The Sun News » Ralph Egbu - Voice of The Nation Tue, 01 Sep 2015 15:51:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Neglect of Abia’s honey pot Sat, 29 Aug 2015 23:47:03 +0000 As you read this, I’m a sad man, devastated and my soul touched in a way I would never had wished. Those who listen to news and read the newspapers would have heard that over 14 per­sons perished and more than 30 were severely wounded last Sunday in a ghastly motor accident, which occurred at [...]]]>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ogbonnaya Onu and SGF post Sat, 22 Aug 2015 23:56:35 +0000 The political heat is on and this time it appears to have the features of a fine film, engagements, plots, intrigues, suspense and actions, and I’m happy we on this page are part of it and those who matter are taking us very serious. Last week on this page we stirred the hornet’s nest when [...]]]>

The political heat is on and this time it appears to have the features of a fine film, engagements, plots, intrigues, suspense and actions, and I’m happy we on this page are part of it and those who matter are taking us very serious. Last week on this page we stirred the hornet’s nest when we touched on the Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi/Nyesom Wike feud, and the bees began tum­bling from all directions. It was like the theatre of war was transferred from Rivers State to this page go­ing by the deluge of responses we received. That article was not about Amaechi and his political future per se, but was essentially a pre-warning about the emerg­ing dangerous trend whereby politicians and groups see the anti-corruption war as a strong weapon to settle political and per­sonal disagreements. I insist we should not allow that to happen.

A respondent tickled me when he wanted to know why I should nom­inate persons for the president. I let him know I even started late, and that it is the cardinal responsibility of the media to set agenda and part of agenda-setting includes exposi­tory write-ups on individuals with credible antecedents, particularly those who have had opportunities either in public or private service and acquitted themselves very cred­itably. We miss men and women of great capability because we have come to accept noise making and shamelessness as part of ability. So I am one of those happy that the Bu­hari style is about to change all that, that is if it has not done so already with the governors and party chief­tains rendered impotent to some degree in current nomination exer­cises. Today’s focus is on Buhari’s administration and the place of the South-East in the overall political equation of the president. Let me make this observation: the coming of Buhari into power is a welcome development. Some of us may not have foreseen it but from emerg­ing scenarios I concur that it is one tonic our nation needs at this stage of our development.

It has reconfigured political ste­reotypes and thinking, and made political leaders and political parties to realise that in a democracy the people remain the king. I’m sure that after Buhari’s tenure would have ended, impunity and the reck­less attitude of “what can they do” would have been dealt fatal blows. Let me make this point: govern­ance, where knowledge and pure motives are involved is a simple art, yet I must also admit that some administrative processes do throw up variables which can become sources of severe headache for the leaders. Buhari is in one of such moments in this nomination time. The pressure can be terrific, busi­ness moguls, political god-fathers, leaders of professional bodies, faith and tribal groups including the in­ternational community and their local agents, all want to be part of it. There is nothing wrong with this as plurality is the meat of democ­racy. Some say we should jettison religion and ethnicity and hang on to merit alone and my reaction has been to say, “There we go again on the wrong path.”

Some of the countries we point to as examples are inorganic in composition. America for instance has no serious indigene-ship chal­lenge like we have because it is an immigrants-filled nation. European nations are products of small con­quered settler colonies. In our case, the Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw, Efik, Hausa, just to mention but few, were fully established empires with distinct people, culture and compre­hensive administrative structures, some of which still exist. Not many know that the issue of representa­tion nearly caused America to break up. From what I see, Buhari realizes importance of representation, and I can see he is making strenuous efforts to meet the challenges of inclusiveness even though his at­tempts have not gone without some complaints, which naturally should be expected since human manage­ment is not a pure science, rather it is social science. Shortly after the elections, there were palpable fears that the Buhari presidency would discriminate against the South- South and South-East, but the ac­tions of his government in fewer than 100 days should by now had shattered that and replaced it with optimism especially with what has happened in the South-South. As you read this, a South-Southerner is the naval chief, and the award-winning national chairman of APC Chief Oyegun is from there, the Inspector-General of Police and the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Cor­poration (NNPC) are both from the South-South. Mention should also be made of the $1bn fund to com­mence the clean-up of Ogoni land from the effects of oil spillage.

This is not only a good story, and a confirmation of the President’s broadmindedness, it is a knock-out punch for those who thought other­wise. Those who love the president and want him to succeed must en­courage him to continue to walk along this part of greater victory; our nation is complex and so is its politics. The conservatives who are out of power now never rest and if my knowledge of our national politics is anything to go by, the test of Buhari’s hold on power would begin after the cabinet is fully constituted and what would stand the administration in good stead to weather the anticipated storm would be the pillars the president laid and how he laid them. Jimanze Ego-Alowes, a fellow columnist in The Sun taught a useful lesson which I think Buhari would find useful: it is about pissing in and out and he advised leaders to endeavor to ensure that everybody pisses out because if even one person pisses in, it has capacity to pollute the en­tire environment.

I must say I am happy APC is thinking about appointing an in­digene of South-East as the SGF. This is a killer punch; if it comes through, it has capacity to revive the people of the region and repo­sition them for higher and intense support for the Buhari administra­tion. I am however, saddened by the way some persons have turned what should be a friendly jostle for position to a war. There is backbit­ing, mud-slinging, baseless allega­tions and claims. The quest for the position ought not to be done that way! I understand a section of Yor­uba elites in APC led by Fashola want a South-South man; this won’t help the president. South-East poli­ticians in APC have also not con­ducted themselves properly on this issue, everybody is on his own and God for them all. I even learnt on good authority that Rochas Okoro­cha, a governor I am beginning to love with intensity fielded his in-law with inadequate political expe­rience; a gesture I think ought not to be, given that the South-East has in APC a man of Ogbonnaya Onu’s clout.

