The Sun News » Columns http://sunnewsonline.com/new - Voice of The Nation Fri, 04 Sep 2015 03:10:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.7 Salvaging Nigeria’s local government http://sunnewsonline.com/new/salvaging-nigerias-local-government/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/salvaging-nigerias-local-government/#comments Fri, 04 Sep 2015 01:38:24 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133862 Nigeria’s moment of reckoning has arrived and it should be a season for purposeful leadership rather than a season of silly politics. In a nation suffused with developmental and other unmet needs, the best national governance structure required to address those pressing needs – the local government– is ]]>

GUEST COLUMNIST

Oseloka H. Obaze

Nigeria’s moment of reckoning has arrived and it should be a season for purposeful leadership rather than a season of silly politics. In a nation suffused with developmental and other unmet needs, the best national governance structure required to address those pressing needs – the local government– is being systematically truncated. Whereas there is no such thing as a comprehensive strategy for purposeful governance, acknowledged global best practices, which are in accord with international standards for democratic governance, exist. We need to urgently replicate those values.
As the Buhari administration goes about its task of repositioning Nigeria, it must conflate its policy options of leveraging Nigeria’s vast population and natural resources with its unfettered support for the local government structures in order to make a difference. As things stand, most state governors in Nigeria continue to treat local governments as counterfeit institutions and at best, as their fiscal fiefdoms. This default disposition finds vigour and draws its impetus from the constitutional ambiguities on the status of the local governments and the attending self-serving argument by most state governors that the local government is not a federating unit. Consequentially, development at the grassroots is lacking, and federally allocated funds for local governments are disbursed and used as per the whims of governors. In short, since local governments were constitutionally defined in 1976 and redefined in 1999, the states continue to stifle the institution and its allotted resources. The time has come to set sentiments aside and salvage Nigeria’s LGAs in order to save our deformed and floundering federalism and our national population.
When in 1976 the Murtala Muhammad-Olusegun Obasanjo regime initiated local government reform, it had clarity of purpose as evidenced by the enunciations of Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, the then Chief of General Staff. The local government reform was compelled by “…the necessity to stabilise and rationalise government at the local level” with “the decentralisation of some significant functions of the state government to local level in order to harness local resources for rapid development.” It was on this ambit that the Federal Military Government recognised local government as the third tier of government in Nigeria. Notwithstanding the foregoing provision and the subsequent reflections in the 1999 Constitution, for most state governors – past and present – discussing the autonomy of the local government is anathema. Logically, the governors are not to be blamed. They merely exploit an existing legislative lacuna. Most won’t even acquiesce to holding constitutionally mandated local government elections. Indeed, some are already contemplating shifting scheduled LGA elections or abandoning the elections altogether and returning to use of Transitional Councils and running the local governments via executive fiats. But were the funds allocated for local governments to be judiciously used, development in Nigeria would be markedly different. The growth of local institutions, infrastructure and services would have been exponential. This is not to suggest that the system would be free of vices and excesses that hobble the federal and state governments. Rather, the 744 local governments are truly what their assignation means: local. They affect and respond to the local situations more directly and more positively than federal and state governments. This fact alone makes federal support for local government stability and economic wellbeing a strategic policy imperative.
Here is the Nigerian paradox. As commonly prescribed in various constitutions, in most federal systems local governments derive their powers from the state constitution. Most local governments are thus insinuated administrative subsets, and subunits of the state, albeit, with restricted or very limited powers of self-government. Contrastingly, in Nigeria, the local government is a constitutional creation and thus a federating unit, even if putatively. But certain constitutional ambiguities persist. These ambiguities cost Nigeria much in progressive development. They also make good governance values and practice at the grassroots laggardly.  Ten years ago, a Goldman Sachs report projected Nigeria as possibly one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2025. Part of that target was met with our 2014 rebased economy, which made Nigeria the largest economy in Africa. Yet there is also room for growth if only we can overcome our strategic policy culture deficit. This policy challenge is more acute in handling entrepreneurship and good governance at the LGA level. Meanwhile, experts continue to stress that poor policy response will continue to slow or reverse past progress.
Incontestably, state and local governments often have a far greater impact on people’s lives than the Federal Government; the local government more so than the state government. Traditionally, the local governments retain the remit, critical role and responsibility for maintaining peace and security, managing jails and detention facilities, collecting taxes, building and repairing roads and bridges, and recording deeds, marriages, and deaths. To a certain degree, they are responsible for community health centres, primary and maternal healthcare delivery, including immunizations. These roles and services require funding far more than the LGAs can garner from designated tax windows. But these roles continue to suffer immeasurably, thanks to state government activities. State governments now usurp unapologetically defined LGA functions.
Putting the matter in its proper perspective requires paraphrasing President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who, in his May 2009 article in the Financial Times, entitled: “Africa has to find its own road to prosperity,” said: “Government activities should focus on supporting entrepreneurship… because it unlocks people’s minds, fosters innovation and enables people to exercise their talents.” Foreclosing on our LGAs translates to foreclosing on our support for entrepreneurship and the unlocking our people’s minds and talents.
The crux of the local government problem is essentially fiscal. The extant relationship between the state and the local government is not one of partnership. Rather, it borders on superior-inferior or custodial-minor interaction, akin to a fiscal relation between a parent and a minor. If the constitutional intent was to make the LGAs autonomous and truly independent and effective, then the provisions on the fiscal relations between the two entities, as it relates to the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) policy, was wrongly construed. Still, as the extant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), state’s in Article 162(6), “each state shall maintain a special account to be called “State Joint Local Government Account,” into which shall be paid all allocations to the local government councils of the state from the Federation Account and from the Government of the state.” Hence, control of disbursement from JAAC is vested in the state. What the local governments get, when and how, becomes a matter of the caprices of the incumbent governor. Furthermore, the States continued control of the JAAC translates to a granting veto powers to state governments on the holding of democratic local government elections. Already, problems of emasculated local governments are rife nationally. Full-blown crisis have ensued in Bayelsa, Rivers, Kogi, Abia, Kebbi and Plateau. Several states have had to postpone LGA elections over the past 12 months. Explicably, across the nation, various chapters of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) continue to advocate the scrapping of the JAAC. The Federal Government must tackle the fiscal and constitutional ambiguities that have resulted in the emasculation of the LGAs.
There is nothing wrong with the JAAC in its intent and principle. The problem is administering the account in line with acceptable global best practices of good governance. A three-dimensional problem subsists. First, governors expediently interpret provisions of JAAC as permitting them to unilaterally make deductions from the monthly allocation to the local governments under whatever guise they can conjure and with whatever ratio they concoct. The LGAs inevitably get the residual funds, which are hardly sufficient to run their recurrent expenses, let alone capital and developmental programmes expenses. Second, the state executive and legislative arms — both beneficiaries – contrive JAAC laws in ways that tilt the laws in favour of the State. Third, Local government representatives are not members of JAAC and where an LGA chairman is invited it’s because he or she is in cahoots with the state. Indeed, membership of JAAC is the exclusive prerogative of the state governor, often in line with the already skewed legislation passed by the State Assembly.
•Obaze is a strategic public policy adviser and the immediate-past Secretary to the Anambra State Government.

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What I see in Buhari’s first 100 days http://sunnewsonline.com/new/what-i-see-in-buharis-first-100-days/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/what-i-see-in-buharis-first-100-days/#comments Fri, 04 Sep 2015 01:34:37 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133860 I GOT this rather pathetic text message from a friend of mine, Chris, who, hitherto now, was a proud member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in South East. It was a lamentation, which could make even the heart of stone melt. ]]>

I GOT this rather pathetic text message from a friend of mine, Chris, who, hitherto now, was a proud member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in South East. It was a lamentation, which could make even the heart of stone melt. It was an indication of a feeling of betrayal, which came short of expressing regrets. This budding Igbo politician, who, three months ago, rejoiced that his effort and that of other APC stalwarts across the nation kicked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) out of office, is now an unhappy man. He’s indeed, sad.
My friend had stated: “Buhari is not treating Igbo in the APC fairly. In fact, if anything, he is making us feel stupid. Our people are gleefully laughing at the few of us who believed in and worked for  ‘change’ in Nigeria. They conveniently forgot that Anambra, for instance, that gave GEJ 1.5 million votes in 2011, only gave him 600, 000 votes in 2015 because we worked tirelessly to prevent rigging. Some of us are being witch-hunted. The only reason is that we are APC stalwarts. What do we have to show for our trouble?
“Now Buhari is adding to our sorrow by not considering any Igbo man worthy of being given appointment. How can I be happy? I am sad!”
Chris was reacting to the recent appointment of the Secretary to the Government of the Federal (SGF), Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Services, Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly (Senate) and Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (House of Representatives). He was particularly sad that his expectation and that of many Nigerians, that an Igbo man would be named the SGF, in particular, was dashed by President Buhari. He could not understand why, out of a legion appointments in the first 100 days of the Buhari government, no Igbo man from South East has got anything in the evolving Federal Government.
Reading Chris’ message, I could not but feel sorry for him.  I could understand his pain and disappointment. Nobody would be happy that after putting his all in a battle, when it’s time to share the benefit of the victory, discrimination would come in. Such development would be the worse betrayal ever. It will be like a stab in the back from a perceived compatriot. It would be like the unkind cut of Dennis Brutus, during the rebellion and treachery that took the life of the Roman ruler, Julius Caesar, who could not take the heartbreak that a trusted and close friend/associate as Brutus could not only join a coup d’état, but also stab him in the process.
While I pity my friend, I must say that I am not one bit surprise at the development. I am not surprise that in the appointments Buhari has made, the South East has been excluded, while a few positions were conceded to the South West and South South.  Buhari is indirectly proving those who said that he is a northern irredentist right. He’s making the South East feel justified for not voting for him overwhelmingly in the March presidential election. Well, I do acknowledge that as president, Buhari has the power to appoint anybody he so desires. He could even appoint a goat and have his way, especially in appointments that do not require the approval of the Senate.  However, what happens to morality? And what about adherence to the Federal Character principle?
That Buhari did not eventually appoint Dr. Ogbannaya Onu, former Abia State governor and a man who played a significant role in the formation of the APC and worked for its victory last March or any other South easterners, for that matter, as the SGF did not come to me as a surprise. If he had picked a South easterner for that post, I would have been shocked. Oh, yes! There’s no doubt in my mind that he is punishing the South East for standing by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in the last elections. If he says this is not the case, then there  are some yet-to-be-revealed sins he is punishing the South East for. He and his aides may deny this. They may also deny that he ever said that he would not threat those who gave him 97 per cent votes and others who gave him five per cent equally. However, the truth is that the South East is an outsider in the Buhari government.
No matter the assurances the likes of Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Dr. Onu, Chief John Odegie-Oyegun and others may give, no matter the expectation that the South easterners may still get their fair share in the coming appointments, what is for sure is that the appointments Buhari announced so far have made the efforts of the South easterners in APC to be in vain. And I dare say, as I did in a previous article, the way South East is treated in the Buhari government will determine whether they would embrace the APC in future or not.  To say the least, appointments that excluded a whole geopolitical zone are as provocative as they are unfair. How do you explain this kind of lopsided appointments in first 100 days?: 1. Secretary to the Federal Government  (North; 2. Chief of Staff to the President (North); 3. Chief of Army Staff (North); 4. Chief of Air Staff  (North); 5. Comptroller General of Customs (North);   6. Director-General of Department of State (North); 7. National Security Advisor (North); 8. Chief of Defence Intelligence (North); 9.  Acting Director General, NIMASA (North) and 10. Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (North); 11. Comptroller-General Immigration (North); 12.  Accountant-General of the Federation (North); 13. Director General of the Nigerian Ports Authority (North); 14. Commander of Civil Defence Corps (North); 15. Chief Security Officer to the President (North); 16. ADC to the President (North); 17. Principal Secretary to the President  (North); 18. Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media  (North);  19. Executive Chairman of the NCC (North); 20. CEO, AMCON (North); 21. GMD, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (South);  Chief of Naval Staff (South); Chief of Defence Staff (South); Special Adviser on national Assembly (South) and Special Assistant to the President on national Assembly (South); Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity (South).
How would any one justify these pro-North appointments, coming at a time when these other power configuration subsists?: 1. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (North); 2. Vice President (South) 3. Senate President (North); 4. Speaker of the House of Representatives (North); 5. Chief Justice of the Federation (North). 6. President of the Court of Appeal  (North). 7. Chief Justice of the Federal High Court (North); 8. Chairman of the EFCC (North); 9. Chairman of the NDLEA (North); Head of Service (North) and 10. Inspector General of Police (South). In all these appointments, there is only one Igbo man (Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu) from South South and none from South East.
I have heard the argument that President Buhari has more than 600 appointments to make and, therefore, nobody or geopolitical zone should cry marginalisation yet. This may just be, but such an argument is what Americans call bullshit. It flies in the face. This is so because when exclusive positions are filled by people from one half of the country, while a sprinkle of the positions is extended to the others, there is no justice whatsoever. Indeed, the position of ministers, which is among the 600 positions so mouthed, is a constitution matter, which guarantees all states representation. Therefore, when Buhari appoints minister from all states, he is not doing anybody any favour. He’s only obeying the constitution, whether he likes it or not. However, what is true also, is that the choice of portfolio is at the discretion of the president.  There are Grade A ministries and ministers. There are Grade B ones. And there are Grade C ministries and ministers.  How Buhari allocates the ministries will tell the rest of the story. Nigerians are waiting, as September is here already.
In the first 100 days, the Buhari government has also talked much about the war against corruption. This has excited many Nigerians. However, what nobody will miss is that everybody in the immediate past Federal Government has been made a thief, when probes have not been concluded. We have heard how ministers made millions from oil deals. We have heard how Jonathan, his Chief Security Officer and ex-Minister of Petroleum allegedly paid out billion of naira for mobile speech podium without evidence that the thing was ever bought. We have heard many other allegations relating to graft. The way it is going, press trial has been taken to the highest level without giving the accused the benefit of defence. Whatever happens to the principle that the accused is innocent until proved guilty? Do we now have this: The accused is guilty until proved innocent?
I am not in anyway saying that anti-graft war is not good. Certainly, not. What we should desist from is media convictions, which is what is going on today. While there were corruption people in the Jonathan government, there were also good people. This is just as we will have both good and bad people in Buhari’s government. It’s only a probe that would separate the wheat from the chaff. And while the process of separation is going on, nobody should jump the gun.
Now, the position is that Buhari never made any specific promise for the first 100 days. I do not know why the fuss. Whether it’s in first 100 days or in the four-year tenure of the government, what Nigerians want are concrete achievements. It’s interesting that the Presidency would not want anybody to forget that in three months and 10 days, the government made the sharing of Nigeria LNG funds, which helped distressed states possible. Yes, the Presidency would celebrate the order for a single bank account. Of course, we will cheer about the order to the military to end insurgency in three months. All these are the other side of the Buhari first 100 days.

