The Sun News » Public Sphere - Voice of The Nation Fri, 09 Oct 2015 00:33:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Nigeria and JP Morgan’s econometricks Fri, 11 Sep 2015 02:10:08 +0000 Expectedly, the announcement by JP Morgan to delist Nigeria from its Government Bond Index Emerging Market (GBI-EM) has caused a shockwave in the country’s economy. By the calculation of financial gurus, the country is likely to lose billions of dollars, as foreign investors may withdraw their equities. This is supposed to give the government and people of Nigeria some concern, but there is no cause for alarm]]>

Expectedly, the announcement by JP Morgan to delist Nigeria from its Government Bond Index Emerging Market (GBI-EM) has caused a shockwave in the country’s economy. By the calculation of financial gurus, the country is likely to lose billions of dollars, as foreign investors may withdraw their equities. This is supposed to give the government and people of Nigeria some concern, but there is no cause for alarm
JP Morgan had, on Tuesday, announced that it would remove Nigeria from its GBI-EM by the end of this month. According to it, for Nigeria not to be so delisted, the country has to “restore liquidity to its currency market” in a way that would allow foreign investors to conduct transactions with minimal stress. The bank’s grouse about Nigeria is the country’s currency control, which, in its thinking, is making transactions cumbersome.
JP Morgan had declared: “Nigeria will be removed from each of the six GBI-EM indices starting September 30th.
The weight change will be implemented linearly over a two-month period with half of the adjustment applied on September 30th, 2015, and the remaining on October 30th, 2015.”
One of the consequences of this is that Nigeria will not be eligible for re-inclusion into the GBI-EM indices for a minimum of 12 months. Said JP Morgan: “Nigeria’s index eligibility after this period is contingent upon a consistent track record of satisfying the index inclusion criteria.”
The natural question by those who are not economists, like me, would be: What is this JP Morgan Government Bond Index-Emerging Markets (GBI-EM) brouhaha? Well, my lay man’s understanding is that this is bond issued by a government, with a promise to pay periodic interest and to repay the face value on the maturity date. These bonds are usually in the country’s own currency, in Nigeria’s case, in Naira.
According to Wikipedia, “the terms on which a government can sell bonds depend on how creditworthy the market considers it to be. International credit rating agencies will provide ratings for the bonds, but market participants will make up their own minds about this.”
Nigeria, was, in 2013, listed among the 18 emerging market economies, who were part of the GBI-EM Broad index. It became the second country in Africa, after the South Africa, to join Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Thailand, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Turkey.
Even as MJ Morgan barks, Nigeria is not catching cold. The country has, and justifiably so, called the bluff of the international finance institution. In a statement, coming immediately after JP Morgan’s announcement,  Ibrahim Mu’azu, Director, Corporate Communications, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for and on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Finance, CBN, and Debt Management Office (DMO), had declared: “While we respect the right of the J.P. Morgan to make this decision, we would like to strongly disagree with the premise and conclusions upon which the decision rests.
“ It would be recalled that Nigeria was included in the index in October 2012, based on the existence of an active domestic market for FGN Bonds supported by a two-way Quote System, dedicated Market Makers and diverse investors. However, in January 2015, J.P. Morgan placed Nigeria on an Index Watch as a result of their concerns in the operations of our Foreign Exchange (FX) Market, namely: 1) lack of liquidity for transactions; 2) lack of transparency in the determination of the exchange rate; and 3) lack of a fully functional two-way FX Market.
“In our continuous bid to strengthen the Nigerian financial market and enhance our status as a preferred destination for investors, we took measures to improve the market. Despite the fact that oil prices have fallen by nearly 60 per cent in one year, which should expectedly reduce the amount of liquidity in the market, the CBN ensured that all genuine and effective demand were met, especially those from foreign investors. On transparency, the CBN mandated that all FX transactions were posted online in the Reuters Trading Platform so that all stakeholders can easily verify all transactions in the market. In addition, the Official FX Window at the CBN was closed to ensure a level-playing field in the pricing of foreign exchange.
“It is important to note that a functional two-way FX market already exists in Nigeria. However, given the high propensity for speculation, round tripping, and rent-seeking in the market, it became imperative that participants are not allowed to simply trade currencies but are only in the market to fulfil genuine customer demands to pay for eligible imports and other transactions. In the light of this, we introduced an order-based, two-way FX market, which has resulted in the stability of the exchange rate in the interbank market over the past seven months and largely eliminated speculators from the market.
“Despite these positive outcomes, the JP Morgan would prefer that we remove this rule; even though it is obvious that doing so would lead to an indeterminate depreciation of the Naira. With dwindling oil prices, we believe that an order-based two-way market best serves Nigeria’s interest at the moment.
“While we would continue to ensure that there is liquidity and transparency in the market, we would like to note that the market for FGN Bonds remains strong and active due primarily to the strength and diversity of the domestic investor base. For the avoidance of doubt, the Federal Government sees Nigeria and the interest of Nigerians as paramount. It will, therefore, only continue to take economic decisions that will impact positively in the lives of all Nigerians.”
From the foregoing, it’s obvious that the JP Morgan, being an American multinational banking and financial services holding company, is more interested in protecting foreign investors than Nigeria’s economy. However, the point must be made that there has to be an economy first before investments.  While nations need foreign investments to widen and make the economy robust, nobody loses sight of the survival of the economy. And no country would leave its economy open and perhaps, put it at risk.
I am persuaded that JP Morgan wants Nigeria to open its foreign exchange market and leave it the whims and caprices of market demand. The implication of this is that the exchange rate for the Naira against the dollar and other foreign currencies would be out of the roof. This would lead to the extreme devaluation of the Naira, with its dire consequences for the economy and Nigerians. At present, the naira exchanges between N197 and N200, in the official market, to the dollar, while in the black market, the exchange rate hovers between N216 and N220. This is the case because the CBN has  taken measures to curtail the unfair deals in the forex market, where round tripping and other sundry practices have contributed in weakening the Naira, while a few people smile home to the bank.
No matter what JP Morgan says or the fear of withdrawal of foreign equities, the action of the CBN to protect the forex market and by so doing, guard the economy, is a step in the right direction. If Nigeria succumbs to the blackmail of international financial institutions, the Naira will have a free fall and would not be worth more than the paper it’s printed. If we do this, nobody would be surprised that $1 may be exchanging for as much as between N270 and N320. Yes, there may be withdrawal of some foreign equities now, but this will be temporary. Foreign investors, who withdraw their equities today will return in the nearest future if the government reflates the economy.
I wonder why JP Morgan or any international finance agency would want Nigeria not to regulate the economy when there is nowhere in the world nations leave the economy open without safeguards. In the Americas, Europe and Asia, government applies tight regulations on businesses, especially as it concerns foreigners. This is done to protect the country’s economy. It’s only in Nigeria that foreigners come in and do what they like and get away with it. Here foreign companies and investors subject workers to slave policies, pay them peanuts, evade taxes and make enormous profit, which are taken away. It’s only in Nigeria where such nationals as Chinese, for instance, would bring in goods, as foreign importers and also open shops in Oshodi Market  and others to deal in retail business. This must stop.
I support the Federal Government’s insistence to protect the economy. The foreign exchange window should not be thrown open and left to crash the Naira. The CBN is right on target, for example, in the forex ban of commodities such as rice, toothpick, cement and other things we could product locally. Why would a serious country be importing toothpick and matches when the machinery for their production could be imported and such commodities produced in the country. In so doing, employment will be created.
JP Morgan’s delisting is not a trade or economic sanction. Its effect would be temporary. As the Muhammadu Buhari administration raises its cabinet and unfolds its economic policy thrust, and working diligently, confidence would be restored and I bet that foreign investors who may leave Nigeria because of the JP Morgan delisting would return. Nigeria has the potentiality to have robust economy. It takes planning and consistent policy for this to happen. It also takes diversification of the economy. With the dwindling price of oil, the time has come for Nigeria to diversify to other areas, like agriculture, industrialisation, tourism and solid minerals, among others. Towards this end, the government should work on electricity. If the problem of electricity is solved, the economy would certainly receive a great boost.
Nobody should worry about JP Morgan. Its threat, I strongly believe, is like the threat to the lion and tiger.

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

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

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Re: Buhari’s American wonder Fri, 07 Aug 2015 01:09:06 +0000 I’m not surprised at the revelations Good article you have here today. I have followed your write up recently and like it. I have been a Buhari fan since 2011 and it seems I had known him for ; that is why I am not surprised at these revelations in the United States, except for his willingness to talk with Boko Haram. – Koko Robson, Akwa Ibom; 09096343863]]>

I’m not surprised at the revelations
Good article you have here today. I have followed your write up recently and like it. I have been a Buhari fan since 2011 and it seems I had known him for ; that is why I am not surprised at these revelations in the United States, except for his willingness to talk with Boko Haram.
– Koko Robson, Akwa Ibom; 09096343863

I’m not surprised
Your ‘Buhari’s American wonder,’ made my day. It was indeed American wonder on display. The negative attitude of our men of power to Nigerians did not start with President Mohammed Buhari. All the past leaders showed the bad habit of ignoring our people at home only to open up once they go abroad. It is not a thing of surprise, as they have reduced us to sub-humans. To them, Nigerians and their media worth nothing and can go to hell. When confronted with real humans (Americans) you see them talking like rabbits that has been smoked out of their holes. Our press doesn’t help matters, as they appear too timid to confront our local champions with probing questions. Let the music play on really.
– Bar. Odira Barth Eburu, Abuja. 08036647581

Drop ethnic garment and support change
With due respect, your bias by indirectly mocking President Buhari. I advise you drop your ethnic garment and support change.
– Chief J. J. Ibeka, Lagos. 07065773998

We need more wonders
More of Buhari’s American wonders please. Enyinnaya, Aba.
– 08034230232

A very interesting article. Your expositions offer an abundant food for thought in this period of austerity. Keep it up.
– Chinyere. 08057400042

I reserve my comments till September
In the early 80s, while growing up in my little town, Okposi Okwu, somewhere in Ebonyi State, we use to sing: Come and see America wonder. This happens whenever a plane roared over our heads. My comment will come by September when our ministers are out. God bless you.
– Michael Okorie. 08085008959

Thanks for the article
Thanks for your write up on “Buhari American wonder.” God bless you. 07035390254

This is eye service
This is just what we call “eye service” by Mr. President trying to impress America that he is full of actions. Time will tell, but I hope he will travel to Zimbabwe, Sudan and Kenya for more tough talks? His trip with the like of Okorocha killed  the interest I had in that trip.
– Angus – Okoro, Enugu.  07031622103

Works to rebuild Nigeria has started
Your write up was great. Nigeria has made itself a religious nation that buries the good ethics of religion. The government of Goodluck Jonathan was quick in passing the anti-gay law but did nothing about anti-corruption law. The question now is: between gay marriage and corruption, which one is destroying Nigeria? Have we ever passed a law stopping insane people from getting married? To me, the gay people belong to the insane community and giving them a national audience becomes a waste of national priority. The work to rebuild Nigeria has just started with Muhammadu Buhari’s trip to the USA.
– M. J. Gold. Lagos, Nigeria. 07058882573

Buhari’s visit, no jamboree
President Muhammadu Buhari means well for Nigeria before he accepted the invitation of Barrack Obama to visit US over Nigerian problems. His visits is not for jamboree but for serious business to find a lasting solution to insecurity and recover all that was looted by past government and wooing investors to come in and invest in Nigeria as we have fertile land for investors. Nigerians should not condemn Buhari’s visits but be expectant of good things to come.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, Abia. 07084644222

Re: NASS crisis: The ultimate loser is Nigeria

Time for lawmakers to work
Now that National Assembly crisis is over, let the lawmakers hit the ground running for legislative work that Nigerians voted for. They should use reduce their jumbo pay in the interest of Nigerians and infrastructural development.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia. 07084644222

Let Buhari be left alone
You impressed me with the piece ‘NASS crisis: The ultimate loser is Nigeria.’ You did a narrative surgery of politics of the President Mohammadu Buhari government but I disagree with you on the call for our past leaders’ intervention. Buhari said he belongs to nobody and I think he should be left alone.
–Bernard, Nsukka; 08061106994

Your fears in “NASS crisis: The ultimate lose is Nigeria” and call for synergy between National Assembly and presidency, to serve Nigerians, are right in absolute terms: If Nigerians are to reap any benefit from their governance. One’s fear is the mode of politics in place, which harps on personal, ethnic, social and religious affiliations, which has been engrained into the polity. These might stall understanding between the two arms, particularly. The public pronouncement by Buhari that he would discriminate against zones that voted against him says it all. NASS members, who harbour such mean acts, might co-opt their like minds from other zones to create a bloc within NASS to make passage of presidential bills go through hard tracks; if not completely sabotaged. And who bears the brunt, as you rightly stated, other than innocent Nigerians? We are yet to have a true Nigerian in-charge of our affairs.
– Lai Ashadele. 07067677806

We’re waiting for the 36 saints
Our politicians believe that political sovereignty belongs to their party and not with the people. With this feudal political philosophy, we are yet to begin our political journey to the Promised Land. Where are the political Moses of our time? Unfortunately, most of our distinguished journalists are now on the other divide. They have now been infected with the drugged spirit of political partisanship. Instead of informing us, we are rather deformed. They are now professional praise singers of politicians. We are waiting patiently for the 36 saints that would be appointed by the president as ministers to rule with him in Aso Villa.
– Anusa, P. O., Ikot Epene. 08152699651

Where’s Abdulsalami committee?
Ride on Ukeh! You are the only The Sun writer that is never partisan. Yes, where are the Gen. Abdulsalami’s peace committees? 08033782142

Igbo were left as spectators
I am sure,  when you wrote that article, you did not feel like you were a Nigerian. I am sure you felt and now feel like a spectator. You would have served our readers better if you had condemned the injustice that transpired there and left Igbo as spectators.  +13016741312

Who forged Senate rules?
Why can’t you media people for once fight against Nigerian factor? Who forged the Senate standing rules and when? There is no intransigence against Saraki but a case of forgery that brought him up. Should we as a nation continue with illegality?
– 08035410176

Your article made an interesting reading because you are like others preaching peace. However, I totally disagree with you that the removal of Ike Ekweremadu will create obstacles in governance for the APC. Senator Ekweremadu cannot reap where he did not sow. If PDP had won the election, could they have allowed an APC man to be the Deputy Senate President? You are only one supporting Ekweremadu based on Igbo sentiment. He has nothing to offer us the Igbo. You will recall that Ekweremadu co-chaired the constitution amendment committee with Emeka Ihedioha. What did Igbo get? Ekweremadu should not be allowed to reap where he did not sow.
– Ogwo Agwu, Kaduna. 08035732178

Igbo lost out
I beg to disagree. The so-called crisis was a figment of  the imagination of non-political actors! When in 2011 South East members of House of Representative dressed in Hausa babanriga to snatch the Deputy Speakership from North East, they are not sacrificed. They became a willing tool in the hand of  South West in destroying the zoning formula of PDP, a party they had no stake. They dressed the North West in Niger Delta bowl hat to disgrace Mr. Fix it. That was the beginning of Jonathan’s exists from Aso Rock. Nigeria’s unity has always been built with the blood of Igbos. Igbo are the losers in House of Representatives, thou winners in the Senate. Nigeria’s stronger when what goes around comes around. Gbajiabiamila has to fight to get what Mulikat got on a platter of gold in 2011.
–Hon Ihuoma, Abuja; 08179904137


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NASS crisis: The ultimate loser is Nigeria! Fri, 31 Jul 2015 01:21:48 +0000 In the presidential system of government, which Nigeria practises, separation of power is a cardinal principle. This is a system, whereby all arms of government (Executive, Legislature and Judiciary) ]]>

In the presidential system of government, which Nigeria practises, separation of power is a cardinal principle. This  is a system, whereby all arms of government (Executive, Legislature and Judiciary) perform their respective functions without interference of the other. Despite the fact that there are checks and balances among the arms of government, they must do their duties independently. This means that while the executive arm of government devotes its time to implementation of policies, the legislature concentrates in making laws for the good governance of the country. The judiciary, on its part, enforces the law made by the legislature, for the successful implementation of policies of government.

For government to work smoothly and effectively, therefore, the three arms of government must rise up to their duties and work together. As it applies to Nigeria, it means that the Executive (Presidency and the cabinet), the National Assembly and judiciary must work, first independently and then collectively for the success of government. This is why the squabbles in the National Assembly, which has, inadvertently, strained the relationship among the lawmakers as well as between the legislature and the executive (Presidency), to some extent, is an evil wind, which would blow the country no good. To be sure, since the controversy over the election of the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker started, Nigeria, as a country, has been the ultimate loser, directly and indirectly. And more would be lost, if nothing is done to arrest it. Therefore, senators, members of the House of Representatives  and others involved in the fray owe the nation a duty to sheathe their swords, unite and work together. The Presidency and the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives must accept each other, in the interest of Nigeria.

Indeed, the development at the Senate on Tuesday is something to cheer. The fact that 81 senators, across party lines, passed a vote of confidence in Senate President Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu is a step in the right direction. When more than two-thirds of the Senate membership passes a confidence vote in their leaders, it means that they are pleased with them. It  also shows that they trust them and want them to continue in office. Also, the truce in the House of Representatives, after the concession, which saw the emergence of Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as majority Leader,  is commendable. However, the use of the South East as the sacrificial lamb, in this peace pact, must be noted. To show that all is now well at the House of Representatives, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, speaking after the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus meeting, had stated:  “There are no more factions in the House. What we have today is a group of lawmakers loyal to the House leadership and our great party.

“It is only in unity that we can positively contribute to the change  we all worked for and move Nigeria forward towards our desired dream of a greater nation.”

Confirming this, Hon. Gbajabiamila, the House Majority Leader, said: “There are no longer factions in the House. Whatever happened earlier is now behind us and we are ready to serve Nigerians to the best of our ability.”

Hon. Abiodun Faleke also said: “We are no longer fighting, as you can see. We are now ready to work with other legislators and move our dear country forward.” Just as Hon. Abdulmunin Jibrin said: “This meeting has healed all wounds. There is nobody here that is nursing any anger or ill-feelings any longer.”

With senators showing proof that they have confidence in the Saraki leadership and members of the House of Representatives resolving that there are no more wars, the onus is on others outside the National Assembly, who may have felt aggrieved, to also make peace. A sour relationship between the Presidency and National Assembly, for instance, will definitely spell doom for the government, which has many daunting tasks and Nigeria, as a country. Already, the losses from the crisis at the National Assembly are manifesting. Recently, when President Muhammadu Buhari went to the United States, there was no representation from the legislature. The president went with neither the leadership or members of the National Assembly. This does not say much about Nigeria and its democracy. Some people may say that there’s no big deal in Buhari having legislators on his entourage. There certainly is. Apart from the fact that it sends signal that the Executive and Legislature are working together, it gives the National Assembly opportunity to compare notes with their counterparts and also to network. This, I dare say, could have explained why the United States President Barack Obama, during his trip to Kenya and Ethiopia, in his African tour, went with tens of Congressmen. The American President went with the Congressmen, despite the fact that sometimes he has issues with Capitol Hill, as the Republicans always stretch him to the limit. Obama knows that politics is different from governance and, therefore, could not have isolated the United States legislature.