If the South-East caucus were true to themselves the issue of Og­bonnaya Onu’s candidacy would have long been resolved based on two critical factors of merit and influence, but because selfishness came in, the matter has lingered and now threatening to slip away. Onu is a first class academic who taught in a university in the South-South. He has remained a progressive poli­tician who never got swayed to join the bandwagon effects even with so much pressure. He was a key figure in the conceptualization of APC; he is contented and not controversial, well-loved in Igbo land and across the nation. If a former governor and presidential candidate does not have a support base, who then has? The truth is that Igbo is waiting for this announcement.

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Why Buhari should not let Amaechi down Sun, 16 Aug 2015 01:10:05 +0000 I like the typical Nigerian politician. One reason for this is that he can branch out of his conviction and embrace anything new even when he is not so sure what the whole thing is all about. He does not stop at that, he would rather try to rede­fine the new concept and to give [...]]]>

I like the typical Nigerian politician. One reason for this is that he can branch out of his conviction and embrace anything new even when he is not so sure what the whole thing is all about. He does not stop at that, he would rather try to rede­fine the new concept and to give it a bent that would suit his narrow pur­suit. I remember when it was popu­lar to accuse our leaders of human rights abuses and to make a political capital out of it. Our politicians, even without a proper understanding of what the whole issue was about, fell for it and suddenly it became a popular song on their lips and a strong weapon for undoing lead­ers, especially our military leaders and this was against overwhelming evidence that the civilian politicians were themselves the instigators and behind-the-scene executors of such human rights abuses. We have done all that for decades and the demand for us to press for hu­man rights abuses has gone down and the question would be if those naked dances and fake allegiance to the cause of human rights have eliminated issues of human rights abuses in our nation.

The contradiction arising from the above is what makes me very skepti­cal about moves by governments in the Third World to follow prescrip­tions given by foreign interests in a wholesale manner. Some of these pre­scriptions look good on the surface but those who made them and force us to take them as be-all-and-end-all solu­tion, know from their research that we are like the unskilled labourers whose job style wearies everybody. They know such suggestions are above our developmental levels and that they are not issues provoked by our internal experiences. So they know we would muddle up everything and come out in a worst state. Another issue that is taking the character of the above analogy is the war against corruption. Like the observation I made earlier, foreigners are telling us to fight cor­ruption, a noble suggestion no doubt and a very important one given what all of us have made of the vice. So it sounds good to the ears and the pre­vailing high level of hunger and dep­rivation in the land has made it appear like the number one project far ahead of vision and positive diligence. Like in the past, we have again embraced it without sparing time to examine the concept, see how it applies to us, whether it is something that is limited to certain public political office hold­ers or something that is pervasive and to determine the best methods to fight it without denigrating our collec­tive dignity as seems to be the case. If we stopped for a while to think, it is possible we would find out that you don’t essentially fight corruption, you solve it. You can’t continue to create an army of hungry and dislodged citi­zens and still expect to give corruption a knock-out; it will never work rather it would be an exercise in futility and in some cases the society can be the worst for it.

Our anti-corruption crusade seems not to be institutional and because it is not so it seems we are beginning to pay a price already. We hear al­legations and figures and we make them sound as the whole truth and this is when institutions involved are yet to commence investigation. If our crusade were to be properly stream­lined, accusations of corrupt practices should emanate from anti-corruption agencies and not from individuals and government houses as seems to be the case. The gap created is being exploit­ed by various political leaders for nar­row political gains and to settle what is in most instances personal conflicts. Today’s focus is on the increasing at­tacks against the former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Chibuike Amae­chi, from the River State Government House and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Secretariat in Abuja, making allegations of massive corruption against Amaechi. The ef­fort to pull down Amaechi has intensi­fied this August and I know it is on the basis that this month is Buhari’s final month for screening his ministers.

I am disturbed that the war that was first between Amaechi and former President Jonathan and later Gover­nor Nyesom Wike has continued even when the general elections for which the struggle was about has come and ended in a “no victor, no vanquished” position. From the way that election ended Amaechi got the presidency and Jonathan/Wike group got Rivers State, a very rich oil state. This, for us should be enough compensation for each of the combating groups and enough incentive to cease the political altercation, which is causing so much pain, destruction and general uneasi­ness. It is possible the combatants en­joy this; after-all a friend of mine who was told that crowns go with uneasi­ness retorted, “Give me the crown and leave me to suffer the uneasiness.” It is possible that my friends and brothers from the Niger Delta region are like this my friend.

Whatever be the case, it is time for elders from the region and other well-meaning Nigerians to rise and tell them their actions are becoming in­imical to progress in Rivers State and Nigeria as a whole. It would be proper to let them know that what Nigerians see in the whole conflict is personal pursuit, masked in the guise of public good. Lately, it is gradually turning into a vendetta fought in the best tra­ditions of the mafia dons, which says pursue and weary your opponent until he is unable to offer any other resist­ance. The Rivers State Government since assumption of office has car­ried on in a manner that clearly sug­gests that it has intension to politically kill and bury Amaechi and its recent outburst is in that line and it shouldn’t take extra efforts for Buhari to under­stand this motive. The Rivers State Government and the PDP may be par­tially right in doing what they are do­ing; after all it is in their best interest to stop a maverick politician like Amae­chi from having a political foothold. That would be against their political rest and survival. On the other hand an empowered Amaechi would be an asset to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its future political fortunes in the Niger Delta region.

I said during the National Assem­bly leadership crises that President Buhari should learn to play politics alongside his change principle. This is democracy and consolidation of party and power would always be up­permost. Change agents always find it difficult to win power and when they win, to consolidate it, because of the wrong notion that political strategy begins and ends with talking, ranting, interviews, good intensions and some degree of positive practical action. But like I would always say, the masses either in time of wealth or deprivation would always look up to a vanguard. So the Amaechi politics and challenge is one Buhari must face squarely, deal with it resolutely and ensure it is set­tled on the side of Amaechi. Amaechi is one of the best governors to have ruled a part of this country; his educa­tion policy remains one of the best in the whole world.