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One hundred days ago http://sunnewsonline.com/new/one-hundred-days-ago/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/one-hundred-days-ago/#comments Fri, 04 Sep 2015 01:31:43 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133858 When President Muhammadu Buhari, after his swearing-in, on May 29, allowed himself up to September to name his ministerial cabinet, he couldn’t have reckoned that the seeming adequate time would pass so swiftly to open him to very critical scrutiny by both supporters and political opponents on how far he had gone in meeting their expectations. ]]>

When President Muhammadu Buhari, after his swearing-in, on May 29, allowed himself up to September to name his ministerial cabinet, he couldn’t have reckoned that the seeming adequate time would pass so swiftly to open him to very critical scrutiny by both supporters and political opponents on how far he had gone in meeting their expectations. Supporters, in opting for Buhari in the presidential elections, believed he would provide a fresh political/administrative atmosphere, in contrast to the record of the previous 16 years while critics contemptuously dismissed all such optimism. To worsen matters for Buhari, the public expectations/pessimism (of supporters and critics respectively) within the conventional first 100 days (ending tomorrow), coincided with the September undertaking within which to name his ministers, Unless those ministers have been named by now, Buhari has up till the last day of the month to keep his undertaking, as he did not specify a particular date. But such an excuse or even undue delay henceforth, will subject the Buhari administration to further ridicule, both in Nigeria and abroad. Meanwhile, pro and anti-Buhari groups are, as expected, engaged in polemical fisticuffs on his performance so far
Either way, the better objective verdict must be related to what President Buhari inherited and promised the nation as a newly elected head of government on May 29, 2015. 1. Widespread goodwill at home and abroad. 2.Perception of Nigerians and the entire international community that the scale of corruption in Nigeria is one of the highest in the world. 3. A feeling of omnibus marginalisation of northerners   and indifference by south westerners even if such existed. The only point of note was the opportunistic exploitation of that dissatisfaction by discredited and politically irrelevant elements parading as representatives of Yoruba under the banner of a remnant Afenifere. 4. Free looting of national treasury by financial criminals purportedly claiming subsidy for fuel not supplied at all in many cases. 5. A rampaging Boko Haram insurgency, which forced the closure of Maiduguri International Airport for over a year. 6.Virtual collapse of nationwide power supply throughout the previous five years. 7. A poorly equipped Nigerian army facing and deserting a better-equipped insurgents. 8. Unpaid arrears of monthly salaries of federal and state civil servants. 9. Promise of battling corruption among public office holders and civil servants. 10. Routing of the Boko Haram assault on the nation. 11. National debt of trillions of naira owed to contractors.
Largely, international goodwill brought President Buhari to office last May and it is to his credit that he still retains that distinction for Nigeria. Substantially, the country is no longer viewed by foreign governments and businessmen as swimming in corruption. That is a feat attained within three months. Rather than a professional gimmick of foreign public relations consultants, that image change for Nigeria is due to Buhari’s firm leadership in containing the vermins in the public and private sectors as well as their foreign collaborators. Even on the highly debated issue of human rights, given his military background, Muhammadu Buhari is emerging unduly liberal. A good example was his weak submission that he would abide by any leadership(s) produced by the national leadership. Confronted with fallout of his liberal disposition, the same Buhari had to tactfully clip the wings of his National Assembly dissidents, who, after tasting the first blood, became insatiable. The prospects at that stage were that the National Assembly APC rebels, would eventually commence ruling the man at Aso Rock.
Rather sadly, President Buhari’s almost unlimited goodwill on the local scene, which followed him to office three months ago, has diminished. It should be a matter for concern that a man like former Kaduna State Governor Balarabe Musa now reminds us that we have a President of Nigeria who must ensure he does not deteriorate to president of northern Nigeria. There is an irony in this development. The controversy should not be sourced to only the appointments made, as the timing and manner. For example, for all the criticisms made, it is remarkable that, traditional critics have not described the appointees by President Buhari as “mediocrities.” The only reason for that is the sound education background of these fellows.
Mr. Babachir Lawal, the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation is a law post-graduate of Oxbridge (Oxford/Cambridge) as well as Warwick Universities. Such distinctions do not come better even though the easiest counter-submission is that any other part of the country (specifically South) could also produce men of distinction. Still, the criticism should be at a different aspect of the appointments. What was so important or more compelling for these latest appointments than the release of the list of the ministerial nominees? What is holding up ordinary release of list of ministers? If such a list had been simultaneously released with the recent appointment of virtually personal staff of President Buhari, there, definitely, would not have been any uproar or such might make much impact since ministers, statutorily, must comprise appointees from all parts of the country.
What is more, whenever the list of ministers is released for screening by National Assembly, the time may be only for the members to proceed on sallah holidays. For at least a fortnight if not longer? That will stretch to October before the commencement of the screening proper. To last how long? Conservatively, we may run into the first six months of the administration with another possible six months for the new ministers to effectively grasp their new job. In that situation, the longest serving minister may be for barely three years. If President Buhari strictly adheres to the public impression that he would serve for only one term, it must still be his interest that his party (would) win the 2019 race. Unfortunately, the anti-PDP coalition, which won APC the presidency only six months, no longer exists. South South and south East are now reflecting that, perhaps, they were correct in their voting preferences at the last presidential elections. After the elections, widespread reports indicated that South East thereby lost the Senate presidency. Hence the general speculation that South East would be compensated with the post of Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Nothing was done to dispel that speculation, only to be shattered all round,
On its part, South West is back to its old survival tactics of “siddon look” to nurse its wound. However, must South East, South South and South West (entire South) not retire into sober reflection on their political pattern of self-destruction? Each of the three was, along with the three northern zones, in contention for the post recently filled. But the three states, which lost were victims of regicide. In Rivers State, ex-Governor Rotimi Amaechi was subjected to judicial probe of his tenure by his political enemy, Nyesom Wike. In Lagos, new helmsman, Akinwunmi Ambode, for yet-to-be-stated reasons, intermittently released costs of some projects while his predecessor, Babatunde Fasola, was in office. In Imo, the battle for the South East zonal leadership of APC was the deciding factor. Hence, whatever the feelings of the people, Governor Rochas Okorocha openly supported President Buhari on the new appointments.
Still on the credit side, theft of public fund through legalised fraud called fuel subsidy has been substantially reduced. Indeed, there is no more display of loose money. Federal and state civil servants now collect monthly salaries as and when due after collecting their accumulated arrears hitherto owed them. The magic was sequel to instant and firm streamlining of financial regulation, affirming only a single Federation Account for any revenue accruable to Federal Government. Not left out are unpaid poor Nigerian soldiers at the war front, who have had that situation reversed. The army is now well equipped and has contained the Boko Haram insurgents. Maiduguri International Airport, forced to be closed almost two years ago by the superior firepower of Boko Haram, has been re-opened.
Most significantly, within the last 100 days, President Buhari gave order to the entire armed forces leadership to rout out the Boko Haram within a stipulated time of three months. The import of that directive was recently affirmed by one service chief, who said: “It is an order from the Commander-in-Chief and we must carry it out.” Days or at most weeks more for Boko Haram?

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A Tambuwal comes to judgment http://sunnewsonline.com/new/a-tambuwal-comes-to-judgment/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/a-tambuwal-comes-to-judgment/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 01:18:35 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133711 The big story now is that many states of the federation are queuing up for bailout. That derives from the meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC), which held in June, with President Muhammadu Buhari presiding. Before then, a number of states were known to be in financial straits. The situation was so bad that [...]]]>

The big story now is that many states of the federation are queuing up for bailout. That derives from the meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC), which held in June, with President Muhammadu Buhari presiding. Before then, a number of states were known to be in financial straits. The situation was so bad that many of the new governors who took over on May 29 could not function. They had to tell the story as it was. The gist in all of that was that many of the governors that just left office mismanaged the resources of their states.
But before the crucial NEC meeting, which let the cat out of the bag, a note of discomfort was already being sounded in Sokoto State. A concerned citizen had felt that his state, the seat of the caliphate, was about to indulge in the unusual. The citizen found this repugnant and decided to speak truth to power. That was before the bubble burst.
Aminu Tambuwal had then just taken over from Aliyu Wamakko as the governor of the State. But there was a missing link. Unlike what obtains and is supposed to obtain in states where an outgoing governor is handing over to an incoming one, Sokoto toed a different path. There was no declaration, official or otherwise, as to what Wamakko handed over to Tambuwal. Wamakko did not disclose to the people of Sokoto State the financial state or status of the state as he was leaving office. In the same vein,  Tambuwal, who just took over, did not disclose what he inherited or did not inherit from Wamakko.
The state of affairs was unusual. It was not in line with the tradition of accountability and transparency instituted and practised by Attahiru Bafarawa, who was governor of the state from 1999 to 2007. For the eight years that Bafarawa was in the saddle, the state’s financial status was published periodically after proper auditing. By the time he was leaving office in 2007, about N12 billion was left in the state’s coffers. He duly handed over this amount to Wamakko.
Even though Wamakko, soon after he took over, tried to discredit Bafarawa’s handover note, he could not go far enough because the people of the state were already accustomed to the culture of transparency that Bafarawa’s regime was known for. Wamakko may not have borrowed a leaf from Bafarawa in this regard. But it was expected that he would, at the end of his tenure, make certain disclosures about the state of finances of the state. But he did not. Tambuwal, on his part, did not help matters. He was also silent on the financial state of the state.
Significantly, the anomaly did not go unnoticed. A certain Alhaji Isma’ila Abdulmalik, a citizen of Sokoto State, could not hide his disgust for this unusual development. In an open letter addressed to Governor Tambuwal published in The Sun of  June 25, 2015, Abdulmalik drew Tambuwal’s attention to the fact that “it is only Sokoto State out of 29 states or so that had new administrations on 29th May, 2015, that is yet to reveal to the electorate the quantum of debts and money (if any) it has inherited from the immediate past administration. You may wish to know, Your Excellency, that people are anxious to know how much debts, liabilities and cash in various accounts your administration has inherited from the Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko administration….You may wish to reveal the details of finances or debts you have inherited now so that your silence on it will not be used against you in the not too distant future. People need to know how you started so that they can appreciate what you will be able to do with their resources and possibly thank you for it.”
That was the wise counsel from Alhaji Abdulmalik. He did not stop there. He equally advised Tambuwal to borrow a leaf from the style of administration of Bafarawa whose Commissioner for Finance used to address the press every quarter to explain to the state how much the administration received within the period under review, what was spent out of it, and what was saved for the rainy day. In the end, the Ministry of Finance issued annual audited accounts of the state government in collaboration with the office of the State Auditor General.
Alhaji Abdulmalik’s prescriptions for Tambuwal are very much in order. Public disclosure is the practice in every democratic setting. It makes even a greater sense in Sokoto State, where  Bafarawa’s periodic account to the people of the state yielded practical and verifiable results to the knowledge of those who took some interest in the affairs of the state. When, therefore, Bafarawa announced a surplus of N12 billion as the amount he handed over to Wamakko,  there was no argument about that. Bafarawa had his facts and figures. However, owing to political considerations, Wamakko, at some point, came to claim that he saw no money in the account handed over to him by Bafarawa . But the claims and counter claims belong to the chequered story of Wamakko’s frosty relationship with his predecessor.
What is of immediate relevance now is that Abdulmalik ‘s prediction is coming alive too soon. Tambuwal is among the 27 governors that applied to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for special intervention fund to bail their states from their parlous financial situation. Under the scheme, Sokoto State is to receive N10 billion repayable at an interest rate of nine per cent over a 20-year period. What this means is that all is not well with Sokoto State, just like the 26 others that are begging for the CBN intervention fund.
Sokoto cannot, by any means, be blamed alone. Searchlight is also being beamed on the other states whose finances have been mismanaged by their past and present governors.
However, the burden Tambuwal carries is that of non-disclosure. He carried on as if all was well. The people of the state asked for details, he gave them none. They asked him to jettison the secrecy that ruled and reigned under Wamakko, but he chose to ignore them. They also asked him to adopt Bafarawa ‘s open and transparent financial accounting system, but he did not act on the wise counsel. Now, a Daniel, nay a Tambuwal, has come to judgment. The governor now needs to explain to the people what went wrong. How did Sokoto get into this financial mess? Tambuwal, as the servant of the people, owes them explanation in this matter. The people need to know why they have to be saddled with such financial burden for 20 years. They need to know what to tell even the unborn child whose future has been mortgaged by the debt overhang. Silence will no longer do. Indeed, further silence on this  issue will mean that Tambuwal is shielding Wamakko at the expense of the people who voted him into office. The choice is Tambuwal’s to make.

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Leadership without ideology: Nigeria’s jinx http://sunnewsonline.com/new/leadership-without-ideology-nigerias-jinx/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/leadership-without-ideology-nigerias-jinx/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 01:12:22 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133702 As the absence of dividends of democracy permeates the fabric of Nigerian society, the gong for credible leadership dings interminably and more loudly than ever. The sound is reverberating globally among Nigerians in the Diaspora, who are stridently complaining about lack of equity and fairness in all levels of government. In some quarters, credible leadership [...]]]>

As the absence of dividends of democracy permeates the fabric of Nigerian society, the gong for credible leadership dings interminably and more loudly than ever. The sound is reverberating globally among Nigerians in the Diaspora, who are stridently complaining about lack of equity and fairness in all levels of government. In some quarters, credible leadership among elected officials is a necessary condition for building and accumulating social capital that would glue Nigeria together. To them, Nigeria is a fragile glass ball loosely fitted and held by tiring hands that may give up without strong support.
Still, others maintain that Nigeria needs a credible leadership at this juncture for the sustenance of its fledgling democracy and flagging bifurcated economy. They contend that despite the recent successful election that ushered in the current administration—a successful transition from civilian government to another civilian administration, the structure of the country and its institutions are weak and are thereby susceptible to any political stress. These individuals believe that the institutions are not strong to withstand an undue internal or external pressure.
In any case, Nigeria needs credible leadership for the maintenance of current or future reform efforts and sustenance of democracy. Most importantly, Nigeria needs in every sector arrays of leadership grounded in ideological underpinnings devoid tribal sentiments, nepotism, and sleaze. Unfortunately, leadership without ideology has permeated the fabric of Nigerian culture to the extent that it stretches beyond the shores of the country and across the Atlantic. Sadly, the gong for leadership without reproach in the Diaspora or in Nigeria, whether in parochial organizations or in the political parties, or in the government, continues to echo unabated.
Pitifully, Nigeria lacks selfless and responsive leaders, but has abundant human and natural resources, including selfish leaders who want to hold on to power; people who want to see themselves as perpetual leaders of no consequence. Professor Dennis Odionyenfe Balogu wrote some time ago about the phenomenon that has plagued the country, but in a particularized manner. He wrote, “Today, NdiIgbo still need, but lack leaders that have clear mission and vision, and can be trusted like Nnamdi Azikiwe, leaders that would be as dedicated and selfless as Mbonu Ojike and Michael Okpara. We need leaders that would call (on us) and NdiIgbo would come running because of the trust vested in them.” This aptly depicts what the entire nation is going through—the abundance of selfish leaders. These selfish leaders have at various times promised to be responsive in managing the resources of the nation, but only to renege right even before the elections are rigged in their favor. As a result, we’re being governed by a political class of marauders and gangsters, whose primary goal is to satisfy their venal horde of personal accounts while a few credible, but powerless people watch in loathe.
Unimaginably, the executive governors of various states in the country seem to control public treasury as a private one to the detriment of the masses. Managing the scarce resources of their respective states to maximize the common good should have been the primary responsibility of these executive governors. However, the rabid neglect of the economic well-being of the masses, while these leaders impishly gloat in affluence, is unconscionable and should be checked. Some of these current governors have used public funds to buy expensive houses and other properties in the western countries.
Thus, leadership, in the absence of war heroes, monarchies, oligarchies, dictators, and in the presence of democracy, is inherently a function of group dynamics, undeniably not individuals. There is always a symbiotic relationship between leaders and the led under normal circumstances. This relationship seems to reinforce the state of equilibrium. However, when there is no equilibrium in that relationship, the level of agitation for change would increase, especially where the led have the political power to effect change. In Nigeria, this scenario may be farfetched. However, the leadership in Nigeria is a reflection of all of us. We’ve been tamed to timidity.
Our political culture and structure breed mediocrity and corruption and in so doing, inhibit the spirit of selfless leadership and national spirit. In other words, not only that our political culture and structure do not support the ideology of common purpose, but also do not have the incentives for creativity in providing the common good. Since there is no direction emanating from the burden of ideology, the nation is sadly left with leadership of self-confusion and spirit of limitedness.
As a result, Nigeria has been inundated with myopic and recycled leadership that is neither responsive to the masses nor have a sense of common purpose. These self-proclaimed leaders have no intention of meeting people’s needs. Their philosophy runs starkly counter with the concept of leadership enunciated in the words of James MacGregor Burns: “The ultimate test of practical leadership is the realization of intended, real change that meets people’s enduring needs.”
There should be a real and substantive change in the culture of Nigerian leadership. In order to turn the corner, we must methodically start creating and restoring a sense common purpose, fomenting ideological formation, and engaging young people in politics and public service. It is also critical that every action must meet with an equal consequence. Bad leadership should not be rewarded. It is imperative that the country should change its political culture by increasing the level of political maturity and rapid filling of the leadership vacuum in every department.
Leadership vacuum precipitated by the structural flaws and lack of ideological underpinnings lends itself to unsavory activities that go unscathed. The jinx of corrupt leadership would continue to plague Nigeria until ideological principles start to permeate the culture. It is our hope that the jinx of bad leadership would be broken by a combination of diligent work of EFCC that is beyond reproach, unimmunized governors, and continued free, fair, and violence-free elections.

