The Sun News » Kalu Leadership Series - Voice of The Nation Sun, 04 Oct 2015 00:32:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Agenda for new ministers Fri, 02 Oct 2015 23:00:04 +0000 Now that names of ministerial nominees have finally been submitted to the Senate, it has become imperative to set agen­da for them. I had done this on a few occasions and this time will not be dif­ferent. Even though the President must have briefed them adequately about his expectations of them, I still find it [...]]]>

Now that names of ministerial nominees have finally been submitted to the Senate, it has become imperative to set agen­da for them. I had done this on a few occasions and this time will not be dif­ferent. Even though the President must have briefed them adequately about his expectations of them, I still find it expe­dient to offer my humble admonitions and guidance to the incoming ministers.

Before I do so, it should be placed on record that waiting for the release of the names of the new ministers was like wait­ing for eternity. Unlike in the past, when it took less than two weeks on the aver­age to release names of ministerial nomi­nees, the wait this time lasted for 16 good weeks. This has left many Nigerians dis­traught, disillusioned and discomforted, leading to all kinds of negative insinu­ations by critics, commentators and ob­servers of politics events.

For me, it was nothing extraordinary since I decoded the long wait from the ut­terances and body language of the Presi­dent long before he was sworn in. The mild rift between the Ahmed Joda-led Transition Committee and the Goodluck Jonathan government over some critical issues gave vent to this argument.

Again, those familiar with President Buhari’s style of administration should have expected the suspense and anxiety generated by the inability to release the names of the nominees as early as expect­ed. As a very strong believer in transpar­ency and accountability it would not have taken him lesser time to send the list to the Senate. His reason for the delay was as cogent as it was expedient.

However, I must confess that I did not like the tantrums and invectives poured on the President for delaying the release of the list of ministers. After all, there was nowhere in the constitution where a timeline for him to submit the names of ministers is given. Therefore, he acted within the ambit of the law by taking his time to do a thorough job.

One of the mistakes by past adminis­trations in such circumstances was the hastiness in releasing the list of ministe­rial nominees without first conducting a thorough security search on them. Some past governments had the lists prepared ahead of the inauguration of the Presi­dent, with primordial and clannish senti­ments playing a major role in determin­ing who got nominated.

Though such sentiments cannot be totally divorced in the consideration of persons to be so appointed the need for the application of the federal character principle should not be downgraded. This fear was expressed by many of the critics of the Buhari seeming sluggishness and imperviousness. Many of them worry that the President might pander to eth­nocentric considerations as shown in the names of those already appointed to man sensitive offices as his personal aides.

In my thinking the parameter for choosing who to appoint minister this time round differs considerably, given the fact that the choice of ministers is purely a sensitive constitutional matter. And, therefore, cannot be overly politi­cized. The state of the nation requires that men and women of integrity be appointed ministers to assist the President in his res­toration programme.

There is no doubt whatsoever that President Buhari is determined to reengi­neer the democratic process to eliminate slothfulness, malfeasance, red tape, cor­ruption and other negative acts that had slowed governance and enthroned the re­gime of impunity in our public life. This is why it has become imperative to tread cautiously in the choice of those that will administer the ministries for efficiency and effectiveness.

For those opposed to the style of Buhari, they should pause to reflect on other benefits of his action. For example, within the past 16 weeks, the nation must have saved some money that hitherto would have gone into the maintenance of these ministers. Imagine what their emol­uments and other allowances would have been! The period also revealed the criti­cal role the permanent secretaries play in the service. By holding fort efficiently in the period under review they have also demonstrated competence and acuity in the management of their ministries.

Nonetheless, this should not make the President not appoint ministers for this long since the constitution prescribes the appointment of one minister per state of the federation. The non-appointment of the ministers, no matter what the nation stands to gain, created lacuna that needed to be filled. It would not have bothered anybody if the constitution did not make it mandatory that ministers be appointed to assist the President run his administra­tion.

Now that the ministers have been shortlisted; what next? This question is very important, because the times in which we live are perilous and critical. We cannot afford to appoint men and women that lack the resilience, candour and integrity to drive the economy and rebuild collapsed infrastructure. This is why it is exigent that only tested and trusted persons be so appointed and cleared by the Senate.

For the new ministers to succeed, they must do the following: Ensure they are deeply convinced to serve as ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, bear­ing in mind the peculiar circumstances of their appointment. They must not allow their selfish interest to becloud their sense of duty, especially now that our nation is in dire need of redemption. In this con­nection, therefore, there is the need to do proper introspection to understand what their call at this time of our national life entails. There is nothing extraordinary in serving as a minister since their choice was predicated on their personal records of achievements. This presupposes that their choice is rather a privilege, which ultimately adds to their individual value and public respect.

For them to succeed, they must be ready to make personal sacrifices. This is required to portray them as good admin­istrators committed to the goals for which they have been called to serve. It will be a monumental catastrophe if they see their appointment as a way to amass wealth, because the Buhari administration will not tolerate any acts of indiscipline or profligacy in any form or coloration. This increases the challenges before them and puts them constantly under the klieg-light. It will therefore be stupid for any of them to try to cut corners as all loop­holes to loot have been plugged. Rather I advise whoever thinks he cannot subject himself to the demands of the office to pull out now before it is too late.

There is another important point I would want the minister-designates to appreciate. And that is the need to watch who they do business with. It is not all that glitters is gold. Some of the people that are going to work with them may not have the same disposition as them. They should bear in mind always that as our faces differ, so do our problems. This calls for proper scrutiny and screening of their aides and associates to ensure they meet certain criteria. If they surround themselves with corrupt people, definite­ly they will influence them negatively. Remember: tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.

It is almost certain the President will give them some guidelines on how to op­erate. This does not preclude them from designing their own operational frame­work that is in tandem with the Presi­dent’s expectations. The first leg they put forward will determine how far they can go. It is for this reason that I expect them to plan properly, because to fail to plan is to plan to fail. Former President Goodluck Jonathan made his ministers give periodic performance assessment re­ports which determined, to a large extent, how long they served at any given time. I know that President Buhari would have a more stringent assessment plan, consider­ing the tasks ahead of his government and the little time left to accomplish them.

The failure of some ministers in the past was caused by corruption and other acts of misdemeanour. The need to com­ply with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) becomes more imperative. It will be a grievous mistake for any minister to be caught circumventing this all-impor­tant government policy. Corruption is a very serious canker in any society, and it destroys the foundation on which that society is built. It diminishes self-worth and disorients and retards the course of development. I do not want to mention the agony whoever is caught in corrupt practices goes through.

It is a critical demand that those select­ed to serve as ministers should endeavour to acquaint themselves with the modus operandi of their respective ministries to ensure they are abreast with the day-to-day happenings. Some ministers in the past had depended solely on their aides or civil servants in their job delivery. This is dangerous as they could easily be manipulated. My suggestion has noth­ing to do with trust or no trust. It has to do more with the ministers having deep knowledge about the intricacies and com­plexities of their ministries to place them in a better stead to discharge their duties creditably and efficiently.

Added to this is the compelling need to work closely with their permanent sec­retaries and directors in policy formula­tion and implementation. They need not be reminded how important it is to run an open-door policy, which grants people strategic assess to them to quicken infor­mation gathering and delivery by their staff and critical stakeholders. Distanc­ing himself from these people will spell doom for them.

Loyalty is significant if they want to succeed. And loyalty is 100%. It is either they are loyal or they are not loyal. If any of them thinks he will not be able to maintain his loyalty the most honourable thing to do is to resign now before he or she is found out. A disloyal person is very dangerous to any decent system. Such a person influences other people negatively and contaminates the same system. This is where the President needs to exercise some caution to be able to detect early signs of those of them who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. No amount of security investigation can detect a disloyal person or somebody with hidden agenda. It will be disastrous that after the long wait such persons are still allowed to find their way into the government.

Now on the part of the government, it is its duty to provide the enabling en­vironment for the ministers to perform their duties unhindered. Too much heck­ling and close marking will erode their confidence in the system and make them work under intense pressure. They should be given free hands to do their jobs, while at the same time monitoring their perfor­mance to detect early signs of retardation and inefficiency.

There is also a need to ensure the new ministers are adequately oriented and, if need be, trained to get them properly at­tuned to their responsibilities. Such ori­entation should be localized to suit our peculiar circumstances. The orientation should be a periodic exercise and targeted at capacity-building and knowledge ac­quisition. This is where constant briefing and debriefing comes in.

The work plan designed by the bu­reaucracy will expedite the process of service-delivery, if applied religiously.

Proper funding of the ministries is of great importance. Agreed, the present administration is committed to prudence and probity in the management of scarce financial resources, however it has to en­sure that adequate funds are made avail­able to finance key projects for the good of the people. Provision and reactivation of infrastructure should be given some priority. It is painful that despite huge money budgeted in the past for projects little was achieved. Our roads are still in deplorable condition. The same situa­tion is obtainable in other critical sectors such as electricity, education, water, and health.

Government must ensure that key Ministries such as Works, Education, Health, Agriculture, Labour and Power receive proper attention. These ministries are central to whatever success the Bu­hari Government intends to achieve. It is the expectation of the people that in the next three and half years these ministries will have reached over 70 per cent of their performance target.

In any case, the capacity of the Buhari-led administration to achieve its overall goal is dependent on how firm it is with the implementation of polices. It will end up a lame duck if it allows the mistakes of the past to recur, especially now that the expectations of the people are very high.

I have no modicum of doubt that Bu­hari will succeed because he is passionate about what he does, having gone through the crucibles to be where he is today. The only worry I have is if detractors and insider-saboteurs will allow him to suc­ceed. I know, nonetheless, that he has the capability to detect who is for him and who is against him. The experience he has garnered as a former Head of State and Minister will guide him in all that he does, hoping that, all things being equal, he will excel in the end.

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Cause of Nigeria’s woes? If not us, who else? Fri, 25 Sep 2015 23:55:00 +0000 It is preposterous that Nigerians would be searching for the cause of our nation’s woes too far away when, in fact, we are the cause. We like pointing fingers at other people when, indeed, we are the architects of our woes. I never, in my wildest imagination, thought that Nigeria would be where it is [...]]]>

It is preposterous that Nigerians would be searching for the cause of our nation’s woes too far away when, in fact, we are the cause. We like pointing fingers at other people when, indeed, we are the architects of our woes.

I never, in my wildest imagination, thought that Nigeria would be where it is today – weak and grasping for breath. Each time I sit back to think about our dear country, Nigeria – the lost opportunities, the failed promises and crashed dreams – my heart bleeds. Naturally, I feel weak and disconsolate, wondering what has really gone wrong.

Nevertheless, the more I think about Nigeria and its numerous problems, the more pain I feel in my heart. Let us tell one another the truth: Nigeria is no longer what it used to be: almost everybody and everything has gone wrong. At times the way we conduct ourselves, relate to one another, and treat Nigeria is very unbe­coming, wicked and insensitive. The worst part is we spend precious time blaming one another, agencies of government, as if we are not aware that the problems of Nigeria are caused by all of us. Yes, all of us. Who else?

Some recent events have made me even sadder. Imagine the kidnap of a foremost statesman and former Finance Minister, Chief Olu Falae! Why should any right-thinking person embark on such a callous and disrespectful adventure? Do the perpe­trators of this heinous crime ever thought about the consequences of their ignoble act? What do they stand to gain by kid­napping an old man – 77 years – who had served this country meritoriously in differ­ent capacities?

I have asked these questions because there was no rationality for the kidnapping of Chief Falae. None absolutely! In short, I find the whole thing nauseating, childish and nonsensical. And, therefore, should be condemned by all.

I recall with nostalgia our growing-up days – when things were still very normal, not now that everything seems to have fallen apart; when men were men and could prove their manhood in very capable ways; when we used to be our brother’s keeper and treated, even, a stranger like a member of our family; when children used to be polite, respectful and deferred to their parents and guardians on every mat­ter; when there were no serious robbers, but pick-pockets; when money had value and one could build a house with just 100 pounds; when husbands and wives clung to each other like leeches and confided in each other with absolute conjugal fidelity; when education meant everything to par­ents and their children; when electricity and water were supplied with regularity; and when death was not common and it was always very scary and painful to learn of the death of someone; etc.

What has happened to those beauti­ful days when travelling abroad was just intended to acquire ‘Oyibo’ man’s educa­tion, and not for frolicking and jamboree as is the case these days. Where are our cash crops – groundnuts, palm oil, cashew, rubber, etc – that served as the mainstay of our economy before the discovery of oil in 1958? Oh, my God, where are the famous Groundnut Pyramids in Kano; the rubber plantations in the then Western Nigeria; tin and columbite for which Jos and its envi­rons were known; etc?

Where are the beautiful and altruis­tic ideals for which Nigerians were once known? The strong family bonds and tra­ditions: Where have they all gone? Why have we allowed ourselves to be used by Satan and his agents to perpetrate evil against our own nation and even rela­tives? Where have all the great politicians who saw politics as a means of develop­ing Nigeria gone? Yes, some of them may be dead, but can’t we reproduce them in some, if not all, of us? Rather, what we have largely today are opportunists and ac­quisitionists, who have no place in public service. All they are interested in is build­ing fiefdoms all over the place and work­ing to gain the whole world, without car­ing about the vanity and ephemeral nature of life.

Oh God! Where are all the men and women of good conscience whose pres­ence inspired hope in others? They walked the entire political spectra of this country spreading the good news of national unity without fear or shame. Unfortunately, their successors have squandered our common patrimony and left all of us disheartened and disillusioned.

Those who govern us do so with little care or love, save for a few of them that still show some consideration. The oath of office administered on them on the day of their inauguration no longer means any­thing to them. Instead of serving the peo­ple as they pledged, the people now kow­tow to them for the crumbs that fall from their tables. The majority of our people live below the poverty line and cannot af­ford three square meals a day. Those who administer our affairs see no cause to gov­ern with the fear of God. By the way, how many of them fear God. They serve other gods and pay obeisance to demigods. This is why they do not care where their souls go to after death.

God, are you still there? I have asked this question, because it seems you have abandoned us. Is it because of our trans­gressions? Do not kill us before we get old, for you live and reign forever. Cleanse our nation of the evil men and women who have vowed to destroy it and your people. When will you restore our nation, Lord? When? If you allow things to go on the way they are we will wake up one morn­ing and discover there is no more country to call ours.

Nigerians behave any way they like, do whatever pleases them and treat Nigeria like a leper. We should beware, because judgement day is fast approaching.

I cannot stop asking questions until somebody provides me answers. Let me ask yet again, where were those boards that provided uninterrupted utility ser­vices to the people in the 50s and 60s? I remember with mixed feelings the qual­ity services provided by such companies as the Electricity Company of Nigeria (ECN) and Public Works Department (PWD) – known today as Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and Min­istry of Works, respectively. Some of the infrastructural facilities provided by these companies still stand till date. The roads then were built to stand the test of time. The standard of life in the good old days used to be very high. Everybody was con­tent with what he or she had. There was no room for cheating (419 and other such crimes), lousiness, slothfulness, greed and avarice. Parents were in control of their children and ran their homes with love and dutifulness. Couples led a faithful life and did things together. Their children and wards emulated them with pride and rever­ence. Those were the days, children were named after their parents and bore other such names that typified their character or depicted their family tradition. They bore such names as Oyirinna (like his father), Adaku (precious daughter), Omeroha (the generous giver), Omengboji (he who gives to others whenever he has), etc. What do we have these days? People bear names that do not mean anything to them or por­tray their personality. Imagine somebody who has looted the treasury or an armed robber naming his child after himself (Oy­irinna or Oyirinne).

Kalakuta Republic is what we have in many homes today – where relationship between couples and their children is tem­pestuous and estranged. Trust has taken flight from many homes, and in its place we have mutual suspicion, unfaithfulness and lustfulness.

Most parents hardly ever communicate filially with their children. Communication between most husbands and their wives is cantankerous. Many children themselves have grown to cater to themselves as their parents lack the financial or moral ca­pability to discharge their duties to them anymore. Children from these homes have lost the moral fibre to live an upright life. They resort to all kinds of atrocious things to make ends meet. Their parents are even handicapped to stop them from doing whatever they like, since they have sud­denly become the breadwinners. You ask them why they engage in these ignomini­ous acts to keep body and soul together and they tell you, ‘man must survive’.

Are these boys and girls to blame? I do not think all the blame should be heaped on them. The society, which is expected to take care of them and has failed to do so, should partake in the blame. Why should a young girl, for instance, not engage in prostitution when she has been abandoned by her parents or negatively influenced by them or their peers? She no longer listens to her parents and does not care a hoot how anybody feels about her actions. What of our young boys? It is the same story. They have the world at their feet and resort to self-help when they find themselves in a tight situation.

How did cultism, drug abuse and other misdemanours find their way into the lives of our young ones? The answer is very simple: The society created the enabling environment for them to be so indoctrinat­ed. The ills that plague our society would not have got to this embarrassing level if the society had played its own role duti­fully. Most of our schools are dilapidated and suffer from dearth of qualified teach­ers and teaching aids. Many students are so poor they can barely afford money for their examinations, let alone pay the exor­bitant fees charged by their schools.

What results from all of these is cult­ism, prostitution, robbery, drug abuse, etc. What happens to all the billions voted annually for education? Who pockets the money and who supervises the supervi­sors.

So, how culpable is each of us in the mess into which we have submerged Nigeria? The crises besetting every nook and cranny of this country are caused by us. No other per­son. The direction Nigeria goes is predicated on the attitude we exhibit toward Nigeria and to one another. Some of us treat Nige­ria like our personal property or, better still, like a piece of furniture that can be tossed around anyhow. We lack patriotism and mo­rality and have always shown penchant to acquire wealth, even to the detriment of our own lives.

Religious and political crises that have become the order of the day in Nigeria have their root in indiscipline and injustice. In the 60s, despite the differences in tongue, we still co-existed as one, indivisible people. Though we belonged to different political af­filiations, we did not allow that to constitute an impediment to our avowed determination to make Nigeria a great nation. You could hardly tell from where any one came. Igbo and Yoruba living in the North co-habited in peace and mutual respect. The same situ­ation obtained for Hausa living in the East and West of Nigeria. Your religion and status did not quite matter. What was paramount then was that you were a Nigerian.

It was this bonding that gave rise to Ni­geria’s independence. The fighters for our freedom – the Great Zik and his colleagues – did not allow ethnic or religious cleavages to becloud their vision to take Nigeria to the next level. That was why their contributions to the liberation of Nigeria from the clutches of colonialism will not easily be forgotten. They carved their names in gold through their altruistic services to the nation and fel­low citizens.

That was the vision of our forbears. How things suddenly went out of hand is what I cannot understand. The rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. Those that enjoy the perks are less than one per cent of our overall population. From among the remain­ing 99 per cent they pick their acolytes and stooges who collude with them to fleece our dear country. This one per cent controls our financial resources, security agencies and other juicy perks, leaving the rest of us im­poverished and at their mercy. It seems all of us have been intimidated and coerced, as nobody is asking questions any longer. Might has become right and many have been forced to resign to fate out of frustration. Those who summon courage to challenge them are bullied, castigated and hauled into detention for one flimsy reason or another. Everybody must dance to their tune; Section 36(1) of our Constitution means nothing to them. They believe that in spite of the guar­anteed freedom of speech by the constitution nobody should hold a contrary opinion. By so doing and for fear of any reprisals, the weak choose to keep quiet.

Today the once-peaceful north has been turned into a killing field. Thou­sands of our compatriots have been dis­patched to their early graves for no fault of theirs in particular. Worst of it, every­body is confused on what can be done to stop the carnage. Buhari’s emergence is even deemed as not having the capacity to provide any solution. We, however, need to give him the benefit of the doubt.

In all that has happened there is still light at the end of the tunnel. God has taken control of our affairs as a nation and will soon manifest his awesome pres­ence.

Nigeria cannot continue the way it is going, otherwise we all will be imperiled. We must stand up and redeem it from the clutches of the forces of darkness that are assailed against it.

The restoration of Nigeria is a task we all must embark upon individually and collectively, no matter your religion, sta­tus or political alignment.

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A beautiful prayer for Nigeria; join me Fri, 18 Sep 2015 23:00:05 +0000 I come to you, God Almighty, with bended knees and with hands raised in prayer and supplication to you. The last time I poured out my heart in the open I asked for your mercy and protection on our dear country, Nige­ria, and its teeming suffering people. But since that encounter with you things seem [...]]]>

I come to you, God Almighty, with bended knees and with hands raised in prayer and supplication to you. The last time I poured out my heart in the open I asked for your mercy and protection on our dear country, Nige­ria, and its teeming suffering people. But since that encounter with you things seem to have gone from bad to worse. Even though I have never doubt­ed your awesome powers and ability to turn around the fortunes of Nigeria, I still believe you can do something fast to stop the degeneration of our nation into chaos. I fear the way things are go­ing, we may be heading for a more seri­ous situation in a few months away un­less you use your divine power to stop the mad drift.

Father, our leaders now spend precious time accusing and casting aspersion on one another instead of concentrating on finding solutions to the many problems besetting our nation. Oh God, when will you come to Nigeria and help us? When will your righteous anger against us abate? You have punished us severely, but you have not let us to die. Other nations are mocking us, because of the distress to which we have been subjected. Even those who mock us use your name in cursing us. Oh God, for how long will you remain silent. The water is rising speedily above our necks. If you fail to do something fast we will be among those who go down to the world of the dead. Be propitious to our supplications and help us.

As I kneel and pray, I can feel your compassion for the country Nigeria. I know you will not because of the sins of our nation destroy both the sinners and the righteous. For the sake of a few of these righteous men and women, take pity upon us. Just as you forgave the sins of Israel, overlook our transgressions.

Evil has overtaken our nation. Every nook and cranny of our fatherland over­flows with sinfulness. The people that once thrived in praising and worshipping you in truth and in reverence have sud­denly turned into a nation of fornicators, adulterers, blackmailers, assassins, armed robbers, kidnappers, pen-robbers, forgers, dupers, etc. A new wave of criminality – never witnessed in the annals of our na­tion – is gradually permeating our national life. This new wave, which reared its head when one of our citizens attempted to blow up an American airliner on a flight from Holland to Denver, Colorado, has set all of us on the edge. The attention of the world is now focused on Nigeria as a new breeding ground for terrorists. Fa­ther, how can our people engage in this kind of evil? I wonder if we can cope with the complexities associated with terror­ism. Please, God, kill this new wicked spirit that drives some of us to engage in acts detrimental to our national interest. Terrorism is a devious weapon used by Satan to destroy humanity. When some deranged and demonic persons ganged up to bomb the World Trade Centre, New York, United States, on the eve of Sep­tember 11, 2001, I knew that the world was heading for perilous times. There is no day that passes i do not remember the close to 3000 innocent souls lost to that mindless terrorist attack in the heart of New York City.

Today, the world – a beautiful place you made with your own hands for man to inhabit and cherish – has become a theatre of absurdities, where the wicked seem to be having the upper hand. Humanity now lives in perpetual fear of annihilation. The causes of World War II still loom perniciously across the globe. Countries are pitched against other countries over very trivial matters. Earthquakes, land­slides, mudslides, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other forms of disasters have kept the world on its toes. Global terrorists and other enemies of humanity have held all of us hostage. The world lives in constant fear of another World War and the likely use of weapons of mass destruction to set­tle differences between nations.

God, Almighty, I know deep inside of me that you would not allow the calamity that befell mankind at the time of Noah to recur. Will you watch, God, as mankind destroys itself? You destroyed the world with deluge when you saved only Noah and members of his household. You re­gretted that action, we were told. If you did, why then do you keep quiet while we daily inch towards another global cataclysm? You made man out of your image and likeness and gave him domin­ion over everything you made. But, alas, man has been held hostage by the things you put under his care. We pander to the dictates of the flesh and subject ourselves to the promptings of the luxuries of life. The good things of life have made man blind. He no longer sees beyond his nose. All he thinks about as he lies in bed is evil. He says yes to anything evil. Please, God, pay heed to our prayers and answer us now. If you should pay deaf ears to our prayers then we are finished. Our existence lies in your hands, while we draw our very survival from the fountain of your love and grace. You made man from the beginning to inherit the world and all that is in it. But sin has constituted an albatross in our way of receiving your flourishing grace, which we need for con­tinual spiritual and physical rejuvenation. Heal our world of sin and remind us con­stantly of the punishment that follows if we deviate from your statutes. What will you gain from the death of a sinner? It has never been your original plan that man should die. Death came into the world through the sin of our one man- Adam. Because of your abiding love for mankind you sent your begotten Son to die for the salvation of man. And through his death on the cross he brought us victory over sin and paved the way for continual reconcili­ation with you.

It is absolutely in your power to reme­dy the wicked conditions under which we live. To you a million years are like a short hour in the night. The night is like day, and day like night to you. You know the begin­ning from the end. And this was why you have ordered everything to happen at their appointed time. Just as you made man and woman from the beginning, so also did you make evil to exist side by side with good. But no matter how long evil may last it will be totally destroyed one day. The problems bedevilling our country Nigeria make me weep each time I take out time to ruminate over them. Some of them should not have cropped up in the first place if our leaders had demonstrated some empathy and selflessness to the suf­ferings of the people that elected them. Our leaders have thrown caution to the dogs and now govern like Lords of the Manor. The preoccupation of most of the leaders is to accumulate wealth they do not need – and this is to the detriment of our nation. They feed fat on the resources of the nation, while many of the people go on for days without food. Hunger and poverty have become an integral part of our very existence. And nobody cares a hoot if the people died of starvation, dis­eases, or illness. Our land is desolate as evil-doers have taken over what is left of our collective heritage. They leave grief and destruction wherever they go.