He took a risk based on his princi­ples and that adventure had the poten­tial to destroy or make him; now it has turned out well, it should be made and not “de-winged” I am not happy when I see highly placed APC chieftains like Amaechi and Ogbonnaya Onu call gatherings and receive awards to remind us of their high placing and huge sacrifices without which APC would not be. The place of such men ought to have been decided and made known to them; that is how to build a party that is ready to hold onto power for many decades, I hope APC knows this.


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Tinubu: Repeating mistakes of Afonja, Awolowo, Abiola, Diya Sat, 08 Aug 2015 23:11:15 +0000 Peoples’ parliament BY OGBONNAYA WILLIAMS One of the tragedies of the Bourbon ruling class of France after Waterloo of June 18, 1815, was that they came back to power, having learnt and forgotten nothing. They came back to power in France and continued to repeat the same mistakes that gave birth to the rise of [...]]]>

Peoples’ parliament


One of the tragedies of the Bourbon ruling class of France after Waterloo of June 18, 1815, was that they came back to power, having learnt and forgotten nothing. They came back to power in France and continued to repeat the same mistakes that gave birth to the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte and other characteristics of the era. This appears to be true of some per­sonalities in Yoruba history, who saw themselves as the messiahs of their era, but ended up disillusioned. They never got what they wanted because they were propelled by ego, blind hatred and illusions of what they wanted to achieve. This is the same with Alhaji Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who has erroneously been dressed in the robe of a political giant, when ordi­narily he is a political opportunist, masquerading and praying to be ad­dressed as Asiwaju Yorubaland.

He has got the first baptism of fire at the Senate where Senator Bukola Saraki emerged as Senate President. Tinubu wanted to have the Vice Presi­dency and Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Buhari presi­dency. What an illusion! The political amalgam that became the All Progres­sives Congress, APC, which Tinubu, no doubt was the midwife, would soon be the Achilles heel for his political ha­rakiri. The 3rd Republic Senator and former Lagos State governor will soon regret to have made the mistake of his life with the formation of APC. This was the mistake made by Afonja of Ilorin, who, as the Aare Onakanfanfo of Yorubaland, developed a morbid hatred for the reigning Alaafin of Oyo, his boss and emperor of the old Oyo Empire. Tinubu’s hatred for President Goodluck Jonathan was unparralled.

Afonja invited the Fulani jihadist, Alimi, whom he joined up with and destroyed the old Oyo Empire. He thought he would free himself from the influence and power of the Alaafin. The duo on getting back to Ilorin, af­ter the destruction of old Oyo town­ship and empire, Alimi taught Afonja the lesson of his life. Ilorin became an Emirate with Afonja killed. The Muslim Fulanis took over Ilorin land, where till date 95 per cent of the Yor­uba population is ruled by less than 5 pwer cent Fulanis.

Governor Mohammed Lawal, the ANPP Governor of Kwara State (1999- 2003) an Afonja descendent who thought he could force the Fulani’s to retreat and re-write the 200-years old history of the emirate was shoved aside by the Olooye himself, Senator Abuba­kar Olusola Saraki, a Yorubanised Fu­lani. Lawal’s elevation of the Baloguns of Ilorin to Obaship status, (including his father), was reversed by Governor Bukola Saraki.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo repeated the same mistake of Afonja during the Nigerian Civil war (1967-1970). When the then Lt. Colonel Yakubu Gowon came to power on August 1st, 1966, one of the first things he did was to re­lease Awolowo from prison. Realizing that he could not consolidate his grip on power without the backing of the Yoruba, Gowon promptly constituted a Federal Executive Council domi­nated by some of Awos-prewar allies like Joseph Tarka, Aminu Kano and Chief Anthony Enahoro etc. Gowon made Awolowo the Vice-Chairman of the Federal Executive Council and Federal Commissioner for Finance, a position that was equivalent of the position of Prime Minister of Nigeria, which Awolowo had been dreaming of all his life.

Having used Awolowo to vanquish the people of former Eastern Nigeria (Biafrans) Awolowo thought that be­coming the Prime Minister of Nigeria could be his by mere asking for it from those he served during the war (the Northern establishment) as soon as the war ended. Lo, that was never to be as he clearly saw the handwriting on the wall.

Early in 1971, Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo, to the consterna­tion of his people, resigned from Gow­on’s cabinet. Awolowo’s attempt to be President of Nigeria in 1979 and 1983 through his UPN failed. Neither Chief Philip Umeadi nor Alhaji Mohammed Kura (his running mates) could get him the Igbo or Northern votes in the two elections. Four years after 1983 (1987) Awolowo died, a frustrated man even though he was described as the best President Nigeria never had.

The late MKO Abiola, made the same mistake of Afonja and Awolowo during the 2nd Republic. Abiola in 1980 floated the Concord Group of Newspapers to fight the Tribune group owned by Obafemi Awolowo, in the Western states of Nigeria. He financed and bankrolled the National Party of Nigeria in Ogun State and other Odua states. Concord Press Nigeria Limited Group of newspapers fought and ex­posed Awolowo’s 1000 plots of land deal in Maroko. Having or thinking he had served the Northern establishment enough, in 1982, Umaru Dikko told Abiola to his face that Nigeria (North­ern) presidency was not for the highest bidder. In anger, Abiola resigned from the NPN and said good-bye to Nige­rian politics.

In 1993, Abiola, now the darling of Yorubas and Nigeria though he was ripe for Nigerian presidency was de­nied the victory of June 12, which is now a recurring point in the country’s history. His friend, Ibrahim Babangida and the Northern establishment denied him the Presidency, even when Abiola was a Muslim like them. Again, Abiola in November 18, 1993, was the first to go to Dodan Barracks to congratulate Sani Abacha for sacking his brother, Ernest Shonekan. Abiola even nomi­nated Ministers, with such Progres­sives as Lateef Jakande, Baba Gana Kingibe, Ebenezer Babatope, etc into Sani Abacha’s first cabinet. Abiola had the false belief that Abacha would hand over to him after one year. After a year, June 1994, Abiola made his fa­mous Epetedo Declaration, which led his detention by Abacha until July 8, 1998, when Abiola mysteriously died after drinking tea in the presence of Americans.