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Ole Joe, is this the defeat of psychology or the psychology of defeat? (2) http://sunnewsonline.com/new/ole-joe-is-this-the-defeat-of-psychology-or-the-psychology-of-defeat-2/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/ole-joe-is-this-the-defeat-of-psychology-or-the-psychology-of-defeat-2/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 23:40:47 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133648 Immediately it is understood that the G2 political and power architectures of Nigeria are, as designed by the Yoruba and the North, then ole Joe’s claim that what Bola Tinubu did, could not be done by any Eastern Governor washes color. Photographically, no politicians in the East can fix the Tinubu magic. But counterfactually, the [...]]]>

Immediately it is understood that the G2 political and power architectures of Nigeria are, as designed by the Yoruba and the North, then ole Joe’s claim that what Bola Tinubu did, could not be done by any Eastern Governor washes color. Photographically, no politicians in the East can fix the Tinubu magic. But counterfactually, the question is to be asked: could Tinubu if he were an Eastern post-civil war governor have been able to do all he did? The obvious answer is no. Tinubu’s political prowess, not talents, to have meaning must be linked to the G2 structure, its platform resources, including its veto powers, immunities and the empire state that Gowon and his sage protocolled.
Thus, the rebellion of the prince, the iwarefa, is not to be equated with the rebellion of the ogbonis or the politically minoritized, the excluded. Space will not allow us but if you assayed the words of Chief, Dr. General, retired, author, diplomat Olusegun Obasanjo, who was a vizier-dictator, an ogboni-iwarefa [an unlikely combination, but ole Joe things happen], you can mark and track these assumptions. Obasanjo’s rebuttals on the Achebe’s There was a Country, showed their hands so much. Here the signals are beneath the eye of the camera, but may be spotted by the eye-brainbox composite.
And ole Joe writes: ‘In the struggle for June 12, Abiola was put in detention, and his wife killed. Several Yoruba people were in detention and some hounded abroad. Abiola was eventually killed. But did the Yoruba go to war or resort to self-determination? No, they did not. They fought back using common sense and the power of ideas.’
Well, what one can say that ole Joe who is a brilliant engineer by training, is treating human time, historical time, as Newtonian constant, not even an Einsteinian variable. He has shown incapacity to adjust for the differing references of the events and groups at work and play. Yet, every modern historian knows that given a constant environment, and an event, E, that happened at a time, T1, and that the exact event is repeated at time T2, that mechanically the same event happened twice. But in historical accounting they are completely different events. The reason is why man is classified as Homo sapiens; a creation and creator of cultures. Ole Joe ronu.
Now how could he even equate the alleged denial of Abiola’s spurious mandate with the heartless, Nazi-like mass murder, pogrom, genocide, Gowon and goons planned, visited, orchestrated, engineered and or inherited against the Igbo?
It was Professor Wole Soyinka who once canvassed the line of thought, that the Igbo should not have gone to war since it was apparent – a historical lie- they would lose. And that was during the burial of his friend Professor Chinua Achebe. And Joe has fallen under the spell of the wise fable weaver and dramatist, but poor and wrongly briefed historian. The truth is that the Igbo did not go to war. We signed a treaty and Gowon, fickle and faithless, even over his own signatures, reneged and brought war to us. If Igbokwe is too young to know these things, well, let him now grow up. And as Mother A’Endu has admonished, men grow up by knowing the truth, and not by knowing or enduring the years. Space will not allow but we hope to treat this in full form in some other medium.
This leads to the rather curious photographic claim that ‘Yoruba proudly told the powers that be that you can only be the Head of State in Nigeria through two methods: either through an election or through a successful coup d’état.’ And we have heard a northerner, Umaru Dikko, we believe, claim that the preponderance of northern coup makers is because of their courage. Both Ole Joe’s and Dikko’s are shit talk and almost that smelly.
The composite fact is that there has only be two [successful]coups in Nigeria. The first coup is the Nzeogwu coup which lasted or lapsed in Ironsi. The next and only other coup is the counter coup which Gowon supervised, designed, executed and or inherited. Space will not let us marshal data and facts but the details are sufficiently in the open. After the Gowon counter coup Nigerian military was turned into a wholly northern Nigerian military. And the northerners are using it as their mad man’s theory, a political veto in renegotiating a Nigeria as federal republic of northern Nigeria – see Buhari’s ancient regime appointments for instance.
Now even if you didn’t want to inquire into the building block facts, the implications confirm this. If it is courage that the northerners have it would have manifested in their other lives and sectors of their lives. But it is clear that the northerners having distinguished themselves as prolific and plural coup makers have no matching achievements over and above others, otherwise. This is in counter-distinction to the historical experiences around the world. And examples abound. By the time the Athenians led the world in martial courage, in lockstep they also led the world in mathematics, in ship building, in poetry, in astronomy and in history making. By the time it was the Romans they led the known world in law, in engineering and administration. And when the Brits came in they gave us Newton, Adam Smith and Maxwell, amongst others. Now it is the Americans who hold the eagle feather in martial courage and it shows in all other areas: jeans making, rock music, computers, drones, going to the moon, and television.
So if the north had genuine courage where are the independent indicators to so prove? Where are the signs and where are the wonders? And there are none. And this barrenness is pregnant with meanings, including why and how we are undeveloped and indeed undevelopable. And it also self-suggests that the courage of the northern man is rigged and rigged in. Great and creative courage cannot serve only in coup making and collapse in other areas. This is proof if proof is needed that the Yoruba and the North never won the Biafra-Nigerian war. The British, the Americans did, and bequeathed victory to them, perhaps in error. And it is the British and Americans that are keeping us together today. If they want us apart, it won’t take a day longer. Igbokwe ronu, it is not enough to be camera or APC-eyed.
Now what happened if ole Joe cared to know is that Nigeria is so militarily configured today that only the north can do coups, accounting for their bestselling coups numbers. So, the Yoruba can’t do coups in present Nigeria because they, like the rest, are garrisoned peoples, by the very powers they helped to create. Professor Akinyemi confesses it, even if mutedly. And it must be put on record that the elections Obasanjo won as president were instigated and procured by northerners, and in highly structured circumstances. The only election Obasanjo and therefore, the Yoruba, using Joe’s accounting conventions], could have won on their own template was the third term. And they failed in it woefully.
Now this brings us to the claim and or supposition, forged and false, that the South-West are particularly gifted types in strategy. Nothing, repeat nothing, could be furtherer from the facts as they are on the ground.
The point is insistent and clear, there are no historical data and or facts to prove the mythology is fact. For emphasis, considering their historical-junctions roles, it can be stated without fear of any contradiction that their two most prominent strategists have performed sub-optimally in the power game. Both Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Senator Bola Tinubu (even as he is still work in progress) have not registered any superior returns on investments, politically, to their divide. Their balance sheets as are, are full of bad and doubtful debts, apparently not recovered, not recoverable. They have given the most only for others, to reap the reward. The planned and promoted accidents of Dogara and Saraki, Buhari’s current Nigeria for northern-Nigeria-only appointments, as well as the famous judge’s my hands are tied, are just balance sheet evidence of poor entrepreneurial power trade amongst others.
On the national scale they are yet to reap as dominant players with the dignity of the lion in his mane, as territorial overlords. So where is the strategy genius that makes of them the power moguls that are attributed to them? Where are their seigniorage profits, not as ogboni, but as iwarefas?
As to why the Igbo are jumping ship, perhaps, the very examples of these great Yoruba sons are models. At least it is on records as follows: Chief Awolowo, apparently an avowed federalist gave and submitted himself severally, under the UPN banners, to seek unitary presidential powers, under a concocted unitary constitution. And Tinubu who once led the charge for true federalism is now in a Siamese marriage with the most brazen unitarists Nigeria ever produced. So if these two can swing the pendulum for power, why is good ole Joe prohibiting others from riding APC jackpot from PDP poor house? In the event he misses it the big idea is that Nigeria is a game. Nigeria is not a mission. And the joke is on he who deludes or is deluded Naija is any other than a quarry, a fallen elephant. But lest we are counted in, we at the Turf Game, are really out and happily so. The point is that we vegetarians, we don’t do coke or suffer the carnivore’s dilemma.
Perhaps the biggest issue is to ask why is ole Joe into these slips, into these errors? Our conjecture is as follows. It is the tragedy of confounding victory with innocence, triumph with genius. But life is a lot more complex. If ole Joe continues in his way, he inadvertently is committing the worst error of logic. It is the ‘fallen angel’ status of allowing one’s psychology of defeat, to morph into a defeat of psychology. It is this that leads one to the Stockholm syndrome, of a man cooperating with and even loving the hangmen who have come for his head. Good ole Joe ronu.
Finally it is time to warn. Ole Joe victory is not scripture, is not scriptural. Ole Joe, Caesar hanged Christ, but it is Christ, not Caesar, that reigns. Luckily for Joe, being Igbo is a genetic and even more so, a cultural, a sociological, and thus a choice phenomenon. If ole Joe wills to cull himself out of being Igbo, we will reassure him that the gates of heaven will erupt in rejoicing. It will thus leave a lean and more evolved strain, the new elects.  And like the Israelis, an ‘islet’ peoples surrounded by the ‘archipelago of Arabs’, we will successfully defend the hearths of our fatherland. Thus ole Joe you might just as well degrade, transfigure into Ogboni, Arewa, or Egbesu Nigerian, and Igbo won’t miss you. Meanwhile, we are and remain ofo na ogu to the glorious end. Ole Joe, Mother A’Endu is with us and blesses us, why then dare we be afraid of men, whether they come in the guise of war mongers, murderers, assassins and or hirers of assassins! Ahiazuwa.

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Buhari, beware of Tinubu http://sunnewsonline.com/new/buhari-beware-of-tinubu/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/buhari-beware-of-tinubu/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 01:31:51 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133566 President Muhammadu Buhari sure means well for Nigeria. He is disposed to tackling corruption. But let’s not make mistakes. He can’t ]]>

GUEST COLUMNIST

Dele Akin Rahman


President Muhammadu Buhari sure means well for Nigeria. He is disposed to tackling corruption. But let’s not make mistakes. He can’t fight and totally win any war against corruption. All he can ever achieve, in my opinion, is to substantially curb the menace. To eliminate it will be a very tall order because we live in a human society where there are different shades of want and need. No country in the world has been able to eliminate corruption. From my readings, corruption is not a phenomenon that can be eradicated, like you eradicate polio.

However, given Buhari’s disposition, and strict disposition to the adherence of the rules, he may achieve a significant percentage reduction. But before he does that, he must address the moral burden he now lives with. That is one huge issue that will continually blight every effort he makes at prosecuting anyone for corrupt enrichment or embezzlement of public funds.

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a moral burden on Buhari. He is also a dent on whatever image Buhari professes to the public, and the world, as far as corruption war is involved. There is no denying the fact that Tinubu was one of the main facilitators of the Buhari presidency. He joined other key political actors to provide the platform and worked out the model with which Buhari achieved his dream of leading Nigeria as a democratically elected president. It will be, therefore, uncharitable to ever think of the Buhari presidency without tying it to Tinubu and his ability to mobilise resources for the feat.

Tinubu delivered his media organs, The Nation, TV Continental, Radio Continental to the Buhari campaign, churning out persuasive messages and propaganda in the pursuit of the vision to enthrone the APC candidate into power.  Yes, the former Lagos governor deployed other resources, financial and otherwise, to galvanise delegates support to deliver Buhari and the APC presidential primary election in Lagos. But despite all these, Tinubu is Buhari’s biggest moral baggage.

So many putrid things swirl around the former Lagos State governor that no leader who is committed to tackling corruption can gloss over. And that is why voices asking the President to commence the cleaning of Nigeria’s Augean stable from his party have refused to be drowned. Tinubu is unquestionably one of the richest Lagosians nay Nigerians as at today. The stupendous wealth certainly can’t be located in the matrix of hard work.  It is a product of shady deals, which shames his pretentious progressive credentials.

These are some of his upscale business concerns, which he allegedly acquired after leaving office as governor using fronts, which he has found extremely difficult to explain its financial base: Oriental Hotel, Falomo Shopping Complex, First Nation Airline, Lekki Concession Company, Apapa Amusement Park, Maiyegun Land Project, The Nation, Renaissance Hotel, Ikeja, Tejuoso Market (Joint ownership), Ikeja Shopping Mall, TV Continental. He allegedly converted Lagos Polytechnic land for TVC, owns NNPC office building in Lagos, Radio Continental, School of Nursing building in Lagos. He’s involved as tax collector of Lagos State (Alpha Beta).

His blind supporters believe that it is asinine to call attention to this abnormality. But the truth is that no serious nation can sweep such things under the carpet. The shibboleth of the current administration is fight against corruption. Tinubu is askew to that vision. An individual that owns 80 per cent of Lagos simply because he had the opportunity to govern the state cannot be a face of war on corruption, which the APC government represents. If the country is to hop into a new era of accountability, Tinubu, certainly, cannot be part of it. His socio-political life is strewn with dirts. Not too long ago, an online news magazine, Daily Beast.com, based in the US ran a story of Tinubu’s involvement in drug cartel in Chicago. Even though the truth or otherwise of the allegation cannot be ascertained, the man himself has not publicly denied it.

In the same measure, the recurring issue of Tinubu’s parental background and state of origin have remained suffused in controversy. This is totally at variance with the personality of the president, whose social life is not in doubt.

The lifestyle of the former Lagos State governor is largely the reason several Yoruba give cold shoulder to a suggestion that he should wear the armband of the leader of the ethnic group.  Some reasons are always cited for rejecting him. First is his controversial academic claims and secondly, his large appetite for filthy wealth. These traits are opposed to the accommodating and incorruptible lifestyle of Pa Obafemi Awolowo.  The latter sacrificed all for the Yoruba. He was unblemished in every sense of the word. And that informed his choice as the leader of the race.

In contemporary time, Pa Abraham Adesanya lived for the people. He was neither greedy nor overbearing. His simple lifestyle and commitment to the cause of the Yoruba made people of the race to adopt him as their leader.

For now, the person who shares these ennobling values and characteristics is former governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba. On account of his principled disposition to issues as well as his refusal to succumb to questionable political deals he was elbowed out of APC, a party he helped to build.

All these things cannot be brushed aside by the Presidency. Nigerians are keenly watching on the template the administration intends to use to battle corruption. But Buhari has a leeway. He can redeem both his image and that of his deputy and in the process give credence to the anti-corruption fight if he borrows a leaf from Russia under Vladimir Putin.

Like Buhari, Putin, a former KGB chief, was helped into office by some individuals considered to be most corrupt in the Russian society. Putin also was aware that his quest for office was being backed and financed by the best wheeler-dealers of the Russian society. They threw their money for his election in exchange for protection. These were corrupt business and oil magnets, who had abused whatever needed to be abused in the Russian society to become rich.

These guys included Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky of Yukos Oil. As at 2004, Khodorkovsky was Russia’s richest man and was worth $15 billion. Along with Roman Abramovich, he was named Russia’s Person of the Year in 2003. They all put considerable resources into financing Putin’s election.

Despite their enormous contribution to ushering him to office, Putin refused to live with a moral burden as far as the campaign to stem corruption in his country was concerned.  At a time in history, Nigeria was equated with Russia on the corruption index. But Putin has been able to pull Russia out of the infamous club. How did he do it? He first went after those who funded his election with illegally acquired wealth. For this reason, Khodorkovsky, who was first given the option to leave the country but refused, found himself before the law and was found guilty of tax evasion. He bagged a five-year prison term for tax evasion. While in prison, his business partner was prosecuted and found guilty of money laundering and embezzlement. For Khodorkosvky’s involvement, his jail time was extended. Further probe of Yukos Oil led to the eventual collapse of the company.

With that, Putin sounded a note of seriousness in his anti-corruption battle in Russia. Putin’s action held a lot of promise for Russia. Having openly prosecuted and punished Khodorkovsky, one of his main election financiers, Putin off-loaded the moral burden that would have blighted his anti-corruption fight. This is the leaf Buhari must borrow if he is to clad his anti-corruption war in seriousness devoid of any witch-hunt.

Why probing Tinubu is important is that it will free Buhari to go after others. Otherwise, it will be ridiculous if Buhari seeks to prosecute perceived corrupt persons while shielding those immediately around him. If Buhari pretends not to have any evidence against Tinubu, he should reach out to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or even re-visit the documentary, Lion of Bourdillon. That short film holds a lot of leads into Tinubu’s corrupt empire from which he funded his political enterprise. Tinubu’s Chicago certificate scandal, which actually laid the foundation for his corruption of the public space, needs to be revisited. The reason is this: we have no reason to have allowed such odious show to have enveloped our sense of patronage. If Buhari is able to revisit that issue, like he is revisiting NITEL, then, we may begin to put things in proper perspective.

Besides reviewing leads exposed in the Lion of Bourdillon, it is also incumbent on Buhari to cause a re-opening of the Code of Conduct case against Tinubu. If former President, Goodluck Jonathan, did not go further with the matter, on account of not possessing the guts to do so, or on account of a deal that freed Tinubu and made him betray Nuhu Ribadu in the 2011 presidential election, a Buhari who has professed the guts to look into our national past, ought to re-open the matter and make sure that justice is served to both the accused and the accuser.