God, please where are you that all these evils should happen to your chosen people? Break your silence and do some­thing before we perish. Have you not seen the helplessness of our leaders? Leaders after leaders had come and gone, but none could fix the problems of our nation. Now that President Muhammadu Buhari is on the saddle, what hope does this hold for our nation? Nigerians have enormous hope in his ability to deliver. Do not allow him to falter.

You blessed us with rich human and mineral resources, yet we live like a poor nation. Many of our citizens feed from the trash bins and refuse dumps when they should be living a comfortable life. Those to whom we entrusted our collec­tive destiny see all these debasing things and yet do nothing. They seem to derive joy and fulfilment from the sufferings of your people.

What reason do we have to offer for all that is happening in our nation to­day? Nobody will say you have not blessed us, Lord. At least, the oil you blessed us with has the capacity to take care of many of our needs. Regrettably, this is not the case. The sad truth is that the more money we make from oil the poorer the masses become. Where then is the justice? Many of our industries are gradually going into extinction. Those that have managed to survive the unfa­vourable business climate in Nigeria are gasping for breath. To avoid total collapse some of them have found wisdom and solace in seeking refuge in other coun­tries where electricity and other factors of production are competitive and available. Nobody ever fathomed that we would ever be in this kind of hopelessness, con­sidering the endowments that abound in our nation. After all, there is nothing a na­tion needs to make it great that we do not have in Nigeria. We have good weather all year round; resilient, ingenious and hard­working people; productive land; regular sources of water; large population; miner­als of all kinds, etc.

Almighty Father, do something about what is happening all over our nation. I think that some people somewhere are working against our nation to make it not work. Break the curses placed on Nigeria that make it difficult to attain its destiny. Remove whatever or who­ever that constitutes an impediment on its way to self-sufficiency and freedom. Unless you step in now and help us we shall perish. It is the desire of the evil ones that Nigeria should be drawn into another internecine war. Can any nation fight two civil wars and still survive? Many analysts and even seers had fore­told that Nigeria would disintegrate in 2015. It was a wicked prediction. But you did not allow these prophets of doom have their way otherwise they might have begun to equate themselves to you. You are the Alpha and Omega and there­fore can never share your glory with any­one. You make a way where there is no way. This is why you are called Jehova El Shaddai.

With your intervention, Oh God, I be­lieve that our nation will be spared. The state of affairs in Nigeria has continued to degenerate. Touch the hearts of our leaders to work for the people and not for themselves. Renew them and open their minds to receive your divine message so that they will realise the need to take Ni­geria out of the doldrums. Millions of our youths walk the streets daily in search of unavailable jobs. Open the way for them and empower them. The youths are the livewire of any nation – the future leaders. Why then do we toy with their welfare? The high rate of crimes and other forms of misdemeanours are all products of a na­tion populated by an army of unemployed youths, and operate an unjust and unfair social system. If we allowed the trend to continue then we will be exposing the youths to greater perils that will ultimate­ly lead to their decimation.

Father, help our educational institu­tions to arrest the current falling standards in the quality of education they deliver. See, many of our graduates cannot live up to expectation. They carry about degrees they cannot confidently defend. This is why some persons derogatorily refer to them as ‘unemployable’. The result of this year’s SSSC Examination tells the sad story of the dilapidation of our edu­cational system. Out of the over 1.1 mil­lion that sat for the examination over 80% failed English Language. When we add this staggering figure to those that failed NECO and JUME this year you will see that we have a big problem on our hands. The danger in this development is that in another five years our educational system will collapse completely unless you inter­vene and save us.

Father, do not forsake or allow the sacrifices of our forbears to be in vain. Take us out of our present quagmire and lead us right. Pave the way for recov­ery so that in the next 50 years we will have developed into a global superpower. I know you love Nigeria and therefore will not allow us to perish. I assure you of our readiness to receive the new unction that you will bring to Nigeria. Grant us repent­ance from our evil ways and restore us. If you save Nigeria from collapse, we shall serve you all the remaining days of our lives and we will tell generations yet unborn of your marvellous and wondrous deeds.

Do not allow Satan to gloat over our mysteries. Grant us your abiding love and keep us steadily in your ways. There is nothing we can do as a people without your grace and guidance.

The sufferings of our people have gone to a level unprecedented. People engage in all kinds of ties without a modicum of remorse. They carry on as if evil has be­come a rewarding enterprise. This is why they try to outdo one another in wicked­ness.

Have pity on your people Lord. Grant us the spirit of discernment to know what is right from what is wrong. If you al­lowed us we will definitely perish. We place our hope and trust in your mercy. Your grace is sufficient for us.

Grant the present leadership in Nige­ria the courage and wisdom to steer the ship of state successfully. Unless you for­tify them there is nothing much they can achieve. In the end we shall have cause to glorify and sanctify your name.

We make this prayer with total confi­dence that you will grant them. Amen.

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Nigeria’s leadership burden Sat, 12 Sep 2015 01:29:59 +0000 It is slightly over 100 days since mantle of leadership of Nigeria fell on the delicate shoulders of President Muhammadu Buhari. Opinions about the performance of his administration have inundated the media ever since. While some of the opinions were favourable, others were not. The summary of these opinions was that Nigeria’s major problem of [...]]]>

It is slightly over 100 days since mantle of leadership of Nigeria fell on the delicate shoulders of President Muhammadu Buhari. Opinions about the performance of his administration have inundated the media ever since. While some of the opinions were favourable, others were not. The summary of these opinions was that Nigeria’s major problem of development is leadership. And this has prompted me to ask: when will Nigeria reach its destination in leadership?
I was reading the famous Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner recently when my mind flashed to the word “albatross” – ‘a psychological burden that feels like a curse.’’ This was a metaphorical allusion to the literary work of Coleridge. Yes, a curse! Immediately, I thought about Nigeria and its excruciating leadership burden. Everything about the poem looks as if Coleridge had Nigeria in mind when he composed it. It is a classical depiction of the sordid state of affairs in our dear nation.
Leadership has posed about the most daunting challenge to Nigeria in its effort to develop. Right from the early 60s till date, we have made continual, but unsuccessful, efforts to get over the psychological burden of leadership. The harder we try, the farther we drift.
It has always given me great concern each time I think about the direction our country is going, particularly as it grapples with the challenges of leadership. For 55 years, it has wobbled and waddled as it makes its way slowly to attaining greatness. But the big question is: when will it get to its destined position in the comity of nations?  Anybody who loves this country will see that it is systematically haemorrhaging, and needs help urgently. Everything we have done as a nation in the past 55 years has failed to make us achieve the expected result.
Nigeria is, indeed, passing through its worst times in history. It is currently in the throes of insecurity and economic strangulation. Even if Nigerians have high hopes that Buhari would right the wrongs of the past, things seem not to be working out too fine.
The anti-corruption war is being resisted here and there. Opposition against the present government is mounting. There is no day that passes that one does not read one story or another about Buhari by his detractors. Do these critics want to tell me there is nothing good in what the President has done in the past 100 days?
Everybody is carrying on as if all is well. To every discerning Nigerian, the situation is getting more and more precarious.
All these things are happening at a time our nation is in search of focused and God-fearing leadership. It is not arguable that the most singular problem of our development as a nation is leadership. Lack of pragmatic leadership has led to the backwardness we have suffered since independence. Who would believe that 55 years down the line Nigeria is still grappling with poor leadership when other nations have overtaken it in every aspect of development?
Deep inside me, I am worried about the continued slide of our nation into state of anarchy. This state of uncertainty is blamable on the inability of the leadership to reengineer the machinery of government to deal with the current uncertainties that characterize life in Nigeria. Since independence, up to this day, Nigeria has suffered from inept leadership, which has constituted an obstacle to the effort to develop it. The military era has been adjudged by many people as the most culpable in this regard. The thinking in many quarters is that the presence of the military in governance had critically slowed down the pace at which the nation would have developed into a truly economic giant. But the veracity of this claim remains in the premise of guesswork.
Nevertheless, it has been identified that some countries in Africa, which got independence after Nigeria, have since overtaken it in every index of development. Top of these indices are democratic stability, economic prosperity and security of life and property. These three indices represent the most critical in the assessment of the performance of any government.
When placed side by side the performance of some of its contemporaries, Nigeria has not fared too well in terms of stabilising its democracy. Democracy, as a system of government, has instead placed Nigeria in the firing line of forces that militate against its advancement. In truth, democratic governance in Nigeria has remained at the infantile developmental level, because of the absence of deep commitment and empathy on the part of those charged with the responsibility of administering the state for the benefit of the majority. What we have witnessed, rather sadly, during the few years civilians have been in the saddle of leadership is endemic corruption. And with corruption came other social vices such as armed robbery, religious intolerance, kidnapping, and killing for a fee. These vices, though alien to our culture before the birth of the Second Republic, assumed a notorious proportion with the coming of democratic governance in 1999.
In the ranking of the most developed nations in Africa, Nigeria is placed in distant 25, while Seychelles places first. This is sad. Nigeria has all it takes to assume a position of prominence on the global map, save for corruption and dour leadership.
It is painful to state at this juncture that the period between May 1999 and May 2015 could be described as the saddest in the political history of Nigeria. This period brought about strange happenings in the country, which have left the polity in a state of inertia. Is it not regrettable that despite the billions of dollars generated within the same period poverty and insecurity still stare most Nigerians in the face? The level of infrastructural development has been nothing but salutary.
Ironically, those charged with the onerous duty of steering the ship of state have callously abandoned the ship and chased after personal gratification. This is responsible for the spate of insecurity that has threatened to destroy the foundation on which our fragile democracy stands. Will Buhari’s onslaught against corruption help to steer the ship of state out of perdition?
Political analysts have continually blamed the backward state of development in Nigeria on the twin-problem of corruption and poor leadership. In my assessment, poor leadership is the chief culprit if we are to tell ourselves the truth. Pragmatically speaking, corruption is given birth to by poor, insensitive leadership, which in turn gives birth to a grossly compromised electoral system. The primary essence of election is to give the electorate the liberty to choose their leaders without let or hindrance. Unfortunately, elections in Nigeria have been turned into some sort of war with the gladiators applying all kinds of devious devices to outdo one another. The fierce contest for elective (or appointive) offices in Nigeria results from an unwholesome desire of politicians to win at all costs for self-aggrandisement. The largesse and other sparks that come with winning election are what attract people to politics, not to serve selflessly.
Though it is not my intention to discuss the emoluments of elected and appointive political office holders which have aroused the national consciousness of recent, rather I cannot fail to observe that the huge salaries and other sparks of office are the central focus of many that seek those offices in the first place. This is why they are ready to do anything to remain perpetually in office. The campaign against tenure elongation, which other politicians and I championed in 2007, was aimed at stopping the forces of retrogression that were bent on perpetuating themselves or their cronies in power.
I wish to state unequivocally that I have never for one day, in spite of the excruciating experience I went through, regretted partaking in that struggle. I feel this way, because I have always believed that for Nigeria to get over its self-inflicted problems some people should be ready to pay the price. Nigeria is just an entity without flesh or blood. It is us – you and I and other men and women of goodwill – that are its life. It, therefore, behoves us to stand firm in our beliefs and ideals and oppose any moves to destroy it. It may not be out of place to posit that the studied silence maintained by those who were supposed to speak up against the injustices in the land is responsible for all the crises in our polity.
There is a general feeling of insecurity across the country and it is feared, the way things are going, we may be heading for a more serious situation in a few months away unless the leadership evokes its constitutional powers to stop the mad drift. The fight against insurgency and other social ills must be fought to a standstill.
Painfully, our leaders now spend precious time accusing and casting aspersion on one another instead of concentrating their effort on finding solutions to the many problems besetting our nation. We could recall that on October 1, 2010, as we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of independence, a band of terrorists struck, leaving many innocent people dead and cars destroyed. Before these senseless bombings 15 pupils of a school in Aba and five members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Port Harcourt had been kidnapped. Though they have since been rescued the trauma remains. These incidents triggered off a new pattern of insecurity that has persisted till date, consuming numerous precious lives and destroying properties worth billions of naira.
Evil has since overtaken our nation. Every nook and cranny of our fatherland overflows with evil and blood. The people that once thrived in praising and worshipping God in truth and in reverence have suddenly turned into a nation of vampires, necromancers, killers, blackmailers, assassins, armed robbers, kidnappers, pen-robbers, forgers, dupers, etc., who pretend to be leaders when in essence they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. What kind of leaders would fold their arms and watch their people killed and maimed and do nothing? When a leadership loses its conscience what we witness in return is spread of evil. This was the lot of the immediate past administration in Nigeria. Expectedly, Buhari’s emergence has continued to inspire hope among Nigerians.
In recent years, numerous lives have been lost to insurgencies and other sectarian crises that had hit our nation. Innocent people are brutally murdered in cold blood for no justifiable reason. Early investigations have since revealed that those felled committed no other crime than being Nigerians. So, why waste these innocent precious lives? For goodness sake, what is happening?
How can we make progress as a nation without good and affectionate leaders – leaders that are ready to make sacrifices for the wellbeing of the generality of the people? The major success Nigeria achieved as a nation was recorded during the First Republic when leaders led with love and deep patriotism. Can we ever forget the invaluable contributions of Nigeria’s first Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa; first indigenous Governor-General and President, the Great Zik of Africa, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe; first Premier of Western Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo; former Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello;  and numerous others space could not permit me to name? These men, plus their women contemporaries – such as Mrs. Olufunmilayo Ransom-Kuti and Chief (Mrs) Margaret Ekpo – devoted their time and energy to fight for Nigeria’s independence. It is the fruit of their labour that we enjoy today.
My major worry in all of these therefore is: what are we going to leave behind for the incoming generation, considering the level of moral degeneration afflicting us?
The leaders of the First Republic were men and women with vision, resilience and integrity to drive the development and unity of Nigeria. Today, their achievements remain as a signpost for which they would forever be remembered.
It is very sad that we cannot say the same thing of today’s leaders whose preoccupation is to amass wealth for themselves and their unborn grandchildren – wealth they do not actually need. The United States and Britain, for instance, are where they are today because of the foresight of their past and present leaders. The development of democracy has almost become a creed in these countries, and other countries in Europe, that share in their dreams and aspirations.
In essence, the peace, progress and development of Nigeria hinge on the quality of leaders that are charged with the administration of our collective patrimony. Apart from the military eras, governance in Nigeria has not really experienced any serious lift. Some critics believe that the military mismanaged the resources available to it for the even development of the nation. They argue that if the military had spent half of the revenues that accrued to it on the development of infrastructure our nation would have been better for it. This argument may not hold water, anyway, considering the fact that we did not fare better under the civilian eras of 1979 to 1983, and 1999-May 2015.
I regret to state that the monumental infrastructural facilities seen anywhere in this country were built by the military. The Third Mainland Bridge, National Theatre, Tin Can Island Port, Murtala Mohammed Airport, Port Harcourt International Airport, Aminu Kano International Airport, and the first Niger Bridge were all constructed by the military. Almost all the major dual carriageways (Sagamu-Benin, Enugu-Onitsha, Kano-Kaduna, Onitsha-Owerri, Enugu-Port Harcourt, etc.), which are currently in deplorable state, were built by the military. So, is it then fair for people to criticize the military for non-performance?
I can never stop asking: When will responsible leadership be actualised in Nigeria after many years of experimentation? Will Buhari make things happen? Time will tell.

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Can evil triumph over good? (9) Fri, 04 Sep 2015 23:00:08 +0000 As I conclude this two-month series, it is important to admonish our politicians on the use of foul language against one another. Nigerian politicians have of recent acquired some notoriety in the use of abusive words on one another. Many of them resort to the use of foul language to disparage the character of their [...]]]>

As I conclude this two-month series, it is important to admonish our politicians on the use of foul language against one another. Nigerian politicians have of recent acquired some notoriety in the use of abusive words on one another. Many of them resort to the use of foul language to disparage the character of their perceived opponents out of sheer ignorance, complex or outright mischief.
The situation is gradually getting out of hands, especially after the 2015 elections. Caught in the web are politicians who have scores to settle with their rivals.  The Bible states explicitly that what a fool lacks is knowledge, while a stupid man lacks understanding. By implication, therefore, what a man who speaks first before he thinks suffers from is stupidity (ignorance).
There is no reason anybody can offer to justify the use of foul language on another person. Foul language can degenerate into a conflict of monumental dimension, if not properly managed. The use of foul language can result in severe arguments, followed by pushing and shoving, then fisticuffs, and finally the use of dangerous weapons.
It may not be far from the truth, if I infer that many of the conflicts afflicting humanity today were caused, ab initio, by wrong choice of words exacerbated by innate, selfish desire of man to lord it over others. What of those conflicts caused by ego? Ego has accounted for some of the most unpalatable situations we have had in some nations of the world, including the families which are often embroiled in masochistic and sadistic conjugal tussles for supremacy between husbands and wives.
Intolerance also seems to dominate the political space of Nigeria, and this is due largely to greediness, hatefulness and self-centredness on the part of the political and elitist classes. If a leader possesses sublime qualities of love, peace, and altruism it will definitely reflect in what he says and does. Put in another way: he will not be brash, pushy and easily irritated. It takes a humble heart to show tolerance in the face of utter provocation. This is why those who show restraint in their politicking endure in leadership.
One truth nobody can dispute is that to be a leader carries with it enormous responsibilities. It requires one to see oneself beyond the macrocosmic imperatives of one’s position and environment and look at the bigger picture confronting one in the task of offering selfless leadership to the electorate. Again, whosoever wants to make a success of his leadership position must learn to be a father-figure. This eliminates the temptation of parochialism, meanness and voluptuousness that characterize the lives of despots and tin-gods.
The essence of human communication, generally, is to interact with one another in a most refined, culturally-permissible manner for the advancement of the cause of society. But it becomes perilous and distractive when such communication assumes a contemptuous, derogatory and pejorative dimension. It is in consideration of this fact that terms of address may vary according to age, sex and status of the speaker or hearer. In yet another perspective, language can be seen as communication of thoughts or feelings through a system of arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols. In all of these, the choice of words is central to the semantics the hearer gives to such words.
Addressing a crowd of persons of diverse idiosyncrasies makes speech-making a bit Herculean and complicated. This is so because the way each person comprehends a statement varies from person to person. Using innuendoes, particularly during electioneering, should also be carefully done before they put one in trouble. This is why oratory is a product of intense intellectualism and practice.
Nonetheless, it has been established that language evolved over 7900 years ago and has consistently shaped the development of society. With its spread came conflicts that have threatened the very existence of man.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines ‘foul language’ as a vulgar or obscene nature (disagreeable and displeasing, violating acceptable standards or rules; dishonourable; etc.). Roget’s Thesaurus defines ‘foul’ as something extremely unpleasant to the senses or feelings, atrocious, disgusting, horrid, nasty, nauseating, repellent, repulsive, revolting, sickening, ugly, unwholesome, and vile.
From the foregoing, it is indubitable that everything about foul language is smutty, scurrilous and filthy. If it is so offensive, why then do people resort to its use with such relish and recklessness?
I regret to observe that politicians in Nigeria are quite different from their counterparts in Europe and America, including some countries in Africa, in the choice and use of words. Our politicians’ choice of language is, to say the least, immature, arrogant and self-effacing. All that matters to them when they speak is their own interests. An articulate, urbane and ingenuous politician is one that thinks before he speaks. Can Nigerian politicians boast of this unique quality? Or do they speak before they think?
I wish to state without any equanimity that most Nigerian politicians target the character of their opponents in their speeches, instead of concentrating on issues. When a politician mounts the soapbox he is expected to exhibit the highest level of decorum and decency. The stake becomes higher when the person involved is a higher political office holder.
There is something that has endeared President Barack Obama to both his friends and foes: his altruistic and mature use of language. This special attribute of his has been tested on several occasions, especially in the recent past. The most remarkable of the tests was the way he dexterously and tactfully used choice of words to soothe nerves, frayed to the point of elasticity, at the funeral of a ninenine-year-old girl felled by the bullet of a gunman that went berserk at a rally by a U.S. congresswoman some time ago. He was simply extraordinary. He weighed the pensive mood of the occasion and then launched into a sombre and emotional speech that melted the hearts of his listeners and made them cry like babies. By the time he dropped the microphone, he had won new friends from the crowd comprising mainly of the rabid critics of his administration.
In fact, it was Obama’s masterly speeches and his comportment and coolness in the face of provocation that wormed him into the hearts of most Americans to vote for him to emerge the first Afro-American President of the most powerful country in the world. And he has never disappointed in this respect.
One of the most important considerations when making a speech is the mood of the occasion. Every occasion has its characteristics and peculiarities. This is why a good leader (speaker) should possess charisma, credibility, pragmatism and candour. It is charisma that drives your ability to measure the pulse of any audience in order to determine what kind of language to use on them. Incidentally, most politicians are uncharismatic, queer and impetuous. They simply lack the ability to connect on a personal level.
Often, they are carried away by the applause they receive from the crowd, making them lose control much of the time. Again, some of them speak just to impress, without considering the consequences of their utterances. It is for this reason that one is expected to rehearse his speech thoroughly before delivery. Those who speak extempore require greater tact in order not to derail as a result of undue pandering to stimuli.
Let me quickly clarify a point: the Nigerian politicians I referred to above are the modern-day politicians. Definitely, I was not referring to great politicians in the mould of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Alhaji Tafawa Balewa who held their listeners spellbound with their thought-provoking speeches and gesticulations. What about their flamboyance, dignifying and intimidating carriage, and elocution. Sincerely speaking, I admired these great and exemplary patriots who championed the cause of Nigeria’s independence and spoke with so much vigour and class when they addressed different conferences prior to independence.
I have been wondering if Nigeria would ever have got independence with the kind of politicians we have today whose major preoccupation is how to enrich themselves and impoverish their people. While their speeches lack depth, intellect, and fineness, their appearance is haughty, arrogant and puffy. It is for this reason that they care no hoot about what negative impact their speeches may have on their listeners.
The main factor that exacerbates most crises in our land is wrong choice of language. The Bible captures the havoc the tongue can cause when it describes it as a consuming furnace. The tongue has the capacity to set a nation ablaze if wrongly applied.
When a politician uses foul language on another politician, especially his opponent, it speaks volumes about that politician’s demeanour, his personality and pedigree. Those in positions of leadership have been found to be culpable in this regard. They use state media to impugn the character of their perceived enemies without recourse to integrity, rule of law and ethics. They forget that when you point a finger at another person the other four point at you.
The whole essence of political contests is to promote social reengineering and bring out the best in politicians for the good of the people. Painfully, some politicians see such contests as avenues for self-enrichment, intimidation of their opponents and entrenchment of a regime of terror and fear.
I am a media-owner, but I do not interfere in its editorial policy. Rather, I have allowed the editors unfettered liberty to practise their trade to the best of their knowledge and for the development and peace of our country. Those who read our paper will agree that it affords everybody equal opportunity to air his views irrespective of religion, tribe or status. If I were mean and parochial, as some other media-owners are, I would use the media to fight those who demean my person and dish out deliberate falsehood against me.
My thinking is that politics should be a means to an end and not an end in itself. It is not a do-or-die affair the way some politicians dispose themselves to it. For the 8 years I was governor of Abia State, peace, love and order reigned. Even where we disagreed with some persons we never allowed emotions to rule our heads. We were provoked on numerous occasions, quite all right, but we showed restraint and humanness. Why then have the politicians of today chosen to jettison decency and in its place embraced brigandage and cantankerousness?
The most annoying aspect of their behaviour is their resort to gutter language and pettiness at the slightest chance. They trivialize serious national issues in the name of politics. They make mockery of our collective sensibilities and lump all of us as a bunch of idiots.
From a long period of investigation I conducted, I can, though regrettably, state that what our leaders lack are love, godliness, integrity and discipline. It is laughable, therefore, when the masses expect too much from them. Is it possible to give what you do not have (nemo quad non habet)? It is from the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
My worry is that the way our politicians behave and talk, they may throw this nation into a serious national crisis one day. Provocative utterances evoke provocative response. This is natural.
The kind of leaders we need today are leaders that will take us to Paradise, not those who cause others discomfort and pain by their unguarded utterances. For how long are we going to wait before our nation is given purposeful leadership?
As things stand today both the leaders and the led lack the sincerity and love needed to build a cohesive, egalitarian nation in which individual rights and privileges will be guaranteed and protected. Everybody is in a hurry to make it.
Is it not a pity 55 years after independence we are still embroiled in petty jealousies, arrogant dispositions and undue parochialism? When will God give us leaders that care? God when?
All hope is on President Muhammadu Buhari to change the way we behave and reason. He has come with a robust plan to turn around the fortunes of this nation. We hope he succeeds.
Generally speaking, there is hope in the horizon. No matter how much the evil people try they will never succeed in destroying this nation. Nigeria belongs to all of us. Until we understand this fact and work with one accord to further our collective interests as a people, the Nigeria of our dream will continue to elude us.


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Corruption under Obasanjo’s table Fri, 21 Aug 2015 23:00:06 +0000 (Being text of a letter I wrote to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on September 25, 2005) Due to the exigency of the time, I have decided to reproduce here a copy of the letter I wrote to then President Olusegun Obasanjo, admonishing him on the need to prosecute the war against corruption with all the [...]]]>

(Being text of a letter I wrote to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on September 25, 2005)

Due to the exigency of the time, I have decided to reproduce here a copy of the letter I wrote to then President Olusegun Obasanjo, admonishing him on the need to prosecute the war against corruption with all the se­riousness and honesty it deserved. The letter was prompted by a deliberate ploy by Obasanjo to use the Economic and Finan­cial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to settle personal scores, particularly when he had made up his mind to run for a third term. Some governors, particularly me, opposed to his Third Term bid, were marked for persecution.

In fact, there was no basis whatsoever to link my name with corruption after he had christened me ‘Action Governor of Nige­ria’ less than one year in office as governor. How I turned a corrupt governor overnight in the sight of Obasanjo still baffles me.