Indeed, the signal that the Senate President may not have been given the opportunity to meet with Buhari, for example, is not good for the country. No matter the reservations the Presidency may have with the emergence of Saraki and Dogara, the law recognises them as the Number 3 and Number 4 citizens of the country. Yes, there may be issues about their emergence, but it would be fair if Buhari sticks to his earlier stance that a constitutional process took place in the election of Saraki, despite the fact that he would have wished that senators and members of the House of Representatives obeyed the directives of the All Progressives Congress leadership to pick favoured candidates. Besides, the president had initially said that he would work with whoever emerged as leaders of the National Assembly.

My fear is that a continued intransigence against Saraki and Dogara could spark a row between the National Assembly and the Presidency. Such development will not augur well for the country. In a democracy, the Presidency cannot really function well without the legislature, as most actions it may want to take would be subjected to the approval of the National Assembly. For one, to spend money, the executive needs approval of the annual budget by The National Assembly. To appoint ministers, service chiefs, declare a state of emergency and other actions, the Executive needs the approval of the National Assembly. If there is no love lost between the executive and the National Assembly, in general, or one arm of the National Assembly, in particular, there will be a clog in the wheel of progress.

This is  why I wonder whether those who are agitating and insisting, especially in the APC, that Ekweremadu must vacate his seat as Deputy Senate President really know what they are doing. In a Senate that has 49 senators from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a forceful removal or the frustration of Ekweremadu out of office would cause the polarisation of the Senate. If the PDP senators decide to play  belligerent  opposition and, therefore, elect to frustrate anything that comes to the Senate, nothing will work for the Federal Government.  A look at what is happening at the US Congress will show that it takes Obama tact, lobby and political savvy to get things done at the Congress, as Republican Congressmen would want to align together against whatever he wants. Such development in  Nigeria would not be in the interest of Buhari, the APC and Nigeria.

This is, indeed, time to continue to make sacrifices. Those in government should put the nation first in whatever they do. Also, this is time for Nigerian leaders to intervene to resolve the crisis, for the country to move forward. Where is the General Abdulsalami Abubakar peace committee, which stayed with former President Goodluck Jonathan after the presidential election until he conceded defeat? As the committee members intervened in the presidential election saga and stopped what could have led to loss of lives, they have to also step in now to ensure a cordial relationship between the Presidency and Senate, in particular. This is a task for the Abdulsalamis, Olusegun Obasanjos, Ibrahim Babangidas, Yakubu Gowons, Shehu Shagaris, Atiku Abubakars, Alex Ekwuemes, Ebitu Ukiwes and other statesmen. Their intervention in the matter would make the difference and ensure that the next four years would not be wasted in fighting personal political wars. The time for them to act is now.

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Buhari’s American wonder Fri, 24 Jul 2015 01:17:44 +0000 In the four days that President Muhammadu Buhari visited the United States of America, where he met with the country’s President, Barack Obama, Vice President, Joe Biden, Secretary of State, John Kerry, former Secretary ]]>

In the four days that President Muhammadu Buhari visited the United States of America, where he met with the country’s President, Barack Obama, Vice President, Joe Biden, Secretary of State, John Kerry, former Secretary of State, Medline Albright, other state officials and members of the business community, among others, one song that played out in my mind was: “Come and see American wonder, come and see America wonder.” Indeed, the visit brought to the fore what I would call, “the Buhari American wonder,” as the president found the visit auspicious and much important to make quite some profound pronouncements, which he never did on the shores of the country.

Yes, it took Buhari’s visit to the United States for him to tell Nigerians and the world that just as the law of the land is against gay marriage, he is also. It took the US visit for the President to personally tell Nigerians that he could negotiate with Boko Haram, if that would ensure the release of the Chibok schoolgirls, who were abducted more than one year ago and who have been in captivity ever since. It took the US trip for Buhari to admit that the United States has, indirectly, frustrated the fight against terrorism with the Lealy Law, which is about human rights violation, prompting the non-supply of arms to Nigeria. It took the US visit for Buhari to come out to directly accuse former ministers of illegally selling crude oil and pocketing the money.

With these presidential pronouncements, coming at a time when Nigerians want to know what the Buhari government is doing, at a time some people are beginning to conclude that the government’s momentum is low, one was almost tempted to say that Buhari’s visit to the US should continue. If the President would only talk about things Nigerians have been expecting him to say, in the US, he should continue the foreign trip. Just as the Chinese say: If music is the food of life, play it on. However, it is not as if I am disappointed that Buhari felt more comfortable making major pronouncements in the US, instead of at home. He’s living true to type. Past leaders of the country did the same. From Obasanjo to Jonathan, Nigerian leaders appear to prefer talking abroad. I suspect that they do so to grab international headlines.

In the last couple of weeks before the US trip, many a Nigerian had wondered what Buhari’s position on gay marriage was. Although Nigerians knew that legally speaking, same-sex marriage, albeit homosexuality and lesbianism, was illegal, as the National Assembly already passed a law against it, they wanted Buhari, who was not in power when the controversy broke, to say something. Buhari’s silence on the matter did make some mischief-makers to insinuate that the preference the US and the West showed, in their body language, for Buhari, in the last presidential contest against former President Goodluck Jonathan, was because of the perception that under his government gay marriage may fly. Now, Buhari has spoken and nobody is in doubt where he stands on gay marriage. But what he said in the US is what he could have said in Nigeria, even before embarking on the US trip. If he had done that, it would not have been an issue in the US, as he visited.

Just as he was not forthcoming on the gay marriage controversy, Buhari also did not say anything about the allegation by the immediate past Jonathan government that the US was indirectly frustrating the fight against terrorism in the country, until he visited the US. Indeed, the last Federal Government shouted at the rooftops about the US’ refusal to sell arms to the country’s military as well as the country’s attempts to get other nations not to arm the Nigerian military, in the guise that there were human rights issues in the way the war was being prosecuted. Owing to this, the Jonathan government had called off the US training of Nigerian soldiers. Now, it’s still the same Nigerian military that is prosecuting the war against Boko Haram, led by the same field commanders, irrespective of the change of guards at the Service Chiefs’ level. But the US has pledged better cooperation with Nigeria. Whatever the reason is, the fact is that while the Jonathan government complained about the US posture, Buhari, in the heat of campaign, may have seen it as an excuse of a president, who was failing in securing the country. Even after taking over government, Buhari still kept quiet over this. At US, the truth came out: Leahy Law amendment of the US is aiding and abetting Boko Haram, says Buhari. Who says the US trip is not magic?

Thank God, indeed, for the US trip of Mr. President. Who would have thought that Buhari, a retired General, who fought the Nigeria-Biafran war, among other risky ventures in the military, would consider negotiating with the “genuine” Boko Haram for whatever reason? How wrong were we! Although the presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, had once flown a kite that the government could consider dialogue with Boko Haram, before the trip, Buhari never said anything. Nobody should misunderstand me. I am not in any way saying that there is anything wrong negotiating the release of the innocent Chibok schoolgirls. Far from it! What I am saying is that our President could only reveal this abroad.

No doubt, some people would say that Buhari unfolded his plans and positions because he was being interviewed by the CNN and also because he addressed international audience. That’s true. But has the president given Nigerian journalists the opportunity to talk to him? Apart from the interview he granted the NTA last week and when he met with State House press corps, the Presidency has not given Nigerian journalists such generous audience, as he gave the CNN.

While there were still speculations on when Buhari will eventually constitute his cabinet, it took his US trip for him to tell Nigerians that this will happen in September. At home, in Nigeria, groups and individuals commented on what they perceived as delay in appointing ministers. Buhari kept quiet. But the American wonder happened on Monday, when he published an article in Washington Post, revealing that his cabinet would be constituted in September. Our President did not find The Sun, This Day, The Guardian, The Nation and The Punch, Daily Telegraph and other Nigerian newspapers worthy to publish an article wherein he made a fundamental statement on his coming cabinet. It is Washington Post that is better for such publication. I ask again: Who said that there is no magic about the US trip?

I am persuaded that the Buhari US trip made the impact it desired. The President met with Obama and other US state officials and they talked heart-to-heart. Buhari said he did discuss with Obama his refusal to visit Nigeria, which he acknowledged is one of the most important countries in Africa and the world. He also said that he was going to extend an official invitation to the US president to visit Nigeria. If he is able to pull this through, who says there is no magic in Buhari’s US trip?  Obama’s trip to the country means a lot to Nigeria. It would afford the US President the opportunity to assess things himself, first hand. With this, he may better appreciate the challenges in Nigeria. And perception may change.

Also, since the United States has pledged to help Nigeria in the fight against terrorism, this gives more impetus to the military operation in the North East.  Terrorism is a global crime, which should be tackled by all. Where terrorism is treated as a local matter, like the Boko Haram insurgency was, it would grow wings and fly out of the window. Al Qaeda may have started in Afghanistan or Middle East. ISIS may have started in Syria, Iran/Iraq and Middle East. But these terror groups have spread their tentacles across the world, as they are recruiting converts daily globally. If Al Qaeda and ISIS were treated as Afghanistan, Iranian/Iraqi and Syrian problem and left to be handled by the countries alone, other nations would wake up to discover that they are also under the threat of these groups. Therefore, the US pledge to better help Nigeria is good, indeed.

However, the US should not play politics with its assistance towards the fight against Boko Haram. A situation where the US is shouting against human rights violation in the entire operation is like tying Nigeria’s hands, in the face of a problem, which impedes its peace and progress. I guess that the US did tell Buhari how it fought Saddam Hussein of Iraq over alleged nuclear weapon acquisition and others, to the extent of devastation the infrastructure of Iraq and its economy, without recording human rights issues. This “American magic,” which did cost Iraq millions of dollars to rebuild its country, certainly is a controversial model, which the US needs to educate us on. Or is it a case of different strokes for different folks?

Taking all these together, you can then see why more US trips should happen. It took only four days for Buhari to bring about many activities in Nigeria. Now we know that former ministers are oil thieves. Now we know that former ministers will be probed and brought to book. Now we know that only the Jonathan government will be probed. Now we know that ministers will be appointed in September. Now we know that Buhari can’t be sympathetic with gays. Now we know that Boko Haram can sit at a table with government to negotiate. Now we know that US law is Buhari’s headache. This is, indeed, a mouthful for four days. And therefore, let the music play.

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Save yourself, APC! Fri, 03 Jul 2015 01:00:47 +0000 By next week, the crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the choice of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives would be one month old. ]]>

By next week, the crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the choice of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives would be one month old. And there appears to be no solution is sight, as the leadership of the APC, the parties involved in the impasse at the National Assembly and chieftains of the political parties, as individuals, are playing politics.  Indeed,  parties in the imbroglio have remained adamant and not ready to shift grounds. They each want their will to be done, not giving room to any concession. As they fight, the business of lawmaking, the primary function of the federal lawmakers, suffers. And as lawmaking and other functions of the legislature suffer, the business of governance also lags behind.

Yes, in the Senate, the Bukola Saraki faction would not hear of conceding any position to the Ahmad Lawan faction. For the group, the winner takes it all. This is why the group rejected the proposal by the leadership of the APC that Senator Lawan and others so chosen by the party should become Senate Majority Leader, Chief Whip and others, for instance. Also, in the House of Representatives, the Yakubu Dogara group would not want the Femi Gbajabiamila group to be relevant. This explains why the group rejected the suggestion that Gbajabiamila should be House Majority Leader, as proposed by the APC. Who would blame the Saraki and Dogara groups? It’s only a political naïve individual, who would want his enemy to occupy a powerful position in his government.

The way things are, the foundation for a constant bitterness, acrimony and muscle flexing in the National Assembly has been laid. In a situation like this, there won’t be progress. Now the Senate is on recess and will not resume until July ending. That a Senate inaugurated on June 9 has gone on one month holiday is something to worry about. And that members of the House of Representatives exchanged blows at plenary is something that should make discernible minds to shed tears. When lawmakers, who are members of an arm of the Federal Government are fighting and, therefore, not functioning in their offices, there is no way things will move. This is why I am surprised that the APC is not showing leadership in the crisis.

It’s shocking that the APC is fixated in what it wants in the National Assembly and doesn’t seems to mind the consequences of its action. I have wondered when the APC will learn its lesson. The party anointed Senator Lawan for the post of Senate President. It also nominated Gbajabiamila as Speaker. Senators  and House members rejected the two nominations and instead elected Saraki and Dogara as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively. Again, the APC nominated Lawan for Senate Leader and Gbajabiamila for House Leader. And again, senators and House members rejected them. And we hear that the APC has vowed to effect changes in Senate and House of Representatives leadership at all costs. Pray, why is APC fixated about Lawan and Gbajabiamila?

Well, if APC makes good its threat and gets Saraki and Dogara removed, it may just be, knowingly or unknowingly, sowing a seed of constant change of leadership in the National Assembly, as it happened between 1999 and 2003 in the Senate. Yes, when the Senate suffered endless change of leadership, people may have thought that it was the problem of Igbo men, as the post of Senate President was zoned to the South East. At that time, there were four Senate Presidents in four years. There were Senator Evan Enwerem, Adolphus Wabara, Chuba Okadigbo and Pius Anyim Pius as Senate Presidents in four years. The frequent changes in the leadership of the Senate at that time was simply as a result of imposition. Senator Enwerem was the choice of the PDP and elements in the Presidency.  He could not last long on the job. Wabara was also the choice of the party and did not last long. Okadigbo, who was senators’ choice did not last long also because forces in the Presidency were against him. If APC succeeds in removing Saraki and Dogara, who says that the supporters of this duo would not also give those who would succeed them hell and early impeachment? And when removal of leadership begins, nobody knows if it will ever end.

As APC National Working Committee (NWC) meets today, the party should sane itself. The party should take measures to arrest the leadership crisis in the National Assembly.  I expect the party to accept the fact that the National Assembly has spoken on its choice of leadership. The party should emulate President Muhammadu Buhari, who said that although he would have wished National Assembly members respected the choice of APC, he recognised that a democratic process took place in the National Assembly. Saraki, Lawan, Dogara, Gbajabiamila are all APC members. When children of same parents are fighting, the onus is on the parents to mediate. This is what I expect from APC.

For Buhari to do his job as president, he needs the support of the APC. He also needs the full support of the National Assembly. Also, he needs the support of the judiciary. If the crisis in the National Assembly festers, Buhari may not attain his goal. A Senate in crisis will not be able to screen and approve ministers. A Senate and House of Representatives in crisis will not make laws for the good governance of the country.

Nigerian must enjoy the full benefit of the government. That’s what they voted for on March 28, 2015. For an intra-party crisis to deny them this, will be most unfair.


Re: Some states will be broke for obvious reasons

Our leaders are not good managers

Your article is nothing but the home truth. The slide in oil price has shown that our rulers are unfit managers. One of the governors, because he was a commissioner in Lagos, imported Lagos ideas to his state, building overhead bridges where they are not needed and worse still created additional local government areas, about 28 of them. He owes workers and pensioners for eight months.

Femi, Ibadan. – 08067236310

Thank you for your article on “Some states will be broke for obvious reasons.” Who is fooling who? I am only sorry for the poor workers. Keep it up.

– Okoli, in Ekwulobia, Anambra. 08066423259

Your article on states being broke was on point. The waste in the states is sickening. Most governors have lost touch with the governed. Corruption is not only when you take state money by false invoice but it actually includes such criminal profligacy as private jets hire or purchase and provision of over-invoiced computers.

–Willie Iweama, 08033217940

Most APC states are owing salaries

The states, especially in South West, that are owing workers’ for months, are governed by APC, the same party that is promising Nigerians a change. A change to what? Economic dungeon? If the graphic detail stated in your piece is what state governors spend their revenues on, then Nigeria is economically doomed for many more decades to come. A situation where state governors are not compelled, by the constitution to submit annual reports of their financial activities to any monitoring body to checkmate their excess, would obviously give them a lee way to operate senseless management of resources.

Lai Ashadele, 07067677806

Office abusers should be jailed

Until abuse of office, as you rightly pointed out, is matched with long jail term or even public execution, Buhari’s change will just be a fluke.

Nwozaku Alpho, 08034056820

Governors are present day Pharisees

Governors today are born again liars. They are not sincere to the people. They spend state allocation on billboard, newspaper adverts, etc., as against meaningful projects that will benefit the public. Our governors are the present Pharisees and Sadducees we read in the Bible today. 

      – Anyanwu, Lagos. 08056122539

What Ikpeazu must do

As the newly governors are telling their citizens of debts they inherited from the past governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu should not hesitate to tell Abians how much debts he inherited from the past government. Abians will hold him responsible if he fails to deliver good governance. It is better he opens up on empty treasury he met, so that people will know what the past government did. We all believe that the immediate past government left nothing in the state treasury since Abia is one of the states owing workers. As a way forward, Ikpeazu should reduce cost of governance by cutting political appointees and do away the never-do-well politicians. – Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia,  07084644222

Thanks for your article. Some of the states that owe salaries can, at least, show some projects. But in Abia, non-indigenes were sacked, there was double taxation, no road and no electricity, while former Governor T.A. Orji and his son, Chinedu, spent money as if they were the ones minting it.

– JKU, Isuikwuato, Abia state. 08032910874

Why there must be empty treasury

Why won’t Nigeria’s new leaders continue to meet empty treasury when we always allow ex-governors to jump from office to National Assembly without first of all giving account of their past leadership?

– Romanus Idiroko, 08057907482

Re: APC stung by bees that swarm around PDP

APC lacks cohesion

APC lacks cohesion. APC used Boko Haram to grab power, which they cannot manage. Had they allowed Goodluck Jonathan complete his second tenure that could have been the best to have happen to Nigeria. 08179754198

Nemesis catches up with them

Your article struck the bull’s eye. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and others participated to frustrate PDP zoning formula in the National Assembly in 2011. Now, nemesis has caught up with them as they have suffered the same fate. Don’t mind them. APC leaders to try imposing House leaders is injustice. They are trying to protect their parochial interests. Your article is a scholastic journalism and superb.


APC must correct its mistake

Why should APC senators work with PDP in National Assembly to elect deputy Senate President? In time of PDP, they didn’t allow oppositions to get key position in National Assembly. Why should APC give PDP opportunity to serve again after 16 years of waste in  National Assembly? APC should rally around and correct their mistakes before it consumes them.

Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia. 07084644222

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Some states will be broke for obvious reasons! Fri, 19 Jun 2015 01:34:08 +0000 It was pathetic listening to governors the other day talking about the economic crunch that has ravaged their states. Speaking under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors ]]>

It was pathetic listening to governors the other day talking about the economic crunch that has ravaged their states. Speaking under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors Forum, they lamented their inability to pay salaries and meet other obligations, declaring that they would meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and seek the Federal Government’s help, in form of bailout. The governors suggested an ingenious way the Federal Government could help them. According to them, they would be obliged if the Federal Government could consider refunding states money they spent on federal projects across the country.

Governor of Zamfara State and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Alhaji Abdullazeez Yari, speaking on behalf of the 36 governors, had stated that the country’s  economy was, indeed,  in bad shape, which accounts for the tragedy of some states owing salaries. He offered what the governors considered a temporary solution or what could give them some momentary relief. Yari stated: “We all know that the economy of the country is in bad shape. So, what we suggested is that a number of state governors have executed various projects for the Federal Government. So, instead of looking for that, let us look for the Federal Government to settle that backlog for us so that we can move forward. Nearly all the states; you can have N10 billion, N20 billion, like Lagos more than N50 billion federal projects that is not yet settled. So, if we can get that done, then most of the issues can be resolved in earnest.”