I recall that a prominent politician, in several published interviews, had raised allegations of conversion of public property to personal use, including the alleged stealing of a polytechnic, which was converted to house Tinubu’s media company in Lagos. Those allegations are yet to be answered or denied. I also think that allegations by several other Nigerians against Tinubu should be investigated. It thus says a lot about the convincing work that Buhari ought to do to give his anti-corruption fight a serious and altruistic face. Not investigating any of those issues would dent Buhari’s charge against corruption.

I know that it will be argued that those alleged property belong to Lagos State. Yes, they do, but they also belong to the public and the public deserves justice in this regard, knowing that the incumbent governor of the state will not investigate, as doing so may consume him.

Former Governor Babatunde Fashola is still paying a price for refusing to grant some self-serving requests of his godfather. He is close enough to Buhari, or perceived to be so. Therefore, he can shed more light.

In all, Buhari has a golden opportunity to prove to the world that his anti-corruption fight is not targeted at some individuals he may have disagreed with in the past.  The starting point should be Tinubu. If Putin could do it in Russia, nothing stops Buhari from doing it in Nigeria. That is the only one way that Buhari’s action in removing crude-swap partners of the Jonathan era, and replacing them with oil companies linked to Tinubu, like Oando, would be seen as an action taken in national interest. It is the only way Nigerians can cast their trust on the corruption war.

• Dr. Rahman is university don and a public affairs commentator.

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Buhari, people’s pin-up president, falters http://sunnewsonline.com/new/buhari-peoples-pin-up-president-falters/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/buhari-peoples-pin-up-president-falters/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 01:26:00 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133564 The national outrage that erupted soon after President Muhammadu Buhari announced last week, the names of people he appointed as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the Chief of Staff, and the heads of other government departments was indicative of the level of public disappointment with Buhari for failing to reflect geographic or regional balance in the people he appointed. Public indignation over the appointments is justified.]]>

The national outrage that erupted soon after President Muhammadu Buhari announced last week, the names of people he appointed as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the Chief of Staff, and the heads of other government departments was indicative of the level of public disappointment with Buhari for failing to reflect geographic or regional balance in the people he appointed. Public indignation over the appointments is justified.

When a president continuously appoints people from one section of the country to serve in his government and marginalises other regions, he sends the strong message that people in other parts of the country are unfit, incompetent, unqualified, inexperienced, and do not measure up to his benchmark for appointment into his government.

It is remarkable how merit has now become a catchphrase used to defend the president’s lopsided appointments. I have listened endlessly to the ludicrous line of reasoning advanced by people who constitute a choral group that consistently recites the song that appointments made by Buhari could not be faulted because they were based on merit. How self-serving? In previous governments when appointments were somewhat balanced, the same people who are now lecturing us on the virtues of merit-based appointments, cried endlessly that the federal character principle had been murdered.

Buhari’s previous and latest appointments remain clearly biased and a slap on the wrist of people in the southwest, the south-south, and the south east parts of the country. Leaders of the APC from these regions who worked hard to put up the APC in a position in which the party successfully overthrew the dominant People’s Democratic Party (PDP) must now be feeling slighted by the asymmetrical nature of the region of origin of the people appointed by Buhari to serve in his government.

When leading politicians in the PDP and other opposition parties identify Buhari as a bigoted politician, they will point to his biased appointments as evidence to back their accusations.

It is disingenuous to assume, for example, that people in the southwest, southeast or south-south are unfit to serve in Buhari’s government or that they lacked higher qualifications and experiences compared to those in the president’s region of origin who were appointed on the basis of merit. Suddenly, we no longer see value in the need for the president to reflect federal character in his appointments.

Another point that needs to be cleared up quickly is the propaganda that, if Buhari should reflect federal character in his appointments, it would mark the enthronement of unskilled, unqualified, and incompetent people in government. That is decidedly a false premise. When people ask Buhari to reflect federal character in his appointments, they are asking him to consider the multi-ethnic and multi-religious composition of Nigeria’s population. No one is asking Buhari to pick unqualified and inexperienced people from the southeast, southwest, and south-south regions. Buhari should look closely and nominate qualified and competent people from these southern regions because, surely, these regions have many highly educated, experienced, and professional people.

A former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav, expressed his disappointment over the lack of balance in the geographic origin of people most recently appointed by Buhari to serve in various capacities. His views are consistent with public opinion on the issue. Tsav said: “I see the appointments as lopsided. Nigeria is too big to have majority of the appointees from one section of the country.  We have competent people in every part of Nigeria. For that reason, he (Buhari) should spread the appointments to every part of Nigeria…”

The same sentiments were expressed by the chairperson of the Northern Elders Council, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai. He made it quite clear that Buhari’s appointments to date had favoured people in the president’s geographic region probably because that was the region that gave Buhari the largest number of votes in the last presidential election. However, he also pointed out quite correctly that: “In Nigeria today, we have competent people all over the country, no doubt about it… We have people with university education and working experience all over the country. So, we are not in dire need of competent people because they are everywhere.”

Tsav’s comments are apt in the same way that Yakassai’s arguments are sound. The notion that Buhari’s appointments are based on merit lacks validity. It is a dishonest and hare-brained line of argument to push. It is absurd to argue that Buhari has been picking people from the north based on merit. What that wacky argument suggests is that the north is more endowed with qualified and experienced people who are fit to serve in government compared to other regions of the country that, presumably, lack qualified and experienced people. No one region of the country has a monopoly of qualified and experienced people relative to other regions. To argue otherwise is to turn reason on its head.

The pre-election campaign slogan that hoisted Buhari as a change agent is now flawed. We all seem to associate change with positive development. That is a misconception. Change can also be negative, such as the kind of change that Buhari has been making in appointing people from one section of the country to serve in his government. It seems that the change promised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the general election campaigns has turned out to be skewed, unsustainable, and antithetical to national development. And this is coming so early in the tenure of the current APC-led Federal Government.

In appointing his officials, Buhari must not ignore the sensitive feelings of people across the country. Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. And as regionalism is a major feature of politics in the country, these sensitivities must be respected. By asking that these sentiments be considered in federal appointments, the public is not asking Buhari to install second-rate people in his government.

A presidential aide who was obviously worried by the widespread magnitude of public criticisms of Buhari’s latest appointments, gave assurances that Buhari would still reflect geographic balance in his remaining appointments. That statement must be taken with a great deal of doubt. How could Buhari correct the imbalances in his earlier appointments when he is almost running out of options? Would Buhari balance his appointments by nominating all his ministers from the southern regions that have been marginalised? If he were to do so, he would counteract the constitutional requirement about the states of origin of federal ministers.

There was even a hint of arrogance in the presidential aide’s tone when he said needlessly that Buhari had the right to appoint people to serve in his government. Yes, Buhari in his capacity as president has the right to appoint people to serve in his government. However, the right to appoint people is not a right that should be abused or misused. In exercising his right, the president must be conscious of the need to ensure that officials of his government are selected from across the country, not just from one part of the country.

Suddenly, Buhari, the people’s superstar president, is beginning to look fallible.


Re: Who can stop Oshiomhole, the Saint from talking?

I have read your piece with the above title. Inasmuch as I agree with you that as a member of the “committee set up to critically examine the accounts of the NNPC and the Excess Crude Account”‎, Oshiomhole should have refrained from making public comments about the people whose activities the committee is investigating, I beg to disagree with you on the glowing tribute you’ve paid to Adesina’s tenure as Agriculture Minister.

As Minister of Agriculture, Adesina superintended a massively fraudulent exercise that he called “telephone for farmers”. This was a conduit through which he siphoned up to N60 billion from the Nigerian treasury.

As I write this, there is no one in my agrarian state of Benue that got a phone from Adesina’s Ministry of Agriculture. And I know that telephone is neither an agricultural implement nor input. To, therefore,‎ expend such a huge amount of money on it smacks of nothing but corruption. And the searchlight shall soon beam on him. But till then, Oshiomhole should minimise his public utterances.

Orngu Titus 

Levi, let me commend your apt description of Oshiomhole and his indiscreet use of words against his perceived enemies. I thought I was the only one who had been worried by Oshiomhole’s use of indecent language against people he perceives as his enemies. In comparative terms, Oshiomhole does not come anywhere near the profile of the internationally respected former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

There are clear processes in our system to be adopted in prosecuting people who are suspected to have engaged in corrupt practices. These legal procedures are respected by enlightened minds in Nigeria and these are very few in the nation’s leadership bracket.

It has become a common practice by our political leaders to misuse power when they suddenly find themselves in positions of authority. A Yoruba adage says that no one can see the back of their head but other people. Let us wait patiently to watch the closing scene of the drama in which Oshiomhole is the main character.

Lai Ashadele (laiashadele@yahoo.com)

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Why Peace Committee must disband now http://sunnewsonline.com/new/why-peace-committee-must-disband-now/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/why-peace-committee-must-disband-now/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 01:22:48 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133387 The drumbeats of war sounded so loudly in the run-up to the 2015 general elections, that it reverberated in major capitals across the world, raising concerns that Nigeria could blow apart, if the polls were stalemated.]]>

The drumbeats of war sounded so loudly in the run-up to the 2015 general elections, that it reverberated in major capitals across the world, raising concerns that Nigeria could blow apart, if the polls were stalemated.

The prospect of a political quagmire loomed very large on the horizon. But like they say, all that is now history. The transition was concluded peacefully to the glory of God, and peace now reigns in Nigeria, apart from the perennial Boko Haram insurgency, which is also top on the agenda of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government.

Every patriotic Nigerian should support President Muhammadu Buhari in his war against terror and its twin demon of corruption. His success or failure would ultimately be judged by the defeat of insurgency and the recovery of looted public funds by the government of his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in particular, because the most reckless looting of our national resources happened under his watch.

One is therefore, disappointed by the discordant tunes coming from some members of the National Peace Committee, which includes former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar; Bishop Matthew Kukah, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’Ad Abubakar III; the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor; Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh;  etc. The committee only recently visited President Buhari for undisclosed reasons.

But Bishop Kukah, who addressed journalists on behalf of the Peace Committee after the meeting with the President alluded to the ongoing investigation of the PDP government of ex-President Jonathan, saying his group appealed to President Buhari “to be fair” in his handling of the probe.

I am amazed at the ecclesiastical affinity of Goodluck Jonathan. First it was Pastor Ayo Orisejafor and now it is Bishop Kukah. Both are now amalgamated in the Peace Committee. I submit that Pastor Ayo Orisejafor has exhibited himself as a general factotum of the imperial house of Jonathan and Patience Goodluck. He, therefore, debunks the definition of an emissary of peace on an unremunerated endeavour.

Bishop Kukah, in his apologetic prolixity describes Jonathan’s governmental enterprise, inter alia, as “fantastic.” To my sanctified mind; this is not only imaginary but approaches the periphery of phantasmagoria.

He castigates President Buhari in subtle verbiage for what he perceives to be a sluggish pace in revving the engine of governance. He thus, abandons momentarily, the responsibility of his committee’s morality posture and immerses his Episcopalian garments in the quagmire of the political emporium. He almost loses his compass in a broken monologue of praise singing sycophancy in veneration of vanquished Jonathan Goodluck. Haba Aboki, with all due respect!

Question: What compels a chartered libertine who has been weaned on the mountains of divine servitude to descend to such lowly valleys of mundane terrestrials? What inspired such lisping accents of jejune political naivety? Is it peace committee? Seriously? Yeah right! Ha!

There are several other questions still begging for urgent answers: Who sent the National Peace Committee to Aso Rock to plead with President Buhari “to be fair” to officials of the Jonathan government now under investigation? Why is the committee putting the President under pressure in his quest to rid the Augean stable of the filth of the corrupt PDP regime? Why are they pre-empting the President by assuming that he’d not be fair?

A mitigation plea by this Committee is not only premature but uncalled for, and is a direct insult to the injury that ex-President Jonathan’s six-year misrule has inflicted on Nigerians, majority of whom are now impoverished and dying from the ravages of hunger, malnutrition and disease.

The Peace Committee is no longer relevant and should honourably and immediately disband, to save Nigerians from this gratuitous charade and national embarrassment. There’s no denying the fact that, at least, one of the committee members used to hobnob with ex-President Jonathan, and is a beneficiary of his patrimonial leadership.

President Buhari’s crusade against corruption must begin with a comprehensive probe of former President Jonathan, to send a clear signal that he means business. A serious fight against corruption must, therefore, begin with the immediate subpoena of the former President, who ran a large patronage network that spurned the unprecedented corruption that has brought this nation to the abyss. Under his leadership, his extravagant wife, Patience, functioned like a Deputy President, and must also be investigated, to ascertain the extent of her involvement in the squandermania.

Since a fish rots from the head, any credible and effective drive towards the recovery of looted public funds in the PDP Federal Government can only succeed, not just by investigating functionaries of that government, but by taking the bull by the horn: Probe the ex-President and his imperious wife.

President Buhari must know that Nigerians are firmly behind him. He must demonstrate to the world that he still has fire in his belly, by showing himself strong, fearless and capable of taking on the most sacred cows whose hands are soiled.

PDP chieftains and the erstwhile First Lady made an issue about Jonathan going to jail if President Buhari won the elections. In the twilight of his administration, Jonathan had warned that officials of his government would be persecuted. Well, this is cheap talk. The President has no power to send anyone to jail unless the court finds such person guilty.

Moreover, there’s nothing new about jailing high profile leaders. Besides, it is in Jonathan’s interest to face a probe to clear his name if he has nothing to hide.

The late politician, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was the leader of the opposition in the first republic when he was tried and jailed by the Tafawa Balewa government for treasonable felony. President Buhari himself was behind bars for 23 months with his No. 2 man, the late Gen. Tunde Idiagbon, after their military regime was toppled in August 1985, 30 years ago this month.

The Peace Committee should stop whipping-up sentiments about the probe and allow justice to take its natural course. Whoever is aggrieved or dissatisfied with the outcome of an investigation could seek reliefs from the court, which is open to all. The probe is across party lines, President Buhari has assured. Therefore, nobody has anything to fear if

their hands are clean. Whoever is found guilty of misappropriation must face the appropriate sanctions prescribed by law. Period!

The ambience of peace we now enjoy was attained by team effort, not just the Peace Committee. The international community, especially American President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister, David Cameron, played commendable roles.

On my part, I dare say that I contributed to the success of the transition by resisting pressures to go to court to stop the general elections because of INEC’s refusal to allow our party, Fresh Democratic Party, FRESH, participate in the elections, despite the court verdict that voided the de-registration of our great party. I knew that a successful move to

halt the elections would favour the PDP, which was facing imminent defeat from a determined and cohesive opposition, APC, which looked certain to carry the day. The PDP would have been grateful if anyone was able to stall the polls. It would have had a valid excuse to stay in power to continue to cover its tracks.

Former President Jonathan feigned ignorance of INEC’s intransigence in perpetuating the illegal act of disobeying a court order to relist our party and allow it to take part in the elections. He condoned the abuse of power and flagrant contempt for the rule of law displayed by the electoral agency; but now out of power, and at the receiving end of a new order that has restored individual liberties, Jonathan is desperately campaigning for the corporate respect of the rule of law. What goes up must come down.

• Rev  Okotie, a pastor-politician, wrote from Lagos; okotie@revchrisokotie.com. Follow on twitter @Revchrisokotie, 08078421451 (SMS only)

 
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Nigerian president or king of the North? http://sunnewsonline.com/new/nigerian-president-or-king-of-the-north/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/nigerian-president-or-king-of-the-north/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 01:18:42 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133384 In 418 BC Herodotus, the Greek philosopher, who is known as the “father of history,” said “a man who does not know anything about the events that took place before he or she was born will remain forever a ]]>

By Femi Fani-Kayode 

In 418 BC Herodotus, the Greek philosopher, who is known as the “father of history,” said “a man who does not know anything about the events that took place before he or she was born will remain forever a child.” Not only was he right but one must go a step further by saying that those who refuse to learn from their history are condemned to repeating its mistakes.

In 1957, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sadauna of Sokoto and the Premier of the North, said the following:  “We the people of the North will continue our stated intention to conquer the South and to dip the Quran in the Atlantic Ocean after the British leave our shores.”

Three years later, on October 12,1960, he went a step further by saying the following words to the Parrot Newspaper: “The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather, Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us and never allow them to have control over their future.”

That same year, he said:  “I will allow Sir Tafawa Balewa to go and become Prime Minister and lead the unbelievers of the South while I will stay in the North and lead the faithful.”