Those who knew me very well and what I went through running the affairs of Abia State for the 8 years I was in the saddle would agree that I applied rare ingenuity and courage to achieve the much we did.

Despite the huge debt profile of the state at the time we assumed office we were able to place the state in an enviable position by the time our tenure ended. We did not leave anybody in doubt about our commitment to transform Abia State. I thank God we suc­ceeded.

Read the letter meticulously and you would see clearly that I told Obasanjo the gospel truth. I did not harbour any ill-inten­tion or malice in doing the letter to him. It was rather borne out of a genuine feeling of empathy, knowing that the path he had chosen to tread would lead him to perdition.

My relationship with Obasanjo was like a father/son tie built on mutual trust, respect and dignity. But the way he paid me back for all the good deeds I did to him amazes me. So, I have been kept wondering if it still pays to do goodness to others.

But what can one do? Doing goodness has become a part of me. I have done so all my life. Is it now I am nearing 60 years that I should stop?

I have left Obasanjo to his conscience and God. That is if he has any conscience at all. I know that the God I serve will exoner­ate me in the end.

I wish to state unequivocally that I am not a corrupt person. How could I be cor­rupt when I have not done one kobo govern­ment contract. I have been involved in buy­ing and selling all my life. And I thank God for that. All that I have acquired in life have been through hard work and resilience.

Did the same Obasanjo not do every­thing possible to destroy my businesses? He revoked my oil licences, the licences of my airline and bank. Yet he was not done. He did many other unprintable things to get at me, but my God thwarted all his plans.

I have strong faith in God as a just and unbiased arbiter. His judgment has no ap­peal. When this judgment comes I am sure that I will be vindicated.

The letter:

September 25, 2005

His Excellency

Chief Olusegun M. Obasanjo, GCFR

President and Commander-in-Chief

Federal Republic of Nigeria

Presidential Villa


Your Excellency,

I write you this letter with a deep sense of patriotism, and without any malice, bit­terness or personal antagonism. As a prac­tising Christian and as a man fully raised and entrenched in the best traditions of honour and faith, I detest sycophancy and the aggrandisement of self in all their reflec­tions. This, Mr President, is precisely why I have always offered to tell you the truth, no matter how bitter it may be and regardless of any adverse consequences to myself.

I may not be in your good books or en­joy your goodwill, even though I made huge personal sacrifices and contributed significantly, in material and human energy terms, to your rehabilitation from prison and to your presidential campaign in 1999. You would recall that you told me in my private home in Victoria Island, Lagos, in 1998 that you had only N20,000 to call your own in this whole wide world. I gave you my solid assurance of material support and proceed­ed to keep my promise over and above the call of political comradeship.

All of that is now history and I happily surrender my dealings with you to the su­preme and final judgment of the Almighty. It is a matter of immense joy to me that, at the very least, you have acknowledged, on a number of occasions, both publicly and pri­vately, that I am one of the few Nigerian cit­izens you could count on to speak the bold truth to you at all times and without any let or hindrance; nor with fear or expectations of favour.

It is now about four years since your administration embarked upon its anti-cor­ruption crusade. Fire and brimstone have been threatened; there have been swagger and pretensions of a national revolution against corruption. However, I deeply regret to observe that the campaign has not yielded the desired results because the entire effort lacks focus and a strong foundation right from the outset.

The unrelenting resentment of the so-called anti-corruption campaign by many Nigerians, including the media, is attribut­able to the fact that they see it as a deliber­ate ploy to witch-hunt and muzzle perceived political enemies. This fear by Nigerians finds manifest expression in the selective nature in which some citizens are subjected to harassment and obnoxious public cam­paign of calumny, even before any indict­ments are brought against them. The list of those targeted for this treatment makes a perfect roll-call of Obasanjo’s political op­ponents.

The high-handed, draconian, and com­mando-like operations of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Com­mission (ICPC) have, thus far, negated all that our constitution and democracy stand for. They do not hide their bias, nor do they function within the ambits of the laws setting them up. And I must point out, of course, that the establishment of the two in­stitutions is a mere duplication since there are existing provisions in our legislation to deal effectively with the mischief which these bodies are purportedly set up to tackle.

In any case, the most preposterous and incredulous aspect of your anti-corruption campaign is that while the media is awash with stories connected with the activities of EFCC and ICPC, corruption is taking root and multiplying daily in many federal estab­lishments, including Aso Villa, the very seat of power where you reside. I have repeat­edly made the observation that corruption is rife among senior officials of government, especially those at the federal level, and among your friends, your business associ­ates and cronies.

Around you and in your name has coa­lesced a few powerful brokers of corrupt practices who peddle your influence and extract billions of naira in the form of oil & gas and defence contract commissions. The budget is manipulated at the National As­sembly with the active connivance of your surrogates and a few senators, thereby cart­ing away billions of naira through contract padding or inflation. The felonious activities of this cabal, including the foreign accounts of some of your aides, serving and former ministers, are also well known to the inter­national community. I would be surprised if you feign ignorance of this unfortunate situ­ation.

Astonishingly, you have done nothing visible to extinguish this dangerous and sycophantic phenomenon. It seems that you have deliberately turned a blind eye to the excesses perpetrated by your officials and your proxies because there is incontrovert­ible evidence at my disposal that you are afraid to prosecute them for fear of turning the table against yourself. It surely smacks of double standards at best and utterly hyp­ocritical in the extreme to openly preach against corruption while, in reality, the ma­lignant cancer is festering all around you, drawing its very life blood from the power­ful veins of your office.

A few specific examples are necessary to buttress my case: The Abuja National Stadium. Why was the original design for the stadium which had a five star hotel and which contract was won by a Chinese firm discarded and re-awarded to another for­eign construction company based in Nigeria without the component of a five star hotel but at five times the price originally quoted by the Chinese firm? There is unquestion­able evidence at my disposal pointing to the fact that mega corruption lies at the base of this dramatic turnabout.

Why have the operations of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) remained so murky? Who collected the commissions for the sale of Ajaokuta Steel Company and Delta Steel Rolling Mill, Aladja? To what degree would you, Mr President, defend those transactions as transparent?

Why have you found it difficult, Your Excellency, to probe the activities of the Federal Ministry of Works in spite of my subsisting allegation that the ministry stinks? It is an open secret that the opera­tions of the ministry between 1999 and 2003 were a mired in monumental fraud.

In a media appearance on the Voice of America (VOA) last month, I challenged you to openly declare your assets. An exem­plary leader who is genuinely committed to taking up arms against the invading monster of corruption would have had no hesita­tion in rising to this call. I am saddened to see that up till now, you are yet to do so. By declaring your assets openly, you would have succeeded in dispelling any doubts on the minds of Nigerians and the international community about the sincerity of your anti-corruption crusade.

Mr. President, you will agree with me that there are still many other questions that I would have loved to put across to you. But I have just asked these few to agitate your mind and dismiss your anti-corruption cam­paign as mere window-dressing.

A few other examples will baffle you. Let me ask you: Who owns Bell University and Bell Secondary School? I was shocked when you openly denied ownership of the two institutions and rather ascribed their ownership to Dr. Onaolapo Soleye, onetime Minister of Finance. I wish to put it to you, Mr. President, that I have overwhelming evidence linking you with both institutions.

Who paid for the construction of hostels and gigantic sports complex at the Bell Sec­ondary School? I put it to you, Sir, that both projects were financed with the Nigerian taxpayers’ money through the construction giant, Strabag, five years ago. What role did a former Minister of Sports play in the whole deal? What of the transformation of Ota farm, which is going on at frenetic speed? Who picks the bill? We knew all these things but deliberately chose to keep silent for the sake of peace and out of re­spect for you and your office.

The most pressing question I wish to put to you, Sir, revolves around your long tenure as Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources since 1999. Why has there not been a properly audited account of the Min­istry of Petroleum Resources since then de­spite the outcries by the people for this to be done? There is indisputable evidence that all the major deals in the nation’s oil sec­tor are being handled by you, through your cronies and agents. What about the leakages and the fraud at the Nigerian National Petro­leum Corporation (NNPC), with particular reference to crude oil sales and the accrued commissions? What have you done to check the malfeasance?

You have, on occasions, accused top gov­ernment functionaries, especially the gover­nors, of owning foreign accounts. Can you, in all sincerity, Sir, swear that you do not own foreign account(s)? There is evidence that you own foreign accounts, including a platinum credit card recently opened for you through which you charge your foreign ac­count and make purchases abroad.

I am deeply troubled by the drift and dangerous direction that things are taking in this country under your leadership. I fear for the masses of our country who live under dehumanising conditions. The economy has virtually collapsed, and the once growing and thriving middle class has been eviscer­ated. Everything is in a shambles, yet, we make millions of dollars daily from crude oil sales. An average Nigerian lives on 60 cents (N78) a day. Is this not a shame and a big scar on our collective psyche?

Mr. President, we simply cannot carry on like this. If we continue this way, then we are invariably inviting anarchy and cata­clysm upon our nation. The patience of Ni­gerians is fast running out, and it behoves you to take the bull by the horns and salvage the situation before it consumes all of us.
As I said at the beginning, this is a message that should challenge your statesmanship and patriotic zeal. You have an opportunity to write your name in gold if you can begin today to make amends. It is absolutely imperative that you redirect your energies to only gainful and edifying activities befitting your exalted office instead of hounding and persecuting innocent citizens just for refusing to dance to your dictates.

I am a straight forward, transparent and focused man. I call a spade a spade not minding whose ox is gored. I have demonstrated this through my dedicated service to the people of my state and through my long and profitable years in the private sector.

I refer you to Galatians 6:7-8, and wish to state in my conclusion that any­body who wants to come to equity must come with clean hands, and those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

You may not bother to like me and I do not crave your affection. But I have written as a senior citizen of this republic troubled by the deplorable state of our union. I sincerely hope that you will pay some heed to my admonitions. In all your dealings with Nigeria and Nigerians, may the burden of your con­science weigh in favour of the interest of our beloved nation!

Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Yours Sincerely,

Orji Uzor Kalu

Executive Governor of Abia State


For 35 good years he traversed Nigeria’s socio-cultural firmament like a co­lossus. He exuded dignity, royalty and splendour. Above all, he carried himself with humility and candour.

His opinion on any issue was well respected both by the government and individuals alike.

Despite the age difference between us he still treated me like one of his sons – with love and respect.

I cherished the times spent in his company, especially during the tours we made together to Singapore, London, the United States, Bahamas, etc. He was a jolly good fellow.

Now that death has snatched the Ooni (Oba Sijuade) away from us we are left like sheep without a shepherd. But we take consolation in his exemplary life of service to others that touched even the commonest of the pack.

May God, whom he served diligently, preserve his soul in the choicest part of Heaven!

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Can evil triumph over good? (7) Fri, 14 Aug 2015 23:49:41 +0000 My mind has always flashed back to a horrifying video I watched some time ago. On each of these occasions my stomach wrenched. The video clip, which was sent to my phone by a friend, showed a very virile young man – tied hands and legs – with his assailants’ faces masked, brandishing two sharp [...]]]>

My mind has always flashed back to a horrifying video I watched some time ago. On each of these occasions my stomach wrenched. The video clip, which was sent to my phone by a friend, showed a very virile young man – tied hands and legs – with his assailants’ faces masked, brandishing two sharp knives, while something that appeared like a death sentence on him was being read. The vic­tim looked vacantly and marooned as he awaited his violent death. After reading the ‘death sentence’ (for a crime I did not know) he was slaughtered like a goat, with his head severed and placed on his lifeless body. Immediately tears welled in my eyes. A million thoughts ran through my mind. I became instantly speechless. Why should such a young man’s life be terminated so violently and abruptly? Was it a crime for him to be born in a country such as ours? What was his of­fence to merit such an ignoble and pain­ful death?

The incident above paints a gory picture of what life has suddenly become in Nigeria. From east to west, north to south – the story is the same – endless violence and restive­ness, kidnapping and assassination. Who will bell the cat? What does the future hold for Nigeria if these insurgencies and vio­lence are allowed to go on unchecked?

I had thought by now the Boko Haram impasse would have been a thing of the past. But from what is happening they still pose a huge threat to national security.

From available statistics, many innocent Nigerians had been killed in dastardly fash­ion since the insurgency across the country began some seven years ago. Why have Nigerians suddenly become barbaric and unconscionable in their disposition towards one another?

What happened to the unidentified man in the video could happen to any of us. Bear it in mind that when a brother or sister suf­fers persecution today and we fail to stand up and defend them, then when it is our turn nobody will assist us. The monster called in­surgency is alien to our country. Repulsive incidents, as the one under review, only used to occur in far-away countries such as Soma­lia, Rwanda, Burundi, and some Arab coun­tries. Definitely not in Nigeria! How barba­rism, bestiality and other atrocities suddenly became a way of life for many of our people is a mystery I cannot explain.

It all, possibly, began when politicians and other powerful people in our society started arming youths to enable them to achieve their nefarious ambitions. It as­sumed a frightening dimension immediately after the 2003 general elections, when poli­ticians became more desperate and daring.

Interestingly, desperation among politi­cians soared to high heavens as the largesse for holding a political office increased. Poli­ticians are now ready to do anything to win elections. That was the beginning of insur­gency in Nigeria at the scale we now have it. Agitation for justice and autonomy among the ethnic entities in Nigeria also heightened with the advancement of our democratic practices. Sharing of national cake and po­litical office became an issue, threatening to tear our fragile unity to shreds. There is no more brotherly love, no more patriotism, no more humanity. What rules our world today is greed; greed for political power; greed for virtually everything!

The level evil has reached is such that it would even be better for God to destroy this world. Why should we continue to exist when we have lost all decency and human­ity? When human beings suddenly turn to beasts what else is life worth? I feel weak and benumbed when I look round and see the preeminent position evil has assumed in our nation. The whole thing is just nauseat­ing.

It seems doing evil has become a way of life for us. How else can we explain the notoriety evil has taken in our lives? It will not amount to any exaggeration should I state that Sodom and Gomorrah were much better than Nigeria. We have more churches and mosques today than ever before yet evil has continued unabated. The major evil for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed was homosexuality. But is ho­mosexuality not already a part of us, to the point that some people had the effrontery to sponsor a bill at the National Assembly for the legalisation of same-sex marriage? What audacity!

Thank God the bill did not pull through; otherwise there would have been chaos.

There is no manner of evil that is not committed in Nigeria and by Nigerians. The most grievous being the taking of another person’s life. Judging by the pain in my heart, I would advocate an immediate action by the Federal Government to launch a de­cisive war against the reign of impunity in our land. All men and women of goodwill must come together irrespective of religious, ethnic or cultural differences and work for the stamping out of the evils that threaten our collective existence.

Imagine what would have happened if the prophets of doom had had their way. Contrary to their expectations Nigeria was able to conduct free and fair elections. Those threatening fire and brimstone should bear in mind that Nigeria is greater than any one of us. Is it not a fact that we shall all die and rot away some day, but Nigeria will continue to exist? Why then do we dissipate too much energy doing evil? The sacredness of the hu­man life is something that is non-negotiable. Those that snuff life out of others by sheer force and brutality should bear in mind that the day of judgment is not far away. The en­counter between Joseph and his brothers in the Bible remains an eternal lesson. What would have happened if Joseph’s brothers had succeeded in killing him out of envy? Would they have benefitted from his ex­alted position as the Second-In-Command to Pharaoh of Egypt? In the same vein, who knew what the man killed in the video I mentioned above would have become if he had lived? Now see how our fellow country­men wasted him in the name of insurgency or by whatever name called.

I have warned severally in this column that some drastic measures need to be adopted to safeguard our nascent democracy and defend the sovereignty of our dear fa­therland otherwise we are doomed. It seems nobody has heeded such calls and things are getting worse.

The biggest threat to security of life and property in Nigeria is the proliferation of small arms imported into the country by unscrupulous persons for clandestine pur­poses. No single individual who imports large caches of arms into the country means well for it. It is only the police and other se­curity agencies that are allowed to acquire arms, and this must be done in accordance with due process. Unfortunately, what we have today is a situation where every Tom, Dick and Harry now brings in arms through our porous borders and deploys them as he deems fit?

It is true that these insurgents are better armed than our security forces. While police grapple with their obsolete rifles and disused vehicles the insurgents brandish modern weapons. This makes me wonder where all the billions budgeted annually for secu­rity go. State governments are struggling to outdo one another in the donation of security vans and communication gadgets to the po­lice. In the end what becomes of the equip­ment? The answer is simple: more crimes.

I was elated the other day when the House of Representatives called for the re­cruitment of more personnel to strengthen the security agencies to enable them fight crime. My fear is that the more people we hire the more bag-carriers our politicians will have. It is not contestable that almost 40 per cent of our security agents are deployed for VIP protection – to the detriment of vital areas that require round-the-clock security.

It is worrisome that government has spent enormous resources trying to restore peace in volatile parts of the country without much success. It appears its efforts have not been able to produce the desired result, going by the heightening violence we have experi­enced all over the nation, especially in the north east.

What then should be done to arrest the sad situation? I have given adequate thought to the issue and wish to state unequivocally that nobody has made any effort to attack the causes of insurgency. What are the causes? I think many of us already know. For the ben­efit of hindsight, let me list them: greed (for power and personal aggrandisement), injus­tice, poverty, ignorance, illiteracy, religious fundamentalism and bigotry, ethnicity, clan­nishness, and joblessness.

It is not my intention to expatiate on each of the causes, because we are already conversant with them. What I intend to do is to select a few of them for emphasis, in order to drive home my point. Unemploy­ment among the youth is the culprit-in-chief. What do you expect when millions of able-bodied youths leave school without jobs many years after graduation? A majority of the insurgents are youths between 16 and 30. From the video clip of the cold-blooded mur­der of the young man I mentioned above, it was easy to pinpoint the age bracket of the perpetrators of the frightening orgies in our land. They would be between 20 and 30 years. From where did they get the sophisti­cated weapons they were brandishing? From where did they acquire the heartlessness to commit such a wicked act against their fel­low countryman?

It must be stated at this juncture, that illit­eracy is a contributory factor to the exacerba­tion of insurgency all over the country. The northern part is worst hit. The disparities in the recent cut-off marks released for admis­sion into Unity Colleges tell the whole story of the gap in literacy between the north and south. So, to contain the rampaging youths in the north who easily fall prey to the at­tractions of insurgency the federal and state governments should mobilise them through skills and entrepreneurial training and other constructive means to keep them away from crime. We should adopt the Malaysian style of mini-industrialisation through the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMIES).

Another way to deal with the situation is by working hard to destroy the Almajiri syn­drome. Some powerful people are behind the perpetration of these heinous acts and find the Almajiris ready and malleable tools. By engaging them meaningfully the govern­ment will have cut off a vital supply source of insurgents.

There was a time agriculture was the mainstay of our nation’s economy. This was in the 60s. Through it many youths were gainfully engaged, and restiveness was al­most non-existent. With the discovery of oil came the present ostentation and revelry that characterise life in Nigeria. Then disparity in the gap between the rich and the poor grew wider, giving rise to the current cut-throat pursuit of wealth by the youth. The rising cases of crime are as a result of the greed among us, which prompts some people to seek wealth through illegitimate and illegal means.

As indicated earlier, politicians played a notorious role in entrenching insurgency in our national life. They taught the young, in­nocent, impressionable youths to use sophis­ticated arms against their perceived enemies and to achieve other inglorious ends. Have you ever spared a thought why elections in Nigeria are like war? A typical election day is like a battlefront: thugs of all shapes and colorations, arms of different makes and grades, money in local and foreign denomi­nations are flaunted by our high and mighty politicians to win votes. They maim and in­timidate the weak, snatch ballot boxes and force INEC officials to toe their infamous path. Curiously, those who lost in the elec­tion head for the tribunals, while those that do not have the patience for litigation devise other crude means to ventilate their indig­nation and frustration. The youth used and dumped get frustrated and search for an al­ternative means of survival. Crime becomes an easy attraction. In the end what we have is a riotous and volatile society.

For those who do not know: one of the reasons security agencies seem to lose the war against crime is the infiltration of their rank and file by dubious elements. Even the government had at a time admitted that the security agencies had been infiltrated by insurgents. If that is the case, then who is safe? Since government is aware of this fact, what steps has it taken to contain it? It is a very dangerous development that requires a drastic action. How can you pay the enemy of the country to protect it? That is exactly what the government is doing by not weed­ing out the bad elements in the security ser­vices.

Inequality in the distribution of national cake and political offices is a clear invita­tion to crisis. This is why I have always ad­vocated the restructuring of the country to give every ethnic nationality its due rights and privileges. The current sharing formula shows some lopsidedness and is skewed to favour some ethnic groups to the disadvan­tage of others.

This brings us to the elected insurgents. Yes, elected insurgents. What do you call legislators who fight in the hallowed cham­bers of their assemblies, using dangerous weapons on one another? We should not forget that when the cow is eating grass her calves are watching her. By exhibiting acts of hooliganism and brigandage the legisla­tors are telling the young ones that such acts are tolerable. And so, they are forced to practice it on a large scale. That is the crux of the matter. It is important that our law­makers conduct themselves honourably and decorously to serve as motivation to the up­coming youth.

I do not find what is happening in our nation funny at all. By allowing the unfor­tunate situation to go on unchecked we are just postponing the doomsday. It will get to a stage where the centre can no longer hold and, like Chinua Achebe would say, ‘Things will fall apart’.

To be Continued

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Can evil triumph over good? (6) Fri, 07 Aug 2015 23:49:03 +0000 In the preceding five editions of this se­rialisation, I have paid more attention to political issues, especially how the actors and actresses in the game have, by their actions and inactions, worked against the Nigerian state and thrown spanner in the wheels of its progress. I have canvassed the position that we must work collectively [...]]]>

In the preceding five editions of this se­rialisation, I have paid more attention to political issues, especially how the actors and actresses in the game have, by their actions and inactions, worked against the Nigerian state and thrown spanner in the wheels of its progress. I have canvassed the position that we must work collectively to nip in the bud the evils that plague our nation.

To add some variety to the serialisation I have deemed it worthwhile to look at a very important unit of society that has contrib­uted the most to the social decay in which we have painfully found ourselves. And that unit is the family.

Unfortunately, however, many public commentators have inadvertently over­looked the family as a major cause of the greater percentage of all the ills in our so­ciety.

Every problem that works against the progress of our nation takes its root in the family. Is it true or false?

In fact, it is the poor manner many homes are managed accounts for the preponder­ance of evils in Nigeria.

Those who refer to the youth as future leaders of any nation are quite right. Right from the beginning, God has made it a rou­tine for people to be born and die when their time is due. In fact, a person is ripe to die the moment he is born. Ecclesiastes 3 makes it clear that there is time for everything un­der the sun: time to be born, time to die. By death, what God has providentially laid out, in an undisputable manner through the works of creation, is to institute a process of succession – generational paradigm. This is why there have been numerous succes­sive generations since the first generation of Adam came into being.

Adam had two sons: Cain and Abel. Cain killed Abel out of sheer envy. Cain and his wife had a son named Enoch. Enoch then begot Irad who was the father of Mehujael. The generation of Cain continued until the generation of Lamech. After the killing of Abel by Cain, Adam and his wife had an­other son called Seth. Adam was 130 years when Seth was born. From Seth other de­scendants of Adam followed up to Noah, after which the first world was destroyed by a deluge.

From the chronology above, it is easy to deduct that there was some form of san­guineous affinity between Adam and his sons, including between Noah and his three sons – Shem, Ham and Japheth. This affin­ity could be traced to the family bond tying them together and which took its root in tra­dition, norms and values.

I must confess that I am thrilled by the same bond that bound Jesus, Mary and Jo­seph. Despite the fact that Jesus was God He humbled himself, took the form of man and was born among men. He was respect­ful and did not fail to show reverence to His parents even when His time was not ripe to go into the ministry full swing. For instance, during the wedding at Cana, he submitted to the will of His mother when he turned water into wine. He had every reason and author­ity to decline the request by his mother, but he did not. This is why the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Jesus, is regarded as the ideal family.

Even in the British Monarchy it is the tra­dition for every royal person to behave with decorum – avoiding scandal and preserving the good name of the family.

The whole idea behind socialisation is to facilitate the transmission of cultural herit­age from one generation to another. Cultural heritage in this regard encompasses those values and norms that sustain the character of a generation. It is naturally agreed that only positive values can be transmitted to another generation.

The major cause of the degeneration of morality in our society can be located in the erosion of these values. Our national an­them gives generous attention to the hero­ism of our forbears who made enormous sacrifices for the independence of Nigeria. But why has the present generation of Nige­rians chosen to jettison the values and prin­ciples for which these patriots and nation­alists laid down their lives, and rather are comfortable watching while evil attempts to destroy our land?

This brings us to the family as a social unit. The family can be said to be one of the most basic and important socialising agents. It is the piecing together of the vari­ous families that makes up the society. By this I mean that the society does not exist in isolation of the family. This was why the Catholic Church focused its energy more on the family in its Evangelisation programme in 2000. The belief of the Church is that once the family is evangelised then the en­tire society is evangelized.

I think the Church is right. Life in our so­ciety today is chaotic and brutish, because the family has lost its serenity and worth. There was a time social ills were at their lowest. At that time, parents paid adequate attention to their responsibilities toward their children. The task of taking care of the family was the exclusive obligation of the father. Mothers were primarily assigned the duty of nurturing the children and taking care of the home front. This afforded moth­ers the opportunity to monitor their children closely and detect very early those traits in­jurious to their upbringing.

But today, all that has changed: every parent is a potential breadwinner. In fact, struggle for gender superiority between the men and women has exacerbated woes of the family. Children are now left at the mercy of nannies, house-girls, and other persons who hardly understand the psychol­ogy of the child.

