Jonathan not far younger than Buhari? Why does Jonathan sneak abroad on private visits? And if Jonathan is entitled to private visits abroad, is Buhari not entitled to such right?

Heads of states and governments all over the world, especially serious democracies like United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan are routinely medically examined and reports are announced to the public.

In Nigeria’s case, why is personal physician statutory for President Jonathan or any of his predecessors? Is it because Jonathan is ailing or as old as General Buhari? Is personal physician to Nigerian Head of State or government a mere decoration or is it because of their poor health? All of them, from Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa to Umaru Yar’Adua had personal physicians for the main purpose of ensuring their good health. Of the lot, only General Sani Abacha and Umaru Yar’Adua died in office of health reasons.

Dr. Koye Majekodunmi did not emerge from nowhere to be appointed Federal Minister of Health in the first republic. He was originally the personal physician to Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa. The reality of modern day life is that you don’t have to be General Buhari or 70 years old and above to ensure good health through regular medical check-ups.

Must General Buhari drop the idea of foreign trips for fear of being criticized for going for medical check-ups? And whoever says only the 70-year olds need medical check-up or even die? Bereaved families all over Nigeria are witnesses of relations who died at any age from the date of birth.

Then this. Political desperadoes are so far only being restrained by God’s grace that Mrs Aishat Buhari is not known yet as having had medical check ups in Nigeria or abroad. The day that happens, it will be a carnival for the political desperadoes except that once again, they would have committed political suicide.

Otherwise, who is she, yet, to go for or is immune to medical treatment at home or abroad? Patience Jonathan, wife of President Goodluck Jonathan? Such information is never made known to Nigerians and if leaked, it is not only denied but also described as private visit.

The other controversy is on President Jonathan’s acquisition of over 90 hectares of land in Abuja for farming purposes. So far, Jonathan, with his land deal, has not violated Nigerian constitution, even though he may be at risk of having violated Abuja master plan. This is yet to be proved.

Otherwise, in acquiring the farmland at Abuja, Goodluck Jonathan ordinarily exercised his right under section 43 of Nigerian constitution, which guarantees that; “subject to the provisions of this constitution, every citizen of Nigeria shall have the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria.”

By the way, on a note of humour, Goodluck Jonathan’s Abuja land deal vividly recalls the Ijora (Lagos) land deal, which involved K.O. Mbadiwe, in the first republic. At that time, Mbadiwe was Federal Minister of Lands and Survey under the Tafawa Balewa government.

Despite Jonathan’s indisputable right under the constitution to acquire immovable property anywhere in Nigeria, the only seeming K-leg such land may develop especially in Abuja, is that such land must be virgin or must be specified for farming purposes in the Abuja Master Plan. Abuja was specially planned to avoid the distortion and degradation which turned even reserved areas at Ikoyi and Victoria Island in former capital Lagos to markets, offices and shopping centres with the prospects of future slums.

That, for public consumption, was why former President Olusegun Obasanjo, last time, enjoyed leading the demolition squad around Abuja to specify which houses, no matter the value, should be demolished, on the grounds of violating Abuja master plan.

Should it be true that Jonathan’s farmland violates Abuja master plan, it will be in his interest to seek another area. There is this illusion of power today which will end some day and the wielder will not be in a position to escape state authority. The dangerous precedent of Obasanjo in demolishing the property or revoking the land allocation of his predecessor and some serving/ex-governors may also be visited on Jonathan in the future.

Some have argued rather conveniently that two wrongs don’t make a right. For a repeat, the point of note is the convenience of the argument. Otherwise, there is a valid claim of Jonathan’s supporters that have similar outrageously large farmlands in Lagos, Abuja as well as various parts of East and Northern Nigeria. This does not reduce the risk of revocation of Jonathan’s farmland at Abuja by any government in the future if the land violates the master plan.

Obasanjo’s theory of demolition of contraventions in Abuja master plan subsists. With its centuries old multi-aviation facilities, Britain till today, continues to expand especially with the current discussions to lengthen and widen either Heathrow or Gatwick or both airports. Once the land at Abuja is earmarked for development of aviation facilities, such development may continue to arise for the next one hundred or more years.

Both Obasanjo and Jonathan are not fair to fellow citizens. Making allowance for politicisation and inflation of Nigerian population figures, the figure will still be up to one hundred million. If therefore Obasanjo and Jonathan each could be acquiring one hundred hectares of land in each of their locations all over the country but especially in Abuja, purportedly for farming purposes, would such acquisition go round all potential farmers?

Could both men also have acquired such lands but for crude exploitation of their positions as first citizens?

By the way, more than Obasanjo, who is no longer in office, President Jonathan should be concerned about the reputation of his family for obscene land acquisition, for the mere luck of being the first family. One of the first controversial decisions of Jonathan’s administration was the revocation of a land in Abuja originally allocated to the widow of his predecessor, Turai Yar’Adua.

When the revocation was challenged in a court, Federal Attorney-General Mohammed Adoke pleaded out of court settlement as a result of which the case was adjourned.

Within days after the adjournment, Patience Jonathan moved on the land to lay the foundation of her project and confronted Turai Yar’Adua with a fait accompli. And now, the over 90 hectares farmland in the same Abuja?

Topic concluded.



Unlike Governor Okorocha

Rochas Okorocha, governor of Imo State, has a bright political future which he needs not destroy. That is the risk of reports of alleged ill-treatment of (maybe) protesting widows in Owerri, by those notorious security fellows. Whether he likes it or not, Okorocha’s membership of All Progressives Congress imposes on him the conduct, in and out office, of a member of a left of centre party.

The first demand or public expectation of such a party is tolerance of other people’s views on political issues. Clearly, the protests of the widows would be or was even critical of Okorocha’s prospects in the coming gubernatorial elections. So what? Every Imo voter cannot be for or against Okorocha. One way to win over those against him is not to antagonise them.

APC members should have learnt from the Ekiti disaster where striking/picketing teachers and civil servants were charged to courts. They fought back by making it easy for political thugs to rig APC out of power. The resultant weeping and gnashing of teeth continues till today.

What is more, it is the right of every Nigerian to hold different political views. But Okorocha could have won some favour for himself by arranging the police to guide and guard the protesting widows throughout their chosen route and places, including a public place, the governor’s office. Okorocha should have listened to their points of grievances and should have granted reliefs for them where possible.

No matter what, a few of the protesting widows would have been sent re-thinking by Okorocha. There is this misconception by state governors all over the place that all critical or different views must be suppressed. On the other hand, security men and women are so disoriented, (even when not so directed by state governors) that critical or dissenting views in society must be suppressed.

Self-presumably benefiting public office holders feel grateful to security men on such occasions. But who suffers the penalty of losing public support later? The same public office holders.

Ironically, Rochas Okorocha would be harming his future political interests. At his age, the future is bright. But for the fact that All Progressives Congress (APC) is so blessed with presidential materials, Okorocha stands a chance of clinching the ticket in the future.

In the run-up to APC presidential primary in Lagos, Okorocha came forward as a somewhat frank, sincere and grateful fellow. Inescapably an Igbo, Okorocha in his television advertisements owned up to growing up in the North and making his money in South-West.

That is a reputation to be jealously preserved for future political rewards. But then, such a journey must start from the home base and when that time comes, it will partially be payback time for what Imo people remember him as their state governor.

It is not clear if apology is the way out for Rochas Okorocha but a way must be found to heal the wounds of the angry widows. All over the world, strictly by their status, widows must be pampered and cared for even when they are wrong and especially when they are wronged.

Upsetting widows? Very much unlike Rochas Okorocha known to Nigerians.

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