The governors said they were not the only ones suffering economic downturn, as the Federal Government is also affected. “So, it’s the problem of the entire nation, not only states,” Yari said, adding:  “We are going to work in synergy to cross our fingers, meet with the president so that we can get a lasting solution to this problem.”

Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, also speaking, underlined the enormity of the situation, as he declared: “The country is bankrupt, not just the state. The Federal Government finance is even worse in reality to the state, considering that they borrowed over four trillion naira. The entire fund for pension scheme has been drawn down by the Federal Government. It is because they borrow at will that you can seem to see that they are also bankrupt. So, when we talk of bankruptcy, we should be talking about serious national economic crisis not limited to states.”

The governors are right that bad economy is not only affecting states. The Federal Government is bleeding. Nigerians, as individuals, are also affected, as most breadwinners are finding it difficult to make ends meet. Nigerian families are in dire strait, with many not able to afford three square meals. Indeed, some families are going hungry, in the face of dwindling income, unemployment and bad businesses. Therefore, governors are not crying wolf where there is none. When 18 states, including Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Cross River, Ekiti, Imo, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers and Zamfara are owing workers many months salary arrears, it is nothing but economic meltdown, and when the Federal Government is borrowing money to pay workers, we need no angel to tell us that there is fire on the mountain. Also, when families are finding it difficult to survive, it is obvious that the country is in real trouble.

It’s easy to blame the economic downturn in the country on the crash in the price of crude oil globally. Yes, when a barrel of crude oil sell at all time low, it could only mean one thing for countries that solely rely of revenue from oil, as Nigeria: Bad news. With low crude oil price, revenue for the country would be low. And with this, government would find it difficult to meet its financial obligations. Agreed! However, nobody would also deny the fact that the economy has been mismanaged, both at the federal and state levels, which has also, caused the economic problem being experienced. And added to this, corruption has pierced the heart of the economy with a long knife.

In the face of all these, therefore, the pertinent question is: Why is it that some states are not owing salaries? Why is it that out of 36 states, only 18 are not able to pay salaries, while 18 others are meeting their obligations to workers? My one answer to these questions is this: The management of resources, lifestyle and fiscal discipline of those who call the shots in Nigeria’s Government Houses have something to do with the state of the states’ economy.  Looking at the way most governors operate, there is no way their states will not be in economic mess. The poor state of their economy has nothing to do with the number, cost or quality of projects they execute. It has nothing to do with how much they get from the Federation Account every month. It has nothing to do with the size of the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). The issue is how the money they have is being spent.

Some governors are wasteful, ostentatious and lacking in prudence. And, therefore, some states must be broke.  Most of the governors, for instance, charter private planes and helicopters any time they travel to any state or city in the country that has an airport. In doing this, such governors  burn the resources of their states. Other governors acquire private jets and helicopters for their states and misuse them. For a governor to charter a private jet, for one hour trip, I understand, it costs about N7 million, one way. And if the plane will return to bring the governor back, it’s another  N7 million. But if the plane will wait, it will be N7 million, plus extra charges for the idle time the jet will be on ground waiting. Governors who own private jets pay not less than N4 million at any airport the plane lands. And they pay parking charges at the airport daily for such private plane as well as pay the crew, among other expenses. It also costs millions of naira to charter or maintain helicopters. Now, tell me, why won’t any state whose governor is in the habit of traveling in chartered jets or helicopter owe salary, considering the number times governors leave their states?

Apart from this, most governors have over-bloated personal staff and aides. There was a case of a former governors, among those that left office last month, who had more than 700 special advisers and assistants at a time. This was in addition to commissioners in his states. And these advisers and assistants also had their personal aides paid by government. With such large personal aides of governors, who are paid salaries, allowances and estacode when they travel abroad, why would such a state not owe salary? Of course, most governors are guilty of this. Most of them have special advisers and assistants on mundane things, just to create jobs for the boys. And the states’ treasury bleeds over this.

If you go to some states, you cannot but weep over how money is being wasted. In many states, the cost of running Government Houses is very high. I have been privileged to visit many Government Houses across the country. In most of them, champagne and choice expensive wines are drunk like water. There are also daily informal social parties for retinue of friends and associates that idle away in such Government Houses. As the state governors and their friends as well as associates make merry, the finances of the states suffer.

As the governors are complaining over funds, they should tell us how much they collect as security votes. If a large chunk of the states’ resources is taken away as security vote, which is not accounted for, surely the state finances will suffer.

Do you now see why some states in the country are meeting their obligations to workers and also executing projects? This tells a story of management of resources. Some governors should take tutorials from such people as former Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, and ex-Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema. For eight years, Obi ran Anambra without borrowing a dime from any bank. In the eight years, he made investments for the state, running into millions of dollars. He also gave money to churches, running into billions of naira for the running of schools up to the last minute of his administration. Also, Shema did not borrow money in the eight years he was in office. He was able to execute big projects and paid workers till the end.

If the Obis and Shemas could run their states without owing salaries, meeting their obligations and executing projects, it  means that states could really not be broke, even in the face of dwindling revenue.

Re: APC stung by bees that swarm around PDP

I was inspired

I was inspired by your article. Leadership of National Assembly is the job of the members. Abiodun, 08060112447.

APC should have known this

APC should have known that the rain that falls on bitter leaf and makes it bitter is the same rain that falls on sugarcane and makes it sweet. The recycled party, in my opinion, does not have anything new or different to offer Nigerians. The chorused ‘change’ was only a mirage aimed at deleting Goodluck Jonathan. But Buhari as an individual might have something unique, which explains his resolve to work with Saraki and Dogara against APC’s wish. Moreover, if Buhari wishes to make a difference, he should get glued to his inaugural speech of, “I belong to every body and to nobody.” 07034491724

I agree with you

Tell them truth. Human beings can make calculations and projections., but God is the decider. I agree with you. Abuo Eroh, 08092958028.

PDP will return to power

The election of Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President shows that the God of the Igbo is no asleep.  With what happened in the APC, I want to predict that after President Buhari’s four years, if he is not ready to contest second term, PDP will take over if they present a good Hausa man who is trusted, If this is done,  all those that rushed to APC will rush back, Ugoo Onuoha, 08034637271.

Who do we believe?

APC got political power it fought so hard for, but it appears the party doesn’t know what to do with it. How can Lai Mohammed tell us that APC does not recognise Saraki and Dogara, only for Oyegun to tell us that the party has accepted them? Who between the chairman and publicity secretary of APC do we believe now? Sam Igbokwe, Aba. 08036655345.


Godfather politics should go

The result really showed PDP as father to APC in political dirty games. It was in tandem with a Yoruba adage: “Father monkey was a child monkey before.” However, PDP’s victory was positive because it gave the constitutional right of senators and elected House of Reps members to elect their leaders. APC is not a political party but a personal property of a few selected leaders who have, over the years, dominated their states doing what they liked with states’ treasury. Those who tumbled APC’s dirty plot, at that National Assembly leadership election, should be commended for their foresight. Godfatherism in Nigerian politics should go. Lai Ashadele. 07067677806

APC must correct its mistake

Why should APC senators work with PDP in National Assembly to elects deputy Senate President? In time of PDP, they didn’t allow oppositions to get key position in National Assembly. Why should APC give PDP opportunity to serve again after 16 years of waste in  National Assembly? APC should rally around and correct their mistakes before it consumes them.

Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia. 07084644222

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APC stung by bees that swarm around PDP Fri, 12 Jun 2015 04:09:55 +0000 It’s no exaggeration to say that one of the problems of Nigeria is that history keeps repeating itself.]]>

It’s no exaggeration to say that one of the problems of Nigeria is that history keeps repeating itself. Funny enough, it’s bad history that is always repeated. Indeed, successive Nigerian leaders, in government and corporate institutions, have always failed to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors and others and, therefore, do the same wrong thing. And this has left the country in a vicious circle of mistakes, some of which are avoidable, if lessons are learnt. As it’s with individuals, so it’s with institutions also.

Four years ago, the House of Representatives was embroiled in crisis over the selection of a Speaker. At that time, the political party in power, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whose member was to occupy the position of Speaker, had figuratively played god. The PDP had decreed that the position of Speaker had been zoned to the South West. It also endorsed Hon. Mulikat Akande to occupy the position. Despite this PDP directive, then Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, now Governor of Sokoto State, with the backing of the majority of the lawmakers, joined the race and chose Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, as his sparing partner or running mate. In the contest, Hon. Akande stood a chance. Tambuwal was voted as Speaker and Ihedioha, Deputy Speaker. And the House of Representatives, on that score, affirmed its independence, telling the PDP and the Executive/Presidency, which supported the zoning and imposition of a candidate for Speaker, to go to hell.  Nigerians waited for the sanctions PDP promised those who defied its order. The punishment never came.

In that Speakership saga of 2011, the opposition party served as the arrowhead in the rebellion against the PDP and the Presidency. The opposition provided the guillotine with which the head of PDP was chopped off. This demystification and disgrace of the PDP at the House of Representatives did serve as the beginning of the end of the political party. With that defeat, PDP exposed itself as vulnerable and not invincible. With that, politicians knew that the PDP could be taken on and defeated. And they did take PDP on, which, in one way or another, contributed to the party’s loss of power last March.

Now, four years after, who could have believed that the All Progressives Congress (APC), which came to power on the mantra of “change,” could make the same mistake? Repeating history, the APC did choose those who would be Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives. And it did order its members in the National Assembly to vote for them. The irony is that an APC, which criticised the PDP in 2011 for trying to impose a leader on the House of Representatives, is the one that chose Alhaji Ahmed Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as the preferred candidates for Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives. Like PDP in 2011, APC played god, ordering its members in the National Assembly to line behind those it had so anointed and imposed on them. But just as it happened four years ago, the National Assembly members said no to such imposition of candidates. Senator Bukola Saraki, from Kwara State, got elected as Senate President, while Hon. Yakubu Dogara, from Bauchi State emerged as Speaker, House of Representatives. And the surprise of the century is that the distinguished Senator Ike Ekweremadu, a member of the PDP, was elected as Deputy Senate President, in a Senate that has APC members as the majority.

What I said in 2011, when members of the House of Representatives ignored the orders of PDP and elected Tambuwal as Speaker, is what I will repeat here, in 2015: Members of the National Assembly were right in rejecting imposition of leadership. Indeed,  what happened at the National Assembly is a step in the right direction. By rejecting and resisting imposition of candidate, federal lawmakers have underlined their determination to be independent. They have passed as vote of no confidence in APC. They have demonstrated that they, as legislators, are ready to function in their offices, independent of external interference, in the spirit of separation of power.

I must say that it’s surprising that the APC, which criticised  everything that the PDP did while in control of the Federal Government, is now guilty of the same sins. Where is then the change that APC promised Nigeria? If APC would impose candidates for Senate President and Speaker and ordered its senators and representatives to support the choice, against their will, what’s then the difference between APC and PDP? Yes, if APC will threaten senators and representatives with punishment for votingaccording to their conscience, in the choice of Senate President  and Speaker, House of Representatives, what is the difference between it and PDP? Besides, where’s the place of justice, equity and fairness, when APC wanted to have a Senate President (Lawan) from North-East, Deputy Senate President (George Akume) from North-Central and Speaker from South West, in a country that already has a President (Muhammadu Buhari) from North-West and Vice President (Yemi Osinbajo) from South West? In such setting, power is overtly concentrated in North and South West, to the total exclusion of South East and South South. Perhaps, if APC wanted to be fair, it could have zoned Speaker, House of Representatives to South South, where there are ranking representatives, since the South East does not have returning representatives of senators. But the party leaders and godfathers will not have any of this. They would rather concentrate power in zones that already have a share and give no damn.

I find it really funny that the APC is shouting wolf, owing to the rebellion in the National Assembly. This is a political party, made up of elements, which supported the same rebellion in the House of Representatives four years ago. To be sure, members of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), who are now part of APC, gave impetus to the anti-Akande movement in the House of Representatives and, therefore, brought Tambuwal to power as Speaker. Now the APC, having got a taste of its bitter medicine, at a time when PDP members supported Saraki and Dogara to thwart its imposition project, is shouting sabotage and treachery. Perhaps, APC never reckoned that a day like last Tuesday, June 9, 2015 would ever come when justice would be served. Now justice, or is it injustice, has gone round. The bees that stung PDP are now swarming around APC.

Reading Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s press statement, expressing the APC frustration about Saraki and Dogara’s victory at the National Assembly makes one to wonder if the party actually thinks that democracy is dictatorship. APC had stated: “The All Progressives Congress (APC) has described as totally unacceptable and the highest level of indiscipline and treachery the conduct of Tuesday’s inauguration of the National Assembly that led to the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara, as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively.

“Senator Bukola and Hon. Dogara are not the candidates of the APC and a majority of its National Assembly members-elect for the positions of Senate President and House Speaker. The party duly met and conducted a straw poll and clear candidates emerged for the posts of Senate President, Deputy Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, supported by a majority of all Senators-elect and members-elect of the House of Representatives. All National Assembly members-elect who emerged on the platform of the party are bound by that decision.

“The party is superior to that of its individual members. Consequently, the APC leadership is meeting in a bid to re-establish discipline in the party and to mete out the necessary sanctions to all those involved in what is nothing but a monumental act of indiscipline and betrayal to subject the party to ridicule and create obstacles for the new administration.

“APC described a situation in which some people, based on nothing but inordinate ambition and lack of discipline and loyalty, will enter into an unholy alliance with a very same people whom the party and, indeed, the entire county worked hard to replace and sell out the hard won victory of the party.

“There can be no higher level of treachery, disloyalty and insincerity within any party. The party vowed  to resolve the matter using all constitutional and legal means available to it.”

Pray, was Alhaji Mohammad talking for the APC or for a few people in the party, who think that they are the ultimate deciders of what happen, who want things to go their way, in their selfish interest? If this is really the position of APC, then it is rather unfortunate. APC, which encouraged treachery in PDP in 2011 is now crying over the same measure in its fold. Indeed, wonders will never cease. It is obvious that APC is already going the way of the PDP.  What happened to the PDP would definitely happen to it. The APC, party of the progressives, does not want its senators and representatives to make their own choices. The APC, the puritan, wants to sanction people who exercised their franchise in a democracy. The APC is now arrogating to itself the power to decide what its members must do. The APC wants to be the legendry emperor, whose word must be law. I am waiting for the sanctions APC promised against Saraki, Dogara and others who ensured that its anti-democracy move failed. However, if there is anybody to punish, it’s APC godfathers, who want to determine who gets what in government, as their intention is not in the interest of the country, but selfish.

Come to think of it, does the APC want us to take it seriously over the theory that it was right to have called its senators-elect to a meeting on the same day that they were to be inaugurated? Does the party want us to take it seriously, in its campaign that the Clerk of the National Assembly should have waited for its members to return from their meeting before the inauguration of the Senate? The APC could as well tell the country to stop because it’s asleep. For the avoidance of doubt, Buhari sent a Proclamation mandate, which empowered the clerk to enforce it at 10am. Why should obedience to constituted authority now be an offence? APC does not have any case. To say the least, the APC is like the man who was dancing an his manhood broke (excuse my usage of this adage from my native Item community). The party has no point whatsoever.

And for those who said that the South East lost out because of its pattern of voting in the last general elections, as, according to them,  the zone would not occupy the numbers one, two, three, four, five, six to 10 positions in the power echelon, I guess they have learnt a lesson from what happened at the Senate. Senator Ekweremadu, an Igbo in PDP, is the number fifth or sixth man in the hierarchy of power in the country. Some may say it was an accident of history, but I call it the hand of God. It’s only God who decides what happens at any point in time. Human beings can make calculations and projections. But God is the decider.

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As President Buhari takes over today… Fri, 29 May 2015 03:51:11 +0000 Today, the baton of leadership at the apex of government in Nigeria will change hands. Henceforth and in the next four years, in the first instance, Nigeria and the world will be hearing of President Muhammadu Buhari. And the slogan: “Sai Baba” or “Sai Buhari” will become the refrain. ]]>

Today, the baton of leadership at the apex of government in Nigeria will change hands. Henceforth and in the next four years, in the first instance, Nigeria and the world will be hearing of  President Muhammadu Buhari. And the slogan: “Sai Baba” or “Sai Buhari” will become the refrain. There will be new helmsmen. There will be new political party in power. And a new political equation will be in place.

Yes, it is the dawn of a new era in Nigeria. A  retired military officer, who contested for the post of president four times, in his determination to lead the country, is mounting the throne. An opposition political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), an amalgam of parties, will become the ruling one, the first time since the advent of democracy in Nigeria. The fight for change in government and leadership is, therefore, complete. And although not everybody may be happy with the turn of events, there is peace in the land.

God is, indeed, a Nigerian. That handover of power from President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to President-elect Muhammadu Buhari of the APC is taking place in Abuja and there is no apprehension or fear is something to celebrate. Knowing that Nigeria could not afford a situation that would threaten life and property, at this time in its history, God took control of the affairs of the country and ensured that His will was done.  From high tension, anxiety and fear that pervaded the country during the electioneering and elections, Nigerians have peace of mind, on a day there is transition from one political party to another. As it’s said in Christendom, it’s the Lord’s doing and marvelous in our sight.

It was obvious that if God did not intervene, Nigeria would have been in serious crisis. The post-election violence that pervaded the country in 2011 is something that nobody would have wished it happened again. This is why, no matter what anyone says, President Jonathan deserves commendation for promptly conceding defeat and, therefore, called Buhari to congratulate him. I have heard some people say that Jonathan had no choice but to do what he did and that whether he conceded defeat or not, he would still have left office. Of course, Jonathan did have a  choice. If he had rejected the results of the presidential election, perhaps, alleging rigging, the country would have been in turmoil. Those who saw  how tension rose when former Niger Delta Minister, Godsday Orubebe, disrupted the release of the presidential election results and pointedly accused the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Atrtahiru Jega, of bias and tribalism, would better appreciate what Jonathan did. The president’s act of sportsmanship, which may be seen as cowardice, did save Nigeria loss of lives and properties as well as possible breakup. This is why Jonathan remains one of the heroes of democracy.

I am, therefore, impressed that Buhari does realise the sacrifice that Jonathan made, which was underlined by what he said when he received the handover notes from the president yesterday. Buhari had said:  “But what I will say is since the telephone call you (Jonathan) made, you have changed the course of Nigeria’s political history. For that, you have earned yourself a place in our history, for stabilising this system of multi-party democracy system and you have earned the respect of not only Nigerians but also world leaders.

“All the leaders that spoke to me and congratulated us for arriving at the point we arrived, mentioned this and I could sense a lot of relief in their voices that Nigeria has made it after all  and this is largely owed to this situation. If you had attempted to make things difficult, you could have made things difficult and that would have been at the expense of lives of poor Nigerians, but you chose the part of honour and may God help all of us. Thank you very much, Your Excellency.”