The battering of the moral fibre of the family took a turn for the worst after the civil war, when the craze for ostentation assumed a frightening dimension. Before the war, every family gave priority to the protection of its good name over mundane, worldly things. Parents enforced discipline and did what was needful to ensure a solid future for their children.

I am worried over the debasing of the moral values for which the family was known. My fear is that if the situation is unchecked it will get to a point where the entire society will be plunged into anarchy. Take a look at the licentiousness, prostitu­tion, drug abuse, violence, robbery, kidnap­ping, cultism, ritualism, and other crimes that have threatened the peace, growth and development of our nation. Those who perpetrate these mindless evils come from homes – at times, responsible homes.

It is painful that parents now overindulge their children, thereby exposing them to exploitation and manipulation by some un­scrupulous elements that prowl – seeking souls to destroy.

This brings us to the big question: How much of your child do you know? Every parent must answer this question very sin­cerely. It is by properly evaluating the an­swer to this question that you can receive the right answer. When the correct answer is obtained you can then be better positioned to place your child in the right perspective in terms of his moral fortitude. I have asked this question bearing in mind that the loose­ness in the behavioural pattern of our chil­dren can be found in the big gap in the rela­tionship between children and their parents. Sadly, the pursuit of wealth and deference to the dictates of the flesh has distanced parents from our children. The beauty of bonding in family lies in its ability to foster strong ties between children and their par­ents. It also has the capacity to dispel fear, suspicion, and distrust which erode confi­dence and dampen morale.

It has become increasingly difficult for many parents to predict the characters of their children or vouch for them. This is as a result of the estrangement in the relation­ship between the two. Some parents leave home as early as 6 o’clock in the morning (in places such as Lagos) and return as late as 10 p.m. By this time, the children have gone to bed. They are left for 16 hours in the hands of, in some cases, total strangers who are generally referred to as house-helps. This situation continues for a very long time, even as far as the time the child gains admission into college. By the time the child gets into secondary school it has become malleable and vulnerable. It is at this time the child joins cult groups and other anti-social gangs.

What kind of family does one expect from this unfortunate and queer arrange­ment? Unfortunately, many homes in our nation today are run this way. The short-term result being that many of the children brought up under this disjointed and stress­ful situation suffer from lack of parental warmth, rejection, and feel hollow.

It amounts to wishful thinking for any­body to expect to reap yam after sowing co­coyam. Whatever we sow is what we reap. If you want your child to grow to become responsible and successful then give him good upbringing. How can you have your cake and eat it? Good children emerge from responsible, responsive and God-fearing parents. These days many parents find it hard to correct their children when they go wrong. They rather opt for pampering them. The consequence is that the child is embold­ened by this lax situation to continue in his evil ways.

Training a child entails tact, diligence, courage and prayers. It is not something that is done in haste or haphazardly. Diligence is of paramount importance. I feel that way because diligence offers you the platform for the close monitoring of your child’s behaviour without frightening it. It is also through it that the future of a child can be nurtured and guaranteed. The delicate pe­riod in a child’s life is adolescence. It is at this age that parents are expected to counsel and guard their children from the revelries of life, which usually lead them astray.

The danger in the age is that it exposes the child to unexpected challenges that task its intellect and moral thread. It is a criti­cal time when a child grows out of infantile dispositions into the age of puberty. Legally, when a child gets to the age of 18 it can sue and be sued. It can also vote and be voted for. Indeed, it is a period of experimenta­tion – when the child can go gaga – trying out all kinds of things. Whatever a child will ultimately become in life begins from this moment. This is why parents are advised to show greater care and diligence in order to be able to lead the child aright into adult­hood.

It is very regrettable that modern-day parents do not always capture the intrica­cy of this age and, therefore, are bound to make mistakes they regret much later when their children have grown wild and uncon­trollable.

Interestingly, every family has a tradition which spans several centuries, if not genera­tions. How these traditions are abandoned without much ado is what baffles me. If the name of a family is jealously guarded it will be difficult to drag such name to the mud. As I mentioned earlier in this article, there are many families all over the world with long history of existence that have main­tained their name with pride and sense of fulfillment. What has sustained these fami­lies’ traditions is strict adherence and the ability to imbue in their young ones such traditions from the cradle. The Bible says we should teach a child the way it should go and it will not depart from him when he grows up.

Curiously, parents these days engage in all kinds of disgraceful acts in the presence of their children without raising the lid. They forget that these children are impres­sionable and, therefore, have the capacity to digest everything they watch with some au­dacity. How can a mother or father engage in unwholesome sexual acts and expect their children not to copy them or even sur­pass their exploits? Some parents belong to secret societies and that makes no news. But when their children grow up to join secret cults it makes news headlines. Some par­ents smoke, quarrel, drink heavily, keep late nights, and engage in other illicit activities in the presence of their children. What do you expect them to do when they grow up?

I regret to state at this juncture that 60% of the misdemeanours associated with our youth today were learned from their homes, because parents failed to discharge their role correctly in the training of such chil­dren. If you want your child to grow up into a responsible adult you must first lay the foundation for it. The foundation should be founded on love, nurtured by truth, and driven by discipline. There is nothing wrong in making your children your friends, while at the same enforcing the code of discipline for which the family is known. When you show love to your children they will natu­rally return such love in the way and man­ner they relate to you by being open, truth­ful and responsible. Many parents think bullying their children will make them responsible. How wrong they are. Bully­ing estranges your children from you and exposes them to exploitation by those who show them fake love.

A child naturally finds love outside if there is none in the home. This is where the negative indoctrination begins; and by the time you know it the situation has snow­balled out of control. Do everything hu­manly possible to command the confidence and trust of your children.

The Child’s Right Bill was passed into law by the National Assembly to protect the right of the Nigerian child. This has become necessary as a result of the daily abuse chil­dren go through in the hands of paedophiles and other sexual perverts.

The Federal Government must, as a mat­ter of urgency, design a policy that will give some attention and protection to the family in order to arrest the decadence that has af­flicted it for some time now. If not done, and swiftly too, then we will be courting trouble for our nation, because very soon we may wake up one morning to discover, to our chagrin, that the Nigeria we used to know is now a ‘Banana Republic’.

To be continued


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Can evil triumph over good? (5) Sat, 01 Aug 2015 00:10:15 +0000 What is really wrong with our people? Must we criticise everything that the government does – whether good or bad? Can’t we for once commend government for what it has done that is good? The situa­tion is truly getting out of hand? If it is not that Buhari is yet to appoint Ministers, it is [...]]]>

What is really wrong with our people? Must we criticise everything that the government does – whether good or bad? Can’t we for once commend government for what it has done that is good? The situa­tion is truly getting out of hand? If it is not that Buhari is yet to appoint Ministers, it is that he has blamed the United States for the protracted war against terror.

Let me quickly state here that my po­sition has nothing to do with freedom of speech. That is not the intention of this piece. The intention is to attempt to draw attention to some of the frivolous comments some persons made over the recent visit of the President to the Unit­ed States.

Painfully some of the comments did not take into consideration the enormous benefits of the visit, particularly the publicity mileage it gave to the country. I was specifically pleased with the com­ments President Barack Obama made about the integrity of President Muham­madu Buhari and his clear vision about the fight against terror and impunities.

In any case, the sources of the scath­ing criticisms against the President and the aims of such negative publicities are quite obvious. Both came from the en­emies of Nigeria; those who have never seen anything good in Nigeria.

How could any sane person have de­scribed the visit as unproductive and a waste of time? When will our people show some respect for elected leaders?

In my article in this column last week I expressed confidence in the adminis­tration of President Buhari to give this country a new life. He has the capacity to achieve it.

Those writing all kinds of trash do so out of sheer mischief and envy. What has age got to do with performance of the office of President? In most nations of the world experience in government comes with age – the older the merrier.

The visit of President Buhari to the United States has catapulted Nigeria to great heights in global affairs. It has also restored Nigeria’s sagging global image and attracted wonderful business oppor­tunities to it. From available reports the visit attracted foreign investments to the tune of $13.2 billion with more coming very soon.

What the critics of the visit have failed to understand is that before the visit relations between Nigeria and the United States was at its lowest. In fact, it was good that it happened at the time it did as it has given Nigeria a new fillip to pursue its mending of fence with the global superpowers.

I am particularly thrilled that Nigeria has now recovered its balance in pursuit of vintage position in global politics. The numerous positive comments by top American technocrats during the visit also underscored the position of preemi­nence Nigeria occupies in the world.

Another significant benefit of the visit, however, was the reigniting of the indomitable spirit of Nigerians to do business with the United States. And the United States is excited too about the de­velopments.

In any case, the enemies of Nigeria will always work to put a wedge in the relations between Nigeria and the out­side world, because they profit from such unfortunate situations.

Surprisingly, there is a new oppor­tunity for the government to negotiate with Boko Haram and restore normalcy to the troubled North East Region of Ni­geria. The President gave the indication while on the visit to the United States. Only a few persons gave it any chance to materialise. But the indication given by the sect to negotiate with the govern­ment has given hope for the amicable resolution of the impasse.

I had stated several times in this col­umn that the Federal Government should negotiate with Boko Haram. Each time I made this suggestion nobody gave me any ears. They regarded my suggestion as unrealistic. But see what is happening now! Everything points to dialogue.

It does not matter what anybody may think about negotiating with Boko Har­am and peacefully resolving the issues that led to the crisis in the first place. What should concern any right thinking person is that the carnage being com­mitted in the name of religious war is stopped forthwith. We all know how many precious lives had been lost to the insurgency in the north. The number is unquantifiable. These were innocent, promising Nigerians dispatched to their early graves for no fault for theirs.

Those gloating over the killings in the north are nothing but maroons and sad­ists. They are evildoers working for the truth to be assailed. But they will always meet their waterloo as the evils they pro­mote will ultimately consume them.

It is the same people who stoke the embers of hate in the north east that are responsible for the crisis that has rocked the National Assembly. Having failed in the north they have moved their evil machinations to the National Assem­bly. Nonetheless, the crisis has eventu­ally been resolved with the emergence of Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as the new House Leader.

The elusive peace was brokered by President Muahmmadu Buhari, who in his usual fatherly manner, called the warring parties together to make peace between them. Myopic critics of the President have been put to shame since their evil plots fell flat.

What I think the leadership of the Na­tional Assembly should do is to allow sleeping dog lie and obey the supremacy of the party by not allowing what hap­pened to repeat itself. Contrary to the insinuations in some quarters political parties should call the shots in the en­forcement of party discipline. Allowing individuals to behave the way they like erodes the authority of the party and cre­ates crisis.

My position does not in any way mean that members of a political party do not have any rights or say in the par­ty. However, this depends on what the constitution of the party offers to such members as their rights. Indeed, the con­stitution of a political party is supreme and guides the operations of the party and the behaviour of its members.

The National Assembly members, to be quite sincere, should have done things differently to avoid the unfortunate inci­dents that had threatened the peace and stability of the nation. They should have buried their differences from the onset and embarked on the election of their leaders in a manner that would not have upset the equilibrium that had existed in the order of the election of principal of­ficers.

It is worthy of note that the President conducted himself in a most unbiased manner – allowing commonsense to prevail. He did not intervene at a time many had thought he would. Rather he waited until tempers cooled before call­ing the dramatis personae to dialogue. The meeting on Monday crystallised into the selection of Femi Gbajabiamila as Leader and Doguwa (one of the ar­rowheads in the crisis from the Gbajabi­amila Camp) as his deputy.

The new arrangement automatically settles the matter and creates an atmos­phere of peace and tranquility which the House needs badly to do its business.

By extension, the Senate passed a vote of confidence in Dr. Bukola Sa­raki and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekwer­emadu, and other principal officers as a way of preempting the troublemakers in the Senate.

What I cannot tell is whether the vote of confidence is enough to assuage frayed nerves and restore normalcy to the Senate. The House of Representa­tives’ approach to resolving their crisis was more reasonable and pragmatic. It settles the matter once and for all by en­larging the scope for participation by the various interest groups in there.

I had expected the Senate to toe a similar line instead of its present hard stance, which only prolongs the crisis. Flexibility and diplomacy are two dy­namic principles that sustain the admin­istration of any democratic institution. Sticking to one’s gun and not allowing any space for negotiation is anti-pro­gress.

For peace to continue to reign in the National Assembly there is need for members to show restraint and under­standing among them. They must create room for every member to air his views and not allow selfish, parochial tenden­cies to obfuscate their sense of reason­ing.

That brings us to the issue of security. I can never stop hammering on it, be­cause it is at the centre of our continued existence as a nation.

I must commend the efforts being made by the Federal Government to re­store peace in the troubled regions of the country, especially in areas where in­surgency by the Boko Haram sect have inflicted huge damage. The securing of $2.1 billion loan from the World Bank for the reconstruction of the North East geopolitical zone was a right step in the right direction.

Though the war was avoidable there is, nonetheless, an urgent need to rebuild the zone and check the wanton destruc­tion of precious lives and valuable prop­erties. I used the word ‘avoidable’ be­cause what caused the restiveness could have been averted in the first place. It was the same lack of flexibility and re­straint that allowed the crisis to balloon to an uncontrollable level.

It is for this reason that I find it a waste of time to permit a crisis to exac­erbate before finding a lasting solution to it. This is why, at times, I see the atti­tudes of some of our leaders as obdurate and insensitive.

To secure the nation takes only a few diplomatic, pragmatic steps. The first of such steps would be to create room for genuinely aggrieved persons to venti­late their grievances from time to time. When this is not allowed it lays the foun­dation for trouble. That was the case with Boko Haram. If the government in power at the time the crisis started had done something more practical to nip it in the bud it would not have dragged on to this time.

The second step is to create jobs for millions of our unemployed youth to take them away from the attractions of crime. Creating jobs is the surest way to arresting the drift of able-bodied youth into lawlessness and brigandage. The youth are always the easiest weapons mischief makers and other disgruntled elements use to foment trouble and set­tle personal scores.

Unfortunately, 60 per cent (if not more) of those engaged in criminal ac­tivities are the youth. Reduce this num­ber drastically and you bid bye-bye to violent crimes. Now the question that may arise is what can be done to provide jobs and banish crime from our society? The answer is simple: explore the rich and yet-to-be-tapped resources of this country. Agriculture has been adjudged as the largest employer of labour. Across the world agriculture serves not only a vehicle for arresting hunger and malnu­trition it also serves as a huge foreign revenue-earner.

It is sad that Nigeria – one of the larg­est agricultural based economies in the world in the past – has suddenly become dependent on imported food. The United States, China and Thailand and other Asian countries, for instance, produce large quantities of rice to feed the world. And Nigeria falls into this category, be­cause of its rich arable land and all-year clement weather.

So, it gave me joy when the federal government banned the importation of rice and other items. Is it not insulting that a country as big as Nigeria could be importing toothpicks made from wood and plastics?

Another step to promote security in the country is to re-equip the security agencies and increase their capacity for intelligence-gathering. It is not enough to deploy soldiers at the slightest sight of any insurrection. It is of great impor­tance to ensure that the fighting forces have the capacity to contain the insur­rection. Building capacity and providing modern weapons should go together.

It is gladdening to note that the Unit­ed States has pledged to cooperate with Nigeria to arrest insurgency in the coun­try. We really need their assistance. We cannot continue to pretend when our house is on fire.

The consciousness of Nigerians should be aroused to make them more alive to their individual responsibility of security in their environment. The se­curity agencies do not have the capacity currently to meet the nation’s security needs. Therefore, there is a need for co­operation between the citizenry and the government, particularly in the area of intelligence-gathering.

I must commend the effort of the Bu­hari government to resort to dialogue as a way of ending the Boko Haram im­broglio. We cannot afford to continue to lose useful lives when all it takes to restore peace and disarm the evil ones is the roundtable.

To be continued

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Can evil triumph over good? (4) Fri, 24 Jul 2015 23:42:06 +0000 The story that has inundated the airwaves and pages of newspa­pers and magazines in Nigeria in the past two weeks is that President Muhammadu Buhari is too slow in delivering the dividends of democracy to the masses. For instance, they argue that the in­ability of the President to appoint min­isters underscores his weariness and bankruptcy [...]]]>

The story that has inundated the airwaves and pages of newspa­pers and magazines in Nigeria in the past two weeks is that President Muhammadu Buhari is too slow in delivering the dividends of democracy to the masses.

For instance, they argue that the in­ability of the President to appoint min­isters underscores his weariness and bankruptcy of ideas to ably pilot the af­fairs of the nation.

As if to add petrol to fire the critics have been having a feast day ever since writing and saying all kinds of things to justify their position with unceasing rabidity.

But I beg to disagree that President Buhari is to too slow. Whoever holds a contrary opinion must be suffering from jaundice of the mind or habouring un­justified ill-feeling against the present regime.

Who in Nigeria does not know that it usually takes a little time for a new government to find its feet and set out for full operation? This is not peculiar to Nigeria. It has happened in the United States under the Obama administration.

The reason is that a new government needs time to study the handover notes and do some comparisons, hold consul­tations with the permanent secretaries it inherited, lay out the operational guide­lines, assemble the team, based on what is on ground, and wait for other arms of government, such as the legislature, to find their rhythm.

If this should be the case why then do armchair critics castigate the new administration for doing what it is ex­pected to do? In the present circum­stance, we have a peculiar scenario where the new government is making efforts to clean the Augean Stable. Ac­cording to President Buhari, he needed time to tackle the numerous problems bequeathed to his by the Jonathan Ad­ministration.

I remember vividly that President Bu­hari begged Nigerians immediately after he was sworn in as President to give him more time before expecting the divi­dends of democracy to start flowing out of Aso Rock. To buttress the President’s position the chairman of his Transition Committee, Ahmed Joda, said that the last administration did not allow them access to vital information during its as­signment and that that would affect the pace at which the present administration would work initially. And he was right.

From the report of the Transition Committee it was clear that the delay in handing over important notes to it by the Jonathan government affected its work and is now indirectly affecting the overall governance of the country.

Now, what justification do the critics have for demonising President Buhari and calling him names? I have taken time to study Buhari and can state here that he is in control of governance of the country. Forget the wicked insinuations by detractors things are gradually look­ing up.

I know that Nigerians are in a hurry to see him perform but they should not lose sight of the fact that his adminis­tration inherited a huge burden from the last regime. The issue of unpaid arrears of salaries by states was a part of it. Imagine what would have happened if he had closed his eyes to the plight of workers and not bailed out the states? As a caring and empathic leader he quickly found a way round the problem. Today, the states can now breathe some fresh air and concentrate on building new opportunities to make life better for their people.

Resorting to the bailout was a very in­genious step by the Buhari government. No other way would have arrested the drift as promptly as the bailout package had done. This is why it has to be cher­ished by every Nigerian – particularly the jaundiced critics. The exciting thing is that the bailout plan is structured in such a way that none of the parties in the deal would suffer any disadvantage. States, as well as the guarantors – the Federal Government – have generous moratoria to meet its terms and condi­tions without stress.

What about a few appointments made by the President so far – from his media team to the Service Chiefs? These ap­pointments have demonstrated in a very special way the desire by the President to overhaul the system and restore san­ity to governance.

Do not forget the crises in the Nation­al Assembly, instigated by some persons to garner undue advantages and cause confusion. If not for the wisdom of the President and other stakeholders the situation would have boiled over. Such crises achieve nothing other than set the pace of governance back.

Another reason it seems the President is slow is the Boko Haram wahala. No administration would do well in the face of growing threat to peace and security. Boko Haram has been a pain in the neck of the immediate past and present gov­ernments. The six years of Jonathan’s presidency was characterised by persis­tent insecurity with little time for actual governance.

It was when it seemed things were looking up for him that he was voted out, leaving the Buhari government to grapple with the burden of dealing with the conflict. The complex nature of ter­rorism has made the fight against it look arduous. This has made many people believe that the chances of winning the war appear bleak.

Nevertheless, for the discerning ana­lysts, the approach of Buhari differs significantly from Jonathan’s. That was expected. After all, Buhari is a retired army general with international clout. His style should ordinarily be different.

The increased onslaught by Boko Haram should not create the impression in the minds of people that the govern­ment is not winning the war. What Bu­hari is doing is a combination of force and diplomacy. And the developed countries seem to be comfortable with it. No wonder the United States rolled out the red carpets to receive him!

If Buhari were slow and not perform­ing the US would not be doing all it is doing for him and Nigeria. Add this to the generous welcome he received when he attended the meeting of the G-8 in Germany in May – even before he was inaugurated.

The current disposition of the world, especially the US, towards Nigeria un­derscores the optimism that is growing among members of the global commu­nity and the triumph of good over evil. The machinations of the enemies of Ni­geria were that it would never see the light or receive anything good from the outside world. But all that has changed. Their plots have fallen through and Ni­geria is being steadily favoured.

The visit of Buhari to the United States was a huge success. It has helped immeasurably in laundering Nigeria’s image.

As for ministers: my position is that the President should take his time and choose the best for the country. Why the hurry? Selecting ministers to work with the President is a very serious assign­ment that requires meticulousness, dili­gence, proper investigation, contact and scrutiny. It is not something that is done in a hurry. Again, appointing ministers when the system is not ready to receive them is not the best thing to do.

I think the strategy of the President is to lay the foundation on which the min­isters would build their programmes is a perfect one. This foundation will enable him to monitor and evaluate closely their performances.

In any case, the restructuring of the ministries to produce a more acceptable and manageable number accounts for the delay in appointing ministers. The number of ministries under Jonathan was seen to be on the high side consid­ering the gargantuan costs of maintain­ing them. The plan under Buhari could be to trim the number as a way of cut­ting wastes and plugging all loopholes through which government resources were frittered away.

Many observers of political hap­penings in the country may not have realised that it is the intention of Bu­hari to nominate men and women of unquestionable integrity and character. Naturally, this exercise would take time as security checks and other measures would have to be carried out on them before their names are announced.

The practice in the past was for ministers to be appointed less than 48 hours after the swearing-in of the Presi­dent. But from experience this has not worked out positively. There is also the argument that the incoming administra­tion should have been ready with the list long before it came into office. Both situations cannot obtain in the present circumstance as the scenarios are quite different now.

What should concern Nigerians is the calibre of the persons to be appointed ministers and not the time it takes to appoint them. Without any disputation those opposed to what the President is doing do so for their selfish interest. They are not guided by patriotism or altruism.

I wish to drum it into the ears of those who are yet to come to reality with the reason God chose Buhari to pilot the affairs of Nigeria at this time of our national life that no amount of tirades or criticisms will make him not to suc­ceed. The state of things in our nation demands meticulous planning, personal sacrifices, patience and understanding of the citizenry. Criticism, just for the sake of it, will take us nowhere.

Why must Nigerians allow them­selves to be used to thwart the good in­tentions of our leaders? President Buha­ri has shown by the things he has done so far that he knows where he is taking the nation to. He is not a newcomer to the office. He had been there as a mili­tary Head of State. His long years of re­tirement from service and the tortuous journey he had had in politics have com­bined to make him a better civilian and, therefore, a good President.

President Buhari is sufficiently pre­pared to take up the gauntlet to lead this nation. For this reason nobody can ac­cuse him of lack of experience and pas­sion for the job. Surprisingly, nobody has accused him of highhandedness, which is what military leaders usually have penchant for. Since he was sworn in President Buhari has subjected him­self to the tenets of democracy and due process. When he appointed his first set of advisers and key staff he sought the approval of the Senate. The same thing applied to the appointment of the Ser­vice Chiefs who are now acting pending their confirmation by the Senate.

In any case, what the critics of the President have failed to appreciate is that governance has taken a completely new shape. It is not business as usual. Square pegs are now being put in square holes. There is no room for nonentities and mediocrities in this government. And I think it is these charlatans that make the most noise in the name of criticisms.

Nigeria is in a brand new era en­trusted to us by God. The years eaten by locusts are gradually being restored. For the enemies of Nigeria, it is a mira­cle that it is yet to disintegrate going by their doomsday prophecy. In the build-up to the 2015 general elections there was apprehension in the land of possible break-up. Countless articles were writ­ten by different interested persons warn­ing about the impending cataclysm.

Today – 3 months after the elections – Nigeria is still intact, marching forward with renewed energy and vigour. The broken parts of Nigeria are systemically being fixed, while the bruises are gradu­ally healing. What we need to achieve full healing and institutionalisation of new democratic principles and ethos is the support and cooperation of all Nige­rians to the new administration.

For sparing Nigeria from the brink of collapse God has given us another opportunity to repent and try again in rebuilding our nation. Our forbears sac­rificed their all to secure independence for us. Why should we now allow their efforts to be wasted on the altar of greed and ethnocentricity?

How do you think the incoming gen­eration will see us if we failed to build a sustainable future for them? Should we allow evil to triumph over good when we have all it takes to enthrone justice, equity, peace and progress in our na­tion?

The current state of things in Nigeria calls for more dedication to duty, trans­parency, honesty and development. We must make sacrifices as individuals and organisations to ensure that evildoers do not conquer our nation and continue to sow seed of discord among us.

There is no evil we cannot defeat if we worked together, bury our differ­ences and embrace peace. Evil seems to overwhelm good, because we have failed to confront it with equal zeal and vigour. We have allowed our differences politically, religiously and culturally to continue to divide us when in essence we should unite as one indivisible peo­ple.

To be continued


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Can evil triumph over good? (3) Fri, 17 Jul 2015 23:36:25 +0000 For the past two weeks I have been under intense psychologi­cal pain over the persistent loss of precious lives of our fellow compatriots to insecurity. There was no single week in the past one and half months we did not hear of one form of killing or another. It was either in the hands of [...]]]>

For the past two weeks I have been under intense psychologi­cal pain over the persistent loss of precious lives of our fellow compatriots to insecurity. There was no single week in the past one and half months we did not hear of one form of killing or another. It was either in the hands of the dreaded Islamic Sect, Boko Haram; armed robbers, assas­sins or kidnappers.