One year later, in a television interview with the BBC (which can still be viewed on Youtube) he was asked whether his “northernisation policy’’ would be a temporary or permanent feature. His response was as follows. “ In actual fact, the policy is a northerner first. If you cannot get a northerner, then you get an expatriate like yourself on contract. If we cannot get that then we will employ another Nigerian from the South on contract too. This is going to be a permanent policy as far as I foresee.’’

Not to be outdone, in January 1947 on the floor of the Northern House of Assembly, Sir Tafawa Balewa, a man that was to become the first Prime Minister of Nigeria 13 years later, said the following words: “We do not want our Southern neighbours to interfere in our development. We have never associated ourselves with the activities of these people. We do not know them, we do not recognise them, and we share no responsibility in their actions. We shall demand our rights when the time is ripe. If the British quit Nigeria now at this stage, the Northern people would continue their uninterrupted conquest to the sea.”

The passion for total domination of the Nigerian state by the North has not in any way diminished over the years. As a matter of fact, it appears to have become even more pronounced and, for some, it has become an obsession.  Consider the following.

On October 2, 2014, one Aliyu Gwarzo said the following to Pointblanknews: ”When I say that the Presidency must come to the North next year, I am referring to the Hausa-Fulani core North and not any northern Christian or minority tribe. The Christians in the North are nothing and the minorities know that when we are talking about leadership in the north and in Nigeria, Allah has given it to us, the Hausa-Fulani. They owe us everything. This is because we gave them Islam through the great Jihad waged by Sheik Usman Dan Fodio. We liberated all these places and all these people by imposing Islam on them by force. It was either the Quran or the sword and most of them chose the Quran. In return for the good works of our forefathers Allah, through the British, gave us Nigeria to rule and to do with as we please. Since 1960, we have been doing that and we intend to continue. No Goodluck or anyone else will stop us from taking back our power next year. We will kill, maim, destroy and turn this country into Africa’s biggest war zone and refugee camp if they try it. Many say we are behind Boko Haram. My answer is what do you expect? We do not have economic power or intellectual power. All we have is political power and they want to take even that from us. If they don’t want an ISIS in Nigeria then they must give us back the Presidency and our political power. Their soldiers are killing our warriors and our people every day but mark this: even if it takes one hundred years we will have our revenge. Every Fulani man that they kill is a debt that will be repaid even if it takes 100 years. The Fulani have very long memories.”

The full text of Gwarzo’s contribution can be read on Pointblanknews or elsewhere. His words are self-explanatory and they need no further analysis. Thankfully his views do not represent the thinking of the majority of Hausa Fulani people but he does speak for a dangerous and vocal minority and his words constitute a clear statement of intent. Simply put, it is his desire to conquer and subjugate southern Nigeria and to restore northern domination and supremacy in the affairs of our nation in perpetuity.

The quest for northern domination in the affairs of our country is as old as the hills. It led to a brutal civil war between 1967 and 1970 in which millions were killed. It led to pogrom after pogrom and slaughter after slaughter in the north. It led to a series of military coups and counter coups. In 1991, it led to a coup by Major Gideon Orkar, which, if it had been successful, would have resulted in the excision of the core northern states from our country. It led to the annulment of Chief MKO Abiola’s presidential election of June 12, 1993, which almost resulted in a second civil war.

It led to the brutal suppression of the south by General Sani Abacha and the murder, torture, incarceration and exile of many southern leaders. It led to stiff opposition to the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo in the North, which came in the guise ‘’political sharia.’’  And finally it led to its most barbaric and hideous expression in the relentless opposition to the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan, which came in the form of Boko Haram.

Judging from recent events, with President Buhari now in power, it appears that those that have been lusting for total northern domination for the last 55 years have finally had their way.

The inability to think deeply or profoundly is a curse. The inability to read widely and learn from others is a pitiful and costly affliction. If there were ever a time for profound thinking and deep and sober reflection when it comes to the affairs of our nation, it is now. I say this because only three months after President Buhari has been sworn into office the power configuration, vis a vis North and South, has resulted in the following mess.

1. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – North. 2.Senate President – North. 3. Speaker of the House of Representatives – North. 4. Chief Justice of the Federation – North. 5. President of the Court of Appeal – North. 6. Chief Justice of the Federal High Court – North. 7. Secretary to the Federal Government – North. 8. Chief of Staff to the President – North. 9. Chief of Army Staff – North. 10. Chief of Air Staff – North. 11. Comptroller General of Customs – North. 12. Director-General of State Security Services (SSS) – North. 13. National Security Advisor – North. 14. Director General NIMASA – North. 15. Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) – North. 16. Comptroller-General Immigration – North. 17. Accountant-General of the Federation – North. 18. Commander of Civil Defence Corps – North. 19. Chief Security Officer to the President – North. 20. ADC to the President – North. 21. Principal Secretary to the President – North. 22. Senior Special Assistant to the President on media – North. 23. Chairman of the EFCC – North. 24. MD, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) – North. 25. Head of Service – North. 26. DG, National Communication Commission (NCC) – North. 27. Chairman NDLEA – North. 28. CEO, AMCON – North.

• Fani-Kayode is former Minister of Aviation.

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Buhari, CBN: First, do no harm http://sunnewsonline.com/new/buhari-cbn-first-do-no-harm/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/buhari-cbn-first-do-no-harm/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 01:08:47 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133378 President Muhammadu Buhari has yet to outline the direction and goals of his economic policy. Even so, major players in the country’s economy are already feeling the impact of specific policy decisions as ]]>

President Muhammadu Buhari has yet to outline the direction and goals of his economic policy. Even so, major players in the country’s economy are already feeling the impact of specific policy decisions as they are emerging. For a wide segment of these critical players, the impact is negative, even grave.

Under Mr. Buhari’s watch, the Central Bank of Nigeria has banned access to foreign exchange to certain categories of importers, including those who bring in toothpicks, rice, vegetable oil and tomato paste. The bank has also placed severe impediments on other businesses, among them manufacturers that import machinery and other goods.

The motives behind the bank’s recent monetary policies may seem sound—as former Governor Peter Obi recently told reporters in Awka, the capital of Anambra State—but Nigerians appear to be worse off for them.

With the price of crude oil showing no signs of going north soon, Nigerians are in for a long season of hard times. We just came off an electoral season in which all manner of politicians mopped up dollars for their campaigns. If you factor in the flight of capital—as many foreign and local institutional investors, scared of post-election uncertainty, pulled out of the stock market—the picture is of an economy certain to pass through a significant phase of scarcity and painful adjustment. The pressure on the naira remains enormous, and has led to a significant drop in the currency’s value.

The CBN’s response has been to use monetary policies to defend the naira. In pursuit of this defensive stance, the bank has chosen the role of an umpire determined to favor some players in the economy while rigging out other players. It has given the red card to importers of certain commodities. The bank also made it significantly more difficult for Nigerians to make transactions with their domiciliary accounts. It prohibited cash deposits into such accounts, and set new limits for cash withdrawals from accounts. During foreign trips, the daily withdrawal limit is N60, 000 or $300, a rule that defeats the gain of joining the global financial village of electronic bankcards.

Sadly, the CBN’s rules have had the effect of harming, above all, small and medium businesses and their proprietors. The Guardian of August 24 reported that former Governor Obi urged the Central Bank to reconsider its new policy on domiciliary accounts “as it was hurting the economy due to its effects on small and medium scale businesses, which formed the biggest employers of labor in the country.”

According to the Guardian, Mr. Obi suggested that “any policy not favorable to small and medium scale businesses both in short and long terms should be re-examined, especially now that one of the biggest challenges of Nigeria was unemployment.” He described such businesses as “pivotal to the fight against extreme poverty.”

The former governor’s argument is unassailable. Even before a government policy justifies itself in the positive results it brings, it must meet the test of doing no willful harm. And it’s impossible to argue that the CBN’s policies rise to the no-harm standard.

At the current stage of the Nigerian economy, some of the most dynamic players are small or medium-scale entrepreneurs. A few of them are low-level manufacturers, most merchants of imported goods. They are able to employ a handful of people. Even more crucially, they provide for members of their immediate and extended families.

In a country steeped in poverty, these players provide an invaluable safety net, ensuring that millions of Nigerians have some food on their table, are able to go to schools, and have access to roofs over their heads as well as healthcare.

Suddenly, this body of enterprising Nigerians find themselves at the receiving end of the government’s harsh, desperate, but unjustified monetary policy. Their ability to procure goods from their foreign suppliers is all-too suddenly blocked. In a rather summary manner, they are herded into a train whose terminus is a place called Despair & Destitution.

In Nigeria, the rave at the moment is President Buhari’s political appointments, especially the disparity in favor of people from the president’s geographic origin and faith. That conversation is important, and should be engaged. Nigerians of goodwill ought to remind Mr. Buhari that, regardless of the polling numbers he received from different parts of the country, he is morally and constitutionally obligated to view himself (and act) as every Nigerian’s president.

I know that economic policies are not as sexy a subject as political appointments, but I dare suggest that they are of greater—indeed graver—import. And that’s one reason I’d implore Nigerians to take a closer interest in the CBN’s questionable response to the country’s cash crunch.

I have received telephone calls from two men affected by the Central Bank’s monetary policies. “There are a lot of us in this terrible position,” one told me. “We can no longer pay for imports from China or Taiwan or Singapore. And when we try to travel through the airports with the cash on us, the Customs search us down to our underwear and seize the money. What am I going to do to maintain all the people who depend on me? Are they telling me to become an armed robber or kidnapper?”

There was a heartrending tone to the concluding questions. And they were not idle, rhetorical questions, either. To emasculate this breed of economic players—as the CBN’s recent policies have done—is to court disaster on a scale that Nigeria has not witnessed in a long time. The simple logic is that humans must eat. And when they are denied legitimate, lawful and honorable paths to feeding themselves and their loved ones, some of them would resort to self-debased, criminal options. One of the consequences of government policies that gut businesses is a sharp rise in violent crime.

Apart from the social disruption inherent in the CBN’s policies, it is doubtful that it makes economic sense. On August 28, 2015, BloombergBusiness reported “Two members of Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee criticized the central bank’s attempts to prop up the naira by restricting access to dollars.” One member, Chibuike Uche, stated: “The denial of foreign exchange to businesses that engage in legitimate economic activities is confounding,” Uche, a professor of banking and finance at the University of Nigeria, said in his personal statement. “I am not convinced the CBN has the legal powers to deny the allocation of foreign exchange to legitimate businesses.” Another MPC member, Doyin Salami, argued that the CBN’s policy “would slow economic growth and that foreign investors were confused by the central bank’s attempts to defend the naira since March.”

Already, according to the paper, “Nigeria’s growth fell to 2.4 percent on an annualized basis in the second quarter, compared with 6.5 percent in the same period of 2014. The central bank’s restrictions probably contributed to the slowdown by making it difficult for manufacturers to buy the imported goods they need to operate, RenCap’s Mhango said in a note on Friday.”

President Buhari ought to step in and ask the Central Bank to reverse its policies—because, first and foremost, they are doing harm. He has a presidential duty to save Nigerians from a needless disruption and the dawn of an even harsher economic climate.

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Fashola must speak up! http://sunnewsonline.com/new/fashola-must-speak-up/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/fashola-must-speak-up/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 23:13:43 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133189 Whatever anyone says or thinks of him, one fact is incontrovertible about Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, CON, SAN, former governor of Lagos State: He obviously brought seriousness to the governance process in Lagos. With a methodical and studied approach, he brought decorum to the chaotic Lagos environment. For eight years, he was the no-nonsense governor, [...]]]>

Whatever anyone says or thinks of him, one fact is incontrovertible about Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, CON, SAN, former governor of Lagos State: He obviously brought seriousness to the governance process in Lagos. With a methodical and studied approach, he brought decorum to the chaotic Lagos environment. For eight years, he was the no-nonsense governor, who sought to make meaning out of the forest of insanity. He brought down houses that contravened physical planning laws; shut down companies that didn’t think much of environmental compliance, and cleaned up Oshodi, the dark symbol of all that was wrong with Lagos. With a rigorous monitoring of tax inflows, Lagos was booming in cash and projects. Fashola’s sun shone brightly, as he was hailed all over the country and beyond as ‘the governor of example.’ Example of how good governance ought to be, in a country ruined by tunnel-vision eaters masquerading as leaders!
Even though his adversaries claimed that he was ‘hyped’ and only excelled in the environmental transformation of the state, no one can deny that he left his mark in the annals of the Lagos space. He was also criticized for running an elitist government, which means government dedicated to the welfare and convenience of the bourgeois class, even as they alluded to the transformation of Lagos Island, Lekki, among others to the detriment of the areas populated by the hoi poloi, the masses, the socially and economically deprived.
Till his last day in office, I am sure he fought hard to shake off the toga of an elitist governor. I am not too sure he succeeded in doing that. He was often at pains explaining and trying to extricate himself from that charge. He insists he was governor of all Lagosians: The rich, the average, the poor and the wretched. He says he did for Lekki, what he did for Mushin; for Ikeja, what he did for Yaba; for Ikorodu what he did for Épe. Whether he is right or wrong in his personal assessment of his governance style is left for the people and posterity to judge.
I saw Fashola’s discomfort at being dubbed ‘elitist governor’ first hand at a dinner organized to introduce the man who eventually took over from him, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. It was held at the Intercontinental Hotel, Lagos, and had in attendance the cream of the media. I was actually the person who provoked that sore point when, during the interactive session, I asked him if he was aware of the widespread perception and if he accepted the characterization? In an emotion-laden voice, he said: “I reject that charge!” He then sought to deconstruct what he called the fallacy of those who mischievously tar him with the elitist brush.  He claimed to have even started bridge constructions in lowly areas of Lagos before the so-called elite areas. And all had the same standards! Where then was the discrimination against the poor?
For a question that couldn’t have taken up to three minutes, Fashola spent over 20 minutes trying to convince his audience that he hadn’t been an elitist governor. As I watched him sweat through the question, I thought of informing him that the man who posed the question (me) had no strong standing to do so, having never really  lived in Lagos in the past 13 years or so. How then was I to say for sure if he was elitist or not? I was only just mirroring the
popular  perception. No matter, Fashola waded through it.
I have only narrated the above story to show how serious the former governor takes his legacy. He and his teeming admirers believe he has discharged his duties faithfully, diligently and superbly in the eight years he was in the saddle. They would stop at nothing to protect and defend the integrity of the Fashola administration.
But that legacy and integrity are being called to question by reports of alleged malfeasance of the former Lagos helmsman. All sorts of allegations, including over-invoicing to outright larceny are being hurled at his doorsteps.  A group, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, insists vehemently that Fashola has not been as upright as he is being presented publicly. It swears he has looted Lagos with a straight face. That the Fashola perception, as a man of integrity, has been a smokescreen and a facade. It has brandished figures of how two or three boreholes were inflated to the tune of N136m. Bridges built at allegedly ballooned figures.   There was also another group that accused the former Lagos state CEO of building a personal website at the state’s expense, to the tune of N78m. CACOL says it is ready to expose other alleged financial recklessness of the governor!
Of course, Fashola has stoutly debunked the charges. In a personally signed statement, he alluded to a smear campaign by a group and their sponsors bent on denting his personal image and public record. He said he would not dignify them with a fight because ‘when you fight with a pig, the pig is happy and you are dirty.’
I have read the allegations and the response. I have also tried to take cognizance of what could have been the likely motive and undertone behind the allegations.  Politics, yes. Attempt to block his being appointed into Buhari’s cabinet? Not unlikely.  But are there unanswered questions? Yes.
Of course, everyone knows how fierce the battle for the soul of Lagos has been over the years. Right from the day he was drafted into Lagos politics by the owner of the game in Lagos and Southwest, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed TInubu, Fashola has faced all kinds of onslaught. He was seen as the pampered outsider crowned by a powerful godfather. But he won many hearts when he thrust himself into the furnace (of governance ) with all his heart and might, giving it a new verve. Even though the state was quite liquid during Fashola’s tenure, no one could deny his passion and drive.
His legendary bust up with Tinubu over alleged conflict of personal interests almost led to the truncation of his second term bid. Then, a group, The True Face of Lagos, alleged monumental fleecing of the commonwealth by Fashola, and concluded that he was not fit for second term. A rapprochement between the feuding parties and his perceived good works in the state, ensured his reelection. His attempt to pick his own successor as opposed to his godfather’s plan, also brought its own rancour, which was somewhat fixed, leading to the emergence of Ambode. Some have said that Ambode may be having his pound of flesh over Fashola’s initial reluctance to support him, by releasing official records of alleged sleaze during Fashola’s era.
There are also insinuations that Fashola’s closeness to Buhari had made Tinubu quite uncomfortable, and CACOL’s latest exposé was simply to alert Buhari that Fashola was not the saint he pretends to be. There has been media speculation of plans to appoint Fashola Secretary to Government or Chief of Staff or minister. And this allegedly has not gone down well with Asiwaju, who wants new kids from the Southwest.
All these have been some of the scenarios built around the Fashola issue since it became public discourse. Where do I stand on this issue? Here is my candid view: Mr Fashola has not given enough explanations on the allegations. If he doesn’t do so, he would be arming those who, he says, are bent on denting his image. I don’t believe it is enough to allude to political or malicious intent as he has done in his response to his traducers. In a country where people believe the worst of their leaders, Fashola can’t afford to treat the accusations against him with levity or wave of the hand. If I were him, I would respond to the issues point by point, one after the other, with facts and figures. I would seek to prove that I led, with verifiable transparency and integrity. I would even drag the accusers to court for seeking to soil my hard-earned reputation. I would sue them to their last dime. As a learned silk, am sure Fashola knows what to do in a case of defamation, if he strongly believes he has been defamed.
For the sake of his admirers and all those who believe he was governor of example, Fashola should lead by example by fully opening up on the allegation of over-invoicing on many projects undertaken during his administration. That is the only way to shout down and shut up all  those who say Fashola is not what he claims to be. Fashola has a duty to prove them wrong, if he believes they are wrong. Do it, BRF!