The foxy General Sani Abacha when he seized power in 1993, el­evated or demoted General Oladipo Diya as Chief of General Staff from position of Chief of Defence Staff to consolidate his grip on power. Very soon, Diya, acting his master’s script, used the Federal might to batter the NADECO, Afenifere, Odua Move­ment and other real Progressives of the Yoruba struggle. Tinubu even went on exile.

Soon after, Diya bankrolled the ac­tivities of the Imeri Group as Dr. Bode Olajumoke’s home in Imeri, at the periphery of Ondo state soon became the political Mecca and centre of Yor­uba politics. Diya even facilitated the Yoruba man’s position in the emerg­ing UNCP, which was begging Aba­cha among five leprous fingers of the same hand (apology to Bola Ige) to be their presidential candidate. Seeing that he would have no place in Abacha’s transmutation in a civilian presidency, Diya wanted to be clever through coup plotting. He almost paid with his head, thanks to expiration of General Sanni Abacha on June 8, 1998 in controver­sial circumstance.

With the failure of ACN, CPC and ANPP to wrest power from Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, Ahmed Bola Tinubu threw in everything and convinced all the others to dissolve and form the APC, which was meant to have Gen­eral Muhammadu Buhari achieve his ambition to be Nigerian Head of State once again.

Sooner than later, Tinubu would re­alize that the real owners of APC from the North would emerge. They will as Alimi did to Afonja in 1830 Ilorin. At the first post-election convention of the APC, this year, Tinubu would no longer be the National Leader of APC, while such paperweights as Odigie- Oyegun and Lai Mohammed will be swept aside. History, it is said, repeats itself. What can Tinubu manipulate with four APC controlled states in the southwest, while 16 Northern APC states, Imo and Edo states are not un­der his control.

This article is a reaction to the discourse titled “Let Saraki, Ekweremadu and Dogara be” which was published on this page on Sunday July 19, 2014.

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Re: Politics of appointment of service chiefs Sat, 01 Aug 2015 23:59:25 +0000 Ralph, the body language of a leader is enough to de­termine the real essence of his thrust. So from the opening stanza of Buhari’s steps, there is little hope for meaningful change from the usual trend in leadership style and this is in spite of the touted “change” mantra of the rul­ing party. His actions [...]]]>

Ralph, the body language of a leader is enough to de­termine the real essence of his thrust. So from the opening stanza of Buhari’s steps, there is little hope for meaningful change from the usual trend in leadership style and this is in spite of the touted “change” mantra of the rul­ing party. His actions so far reflect vendetta against assumed foes. The change of security chiefs and what would follow in terms of re­tirements would definitely affect quality of command in the security forces. The transfer of Boko Haram suspects to Anambra prisons and failure to give a South-Easterner any significant post so far, for the discerning minds, reeks of political vendetta. His bailout of governors who could not pay workers salary, most of them from APC without due process is unconstitutional. The military instinct displayed as shown by his actions thus far is not representative of democratic principles. His response to Boko Haram’s deadlier operations is dis­turbing. Reneging on his promise not to meddle in NASS constitu­tional rights to operate as they wish leaves a lot to be desired. These are ominous signs. No ill feelings but only truth would help Buhari to succeed. God save Nigeria. Lai Ashadele– 07067677806

Sir, I have been following your write ups in the Sunday Sun but your column of July 19, 2015, was writ­ten as if you were in my mind. It’s quite disrespectful how we sack our public officers, who give all to serve us because of change of government. To be frank, if this administration does not change from the winner takes all mentality, it may achieve nothing. On appointment so far, they should understand that Nigeria stands on three legs hence neglecting one means threatening the rest. My brother Ralph more grease to your elbow.

Eberechukwu– 08100118474

How can things be right when we have National assembly that goes on one month holidays barely a day af­ter inauguration. It is indicative of the relevance of that arm of government to good governance. The irony of this development is that many members of the 8th National Assembly have been strong advocates of good gov­ernance. They were there when the calls for holidays were made and they kept quiet. We are held hostage by those we call politicians, we have entered ‘one-chance’ bus indeed. Ro­manusNdehigwo – 08024209181

Ralph, I wonder why important things don’t always matter to us. Im­agine retiring 25 to 30 generals be­cause we want to promote one or two officers of our preference. The loss to the nation is akin to the leakages we want to plug in the oil business. The only difference is that the gale of retirement is willful while the loss in the sector is forced. It is just naked nepotism. Thanks.

Emma Okoukwu

- 08036742467

Ralph, I have always commended your commentaries, they are full of ideas. The piece of July 19, on ap­pointment of service chiefs was no different. You raised three critical issues: career rights in the security services, federal character balanc­ing and what to do to eradicate the challenge of Boko Haram. All the is­sues raised are very serious subheads that can’t be adequately handled in a small space such as you have done, yet your concise work did justice to them all. I agree with you that we must have a structure that would en­able professionals in public sector to pursue their careers to the peak with­out disruption on account of change of heads of government. They can only go when there is a fundamental breach of the code of conduct. Bal­ancing is also very important even when we are talking merit. Even America with over 200 years of dem­ocratic practice is yet to outgrow the challenge of plurality. The election of Obama is obviously a response to the maltreatment and marginaliza­tion of Blacks and other minorities in that country. I am not Igbo but I’m convinced that in a sector as serious as the security sector,a strategic tribe like the Igbo should have a repre­sentation. Like you, I also think we have not employed the best strategies to fight the Boko Haram insurgency. In other places like you rightly ob­served, it would be the peoples’ fight, everybody would be on it, tak­ing pictures and handing them over to security agents, alert to strange movements and calling the attention of relevant agencies. But that is not the case here. Let us hope that un­der Buhari, things would chang. He needs time and I am willing to give it to him. Effanga– 08077035142