Some of the screaming headlines in the Nigerian media such as ‘14-year-old female terrorist blows self up, 5 dead’; ’82-year-old Iyaloja hacked to death’; ‘Gunmen attack Mosque, 44 killed’; and Gunmen Kill Monarch, three others in Enugu’. Are these headlines not frighten­ing? For me, they are not only frighten­ing, but dastardly.

From available media reports, over 444 persons have lost their lives to terrorism alone in the past 39 days. This comes to an average of 11 lives every day. What is really happening? When will this country experience peace, security and progress as was the case so many years ago?

Since the return of the country to civil­ian rule things have never been the same again. It has been a reign of terror and brigandage.

What makes me very worried is the ease with which these wicked killings were carried out. In each case the secu­rity agencies were caught napping. To be sincere I do not blame the security agencies, because there was no way they could have known when the next surprise attack would occur.

The truth is that we are fighting a most difficult fratricidal war, which we have comfortably branded ‘terrorism’. When the whole thing started in 2008 I expressed worry about the possibility of the initial agitation by Boko Haram esca­lating into a full-blown war. Nobody took me seriously at the time. Rather some persons branded me an alarmist. How could I be an alarmist when almost all I had predicted came to pass?

So, I have sat down to ruminate on the monumental losses in human and materi­al resources the nation has incurred since insecurity heightened in 2008. The Presi­dent Goodluck Jonathan administration seemed to have exacerbated the situation, with terrorism assuming a gruesome di­mension.

What made the Jonathan government’s fight against insecurity cumbersome was the intolerable impatience and greed of the political class coupled with endemic corruption that made it difficult for the security agencies to execute their man­dates professionally and swiftly. For in­stance, it was rumoured at some time that money earmarked for security agencies was diverted to other selfish purposes, leaving security to suffer.

What was the cause of the increased cases of mutiny in the military across the country? We heard of incidents of soldiers abandoning the battlefronts and running for dear life. Who would not have done the same thing when the en­emy you were sent to confront was more sophisticated than you.

The reports we got from the media stated that the soldiers involved in the mutiny did so out of frustration and as a way of registering their disenchantment with the laissez fait attitudes of their commanders.

Whichever way one looks at it the sim­ple truth is that something is wrong with our security apparatuses which only a thorough investigation can reveal.

From all indications, the Nigerian Military ranks among the best, at least, in Africa. Its competence is never in doubt. What I find as the major obstacle to its optimal performance is the lack of proper funding and training. I find it inexpli­cable that the military should be in this dire strait when billions of naira had been budgeted in the past for its equipping and welfare. This is why it seems not to be responding correspondingly to the chal­lenges posed by insecurity in the country.

The final days of the Jonathan Govern­ment witnessed some lull in Boko Haram operations. And this led to a glimmer of hope among Nigerians that things were looking up. They were totally wrong. Al­most immediately Jonathan exited from power the reign of terror resurged. The question that keeps cropping up is: are the bombings and killings deliberate and targeted at making governance difficult for the new helmsman, Muhammadu Bu­hari? For the feeble-minded this could be the position. But for the rational minds the answer lies in the bowels of uncer­tainty.

I knew right from the time Boko Har­am entered alliance with ISIS that the spate of terrorist attacks would heighten. And that is exactly what we have had so far. The current style of operations of Boko Haram has some semblance with that of ISIS: heartless and precise.

For how long are we going to live with this nightmare? Nobody is sure where next the sect will unleash its terror. It is this uncertainty and the heavy casualties recorded in the past 39 days that have combined to make me giddy and heavy-laden. Those who have died did not com­mit any particular sin. Even if they did, at least, they should have been tried and sentenced. But to just wake up with hope for a bright and beautiful day only to be cut down by assailant’s bullets or ma­chete is the most dishonourable way to die.

Painfully many Nigerians had died with their hopes and dreams this way. Re­call the Suleija Catholic Church bombing in which 43 worshippers were mauled by terrorists! What of the killing of 44 innocent persons who had gathered for prayer in a mosque to break their fast? These deaths are one too many. They are not a good sign for a nation with hope of emerging someday as a global super­power.

I have never stopped wondering what Boko Haram really wants. I offered to negotiate with them on behalf of the Fed­eral Government, but was shunned. Who knew if that singular gesture would have brought the conflict to a permanent end? Over 36 months after the offer the situa­tion has only succeeded in escalating. I am pained.

What I know and I have always stated in most of my writings on insecurity in the country is that injustice is the major cause of conflicts in Africa, if not the world. There is hardly any part of Africa today that is not under one form of bel­ligerency or another. In fact, the agitation for self-rule and uti posideti has contin­ued to rise. South Sudan got its independ­ence from Sudan. Despite this internal in­surrection has been the order of the day. The cause of the conflict is very defin­able: Struggle for oil.

The struggle for autonomy by the vari­ous ethnic blocks in Nigeria has also led to numerous cases of insurgency, which often threatens the peace and stability of the country. The Niger Delta conflict is a case in study. The restiveness in the area was seemingly brought under control when the late President Musa Yar’Adua’s government introduced the Amnesty Pro­gramme. Though Yar’Adua is dead the success story of the programme would not be written without his name receiving a generous mention.

Deeper research has revealed that the crises in the Niger Delta and, by exten­sion, other parts of the country are tar­geted at achieving specific objectives by the perpetrators. For example, the Niger Delta insurgency manifested when those used by politicians to prosecute the 1999 elections had nothing else to do other than engage in all kinds of criminalities to survive. Pipeline vandalism, bunker­ing, kidnapping and robbery became common features in the social life of the region. The Amnesty Programme helped immeasurably to restore a semblance of normalcy there.

It is gratifying to observe here that the Amnesty initiative led to the rehabilita­tion of many of the miscreants in the re­gion. They now engage in useful enter­prises and have become less burdensome to the states and the people of the region. Imagine what the condition of the region would have become if the programme had not been introduced.

This is why I subscribe to the idea of a negotiated settlement to the Boko Haram impasse. The Jonathan government tried something in that regard, but it was not pulled through due to one reason or an­other. For whatever reason, suspending the dialogue was a wrong political step. There is nothing wrong continuing the dialogue with the sect.

I prefer peace to war. In peace we can accomplish so much. But war retards growth and stalls the wheel of develop­ment. The countries at war around the globe have horrible tales to tell. We in Ni­geria who witnessed the war knew what we went through. War is not what I wish my worst enemy.

My heart will continue to be in turbu­lence until the day the sect and the Fed­eral Government reach a truce. I use this medium to appeal to both parties to bury their egos and embrace dialogue. Killing Boko Haram members or Federal govern­ment levying war on them does not solve any problem. Only peace can.

Let all Nigerians spare a thought for the thousands of lives lost already in the imbroglio and they will appreciate this call I make for peace. There is hardly any family in Nigeria that has not directly or indirectly been affected by the crisis.

It is wrong for anybody to assume that, after all, the activities of the sect do not directly concern him or her. But a more critical look at the situation will reveal its underbelly and many will shudder at the level of carnage that has taken place.

My fear is what future the crisis holds for our nation and how far the sect can go to unleash mayhem across the nation. Today it is happening in the North East of Nigeria. What about tomorrow? Look at the Plateau and the incalculable harm the Fulani herdsmen have inflicted on it to be able to appreciate the collateral damage they have done.

As indicated in this column last week the Federal Government did not do well to dump Boko Haram members in Ekwu­lobia Prisons. What was the rational for the action other than mischief? Distrib­uting high-risk prisoners to prisons not properly fortified is a security risk in it­self. I was outraged when I learned that a sizeable number of the inmates were children. Why dump children with adults in the same prison when the proper place to keep them is the orphanage?

I am yet to come to terms with what the government plans to achieve with the movement of the inmates to Ekwulobia. However, one thing the movement has succeeded in achieving is discontentment among the people of the state.

If I may ask: what exactly is the Buha­ri government doing to contain the high level of insecurity prevalent in the coun­try? One of the expectations of Nigerians for voting for him was that he would be able to ensure security of lives and prop­erty. Like many Nigerians, I too share their optimism.

The Buhari I know has the capacity to secure the lives and property of Ni­gerians. Though it looks as if he is be­ing overwhelmed by the enormity of the tasks facing him; nevertheless, with time he will get it right. Nigerians must appre­ciate the rot in the system when he came on the scene and bear with him.

He might have started slowly, but definitely he knows where he is head­ing. Things may be rough today; with time they will improve. One thing I am sure of is that Buhari has lofty plans for this country. His passion to turn things around, despite the intractable problems militating against his regime, is enor­mous.

I cannot fail to advise Buhari and his economic advisers to take a critical look at the problem of employment. Millions of our young, able-bodied youth loiter about when they should be busy working. Many of them who could not find any other means of livelihood resort to crimi­nality. Go to the streets of major cities in Nigeria and you will be scandalised by the number of these youth who engage in hawking.

Gambling is gradually consuming many Nigerians, especially our youth. By gambling they have resigned themselves to fate. It is at the gaming centres and other places of revelry that these youth get introduced into criminality.

I was shocked to the marrow when I saw some young men being paraded by the former Lagos State Commissioner of Police arrested for a spate of bank robber­ies in Ikorodu and environs. One of them – a timber worker – confessed that he took to robbery when his business nose-dived.

Though there is no justification for engaging in any illegitimate venture or criminality, the government should share the blame for not doing enough to keep our youth off the streets. Government should see the rehabilitation of many of our youth that have gone astray as a pri­ority. It is a good thing that President Bu­hari has expressed commitment to reviv­ing the textile and agro-allied industries as a way of creating jobs for the youth and other unemployed Nigerians.

While the nation waits impatiently for the good days to return I cannot but con­tinue in my state of disconsolation, a con­dition that has drained my strength and energy copiously.

To be continued

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Can evil triumph over good? (2) Sat, 11 Jul 2015 00:00:09 +0000 In the first part of this series I treat­ed the issue of the inability of states to meet their financial obligations to workers and contractors and the need to compel those governors that had expropriated the resources at their dis­posal to refund them. I also addressed the rancour and struggle for power at the National [...]]]>

In the first part of this series I treat­ed the issue of the inability of states to meet their financial obligations to workers and contractors and the need to compel those governors that had expropriated the resources at their dis­posal to refund them. I also addressed the rancour and struggle for power at the National Assembly and the need to exercise caution and decorum by our distinguished legislators.

To be sincere I am amazed at some of the utterances of our politicians especially those occupying high offices. I am yet to come to terms how a governor would tell the whole world that he had cut his salary by half as a way of cushioning the financial crisis facing his state. How much is the sal­ary of a serving governor? It is less than a million naira a month. How will half of it make a difference in the lives of the people of his state or reduce the huge wage bill of his workers.

Even if the governor donates his entire salary for one full term it will make no im­pact. In fact, it will amount to a drop of wa­ter in the ocean. Why don’t the governors and others in executive positions sacrifice half of their security votes? Imagine the im­pact 50% reduction in security vote would make on the economy of Nigeria. Let us assume the monthly security vote of each state is N600 million on the average. A 50% cut across board in the 36 states and Fed­eral Capital Territory (FCT) will amount to a gargantuan N133,200,000,000 (one hun­dred and thirty three billion, two hundred million naira) per annum.

This amount is what 36 governors and FCT Minister conservatively take home yearly as security votes.

Nobody is begrudging them at all. How­ever the point I’m making is that it is ludi­crous and insensitive for a governor to tell us he is cutting his pay by half as a way round the financial strait facing his state. Who is fooling who?

I am still waiting for that governor that would have the courage to cut his security vote by half in solidarity with the suffering workers of his state.

I recall my days as governor with nos­talgia. It was a very difficult period in the annals of our nation when the country was just returning to civilian rule after years of military interregna. I inherited three months unpaid salaries and huge local and foreign debt amounting to N8 billion and 780 mil­lion dollars respectively. Then President Obasanjo forced me to pay the 780 million US dollars as a way of punishing me for opposing his Third Term bid. Infrastructure was non-existent, while the people groaned for redemption and freedom.

Incredibly, the first allocation we re­ceived on assumption of office was not even enough to pay a month salary of workers let alone meet other pressing obli­gations. It was that bad. So, how could any­body talk about security vote here? Moved by the plight of workers and determined to make a difference we did the extraordinary by sourcing money from private sources to pay off the arrears of salary and pension and commence the construction of four new roads in Aba. By February 25, 2000 the four roads were ready for commission­ing by then President Olusegun Obasanjo. It was on that occasion he christened me the ‘Action Governor of Nigeria’.

It was a most uncommon adulation by a man who would hardly praise anybody publicly, no matter what. That recognition fired my zeal to work with unremitting commitment to deliver quality dividends of democracy to our people. It was an eventful tenure characterised by action and perfor­mance.

What was my security vote then? It hovered between N60m and N120 million. Compare this to what is obtainable today and you would appreciate the huge sacri­fices we made.

The urge to work for one’s people stems from courage and altruism. You need cour­age to take bold decisions and altruism to make personal sacrifices for the good of others. We had both. We spoke on critical national issues without fear of favour. We knew the risks and enormous sacrifices in­volved yet we did not shy away from the truth and pursuit of social justice and eq­uity.

It was courage that made me sacrifice everything to stand up against the Third Term bid of former President Olusegun Obasanjo even when many of my col­leagues backed out for fear of victimisa­tion. I would have lost almost everything I had if not for the mercy of God. Today I am branded ‘political exposure’ by the outside world because the government of that time decided to use the EFCC to hunt me down for having the audacity to speak out.

I do not regret one bit the sufferings I had undergone and the losses I had incurred for the sake of our democracy. I know that one day my God will intervene and right the wrongs done against me.

Is it not sad that most of our leaders have chosen to keep quiet when they should speak out? There are many things going wrong in our nation and our politicians have refused to speak against them.

The insurgency in the north has gone on unabated and many of our top politicians do not see anything wrong. Why have our politicians not convened a national forum to discuss the restiveness in the north and dialogue on the way forward? Or do we gloat over the thousands of lives lost in the senseless killings? Only last week some in­nocent worshippers in a mosque were killed in cold-blood by gunmen masquerading as religious freedom fighters. The same brutal killings were recorded in some communi­ties in Yobe and Borno States.

Are the killers truly justified in their ne­farious activities of maiming and killing in the name of religion? This is why I align with the position of President Buhari who spoke vehemently last week against the op­erations of the islamic sect and the reason behind their actions. The President stated unequivocally that Islam would not encour­age the massacre of innocent persons in the pretext of executing the precepts of any re­ligion or god.

The killings in the north have got to an embarrassing stage such that something drastic must to be done to bring the situ­ation under control. How many more in­nocent persons will be killed before some­thing is done to stop it?

I am pained that thousands of our fellow compatriots had died in the past 7 years since the Boko Haram onslaught began for no cause of theirs. They died because of the greed and selfishness of a few of us. What really caused the ongoing insurgency if not injustice and greed combined?

All efforts to stop the insurgency and destruction of innocent lives and properties have failed. Not because the efforts were not enough to stop the carnage. Far from it! The reason for the prolonged interne­cine war is that some persons profit from it. Otherwise I do not see why the whole thing would not have stopped long ago.

As I indicated earlier, there is an urgent need for a special stakeholders meeting to discuss the way forward. Since the insur­rection is concentrated more in the North­east geopolitical zone it will only make sense if the entire north is mobilised to find an internal settlement. Something in me tells me that the north has the capacity to restore peace to the affected areas if they show sufficient commitment and honesty in their approach.

What is going on is that some persons say something in the open and in secret they perpetrate more devilish and cruel acts.

This brings us to the current movement of some Boko Haram detainees to differ­ent prisons across the country. The one that has raised much dust is the Ekwulobia one. The secrecy behind the movement (though understandable) and the non-consultation of the Anambra State governor beforehand exacerbated the situation. It would have been more reasonable for the Federal Gov­ernment to have built a special facility for the detention of high-risk detainees such as members of the dreaded sect. That was what the United States did with the Guanta­namo Bay facility in Cuba.

The problem with Nigeria is that we hardly plan proactively. What would it have caused the government to build such a facility long before now? Now see the ten­sion we raise all over the place trying to fix the prisoners to avoid infiltration. Bringing such dangerous prisoners to a small prison yard as Ekwulobia is definitely not a solu­tion to the problem.

The solution lies in seeking a more se­cure place to keep them. Definitely not at Ekwulobia, as the many reasons already canvassed have shown. Ekwulobia, for those who do not know, is a sleeping town near Aguata in Anambra State. It is 25 minutes drive from Awka the state capital. It has a population of less than 5000 per­sons. The existing prison there was built by the colonial masters and lacks facilities of modern prisons. So, what is the wisdom in taking hardened detainees to the place?

The Federal Government should recon­sider the matter and do that which is need­ful to restore normalcy to the area.

I have implicit confidence in the capac­ity of the present federal government to stop the insurgency. I am glad they are tink­ering with the idea of a negotiated settle­ment. That would do the magic. Forget the pandering of some persons to undue senti­ments. The issue can be settled in a round­table. Former President Jonathan used this approach, though he could not achieve full result. Exploring this option will further drive the process of restoring peace.

Do not forget I offered at one time to kick-start the negotiation. This was some time in 2012. But nobody gave me a chance. Former President Olusegun Oba­sanjo embarked on a similar mission to Maiduguri. Sadly, the mission turned awry along the line. Probably, this might have dissuaded the authorities from looking in that direction.

As I have always pointed out in the nu­merous articles in this column injustice is what majorly fuels insurgency and other forms of deviance. What is the Buhari ad­ministration doing to provide jobs, restore the eroded confidence of youth in govern­ment and make life worth living for the masses? The gap between the rich and the poor has continued to widen, yet nothing concrete is being done to bridge it. This is the main cause of criminalities in the coun­try.

We have just worked out what governors take home as security vote. From the figures we have it is easy to see from where all the problems originated. Imagine what would have happened if 10% of the security vote had been deployed in youth empowerment initiatives annually in the past 10 years.

Even though there is no justification for criminality, what would you expect the hun­dreds of thousands of graduates produced by our tertiary institutions over the years without any jobs to have done? Remember that idleness is the devil’s workshop.

The various youth empowerment pro­grammes by some states are mere mirages. They were designed as a holding enterprise for the training of political thugs. Taking hundreds of millions of naira from the gov­ernment coffers every month and from it pay a few youths peanuts cannot be a solu­tion to criminality among youth. That was what happened in my state of Abia under the T.A. Orji administration. Now what will be the fate of many of the youth un­der the Ochendo Youth Empowerment Pro­gramme?

It is common knowledge that the former governor used them as political hagiog­raphers and thugs throughout his tenure. Again, the programme was a drain pipe through which the former governor and his family siphoned the financial resources of the state.

I believe that what happened in Abia State between 2007 and 2015 also hap­pened in many other states in Nigeria. It is the consequences that we witness today.

The present governors owe us a duty to discharge its duties creditably and em­pathically. They must show passion in their work and ensure that probity, transparency, accountability and good governance pre­vail. What will it profit them if they gained everything in their first term and lose their second term bid?

They have everything to gain by sacri­ficing now and leaving behind legacies for which their names will be immortalised. The Nigerian masses are the easiest to deal with. Their needs are very simple: Water, good roads, quality health care, steady elec­tricity, jobs, security and food. These needs are provided in the annual budgets of states. Unfortunately, nothing happens at the end of each year.

The masses must ask questions about how they are governed. They must express interest in what happens in their govern­ments. They era of sit down and look was over long ago. And governors and other leaders are aware that the people are wiser now more than ever before.

People of T.A. Orji’s ilk came and did their people abracadabra and went away, thinking nobody would discover their sins and condemn them. But God is watching. Whatever a man sows he shall reap. The day of reckoning will come sooner than ex­pected. It is only a matter of time.

I use this opportunity to commend Presi­dent Buhari for his fatherly care in releasing N801 billion to enable states settle arrears of salaries owed their workers. This gesture is unprecedented, and I hope the states will use the money judiciously for the purpose it is meant.

If I am asked I would advise the Presi­dent to set up a small committee to handle the disbursement and ensure strict compli­ance.

Evil, for whatever reasons, should never be allowed to overwhelm righteousness.

To be continued


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Can evil triumph over good? (1) Fri, 03 Jul 2015 23:00:27 +0000 I am deeply appalled by recent events in our dear nation, particularly the current inability of some states to pay salaries. And everything looks as if evil has triumphed over good. It was Edmund Burke, the British poet and statesman who said that all it would take for evil to triumph over good was for [...]]]>

I am deeply appalled by recent events in our dear nation, particularly the current inability of some states to pay salaries. And everything looks as if evil has triumphed over good. It was Edmund Burke, the British poet and statesman who said that all it would take for evil to triumph over good was for good men (and women) to do nothing. Why have all good men and women chosen to keep quiet, while our nation is systemically being consumed by evil?
I find it totally unacceptable that some states despite the huge allocations they had received over the years would have the effrontery to cry for assistance from the Federal Government.
Some states may be genuinely justified in their cry for help. That is understandable. But for some states, such calls should be viewed as treacherous and betrayal of the trust of their people. For instance, why would a state like Abia cry for assistance when the immediate past administration spent 8 years in office chasing shadows and building castle in the air?
We are all aware of the oil windfall that states shared in the past 6 years, especially in the period between 2012 and 2013, when prices of oil hovered between 100 and 115 dollars per barrel. Where has all the money gone? Did it develop wings overnight and flew away?
I cannot stop asking: Why is it that the political class has continued to operate as if this country belongs to them alone? Why is it that our politicians have consistently failed to think about the suffering masses first?
Since the rebirth of our democracy in 1999 the nation has never witnessed this level of hopelessness and decrepitude.
Even among the legislators it is still the same story of lawlessness, selfishness and egocentricity. When will our politicians place the interests of the electorate first before their clannish and parochial interests?
The whole world was treated to some dramas by our lawmakers who threw caution and their exalted positions to the dust and engaged one another in fisticuffs. It was a most humiliating sight to behold.
I think something drastic should be done to check this recurring shameful behaviour. Must legislators resort to self-help each time they are offended or disagree? It is natural for people to agree to disagree, but restraint and maturity should be brought to bear on such circumstances.
The National Assembly is a collection of men and women of diverse orientations and idiosyncrasies. Therefore, it is expected they would have altercations from time to time. But allowing their emotions to becloud them is what exacerbates the situation.
I had expected our elected representatives and any other persons that occupy positions of authority to display some decorum that such offices demand. That is why they have been entrusted with the responsibilities that come with such offices by the people who are the actual custodians of power.
Let us go back to the issue of inability of some states to pay salaries. The matter, as far as I am concerned, lacks any justification. The money states had received in the past 8 years is enough to sustain them for a very long time. But see what has happened. Painfully, some immediate past administrations cleaned up their treasuries, leaving almost nothing for their successors.
The case of Abia State is worth mentioning here. It pains me that our security agencies do not take some of the things we write in the media seriously. Otherwise why should Theodore Ahamefule Orji and others of his ilk walk the streets as free men, while innocent ones are being demonised and harangued?
It was in this column that I listed the many sins of former Governor Orji while in office. I wrote in one of the series in this column how he looted Abia State treasury and the cunning ways he had tried to manipulate the psyche of the people and evade the prying eyes of security agents. But nobody did anything to question him. It is not disputable that Abia State made huge gains financially from the federation account, yet there is nothing on ground to show for it. In contrast, what we have is decrepit infrastructure, arrears of salaries and pensions, unemployment and insecurity, etc. As a ‘reward’, the man is sitting in the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly as a Senator. Imagine!
The story of how he became Senator is well known to everybody. But one poser I would want the man himself to answer is: how does he feel sitting in the Senate Chambers when he knows deep in his heart he has usurped another man’s mandate? Does his conscience (if he has any) prick him at all that he got only two votes in his polling unit during the election in which he returned himself – working in concert with some corrupt INEC officials – as Senator?
I have asked these questions, hoping they would serve as a big moral burden on him. Nevertheless, I feel for his successor. I feel for him because of the mess his predecessor left for him. How he will navigate through it is left for him and God to decide.
The point I make is that it is morally wrong to leave the real looters of the treasury to hunt down innocent people. That is exactly what is happening in Nigeria at present. Today, I am labeled ‘political exposure’ abroad for no justifiable reason. What is my offence? Just that I refused to endorse the tenure elongation of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. This ignoble label has negatively affected my businesses globally.
Considering the enormous losses I have already incurred since 2007 when the tenure elongation project hit the rocks, I think I should be described as the most persecuted politician in the country. Take a look at some of the losses I had incurred at a glance for not supporting Obasanjo’s third term agenda: SLOK Air licence was revoked for no sound reason; Hallmark Bank licence revoked, refusal to grant licence to a new commercial bank I floated, oil bloc licence and contracts cancelled, etc.
As a principled man I chose to stand by what I believed in, not minding the price I was made to pay. I am happier today that I did not succumb to intimidation or blackmail by the government of the day then. I might have been bruised, but I am not cowed. This is the type of spirits our politicians should imbibe.
However, most of our politicians lack the courage and moral rectitude to stand by what they believe in. Rather they pander to fear and undue emotion. This is why we seem not to be growing politically.
I have never for one day regretted my travails in the hands of my traducers and persecutors. They say I misappropriated money. They cooked up all kinds of figures without any empirical facts to support them. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned me before the court on trumped up charges. It is almost eight years into the trial, yet they have not been able to prove any of the allegations against me.
Without sounding immodest, I think I have the moral stand to claim that my administration from 1999 to 2007 performed above average. We worked almost without anything from inception till 2001. The first six months was hellish with three months arrears of salaries, almost 7 years of unpaid pensions and gratuities, local and foreign debts running into billions of naira, failed infrastructure, etc hanging on our necks. These liabilities were left behind by the successive administration.
Surprising, by the time we left office in 2007 we did not leave a single kobo as debt for the incoming administration. It is also on record that our administration hit the one billion naira mark in the federal allocation for the first time in 2005. So, where was the money to expropriate?
We survived in our mission to Abia State by dint of hard work and sheer creativity. Imagine this: All we collected for the entire 8 years we were in office was N108 billion and we succeeded in transforming the state as much as we did. But my successor collected close to a trillion naira from the federation account and internally generated revenue. Despite this huge amount his administration does not have anything concrete to justify it. All the government achieved in 8 years was polarising and impoverishing the people of the state with huge debts for the new government to settle.
If any state should owe arrears of workers’ pay it is not Abia State. What a shame! Yet the former governor has found his way into the cozy chambers of the Senate without anybody asking him questions about his failed stewardship for 8 years.
There are many others like this man who ruined the economy of their states and are allowed to walk the streets free. What precedent are we setting with these people? They should have since been arrested and prosecuted for the crimes they committed against their people and states if they were in other climes.
The whole world is watching what we will do with the treasury-looters. The cooperation between Nigeria and the G-7 nations could only work if they see Nigeria leading the way in the war against corruption.
Corruption is one cankerworm that has continued to eat deep into the soul of our nation. The level corruption has got is gargantuan and threatens the foundation of our nation.
There is no sphere of our national life that is not affected. In fact, it has reached an embarrassing point such that Nigeria is treated as a nation of very corrupt people.
The shabby way our people are handled abroad is a sad reflection of this reality. So, what are the plans of President Muhammadu Buhari to deal with the situation? The expectations are really very high. Every Nigerian believes it is only President Buhari who can exterminate corruption and make it unfashionable among Nigerians. I believe so too.
The proper and just thing to do is to spread the dragnet and catch every person involved one way or another in the looting of the Nigerian treasury. Nobody should be spared, no matter how highly placed. This will serve as a deterrent to others.
Those governors who looted their states’ treasuries blind should be made to refund the money. The refunded money should be used to settle arrears of worker’s salaries and pensions and provide social amenities.
It is very worrisome that poor workers cannot get their pay at the end of the month after toiling for 30 days. Some states owe salaries as many as 11 months. What then happened to the allocations and internal revenue they collected in the past 11 months?
Agreed oil prices dropped since last year. But that is no reason for inability to pay workers their living wages. Apart from corrupt practices some states could not pay salaries because they used the money either to prosecute their elections to the Senate or second term as governors. Many of us were witnesses to how the governors and other political appointees doled out money during the elections.
This is where I blame the masses themselves. They have always cried out against the excesses of politicians yet they allow themselves to be maliciously used. There is no way politicians would perpetrate their devious acts without the involvement of the masses. From where do politicians get their supplies of thugs and other election manipulators, if not from the masses? Are the masses not the same people who collude with politicians to rig elections and cart away ballot boxes and other electoral materials?
It is high time the masses had some introspection and repented from their evil ways in order to make our nation better. Let the masses know it today that for Nigeria to be a better nation they must desistserving as accomplices to politicians in rigging elections.
It is the kind of government they vote into power that will determine what their fate would be under such a government. If they elected responsible and caring leaders, definitely the leaders would show affection in their service to them. There are no two ways about it.
I cannot understand why people should deliberately vote for their backwardness out of greed. What do you expect from politician who spends a huge amount of money to win election when he eventually steps into office? Naturally, he would first of all recoup what he had spent and then go ahead to make more money for self to the detriment of those who elected him. After all, one cannot have his cake and eats it. It is what you sow, you reap.
We must pray as a people for God to banish from our lives desperation, anger, bitterness, slander, blackmail, licentiousness, greed and other evils that characterie our politics, so that we can develop our full potentialities for the good of our nation and the betterment of its people.