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King Adangba’s many wives and Amina Zakari http://sunnewsonline.com/new/king-adangbas-many-wives-and-amina-zakari/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/king-adangbas-many-wives-and-amina-zakari/#comments Sat, 29 Aug 2015 23:48:58 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133162 A LONG, very long time ago, there lived a king called Adangba. He was very rich, very powerful and feared. He was a warrior who won all the wars he fought. He had many slaves and a big compound where his blacksmiths worked day and night to fashion out new weapons and repair old ones. [...]]]>

A LONG, very long time ago, there lived a king called Adangba. He was very rich, very powerful and feared. He was a warrior who won all the wars he fought. He had many slaves and a big compound where his blacksmiths worked day and night to fashion out new weapons and repair old ones. He had many vassal towns that paid him taxes regularly. In spite of his wealth and power, Adangba was a kind and considerate man. He treated his people with fairness and was generous to his chiefs. Ordinarily, he should be a happy man but he was not for he had no son to inherit his throne.

Adamgba had a palace full of beautiful women, wives in dozens who gave him even more beautiful daughters. But was the use of beautiful daughters to a king who needed an heir? But he kept on trying because some bad people were saying some bad things about him. Some said he was not really a man otherwise he would have had a son. There were almost loud rumours that Adamgba had made a pact with the gods that he would not have sons as long as the gods gave him victory in every battle. Most of these stories got back to the king and kept him up at night. He would pace up and down his chambers for hours in pain and confusion. He offered sacrifices in all the shrines to all the gods but each time a queen fell into labour, she brought forth yet another girl.

Until one year, one evening, after the new yam festival, one of the neighbouring kings brought his daughter as a gift for the king. The king was reluc­tant for more than a reason. He had tried and tried and failed and failed. What was the guarantee that Ena, this new wife was going to give him a son, and not more daughters? He was already a minority in a palace full of females! And then this new wife not even beautiful. In fact, she was ugly.

The other wives sneered and sniggered. What was Ena going to do that they had not done? They even told her to her face that the best she would ever achieve was to produce the ugliest princess in the palace because since she was ugly, all her seeds would be ugly. But to the shock and dismay of all, including Ena herself, nine months after she paid King Adamgba her first night in the royal chambers, she gave birth to a set of twin boys, two beautiful boys.

It was a new day in the kingdom and royal household. The king was beside himself with joy. The birth of his heirs was celebrated for weeks. It was also the beginning of unprecedented rivalry and conspiracy against Ena. The head wife led the offensive. All the female-producing wives were on one side and Ena was all alone. First the wives went to the king and accused Ena of having brought strang seeds into the palace. How could see have gotten pregnant so fast? She must have been pregnant before her father offered her to the king. Couldn’t it have been because she was preg­nant outside wedlock that her ather ‘donated’ her to the king? When the king odered them out of his presence for even thinking such insulting thoughts, they came up with another accusation.

How could ugly Ena have given birth to beauti­ful babies? The king banished them all fro his chambers for seven market days. And Ena had more than her fair share of royal warmth.

Then they accused her of bewitching the king. Each time any of the princesses fell ill, Ena was the witch who caused it, the ugly stranger who had brought trouble to the palace. For a long time, King Adamgba tried to maintain a balance in his palace but the wives were determined to either frustrate or kill Ena who had come to make look bad by giving the king an heir, indeed two. Until the king proclaimed a royal order that made Ena an untouchable queen whose harassment was pun­ishable by death. It was only then that Ena found peace and went on to give birth to two more sons and two daughters.

The moral of that story. It is the black pot that produces the white pap. Do not judge a book by its cover. Years ago when I read Toads for Supper by Chukwuemeka Ike, the copy I got had no front or back cover. I didn’t know what was in the book but I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I was happy I didn;t yield to the temptation to ignore the book just because it had no cover. Just like King Adamgba didn’t let Ena’s ugliness discourage him. He would have lost the throne to another lineage but or the heir that Ena produced.

Right now, all eyes are on President Buhari to see what he would do with Amina B. Zakari, the Acting Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the first female to occupy this position in Nigeria’s history. She has been accused of all kinds of sins. When she wasn’t being accused of knowing someone who knew the President, she was being pronounced guilty of being PMB’s n-law. Like Ena’s traduc­ers, Zakari is in the eye of the storm . she is being pummelled from within and without by those who think she has come to pour ‘sand sand’ in their garri. Yet, I haven’t seen anybody accus­ing her of incompetence. She has worked with three presidents: Obasanjo, Jonathan and now Buhari. She is well read. She has been National Commissioner for four years. She was deployed to chair the INEC Planning Monitoring and Strategy Committee in November 2014 by the INEC ex-Chairman Attahiru Jega. This helped to revamp the compliance monitoring mechanism of INEC through an internally driven process re-engineering and automation of the Election Management System (EMS). This contributed to an achievement of over 80% of voter material distribution recorded in the 2015 elections. She also oversaw the management of the INEC ad-hoc staff, particularly the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, a process that was driven via a transparent online recruitment platform, com­plimented by training, sensitization workshops, seminars and conferences.

Before INEC, Zakari a Pharmacy graduate of Ahmadu Bello University started out her career as a young pharmacist at AbubakarTafawa Balewa University, Bauchi where she set up the University Clinic from scratch . She has also at­tended executive programs at International Drug Agency Netherland, Crown Agents UK and Harvard Business School. She is a registered pharmacist and member of Pharmacists Society of Nigeria as well as a member of the Nigerian Institute of Management.

But there are many ‘unhappy wives’ in this royal household, men and women who simply don’t want Zakari, not because they don’t think she can do the job. They just don’t want her there, and that is where I beg to differ. If a man or woman has shown proficiency and efficiency on a job, why should we not encourage her to do better? Or this is just plain politics? And if it is, would we not be cutting our noses to spite our faces? Or maybe, there are other ulterior motives?

The time to experiment or bicker or resort to selfishness is not now. This is the season to en­courage those who have done well to do better.

Two years ago, I reminded us of the story of Agan, the masquerade that killed women in Yorubaland. Let us not bring Agan out again. Let us give Zakari a chance. If she does not do well with the Bayelsa and Kogi elections, then we can change our minds. after all, a chance, an opportunity to prove himself was what we gave Professor Attahiru Jega and he didn’t let us down. A chance for Zakari, Nigeria’s first female INEC Chairman, that’s all.

 

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Neglect of Abia’s honey pot http://sunnewsonline.com/new/neglect-of-abias-honey-pot/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/neglect-of-abias-honey-pot/#comments Sat, 29 Aug 2015 23:47:03 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133156 As you read this, I’m a sad man, devastated and my soul touched in a way I would never had wished. Those who listen to news and read the newspapers would have heard that over 14 per­sons perished and more than 30 were severely wounded last Sunday in a ghastly motor accident, which occurred at [...]]]>

As you read this, I’m a sad man, devastated and my soul touched in a way I would never had wished. Those who listen to news and read the newspapers would have heard that over 14 per­sons perished and more than 30 were severely wounded last Sunday in a ghastly motor accident, which occurred at the outskirts of Umua­hia, on their way back to Ukwa West Local Government Area, my local government of origin, after attending a traditional wedding ceremony. The victims were in one vehicle and all of them from Asa land, where I am both a regent on the Umuiku Autonomous Community traditional stool and the National President of Asa Leaders of Thought. You can then imagine my consternation over this develop­ment that happened at a time I had already scheduled to highlight the nations’ crimes against Abia, God’s own people. For us, what happened was a calamity, the worst since the civil war ended in 1970.

I would have been happier if our state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu had gone in person to the hospital to see the wounded because a distinct clan in Abia was facing a storm. It is good the Chief of Staff put up an appearance supposedly on behalf of the governor, during which the government pledged to underwrite the cost of the medical bill of the victims. It is my strong ap­peal that some amount of money be made available to authorities of the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, to ensure professional services to the wounded. I repeat that what befell the clan was a horrendous tragedy. I dare say that it is an occurrence that has left Asa people at home and abroad dis­tressed to a very high degree. To reflect this, the Asa Leaders of Thought de­clared seven days mourning that start­ed on Friday, August 28 to run till Fri­day, September 4, 2015, which period traditional rulers, community leaders, youth and women leaders and politi­cal leaders across partisan lines are to wear arm bands. In all events holding in Asa land during the period, a min­ute silence would be observed and on Sunday, August 30, all churches in Asa land would pray for the repose of the souls of the dead and for averment of any such tragic development. May the souls of the departed rest in peace!

As already said, I had planned to highlight the hardship, which the Ni­gerian state imposed on Asa people and I intended to begin from the most current and beef it up with the past ones, in fact the title of today’s work was taken from a feature piece done by a reporter with the New Telegraph, Mr. Loveday Tchidi, published on page 7 of the Sunday Telegraph, August 9th edition. He wrote: “Ukwa West Lo­cal Government Area is the oil pro­ducing hub in Abia State, however, the deplorable condition of the roads and infrastructure in the LGA has left people wondering if government still remembers it is part of Nigeria and Abia State.” He continues: “A visit to Ukwa West Local Government Area will leave a first time visitor heartbro­ken. Though the local government can aptly be described as the gold fish that lays the golden egg in Abia State and Nigeria; its road are deplorable, there is no electricity and infrastructures are non-existent.”

That is the impression of a stranger even though a journalist. I don’t know at whose instance he came and Asa people don’t know but his deductions touched the heart of everyone and re­minded us in a peculiar manner about current hardships and marginalization and a deliberate degradation syndrome that began since 1960. Abia is an oil state and that is because Asaland ha­bours the only functional oil-wells in the whole of Abia State. By 2009 rev­enue funds accruing to it on account of derivation was over N800million, this is exclusive of excess crude allo­cations and SURE-P funding which as we understood went very high at a point during Jonathan’s administra­tion. But as you read this, no one can easily pass through the main road artery, the Owaza-Obehie-Azumini road which links, Rivers, Abia and Akwa-Ibom States. You can’t walk on that road today because it is muddy and full of gullies. It is the same rea­son vehicles particularly, saloon cars can’t move on it. Lorries that brave it fall; at present, mobility is stalled, communities cut off from one another, economic and socio-cultural activities disrupted. It is a case of total economic strangulation and deep hunger and of course the pains that comes from it.

Today it has become unreasonable to engage in either farming or fishing, the people’s main occupation. I said unreasonable and not unprofitable because in the case of farming, those who produce can’t find markets where their goods could be well priced for the simple reason that they can no longer find their way to Aba and Port-Har­court, the nearest urban centers. Fish­ing became useless long time ago as a result of water pollution arising from oil exploration activities. The road is part of the bigger Niger Delta link-up road, which is being constructed by the Federal Government through the Ministry for the Niger Delta. Work stopped after scrapping of the top soil by the Chinese company. I want Bu­hari and his lieutenants to read this and in line with the change mentality give a fresh order for work to commence immediately on that road, begin­ning from the Owaza to Okikpe end, which constitute the worst portion of that road. The Abia State Government should draw the attention of the Presi­dent to the sorry state of that road and keep up the pressure until something positive comes out as well as the com­mencement of construction work on some other roads that belong to the state government such as the Ogwe- Umuekechi-Obingwu-Isiasa and the outlets into Aba.

It is not fair; the state government has no ongoing road construction in the whole of Asaland currently. Some of us think it is a deliberate design by the Nigerian state to annihilate the Asa people. Let me explain: the administra­tion of former Governor Theodore Orji came up with ASOPADEC, a commis­sion that was conceived to receive 30 per cent of the derivation fund, but I can say without fear that the conception is not only amorphous but treacherous as well; the funds are hardly released and when they do it is siphoned (I will discuss this issue later). To make mat­ters worse, the government nominates pliable persons only to interventionist oil commissions either of the states or the federal. The federal government has redefined the Niger Delta Region to exclude the fringes of Abia close to Rivers State, so even while the Abia areas suffer the same degradation and youth restiveness as in Rivers and in Bayelsa, they are excluded from Fed­eral Government palliatives. So today Asaland does not benefit from amnesty programmes even when militancy that finally snowballed into kidnapping en­gulfed the area.

Today Asa people are minorities of the worst kind by the making of the Ni­gerian state. After the civil war the Jus­tice Mamman Nasir Panel on bound­ary adjustment decided to use natural elements like Rivers as boundary. To meet political expediency a huge chunk of Asaland including Obigbo, renamed Oyigbo, with the population and huge oil deposits in that area, was ceded to Rivers State. Inside Abia, Asa people were scattered and are found in five other local governments, Ukwa-East, Ugwunagbo, Osisioma, Aba-South and Obingwa. Even the Jews, said to be the most persecuted, were never so treated.

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Shettima and the Financial Times Girl http://sunnewsonline.com/new/shettima-and-the-financial-times-girl/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/shettima-and-the-financial-times-girl/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 23:00:20 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=132950 TODAY, let’s remember all those heroes perse­cuted, martyred, lampooned, criticised, chastised for predicting doom, for challenging orthodox thinking, for saying truth that sounded like false­hood, for shifting the paradigm. They include prophets, preachers, philosophers, astronomers, sailors, scientists, social scientists, geographers, mathematicians, writers, thinkers and journalists. Let’s start with Columbus, the explorer who sailed round the [...]]]>

TODAY, let’s remember all those heroes perse­cuted, martyred, lampooned, criticised, chastised for predicting doom, for challenging orthodox thinking, for saying truth that sounded like false­hood, for shifting the paradigm. They include prophets, preachers, philosophers, astronomers, sailors, scientists, social scientists, geographers, mathematicians, writers, thinkers and journalists.

Let’s start with Columbus, the explorer who sailed round the world to prove that the world indeed is spherical. Before Columbus, Pythago­ras had reasoned that the earth couldn’t be flat when the sun, the moon and other heavenly bod­ies were spherical. One reasoning proving the earth’s roundness is that if a ship is on the ho­rizon, you cannot see its lower side because of earth’s curvature.

For saying the truth and challenging ortho­doxy, Socrates, the wise man who paradoxically claimed “I know that I know nothing” was made to face trial and drink hemlock.

One of the things many still revere in Chief Awolowo is his sagacity and clairvoyance. As a young reporter in the early ‘80s, I can still re­member Awo’s warning about the economic doom ahead, the iceberg threatening to hit and destroy the Nigerian economy, unless we diver­sify, unless we cut down on our profligacy. To­day, his ardent followers will tell you that like Nostradamus, Awo even foresaw and predicted the emergence of APC, through an accord of pro­gressives from the North and the West.

So, what has all this got to do with Gover­nor Shettima of Borno State and the Financial Times girl? I was reading my friend the colum­nist Mohammed Haruna the other day writing about February 17 last year being “one of the most unforgettable days” in the life of Shettima, the embattled governor directly in the eye of the Boko Haram storm. The man who should be a good case study on leadership in the time of war. Haruna alluded to Shettima’s visit to Aso Villa to brief the former leadership on the Boko Ha­ram siege and to complain that though the armed forces “are doing their best, given the circum­stances they have found themselves, Boko Ha­ram are better armed and better motivated than our troops.”

For reporting the bitter truth, Mohammed Ha­runa writes, Shettima “suffered excoriation not only from the president himself, but also from some of the president’s men, who tried to sound angrier than their principal. Shettima’s offence was to have spoken truth to power.”