May this country never lack men like you, Ralph. May God con­tinually protect you from evil men. Amen! Evangelist Paul Onuoha– 08063762820

Appointments should be based on merit so that we can move for­ward; let’s put sentiments aside, we need change. Chika Nnorom– 07084644222

These days we hear every appoint­ment from PMB is ascribed to merit. Following this development, if Femi Adesina’s postulation is to be taken with a pinch of salt, it is not difficult to conclude that we have a prepon­derance of more qualified people in the north than south. I am sure that if the constitution does not prescribe that a minister must be appointed from every state of the federation, probably we would wake up one day to see that all ministers come from Daura in Kastina State. Well, if we have suddenly fallen in love with meritocracy, let it also be applied in employment, recruitments and pro­motions in federal establishments, admission of candidates into unity schools and in all facets of engage­ment as a nation.GarubaShehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media to the President in a veiled form ap­pealed to the south whose patience is fast waning over the seeming lop­sided nature of the recent political appointments and asked them not to lose hope as there are still upto 6,000 more vacancies in government yet to be filled. I am sure there are still spaces for gardeners, carwash opera­tors, dog attendants, etc at Aso Rock. God bless us and God bless Nigeria. 08033500089

Sir thanks for your intervention in the piec, Politics of Appointments… If I got you right you want the new service chiefs to study the French model of reaction in Mali and in France. Please, can you expand on this and if possible can you recom­mend it to any documented referenc­es. Thanks once again for you stimu­lating write-up. Augustine Ogunedo – 08037805261

Note: In both instances, the citizens were part of the efforts. In France, Islamic fundamentalist threat is seen as one against the nation. The President made a broadcast declar­ing the threat a national concern, and from that point every citizen became a security agent of some sort. It was the citizens who discovered the loca­tion of the hoodlums.

Please let me use this platform to ask Southern APC leaders like Okorocha, Oshiomhole, Ngige and Amaechi what they are saying about Buhari’s one sided federal appoint­ments. 08024209181

Greetings Mr. Ralph, please I de­mand some clarification from this current political administration; is Nigeria still a federal state? I am puz­zled about these polarized and lop­sided appointments being made by President Buhari. Fear of ethnic dna­tion has been a problem our brand of federalism. I think he should be cautioned to avoid marginalization. Let there be equity and federal char­acter in the matrix of power. What have people from the Igbo nation done that they are always relegated to the background in the corridors of power at the centre. May be there are archives about the atrocities they committed that I am yet to read in the nation’s chronicle. So with all due respect, I call the attention of the president to the fact that Nigeria is a Federal State and everybody must be carried along.

Ngene Christian – 07033029082


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LET Saraki, Ekweremadu, Dogara be Sat, 25 Jul 2015 23:50:19 +0000 The nation’s political scene is indeed bubbling and throwing up develop­ments, yet if I were to draw a conclusion, I would not go the way of most Nigerians, who believe that some awkward situations have come into be­ing. Ask them what it is they are talking about, they point to the crisis in the National [...]]]>

The nation’s political scene is indeed bubbling and throwing up develop­ments, yet if I were to draw a conclusion, I would not go the way of most Nigerians, who believe that some awkward situations have come into be­ing. Ask them what it is they are talking about, they point to the crisis in the National Assembly over choice of leader­ship and particularly over the inability of the ruling party to settle matters in-house and then to the situation, where an opposition member emerged the Deputy Senate President, which for them is an absurdity indicative of big trouble ahead. I don’t share the pessimism. For me, everything has played out to expectation and I want to state with emphasis that noth­ing new or surprising has taken place, for those who know his­tory and particularly history of development of nations.

In America, for instance, there were times strong political parties that even won seats in parliament dissolved at the speed of light. I even came across one hilari­ous occasion, when a president elected on a particular platform, decided to abandon the party to form a new one, taking along with him the mandate he got on the old platform. Boko Haram even though under a different guise also happened in America. At some point in that nation’s history, especially under the era of Great Awakening, many youths carried arms and said they did not want education. They threatened society, disrupted activities and even killed inno­cent citizens. Cultism was there as well as kidnappings; it is this knowledge that makes me remain stable amid the things happening in this nation, knowing that they are just a passing phase.

Today, those vices are either no longer part of the American democracy or exist in much diminished form that they don’t constitute obstacles or threat to the wheel of progress. For us, some of these vices are here with us in various dimensions much against our will. I use the phrase against our will restrictively and this is within the context that a few knowledgeable ones among us would have wished that with the availability of history we ought to make far lesser mis­takes. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case and the reason is we have become a people immune to happenings around us. Some say that we are “unshockable” and I agree; we have succeeded in creating a subculture, which sedates and makes us passive and aloof to the significance of events around us, consequently rendering us inca­pable of appropriate response(s) when occasion so demands. That America today has an orderly nation was not by accident; it was and still remains a case of painstaking efforts, with the executive branch, the legislature, the politicians and the people re­sponding to every aberration with new laws and sanctions applied without fear or favour. Discipline was the watchword and I think that is what is lacking here.

The issue in focus is the crises that hit APC, shortly after win­ning power and especially, the bungle that APC leaders made over leadership matters in the National Assembly. The fracas in the National Assembly is a testa­ment of what many of us feared was a simmering difference in the party over a long time. Even then, I hold the strong view that the explosion that eventually came to be was avoidable if ours were a nation where we take the lessons of history very seriously. Past political history and behav­iour show clearly that coalitions are always a difficult thing to manage and we all know that our politicians are first driven by their ambitions before anything else. So experiences would have taught that early discussions, negotiations, compromise and consensus are the pathways to stability. The indication we have now shows that the motivators of this great party did not come to terms with the above factors and as such what was obviously an avoidable trouble landed on their laps to their chagrin and of course, discomfort.