To be continued.

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What a strange world! Fri, 26 Jun 2015 23:00:31 +0000 Strange and terrifying things happen in our world today with recurring rapidity. And people are left wondering what has ac­tually gone wrong. There is no part of the world, no matter how developed or technologically advanced, is spared these strange happenings. All kinds of diseases, tragedies and calamities afflict mankind. China, the United States, Great [...]]]>

Strange and terrifying things happen in our world today with recurring rapidity. And people are left wondering what has ac­tually gone wrong. There is no part of the world, no matter how developed or technologically advanced, is spared these strange happenings. All kinds of diseases, tragedies and calamities afflict mankind. China, the United States, Great Britain, Australia and, even, smaller countries such as Kenya and Chad (in Africa) have had their own doses of these calamities.

People are forced to ask: What is happen­ing? Who or (and) what is to blame? In all of these milieus, nobody has given any rational answer or provided any functional solution to deal with the frightening situations.

Look at China – an emerging global eco­nomic superpower – and what tragedies it has had to contend with to get to where it is today. There is no month that passes without one form of calamity or another befalling it. Yesterday, it was earthquake; today it is landslide; and tomorrow it could be mud­slide, burying thousands of people and their belongings alive. China, what a nation! In the United States, it is the same situation. Yesterday, it was Hurricane Sandy; today it is Tornado Margaret; and tomorrow, it could be bushfire razing down sprawling estates. Australia experienced a terrifying two-week bushfire that destroyed hundreds of homes, killed some innocent persons and left behind irrecoverable pain in the hearts of millions 24 months ago.

That is not all: Kenya faced a frightening terrorist attack at a highbrow shopping mall in the nation’s capital – Nairobi – leaving many dead and some wounded. This was in 2013. What of Tunisia? What of Ugan­da? What about the Xenophobic attacks in South Africa? Nigeria, too, is facing multi-dimensional challenges in all fronts – politi­cal, economic, religious and, even, cultural. Anywhere one goes, one is greeted with tales of woe. It is either Boko Haram has just massacred some innocent people or kidnap­pers have taken away one person or another to extract a ransom.

There are strange diseases everywhere. Name it: the traditional ones are amor­phously turning into something else, while unknown ones ravage the people, especial­ly the poor, with morbid animosity. I was shocked when I read of the death of a young, promising lady (age 25 years) who died of cancer last week. Now ask me: Cancer of what? Strangely, cancer of the thumb! I have never heard of that before. What is cancer of the thumb? God forbid! But it happened. Very soon, we will hear of cancer of the hair and nail.

What of the Ebola scare that almost sent all of us to early graves last year? In Rivers 70 killed by ogogoro! Now it is Mer ravag­ing Korea.

In trying to resolve these puzzling de­velopments, my mind was set to work. As usual, I began a process of deep meditative reasoning. Incidentally, the only practicable answer I could find to these strange happen­ings is abuse of the environment. Yes, envi­ronmental abuse. I say so, because the things that happen do not happen in isolation of the environment in which we reside. Man has been unkind to his environment; the same environment that provides him shelter and food. Why should humanity not be mind­ful of how they treat the environment? Why have they not yet appreciated the fact that all about life is sowing and reaping? It is what we give to the environment that it returns to us. How does anybody expect to sow whirl­wind and reap peace? If you sowed whirl­wind, definitely, you would reap fire and brimstone.

The sad thing is that almost all of us are guilty of the abuse of the environment. The abuse begins from our homes – poor dispos­al of refuse, poor personal hygiene, use of firewood for cooking, pollution of our local streams by washing and defecating in them, etc. what of our personal lifestyles? Smok­ing, eating fatty food, drinking too much alcohol, and not exercising regularly are all causative agents of diseases, especially can­cer. The abuse continues with intense pas­sion at the community level where we rep­licate what we do at home at a larger scale.

Then the national level! Here the abuse is done with impunity and treachery. We dump refuse at will wherever we choose to, not minding that the official dumping site is less than a pole away from home. Industries dispose of their wastes as they like, oblivious of the law. People plunder the vegetations in search of log for the construction industry or firewood for cooking. Painfully, nobody makes any efforts to replenish the plundered land.

One bitter truth mankind must acknowl­edge with all sincerity is that we are gradu­ally digging our own graves by the way we plunder the environment, thereby fast-track­ing the impending cataclysm. There is no nation under the sun that is free from culpa­bility. Even the so-called developed nations, as indicated above, have not done much to protect humanity from self-destruction. The level of degradation across the globe is frightening, yet nothing much is being done to arrest the worrisome situation.

Interestingly, there is no matter that has attracted as much media blitz in recent times as the environment. It has attracted greater global awareness than had been the case in the past. Indeed, the consciousness of the world about the environment has continu­ally been heightened by a combination of factors, all geared towards evolving a safer environment for humanity.

One fact we should however acknowl­edge is that humanity lives perpetually under the threat of extermination by the mindless degradation of our environment, particularly the depletion of the world eco and bio-sys­tems, compounded by overpopulation and population growth rate, especially at the ur­ban centres.

It is sad that despite the huge threat the degradation of the environment poses to hu­manity man has refused to learn any lesson in planning his environment.

Aware of the impending catastrophe the United Nations passed Resolution 2997 on December 15, 1972, aimed at encouraging the evolving of deliberate policies by all governments and organisations under its umbrella towards preserving and enhancing the environment as well as consciously cre­ating awareness campaigns on environmen­tal problems and solutions to them.

As beautiful as the resolution appears, it has not achieved much success, basically, because those who subscribed to it have not given it the desired attention. This is true of similar conventions passed by the UN. In fact, Resolution 2997 has aggravated the menace of environmental abuse much more than it had protected it. Why? The reason is simple: when you bark and don’t bite there is the tendency that nobody will ever take you seriously. The United Nations, as a global body, has recorded some success in main­taining global peace, but what has it done to enforce vital resolutions that would secure the environment and make our world safer?

Europe and Asia pose about the most grievous danger to the world with the heavy pollution from their industrial, chemical and nuclear plants. The size and population of China makes it the world’s largest and riski­est in terms of handling human and industrial wastes. It was reported of recent that China’s population is still growing at a geometric rate, which means that by 2032 the popula­tion will have increased by over 20 per cent.

The problem with this development is that China will find it somewhat herculean to manage the needs of its burgeoning popu­lation. Part of the bigger problem centres on environmental pollution. Again, China has one of the largest concentrations of nuclear plants in the world. Managing these danger­ous and delicate plants is one big headache. This fact was put to test last year when the latest Tsunami hit it – threatening a sizeable number of these plants. Indeed, apart from massive losses recorded in the maritime and aquatic sectors, many people were exposed to radiation. It is feared that the consequence of what happened would begin to show in another 10 to 15 years.

In its recent report on global pollution, CNN listed Thailand and Nigeria among the most polluted nations in the world. Baf­fling, isn’t it? But that is true. The unfortu­nate thing is that even Thailand which was listed with Nigeria has made considerable progress in managing the situation. For in­stance, it has introduced speed trains to en­hance urban mobility for its people. This re­duces air pollution by about 30%. It has also resorted to the use of bio-fuels to power its major industrial and chemical plants to re­duce dangerous emissions.

Now that Thailand has taken steps to ad­dress the notorious rating by CNN and other similar organizations, what then has Nigeria done so far to protect its own environment and citizens? Investigation has shown that not much has been achieved. Urban trans­portation is still primitive in Nigeria. It is the same old system of each person moving about in his own automobile. The conse­quences are increased vehicular fumes, traf­fic jams, and deaths. It was reported some­time ago that two persons died of exhaustion at a snarling traffic before Onitsha Head bridge. Those who had not experienced the maddening traffic jam at the Head Bridge Onitsha might not understand the severity of the problem. Thank God, however, that the traffic jam at the Bridge has been reduced drastically by the reconstruction done by the Willie Obiano government.

It is important, however, at this juncture to point out other forms of environmental degradation. They include, lead in fuel, oil pollution, massive logging which causes de­forestation, poor waste management, bush burning, desert encroachment, emission of toxic materials into the air, erosion, sand ex­cavation, etc.

I have made efforts to capture the dan­ger facing man in his environment, but former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, painted a better picture of the challenges to mankind in his message to the celebration of World Environment Day in the past when he said, “ If we are going to leave a better planet for generations to come, we must work within a global effort to ensure the economy and the environment never become competing interests”.

I think Schwarzenegger was right, be­cause the greatest visible threat to the envi­ronment is man’s insatiability for wealth. It is, therefore, not contestable that the cases of abuse of the environment occur as a result of increasing economic activities by man, which endanger the environment. I still viv­idly recall how some wealthy businessmen were arrested in Brazil for degrading the Amazon, the world’s largest forest reserve, through illegal logging activities. They were quarantined for sin against humanity.

At one of the World Environmental Days, the UN focused on creating ‘Green Cities’ as a strategic Plan for the Planet, drawing attention to the compelling need for us to maintain the greenery of our cities. What ob­tains at present is that almost every available space in our cities is built up, leaving little or no space for the development of parks, gar­dens, planting of ornamental trees and flow­ers, and shelter belts.

This aspect of protecting the environment falls squarely on our town planners and oth­ers charged with maintaining the environ­ment.

The state ministries of Lands and Urban Planning should therefore, as a matter of ur­gent importance, liaise with the state minis­tries of environment to make it compulsory for those seeking approval for building plans to make provision for gardens or grass lawns in their homes. They should also integrate all these in their master plans for new estates.

Nevertheless, I am glad to note that some states in Nigeria have taken some deliberate and drastic measures to transform their envi­ronment to make it safer and nice to inhabit. Already, they have set up powerful task forces to tackle the problem of poor refuse disposal in their states. The task forces have been given wide powers to deal with the sit­uation and restore the lost glory of the affect­ed states. I call on all Nigerians to cooperate with the task force and shun the temptation of falling victims to the laws guiding their operations.

We must condemn the attitude of those who indiscriminately litter our cities with filling stations and boreholes, without seek­ing technical advice from the relevant min­istries, parastatal and agencies. It is unfor­tunate that some of the structures are built without Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report. Government should evaluate the situation with a view to meting out nec­essary punishments to the offenders.

The task to protect our environment is one that requires proper planning, vigilance, and creativity on the part of government, organisations, and the people. I believe that evolving some kind of interconnectivity and interdependence between man and his en­vironment, greater affinity between nations and persons in relation to the environment will foster peaceful coexistence among them, thereby making the environment safer and friendlier.

We cannot afford to continue to abuse the environment because of the avoidable con­sequences. As I indicated at the beginning, man should be careful with what he does to his environment. We will surely witness stranger diseases and incidents in the years ahead as a result of the unthinkable things we do to the environment if we did not pon­der and make amends.

World leaders must brace up to the chal­lenges posed by the abuse of the environ­ment and take measures to safeguard it. The United Nations should reorganise its house and inject more pragmatism in the way it po­lices the world in order to raise its stature in the perception of the nations that fall under its aegis.

Final warning: It is either we stand up to­day and protect our environment or we wake up one day and discover the world has sub­merged into a bottomless pit. It is a possibil­ity, but God forbid it should happen!

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Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King on my mind Fri, 19 Jun 2015 23:00:37 +0000 For the past 10 years I have made it a tradition to always remember the two icons – Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jnr. – whose contributions to the emancipa­tion of blacks in the United States would never be forgotten; at least not in the present generation. I have constantly reflected on the most [...]]]>

For the past 10 years I have made it a tradition to always remember the two icons – Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jnr. – whose contributions to the emancipa­tion of blacks in the United States would never be forgotten; at least not in the present generation.

I have constantly reflected on the most singular and courageous proclamation ever made by an American President. It was the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln, which took effect on January 1, 1863; that is 152 years ago. Each moment I pass through this mental experi­ence I am literally drained of energy.

It is particularly torturing each time I finished watching an epic documentary on the great liberationist march by some black protesters from the National Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. Inside of me, I am, figuratively speaking, usually empty and benumbed. I had just literally glided through a living history – a moving story – of a people liberated from long years of slavery by the sheer courage and vision of one man. Though this particular event hap­pened some 52 years ago, its message and plot are evergreen. It was a story that has changed the history of the black people in the United States forever.

One major character magnificently fea­tured in the documentary and who trod like a colossus was Martin Luther King, Jnr. This was on August 28, 1963. I was moved to tears and joy. It was a nostalgic moment for me as I relived the epochal event.

In just three hours I had walked through a history that even time and space would not be able to erase. The benefits of the monumental sacrifices made by the pro­tagonists (King and his associates) of this historic march have been everywhere with us ever since. Within 45 years after the historic march, the United States had pro­duced its first black American President in the person of Barack Obama.

In choosing to do this piece, I had rea­soned I would be contributing my little quota to the effort to make this history per­manent and constantly relived, just as many African-Americans have been doing since January – the 152nd Anniversary of the Proclamation of Emancipation.

The Proclamation of Emancipation of January 1, 1863 and the March on Wash­ington on August 28, 1963 have some his­torical similarities. One event happened at a time America was at war (in which some states rebelled against the centre) and the other at a time of peace. In both cases cour­age was the common denominator. There was also a contrast: the protagonists were of different colours: one was an ethnic white American and the other a black. In­terestingly, both paid the supreme price for their audacity – they were assassinated in their prime.

Lincoln issued the Emancipation Procla­mation, which explicitly pronounced free­dom for the over 4 million slaves in all the Confederate States of America that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863. The solidification of the proclamation came in December 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified by Congress; making slavery illegal everywhere in the United States.

Though he successfully won a re-elec­tion as the 16th president of the United States, Lincoln was brutally assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 15, 1865 – one year into his second term. He had a humble family background and was self-educated, which substantially affected his way of life and reasoning. It would take a man of Lincoln’s courage, single-minded­ness, and selflessness to take such a monu­mental decision that later cost him his own life and altered the course of history.

His commitment to the abolition of slavery and forced labour in the U.S. is surmised in these timeless and immutable words: ”On December 31, 1862 our nation marked the end of another year of civil war. At Shiloh and Seven Lines, Harpers Ferry and Antietam, brother had fought against brother. Sister had fought against sister. Blood and bitterness had deepened the di­vide that separated North from South, erod­ing the bonds of affection that once united 34 States under a single flag. Slavery still suspended the possibility of an America where life and liberty were the birthright of all, not the province of some… On January 1, 1863, all persons held as slaves in rebel­lious areas shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

Every word of the Emancipation Proc­lamation was beautifully articulated and crafted to underscore the gravity of the impact of slavery on the moral conscience and integrity of the United States. As antic­ipated, the proclamation quickly achieved its purpose and contributed significantly to the unification of the states.

The foundation for the equitable and sustainable democratic culture enjoyed by Americans today was laid by the Emanci­pation Proclamation. It is already over a century and half since the proclamation was made, yet it looks like something done not long ago. Successive leaders after Lincoln followed his footsteps by adding more val­ues to the ones he had already entrenched.

The beauty of the American democratic system is that it derives from justice, equity and fairness. I was reading the contributions of some notable persons – white and black alike – who played pivotal roles in the abo­lition of slavery in America and marvelled at the profundity of their objectivity, cour­age and forthrightness. Do we still have such leaders today? Look at a personality as Thaddeus Stevens – a powerful member of the American House of Representatives and an orator! He sacrificed his personal aggrandizement to see that slavery was abolished in the soil of the United States.

Stevens was a die-hard fighter for social justice and equality of races in the United States. In one of his oratorical deliveries he was quoted as saying: “I can never ac­knowledge the right of slavery. I will bow down to no deity however worshipped by professing Christians – however dignified by the name of the Goddess of Liberty, whose footstool is the crushed necks of the groaning millions, and who rejoices in the resounding of the tyrant’s lash, and the cries of his tortured victims.” This quota­tion symbolizes courage and self-denial. He had the chances to use his exalted and powerful positions to suppress the voices of the oppressed who daily toiled under the humiliating authority of their white separa­tist bosses. Nevertheless, he opted for what was right and just. I am glad posterity has not forgotten him. Even in millions of years to come the name Stevens and others of his ilk will continue to resonate in every nook and cranny of the universe whenever the issue of freedom for blacks in the United States is raised.

Working with people such as Stevens, Lincoln was able to carry through his plans to annihilate slavery in the United States.

There were other activists whose lives touched on the chord that sounded the death-knell for slavery in the United States. Such men and women included Harriet Ann Jacobs (An African-American writer and abolitionist), Horace Greely – an Ameri­can who used his newspaper, The New York Tribune – to fight slavery, Susie King Tay­lor (a black American), William Carney (an African-American), Martin Delany (first proponent of American black nationalism), and Christian Fleetwood.

It is important at this point to single out the indefatigable Harriet Tubman (a champion of women’s rights, born to slave parents and was herself a slave too, popu­larly known as the Moses of her people, because of the invaluable role she played in unchaining many slaves and giving them a new fillip). Her towering image coupled with the frenzy generated by her near-mystic stature made her the adorable and respectable global personality that she was. There have been numerous tributes to this gigantic legendary figure, but one was outstanding – It came from Abolitionist Oliver Johnson of the Anti-Slavery Soci­ety: “During the period of my official con­nection with the Anti-Slavery office in new York, I saw her frequently, when she came there with the companies of slaves, whom she had successfully piloted away from the South; and often listened with wonder to the story of her adventure and hair-breath escapes. She always told her tale with mod­esty which showed how unconscious she was of having done anything more than her simple duty. No one who listened to her could doubt her perfect truthfulness and integrity. Her shrewdness in planning the escape of slaves, her skill in avoiding ar­rest, her courage in every emergency, and her willingness to endure hardship and face any danger for the sake of her poor follow­ers was phenomenal.” Beyond referring to her as ‘Moses’, Tubman was seen by many of her admirers and detractors alike as a ‘general’ as epitomized in her command­ing leadership in conducting hundreds of slaves to freedom through the famous “Un­der Ground Railroad”.

As I indicated in the beginning of this piece, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King (Jnr.) have always inspired me. They knew that they were treading a perilous path, yet remained focused and unfazed. Why are such leaders scarce in our clime today? While Tubman and others champi­oned the cause of the liberation of slaves from bondage and forced labour, Martin Luther king (Jnr.) took it a step further by leading the great March on Washington – to fight for jobs and freedom for oppressed blacks. It was on that march, standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, that he delivered the historic speech: “I have a dream”.

Attracting over 350,000 blacks, whites and other non-minority groups, the march aroused global attention to the need to enforce the rights of blacks in the United States by providing level-playing fields for both the blacks and whites, especially in the provision of jobs and other social benefits. The protestation led to the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Martin Luther King, Jnr., though the ar­rowhead of the march, did not do it alone. In fact, there were other significant figures that actually handled the logistics for the march. They included Bayard Rustin and Philip Randolph. Randolph was the presi­dent of the Negro American Labour Coun­cil, while Rustin was a Civil Rights activ­ist and the organizer of the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation, which tested America’s Supreme Court’s ruling, which banned racial discrimination at inter-state level. Randolph and Rustin were close associates of King Jnr. Working collaboratively, they were able to mobilize over 2,000 buses, 24 special trains, 12 chartered airliners and countless number of volunteer-cars for the march.

The single-mindedness and enthusiasm exhibited by the marchers are yet to be seen in recent times. It also attracted great per­sonalities that played remarkable roles in the liberation struggle. They included Rosa Parks, Gloria Richardson, John Lewis, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, Rev. Cason Blake, Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle, Camilla Williams, Walter Reuther, Roy Wilkins, Mathew Ahmann, Diane Nash, Prince E. Lee, Floyd McKissick, and Mahalia Jack­son who awed the gathering with her siz­zling performance.

It is important to mention the role played by President John F. Kennedy in the struggle. He it who met the leaders of the march on Washington and proposed the Civil Rights Bill which was later passed by Congress. He was assassinated on No­vember 22, 1963 – definitely for working to give blacks greater freedom. It has to be acknowledged that it was the Civil Rights Bill that emboldened the organizers of the march on Washington to attempt the march ab initio.

Congress later passed the bill into law and was signed by President Lyndon John­son on July 2, 1964. The major thrust of the Act was the outlawing of aggravated forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, na­tional and religious minorities, and women. It also abolished unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (“public accommodations”).

The process that led to the freedom and liberty enjoyed by Americans (white and black) would not have materialised if not for the personal sacrifices of Martin Luther King and his co-planners who gave up eve­rything to fight for the liberation of their people. Their courage will forever inspire people like me. The popularity and global preeminence the United States revels in to­day would not have been possible if not for the foresight and selfless sacrifices of the early freedom-fighters.

With the various struggles and legisla­tion for liberty came numerous successes. Bill Cosby became the first black person to appear in a starring role on American television, Raylawni Branch and Gwen­dolyn Elaine Armstrong broke the jinx by becoming the first Afro-Americans to gain admission into the prestigious University of Southern Mississippi, Edward Brooke became the first black man to be elected into the U.S. Senate since 1881, while Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court as the first black to do so.

Martin Luther King, Jnr. was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace on December 10, 1964 and assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, by James Earl Ray, marking the end of a tortuous journey to freedom for the blacks in America.

Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jnr. were two of a kind. Generations unborn will continue to appreciate their im­measurable contributions to the edification of humanity and the promotion of equality among men and women, irrespective of colour, religion or status.

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Buhari:15 days after inauguration Fri, 12 Jun 2015 23:00:22 +0000 It is exactly 15 days today since Mu­hammadu Buhari was inaugurated as Nigeria’s President. Watchers of political events in the country would attest that the 15 days he has spent in office brought temporary respite to many Nigerians. Life is beginning to return to normal, while despondency, which had been the lot of Nigerians, is [...]]]>

It is exactly 15 days today since Mu­hammadu Buhari was inaugurated as Nigeria’s President. Watchers of political events in the country would attest that the 15 days he has spent in office brought temporary respite to many Nigerians. Life is beginning to return to normal, while despondency, which had been the lot of Nigerians, is beginning to give way to hope and op­timism.

I overheard some young Nigerians a week ago discussing the developments since Buhari was sworn in. It was a very animated debate. One of them said that all might not have returned to normal but there was hope in the horizon. He made one particular point that got me thinking. He had argued that if not for Buhari the scarcity of petroleum products that had hit the nation would have completely ground the economy. According to him, it was the intervention of the new administration that averted this tragedy.