The governor was even lampooned as an “illit­erate” who did not understand the mysteries and intricacies of how soldiers fight and win wars. But in the end, Shettima was vindicated as one military boss after another at their pullout cere­monies delivered devastative attacks on their cor­ruption-infested institution where money meant for buying ammunition to fight the war were di­verted, leading to poor morale and near mutiny by demoralised soldiers. Like Usain Bolt, truth is constant, truth always wins the race, no matter the odds. You saw it on Monday at the IAAF athletics championship in Beijing.

Shettima is on the same vindication plane with a journalist from the Financial Times by name Gillian Tett—the girl who first predicted in 2006 that the world was going to suffer a global finan­cial crisis but the experts lambasted her for be­ing a doomsday prophetess and a naysayer. In one of our travels, my late friend Dimgba Igwe and I met and interviewed Gillian, the financial journalism guru. She is featured in Chapter 34 of our new book, ‘50 WORLD EDITORS: Conver­sations with Journalism Masters…’

She looks smallish, but beneath her pretty girl­ish looks Gillian Tett, a mother of two, is a pow­erhouse of business and financial journalism. So powerful that the online newspaper, The Daily Beast, in 2010 asked: “Is Gillian Tett The Most Powerful Woman in Newspapers?”

Her strings of awards are intimidating: Win­cott Prize For Financial Journalism (2007), Busi­ness Journalist of the Year (2008), Journalist of the Year (British Press Awards 2009), Financial Book of the Year (for her book, Fool’s Gold), British Academy President’s Medal.
At the Financial Times where she is a fast-rising star, she combines two top posts as Assis­tant Editor and as US Managing Editor. From her busy schedule, she has written two acclaimed books on the world’s financial system. The books are: Saving The Sun—How Wall Street mavericks shook up Japan’s financial system and made billions and Fool’s Gold—How Un­restrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe.

But what stands her out, as I mentioned, is that she was the journalist who in 2006 predicted the global financial crisis, even though she was lampooned as a scaremonger and prophetess of doom. She did have the last laugh though when the world was gripped in financial turmoil. In Davos while covering the World Economic Fo­rum in 2007, she recalls an unforgettable mo­ment when “one of the most powerful people in the US government at the time stood up on the podium and waved my article, the article that predicted the problems at Northern Rock, as an example of scaremongering.”

A PhD holder in social anthropology from Cambridge, Tett came into journalism as a plat­form to write about human right abuses which she saw in Tajikistan in the Soviet Union while researching for her thesis. She joined Financial Times in 1993 and was converted from political journalism to financial journalism. In 1997, she was posted to Japan as a bureau chief from where she wrote Saving the Sun.

In 2003, she returned from Japan to write the highly influential Lex Column of the Financial Times. A polyglot, Gillian Tett speaks French, Russian, some Japanese and Persian. Every jour­nalist and every lover of journalism must read her interview.

*50 WORLD EDITORS will be launched on Tuesday, September 15, 10.00a.m., at the Nige­rian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos to mark the anniversary of the death of the co-au­thor Dimgba Igwe killed last year on September 6 while jogging to keep fit on a Saturday morn­ing in his Lagos neighbourhood.

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The kettle and the pot http://sunnewsonline.com/new/the-kettle-and-the-pot/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/the-kettle-and-the-pot/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 02:14:41 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=132901 So after twelve years of existence, during which time every imaginable act of corruption have multiplied beyond imagination, the books of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are set to be examined. It’s about time. ]]>

So after twelve years of existence, during which time every imaginable act of corruption have multiplied beyond imagination, the books of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are set to be examined. It’s about time. To allow such a sensitive agency of government to carry on as if it is a law unto itself is dangerous. For a long time, nearly as long as the EFCC had been in existence, many people with deep knowledge of how anti graft agencies function in stronger democracies and more disciplined societies, have persistently called for an amendment to the EFCC Act to provide for an independent self-activated check mechanism that would rein in the agency anytime it shows signs of being carried away by the enormousness of the powers vested in it by the constitution. To allow the EFCC to be self-monitoring and under the sole control of the chief executive of the state, in this case the president of Nigeria, is tantamount to walking a wild dog in a park with a long leash. From inception to date, the EFCC has never been far away from scatching criticisms especially from political office holders who have been the victims of what they see as the EFCC’s selective justice. It has always been difficult to nail the EFCC with these allegations, mainly because even though the practical outcome of some of its actions tended to validate the claim of its critics, the victims themselves are very often correctly identified; that is to say, the EFCC is able to be selective only because public office holders provide it with a rich sample base from which to make its “selection”. So in the end what the country ends up having is an anti corruption agency that is only as effective as the level of the integrity of the president, and to a larger extent, the courage, patriotism and sincerity of the person heading it. Examining how effective the EFCC has been over the years is the handbook on nation building: to build a great nation, you must first build great institutions that will be beyond the manipulative tendencies of its operators. In this respect can we say that the EFCC come of age? Answer: if it has, we wouldn’t be asking.
But the funny Senate preparation to “probe” the agency is the most ineffective way to find out what the EFCC has been up to. There are the circumstances that have brought about the probe to state with. A petition written by one George Ugboh who has not denied media report that he was once convicted of economic crimes in the United States is the basis of the Senate probe. The senators themselves are divided over whether the probe is auspicious or not. But over and above everything else there is the likely conflict of interest that will trail the probe whichever way it eventually ends up.
Senator Bukola Saraki, who is yet to persuade a significant majority of Nigerians that he deserves his position as president of the Nigerian Senate is having layers of integrity deficit-related issue of his own to deal with. Not too long ago, his wife, rightly or wrongly, was “harassed” by the EFCC. And then suddenly a petition from a character with opaque pedigree popped up at the Senate, and is receiving suspiciously accelerated attention. There has to be something seriously wrong with all of this.
So by all means let the probe of the EFCC begin; but it certainly must not be driven by  the leadership of the 8th Senate as presently constituted, for reasons that are too obvious to spell out.


I am disappointed sir

As a learner in this pen profession I am not sure I qualify to raise a voice against you. But your column tagged National Peace Committee: Where is the wolf? I must say is funny to me because a man in your own class should understand better what Kukah’s message was: justice and due process is the hallmark of democracy and in whatever business of government such ingredient should not be absent and if the information available to me Kukah did not deserve vilification and you just reduced your column to one of those online buz where people are subject to all kinds of abuses for airing their views… You choose to play the wrong card by claiming Kukah is not a true man of God, but Onaiyekan is the only man of God… You should know Kukah so well that he was once a columnist in New Nigerian on Sunday, you should know that Kukah is known mostly for his activism and for been outspoken and fearlesness….. With due respect sir, I am disappointed sir.

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Portrait of Nigeria’s “new” democrat http://sunnewsonline.com/new/portrait-of-nigerias-new-democrat/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/portrait-of-nigerias-new-democrat/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 02:10:38 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=132899 By now, it should be unduly repetitive, recalling how, many centuries ago, ancient philosophers defined democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people. But in view of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s latest claim, when some students visited him, that after his experience under General Sani Abacha’s regime, he (Obasanjo) now believes democracy is the best form of government, it is inevitable to recall experiences of Nigerians throughout Obasanjo’s regime as a democratically elected Nigerian president.]]>

By now, it should be unduly repetitive, recalling how, many centuries ago, ancient philosophers defined democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people. But in view of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s latest claim, when some students visited him, that after his experience under General Sani Abacha’s regime, he (Obasanjo) now believes democracy is the best form of government, it is inevitable to recall experiences of Nigerians throughout Obasanjo’s regime as a democratically elected Nigerian president.
What is more, despite the unending intermittent published account of his life history, the man seems to be restless. Whether as comedy or serious business, Obasanjo’s audience comprised Nigerians too young to know much about the record of their new self-proclaimed democrat. To be fair to Obasanjo, it is conventional for him and his contemporaries, as ex-military officers to venture into politics. There is hardly any politician in the United States and Europe without military background. Key among such world leaders were General Dwight Eisenhower, General Charles De Gaule and Winston Churchill, all after the world war. Winston Churchill led the hardliners to replace, as prime minister, incumbent Neville Chamberlain. Churchill, therefore, was war time leader from 1939-1945.
General Eisenhower was the supreme commander of the allied forces in the Second World War which ended in 1945. Seven years later, Eisenhower was elected President of the United States till 1960. General Charles De Gaule, on his part, led the French Resistance Movement, from Britain against Hitler’s forces throughout the Second World War. He was later elected French President and served till 1958 when he resigned over the Algerian independence crisis. Within the next two years, France had 15 governments and De Gaule was persuaded to return to office to stabilise the country and he resigned again in 1968 over students’ protests.
Former American President George Bush (snr.) was also a fighter pilot during the Second World War. There was, therefore, nothing unprecedented for Obasanjo to have contested elections in a democratic set up. The major point of interest is the post-military career conduct of these elected heads of government. Common to all of them was a period of inactivity. They all returned from retirement to be elected leaders of their respective countries.
Among the lot, only Obasanjo’s interim as a farmer can be examined as a converted democrat. And what type is his democracy? An authoritarian democracy? People can have or be decorated with the right to vote. Of what value is such a right if there is no freedom of choice? That is the first hypocrisy of Obasanjo’s latest claim to stout belief in democracy. As if in premonition of his eventual return to office as an elected head of government, Obasanjo, for reasons known to him, embarked on theorising in political system(s). He, therefore, published, in a book, his idea of a one-party state for Nigeria’s political future. Now, he conveniently believes in democracy which he preached to the innocent students, who otherwise should have asked him how his (Obasanjo’s) newly found democracy is compatible with published works on one-party state
That would be a legitimate question. Apart from that, since Obasanjo recovered from his lamentation for General Sani Abacha’s regime, how much of his new democracy did he display when he had the opportunity as a two-tenured elected president of Federal Republic of Nigeria? We must concede to Obasanjo that he knew nothing about ex-head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s plan to return Nigeria to democratic rule. But the Gang of Four, comprising Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Theophilus Danjuma and Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, at least ensured some semblance of democracy to pave the way for imposing Obasanjo on Nigeria. Formation of multiple political parties was made essential part of the 1999 constitution.
That was a cheap opportunity for Obasanjo to exhibit sincerity of any claim to democracy. Instead, Obasanjo, even under a democratic setting, bludgeoned every arm of government, in his attempt to regiment Nigeria into his obsession of one party-state. Throughout his tenancy at Aso Rock, Obasanjo brushed aside the constitution of the ruling party by single-handedly sacking national chairmen and imposing new ones, contrary to direct elections as contained in the party’s constitution. Obasanjo, at past midnight, sent armed police to the official residence of senate president, Chuba Okadigbo in an attempt to intimidate him out of office. Adolphus Wabara as new senate president played into Obasanjo’s hands but the next two, Anyim Pius Ayim almost got Obasanjo impeached and Ken Nnamani frustrated Obasanjo’s third term plan through the senate. He was thereby tamed.
Obasanjo claimed to have established EFCC to combat corruption but he had hidden ideas for life presidency to which end, he employed EFCC to probe state governors who were to be victimised if they failed to support his tenure extension. The EFCC reported 32 of the 36 state governors to be corrupt. Obasanjo publicly overruled EFCC and took on himself to declare only four governors to be corrupt and gave total clearance for his favourite 32 governors. A democrat who constituted himself into the complainant, the investigator, the detective, the interrogator, the prosecutor and the judge on such a fundamental issue of fellow public office holders? The four state governors, even if found guilty of the alleged crime, suffered their fate only for opposing Obasanjo’s ambition of a life president.
How about this? One of Obasanjo’s ministers at that time, Olusegun Mimiko challenged the late governor Olusegun Agagu for the governorship seat of Ondo State. Obasanjo backed Agagu and dissuaded Mimiko from contesting. Mimiko’s insistence on contesting appeared to Obasanjo as an affront. Obasanjo angrily and publicly bragged at Akure that he would teach Mimiko a lesson by sending the EFCC after him. Hence, Obasanjo’s self-serving reasons for establishing EFCC. The style of a democrat?
Throughout his tenure as democratically elected president, Obasanjo never allowed PDP’s constitution or Nigeria’s constitution to operate. One after another, at least four national chairmen of PDP, including the one who supervised his first term election, the late Solomon Lar, Tony Anenih, Audu Ogbe and Bernabas Gemade, assumed office as Obasanjo’s  benefactor/favourite ended up as political poison unceremoniously discarded by Obasanjo. PDP’s constitution provides a tenure of four years for its national chairmen.
At the height of power drunkenness, Obasanjo, in violation of Nigerian constitution, claimed to have removed Vice President Atiku Abubakar from office, withdrew his security details and dismissed his political aides. Our timid judiciary dragged its feet till the eve of Obasanjo’s exit from office to declare his actions null and void. Still not satisfied, Obasanjo, before leaving office, mutilated the PDP constitution to make only himself (former elected president of Nigeria) eligible for the post of PDP’s Chairman of Board of Trustees. After his tenure at Aso Rock, Obasanjo became powerless and was to be imminently removed from that post. Hurriedly, he quit.
In democracies all over the world, outgoing leaders allow party members the freedom to choose a new leader. That is not Obasanjo’s idea as a self-styled democrat. Instead, in an unconscious political self depreciation, Obasanjo, till today prides himself rather arrogantly with the sole moral to impose potential leaders of Nigeria. It is a subversion of Nigerian constitution which has infected state governors since Obasanjo’s Aso Rock days such that these state governors deliberately block and antagonise their deputies from succeeding them, just as Obasanjo blocked ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar.
Worse still, even after handpicking his successors, Obasanjo, against principles of democracy, still aimed at running government for his successors by inundating them with list of his cronies to be appointed to public posts, failing which he, Obasanjo undermined them with toxic criticisms. That was the lot of the late President Umar Yar’Adua and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. Ironically, the same Obasanjo made it known while in office that nobody, not even his official advisers, could influence him.
Obasanjo (now) believes in democracy? We don hear.

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Give us a new strategy http://sunnewsonline.com/new/give-us-a-new-strategy/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/give-us-a-new-strategy/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 23:38:30 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=132785 THE marching order given to the service chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari to defeat Boko Haram in three months sounds good on paper. It will create the impression that government is serious and determined in the war it is waging against terror. It will also give hope that the dark days of terror would soon [...]]]>

THE marching order given to the service chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari to defeat Boko Haram in three months sounds good on paper. It will create the impression that government is serious and determined in the war it is waging against terror. It will also give hope that the dark days of terror would soon be over.

But that is as far as it goes. The order, when divested of its pugnacious pretensions, will only be as good as the paper on which it is written. It cannot, strictly speaking, inspire confidence in a distraught citizenry. The beleaguered people of this country are no longer enamoured of men­tal flights, especially those coming from leaders in desperate search of clues on how to confront thorny issues of statehood. The people have be­come wary, even cynical, because those who ought to tell it to them as it is, have been building castles on air. They have been lying to the people on the true state of affairs. That is why the lat­est order on Boko Haram will not strike the right chord.

We are not new to errors associated with such open and reckless declarations. The recently de­posed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alexander Barde, was the worst culprit of such thoughtlessness. He gave too much hope to those who imagined him serious. He was al­ways upbeat each time he set out to declare that Boko Haram would be defeated within weeks or months. That was his pastime. He was at one with idle declarations that led to nowhere. He was told, time and time again, that his approach was not strategic. But he continued to laugh away in delirium. In the end, Boko Haram pushed him to the precipice. His high-spirited boasts burst like bubble. They had no substance. Barde, for all we can see, was the worse for it. History cannot be kind to a high-ranking security chief who trifled with issues that border on national security.

The Barde era has since ended and Buhari has decided to reorganize the security apparatus of the country in order to achieve his set objective. We cannot but wish him well in his drive to deal with Boko Haram. But he must shun the familiar path. He must avoid the grandstanding which Barde as CDS brought to bear on his job, and which, unfortunately, became his trademark. There was no need, for instance, for Buhari to tell the ser­vice chiefs openly to defeat Boko Haram in three months. That could be the strategy. It could be the plan. But it is not strategic to make a public show of it. It should not be for the consumption of the Nigerian public. Military tacticians are not known to go public on what their war plans are. They rely more on surprise than anything else.

Barde went public with his boasts. He never really had a war plan. But the insurgents took strong exception to his boastfulness and decided to teach him a lesson. They invaded his commu­nity in Adamawa State and destroyed his house. Barde had no response to the affront. Surpris­ingly, a Barde who had no strategy on how to de­feat terror in the land found a convenient alibi in Jonathan when he left office. He said the military under his command was not funded. That was a convenient excuse. It spells treachery.