I have heard some people talk about politicians being selfish and over ambitious. My response has always been to enlighten that behind every man’s desire is an aspect that has to do with enlight­ened self-interest. The pipe that carries water can’t but be wet; also there is nothing wrong about harbouring an ambition and to have passion as its twin brother. Without the two, destiny would become a mirage. The truth is that most of man’s activities are capable of inflicting harm on society but harmful effects are guided against by the rules we put in place, how vigorous we apply them and the values we im­plant in our citizens. So, what can be done on this matter? Simple: the core APC leadership should embrace Saraki and Dogara and declare them once again their own property. They must receive verifiable assurances that they will not come to any harm as a result of what transpired. Presi­dent Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will lead on this mission. I have been taken aback by the president’s position that he won’t interfere on such matters.

The truth is that given our kind of political structure, the Presi­dent, once he emerges becomes the leader of the party and even if he were not to be so explicitly named, the President commands so much influence which at all times should be deployed to the advantage and well-being of his political party. In this instance, Buhari is the biggest single influ­ence in the party while Tinubu stands for the biggest tendency. So, their collective pull is what is needed to give APC plenty of stability. Any other path other than this is likely to leave APC deeply bruised and highly frag­mented. As it is today, parties to the conflict on the APC side have been hurt and a veiled demarca­tion created, and in the minds of Saraki and Dogara, their best line of defense remains the PDP, so any unfriendly push may force them to cross the Rubicon.

But a warm embrace has all the potential to make them remain steady and keep their loyalty to the president and of course to the party that brought them to power. I have not had a close, face-to-face encounter with the two men at the center of the conflict at the National Assembly, but from their activities they have proved to be great patriots, who love this nation so much and would never do anything to create problems for it. APC certainly needs the political sagacity and reach of Saraki and Dogara. If Dogara belongs to Winners Chapel as we have seen on television, I can swear that he is a good man both at heart and in action, and like Buhari, is transformative in ideals. My advice to the two, however, is that they must also take steps to reassure the party that they are not up to any harm and that they subscribe to party supremacy, because many other issues will crop up in coming months that would test their belief in the concept of party supremacy. For all members of APC and indeed other political parties, Ekweremadu has become like the pest on the scrotum, es­pecially now that he carries Igbo sympathy. In-spite of this initial hiccup, I am optimistic APC as a party would acquit itself very creditably under the Buhari leadership.


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Politics of appointment of service chiefs Sat, 18 Jul 2015 23:00:50 +0000 At last, the long awaited face of the Buhari administra­tion is beginning to unfold, and it is expected that any mo­ment from now, we would have the full picture. On Monday, the president gave an inkling of what his style of administration will look like when he took the military top brass by surprise with [...]]]>

At last, the long awaited face of the Buhari administra­tion is beginning to unfold, and it is expected that any mo­ment from now, we would have the full picture. On Monday, the president gave an inkling of what his style of administration will look like when he took the military top brass by surprise with the an­nouncement of his appointees to the positions of service chiefs. The army top hierarchy were having their annual conference somewhere and talking tough over the security situation, when taciturn Buhari pulled the rug from under the feet of some of their commanders. I don’t know whether they felt bad or relieved but whatever was the case, what happened was expected giving the convention we have estab­lished over some years.

The development as would be expected, attracted mixed reac­tions, and would continue to at­tract attention for various reasons including how the appointments affected some of the geo-political zones. To begin with, we must con­cede the right to so appoint to the president; in fact it is constitutional. He also has the prerogative of time. I have heard this issue of being slow or contemplative for an ad­ministration that is just starting and my position is that human manage­ment is as we know not a pure sci­ence, which means there are many ways and styles of walking into so­lutions. A leader may choose to be hot and act with frenzy and another would come along and choose to be calm and strategic. I think that the new lesson the Buhari era is teaching us, and very strongly too, is that citizens once they give away power should be able to watch and see.

Nevertheless, the change of ser­vice chiefs anywhere in the world is a big issue and carries with it huge significance. Foreign nations, through their embassies, watch such development very closely, be­cause of the stories they tell about the strength of the incumbent gov­ernment and the character of the national army. Citizens take it very seriously, because of what these of­ficers could do to change the face of politics in a society still ravaged by the negative sides of religion and ethnicity. This latter factor is likely to trail for a long time the recent ap­pointment of service chiefs. I can mention one here: the people of the south-east already are kicking that in such a crucial sector, where over seven key appointments were announced, not one came from the south-east. It does not look funny if the goal is to create a new syn­ergy in which everybody would be united to fight deviants and subver­sives, who make our lives unduly difficult.

The presidential spokesman spoke of merit and from the names we saw it could well be true that plenty of emphasis was rightly placed on knowledge and abil­ity, which are things we need for the moment. But in a plural soci­ety such as ours, closing our eyes totally to our diversity can also throw up obstacles that can render merit impotent. Every man is usu­ally influenced by his environment! When in areas where I operate peo­ple talk so much about merit, I usu­ally tell them that merit is no longer the scarce, mystical rod it used to be in the 60’s and early 70’s. To­day, in nearly every family across this nation one can find one person that can give this nation qualitative leadership. They are not in the fore­front because some satanic cabals have succeeded in scaring away the people from the cardinal responsi­bility of recommending and choos­ing leaders and have forcefully tak­en it upon themselves to play the role. This trend took a worst form with the illegal entry of the military into politics and its effects we still suffer today in all facets of national life including administrative struc­tures that got distorted.

The recent promotion has re­vived in me a concern that has been with me for a very long time and it has to do with frequent changes of well-trained public officers, es­pecially of the security apparatus. Such sweeping away is highest when we have change of guards at the highest level of national lead­ership. With the recent appoint­ments, some officers whose tenure were still supposed to run would now have their careers terminated abruptly not because they are low performers or that they committed crimes, but simply because a jun­ior officer has been elevated above them. I see waste in this kind of structure and I think the nation is worst for it. Today, we say that our army is not a fighting force and our police ineffective; for those look­ing for reasons, the above offers more than enough reasons. I don’t think democratic administrative structures were made in such a way that we consciously throw away our best brains and experts. What brought about this aberration is the military, who on their climb to power through coups appoint only men they believe will be loyal to the president and commander-in-chief.