From the way he spoke, there is nothing that suggests that Buhari was playing politics, as we say in local parlance. He could have spoken from the heart, knowing that election victory in the midst of violence and insecurity amounts to nothing. I had said in past articles that there must be a country before a president. While a country can survive without a president, no president can exist without a country. This is why it is important that those who aspire to one elective position in the country or another and those who find themselves in one position or another should have a sense of responsibility, bearing in mind that Nigeria is the only country we can lay claims to.

Therefore, as Buhari takes over government today, a lot is expected of him. He may not have been voted for by all Nigerians, which is what democracy is about, but he must be the president of all Nigerians. He should be magnanimous in victory. He should ensure fairness, equity and justice, bearing in mind that  all Nigerians are equal, irrespective tribe, creed and tongue. With the elections won and lost, politics should be left for 2019, when there will be another general elections. Now is the time for governance, where all hands must be on deck for the uplift of the country,

For the APC, it should be a responsible ruling party. Its conduct should the devoid of the arrogance that marred the fortunes of the PDP. The political party, as an institution and its members, as individuals,  should serve as a support for the president. The era of propaganda should cease, as propaganda goes with electioneering and not governance. The APC should detach itself from government. It should serve as a check on the activities of the president and the governors elected on its platform. The onus is on APC to ensure that Buhari implements the manifesto/blueprint of the party and, therefore, holds him accountable to it. This is where PDP failed, as the party left itself to become an extension or appendage of the government. This is why past presidents determined who became national  chairmen, how long they stayed in office and what they did. This is why the PDP meetings were held at the Presidential Villa instead of its national secretariat.

Buhari should take measure to arrest the drift in the country. There are many things that are wrong in the country. There is so much wastage in the country and government. The cost of running government is very high. Corruption is endemic. And there is over-reliance on oil, for the revenue of the country. To reduce the cost of government, Buhari must, first of all, cut down of the number of people appointed to various offices. I have always wondered why, in a country that have about 37 ministers, the president also have special advisers and special assistants for portfolios where ministers and ministers of state have been so appointed. The president should reduce the number of these aides. This done, a lot of money would be saved.

At a time when there is fuel crisis, this is the time for Buhari to look at the subsidy regime. Granted that when Jonathan attempted to remove subsidy, hell was let loose, Buhari has no choice but to fully deregulate the petroleum sector and doing away with fuel subsidy. It may not be immediate, but it is something that must be done in the first half of his government. There is no doubt that the subsidy regime is a huge scam and government will do well to arrest this. However, in doing this, the government must ensure that the refineries are working. It is really a shame that an oil producing country as Nigeria imports fuel. The government should give a time frame within which to fix the refineries. If the existing refineries are unserviceable, government should build new ones. With advanced technology, modern-day  refineries are no longer as gigantic as the current ones in the country. They are compact and more efficient. Also, the government should ensure that those who were given licence for refineries build them or suffer forfeiture.

Also, in constituting his cabinet, Buhari should look out for Nigerians who are selfless, focused and have something to offer. I am glad that he had said that no governor would nominate any minister for him, as he would pick his own team.  This is commendable. When governors nominate ministers, it’s more for political patronage and favour than for efficiency. If Buhari is, therefore, picking his men, efficiency and can-do spirit should be his watchword. However, in looking for  technocrats, he should beware of theorists, who paint the pictures of Eldorado on paper but cannot translate it to reality. Of course, there are many theorists in the country, who lack the practical depth that would make the difference. And these theorists are the ones that make the biggest noise. Buhari should take these people for what they are: Theorists, who cannot do anything.

As the new government takes over, it needs everybody’s support. The ruled have a role to play for the success of the government. Law will be made. These laws must be obeyed. Companies should pay taxes. Individuals should pay taxes.  And Nigerians should not willfully destroy government property. Those in government should not waste our commonwealth. When the government and the people play their respective roles, everything will work together for good. This is my message to Buhari, the governors and all Nigerians, on this day that a new government is coming to office.

Dear Buhari Muhammadu, life isn’t a bed of roses


Dear Febuhari like a columnist tagged you, congratulations on your triumph at the Nigerian elections.

He wrote ‘the God of FeBuhari is the God of March’ and you won.

But do not let it get into your head it has happened before in history do not fall victim.

An election made Hitler head of the Nazis then he started doing the wrong thing killing Jews, men women and children like you  and I So dear Buhari Muhammadu, life isn’t a bed of roses do the right thing no matter what don’t bend rules, your principles.

You did well the first time in power don’t let politicians con you into believing this is the way its done in ‘democracy’ Am not done yet Buhari beware of  women of easy  virtue they come in different shapes even married they lead to death remember your man Sani Abacha let me tell you being president of any country will give you access to all manner of desperate women so beware, love your God given wife Beware too of the enemy within that one who comes to make you start laughing even when there is no cause for amusement and when he wants to go he asks you of a favour, says ill of you behind you please beware Julius the Roman emperor was betrayed If MEE May Ellen Ezekiel were alive I would have said make her women affairs minister bless her soul Your style the first time was perfect you took the back seat calling the shots Tunde in front now do the same Wishing you all the best willing to keep advising Amen.

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Enugu: From Ebeano to Gburugburu Fri, 22 May 2015 01:29:55 +0000 Next Friday, as a new government is inaugurated at the centre, in Abuja, with President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, taking the oath of office as well as oath of allegiance and new governors also being sworn in, Enugu]]>

Next Friday, as a new government is inaugurated at the centre, in Abuja, with President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, taking the oath of office as well as oath of allegiance and new governors also being sworn in, Enugu State will, most likely, be the cynosure of all eyes. There is sure going to be excitement, feeling of fulfillment and pride. This will be so not just because a new governor is assuming office. No. It’s because a man in whom many an indigene of the state is well pleased is taking over the reins of government.

Right from the time the race for the Lion Building, as the Enugu Government House is called, started, one candidate stood tall among others. He easily emerged as a consensus candidate, even when other states were still planning how to resolve succession controversies. He was unanimously adopted by people from his zone. He was accepted by other zones in the state. He was embraced by the outgoing government in the state. And he was endorsed by the majority of the ordinary people and the elite.  With this, it was a matter of time that he would clinch the governorship ticket of the ruling party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). I am talking about Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, governor-elect of Enugu State.

Yes,  in this political dispensation, I have not seen many politicians that are loved by their people, as Ugwuanyi. I have been wondering how a former insurance guru became so popular that he appears to be loved almost by all. Months before the time political parties picked their governorship candidates, Ugwuanyi had emerged as consensus candidate in Enugu. I remember last September/October when his Nsukka people, in a stakeholders meeting, presented him as the preferred choice. In the meeting, in which he emerged, other aspirants attended and when a motion was moved for his adoption as consensus candidate, there was no opposition. It was not surprising, therefore, that when some of the aspirants later decided to reject the consensus arrangement, they could not get the people behind them. Everybody had accepted Ugwuanyi, the man they fondly call Gburugburu.

By the manner of his emergence as candidate and victory at the polls, Ugwuanyi has proved to be a popular candidate in Enugu. The way almost everybody in the state embraced him is unprecedented. And the way almost everybody in the state, the elite and ordinary people, worked for his victory at the polls is remarkable. He appears to have a cult following, which makes him one of the few politicians whose election to the post of governor could actually be said to have the support of the majority.

With charm, likeable personality and warmth, Ugwuanyi looks good as the people’s governor. The way ordinary people talk about him shows the kind of impression he has made in them. Seen as a generous, caring and easy-going man, Ugwuanyi, over the years, touched the lives of many, in various ways. He is said to have given financial support to the less-privileged, attended people’s weddings, families’ burial and other ceremonies, as his own way of identifying with the people. This generosity and camaraderie, built over the years, from the time he worked as chief executive of an insurance company, to his years at the National Assembly,  are what set him apart in an election, which turned out to be a walk over.

With the support Ugwuanyi is coming to office, it looks that his will be a popular government. As people hail him Gburugburu, wherever he goes in the state, I remember the years of Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, as governor, from 1999-2007. During the eight years tenure of Nnamani, Ebeano (where we are) became a slogan in Enugu. People hailed Nnamani as Ebeano, to the extent that when anybody said Ebeano, you knew he was talking about Nnamani. Also handsome and charismatic, Nnamani was loved by many. His sign-off phrase, “To God be the glory” became almost an anthem in Enugu and across the country. And his lecture series wowed many, as he coined “dividends of democracy,” which is now a cliché to describe government works, so to say, in Nigeria.

Love him or hate him, the Nnamani years in Enugu cannot be wished away. His Ebeano movement did make an impact. Today, most of those who are leaders of the state are his creation. Nnamani came and decided to create new leaders in Enugu. He took young boys, who had no known “surnames” and transformed them to  leaders. Those unknown young boys, prior to 1999, are the ones calling the shots in Enugu and for the state. Of course, the elite, who felt that leadership should start and end in their families, did not like the Nnamani audacity. And they did fight back, which was one of the major problems the medical doctor-turned politician had. However, Nnamani did his best and bowed out. Despite the fact that some of those he made abandoned him and actually became his nemesis, nobody will ever forget his contributions in the politics of Enugu.

In Ugwuanyi government, I see the chant of Gburugburu becoming a state anthem. I see a popular governor, who many would identify with. I see a recreation of the Nnamani years, not in terms of the controversies, but in the area of mobilising people. However, the incoming Enugu governor should not be carried away by the seeming support and love by all. My fear is that people usually take advantage of leaders like Ugwuanyi.  He should, therefore, learn from Nnamani, who made many people and was later presented as a villain. He should work to meet the people’s expectation, shun sycophants and praise-singers, who are mere pretenders.

At a time Igbo are trying to build new leaders, Ugwuanyi needs everybody’s prayers and support. He needs everybody in Enugu to succeed and all Igbo to be relevant in the national politics.

Re: 2015 polls: This gratuitous insult of Igbo

We’ve right to self-existence

What is the hue and noise of Igbo and PDP about? Don’t people have the right to self-existence and determination? The tribes that voted for APC, are they better than the Igbo? I think enough is enough of this petty weeping of sentiment. Now, APC has won, what about it?   Chinwendu, Enugu. 08176829531


Igbo did as others 

Yes, the South-east voted for PDP just the same way the North-west voted for APC, but we were even more rational, as PDP controls three states in the South-east while APC controls almost all the states in the two northern states mentioned above. Who is fooling who?

Nnamdi, Abuja. 08050857546


What made PDP Igbo party?

From your write up, it seems Igbo are now undertakers. Tell us what made PDP Igbo party. Do you want us believe Goodluck Jonathan is an Igbo candidate, as Buhari/Osinbanjo are Hausa/Yoruba candidates? We Igbo have the right to vote our choice but for APC to get only three representatives out of five states makes us look like a people that lack focus. The more you defend it the more some of us get annoyed. Okoroji, 08034053634


Can they do for Igbo  what we do for others?

It is only a blind man and a small mind, a man that is always defeated by many challenges that can say such things against the all-conquering Igbo. Can they do for the Igbo what Igbo have done for them? Small minds think that 2015 elections are the end of the world. Igbo are universal.

C. Ok, Owerri, 08033263892


Opposition will bring our best out

Thank you for your article of May 8. You captured it well. Being in the opposition will bring out the best in our people. We prosper more under challenges.    08058149336


Good hand will be used

Let your mind be at rest. APC government is on rescue mission. Whosoever is needed to put this nation on the path of development and progress will be used irrespective of his political affiliation or region. Buhari has a great work to do.

Chief J. J. Ibeka, Lagos, 08182242380


Igbo owe nobody apology

I commend you for your article and I totally concur with your reasoning and conclusion. The Igbo voted for the party and candidate of their choice and, therefore, owe no one any apology for doing so. Neither of the two leading presidential candidates was Igbo, ditto two leading gubernatorial candidates in Lagos State, yet the Igbo people are singled out for attack for voting according to their conscience.   

 Nnabuike Edechime, Barrister-at-Law, Vice President, Aka Ikenga; 08033201173


Why are Igbo shouting marginalisation?

It will be a privilege to argue the facts with you, with respect to your piece in an impending essay. Suffice to ask what the Igbo “stood firm” for by voting Goodluck Jonathan unlike others who “betrayed him” (according to you)? Just to show a “real man?” Similarly, if as you aver: “It is not only when an Igbo man occupies one of topmost offices that South-easterners would benefit from government at centre,” why are Ohanaeze and Ndigbo shouting marginalisation and hell-bent on rotational presidency?           Tiko.


Yoruba least qualified to talk of Igbo voting

Yoruba are the least qualified to talk of Igbo voting for the opposition. Until PDP came to their rescue by foisting Olusegun Obasanjo on Nigeria, the Yoruba sheepishly followed Obafemi Awolowo in perpetual opposition. What is the sudden interest in Igbo after their Oba of Lagos display of phobia. I agree with you. The Igbo have nothing to lose at all. They are Nigerians, like any other.

Osas Uwaifo, Benin city. 08180473336


Behold Yoruba heroes

Thank you for defending our voting pattern. It is not a crime to be in the opposition. The Yoruba heroes are Ebenezer Babatope, Bode George, Ayo Fayose, Richard Akinjide, Iyiola Omisore, Ogunewe and Fatusi, among others. Thank you once again.      

           Dr. Ken Ezugwu. 08096018895


Igbo miscalculated

I do not share your defence of the Igbo voting pattern. The Yoruba stick to an opposition party and use it as a platform to align or negotiate for political position/power sharing deal in an open manner. On the other hand, the Igbo could not forge any formidable front, either in APGA or PDP. What you have was a coalition of personal interest with no articulate agenda to canvas for an Igbo Presidency. They aligned with the dubious self-serving agenda of the Goodluck Jonathan cabal with no clear understanding of power sharing arrangement. The North and South West aren’t naïve to politics and so took advantage of this. The Igbo certainly miscalculated and extended their chances by another 16 years. You guys are reading things differently. 

          A. Abba, Kaduna. 08036465434

Re: APC and the politics of next Senate President

Keep your advice 

Why are you crying more than the bereaved? Who are you to now offer APC advice on how to pick Senate President? Nigerian media, NBA, NLC and Nigerians should seriously campaign against jumping from office to National Assembly by our ex-governors and co without first of all giving account of their stewardship and be probed. It is deceitful and wicked to do so! And government at all levels should stop giving appointment to anybody who fails election. All these are manipulation of morality and justice, and above all playing in Nigerians’ collective intelligence. Romanus Ndehigwo, Idiroko, Ogun State, 08057123287       

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I do sympathise with Buhari Fri, 15 May 2015 01:07:06 +0000 Two Fridays away, on May 29, 2015, President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, will take the oath of office and be sworn in as president of the federal republic. As a man, who persistently sought to be president, to the extent that he ]]>

Two Fridays away, on May 29, 2015, President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, will take the oath of office and be sworn in as president of the federal republic.  As a man, who persistently sought to be president, to the extent that he contested for the office four times, before clinching it, some people may say this to Buhari: Since you begged and begged for the head of a cow and got it, what will you do with its jaw? This is a natural question, as everybody is expectant, waiting to see what a President Buhari would do. For me, I will say to Buhari, from May 29: Now govern, Mr. President. You asked for it. Now you have it.

No doubt, with President Buhari, from May 29, it will be a new dawn and an entirely new era in Nigerian governance. Things will certainly be done differently, for better or for worse. Programmes may be different, as the All Progressives Congress (APC), which would become the “governing party,” as Buhari said, and not “ruling party,” has a different manifesto. Style of governance will be different. And result will be also be different. This is what change is all about, isn’t it?

However, in the midst of the euphoria over Buhari’s victory and his mounting of the saddle on May 29, one cannot help but sympathise with the incoming president. This is so because the expectations from Nigerians are high. Many a Nigerian sees Buhari as the Nigerian messiah, who could, perhaps, with a snap of the fingers make things to happen. The way things are, nobody would be surprised that there are many, for instance, unhappy with the power sector, who think that Buhari could just say: Let there be light and there will be light. There are also others who may think that with the talks about corruption war, Buhari could, with a stroke of the pen, stamp out corruption in the society. And there are yet others, who may think that exchange rate would just turn around as soon as Buhari assumes office or that all the bad roads will become good overnight. Of course, these people would start judging Buhari as soon as he takes the oath of office, and as typical Nigerians, who behave like the proverbial tortoise that spent seven days in a pit toilet without saying anything, but started shouting that the stench was too much when people were trying to bring him out, they will run out of patient.

With such high expectation, I would not be surprised if the incoming Buhari government becomes unpopular sooner than later. The government could become unpopular because of two things: One, as a reformist government, decisions/actions are most likely not to be favourable to the masses, in the short run. Two, change will not come as fast as people want it. For one, where Nigerians are expecting quick action, the government will follow due process, which could delay result. Not in government, the ordinary Nigerians may not appreciate the fact that things do not just happen in democracy, as procedure must be followed, which could cause delay. They may not appreciate the dynamism of governance, where the idiosyncrasies of the actors in the executive, legislature and judiciary will be at play. These are factors that could impede whatever Buhari wants to do to better the lot of Nigerians.

Apart from this, Buhari does need our sympathy because he is coming to government at a time when the odds are high. First, the price of oil is low. Second, he is coming to government when there’s a huge debt profile. Third, Buhari is coming to government, in a democracy, where things must be done according to the provisions and dictates of the constitution. Yes, in the last couple months, the price of oil has been tumbling. The implication of this is that government’s earnings have drastically dropped. With this, there will be paucity of funds needed to run government. So, the headache of the Buhari government, from day one, will be how to finance itself, pay salaries, maintain overhead and finance capital projects. Also, from May 29, Buhari will be at the mercy of the constitution and he cannot do anything outside the provisions of the constitution, as amended, as doing so would be an impeachable offence.

I have heard of Buhari’s plan to reduce the number of ministers he would appoint. If this is true, I wonder if the president-elect has read the provisions of the constitution, as it concerns the appointment of ministers. If he has, he would understand that it’s not possible to reduce the number of ministers, unless the constitution is amended and the provisions changed. For the avoidance of doubt, no president of Nigeria can appoint less than 36 ministers, as the constitution provides that each state must produce a minister. Section 14 (3) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, said: “The composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few state or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.” In Section 147 (3), the constitution says: “Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution: Provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid, the President shall appoint, at least, one minister from each state, who shall be an indigene of such state.”

Now, do you see why I sympathise with Buhari? Where he would want to reduce the number of ministers, in his apparent bid to cut cost, the  constitution does not allow him to have anything less than 36 ministers, as each state must have, at least, one minister. This is notwithstanding the fact that there are about 19 federal ministries.

I do sympathy with Buhari, as he will have to contend with the shenanigans of politicians. When he assumes office, the president-elect will be under immense pressure from those who, contributed in one way or another, to his victory. These benefactors will make demands. They will employ subterfuge. They will employ blackmail. They will arm-twist, to get what they want. Already, the Lords of APC are fighting one another. These powers-that-be are already trying to stop one another from being noticed by Buhari, with the view to ensuring that appointments are not extended. When Buhari favours one camp and disfavours the other, bad blood will be created. The outcome and consequences of this cannot be known until they play out.

I am persuaded that Buhari knows this. This could have informed his declaration recently. Speaking while receiving  a group, Buhari had appealed to Nigerians to exercise patience with his incoming government. He had stated: “The expectation is too high and I have started nervously to explain to people that Rome was not built in a day.”