But we must leave Barde and his ways and pay more attention to issues of the moment. As a retired military officer, it is taken for granted that Buhari would adopt an approach that would work in the war against insurgency. It was one of the things that The Economist (of London) imagined, though erroneously, when it alluded to Buhari’s military background as one of the rea­sons why Nigerians would prefer him to Good­luck Jonathan in the 2015 presidential elections. Buhari may have won the election in spite of the wrong- headedness of the magazine’s prediction. But it will be truly disappointing if the president does not take even those elementary steps that would make those who believed in his military background to beat their chest in triumphant ac­claim.

Regardless of our optimism on the imminent defeat of Boko Haram, we have cause to worry about the trial and error approach which Buhari has been relying upon in the national effort to rout the insurgents. While the campaigns lasted, Buhari came away as one with a magic wand. While the Jonathan administration struggled without much success to give Boko Haram a bloody nose, Buhari gruntled with unexplained confidence. He dropped a few words here and there and those who make much of his no-non­sense mien felt he had all the answers to all the Boko Haram puzzles.

But the situation has changed. Change has come, as APC (All Progressives Congress) en­thusiasts are wont to say. Buhari is now in the saddle and terror is staring him nakedly in the face. He is now in search of clues on how to rein in the insurgents. He has moved the command and control unit of the Armed Forces to Maidu­guri, the seat of terror. When this step was taken, it was as if those who came before Buhari, espe­cially the immediate past administration, merely beat about the bush. But the move appears like a blind alley. It has led us to nowhere. Collabora­tion with neighboring African countries is ongo­ing. A multi-national joint task force is in place. But Boko Haram is still making waves. Now, it is evident that Buhari has no hidden tactic on how to defeat terror. The confidence placed on him in this regard may have been misplaced, after all.

With the failure of the strategies so far adopted by Buhari, it is evident that we need a new strat­egy in our quest to rout Boko Haram. Giving the service chiefs an open order to defeat Boko Ha­ram in three months is not a strategy. It is a give-away, an infantile exposition most unbecoming of a supposed military tactician.

While waiting for Buhari to do something new in this matter, we must pause for a while to reflect on the resilience of Boko Haram. The menace, in its heyday, was an instrument of revenge. It was one of the tactics adopted by anti-Jonathan forces to weaken his presidency. But the tactic caught on and germinated into something gargantuan. Now the recruits no longer understand the language of the commanders. The insurgency has become a phenomenon, a way of life. Its practitioners are having a field day. And as William Butler Yeats, an Irish poet, would put it, the falcon can no lon­ger hear the falconer. Things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold. Mere anarchy is then loosed upon the world.

This Keatsian characterization has become very true of today’s Nigeria. The terrorists are in a world of their own. They know neither master nor servant. They are on the loose, unleashing terror at will. That is why conventional warfare cannot cage them. Even when you think that you have pushed the terrorists to the borders, they strike in areas you think you have liberated.

It was in the light of the protean nature of Boko Haram that I took more than a passing interest in the offer of those who want to mediate between government and the insurgents. Their interven­tion may help to give terror a face. Government should court the expertise and insight of these fel­lows. It should be part of the new strategy that we need.

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Ole Joe, is this the defeat of psychology or the psychology of defeat? (1) http://sunnewsonline.com/new/ole-joe-is-this-the-defeat-of-psychology-or-the-psychology-of-defeat-1/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/ole-joe-is-this-the-defeat-of-psychology-or-the-psychology-of-defeat-1/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 23:37:29 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=132781 JOE is our dude. He is one of the few great men of our epoch, who we may risk meeting without wear­ing sanitary gloves and other protective gears. And if you asked the reason is simple. Nigerian great­ness is like saints as created by the English hack, George Orwell. They are all guilty, indexed toxic [...]]]>

JOE is our dude. He is one of the few great men of our epoch, who we may risk meeting without wear­ing sanitary gloves and other protective gears. And if you asked the reason is simple. Nigerian great­ness is like saints as created by the English hack, George Orwell. They are all guilty, indexed toxic and contaminative, until proven otherwise. So our precautionary measure is to serve the world better by never letting this genus of Nigerians infest us with their other-species, or zoonotic diseases, great­ness, and what not. Let them go, let them go with their greatness. Their greatness only comes into be­ing by diminishing their nation, by tarring the hu­man kind.

But good ole Joe is a good dude, a man of some elemental parts. Despite his fiery and sometimes pained mien, ole Joe is actually a clubbable type. And to his credit and quite unlike others, he has never been seen, or sinned, drunken, at least not with power. He is one of the rare kind you can share not just froths but smiles with, and not get poisoned with ego, diseased egos. So last time we met we didn’t only share handshakes, we traded embraces, yes embraces, if we remember well. With age alone assaulting, one must be forgiven for his weakening or lapses of memory.

And Joe writes well and passionately and pro­lifically. But like Lenin once said of G.B. Shaw, Joe sometimes reminds one of the good man who is fallen amongst the Fabians. Well we are not Lenin and Joe is not a Shaw, so we will adapt things. Joe a great man in his own right has his Fabianism in the concept of confounding photography with his­tory, evidence with logic. And nothing revealed this more than his recent essay: Can the Igbo People Play Opposition Politics in Nigeria for 10 Years?

Well as is traditional to the tenets we hold dear, it is proper we don’t hit a man, a Joe, when he is down. It is a known fact that we are all afflicted, sometimes with malaria, sometimes with loss of memory, sometimes with too much passion and er­rors of analysis. So we kept our peace when we read the troubled piece by good ole Joe. Our hope was that before eternity closes in on us, we are likely to run into him and talk up the matter, sharing smiles and draught. We had planned to ask if that piece was a matter of deliberate spin or just inadvertent error of analysis, a slip of concentration.

But before the passage of time could mount or our enemies fired the assassins’ shot, Punch news­papers carried and amplified the piece in a report – Igbo should play opposition for 10 years —Igbok­we, by Toluwani Eniola, August 5, 2015.

That is technically the matter has left Joe and taken on a life of its own. So we owed our readers and Nigerians a duty to clarify things. The details are as follows: Joe’s first and foundational error is in his confounding photographic verification with historical compositions. So he equates the ability of the camera to record, with the genius of the eyes to discern and composite with the brains for interpre­tation. That is while the human eye is in system’s collaboration with a brain box – your brain – the camera is only eyes and has no such graces. Thus its photographic veracity is not and does not confer in­terpretative integrity. To have photographed is like to have unclothed the proud virgin. You must not then leave the rest to your imagination. As Friedrich Schiller, the German dramatist, called out, you must set forth at the dawn of chance and things, humiliate the proud virgin or data, and give her a child. Ole Joe that is the lore even if not the law of the land. Ahiazuwa.

This is important and the fact of its failure, has afflicted compositional thesis making in Nigeria. And here Joe and the Punch amplifier are charged and pronounced guilty, but with suspended sen­tences, each according to his acts, scenes or sins. To repeat, photographic evidence is not historical conclusion. Like we say in Zen Buddhism, I once traded in Taipei, photographic evidence is like the finger pointing to the moon. The finger is not the moon, is not Buddha.

The other details: Now Joe claims the Yoruba has been in opposition since 1966. Nothing could be furtherer from the truth. Even if we adjusted for the democratic spell of pre-1967 years, the facts, the eye-brain composite facts as they are, are that the Yoruba are with the north the founders, design­ers, shakers, creators, finishers, makers, veto wield­ers… of present day Nigeria and its structures. It is the two who turned Nigeria, a republic, into a dynastic hole. And they created, perhaps not men­tally thinking it out, the G2 Security Council power architecture. They made Nigeria an empire not a nation state.

But to understand the so called Yoruba oppo­sition we need to go to Saudi Arabia first but not on hajj. Currently the King of the Saudi kingdom, Salman bin Abdul Aziz, is consolidating all power into his branch of the family tree. He is thus margin­alizing [and or putting into opposition]the rest of the ruling house or the iwarefas, as the Yoruba will call the princes of the house. The iwarefas alone, not the ogbonis, are on the line of succession. The ogbonis are actually a guild of viziers, a technoc­racy, trading knowledge for power. The ogbonis are not part of the princes of the house, the successors to the throne, the iwarefas. The ogbonis are bril­liant commoners, just like the religious police in Saudi Arabia, the Wahhabis. They don’t rise, and or are not raised to be kings, they are raised to be in perpetual, albeit official opposition. These things are important. If you may recall ole Joe, please do about what happened on the invasion of the holy site at Mecca [1979] and the iwarefa-ogboni conse­quences that followed… ISIS, Boko Haram, et al.

Now in the Saudi kingdom, the non-Salman iwarefas are up in arms, in what may be termed of­ficial opposition. But their opposition is not that the kingdom which is anachronistic be democratized. Their opposition is that they are out, temporarily, but want in eternally. So they will and prefer the G2-like dictatorship of family and religious police, of iwarefas and ogbonis, to go on rather than have a democracy, rather than have Saudi Arabia develop or modernize. That is it is purely the internal affairs of power and powerful princes and their branches of the ruling houses, of the princes of the house, the iwarefas, and not even the ogbonis. The non-ruling iwarefas and the ogbonis can only go into official opposition. They can’t afford to risk their unearned and sumptuous retainer-ships, their vast sinecures, to propagate genuine opposition. They are already promoters and part of the lot, even if the best of the rot.

They know that in any root and branch reform the people will gain and recover their country, which is the loot of the iwarefas and the ogbonis. So things in their essences are more complicated than the eye of the camera or APC can capture.

So the Yoruba, [actually a wing, the dominant wing, as it can’t be the whole of them]are like the non-ruling houses, the prince electors, who believe and in fact insist on kingdom powers however ret­rogressive and or oppressive it is. They have a stake and have profiteered in the tyranny, in the present structure, after all they set it up on purpose. That it latter failed in purpose is another matter. But one historical, even camera certainty, is that it is this conservative and dominant ruling wing of the Yo­ruba and the northern counterparts that set up mod­ern Nigeria as is. In that sense it is wrong to claim that the Yoruba have given up on their creation, the modern monstrous Nigeria, to go into opposition save fanciful or specious opposition. Till they con­fess it is an error, they can’t reconstruct it.

This could be similar to what happens in the Sokoto caliphate if we are to believe historians. The Dasuki family are a marginalized sub-imperial branch, but are dedicated and ardent royalists all the same. (In the 100 odd reign of the caliphate they have only produced one sultan in ‘highly struc­tured’ circumstances). Their opposition is not to the structure, but to their share of the exclusive power loot. If you made a Dasuki a sultan, he rise to the occasion and throne.

This is in part what explains the fraud that is June 12. It was an intra-dynastic power struggle amongst the G2 and more importantly, to determine who is iwarefa and who is ogboni. While in the power configuration of the ancient Oyo Empire, the iwarefa-ogboni duopoly was succinctly spelt out, the Gowon-Awolowo G2 protocol, left so much in doubt, in draft, inchoate and unratified draft. That is to say that June 12 had nothing, absolutely noth­ing to do with Nigeria and the rest of us. Our dam­ages and or benefits are collateral not looped in. We and or the rest of us are the intended game, the very quarry. We survive because they failed. Thus it is really some glory to God that June 12 happened. Otherwise the purpose was to consolidate the po­litical, complete political disenfranchisement of others. MKO Abiola as opportunist, hinted on this dark mission as he dismissed Arthur Nzeribe, that the Igbo are not required in matters of the nation’s higher destinies; that Nigeria as their loot and fallen elephant, is for the winners of the civil war.

It is the same logic that Awolowo and Gowon concluded on, the political minoritization of the Igbo and the rest of them. They actually turned Nigeria, a republic into an empire state. But not known to them empires, are by their logic, inher­ent logic, founded to be destroyed. That is the very logic of an empire demand its unravelling, Buddha warned and Nietzsche affirmed. So, all the troubles and bloodshed, not excluding Boko Haram, going on is actually, how to unravel the empire state Go­won and Awolowo built.

And we almost forgot, ole Joe, our dude has a surname, and a forwarding address: Joe Igbokwe, the spin doctor to the APC in Lagos. Ahiazuwa.

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A need for cargo airport in Southeast http://sunnewsonline.com/new/a-need-for-cargo-airport-in-southeast/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/a-need-for-cargo-airport-in-southeast/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 23:26:09 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=132750 IN the past I shared my views about the need for a cargo airport in Southeast when I heard that the then governor of Anambra State was considering it. Below was my piece advocating for it after substantive discussions with fellow Nigerians in the Diaspora. Below were what I shared: Periodically, I meet with fellow [...]]]>

IN the past I shared my views about the need for a cargo airport in Southeast when I heard that the then governor of Anambra State was considering it. Below was my piece advocating for it after substantive discussions with fellow Nigerians in the Diaspora. Below were what I shared:

Periodically, I meet with fellow profes­sionals to discuss current affairs, particu­larly economic and socio-political issues concerning Nigeria. A couple of weeks ago, I had a lunch meeting with a Nige­rian professional with vast experience and knowledge in management in various technology and energy industries

Well, our discussion centered on a wide range of ways to help Nigeria achieve economic and social prominence consid­ering our knowledge and experience in the United States. We touched on some of the ways the past governors could have utilized states’ resources to spark economic development in the South East­ern region; they could have embarked on projects with lasting economic benefits to the citizens of the states.

During our discussion, the issue of the proposed cargo airport in Anambra State precipitously came up and it dominated the rest of our conversation. One fellow had a different view of the import of the project. I earnestly seized the opportu­nity to educate him on the economic vi­ability of the project if rigorous efforts were made before the construction of the airport. At the end of our discussion, he bought the idea that the project would economically and socially revitalize his state. Sometimes, it is imperative for one to maintain a critical distance from the rages of politics to properly evaluate the economic benefits of proposed projects coming from the new governors in the zone. Once one’s frame of mind is cloud­ed with emotions and politics, it is diffi­cult to see any good in what these chief executives are doing

Cargo airport in any part of Southeast is a laudable venture any state government can embark on. Most importantly, it is a legacy or signature project that would stand the test of economic times when it finally becomes and of international standard. For the government of Anam­bra State to resuscitate the abandoned Oba-Onitsha Cargo Airport project, which was conceived in 1993 by Dr. Pius Chukwuemeka Ezeife’s administration, is commendable for various economic and social reasons.

The economic impacts of a well-thought out cargo airport are enormous, especially when the facility is well maintained and expanded as necessary. It is pertinent to note that a site that does not lend itself to expansion for the project would have a short-term economic impact on the re­gion, particularly in the state. As a result, efficient Oba/Onitsha Cargo Airport ven­ture would spur massive economic activi­ties such as the concentration of forward­ers, air cargo carriers, truckers, including the support and ancillary services that would, in turn, have huge multiplier ef­fects

The airport would attract the location and expansion of shippers, distribution channels, manufacturing and suppliers in and around the port to take advantage of multi-modal services available as a result of the airport. The manufacturers and distributors would bask in locating around the airport because of the ease to transport high-value goods. Airports and related airport activities generate signifi­cant employment and income for the cit­ies around them. The rise in employment and income in the region would, in turn, spark enormous economic growth in the area and reduce poverty.

The cargo airport would engender eco­nomic competition through increased freight connectivity, efficiency and easy access to various markets such as Onit­sha, Nnewi, Enugu, Asaba, Benin, Orlu, Owerri, Umuahia, Aba, Port Harcourt and other minor markets. It would have the potential to attract new businesses, there­by providing economic competitive ad­vantage to the state and the region. With the foregoing I encouraged the governor of the state to waste no time to complete the cargo airport project.

The Oba/Onitsha Cargo Airport, effi­ciently run, will not only provide access and facilitate commerce, but will also generate employment and wealth, with its direct and induced impacts lasting de­cades. Also it has the potential to bring capital investment to the affected or sur­rounding areas as its share of internation­al trade increases.However, a thorough feasibility study has to be done to build a cargo airport for optimum economic im­pact in the region. It will be a boon to Ni­geria, particularly to the immediate areas where the airport is located.

Nevertheless, necessary factors such as capacity constraints, market growth po­tential and ideal location, including net­work of roads, availability of warehouse space, ground handling, and distribution facilities must be considered for the air­port in order to develop critical mass. This type of project should not be taken lightly and proper provision for mainte­nance must be articulated.

In any case, a chain of socio-economic benefits that would come to the region as a result of Oba/Onitsha Cargo Airport are thus: high standard of living resulting from increased employment and high in­come, increased economic development, and skilled workforce. The region would welcome the reduction in poverty and in­crease in international investment an ef­ficiently run Oba/Onitsha Cargo Airport would bring.

Interestingly, it is hard not to broach the economic reality that the South East re­gion would benefit from a single project like cargo airport of international stan­dard. As a result, cooperation of other South East governors would be greatly encouraged regardless of the site of the…

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