We inadvertently carried over this abnormality into civilian rule, and if I were to predict, it was cer­tain that the army chief under Bu­hari would be a Muslim of North­ern extraction. The logic behind this is not merit but the belief that one’s tribesman would offer great­er loyalty and enhanced protection. This view has gained grounds be­cause the structures that should sift and produce leaders, whose loyalty would be to the nation has been distorted and bastardized and we have taken recourse to getting leaders based on primordial con­siderations. Today, we are paying dearly for it; since we are talking about change, we can change this by putting in place a new system that would throw up leaders to man security positions and to have them insulated from the vagaries of naked politics. I want a situa­tion like the Pentagon in America where the security chiefs pursue their careers and those who pay the price of change are the Secretary of Defence and the National Security Adviser.

For the new appointees, they should know they have been called to duty at the most difficult time. To achieve results they will have to think outside the box and they should be very fast about it. I want to see the troops profession­ally massed in trouble areas; they should study closely the French model of reaction, first in Mali and back home in France, I’m sure they will find very useful lessons. One thing that has remained lacking in our security fights is citizens’ par­ticipation and I want to say it is very important. The president should make a national broadcast just on security, making it a real citizen’s issue. The new security chiefs and this government should not be shy of introducing new measures and rectifying the destroyed ones. One of such is the removal of the mili­tary from routine internal security matters. The fear of some of us in areas where there is relative peace is that things would get worse be­cause police is in a bad shape. The truth is the same reason we ought to return the police to their core responsibilities, equip them, train, restructure, recreate the mobile po­lice force, and if need be establish a National Guard, all these perhaps at different levels of government, let them loose with new mandates. We run away from problems or take the easy route because we don’t want to exert our brains and body. I want Buhari to succeed and I’m praying and working so that he succeeds.

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RE: Real reasons our nation is broke Sat, 11 Jul 2015 23:00:18 +0000 Readers’ Forum There are so many things to talk about like is Buhari really slow, NASS leadership crisis, politi­cal parties and their elected officials, Boko Haram/Igbo controversy and the embarrassment of Ike Ekwer­emadu; but only one man can’t build a great nation. So people’s voices must be heard. From this edition the people would sit [...]]]>

Readers’ Forum

There are so many things to talk about like is Buhari really slow, NASS leadership crisis, politi­cal parties and their elected officials, Boko Haram/Igbo controversy and the embarrassment of Ike Ekwer­emadu; but only one man can’t build a great nation. So people’s voices must be heard. From this edition the people would sit under a new plat­form “Readers Forum” and no longer “Peoples Parliament.” So, read on…

Ralph current issues are very im­portant, but crying won’t solve the problems. I crave the indulgence of President Muhammadu Buhari to start addressing the problems of unemploy­ment and power immediately. I think those dysfunctional areas in our coun­try should be given pragmatic attention in this current dispensation. Other mat­ters mentioned during APC election­eering campaign should be secondary. We can’t continue this way. Most times I wonder what we can boast of as Nige­rian citizens? Thanks.

Empty treasury: why is it that it is in this dispensation that state governors are crying about empty treasury, that they cannot pay workers in their states? I’m still trying to fathom out the whole drama and why are they still occupy­ing the office that there is no available fund to run: what is actually happening in Nigeria?

  1. C. Christian – 07033029082

The patriots have since warned that the artificial amalgamated “Nigeria” out of many African ethnic nations in January 1914 by the British for her sole interest, which has lasted 100 years, expired on 31st December 2014. The “ides” of 1914 amalgamation haunts Nigeria, full of ethnic and political dis­trust, religious and cultural divides and threats of cessation. For now there is no basis for unity, only a National Con­ference appears to be the solution to predictable disintegration by violence. – 08073848293

Ralph, the public knows what you are doing with your pen and your brain. God Almighty will locate you soon­est for higher calling. You may please wish to write on the imperative of states knowing that what we practice should be federalism so they should not al­ways hasten to Abuja for bailout to pay salaries and execute other constitution­ally-assigned responsibilities.

Dr. Fortune – 07068911760

Ralph Egbu, I really like your ar­ticulations. Please I would like you to also write on the transfer of Boko Harm convicts/suspects to Anambra State. – 08034320991

Ralph, I desire to talk with you, you are indeed a prophet –

Ify – 09094584497

Ralph, last week’s discourse from your ever-flowing pen was one of the best to come from you in recent times. I guess you were angry with the empty people, who are making a song of empty treasury. Leaders in our nation made a mess of development econom­ics; they have issues but waste money on their past times which I call criminal activities. They have no industries and no industrial clusters that would make their environment investment-friendly and so attract people. Instead of think­ing along this line, they began by build­ing airports that would be used by them and their few friends who ride private jets. Oshiomhole that is talking about financial recklessness has he not built houses in his country home, Kaduna and Abuja and sometime was cruising around in a helicopter, including going to Cape Verde in private jets and chop­pers. Where did a labour leader get the money? I saw him talk on Channels about projects being important over salaries! Which one is more impor­tant, projects or lives? Will the dead use good schools and good roads? It is human beings that develop the society. Lack of priority apart from blood reek­ing with kleptomania that is responsi­blefor our finances growing wings and flying away.

Bro. Ralph, I love you because my day has been made by your usual write-ups.