Listing the problems he would face, he said: “Now, we have invariably inherited all the problems, especially in the North East. I am sure that you have heard or seen the children recovered from Sambisa forest. Only the children and women are remaining while all the able bodied have been gotten rid of somehow. Some have been taken to as far as Adamawa State to be resettled. A generation has been denied education and health care, infrastructure has gone.”

Continuing, he said: “You can imagine what is happening in the high sea where up to 400,000 barrels of crude oil, which we rely on is stolen everyday with the full cooperation of those who are supposed to protect it. The fuel price has gone down and 90 per cent of foreign exchange we rely on come from that.”

Well, the high expectation Buhari is talking about did not just come. The campaign promises did raise Nigerians’ hope. The APC made Nigerians to believe that it was coming to solve all the problems of the country, perhaps, in one fell swoop. Nigerians are going to hold the party by its words. Therefore, the high expectation is not misplaced.

Well, I think Buhari needs our prayers. The task before him is daunting. He needs the cooperation and support of everybody, irrespective of creed, tribe and political affiliation. Indeed, apart from fighting corruption, fixing the economy and infrastructure, the most important assignment for Buhari is to unite the country. At present, Nigeria is polarised along religion and ethnic lines. No matter how we pretend, this is what is staring us in the face. The voting pattern in the last elections showed this. All the northern states voted Buhari, while all the South-eastern and South-southern states voted President Goodluck Jonathan. The South West was divided between Buhari and Jonathan. And the South East is still being reprimanded for voting the Peoples Democratic party (PDP).

Buhari’s task, therefore, is to cause the unity of Nigerians. He should make Nigerians realise that with elections over, politics has ended and all hands must be on deck in governance. He should carry everybody along and be magnanimous in victory, while being steadfast in his programmes and objectives. Discrimination over voting pattern will certainly, not cause unity.

Re: 2015 polls: This gratuitous insult of Igbo 


Opposition will bring our best out 

Thank you for your article of May 8. You captured it well. Being in the opposition will bring out the best in our people. We prosper more under challenges.         08058149336


Good hand will be used

Let your mind be at rest. APC government is on rescue mission. Whosoever is needed to put this nation on the path of development and progress will be used, irrespective of his political affiliation or region. Buhari has a great work to do.

Chief J. J. Ibeka, Lagos. 08182242380


Igbo owe nobody apology

I commend you for your article and I totally concur with your reasoning and conclusion. The Igbo voted for the party and candidate of their choice and, therefore, owe no one any apology for doing so. Neither of the two leading presidential candidates was Igbo, ditto two leading gubernatorial candidates in Lagos State, yet the Igbo people are singled out for attack for voting according to their conscience. Nnabuike Edechime, Barrister-at-Law, Vice President, Aka Ikenga; 08033201173


Why are Igbo shouting marginalisation?

It will be a privilege to argue the facts with you, with respect to your piece in an impending essay. Suffice to ask what the Igbo “stood firm” for by voting Goodluck Jonathan unlike others who “betrayed him” (according to you)? Just to show a “real man?” Similarly, if as you aver: “it is not only when an Igbo man occupies one of topmost offices that South-easterners would benefit from government at centre,” why are Ohanaeze and Ndigbo shouting marginalisation and hell-bent on rotational presidency? Tiko


Igbo did what others did

Yes, the South East voted for PDP just the same way the North West voted for APC, but we were even more rational, as PDP controls three states in the South East while APC controls almost all the states in the two northern states mentioned above. Who is fooling who? Nnamdi, Abuja. 08050857546


What made PDP Igbo party?

From your write up, it seems Igbo are now undertakers. Tell us what made PDP Igbo party. Do you want us to believe Goodluck Jonathan is an Igbo candidate, as Buhari/Osibanjo are Hausa/Yoruba candidates? We Igbo have the right to vote our choice but for APC to get only three representatives out of five states makes us look like a people that lack focus. The more you defend it, the more some of us get annoyed.      Okoroji, 08034053634


We’ve right to self-existence

What is the hue and noise of Igbo and PDP about? Don’t a people have the right to self-existence and determination? The tribes that voted for APC, are they better than the Igbo? I think enough is enough of this petty weeping of sentiment. Now, APC has won, what about it? Chinwendu, Enugu. 08176829531

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2015 elections: This gratuitous insult of Igbo! Fri, 08 May 2015 01:24:17 +0000 Last week, one reader sent me this SMS: “Everywhere you go, a typical Yoruba person will say Igbo have made a mistake in voting for President Goodluck Jonathan.]]>

Last week, one reader sent me this SMS: “Everywhere you go, a typical Yoruba person will say Igbo have made a mistake in voting for President Goodluck Jonathan. My question is this: Why is this? Is APC the only party in Nigeria? Were Yoruba not in the opposition before now? Why is everybody taking interest in what Igbo do? Why? Answer me!”

I could not answer this reader’s question immediately, not for want of what to say. I guess that in trying to answer his question now, I will be addressing many others, who may be so agitated or fall into the category of those, who think or say that the Igbo have committed political hara-kiri by voting for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) instead of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last general elections. Of course, the Igbo could not have made a mistake. And they have not committed any political suicide either. What the Igbo did was to stand for what they believed in. And since they did so out of conviction, they are the ones who would say that a mistake had been committed or not. It is not for those whose parameter for judgment is jaundiced to so decide. Besides, the voting pattern of the Igbo in 2015 is not different from what it has been since 1999.

For the avoidance of doubt, prior to the last general elections, the Igbo aligned more with the PDP than any other political party.  In 1999, all the five states in South East voted for PDP, as Abia (Orji Uzor Kalu), Imo (Achike Udenwa), Ebonyi (Sam Egwu), Enugu (Chimaroke Nnamani) and Anambra (Chinwoke Mbadinuju) states produced PDP governors. In 2003, all the five South East states also had PDP governors (Abia: Kalu; Imo: Udenwa; Ebonyi: Egwu; Enugu: Nnamani; and Anambra: Chris Ngige), but the registration of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), which had the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu as its presidential candidate, did cause some upsets. This could explain why APGA succeeded in claiming Anambra State, as the governorship election tribunal and the Court of Appeal did affirm its candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, as the authentic winner of the 2003 governorship election. With this, Ngige, who was in office for three years (2003-2006), was booted out of office, leaving the PDP with four states of Abia, Imo, Ebonyi and Enugu states.

In 2007, then President Olusegun Obasanjo ruffled the feathers in PDP, with the obnoxious deregistration of some members of the PDP, which forced some of those affected in the PDP reregistration exercise out of the political party. Some of those so forced out formed the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA), which won the governorship elections in Abia and Imo states (Theodore Orji and Ikedi Ohakim), in 2007. Whereas PDP retained Ebonyi (Martin Elechi) and Enugu (Sullivan Chime) states, while APGA (Peter Obi) held forth in Anambra, the PDP could be said to be technically and indirectly in charge of Abia and Imo, as the founder of the PPA and governors of the states were PDP members. Between 2007 and 2011, Abia and Imo returned to PDP, with the defection of the governors, members of the state Houses of Assembly and other prominent politicians, who left because of the deregistration exercise in PDP. In 2011, Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi remained with PDP, while Anambra and Imo stayed with APGA (Peter Obi and Rochas Okorocha). Imo State eventually moved to the APC, with the defection of Okorocha who, in any case, was a foundation member of PDP.

From the foregoing, it is obvious that those who say that the Igbo vote for PDP is an aberration are wrong. The South East has been PDP stronghold. Even when other parties took any of the Igbo states, it was former PDP members that were governors. Therefore, Igbo voting for PDP in 2015 can never be a mistake. The people expressed themselves at the polls, aligning with a political party they felt comfortable with. This is the same way the Yoruba stood and massively voted for the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999, Action Congress (AC)/Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2007 and 2011, ignoring the party at the centre, the PDP. If the Yoruba did not make a mistake in 1999, 2007 and 2011 by voting another political party other than the one at the centre, certainly the Igbo made no mistake in voting for PDP in 2015 and ignoring the party that would be at the centre, the APC.

No matter what anybody says, the Igbo vote for PDP, as the political party of their choice, is not different from Hausa/Fulani voting for APC in the last elections. It is not different from the Yoruba voting for the APC. And if people say that the Igbo voted for PDP because of President Goodluck Jonathan, my question is: What’s wrong with this? Democracy is about making a choice. That the Igbo voted Jonathan is the same way the Hausa/Fulani voted for General Muhammadu Buhari. It’s the same way, the Yoruba voted for Prof Yemi Osinbajo. The Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba never voted for change, in the true sense of it. They voted for their kinsmen to be in charge of Nigeria. It is curious that nobody is asking why all the northern states overwhelmingly voted for Buhari. Why is nobody worried that Hausa/Fulani voted for Buhari and shunned PDP? Why hasn’t anybody seen this as a mistake? Is it not because Buhari was declared winner of the election? If the result of the presidential election went otherwise, would those now calling Igbo names be saying the same thing? The Hausa/Fulani, who voted for Buhari and the Yoruba, who voted for Osinbajo/Buhari, are as guilty as Igbo who voted Jonathan. Shikena!

It’s time for this gratuitous insult of the Igbo to stop. Saying that the Igbo made a mistake because they chose to stand for a particular political party is an unnecessary insult and, indeed, an insult taken too for. A real man must stand for something. Likewise, a group or ethnic nationality must stand for something. I would rather respect a group/ethnic nationality, which stands for what it believes in till the end than one, which says something and does another.  Whereas the Igbo stood firm in what they believed in, in the last elections, some other ethnic nationalities employed betrayal, telling Jonathan they stood by him, while working for the APC. This is the difference between the Igbo and others. It’s left for Buhari to decide, who to trust. Is it the man who stands by what he says or the one who says something and does another? In any case, while I am not worried about people of other ethnic nationalities, who think that Igbo made a blunder in the last elections over their voting pattern, I find it rather absurd that some Igbo themselves think so. Inasmuch as these Igbo who think that supporting Jonathan was a mistake are entitled to their opinions, I would rather say that their succumbing to the cheap blackmail of other ethnic nationalities, which would want them to think that way, is a mark of inferiority complex. It’s really amazing that it’s Igbo who think that their people made a mistake while Hausa/Fulani, who are the beneficiaries of the outcome of the elections, for instance, have not even said so. I have not heard Buhari make any scathing comments about the way Igbo voted. And Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State was bold enough to proclaim that South easterners and South southerners played major roles in APC victory.

It is true that from May 29, 2015, Igbo would not be President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker, House of Representatives, the fourth highest political offices in the country. However, the pertinent question remains: Is it only when an Igbo man occupies one of these offices that South easterners would benefit from the government at the centre? Now tell me, what was the gain of the South West, as a geopolitical zone, that Obasanjo was president for eight years? Obasanjo, a Yoruba, even neglected Lagos, as important as the state is to the economy of Nigeria. He also withheld the local government allocation of Lagos State. What was the gain of South South, as a geopolitical zone, that Jonathan has beenpresident for five years? Jonathan could not even complete the East-West Expressway. Apart from empowering a few people from the zones, by way of contracts, for their selfish end, what did Obasanjo and Jonathan do to change the fortunes of South West and South South? How many roads did they build in their geopolitical zones? How many industries did they site? How many investments did they bring to their areas? Besides, I do not see any difference between now that Jonathan is president and when Buhari will be in charge. Under Jonathan, Igbo man is not President, Vice President, Senate President or Speaker, House of Representatives. What the Igbo need from Buhari, as president, are fairness, equity and justice and they will continue to excel in the country, being enterprising people. If Buhari feels that because Igbo did not vote for him, he would not give them their due, it will be too bad. By then, we will know that he’s president of North and South West instead of that of Nigeria. However, I think Buhari should rather be worried that his electoral fortunes was almost zero in South East and South South and work towards changing this instead of whatever vendetta, which some people are trying to plant in his mind.

The South East heroes of the last elections are not only those who played active role in APC, to ensure that an opposition party won the presidential election for the first time in 16 years. Igbo who are in PDP, including the market women and ordinary traders in the backwaters of Aba, Onitsha and Abakalili are also the heroes. These are people who have made it possible that Nigeria still has an opposition party, with PDP controlling South East and South South. Democracy without opposition is nothing. Those who say that the Igbo made a mistake are indirectly voting for a one-party state. What then would be the alternative in a one-party state? If APC messes up tomorrow, Nigerians have the opportunity to vote it out and, perhaps, return to PDP. If every state voted for APC, the nation would then be stuck with the party, as a sole political association in the country. And democracy will die because there won’t be inter-party contest or general elections.

Nigerians should rather be grateful to the Igbo for providing the platform for an alternative choice. The envy and vilification of the Igbo should stop. The Igbo have minds of their own. They made their choices in the elections and are ready to face the consequences thereof.  Now that, by their voting, they have fallen into the opposition, the task before the Igbo is to organise themselves and not to cry over spilt milk. The last elections have shown that if the Igbo work together they could break the wall of Jericho.  What others see as a minus today may turn out a plus tomorrow if Igbo work at it. Now, it is assumed that Igbo have an alliance with South South. The task is to take this to another level by working towards forging a broader coalition with the North for a stronger PDP. What it takes is for PDP to see the window of opportunity so provided, reorganise itself, rezone the offices, formally zone the presidency to the North and work to take back power in 2019, if Buhari is doing only one term or 2023, if the president-elect is doing two-terms. The PDP could start by wooing back top northerners, who were alienated because of the presidential ticket of the party. And the North/South East/South South alliance will evolve. When this happens, the gloaters today will know that the Igbo, believed to have made a mistake, will become the cornerstone of the house.

For the Igbo in APC, they should stand firm and claim their rights. They worked, in their individual capacities, for APC’s success and deserve whatever privileges others will enjoy. However, the way such APC members, as Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Chris Ngige, Osita Izunazo, Okey Ezea, Rochas Okorocha, Anyim Nyerere and others are treated, just as the way Buhari would treat the South East, will determine how the APC will fair in South East in subsequent elections. For now, I think it’s too early to say who the winners or the losers of APC’s victory really are.

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APC and the politics of picking next Senate president Fri, 01 May 2015 00:17:08 +0000 Which geopolitical zone in the country will produce the next Senate President or the leader of the Eighth Senate? Will it be North-East? North-West? South-West? North-Central? Or South-South? This is the question that has, figuratively, defied ]]>

Which geopolitical zone in the country will produce the next Senate President or the leader of the Eighth Senate? Will it be North-East? North-West? South-West? North-Central? Or South-South? This is the question that has, figuratively, defied answer in the last couple weeks,  as the National Working Committee (NWC) of the soon-to-be crowned “New Sheriff in Town,” the All Progressives Congress (APC), dilly-dallies in taking a firm decision and making formal pronouncement. In fact, for more than three weeks, the APC has dribbled everybody and shied away from laying this matter to rest by officially zoning the position of the Number Three citizen of the country. One hopes that the incoming ruling political party will not end up dribbling itself.

I guess the APC or a few of its powerful members is trying to be too clever by half, which may not augur well for the political party. I say this because the question as to which zone should get what should not have been an issue now had the APC formally zoned every position when its presidential candidate emerged earlier this year. Yes, when the President-elect, General  Muhammadu Buhari (North West), emerged as the standard bearer of the APC and Prof Yemi Osinbajo (South West) was picked as his running mate, the APC should have also announced the zones that would produce the next Senate President, Speaker, House of Representatives and their deputies. Some people  may say that had this been done before now, it could come to nullity, especially now that there is no APC senator from South East. My answer to this is that this is hogwash. South East will not have an APC senator in the next National Assembly, but the zone would have House of Representatives members from the zone. And talking about no South East senator, I think that those who say that had Senator Chris Ngige been reelected he would have automatically become the next Senate President think that we are all fools. They are saying this because Ngige did not win, for if he had won, they would have told a different story.  If it works that way, why then is APC not considering zoning the Speaker, House of Representatives to South East, since there are Reps of APC extraction from Imo State?  If one senator, in Ngige, could have attracted Senate President to South East, why won’t  many Reps from Imo State attract Speaker, House of Representatives? Those who could think should read between the lines.

Well, the fate of South East over the choice the zone made in the last election is a topic for another day. We are today talking about the zoning of the Senate Presidency, on one hand and the occupation of the office, on the other. When APC finishes its politics of zoning/selection, the onus will then fall on senators to decide who would lead them. And in making the choice, Nigerians expect that senators will look beyond what the political party, as an institution, wants or what a few selfish political godfathers in the APC wants and give Nigerians the Senate President they need. This brings about the question: What manner of Senate President does Nigeria need in the Eighth Senate?

By June, when the next National Assembly will be inaugurated, the country would be in its 16th year of democracy. A baby that was born in 1999 will, by now, be in the university, which means that, though still a teenager, such a child knows between right and wrong. Therefore, with 16 years of democracy, Nigerian civil rule is no longer at infancy, but at maturity stage. This means that the era of experimentation has gone. Now is a period of consolidation. And consolidation cannot come when political party sentiment beclouds elected officers’ sense of reasoning. I should not be misunderstood to mean that, first instance, another political party other than the APC should produce the Senate President. Far from it. What I mean is that it’s not the will of the party that should prevail, but the will of the 109 senators, whose duty is to make laws for the good governance of the country.

What manner of Senate President does Nigeria need? All things considered, the country needs a Senate President who is competent to so occupy the office; a senator who would help galnaise his colleagues for the robust business of law making; a senator who will uphold the independence of the Senate and a senator who will, when it matters most, stand for the constitution and the people.

Of course, competence has no geopolitical colouration. It has no colour, tribe or creed. It’s the ability to do something and doing it well.  The Senate needs a man, who would have the capacity to preside over meetings, offer leadership and direction and also carry every senator along, be they in APC, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Accord Party or the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). It’s not enough to say that the office of the Senate President must be occupied by a ranking senator, which means a senator, who is serving, at least, a second term. There are senators who may be serving second, third or fourth terms, but who would not have the capacity to offer profound leadership. This is why he who must be Senate President must have a track record of leadership, must have led in various capacities in the past and whose record of achievement, in the previous office, is good. Added to this is what the senator has done in the National Assembly in the number of years he served. What are the bills the senator has sponsored? What are the motions ever moved? What manner of contribution has the senator made? And what is the senator’s capacity to ensure the sponsorship of more fundamental bills in the Senate?

From whichever zone the next Senate President comes, what’s obvious is that what Nigeria needs is a senator who would galvanise other senators for the all-important business of law making. Yes, leadership is about carrying everybody along. It’s about making or gingering people to do more than they could have ordinarily done. The next Senate President, therefore, must be a senator who would be a rallying point for his colleagues; a man, who will inspire confidence, who will bring maturity to bear on the office. Yes, the next Senate president should be someone who has the profile of Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker of the House of Representatives, who, no doubt, has his failings, but who came with such momentum that defied the PDP zoning arrangement. That is the type of man needed to lead the next Senate.

Most importantly, the next Senate President must be a man, who would uphold the independence of the Senate. The Senate is a component of the National Assembly, another arm of government. For the Senate to function in its duty of law making and oversight function, it must be independent of the influence of the Executive or/and the Judiciary. A Senate which would be tied to the apron string of the President or the Executive will be a great disservice to the nation. This is so because such a Senate would not serve as a proper check on the excesses of the President.  Therefore, the Senate needs a leader who has the capacity and the strength of character to look the President in the face and tell him what the constitution says and stand by it. This is not advocating confrontation with the President. No. It’s insisting that when all arms of government do their duties, without interference or usurpation, governance will better be served, for the benefit of the people.