As the debate was going on another young man threw something that looked like a bombshell. He said Nigerians should be ready to pass through a very painful period before they could heave a sigh of relief. This one sounded like a prophecy of doom. From among the de­baters one man interjected: ‘Forget all the arguments Nigeria will continue to get better. Can’t you see all the signs?’

I went home thinking about all what they said. But one thing kept worrying me: when will our young men and women see the writing on the wall? When will they realise that the Nigeria of yesterday is gradually being transformed?

The order and peace that prevailed at the swearing-in of our new President un­derscored the fact that things would be better in a short time. Nigerians and non- Nigerians that graced the occasion signi­fied the eagerness on their part to contrib­ute to the quick realisation of the vision of a new Nigeria. That 51 Heads of State could gather at a place for the sake of one man showed that Nigeria still commanded respect from the global community.

The first cheery news that greeted the new administration was the election of Dr. Akinwumi Adesina (former Minister of Agriculture) as the new President of the African Development Bank (ADP). What looked impossible at first was made pos­sible by the subtle diplomacy deployed by President Buhari. The final election of Ad­esina was a way African leaders decided to show solidarity with Buhari. And it is important he reciprocates this rare gesture by building stronger ties with them. Afri­can unity is inevitable and non-negotiable for the peace and growth of the continent.

The competence of Adesina has never been in doubt. In short, he is a gift to the bank which activities have witnessed some lull in recent times. One quality he is bringing to the bank is creativity. He displayed this much as Nigeria’s Minis­ter of Agriculture. I have no doubt he will succeed. I wish him well in his new ap­pointment.

Less than two weeks into the life of the new government the President had made two remarkable visits outside the country. The first was to Chad and Niger, while the second was to the meeting of the G-7 (the most industrialised nations in the world). The warm reception accorded the President of Nigeria and the avalanche of promises to assist her overcome some of the daunting problems was unprecedent­ed, and demonstrated the new attitude of the world towards Nigeria.

A day after the President concluded his visit to the G-7 meeting something dra­matic was happening at the National As­sembly where a new brand of politics was playing out. What happened at the assem­bly on June 9 was like a thunderbolt from the blues. Contrary to the popular choices among the leadership of the All Progres­sives Congress (APC) the members voted for those they truly believed would handle their affairs successfully.

It started with the Senate where the incoming Senators voted for Senator Bu­kola Saraki as President and Senator Ike Ekweremadu as his deputy with the for­mer President of the red chambers, Sena­tor Davod Mark, clinching the prestigious and influential position of Majority Lead­er.

The three choices particularly upturned the apple cart and set the leadership of APC wondering what had happened. Let me ask: should they actually be surprised when the signs of what was to come were all over the place? The mock election conducted by the leadership of APC was a huge mistake. It ran against the tenets of modern democratic practices. What every genuine democrat had expected was an open playing field. All the candidates the party had proposed for the major offices in the Senate and House of Representa­tives lost out in the open contest.

The election of new leaders in the House of Representatives, though opposed to the choices of the leadership of APC, did not witness the radical posture we saw at the Senate. Yakubu Dogara’s emergence as Speaker and Suleiman Yusuf Lasun as deputy was simply an affirmation of the position many of the members had adopt­ed long before the actual election.

The choice of two PDP members as deputy Senate President and Majority Leader respectively was not what many people had anticipated. On the other hand it showed the new direction our politics is going. Ordinarily it would have been almost impossible for both chambers to vote the way they did without upturn­ing the system. But the elections went on smoothly.

To demonstrate his determination to drive the new democratic vision Presi­dent Buhari quickly expressed his desire to work with whoever had emerged. That was politics at its best. It was also a fulfill­ment of the pledge he made to work with whoever was chosen.

To be frank, there was nothing wrong with the choice of the two PDP Senators – Mark and Ekweramdu. I was wondering how the Senate and House of Represen­tatives were going to manage the sharing of offices to accommodate the Southeast geopolitical zone despite the way they voted. The choice of Ike Ekweremadu rested that uncertainty.

The way our politicians handle poli­tics these days, especially at the national level, is interesting. The era of pandering to the wishes of a cabal has given way to a more flexible system where the popular wishes prevail.

The success of the elections in the red and green chambers should be attributed first to the doggedness of their members to choose their leaders without interfer­ence, and second to President Buhari who had shown non-partisanship in the choic­es of those who lead the chambers. Right from his inception, the President pledged to work with whosoever was chosen.

Probably what gave vent to what hap­pened on June 9 was the drama that char­acterised the emergence of Aminu Tam­buwal (now governor of Sokoto State) as Speaker. It was the same pitfall that the leadership of APC tried to avert. Howev­er, its calculations did not quite work out. The loss of Femi Gbajabiamila by a slight margin was an affirmation of Dogara as the popular choice.

Now that the Senate and House of Reps had elected their leaders it is the respon­sibility of the people concerned with the elections to sheath their swords and em­brace peace. There is no need threatening fire and brimstone over what had hap­pened, because it would not change any­thing. Rather there should be a realign­ment of interests to promote congeniality and tranquility in the National Assembly.

I take this opportunity to congratulate all those elected to lead the Senate and House of Reps on their victory and urge them to carry everybody along in the discharge of their duties. It will not do them any good to continue to live in the past. Their duties as leaders demand they display uncommon courage and fairness towards every member. They should pro­mote transparency and accountability and avoid the mistakes of their predecessors. I wish them good luck.

Looking generally at the economy there seems to be a slight growth and stabil­ity. Things are beginning to look up. The slight lull we have experienced since May 29 was caused by the absence of a full government. Nothing would have worked out ordinarily without the proclamation of the new National Assembly by the Presi­dent. Now that that has been done it will now drive the process of governance and make things work.

Let me nonetheless express optimism that the economy would be repaired by Buhari ultimately. He has the capacity to do so. This is why the National Assem­bly is central to whatever he may do. A strong partnership with the National As­sembly will facilitate the passage of bills and stem the rancour and mistrust that usually exist between the executive and legislature.

One area I expect President Buhari to refocus his energy on is the oil sector. This is one sector that holds the key to the success of his government. There should be swift reforms to reposition the sec­tor and make it truly the mainstay of the economy. The sharp practices in the sec­tor should be curtailed if not exterminated to give room for the new growth expected in the sector. Probing the sector is time consuming, because of the shortness of time for the new administration to imple­ment its programmes. Hitting the ground running is of great importance.

There is no doubt whatsoever that there is going to be a drastic departure from the way things were done under former President Goodluck Jonathan. Both men have different ideas on how to develop Nigeria. The taciturnity and urbaneness of Buhari distinguish him from his peers. On his mind is embedded all he wants to accomplish. And he does not betray any emotions whatsoever.

The confidence Nigerians have in Bu­hari’s presidency is unprecedented. Ev­erybody sees him as the expected Mes­siah Nigeria has been waiting for. His pronouncements since assuming office are directed towards building a new and reinvigorated socio-political system that will stimulate growth and development.

The calibre of ministers he appoints will determine, to large extent, how far his government can go. Recycling dead­wood and entrenching mediocrity are two things that can diminish the integrity of any administration and place it on the wrong footing.

It is gratifying to note there has been a remarkable improvement in electricity supply across the country. Some people have reported steady supply of electricity as much as 24 hours. What this signifies is that things can be done right in our nation. I never believed that Nigeria would reach a time when it would no longer be able to provide its citizens basic necessities of life. That was where we were before this regime arrived.

The importance of Nigeria in global economy and politics is such that all other nations in Africa would be affected should anything untoward happen to Ni­geria. Apart from being the most populous country, with largest economy in Africa, Nigeria remains the choice destination for foreign investors. To achieve his dream of developing a sustainable economic base Buhari should never forget Aba. The tal­ents and ingenuity of Aba people is pro­digious. Even the World Bank acknowl­edges that much.

No reasonable government can over­look the enormous potentialities of the city. A study conducted by our adminis­tration between 2004 and 2006 showed that Aba alone can generate over 1 mil­lion jobs yearly. In fact, Aba can produce anything no matter its complexities. This is why it is called the Japan of Africa.

Painfully a visit to the city will make you weep. Decaying and dilapidated in­frastructure, insecurity, and unavailability of jobs have been the order of the day in the city. Cleaning the Augean Stable is the hugest challenge facing the current lead­ership in Abia State. It needs the coopera­tion of all of us to succeed.

I am glad that the President is coping well despite his age. He still looks strong and walks spritely without swagger. What do his detractors who referred to him as brain dead and senile have to say about this? I saw President Robert Mugabe at 92 still exuding youthfulness and gaiety as he marched to the podium during Buhari’s inauguration. He did not look his age.

Longevity is a rare gift from God. How many people live above 60 these days? Just a few! So, that Buhari is 72 and does not belie his age is a thing of gratitude to God. Thank God he is not the kind of man that worries over inanities. He is a humble and firm man whose credibility and prag­matism resonate in the farthest parts of the country.

The favourable disposition of the global community toward Buhari is something he should not take for granted. He should ensure that this relationship is cordially maintained, so that the whole country shall partake of its benefits.

I commend Buhari and members of his yet to be inaugurated team for their cour­age and readiness to make sacrifices for the interest of Nigeria.

All Nigerians should support this gov­ernment to take us out of the woods and enthrone the reign of peace, development, security, law and order, hoping by the time the administration clocks 100 days in office the doubting Thomases will have been converted.

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History made yesterday Sat, 30 May 2015 03:11:02 +0000 Contrary to the widely-held view of political analysts and irredentists that Nigeria was going to disintegrate after the 2015 general elections history was made yesterday when a new President and some governors successfully took the oath of allegiance, thereby qualifying them to hold the offices for the next four years. I could not believe what [...]]]>

Contrary to the widely-held view of political analysts and irredentists that Nigeria was going to disintegrate after the 2015 general elections history was made yesterday when a new President and some governors successfully took the oath of allegiance, thereby qualifying them to hold the offices for the next four years.
I could not believe what I saw yesterday as a new Federal Government was born. President Muhammadu Buhari exuded confidence, resplendency and panache as he took the oath. His face shone like a million stars, while Nigerians looked forward to happier and more fruitful years ahead.
Beneath the outward hilarity and gaiety lay gargantuan challenges that require extraordinary solutions. Nigerians are full of expectations that President Buhari is going to perform magic. Their expectations are after all not misplaced since the new administration had promised to tackle the myriads of problems confronting the nation with uncommon commitment and courage.
From what I saw Nigerians are not ready for any excuses. All they want is immediate action to deal with the critical troubles besetting Nigeria.
For those who know Nigerians very well their problems are basic and not too difficult to fix. All they want are good roads, water, jobs, steady electricity, employment and security. They do not care how much their leaders starched away in foreign banks or the magnificent properties they own. You may have all the wealth in this world they care no hoot about it provided you give them the basic necessities of life.
I have not, up till today, understood why our leaders should always abandon the voters that gave them power to chase shadow instead. No sensible leaders, I guess, would fail to pay their workers at the end of every month when there is no moral justification to do so. However, from statistics available to me, many state governments, including the federal government, failed to pay their workers arrears of their salaries before their exit, in spite of the advice by President Buhari before he was sworn in for them not to leave any arrears of salaries unpaid.
Every four years the electorate queue up to elect new leaders who do not have, by their actions, their collective interest at heart. Their actions while in office smacked of insensitivity and egoism.
The past four years had been the worst in the history of the country. The more they hoped, the more they were disappointed. It is regrettable that the last administration allowed itself to be manipulated by some persons in positions of authority in the same government. This is not the best of times to engage in frivolities. What the nation and its people need now are peace, development and love.
There is too much wickedness in our land. This makes Buhari’s assignment a bit cumbersome. But who will bell the cat? If you ask me, Buhari has the moral fortitude, intellect, courage and passion to move Nigeria forward. Some of the leaders Nigeria had had in recent times cared only about themselves and left the masses placed under their aegis to suffer and perish. But God, in His infinite mercy, has continued to cater for the needs of the masses.
The events that culminated in the successful staging of the 2015 elections showed vividly that God is with Nigeria. But do not forget that despite the palpable fear in the land over 2015 elections I had always assured Nigerians that nothing would come between it and progress. I have written in this column on a few occasions that no human force can destroy Nigeria. Our people’s faith in Nigeria is as solid as the Rock of Gilbraltar. That was why I did not betray any emotions or fears when some former foreign diplomats repeatedly warned that Nigeria was going to disintegrate in 2015.
Their allusion to self-destructive tendencies was based not on any prophecy really, but on what they had envisaged as violence that was going to erupt should Buhari or Jonathan lose. They also considered the negative consequences of corruption and the growing disenchantment among the various ethnic groups that make up Nigeria. Of particular mention here is insurgency in the north east of Nigeria and some parts of Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa. So all these added up, they had thought, would lead to the disintegration of Nigeria.
The concession of defeat by former President Goodluck Jonathan ever before the final results were tallied helped greatly to douse tension and increase the credibility the elections enjoyed.
I must state here without any equivocation that the history that was made yesterday would not have been possible without the cooperation of Nigerians. Even though the turnout of voters in the elections was a little below average it still contributed substantially to the relative peace we have enjoyed so far. That Nigerians came out to vote at all and ensured that their votes counted could not give troublemakers the opportunity they had sought to foment trouble.
Again, the insistence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to use card readers for the accreditation of voters also broke the backbone of election riggers. The undeniable truth is that the success recorded in the elections would have been truncated if INEC had not used the card readers. Probably, those that had thought Nigeria was going to disintegrate in 2015 did not factor in the use of card readers for the elections.
Those opposed to the use of card readers and other measures introduced by the electoral body to guarantee free, fair and credible elections in 2015 had planned to rig the elections and create the magnitude of trouble that would have engulfed and destroyed our nation. If this had happened then the prophecies of the prophets of doom would have come to pass. But God in his infinite mercy thwarted their evil plots and gave us an election of which a sizeable number of Nigerians and members of the international community were proud of.
I recall with deep sense of trepidation the wicked plans of those that had wanted to balkanize Nigeria. Why has Boko Haram continued to wage war against the federal government and its agencies? The answer lies in the plot to destabilize Nigeria by some subterranean forces. What if their plans had succeeded? Where would we have been by now? Would we have witnessed the glory of what happened yesterday? Of course, no!
Boko Haram remains one singular problem facing Nigeria. Despite the military bombardments in recent weeks they have continued to unleash destruction of unimaginable levels on hapless Nigerians. The northeast geopolitical zone has continued to witness occasional bombings by Boko Haram. And this tells one that the sect is ready to do battle even if it is only one man among them is left standing. However, this does not mean the military does not have the upper hand in the fight against them.
It is worrisome that the dreaded sect was allowed to dig in deep, even to the point that uprooting them has become quite cumbersome. That the Chibok girls have not been found means that our joy will not be complete if eventually in the end the war ends without them. Each time I remember these girls my heart skips. Poor innocent girls! What have they done to deserve this kind of treatment from their fellow compatriots?
To destroy the ugly spectre of violence connected with Boko Haram is one huge challenge facing Buhari – beginning from yesterday. In fact, the whole nation believes strongly that his administration will find the girls and reunite them with their families. Nevertheless, I have my own fears. Much as Nigerians are hopeful of the eventual return of the girls they should not lose sight of the inevitable reality. And that is that the girls may not be complete in number whenever they are found. Do not forget that over 400 days had passed since they were abducted. And nobody can tell for sure under what conditions they have been kept.
I pray daily that miracle happens over the girls to show the world that our God is still alive. There is nothing impossible for Him to do. He is He that can kill and make alive again. We need to intensify prayers to see what God can do for us in this connection.
I challenge President Buhari to put his security infrastructure into proper use to forestall undue delay in tackling insecurity in the country. As he has always said without security little could be achieved in other areas of our national life. We need adequate security to attract foreign investments and make life worth living. No reasonable investor can bring in his hard-earned money to invest in an environment that is replete with crisis and instability.
It is gratifying to note that Nigerians are becoming increasingly security conscious and this will make the fight against insurgency easier, unlike in the past when only a few Nigerians showed interest in it. The fight against Boko Haram is one the new administration can handle with minimal stress considering the enormous goodwill at its disposal. It will leverage on the immense experience of Buhari who, as a GOC, gave the dreaded Maitatsine religious sect a run for their money. He sent them into oblivion and they could not muster enough courage and logistics to re-launch. The same fate will befall Boko Haram unless they have a change of heart and embrace dialogue. Unfortunately, going by the person Buhari is he may not have the patience to negotiate further with the sect. All the opportunities they had in the past to resolve the matter have been wasted. So, they should be ready for the consequences of their actions.
How Buhari plans to deal with the unpaid arrears of workers’ pay running into hundreds of billions is another problem I envisage will set the hand of the clock back a little. But I trust the wisdom and foresight of Buhari. For those who know him he is a man of ideas and indescribable courage. He is also passionate about the people he leads. This will propel him to find a lasting solution to the nagging problem of workers’ salaries.
In tackling the issue of unpaid salaries, I urge Mr. President to see what he can do about gratuities and pensions of retired workers. Many of those that retire from the service go home without their gratuities. On what are they going to live in retirement? State governors should be compelled to ensure they pay their workers as due, including pensions and gratuities. As far as I am concerned a labourer is entitles to his wages, no matter what. It is wicked and insensitive for any worker to retire without his benefits. It is only in Nigeria that such outrageous things happen.
The economy poses the hugest problem, even though some people think it is power. Both are essential nonetheless: power is as significant as human development; they complement each other.
Instructively, the three priority areas of the present administration are security, employment and economy. The three are intertwined. This is logical: provide security, attract investment and boost the economy, then people get jobs. Wealth and job creation is at the centre of modern economic trends. Divorce one from the other and you leave the country limping. There is too much poverty and want in Nigeria resulting from disparity between wealth and job creation. If Buhari can find a lasting solution to youth employment then insecurity is half-addressed. The manpower for crimes comes from idle hands, which are the devil’s working tools. Many of them abound in Nigeria.
But I was taken aback when I read recently that many of our youths are unemployable right from their days in school, ever before they gained admission into college. What this means is that no matter the efforts by Universities to ameliorate the situation it will never produce the desired result. In any case, I have a contrary view here. The decadent academic system we currently have arose from the fact that nobody really cares about what the public opinion was. From comments in the media about Nigeria’s educational system it is certain that it is long due for restructuring. The restructuring should centre on the curriculums that our primary and secondary schools use at present. They should contain those elements that drive development and foster national integration and cohesion. They should as well address the cankers such as moral decadence, cultism, drug abuse among juveniles, and corruption that have ravaged our fatherland.
The economy as it stands now is comatose – almost collapsing. Last week the nation was thrown into darkness for over a week. Thousands of passengers were seen stranded at various airports across the country – all as a result of scarcity of fuel. Abuja and Lagos airports were the worst hit. Many Radio and TV stations have abandoned their night segment as a result of scarcity of fuel. In fact, every service provider had threatened to shut down should the situation persist.
I must commend Independent Oil Marketers for calling off their strike. At least Nigerians can now heave a sigh of relief. Let me however call on President Buhari to cancel subsidy on petroleum products without delay. Subsidy is not only criminal, but it is responsible for the majority of the problems we have encountered in the oil sector.
Efforts should be made by the new administration to check scarcity of petroleum products. The resultant effect of the scarcity of petroleum products is the high cost of living. Imagine what has become the fate of the common man in this circumstance. When will the welfare of the common people in our society receive commensurate attention from government? When will Nigerians enjoy the benefits that life brings? When will the suffering in the land end? These are questions that every caring administration must provide answers to.
There is so much pressure on Buhari to deliver the goods and that is why he should stamp his feet down to ensure that the right things are done to save our nation from the real threats of disintegration.
We have survived the doomsday prophecies, no doubt, but can we survive the booboos by enemies of progress who think that Nigeria belongs to them alone?
Whatever machination they come up with in future will surely be thwarted by God in whom we place our hope of salvation.
Nigerians are elated that, at last, Buhari has successfully assumed office as President and Commander-in-Chief. Expectations are feverishly high. And by the special grace of God these expectations will be met in the months and years ahead, so that Nigeria can join the league of truly developed economies; not the current status of giant dancing naked in the sun.

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Gov. Orji: Crumbling dynasty and karma Sat, 23 May 2015 00:25:09 +0000 I am sure many people, especially Abi­ans, are yet to come to grips with the full weight of the eight-year misrule of Governor Theodore Ahamefule Orji. For eight years he held Abia State and Abians to ransom and committed the worst financial heist ever witnessed in the annals of the Nigerian nation state. What some [...]]]>

I am sure many people, especially Abi­ans, are yet to come to grips with the full weight of the eight-year misrule of Governor Theodore Ahamefule Orji. For eight years he held Abia State and Abians to ransom and committed the worst financial heist ever witnessed in the annals of the Nigerian nation state. What some people termed as governance was just an open fraud. But the good news is that he is gradually reaping the fruit of his evil. Contrary to the popular maxim that the evil that men do lives after them the governor is already har­vesting the consequences of the evil he planted in the state.

It is an open secret that right from the very first day he was sworn in as governor he deliberately designed several ways, in collaboration with his wife and son, to milk the state dry. The first thing he did was to go borrowing. He took large sums of money as loans from commercial banks without any commensurate plans to pay back and with­out committing it into any useful ventures. It was the indiscriminate manner he was taking the loans that led to the initial conflict between us. In fact, I had approached him quietly to advise him to desist from taking loans anyhow from banks without any rea­sonable projects to commit the money into.

Initially, he lied that he did not take any loans from banks. But when confronted with facts and figures he buckled. Instead of showing remorse and retrace his steps he chose to declare war against me. Why has he refused to tell the world what he felt was the cause of the rift between us outside the reasons I had adduced in this column.

I have consistently written in this column all I know about my relationship with Chief T.A. Orji – before, during and after my ten­ure as governor. Some people may wonder why I have never ceased to use any avail­able opportunity to tell the world that the man is evil. I have done so consistently to alert the public so they would not be hood­winked into his treachery and folly.

For the 8 years he served as my chief of staff he pretended to be a good man, hid­ing his notoriety, which was why I did not believe many of the stories told me about him by those that knew him very well. For instance, somebody very close to him in the civil service told me how he cheated him in a deal they had together. Up till today he has refused to square up to the man despite the fact that the man had made several efforts to see him. The closest the man came to him was when they met at Okpara Auditorium, Umuahia at the swearing-in of new com­missioners in 2009. The governor shunned him, leaving the man distraught.

There are many others who have fallen victim of his folly and deceit. There is no gainsaying the fact that I have suffered dif­ferent kinds of deceit in the hands of this man. Up till this moment he has refused to account for some of the security votes, which he controlled for 8 years. Why he chose to keep the money to himself is what I cannot fathom.

I simply see the man as evil. And that is who he is. How else can you describe a man who has left the people who voted him into office more impoverished than they were before his coming? Visit Abia State, espe­cially Aba, and witness firsthand the despo­liation and mass looting that had been the order of the day in the state since Chief T.A. Orji became governor.

The worst part is that he is totally incorri­gible and has vowed to die in his sins. Go to any nook or cranny of Abia State and what you see will leave you speechless. The level of dilapidation of infrastructure, biting pov­erty, general underdevelopment and retro­gression is mindboggling. In short nothing is working.

Instead of settling down to work for the people the governor spends the greater part of each month in Abuja where he goes to peddle rumour, and gossip about innocent people. He has found listening ears in the first family and tells them all kinds of lies in order to curry favour and discredit me before them.

I wonder who between the governor and me has sincerely worked for our state. How much has he received in the eight years he has been in power, which runs close to one trillion naira? Compare it to what we col­lected for the eight years I was governor, which totaled N108 billion. I have called for audit of our accounts by the best audit firms in the world, which bill I am ready to pick. I gave the challenge to him since last year and up till date he is yet to utter a word concerning it. Rather what he has done is to find ways to continually evade questions about it.

Tell me: how long will he run away from the truth? He has done everything possible to destroy the truth and cover his tracks. Each time he tried, he met brick walls. One problem with him is that he has an insatia­ble propensity to expropriate public funds for personal use. It is common knowledge that he and members of his family have bought up all existing choice properties in the City of Umuahia. They have extended their acquisitive tendency to Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Enugu.

His personal residence in Umuahia, as I wrote recently in this column, is worth over N5billion. Construction of the fortress-like edifices has taken over 10 years and have not yet been completed. When then will he complete the structures in the large expanse of land built across three streets, which were closed down to accommodate them?

Chief Orji has kept acquiring wealth when some categories of workers and pen­sioners have not been paid for upwards of eight months. Where has all the money gone?

Abians are groaning under the weight of corruption that has eaten deep into the heart of the state. Resources are frittered away with reckless abandon, while the people suffer want and deprivation.

To underscore how wicked the man is: he has deliberately refused to pay contrac­tors that successfully completed their jobs for the state government. The consequence is that most of them have been selling their houses to pay banks loans they took from them to execute the projects. Man’s inhu­manity to man!

The last election was an opportunity for the people to pay the man back in his coins. Rather than allow free, fair and cred­ible elections he rigged his way all through. From where did he get the votes with which to win election into the senate when all he got at his polling booth during the national assembly election were two votes?

Everybody in Abia State, including se­curity agents would tell you that the man lost abysmally. From Ikwuano to Umuahia, Isiala Ngwa to Osisioma he fell like a pack of cards. Using the huge financial resources available to him he manipulated his way to the detriment of the wishes of the people. It was the same thing that was done by his notorious son to rig his way into the state House of Assembly.

What Chief Orji probably has forgotten is that the evil that men do live with them. He has started reaping the consequences of the evil he sowed across the state. All his current braggadocio is a vain way of trying to cover his frustration. Last Sunday he and members of his family held a thanksgiving service in Umuahia. Oh my God, this man has no shame! What did he thank God for? Was it for stealing the mandate of another man to go to the senate? Or for all the evil deeds he committed in the past eight years? Or for the hardship he inflicted on the hap­less people of God’s Own State? Why?