Many names have been thrown up, in the race  for the position of Senate President. We have heard of Dr. Bukola Saraki, former governor of Kwara State; Senator George Akume, former governor of Benue State; Senator Ahmed Lawan; Senator Danjuma Goje, former governor of Gombe State and others. While all these senators are ranking members of the Senate, what will separate them, as it were, are their works, as earlier outlined. However, it’s necessary to say that bad politics should not be the determining factor in eventually picking the next Senate President. I say this because ever since the talk about Senator David Mark’s successor reached fever pitch, bad politics has reared its ugly head in the APC, in an attempt for the aspirants to cancel out each other. In the orchestrated elimination programme, they have talked about the APC and Buhari not wanting someone who has a baggage as next Senate President. This is what they want to use against a Saraki, for example, who has been seen as the man to beat in the race. The funny thing is that when the Sarakis of this world brought in their PDP machinery into the APC and made the political party the force it has become, nobody remembered that they had baggage. Now that it’s time to reap the benefit of this, the puritanistic card is being played. This is the kind of APC politics that’s not good.

Talking about Saraki, he should be looked at by his merit, as a qualified and fit candidate for the position of Senate President. He has shown leadership as governor. Of course, nobody will forget his feat in agriculture and the Zimbabwean farmers/Shongai Farm connection. He has made sacrifices, to the extent of foregoing presidential ambition for the cohesion of PDP, for instance, and fighting his father, to ensure that equity prevailed in Kwara State when it was time for power to shift to another part of the state. He has been active in the Senate, as we remember his famous motion on fuel subsidy.

For equity in APC, the Saraki Senate Presidency would strengthen the power blocs that make up APC. Now, the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) component of the APC alliance has produced President-elect Buhari. The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) arm produced Vice President-elect Osinbajo. Saraki’s Senate Presidency will represent the PDP component of the alliance. Whether the lords of APC believe it or not, without the PDP machine, there is no way Buhari could have become president. Saraki was one of the arrowheads of the New PDP, which emerged when seven governors and others kicked against the goings-on in the party. The New PDP was to defect to APC, with five governors coming with their  political structure. Remove the votes from Kano, Kwara, Adamawa and Sokoto and tell me how APC could have won the presidential election. This is something the APC should not take for granted and, perhaps, deny a Saraki Senate presidency.

In any case, the way APC handles the Senate Presidency matter will definitely show how things would be in the party in the coming years. However, one thing that’s clear is that bad politics against the PDP elements in the party could be the beginning of the problems of the APC.

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Re: Oba Akiolu: Igbo should rather be proud instead of angry Fri, 24 Apr 2015 01:53:07 +0000 You should know that we are proud people but the Oba and his likes treat us like nothing. What has Lagos done for us that our various states have not done for others? Enough of this madness. ]]>

You should know that we are proud people but the Oba and his likes treat us like nothing. What has Lagos done for us that our various states have not done for others? Enough of this madness. This is the time for us to start speaking with one voice as the Igbo. Must we all be on one train to be accepted? Was Lagos not an opposition all these years? Let it be known to the APC that it was Buhari, as a person and not APC that some voted for.

Pat, Lagos. 08033212968

Onuoha, it is right that Ambode should inherit both the assets and liabilities of Fashola? Was it not under opposition that Tinubu and Fashola performed? The change mantra should go round.    08034091975

My worry is that the South-west people, who are known in the past to have a permanent seat in the opposition, have suddenly become wiser than Ndigbo by hiring General Muhammed Buhari. A gamble that paid off and made others fools. The Oba’s rant apart, visit the streets, newspaper stands and beer parlours.                 08098912505

Thank you, Onuoha, you have said it all. But one thing is certain, to sustain injury or wound comes easy but to heal it takes time.


Ukeh, your “Oba Akiolu: Igbo should rather be proud instead of angry!” was rather funny to me. How reasonable is it for the Igbo to migrate to Lagos for commercial purposes only to be aiming at subsuming the Yoruba at governance in connivance with another ethnic group you allotted 40 per cent population with Igbo each, leaving 20 per cent to the indigenes. Will any Igbo area of South-east, where Abia’s Gov. Orji sacked the Igbo of other extractions from Abia’s civil service, tolerate such a political infraction? Ghanaians are reportely battling with Igbo traders’ usurpation of their commerce and meddling in political affairs there too. For over seventy years, the Hausa have been accommodated in the South-west without any attempt at subverting the indigenes the way you want the Igbo to do in Lagos State. Let them know their limits wherever they go; to earn peace. What they cannot take, they should not dish to others, shikena.

Lai Ashadele. 07067677806

I am so surprised that almost all of you both in The Nation and Daily Sun Newspapers are treating the Oba’s comments with trepidation and kid’s glove. We condemn the outburst of Orubebe before Jega, yet you people cuddle Akiolu inspite of his downright vitriolic comments.        08033398515

With these utterances from Oba of Lagos, first class traditional ruler in the country, Ndigbo should know that Egyptians of yesterday are still around; let us be very careful and prayerful. Since these words can come out of a respected ruler like Oba of Lagos, Ndigbo, watch your back and let us start developing our areas we come from in case they say leave my place, we can hold something at home; nothing like home. Let’s remember Ikemba’s message sometime ago. We should invest in our states rather that putting all our eggs in one basket in Lagos, as it occur

      Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia. 


The Igbo are proud achievers worldwide; we are the Jews of Africa. We conquer territories with our spirit of never say die. Hence, our lily-livered neighbours fear us. No tribe can survive the pogrom and injustice we suffered and still be prosperous. The Oba should apologise to the Igbo nation, who helped in developing his kingdom or he will face the wrath of God.

Uzor Angus-Okoro, Enugu. 07031622103

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Oba Akiolu: Igbo should rather be proud instead of angry! Fri, 10 Apr 2015 00:51:41 +0000 It is natural for outrage to greet the outburst of Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, who had decreed that it’s either Igbo vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship ]]>

It is natural for outrage to greet the outburst of Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, who had decreed that it’s either Igbo vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, or they face the consequences. In a country where the constitution guarantees freedom of association and freedom of choice, anything that tends to deny this right will certainly be greeted with condemnation. This is why those who have spoken out against this statement, which is unbecoming of a monarch is in order.

Yes, Nigerians from all walks of life and all ethnic groups, who raised issues over Oba Akiolu’s Fatwa, as it were, are right to have so reacted. A threat to Igbo is a threat to every Nigerians. And if other ethnic groups keep quiet at such open declaration of war, perhaps, thinking that it does not concern them, since they are not directly being addressed or threatened, tomorrow it may be their turn. And the Igbo, who have expressed anger over such pronouncement have the right to so feel. Threatening Igbo over their right to decide who they want to vote for in an election, is an attempt to dictate to them how to make their choices. And a typical Igbo man would resist this, even if heaven would fall. It’s not arrogance, but a self-preservation behaviour.

No matter how it is looked at, Oba of Lagos was wrong to have issued a threat to Igbo living in Lagos and by extension all non-indigenes. This, I dare say, is unObaship. Royal fathers bear words of wisdom. As custodians of culture and tradition, they are expected to live above board, just as Caesar’s wife. They ought not to be sentimental, but always dispassionate. Oba may love Ambode and, therefore, wants him as the next governor in Lagos, but should support should not be open. This is so because Mr. Jimi Agbaje, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, is also the Oba’s subject and has equal rights as his major opponent. When a father begins to show preference to a particular child, certainly there will be problem in the family. Even in the Bible, it happens as regards Esua and Jacob. This is normal.

However, having said this, I think the Igbo should look at the positive side of the Oba Akiolu’s threat saga. He had said that he did not curse the Igbo. At least, he has the sense to explain himself, even if he did not make an outright retraction or apology. For me, it makes no difference. Besides, the Lagos APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and others have apologised to the Igbo. Let sleeping dogs lie. Instead of brooding, Igbo should rather be proud of themselves. What the Lagos State governorship election has revealed is that they have become a force to be reckoned with in the state. If an Oba is so worried that the Igbo vote could make his preferred candidate not to win election, I guess it’s something the Igbo should be proud of. It is not every day that people from another ethnic group would become so entrenched in a community outside their own, to the extent that they cannot be easily wished away. This is complimentary. It shows that those who may look at the Igbo and figuratively ask: Will anything good come out of Nazareth, as Nathaniel in the Bible did, should know that they miss the point.

Some months ago, when I had the privilege of meeting one of the two top candidates in the Lagos governorship election, at a time he was still an aspirant and a question was raised as to what he would do to embrace the Igbo, in particular, who claim to constitute about 40 per cent of the Lagos population, one of those in the meeting dismissed the question, saying that his own ethnic group also constituted about 40 per cent of the population of Lagos. Now the reality is beginning to dawn on everybody that Igbo, with other non-indigenes combined, may just hold the aces in elections in Lagos. This is a position of strength, which shows that although they are not the omooniles, the Igbo and non-indigenes are still major stakeholders in the politics of Lagos, just as in business and commerce. With such strength, therefore, the Igbo/non-indigenes are actually the beautiful bride that should be wooed by the candidates. This is why the onus is on the candidates to use persuasion, promises and even deals to get the Igbo/non-indigenes on their side. Threat will not do it.

Taking all these together, some people may ask: Where then will the Igbo/non-indigenes vote? Will they vote for Ambode or Agbaje? I do not think that the Igbo/non-indigenes will vote for any particular candidate, en bloc. Although sentiment will come in, I see then voting according to the dictates of their consciences, looking at the candidates and their political parties. In doing this, they are likely to look at the APC, in terms of performance under the Babatunde Fashola. They will see that Fashola kept faith in delivering on promise. And with a development plan that Ambode will inherit if he wins, it means that there will likely be sustained development. However, I think the problem non-indigenes have with APC, which could make some of them want to look elsewhere, in casting their votes, is the way the Fashola government handled some issues concerning them. Ask them and they will refer to the commercial motorcycles policy, which saw the government crushing motorbikes of offenders. They will point to closure of markets, which they consider as partisan. They will talk about high taxes and others. However, the question really is: Will it be right to visit the sin of Fashola on Ambode, who has no hand, directly, in whatever transpired? I do not think so. His only sin, in this case, is that he’s the candidate of APC. And Fashola is APC member. Well, the proper thing should be to judge Ambode by what he stands for, his antecedent, his disposition and what he has said he would do.

For Agbaje, he has gained the sympathy of many a Lagosian who likes him as a person. I do not think that people are judging Agbaje by the performance or failures of the PDP. They are judging him as Agbaje. He has endeared himself to some voters by the campaign he ran. People seem to related with his slogan: JK, we know, JK, we trust. And come to think of it, people still remember Agbaje’s campaign in 2007, when he contested against Fashola in the governorship election. However, the minus Agbaje seems to have is the fear that his governorship will put Lagos, again, in the opposition. Valid point. In a country where the winners take it all, I know that it’s an issue. But the ideal thing should be that no matter the government in place in Lagos, it should not stop a federal support.

By its status as a former capital city and an economic hob, Lagos deserves the attention of the Federal Government. This is why the PDP Federal Government, in the last 16 years, played bad politics by leaving Lagos in the lurch and development stagnation. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo started it. The late President Umar Yar’Adua continued it. And President Goodluck Jonathan sustained it. This is bad politics, indeed. Take, for instance, the International Airport Road, in Lagos. It’s a shame that the Federal Government left it in such sorry state. It’s a disgrace that the gateway to the country is in such sordid state as the International Airport Road, Lagos. And the Federal Government does not see anything wrong with it. This is rubbish. This is the type of thing that would affect Agbaje.

However, I am shocked that the vice president-elect, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, said that Lagos would suffer if it’s in the hands of the opposition. This means that with General Muhammadu Buhari as president and APC in control of the federal structure, Lagos under PDP will be neglected. Excuse me! I thought we are talking about change? PDP made that mistake of neglecting Lagos. APC should not, even if PDP wins the state. This will be the difference between the two parties.

Well, as Nigerians pick new governors tomorrow nationwide, I believe that the fate of Ambode and Agbaje is in the hands of the non-indigenes. With the Lagos recognition, the Igbo should see that they have the potentiality to make things happen in politics. What they need is to organise themselves, get more focused, forward-looking and more ambitious, always looking at the bigger picture. If they do this, the current setback caused by the support of a political party that eventually lost election would be the beginning of reengineering for greater things to come.

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Lessons from PDP, Jonathan’s defeat Thu, 02 Apr 2015 23:56:01 +0000 With the triumph of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the presidential and National Assembly elections held last Saturday, the political tide and equation in the country have changed. With a president, from May 29, 2015, in the person of General Muhammadu ]]>

With the triumph of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the presidential and National Assembly elections held last Saturday, the political tide and equation in the country have changed. With a president, from May 29, 2015, in the person of General Muhammadu Buhari, and, at effective control of the Senate, having at least, 64 senators, the APC has automatically become the ruling political party in Nigeria. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which prides itself as the biggest political party in Africa, on the other hand, has suddenly become the opposition party. How times change!

This is the beauty of democracy. In democracy, the majority have their way while the minority have their say. It does not matter, in such a setting that the winner takes it all and the loser stands small. With its victory at the centre, the APC will take it all while the PDP will stand small. This is what makes democracy tick. This is why political parties work hard to ensure that they remain tops in the minds and consciousness of the people. This, they do by the good performance of their members in government, mainly.

But why is it that a once powerful political party, which, at a time, controlled 28 of the 36 states in the country, could be roundly defeated in presidential and National Assembly elections, with its sitting president losing a re-election, 16 years thereafter?

Many factors combined caused this political upset. To be sure, the defeat of the PDP was caused by a combination of arrogance, loss of touch with the people, insensitivity, lack of leadership and organisation, lethargy and complacency. And the PDP as a political party and President Goodluck Jonathan, as a person and leader of the party, are to blame.  Indeed, there are many lessons to learn.

Lesson number one is that you do not underrate your opponent. Yes, it’s obvious that the PDP did underrate the APC and, therefore, did nothing when the opposition political party was getting stronger. There’s no disputing the fact that the APC worked for its victory. Right from 2013, when the political party evolved, from the amalgamation of the Congress for Progressives Change (APC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and  splinter of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the APC left nobody in doubt that it was out to wrest power from the PDP at the centre. The party’s leaders had formed a cohesion that was impregnable and went, together, across the nation to woo members.

While this happened, I did write an article entitled: Warning to PDP. Watch out APC is coming. The PDP ignored the warning and did nothing. So sure of its invincibility, the PDP dismissed the APC and went about its business. And its national chairman at that time, Bamanga Tukur, maintained a belligerent posture. PDP members, who complained about the goings-on in the party, were expelled. Party’s state excos were dissolved unilaterally. And those who felt aggrieved by one thing or another were asked to go if they wished.

Lesson number two is that you do not lose your valuable team members. PDP was so arrogant and insensitive it drove many of its member into the waiting arms of the APC. It made no sense that the PDP cared less that a governor of Kano State, with more than four million votes from his state, defected from its fold to another political party. It made no sense that the PDP allowed an internal problem to fester and, therefore, caused a Rivers State governor, with no fewer than three million voters in his state, to dump the party. And as the governor left, they left with their structures and goodwill. And with this, it was nunc dimitris for the PDP. This showed in the elections the PDP lost.

Lesson number three is that you do not dis- organise your structure. Yes, PDP’s conduct and misconduct during the selection of candidates for the general elections contributed to its defeat. The PDP allowed the selfish interests of a few people to supercede that of the party. Across the country, there was disaffection in the PDP after the party’s primary elections in the states. In some states, PDP allowed its governors to impose candidates against the wishes of the majority. In other states, the PDP allowed other interest groups to displace governors and decide who became candidates. Nobody will forget what happened in Delta, Ebonyi and Adamawa State, where the governors were sidelined and figuratively humiliated in the choice of the governorship and National Assembly candidates.  The crises that erupted was swept under the carpert instead of being resolved. Where there is disaffection and unresolved issues, people look at one another with suspicion and nobody puts his best. That was the lot of PDP.

Lesson number four is that you do not surround yourself with weak links instead of strong allies. This is the lesson President Jonathan did not learn. In the years that the president has been in office, he surrounded himself with people who need his help to survive instead of people who would help him. Talk of Abia Governor Theodore Orji, PDP chairman, Adamu Mu’azu; Vice President Namadi Sambo; Chief  Edwin Clark; Bauchi Governor Isa Yuguda, Benue Governor Gabriel Suswam and many others.

It’s inconceivable that a president seeking re-election could have Orji, a man seen by the majority of his people as non-performer, as an ally, to the extent that he ignored the complaints and misrule therein. Also, why will Jonathan and indeed, PDP have as national chairman an Adamu Mu’azu, who has no political clout in his state. Mu’azu was defeated in his senatorial bid, even as a sitting governor. After that, he went into political oblivion only to be rehabilitated with the top job in PDP. And being out of touch with his people, he could not deliver Bauchi to Jonathan. Sambo, since he became vice president has always lost Kaduna to the opposition. A vice president? These are some of the people Jonathan surrounded himself with, people who do not have much to bring to the table.

Lesson number five is do not take the people for granted. It’s obvious that the PDP has not reckoned with the people much. Methinks that if the PDP knew that one day the people would revolt against it, the political party could have seriously addressed the yearnings of the people. Instead of this, the PDP has been boasting that it would rule the country for nothing less than 60 years before any other party would take over. In saying this, the PDP believed that winning elections was its own doing and not the decision of the people. If the party knew that the people decide who wins elections, it would have treated the ruled better, knowing that without their votes, elections will never be won.

Lesson number six is failure to sing your praise. This is the sin of Jonathan. Having surrounded himself with people who would not help him, whatever achievement the government recorded was not known by people. It was close to the general elections that Nigerians knew that the railways had been reactivated and that trains have been operating from Lagos to the North. It was close to the elections that Nigerians knew what the government had done in the agricultural sector. It was close to the elections that people knew the strides in the power sector and the challenges therein. Without people knowing the much Jonathan has done, all the achievements never mattered and, therefore, could not count.

Lesson number seven is that you should not leave what ought to be done undone until the last minute. There are many good intentions Jonathan had but he did not make much effort to implement them early in his government. For one, he convened a national conference and promised to implement the recommendations as well as send them to the National Assembly for the amendment of the constitution.  He did not do this until about one week to the elections. That’s when the Federal Executive Council adopted the national conference report for implementation. Of course, by then it was too late. Also, the onslaught against Boko Haram, in the last six weeks, came rather too late. Had government done that long ago, nobody would say that the government was not serious in ensuring security of life and property. Government wasted much time in convincing Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic to join in the fight against terrorism. Had the coalition been evolved long ago and the war against insurgents waged ferociously, the perception that the government is incapable of handing secuity would never have arisen.

APC and the incoming Buhari government should learn from these mistakes. If a Buhari could arise and working with others, mobilised Nigerians to serve a sitting president and his party a red card, there’s nothing that says that an Aminu Kano or MKO Abiola or Chuba Okadigbo cannot rise tomorrow to also team up with like minds to mobilise Nigerians against the APC. This can be avoided by being fair to all, strict adherence to rule of law and due process, dispensation of justice and equity, prompt address of issues and catering to the needs of the people.

Having said this, I am persuaded to comment on the belief that the South East committed political suicide by supporting Jonathan overwhelmingly and, therefore, have lost out in the current political dispensation. Why it looks so, the matter should rather be looked at from the point of view that the South easterners stood by their conviction in the election. It was a gamble. From the voting pattern, it’s obvious that only the South East voted out of conviction instead of tribalism. Of course, the North and South West voted for APC because Buhari is from the North and Yemi Osinbajo, vice president-elect, is from South West. And the South South stood by Jonathan because he’s Ijaw. Without any Igbo as presidential or vice presidential candidate, the Igbo, therefore, in supporting Jonathan, did not do it because of tribalism.

Indeed, that the South East stood by Jonathan to the end should not be seen as a vice, but a virtue. This shows that when the Igbo believe in something, they stand by it and put in their best. This is against some other people’s behaviour, in abandoning their friends in the middle of the jungle, as was seen in the last elections, where people collected money from Jonathan to mobilise voters, promised him of support and did nothing. This is betrayal of trust. I wonder what Nigerians would prefer. Is it those who promise and fail or those who stand by their words?

While the South East would pay the price for the choice they made, which, perhaps, could have been the other way had Jonathan won, the onus is on the APC to woo the geopolitical zone, for a national spread. Also, the South East should strive to make itself politically relevant to be so wooed. In 2007, the South West shunned the centre and voted the Action Congress (AC)/Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Today, the zone is at the centre of national politics, having teamed up with others. Who says, therefore, that the South East cannot achieve this in future, if it suffers the exclusion from government today, as some people are gloating, and put in everything to emerge stronger in future?

Warning to PDP! Watch out, APC is coming! 

A few moths ago, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) registered the All Progressives Congress (APC), an amalgam of three political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had, in welcoming the new opposition political party, stated that it did not feel threatened. For a political party, which prides itself as the largest in Africa, one would not have expected less. There’s always the temptation to think that all is well, even when the writing on the wall indicates otherwise. Besides, the belief of invincibility, which made the PDP to boast that it would rule Nigeria for nothing less than 60 years, will not allow it to see beyond its nose.

However, with what is happening in the polity, I wonder if the PDP would still sound so optimistic, as it did a few months ago. Would the PDP say APC is really no threat? Methinks that the PDP dares not. If it does, it means that leaders of the political party and their members are not only living in a fool’s paradise but also not in tune with reality.  Yes, it’s becoming obvious that the APC is a threat to PDP and a formidable one at that. This gives some hope that the era of having a single dominant political party, which would be in control of about two-thirds of the nation and, therefore, feels that it’s the best thing that has happened to Nigeria, is coming to an end. It means that the country is going for a two-party state, in the main, irrespective of the fact that there may be other small political parties in control of a sprinkle of states and local governments.

To be sure, the APC is beginning to prove that it means business, in its avowed quest to displace the PDP from the Federal Government, at best, or reduce its stature, at most. In the last couple of weeks, the APC has been strategic in its thinking and moves. The political party’s leaders have been going round the country wooing top Nigerian politicians. Using a team made up of General Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and others, the APC has met, one after another, the seven aggrieved PDP governors and asking them to join its fold. They have equally met with such powerful political figures in the North, like former Heads of State, General Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar. They have also met with one of the strongmen of Edo politics, Brigadier-General Samuel Ogbemudia. They would meet with other politicians, from South to North, who would help them achieve the goal already outlined.

Perhaps, the PDP thinks that this merry-go-round by the APC is a jamboree.  I see a well-articulated programme to deplete the stronghold of the ruling political party and pull the rug from under its feet. I would say the APC leaders are smart. They may have reckoned that the dismantling of the PDP could only come with the support of the ruling political party’s members. Therefore, they are progressively wooing members of the PDP, especially those that have one score or another to settle with the party. If this approach yields result, it will deal a big blow on the PDP. And with this, Nigeria would have been provided an alternative political party that could take over the reins of power at the federal level easily, in free and fair elections.

To say the least, I have never seen a political party as insensitive and arrogant as the PDP. At a time when APC is making no pretence that it wants to reap from the implosion of the PDP, the ruling political party is behaving as if it has been destined to crumble. And the PDP is shamelessly accusing the APC of poaching. Why won’t APC members poach from PDP when they know that it’s only when those who make their rival political party thick leave that the bubble would burst? And why would they not poach when the PDP appears not to know the value of some of its members?

Within the PDP, seven governors have openly expressed their dissatisfaction with what is happening in the party. They had formed what they called New PDP and openly fraternising with the opposition party. Instead of addressing the issue involved, with the view to making peace and having one united front, the PDP is busy expelling other members. How would anybody place the fact that a PDP that’s being threatened by APC would expel Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Alhaji Abubakar Kawo Baraje, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja and Alhaji Ibrahim Kazaure, in one fell swoop and still boasting that it would axe others?

It does appear that the PDP is destined for self-destruct. For the leadership of the PDP to continue to adopt a belligerent attitude, when caution is required, tells me that, perhaps, God wants to teach the political party a lesson. It is strange to me that a political party that wants to remain relevant in the polity of the country and also in control of power is taking actions that would erode the things that make it strong. It’s the same way the PDP, in the name of re-registration of members, pushed many of its staunch members out. Two prominent members of the PDP, who suffered the fate, include former vice president Atiku Abubakar and Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State. Of course, the PDP did pay for it. For instance, having been pushed out, Kalu had no other choice than to form the Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA), which won the governorship election in Abia and Imo states in 2007. The PDP will suffer the same fate if it pushes Chubuike Amaechi of Rivers State out. Of course, if the PDP also kicks out Aliyu Babangida (Niger), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Sule Lamido (Jigawa), it would lose their states. It happened before, in Abia and Imo. It will happen again.

There are many Nigerians who want PDP to be destroyed. I guess that they so wish not because they think that all members of the PDP are devils but simply because the few people who are controlling the political party have arrogated to themselves the power of life and death. These lords of PDP, mainly because of selfish interest, are running roughshod on others. Expulsion, suspension and punishment appear to be the only words in their dictionary. Some people would say that the PDP is right in its action of disciplining its members, who are involved in “anti-party activities.” My question is: What’s anti-party activity? If raising issues and asking questions about things that one considers not right is seen as anti-party activity, then the PDP could as well run a zombie political party, where members would adopt “siddon look.” If leaders of the PDP want a “zombie” political party, what then is the essence of democracy? Political parties are made up of people with divergent interests and characters. It’s the ability to manage the interests and ideas that makes the difference.

Certainly, PDP will destroy itself if the arrogance and warring posture of its leadership are not curtailed. The National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, should change his style and learn to apply diplomacy and caution, when they are necessary. If he continues the “kill them” attitude, he may wake up one day to discover that he has no political party to chair. Indeed, if the PDP knows that one day it may be reduced to a minority in the National Assembly, when it forces many of its federal lawmakers to defect to the APC, which is a plot in the making, the political party would know that doom is facing it.

My word, therefore, for the PDP is: Watch out, APC is coming. If the PDP dismisses this warning, as it normally does, it would be at its peril. One thing that’s clear is this: Whenever PDP loses power at the centre, it will take the grace of God for the party to regain it.

• This article was first published on November 15, 2013 in Daily Sun. 

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Go on, Jonathan! Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:55:27 +0000 Tomorrow, Nigerian eligible voters will file out across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to decide the fate of President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and General ]]>

Tomorrow, Nigerian eligible voters will file out across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to  decide the fate of President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The elections, which looked so far away, are just 24 hours away. The elections are now staring us in the face, beckoning on Nigerians to exercise their franchise and faithfully decide who would control the rein of the Federal Government from May 29, 2015.

I remember when speculations that the elections could be postponed, from the earlier scheduled February 14,  2015 and February  28, 2015, were rife and how politicians and others threatened fire and brimstone. I also remember how people shouted foul and sabotage when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) eventually announced postponement of the elections to March 28, 2015 and April 11, 2015. I remember how politicians, after the shift of the elections, raised all manner of allegations, including that there was a grand plan to shift the elections again and that the chairman of the INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega, would be asked to proceed on terminal leave, so that he would not conduct the elections.  It was as if the world was coming to an end. Six weeks have passed and the elections will hold from tomorrow, starting with the presidential and National Assembly polls. Jega is still at the head of INEC, as the chief returning officer.

In the last couple of months that the presidential and other candidates of the various political parties traversed Nigeria, in electioneering, we have seen drama, insults, allegations and frank talks. In the campaigns, we saw the mundane and the serious. And I would say there would be hardly any voter who has not heard of Jonathan and Buhari. Now, the fate of Jonathan and Buhari is in the hand of God. Nigerians will vote tomorrow. And God will decide, who would eventually be president. That’s why nobody can say for sure how the election would go. As humans, we have our preferences and wishes, but God is the ultimate decider of what the outcome will be. The task before us, the voters, non-voters, politicians and candidates, is to accept God’s verdict when it’s pronounced.

I say this because the polity has been so heated that there are fears that whichever way the presidential election goes, whether Jonathan or Buhari wins, there will be problems. This reminds me of Fredrick Forsyth’s Devil’s Alternative, where a character in the book, a president, declared: “Whichever decision I take, people are going to die.” And one of his advisers said to him: “Mr. President, it had happened before and it will happen again. In the firm, we call it the devil’s alternative.” I believe we can avoid the devil’s alternative. There is nothing that says that the elections could come and go and nothing would happen, in the area of breakdown of law and order.  What would do it are the maturity, disciple and responsibility of the candidates and leaders of the political parties.

Yes, there will be a winner and loser in tomorrow’s election. The loser may not come to terms with the fact that voters would reject him. But nobody should take the law into his hand, by making statements, post-election, that would drive people to frenzy and, therefore, cause a breach of peace. Whoever would be the loser should resort to seeking redress in the court. In court, if the results are upturned in favour of the loser, then he should assume office, and if the courts affirm the victory of whoever that would be declared winner, such verdict should be accepted. However, in saying this, the government should take all measures to ensure that election violence is dealt with according to the provisions of the law. Those, who go out of their way to perpetrate violence and those who instigate violence during and after the elections must be made to face the music. Turning a blind eye to violence, by the government, could only embolden those who stoke the fire and it would bring about anarchy. This is what happened in the past. This is what happened in 2011, where violence, mainly caused by the irresponsible utterances of politicians, claimed the lives of many Nigerians. Today, those who made comments that caused the violence are walking free, while those who lost their lives died in vain.

As the elections hold tomorrow, the natural question is: What type of president does Nigeria need at this point in time? Last week, when I promoted a headline on my choice, between Jonathan and Buhari, some ardent readers, who, no doubt, disagreed with what they perceived would be my position, had taunted me. Some had called me an apologist. Others said I was looking for government appointment. And yet others said I must have been “settled.” Some of those who sent text messages said that as I endorsed Jonathan for president, I should tell him that the second Niger Bridge he promised never materialised; that the roads in South East are in terrible condition; that the Chibok schoolgirls are still not rescued; that corruption is high; that the level of unemployment is high. And that there’s insecurity in the country.

Well, all these are noted. However, I must say that whatever I say about Jonathan is not for those whose allegiance to Buhari no reason can shake. It’s not for those who are carried away by propaganda. It’s not for those who are judging Buhari from his past glory and on the assumption that he would be a better president. For me, the choice before Nigerians tomorrow is between perception and reality. A vote for Buhari is for perception that he would do better than Jonathan. A vote for Jonathan, on the other, hand is for the reality that having done something in the last four years, Nigeria under him would improve further. For me, Jonathan still remains the best choice for now.

Yes, apart from the things Jonathan’s government has done, like the resuscitation of the railways, revolution in the agricultural sector, which has also ended the many years of fertilizer scam; improvement of the power sector, with the commissioning of some new National Independent Power Projects (NIPP); road rehabilitation and construction; rebuilding of the airports, empowerment of youth, as with YOUWIN and many others, I do not think Nigerians should entrust the governance of the country on a man, who changes his position under pressure or on the spur of the moment, as Buhari.

To be sure, in 2011, Buhari told the world that he was done with contesting for the office of president, after his third failed attempt. Now, he has reneged on that promise or commitment. His reason being that his supporters persuaded him to contest yet again. If his supporters could make him eat his works, where does conviction come in? General Ibrahim Babangida declared in 2011 that he would not seek public office again. He has stood by it. This year, he restated it. For me, there’s something wrong with a man who could change his mind, on the excuse that he’s doing his supporters’ bidding, like Buhari.

Buhari has made the fight against corruption and insecurity as the thrust of his campaign. Apart from that, he has not promised any other thing. The question remains: Is Buhari really ready to fight corruption or just invoking it to win sympathy? Those who believe that he would fight corruption should ask themselves why the APC candidate is now saying that he would no longer punish those who put their hands in the till in the past. As my colleague, Femi Adeoti, wrote, Buhari is granting amnesty to looters. At a time when some of those who are today promoting and funding Buhari’s campaign have some questions to answer over their stewardship, in the past, our dear Buhari has tactically exempted them. Fight against corruption, indeed.

Jonathan has proved that all things being equal, security of life and property would be guaranteed in the country. Indeed, Buhari’s attempt to present Jonathan as incapable of fighting terrorism has fallen flat. In the last couple of weeks, the Nigerian military, supported by the multi-national forces, has recorded successes in the operation to flush out insurgents. In the latest onslaught, Boko Haram has been routed in Adamawa and Yobe states. All the communities earlier occupied by the terror group have been reclaimed in the two states. In Borno, all, except two local government areas hitherto occupied by Boko Haram, have been recovered. And the military has promised to also kick out insurgents in the remaining councils. Of course, Jonathan has been able to re-equip the military, which was neglected by successive governments. He had stated, when he flagged off his campaign in Lagos, that Buhari, who was talking about fighting terrorism never equipped the military when he was head of state. Would anybody be surprised that Buhari did not equip the military? He was afraid of military coup and thought that neglecting the military would frustrate his ouster. However, this could not stop his colleagues from serving him the same medicine he gave President Shehu Shagari. They booted him out for highhandedness and running a one-man show.

Jonathan has proved that being president is not a do-or-die affair. He had said that being president is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. He had said that although he would win, he’s not desperate. He had said that if he loses he would hand over. This is the hallmark of a man, who knows that God would determine his fate. But what do we have from Buhari? He has not accepted the fact that he could lose the election. The closest he came to this is his declaration that he would only accept the poll’s results if it’s free and fair. The question is: Who determines whether the election is free and fair? Is it Buhari? APC? INEC? Observers?  It’s curious that Buhari and APC have concluded that the presidential election would go their way. This is why APC had boasted that it would form a parallel government if it loses the polls.

All said, Jonathan still remains the best choice for Nigeria. It’s true that he has not solved all Nigeria’s problems. And he cannot solve all the problems. Nobody would solve the country’s problems. But there is obvious effort by Jonathan to turn things around for the better. A government that has improved power, more than it was, has done something. And if its mandate is renewed, would do better. With the improvement of power, business would swell. Already, the country has experienced boom in foreign investment under Jonathan. With sustained effort, many more investors would come in, as confidence grows.

I am persuaded that a Buhari presidency would be a disaster. I have not seen anything about the APC candidate that shows a serious preparation for governance. What I see is a show of arrogance. I see a man, who would not want any question about his certificate, who would not even apologise for past wrongs.

Last week, when Prince Nduka Obaigbena, Publisher of Thisday, asked Buhari whether he would apologise for jailing journalists, he did not answer the question. In the characteristic APC arrogance, Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi, grabbed the microphone and declared that the question was unnecessary. Buhari never made any attempt to answer the question. And they say that Buhari has repented from his hard-line posture. Pray, a man, who does not have the humility to admit his mistakes should not have a place in leadership.

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Abia, will Gov Orji get away with this impunity? Fri, 20 Mar 2015 00:39:14 +0000 As the general elections kick off next Saturday, March 28, 2015, with the presidential and National Assembly polls, I have one regret: I will not cast my votes in my home state, Abia. ]]>

As the general elections kick off next Saturday, March 28, 2015, with the presidential and National Assembly polls, I have one regret: I will not cast my votes in my home state, Abia. It hurts me that I will not have the opportunity of voting against Governor Theodore Orji, his son, Chinedu and other candidates he has imposed on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), against popular demands, and doing everything to ensure that they win elections. It would have given me much pleasure to vote in Abia State, against a governor, who has performed dismally and daring all of us to do our worst.

My consolation, however, is that the majority of the people of Abia do not want to hear about Governor Orji or anybody, who has something to do with him, in relation to the  coming elections. And they have shown this with the cold reception they have accorded the governor in the last couple of weeks. I will not forget that during the burial of the Catholic bishop of Aba, residents of the commercial city, which Governor Orji has destroyed with his unpardonable neglect, gave Governor Orji a cold shoulder. Instead of a warm welcome, they voted against the governor with stones. I will not also forget that during the Aba marathon, the city’s residents rejected the PDP candidate, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, an imposition of Governor Orji, who they booed out of the stadium. These are reactions of a people, who are aggrieved that their commonwealth has been squandered by a man, who does not give a hoot about history.

Yes, the resentment about Governor Orji ought not be restricted only to Aba. He has to be rejected by all Abia people and residents. A man, who has failed to perform, in eight years in office as governor does not deserve to be elected to another office. Since one good turn deserves another, it follows that one bad turn deserves another. Governor Orji’s performance is bad. Therefore, he deserves defeat in the senatorial elections he is contesting. If he wins, it would mean that Abia people are rewarding failure with a higher office, which is against the law of natural justice. And with this, the governor would be laughing at our faces. God forbids!

Someone had asked me if we from Abia would allow Governor Orji get away with the disservice he has done to the state. This is the same question I want to put to Abia people: Abia, will Governor Orji get away with this impunity? He should not! In the past eight years, the governor did little in the socio-economic development of Abia State. In his eight-year rule, where the people asked for bread, he gave them stones. And where they asked for fish, he gave snakes. As if this is not enough, he has the temerity to manipulate the electoral process in PDP to impose candidates. For the coming elections, he imposed himself as senatorial candidate for Abia Central. He imposed a governorship candidate on the state, in PDP. He imposed his son as a state House of Assembly candidate, with the aim of him becoming Speaker. He imposed his cronies as state House of Assembly candidates in PDP. With this setting, Governor Orji wants to have his men in government, if they are allowed to win, and therefore, be indirectly calling the shots in Abia. What impudence!

Abia should not allow this to happen. It will be a shame if it happens. Just as the people of Imo State rose up against the then Governor Ikedi Ohakim, when he sought reelection, and rejected him at the polls, this is the time for Abia people to rise up against Governor Orji and stop him from going to the Senate; stop his son from going to the House of Assembly, stop his candidate from becoming governor. And stop all the candidates he imposed on PDP. How Imo people chased out Ohakim was simple. They resolved that enough was enough. And they all came out to vote against Ohakim. They stood and defended their votes. And they ensured that Ohakim lost the governorship election in 2011. Now, the world is looking at Abia to show Governor Orji and his candidates the door. Abia people will do this by coming out en masse on March 28 and April 11, 2015 to vote against him and everything he stands for. They should not allow what happened in 2011, when Governor Orji, against the run of play, manipulated the system and the election to get second term, to repeat itself.