There is no doubt whatsoever that all he had planned to accomplish with the 2015 elections had fallen through. For instance, he had planned to make his son speaker of the State House of Assembly in order to use it to dictate the politics of the state. In fact, the earlier plot was to secure the majority of the seats in the House with members loyal to them to enable them impeach the incom­ing governor and install the son as gover­nor. But that plot has since collapsed as PDP and APGA have 12 members each in the 24-member House.

The speakership project has hit the rocks too as the boy is expected to be a guest of the Economic and Financial Crimes Com­mission (EFCC) soon. Already he has been invited for questioning over some financial sleazes involving him.

Who says God is not on the throne? Who says that evil has no expiry date? It is fool­hardy for anybody to think they can mock God. Nobody can. I believe that whatever a man sows, he shall reap. Chief Orji has mindlessly looted the resources of Abia State and committed other heinous crimes for which the full weight of the law should be brought upon him, but for the immunity he currently enjoys.

Thirteen days from today the governance engine of Gov. Orji will stop revving. He will be confronted with the reality of his de­vious actions. He has vowed never to make Abians enjoy the beauty of democracy. It is the same way that God will chastise him.

I do not envy him in any way. And the reason is simple: he has allowed his inor­dinate ambition and greed to becloud his sense of reasoning to the extent that he could square up in a wrestling match with his ‘Chi’ (God). What impudence! The trou­ble that awaits him is better imagined than seen. His cup is full and the law of retribu­tive justice is about to take its course.

Apart from the laws, which will eventu­ally catch up with him, how does he plan to face his people whom he treated like trash? There is nothing in his birthplace, Ibeku, to show that a governor came from that part of Abia State. Instead he persecuted his people and treated them like rag. In return they voted massively against him. He had to ma­nipulate the results by compelling INEC to announce him as the winner of Abia Central Senatorial election.

There is nobody in Abia State today that does not know that T.A. Orji is despised by the people. They hate him with rabidity. The only thing that can restore their confidence in the electoral system is to have all the re­sults written in favour of T.A. Orji and his son reversed by the tribunal.

The dream of the governor is to control every structure in Abia State and single handed enthrone his acolytes to sensitive elective positions. He did not consult any­body in all the appointments he made, be­cause he has succeeded in buying over their conscience with money. Interested persons have always asked if Abia State does not have elders who could call the garrulous governor to order. Certainly we have promi­nent elders who had held important elective and appointive offices, but some of them out of sheer greed and selfishness have sold their conscience for a mess of portage.

Some of these elders now follow the gov­ernor about and play subservient roles in his administration. They do not have shame any longer, and can do anything just to make money and remain relevant. Despite the fact that they sing the governor’s praise and dance to his tune, the governor still sees them as parasites and hagiographers who should be demeaned and denigrated. He does not have an atom of respect for any of them. You will shudder how he talks down on them, yet they do not have plans to save their face.

Governor T.A Orji sowed disrespect, ha­tred, anarchy and stealing from the tilt as an ideology. He will be treated in the same way in no time. All those he maltreated, humili­ated and despised will pay him back in his own coin when the time is due.

I know a number of persons the governor has sent to their early graves due to non-payment of their dues. Among them were contractors, pensioners, civil servants and, even, politicians. The case of contractors is particularly pitiful. There was this contrac­tor that has been owed for 5 years. He bor­rowed money from a bank to satisfactorily execute a road project for the government. He was forced to sell his house to offset the loan.

To worsen matters the governor had promised on over 10 occasions to pay the contractor to no avail. How would the gov­ernor want God to judge him at the end of his life on earth? Or does he think he is go­ing to live forever?

The way T.A. Orji squanders money is a portrayal of the kind of person he is. He throws money about as if he mints it. Is it not the people’s money that he recklessly spends on useless adventures? How does he think God will not discover his sin and condemn it?

The undeniable truth is that the governor has the long arm of the law to contend with, the people he misruled to face, and the law of karma to deal with soon. He might think that, after all, nobody is watching – I can do as I like. But God is watching.

The 8 years of the reign of Chief Orji were years eaten by locusts. It would have been better for Abians to stay without gov­ernor than to have the type of Chief Orji preside over their affairs. In these 8 years the people gnashed their teeth and cried to God daily for redemption. Who will bell the cat, they ask?

Much as I wish the man could change from his evil ways and embrace God, I think he is not ready to repent. It is likely he will continue to swim in his sins until it becomes too late to do something about it. For the wise, this is the right time to seek forgive­ness from the people he has offended one way or another.

It is not the wish of God that any sinner should die in his sin. It is rather His will that all of us should repent and be saved.

For all I know the political dynasty of the Orjis is beginning to crack and with time it will widen and collapse. The only thing that may save him is to return the money he loot­ed to the state coffers and plead ‘allocutus’.

If he fails to do so now, then the fate that awaits him will be very grave.

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Gov. Orji’s stewardship of pain and desolation Fri, 15 May 2015 23:44:06 +0000 There is something many observers of political developments in Abia State have not probably noticed and that is that the Abia State Government under the leadership of Chief T.A. Orji has never given a public account of its stewardship. Contrary to what obtained during our regime (1999- 2007) when we published the financial statements of [...]]]>

There is something many observers of political developments in Abia State have not probably noticed and that is that the Abia State Government under the leadership of Chief T.A. Orji has never given a public account of its stewardship. Contrary to what obtained during our regime (1999- 2007) when we published the financial statements of income and expenditure the government in Umuahia today has operated in secrecy for the greater part of its tenure. Everything about its financial dealings is shrouded in mystery. While the public, especially the media, have been shut out, the governor and members of his family and kitchen cabinet engage in many underhand deals, leaving the people they were elected to serve in pov­erty and penury with the entire state in desolation.

For the eight years the governor has held sway in power he has operated like the Lord of the Manor, the Lord of the Flies – Eze Onyeagwalam (the king that knows it all and takes counsel from no one). He hardly tolerates the idea of any other person raising his head, except himself. All those that at­tempted to operate independent of his opin­ion have been shoved aside. In fact anybody who is not ready to play subservient role in his government hardly ever stays beyond the first three months of his appointment. This is why he has earned notoriety in hiring and firing.

Governor Orji has rubberstamped every­body that works in his government, includ­ing the decisions they take. His adminis­tration has been deliberately designed to serve as a conduit pipe for the draining of the state’s scarce resources. That is why no single project was done by the government, which has direct bearing on alleviating the sufferings of the people. Most of the proj­ects the administration executed (particu­larly under Legacy Projects) were white el­ephants simply designed to serve as a way of shortchanging the state. The high costs of the projects coupled with endless variations that followed made them the most expensive anywhere in the world. To worsen the situa­tion, the projects are substandard.

A good example of the shabby and untidy way the administration does its things could be seen in the renovation of the offices in the State Ministry of Justice. The renovation car­ried out about three years ago and which cost the government billions of naira have started disintegrating. The same thing obtains for many of such projects. Only God knows what will happen in another three years.

The worst part is that those who work under him can hardly afford the basic ne­cessities of life. The retinue of aides who work for him is the worst remunerated in the country. What is the basic salary of his highest paid aide? It is scandalous! They are paid peanuts, and this is contrary to what the Revenue Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFC) has approved. For years now many of his aides have been paid half of their en­titlements. The reason has always been scar­city of funds. Which scarcity of funds when the state gets its dues from the federation ac­count and generates mouthwatering revenue internally?

What of other categories of workers in the state? They have been owed for as many as 7 months. Yes, the state pays one of the highest minimum wages in the country. But that is just on paper. Workers in the state groan un­der the weight of many years of neglect, with unpaid salaries and allowances running into billions. What about pensioners? Their case is particularly pathetic. They are owed over 11 months of pension. From available re­cords hundreds of them have died fighting in vain for the release of their pensions. Those still alive are like living dead. Every month they march to Government House Umua­hia to seek the intervention of the governor. They usually leave worse than they came. No commensurate attention is paid to them.

Thousands that have retired did so without their pensions and gratuities. They are left to their fate: to suffer and die.

Among the retirees were those who were schemed out using the government’s obnox­ious administrative abracadabra. The draco­nian system was introduced by Chief Orji and targeted at some permanent secretaries and directors he did not like their faces. The policy made it compulsory for every civil servant in the state that has stayed up to eight years as director or permanent secretary to retire. Through the scheme many able-bod­ied and qualified civil servants had gone into early retirement, making the state lose vital manpower.

Local Government staff are not left out. They have been without salaries for upwards of one year, yet the Federal Government makes monthly allocations for the local gov­ernment councils at each month’s Federal Allocation Committee (FAC) meeting in Abuja. The reason for the unpaid salaries and allowances of local government staff is easily traceable. It is caused by the expro­priation of the local government funds by the governor’s son who has managed their affairs since the present administration as­sumed office.

According to recent media reports the governor’s son and the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs are allegedly wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for mismanaging the local government funds amounting to over N67 billion. Incredible!

Is it not only in a place like Abia State that such an aberration could happen with­out anybody chuckling? Is it, therefore, any wonder that the state government has not deemed it proper to organize local govern­ment elections in the 8 years of its existence?

What of those sacked four years ago for being non-indigenes in Abia State? Over three thousand workers were involved. It took the state government the same number of years before reaching a decision to recall a few of them – not up to 500 out over 5000 sacked. This was after many of them had kicked the bucket out of frustration and psy­chological trauma.

If one may ask: what happened to the bil­lions saved from this exercise? Surely they went the way of other financial resources that accrued to the state – squandered.

Now that it has been proved beyond rea­sonable doubt that the government of Gov­ernor Orji has failed abysmally in workers’ welfare and general emoluments, let us look at the provision of social amenities to see if we can justify the huge financial resources that had accrued to the state between 2007 and 2015 estimated at a trillion naira. This amount includes collectible revenue from internal sources.

Information gleaned from reliable gov­ernment sources indicate that the Abia State Governor under Governor Orji has not done anything really tangible to justify the huge money it claimed it had expended on various projects across the state. The ploy and fraud­ulent behaviour of the government were ex­posed by a group of media practitioners the state government invited to witness firsthand its performance in the past 7 years. The team was taken round the state for three days and at the end of the visit there was nothing con­crete to show the media people. Even the officials taking the team round lacked basic information about the costs of the few proj­ects they inspected. Probably they had been warned not to go to that length. And so, the officials faltered with ignominy.

The truth is that the government of Abia State has perfected ways of pulling wool over the people’s eyes. What the governor does is to use state resources to pay his way through difficult situations. Instead of em­barking on people-oriented projects he pre­fers to dole out money to media practitioners and some elders who will cover his dirty tracks. There is no doubt whatsoever that the hundreds of billions that the state govern­ment received, including local government funds, were diverted into private pockets. God have mercy!

It is no longer a hidden fact that the gov­ernor, his son and associates have bought over almost every available property in Umuahia with their filthy lucre. His resi­dence in Umuahia (for which the master plan of the state capital has been callously contravened) sits on three closed streets. The last estimates for the structures in the large expanse of land, including furnish­ings, were put at N5 billion. The project, which was started in 2001, is yet to be completed because of constant reconstruc­tion, re-equipping and re-beautification. Would anybody believe that the roofing of the houses in the large compound had been done more than three times? The practice is that once the family sees anything beautiful and spectacular elsewhere they try to rep­licate it in their own house. The result has always been the destruction or alteration of existing structures to meet the new fantasy.

Umuahia – the state capital – has not im­proved beyond where our government of 1999 to 2007 left it. There are no new roads, no new drainages, and no new amenities any­where. The only roads were the ones built by my government and the government of Dee Sam Mbakwe in the Old Imo State. Apart from the Judiciary Complex and new Sec­retariat in Umuahia delivered at outrageous costs there is no other mega project executed by Chief Orji’s administration anywhere in the City, except his private residence.

The rural areas of the state are the worst hit. Dwellers in these areas live at the mercy of God. It is as if the government has for­saken them. Abia North Senatorial District where I come from is begging for govern­ment presence. All the projects our admin­istration constructed have been left to rot or dilapidate. Naturally government is expect­ed to maintain these projects in the spirit of continuity. But unfortunately, out of political persecution and meanness, Chief Orji has al­lowed them to lie in waste.

I wept when I saw the state of some of the projects during my campaign tour of the area before the last National Assembly elec­tion. The Umunnato General Hospital, for instance, which was built and furnished by our government, has been left to waste. All the equipment have been in a state of dis­use, while rodents and reptiles have taken refuge there. Why has the state government abandoned the place? The same sad situa­tion obtains in other projects we initiated and completed such as the Abia State Teach­ing Hospital, Aba; Umunneochi, Ukwa, and Isuikwuato General Hospitals. Investigation has since revealed that the governor has ve­hemently refused to assign the necessary staffing and funding for the take off of the hospitals as a way of getting at me since the projects were executed by my administra­tion. This tells you how mean and wicked the governor could be.

However, I am sorry for him, because his wicked acts can never get at me. The only pain I nurse is that innocent people have been left to suffer for what they know noth­ing about.

For the past five years or more the gover­nor has been deliberately fomenting trouble across the state. He will be the last person to forgive an infraction or offence. During our tenure when he was my Chief of Staff he did a few things that would have earned him a sack, but I graciously overlooked them and marched on. It was the same attitude I had thought he was going to adopt. Lo and be­hold, the man is worse than a male Jezebel (if there is anything like it).

His greed and self-acquisitive tendencies are second to none anywhere in Nigeria. Some persons are known to forgive and for­get, while others forgive and may not forget. But Chief Orji belongs to none of the two as he does not forgive and does not forget as well. Once you offend him – no matter how little – be ready for long chastisement.

It is a pity that he goes about telling people how he would deal with me and render me incapacitated. When they asked him what I did to him to warrant such a grievous pun­ishment he has nothing to offer. I have asked him countless times to tell the world what­ever wrong I had done to him and I would apologise if I was wrong. On each occasion he was evasive with his answers.

I regret that I was instrumental to his choice as governor. The people trusted me and voted for him. Today he has tightened the noose around the very people that spear­headed his election. Who would believe it that after helping him to become governor he would turn against me with such feroc­ity as has never been seen before. He sees me and anyone connected to me as morbid enemies. Why?

Abians groan daily under the weight if his greed and neglect. For eight whole years he has left the people impoverished, trau­matized and imperiled. There is nothing on ground to show that a government was here for 8 years. Our schools and hospitals are among the worst in the country. The rate of maternal and infant mortality – particularly in the rural areas – is very high. These deaths would have been averted if his government had sustained our free healthcare initiative through which over 4000 persons were treat­ed. He abolished the scheme shortly after assuming office out of sheer envy and pet­tiness.

Exactly 13 days from today T.A. Orji will cease to be governor. He will then join the ranks of ex-this and ex-that. It is at that time he will realise that power is transient. I am certain he will continue to think he is still governor even after May 29, because there is nothing about him that betrays somebody planning to leave office. He also still revels in the vanities of life and is yet to reconcile with his large army of critics and haters.

He may continue to live in a fool’s para­dise for the rest of his life, for all I care. Nev­ertheless, it will do him a world of good if he begins now to mend fences with those he has offended. Otherwise he will find it extremely difficult to survive when the realities of life dawn on him.

For the people of Abia State, I render an unreserved apology for choosing him as my successor. After all, there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face, said the liter­ary legend, Shakespeare.


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What probably you didn’t know about the 2015 polls Fri, 08 May 2015 23:00:19 +0000 There were many interesting things that happened that gave the just-concluded elections the hype it has enjoyed, particularly as it concerns the roles some persons played before, during or after it. Cu­riously, and sadly too, some of these things have been interpreted in diverse ways – depending on how each person sees or understands it. [...]]]>

There were many interesting things that happened that gave the just-concluded elections the hype it has enjoyed, particularly as it concerns the roles some persons played before, during or after it. Cu­riously, and sadly too, some of these things have been interpreted in diverse ways – depending on how each person sees or understands it. However, the interpretations given to some of these things have been twisted by politicians to suit their idiosyncrasies.

It is to set the records straight that I have decided to do this piece.

Let me quickly state that I think I am one of the single most misunderstood persons as far as Nigeria’s politics is concerned. Though this is for some inexplicable rea­sons! I am certain many Nigerians did not know some of the things I have mentioned here. Nevertheless, I decided to reveal them in order to correct some erroneous and malicious imputations some mischief-makers have made to achieve cheap politi­cal points.

Some people have even asked why I de­cided to stick to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) when I knew that the party was likely to lose the 2015 elections. They make this allusion referring to the report of a nationwide consultative tour I embarked upon long before the 2015 general elec­tions, which has raised much dust since it was released. There was also another issue bothering on the illogicality and lack of wisdom of the decision of PDP to throw its weight behind some candidates whose in­tegrity and capacity to deliver were clearly in doubt.

I will treat each one of these points in de­tail shortly. But permit me to quickly state, though unequivocally, that the PDP lost the 2015 elections out of sheer greed and lack of maturity and teamwork. Anybody who has been reading the articles in this column will attest to the fact that I had always ex­pressed indignation over the way the party was being administered, especially after its contentious primaries. I am certain I drew attention to the daylight robbery that took place in Abia State where it was evident that the governor, Chief T.A. Orji, had lost every credibility, integrity and trust among the people of the state. Even within PDP in Abia State he is seen largely as a destroyer, and not a builder, because of the hatred and division he has stirred in the party.

I have always given reasons the gover­nor would likely lead the party to doom in his morbid desire to control the party for his selfish interest. Forget all the shenani­gans involving the governor and his son, PDP was doomed in Abia State, if not the entire South east geopolitical zone, many months before the general elections. This is a matter for detailed discussion in future.

Let me state at this juncture, that contrary to the insinuations in some quarters, I nev­er conducted the nationwide tour I referred above on behalf of any political party, in­dividual or any business organization, for that matter. The tour was strictly commis­sioned by a US based Non-Governmental Organization {(NGO) which name I would not want to mention here}, which advises the government of the United States, the President of the United States, the US State Department and several other agen­cies connected to it.

The tour in question opened my eyes to some of the complexities of our socio-political system, including the challenges the various political parties in the country faced in the 2015 general elections. In the report, it was clearly stated that the PDP was going to lose the general elections and that President Goodluck Jonathan, if at all he was going to win, would do so with a very slim margin. The report also identi­fied those states PDP was going to lose. They included Ogun, Osun, Lagos, and almost all the states in the north, etc. For Ondo, I declared that PDP was going to fight the battle of its life to win it. And that was what happened.

Some of the reasons adduced by the re­port for the likely abysmal performance of PDP included lack of internal democracy, disenchantment among many Nigerians who were unmistakably desirous of change and the half-hearted attitude of some lead­ing PDP stalwarts who said one thing and did exactly another.

The report, which was submitted to the Presidency, the leaderships of PDP and APC, was shabbily treated by its recipi­ents. Why they behaved the way they did was best known to them. For me, I thought I was discharging my patriotic duty by drawing attention to the calamity that lay ahead. In fact, the leadership of PDP in­terpreted the report as confrontational and in bad taste. Some of them questioned my loyalty as they had expected me to state in the report that PDP was going to sweep the polls when it was evident it lacked the co­hesion and solidarity to do so. This proba­bly accounted for their gang-up against me to deny me the ticket in my quest for the Abia North Senatorial seat under PDP. It was after their ill-treatment that I opted to switch to PPA in the eleventh hour.

Let me point out, however, that there has never been any remarkable difference be­tween PDP and PPA in every ramification. This accounted for the unanimous decision of the party to adopt President Goodluck Jonathan as its sole presidential candi­date. And there are no regrets for doing so. Therefore, those who misinterpreted my intentions to stand for elections in PPA did so either out of malice or sheer ignorance.

It was painful that instead of the leader­ship of PDP using the report I gave to them to work to change the tide they embarked on unnecessary rigmarole and witch-hunt, which cost it the elections.

The decision to stick to PDP despite the ominous signs that hovered around its head was borne out of principle. For those who know me very well, I am a man of my words. I do not run from one party to another. Check it out: since we formed PDP in 1998 I have remained in the party. I left the party momentarily in 2006 to found the PPA out of sheer inevitability. What did anybody expect me to do when former President Olusegun Obasanjo, without any plausible reason, deregistered me, alongside other eminent Nigerians. We had no other choice than to seek ref­uge in other political parties to realise our political aspirations.

The decision to form the PPA later paid off with the winning of the governorship seats in Abia and Imo. We also won sev­eral seats in some State Houses of Assem­bly, Senate and House of Representatives. The fortunes of the party nevertheless nosedived when those we spent our hard-earned money, energy, time and ingenuity to deliver decided to stab us in the back. There is nobody alive in Nigeria today and who was of age in 2007 that did not witness the betrayal we suffered in the hands of Governor T.A. Orji and his co-travellers.

Today Governor Orji is doing every­thing humanly possible to destroy me, but the God I serve has always scuttled his wicked designs against me. Who does not know that Governor Orji is evil? He told President Jonathan all kinds of lies against me to curry favour. The President being the kind of man he is trusted him. In the end he (TA) betrayed and failed him.

Any time the names of those that con­tributed to the loss of PDP in the 2015 presidential elections are being compiled Governor Orji’s name would occupy a place of notoriety. This is a man whose only interest was how to deliver himself, his son and his entire family during the elections. He cared little about the suc­cess of President Goodluck Jonathan, yet he made the loudest noise about his ability to deliver him. From the result of the elections Governor T.A. Orji got only two votes in his polling booth. The two votes came from his deputy chief of staff and his wife. The rest of his Ibeku people voted massively against him. So, from where did he get the votes to deliver the President?

If truth should told Governor Orji con­tributed to the failure of President Jona­than. We worked out hearts out trying to convince the people to vote for Jonathan. Many Abia voters were against Jonathan because of the non-performance of Gov­ernor Orji.

The outcome of the petitions at the on­going tribunals will open a can of worms about what transpired during the 2015 general elections as the PDP is going to lose more seats in the south east. At least, I am sure that Governor T.A. Orji and his son did not win their elections to the Sen­ate and House of Assembly respectively. They are simply impostors and usurpers who, with time, will be stripped of the mandates they falsely and ignobly parade.

I wonder how Chief T.A. Orji would have the temerity to go about parading himself as a Senator-elect when what he stole belongs to another person. I know his conscience will torment him every day of his life until he abdicates the stolen mandate.

It is a thing of joy that President Jona­than has now realized who his real friends and enemies are. And Governor T.A Orji is definitely one of his morbid foes.

What I expect the shameless governor to do is to bear his cross alone and not drag other people along as he faces the recompense of his actions. The elections in Abia State had been won and lost. It is, therefore, wrong for the governor to create the impression that he was behind anybody’s victory and therefore they must tow his line. My take on the matter is that anybody who felt he won any election in Abia State should chart his own course, and not allow himself to be tied to the apron string of anybody else.

I feel appalled by the blame game go­ing on in PDP currently. Instead of taking stock of its performance in the elections to see areas of improvement it dissipates energy on inanities. Blaming one anoth­er will not solve any problem. Instead it will widen the gap among party members and create animosity between its leader­ship and the various interest groups in the party.

My decision to stick to PDP, as I stated earlier in this piece, even when it was clear the party was going to lose the 2015 general elections was borne out of princi­ple and in obedience to the instruction of Ohaneze Ndigbo that Igbo should support the re-election of President Goodluck Jon­athan. You could recall that the leadership of Ohaneze led by Chief Gary Ighariwey approached me one and half years before the 2015 elections to drop my presidential ambition in support of the re-election of President Jonathan. I gave them my word to obey their directive, and I did. I do not have any regrets for my action.

I have never had any other reason be­ing in politics other than to champion the cause of my people and millions of other Nigerians who are oppressed, and have no voice. I am not in politics for any pecuni­ary gains. It was the same reason that pro­pelled me to seek to represent the people of Abia North in the Senate. It is wicked and malicious, therefore, for anybody to allude to anything in the contrary.

Only God knows when our nation’s pol­ity would be manned by people of integri­ty, whose selflessness and candour cannot be questioned.

The undeniable truth is there was noth­ing PDP could have done to avert defeat in the 2015 general elections since the majority of the people wanted outright change. It is sad that our party bungled the many opportunities that came its way to control the political space of Nigeria for as long as it wished. But they allowed greed and tactlessness to overwhelm them.

The days and months ahead will be rough and bumpy for PDP unless it wears its thinking cap and re-jigs its future. Ni­geria’s socio-political environment gets sophisticated by the day. And this calls for tact and diplomacy.

It has never been my intention to ra­tionalize why certain things that ought to have been done were not done. My atti­tude to life has always been to take each day as it comes. As humans we are bound to make mistakes. That is not a problem in itself. The problem lies in the failure to learn a lesson whenever we falter.

The victory of APC in the elections was purely divine and it is only God that could give such victories. Instead of antagoniz­ing the party or making things difficult for it our party should give it maximum support to enable it to transit smoothly to power.

From east to west, north to south we are all one. Even the differences in tongue and culture should not pose any barrier to our avowed commitment to build a more united and indivisible nation.

Those that fan the members of hate and promote clannishness and religious bigotry should bear in mind that there is strength in unity. The challenges of the 21st Century world demand creativity, togetherness and consensual and strate­gic partnership to build strong institutions on which the continued existence of our country will be predicated.

As an individual I will continue to give my best to the peace, development and progress of Nigeria no matter the price I am made to pay. My little contribution to the political development of our fatherland through the thorough survey I conducted before the elections was one way I felt I could strengthen our political culture and fortify our democracy. Democracy can­not function well in the absence of strong institutions. It is the emergence of these institutions that should be the focus of the political actors and actresses in our nation; not the pandering to sectionalism and eth­nic jingoism that has been the order of the day.

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