Yes, Abia people have every cause to reject Governor Orji and his cronies. In the last eight years that TA Orji has been in the saddle, he has performed woefully. Go to Aba and you will weep. A commercial city, which was termed the Taiwan of Nigeria, where the entrepreneurial spirit of the Igbo man was manifest, has been reduced to a shadow of itself, owing to neglect by a governor, who obviously does not understand the essence of governance. In Aba, there are no roads, as most of what used to be roads are now covered by flood and craters. Owing to the criminal neglect of Aba, business is at the lowest ebb. And the revenue, which the government would have raised in the city is lost.

It’s not only Aba that is neglected. Umuahia, the capital, is not faring better. What the governor applies is tokenism and celebrating nothingness. In Umuahia, Governor  Orji prides himself as having constructed a dual-carriage road. But the reality is that he demarcated an existing road, applied  paints on the kerbs and made all the noise in the world. He built a corrugated iron pedestrian bridge in front of Abia Polytechnics, on Aba-Owerri road and danced in the street for this disgraceful feat. Across the state, roads are in bad condition, both inter-city and intra-city.

In the last couple of years, Governor Orji has been talking about legacy projects. Barely two months to the end of his tenure,  the only legacy I see is the legacy of failure. Those who believed Governor Orji, when he was boasting that he would do heaven and earth should ask him what has happened. He promised to build an Abia airport.  He promised to build a new Government House. He promised to change the face of Abia and make it better than he met it. My question is: The man from Ibeku, how now? Where are the legacy projects?

Governor Orji is pathetic. I remember that he always said he should be judged by the amount of money his state gets from the Federation Account. Of course, we will judge him by the amount of money he got. Abia is an oil-producing state and got more money than states not producing oil. But in terms of development, with what Governor Orji got, Abia is worse off. I was in Katsina State last week, in the course of my duty. I saw a state, not oil producing, where a governor, who knows the importance of service, delivered excellence. Without extra-allocation, which oil producing states like Abia get, Governor Ibrahim Shema has built dual-carriage way ring road that runs through all the parts of Katsina, the capital city. He constructed other roads in the capital. He built a state university from scratch. He built an orthopedic hospital from scratch. He built  a children and mother care hospital. He has built 50 per cent of the federal university cited in the state. He built an ultra modern Governor’s Lodge for the state in Abuja. He built a housing estate, which the state is selling on mortgage. He built close to 1, 000 units of houses, in his housing programme. He built a supersonic Government House in a virgin land of many acres. And he did all these without taking a single dime as loan. This is a governor who thinks. This is a governor who wants to leave his footprint in the sand of times. This a governor, who knows that God gives people positions to cater to the welfare of others.

In Abia, what do we have? Governor Orji has not done much and he is leaving the state with a huge loan of billions of naira. He is owing teachers many months of salary. He’s owing civil servants. He’s owing health workers. He’s owing judiciary workers. He’s owing even those he appointed to offices. He has failed the people. If it were in the old Oyo Empire, Governor Orji would have been asked to commit suicide owing to his failure. Yes, in the old Oyo empire, when the people reject the king, the Oyomesi would go to the king and tell him: The people reject you; the gods reject you. With this pronouncement, what is required of the king is to commit suicide. The suicide Abia people require from Governor Orji is his political suicide, which should come  at the polls on March 28 and April 11.

In Abia, it’s enough of Ochendosim. We will not continue Ochendoing Ochendo when the people are dying owing to neglect. For the Abia elite, whose conspiracy of silence and open support propelled Governor Orji to higher impunity, the message I have for you is this: It’s a shame and an abomination for elders to be at home and a goat delivers in tethers. The Abia elite who supported Governor Orji, in the face of obvious failure, will be accountable to God and the people. At the end of Governor Orji government, which should be consigned to the dustbin of history, they would face Abia people and account for the roles they played in the government of shame.

The day of reckoning has come for Governor Orji. I had said that at the end of his tenure, the only achievement he would give is his attack on Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, the man, who made him governor and who he turned against. Governor Orji wasted the resources of Abia in stupid propaganda against Kalu. But it’s obvious that his campaign of calumny against Kalu failed. Six years after he severed relationship, telling Abia people that it was the former Abia governor who never allowed him to perform, Governor Orji still does not have much to show. The only legacy he has left is failure. And as Abia people cast their votes, they will remember what Arthur Eze said: If Governor Orji does not know what to do, he should invite Jonathan, as Aba stinks. This verdict will always testify against Governor Orji.

Next week: Why Jonathan is the best bet now.

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Jega, Nigerians, parties and March 28 Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:12:05 +0000 When the general elections were postponed from February 14/February 28, 2015 to March 28/April 11, 2015, somebody did ask a question: Would Professor Attahiru Jega, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Federal Government and the political parties be ready on the new date? It’s now one month to the presidential/National Assembly election scheduled for March 28. My question is: Are we ready for the election?]]>

When the general elections were postponed from February 14/February 28, 2015 to March 28/April 11, 2015, somebody did ask a question: Would Professor Attahiru Jega, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Federal Government and the political parties be ready on the new date? It’s now one month to the presidential/National Assembly election scheduled for March 28. My question is: Are we ready for the election?

Yes, will the Federal Government, Jega, INEC, the political parties and Nigerians be ready for the elections, as now scheduled? Will Jega and INEC conclude all arrangements, take care of the logistics, so that on Elections Day, Nigerians would exercise their franchise? Will eligible Nigerians collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) and actually go out to vote on Election Day? Will the Federal Government, which I heard, had provided Jega and INEC all funds needed for the elections, guarantee security for those who would conduct elections and election materials on Election Day? Will political parties be ready to not only participate in the elections but also take the will of the people by accepting the outcome? These questions are necessary because the individual and collective efforts of all the people/institutions listed above would make or mar the elections.

I am asking if Jega and INEC will be ready on March 28 because, no matter what some people say, it was obvious that the electoral commission was not ready for elections as earlier scheduled. Some people  are wont to say Jega said repeatedly that he was ready to conduct the elections on February 14. However, what was on ground did not support this. And what Jega even told the Council of State that the INEC was not ready. It was more of a case of Jega, as a person, being ready in his mind, owing to his fixation about the date he earlier set, but the INEC, as an institution, not being ready, as all that was required for the elections had not been done.

Indeed, on February 5, 2015, when Jega addressed the Council of State, he played politics more than he was sincere. In his report, he did admit that he needed some more time to perfect things. In another breadth, he told the meeting that he was ready to conduct elections. The question is: How could a man who said he needed more days/time to perfect some things, say he was ready for the elections? And Jega was most uncharitable to  have blamed the postponement solely on security agents but he shared in the blame. Yes, Jega said this of training on card readers: “With the benefit of hindsight, and given the new technology of PVC and CR, we could do with more days of especially hands-on training for POs and APOs. Regrettably, we can’t do that due to funding constraints.” Now, was Jega ready and he admitted: “We could do with more days of especially hand-on training for POs and APOs.” Also, Jega said: “Consequently, although our state of preparedness may not be 100 per cent or perfect, and although a bit more time of additional preparation would enable us improve and perfect the current level of preparedness, we believe that we are ready for the elections as planned.” If “a bit more time of additional preparation would enable us improve and perfect the current level of preparedness,” why then did Jega say he was ready? Nigerians should read between the lines.

Well, whether we agree that INEC was ready or not, earlier, the task before Jega and INEC is to do everything that would ensure credible elections next month and April. First, INEC should produce and distribute all PVCs before the first set of elections. When Jega appeared before the Senate last week, he said one million PVCs were not printed yet. Between now and the deadline for the distribution of PVCs, in March, INEC must print all PVCs and distribute to points of delivery. There must be 100 per cent performance in this regard. To achieve this, INEC staff or adhoc staff must be at collection centres and must attend to everybody that comes. The issue of people going to distribution centres and not meeting INEC staff or not finding their cards, when they meet INEC staff, should never arise. If the cards are taken to the distribution centres and the staff are available but the cards are not collected by the owners, it would then not be INEC’s fault.

Second, INEC must clear the issues about the card readers. Jega has insisted that INEC must use the card readers. This is fine. However, the electoral commission must address the issues raised, to the effect that the machine cannot function for more than five to eight hours when fully charged and that if it ever shuts down, the data therein may not be retrieved immediately. Is this really the truth? What measures have INEC pit in place to ensue that the machines never run out of power and never shut down? For me, the INEC provision of replacing the machines, if they fail or/and postponing the elections where this happens is not convincing enough. How long will it take INEC to replace the machines?

Besides, INEC should reconcile Jega’s contradictions on the card reader. For the avoidance of doubt, Jega said he must use the card readers because the device would make multiple voting and election fraud impossible, as it would match fingerprints of voters with the PVCs. He had stated, in his report to the Council of State:   “Using the CRs has enormous advantages. First, once configured, it can only read PVCs issued by INEC. Second, it reads the embedded microchip in the card, not the barcode. Third, it enables authentication of the identity of the voter by matching his/her fingerprints with that stored on the chip. Fourth, it keeps a tally of all cards read, all cards verified/authenticated or not, with all their details.” How do we reconcile this claim of foolproof with the provision by Jega that if the fingerprints of the voter do not match the PVC, an “incidence form” will be filled and voter would still vote. He had stated: “If a voter’s PVC has been read and his details verified, but his fingerprints cannot be authenticated, or he/she has no fingers, an incidence form would be written by the Presiding Officer of the voting point and the voter would then be accredited. Party Agents and Observers would be there to testify to this.” Now, if a voter could still be allowed to exercise his franchise even if his fingerprint does not match the PVC, what then is the foolproof therein? How then would Jega’s card readers stop election fraud and multiple voting? The best thing to do is to stop voters whose fingerprints do not match their PVCs from voting. This is so because if those whose fingerprints do not match presented PVCs could vote, this means someone could actually use another person’s PVC.

To prove that it’s ready, the Federal Government must provide security during the elections, just as it has provided funds. The service chiefs asked for six weeks, within which to deal with Boko Haram, with the view to guaranteeing security during the elections. There have been reports of successes in the war against terrorists, as the military, working with neigbouring countries, are recapturing communities in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe earlier occupied by insurgents. When Boko Haram is eventually displaced, the government must protect the territories and also ensure adequate security across the country, suicide bombing inside the cities notwithstanding. Whatever measures required must be taken. The deployment of security agents, to ensure security during the election, must be done.

For the political parties, they should show that they are ready for the elections. This is so because the accusations and counter-accusations between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are raising some doubts that the parties really want the elections. In fact, the APC has taken its opposition to everything to a ridiculous level. The party is currently kicking against the deployment of soldiers for the elections. I am really surprised. When soldiers were deployed for Edo State governorship election, the APC did not see anything wrong with it, because its candidate, Adams Oshiomhole, won. When soldiers were used in Osun, APC did not see anything wrong, as its candidate, Rauf Aregbesola, won. But when its candidate, Kayode Fayemi, lost in Ekiti, the APC believes that soldiers were used to rig the election. And now for soldiers to be used for the general elections, APC is shouting from the rooftops against this. What’s it that APC wants? Does the parties want no security agent used during the elections or what?

For Nigerians, the success or otherwise of the elections is in their hands. Those who registered should collect their PVCs and also vote on Election Day. Failure to do this will rub off on the election. In the last elections, voters’ turnout was low, as a great percentage of those who registered did not  show up. Nigerians should reverse the trend this time. Voters should come out en masse across the country and vote. Any zone that shows voter apathy would lose out, when other zones come out in large numbers.

For me, what Nigerians need is an election they would be proud of. If everything is done right, the winner will win squarely while the loser will lose well. Despite our preference on who should be elected president, I believe that when everybody involved in the process plays required roles fairly and a winner emerges, Nigerians would take it in good fate, and let the balance go. I have said repeatedly that democracy does not always produce the best because voters have various reasons for supporting whatever candidate. Therefore, whoever wins, it’s his luck and God’s design. And the person may not be the best.

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Obasanjo: Of Babacracy and Babarism Fri, 20 Feb 2015 00:18:46 +0000 As a young boy in the Editorial Department of The Guardian Newspaper, some 25 years ago, one phrase my circle of friends used to taunt one of us was: Baba, you are wicked! ]]>

As a young boy in the Editorial Department of The Guardian Newspaper, some 25 years ago, one phrase my circle of friends used to taunt one of us was: Baba, you are wicked! This phrase came about when one young proofreader, feeling frustrated by his boss, a septuagenarian, confronted the old man. In anger, he had asked the man why he did not like his face. And not satisfied with the old man’s answer that his allegation was unfounded, the young man had blurted: Baba, you are wicked!

Stunned but not embarrassed, the old man, like a father, pacified the young proofreader and reassured him of his love. Of course, the proofreader was not convinced and stormed out of his boss’ office. Was he later sanctioned? No. The old man did not take any offence and never used it against the young man. But while my friend got away with this effrontery, he became a subject of taunting in our hands. Whenever we saw him then, we would shout: Baba, you are wicked. Even today, we still salute him: Baba, you are wicked.

Indeed, when, on Monday, former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, announced his exit from the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) and looking at his attacks on President Goodluck Jonathan, I wondered if the president, in a face-to -face meeting with Obasanjo, would not, like my friend, tell him: Baba, you are wicked. Yes, in the last few months, the former president has made the attack, ridicule and near-humiliation of the president a past time. He had various said that Jonathan was incompetent. He had accused his government of corruption. He had gathered women and in an effort to incite them, stated that the Jonathan government had depleted the foreign reserves he built while he was president. He went to the extent of showing preference to the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate against Jonathan, who is the standard bearer of the PDP, his political party. With this, one can actually declared: Baba Obasanjo, you are wicked. Why are you behaving like a bull in a China shop?

To be sure, Obasanjo has overdone his attacks on Jonathan. What is it that Jonathan has done that is not pardonable? Why can’t Obasanjo allow the president to drink water and hang the cup, as Igbo would say? If the former president does not like Jonathan or wants him to leave office at all costs, this is not why he should make the office of president to look stupid. He may think that by ridiculing Jonathan, he’s playing his role as a “statesman,” which he’s claiming to be. But the truth is that by his action, he’s belittling the office of the president and Nigeria, as country.

I watched the drama that played out when Obasanjo announced his exit from PDP and I started wondering what the former president thinks he’s doing. He can quit PDP. He can even join another political party. It’s his right. However, what I find funny is the way he went about it. It’s inconceivable that a former president would gather market women and some Agbekoyas, to make a show of dumping the PDP. Doesn’t it look childish that Obasanjo attempted to tear the PDP membership card, before handing it to the ward chairman of the party, who he then told to tear it? And after the card was torn, the women started dancing. The whole episode looked like where kids were playing. Someone had asked: Is that the kind of audience our all-knowing and infallible former head of state could muster? Well, what can I say?

Yes, what can I say, when Obasanjo, who was brought from prison and handed the ticket of PDP, a political party he contributed nothing to its formation and nurturing at that time, could stoop so low to make a show of the tearing of the party’s membership card? I think we should send our condolence, for one unsavoury elder statesman. He has just shown how ungrateful he could be. For him to attempt to disgrace a political party, which made him what he is politically, to the extent of standing by him when his people, the Yoruba, rejected him is a stab in the back. It’s wicked and unpardonable. And the PDP ward chairman, who tore the membership card, at Obasanjo’s prompting, is a disgrace to the political party. I wonder why the PDP has not sanctioned him for desecrating the sanctity of the ruling party. His action was an affront and a disgrace.

However, no matter how angry Obasanjo may be, he does not have to lose his head. He said he’s a statesman. By virtue of the offices he had occupied, as military head of state for three years and then again as elected president for eight years, coupled with his other accomplishments, he’s qualified to be a statesman. But he should behave like one. For a statesman to behave in an uncouth manner leaves much to be desired. It shows that some people actually do not understand their role and position in a country crying for leaders.

Methinks that Obasanjo’s criticism of Jonathan has nothing to do with his love for Nigeria. If he loves the country, as he a claims, he would not be doing things that would push the country to the precipice. He would rather take measures that would cause stability and not breach the peace. His penchant for maligning Jonathan, at every opportunity smacks of personal hatred.  He’s not the only person who may not be satisfied with the goings-on in the country. Other statesmen in the country are contributing their quotas, in one way or another, without publicising what they have done. But Obasanjo would rather make whatever he does public, so that Nigerians would praise him and see him as a lover of the nation. I do not see the difference between him and hypocrites, who Jesus Christ said love to pray in public so that people would see them and know that they pray. He may be enjoying the headlines but he’s indirectly making himself a laughing stock among discernible Nigerians. We will not forget his babarism. Of course, how can I forget the warning of Femi Adesina on his article some years ago, when he said of Obasanjo: ‘This man is dangerous.’

Come to think of it, is Obasanjo really the person, who should be pontificating about morality and good performance in office? I don’t think so. This is so because he’s guilty of all the things he’s accusing Jonathan of. Obasanjo said Jonathan is plotting tenure elongation. This is a man, whose government, eight years ago, plotted and worked for the extension of his tenure through constitution amendment. While the Obasanjo government worked for tenure elongation, money was deployed for advertisements and the inducement of federal legislatures. Would anybody forget the drama at the House of Representatives when bribe money was displayed? Now, because this failed, Obasanjo is now a saint. Of course, Nigerians are no fools. We all witnessed what happened and no amount of denial and whitewash in his book would erase the fact that his government wanted tenure elongation. We know the rot in his Babacracy.

Yes, Obasanjo has talked about corruption as endemic in the Jonathan government. It’s the same way people talked about corruption in his government. Does our Saint Obasanjo think that we were not in Nigeria when the Halliburton scandal broke? Of course, Nigerians will not forget the report of how officials in the Obasanjo government received bribe of high proportion over telecommunications contracts. That nobody was eventually put on trial does not mean that the report and accusation were untrue. Also, does Obasanjo think that Nigerians have forgotten what happened with the NIPP handled under his government?

If Obasanjo thinks that the criticism and somewhat opposition to Jonathan’s re-election is new in Nigeria, he should tell us what happened in 2003 when he wanted a second term. Didn’t PDP governors resist Obasanjo’s quest for second term? Or does the former head of state think we have forgotten the drama that played out when he begged to be given the PDP ticket for reelection? Of course, one does not blame Obasanjo. It’s Vice President Atiku Abubakar who should take the blame. If Atiku had heeded then PDP governors’ advice to pick the nomination form of the party and, therefore, get the ticket, would Obasanjo be talking today? But Atiku refused and supported Obasanjo for a second term and paid dearly for it. By getting a second term, Obasanjo laid the foundation for the burial of zoning, as the initial plan was to have him serve only one term and then power rotates to the North for another four years.  Now, the Obasanjo who did every thing to get a second term, to the extent of begging Atiku and then PDP governors, is now the person who’s hell bent on stopping Jonathan from getting a second term. How selfish could people be?

Well, now that Obasanjo has left the PDP, I hope we can have some peace. In any case, he can go on talking and making U-turns, just like he endorsed Buhari, in one breadth and denied doing so, in another. Nobody cares. What is sure is that the country would outlive the Obasanjos, who think that they are the best thing to ever happen to Nigeria. My message to him is this: Those who, directly or indirectly, want to destroy Nigeria, have their reward. Does Obasanjo think that if he incites the military to take power, he would be free? Well, I wish him good luck.

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