Nkwor Mike – 07010158555

Ralph, I bet if the National Assem­bly and State Assembly leadershipa are part time or salaries drastically slashed, there will be no interest to go there neither would there be fighting again but “vacancies” for the various posts. The allowances lead to “do or die” in our polity not the urge to serve. 08067236310

Ralph, it is either you are joking or you are naïve. You don’t know why a state governor would take a third of the monthly allocation of his state as his personal security allowance? Because that is what the big man needs to pro­tect himself and his pot of pepper soup. That is only why N48 billion naira in 4 years or N96 billion naira if he spends two terms. That is why the governor fought and won the do or die election. I don’t know who would stop the waste. The man who spent 12 years fighting for a job for which he has no plans? Forget Nigeria. 07056286594

Ralph, today you appear to be a new convert to the change movement. This is in contrast to your anti-reality posi­tion during the electioneering period. Only God knows how many people were misled by your views, then. But thank God change has come. Ohimai – 08033390480

Ralph, there is no reason to doubt the absolute correctness of political leadership class being responsible for the problems confronting Nigeria and Nigerians today as aptly enunci­ated in your piece, “Real reasons our nation is broke”. The reasons are not lost on the political class too. A good number of southern leaders fought for independence, paying the cost for it with their lives, like some countries in central and southern African region, which got independence after several lives were lost. With that, they got bet­ter appreciation of power and dished it out to others rightly. Military interven­tion in Nigeria destroyed noble leader­ship qualities and replaced them with treasury looting, ethnic and religious interest, thereby redefining politics as personal and ethnic survival. Military escalated corruption and since then it has grown. Discovery of crude oil in­creased it. Solution is in reintroduction of First Republic mode of governance; it is doubtful if current leaders are for it. God save Nigeria! Lai Ashadele – 07067677806

The reason Nigeria is always broke is that transparency, accountability, pro­bity are not the watchwords of govern­ance. It is very unfortunate and sad.

Chika Nnorom – 07084644222

God bless you for today’s “Real rea­sons our nation is broke”. You are truly Abian, nwafor. Great Abian. That man that speaks the truth. We need more of you.

Nwawuihe – 09050649193

Elder Ralph, I have just gone through your latest piece on “Real rea­sons our nation is broke”. Though quite revealing, but my question is, who will bail the cat?

  1. N. Dennis – 08033398825

Ralph you have done it again, do you think they will read your piece? For where! Truth hurts them as the name of Jesus hurts Satan and his serv­ants. Keep it up; don’t relent for your words are recorded both here and in heaven. 08035626450

Ralph, please don’t get carried away by the NNPC budget. The break down will show you that it is mainly for JV contributions, turn around main­tenance etc. The business is capital intensive. Oshiomhole as far as I am concerned is a lucky illiterate. Adamu – 08033410110.


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Real reasons our nation is broke Sat, 04 Jul 2015 23:18:42 +0000 Peoples’ parliament ‘Even Rochas Okorocha and Adams Oshiomhole who handed over to themselves are complaining of the empty treasury; Nigeria I tire for you ooo.’ The times are getting very inter­esting and the political scene is throwing up things many of us will like to see and hear. At the National Assembly politicians are devoting [...]]]>

Peoples’ parliament

‘Even Rochas Okorocha and Adams Oshiomhole who handed over to themselves are complaining of the empty treasury; Nigeria I tire for you ooo.’

The times are getting very inter­esting and the political scene is throwing up things many of us will like to see and hear. At the National Assembly politicians are devoting all the time for a smooth take-off to fighting over supremacy. They want to establish who will be in control of the processes, there­by the country’s precious time. If you bother to ask them why they are engaged in this fight, what you get is a lame response that they want to establish their independ­ence. Independence over what, you wonder! Meanwhile the na­tion remains the big loser. Lack of sense of mission is the major issue troubling our nation, and the inabil­ity to know what the priority should be. Almost at the same time there are other matters unfolding which are pointers to the way our leaders since independence have misman­aged our nation and still expected it to remain financially buoyant.

These latest issues are not new, ex­cept that we have tended to be afraid to ask questions or demand that a stop be put to them. We have for long been hearing that our produces and sells crude oil without proper account. And that our leaders turn Nigerian National Petroleum Corpo­ration (NNPC) into a cheap source for personal funds, all we do is to shout and curse and thereafter resign into suffocating passivity. It has been like this for decades. Even the man­ner of sharing the oil blocks is a big waste on its own; we know all this and every time it is like we are lack­ing funds we blame not the human elements but one unseen variable called ‘Oil Prices’ in the international market and hold on to it as if when the oil price was high we never owed salaries, failed on some contractual obligations and even borrowed ram­pantly from any institution especially from abroad that was willing to help us hasten our journey not only into inner recesses of underdevelopment but into second slavery as well. The probe of NNPC is yet to start and we are already hearing that the amount a mere parastatal spends to run its op­erations are more than what the en­tire nation uses for its developmental needs. If even the figures are not ex­actly correct, I can bet that the pat­tern is reflective of the endemic mess and high profligacy in government departments at every tier of admin­istration in our nation.

Governments here don’t run budgets; they are administered on the whims and caprices of less endowed leaders. The President, ministers, governors and even lo­cal government chairmen in most instances wake up and decide what projects to embark upon, and to give it a semblance of official authoriza­tion they find a way to harangue their carefully chosen cabinets and hand-picked members of State of Assem­bly to hold shambolic meetings from where they give such projects official stamp. From this point, the vicious circle begins and public purse is the worst for it and the people and devel­opment the ultimate users. Even the process of making annual budgets is a fraud on its own; every small unit struggles to put something in the budget with huge capital out lay, projects that have no relevance to the vision at hand, the intension being to have subheads to draw public funds for frivolous reasons.

One of the most current concerns still dominating discussion is the public admission of some of the state governors of their inability to discharge the simplest of routine responsibilities: that of payment of salaries, gratuity and pensions. This is something we should not hear be­cause it is an elementary obligation any organization owes her workers who expended energy within a time frame to create wealth. It is sacrilege to observe that governments meant to improve the welfare of the people, are the ones in the forefront of strip­ping them bare and causing them to embrace frustration and possible annihilation. This is not fair and it is unacceptable especially, when we know that this is a fall out of poor governance, misplaced priority and high level corruption.

Those who blame this challenge on low oil prices miss the point be­cause even before oil prices went low on the international market, many of our leaders hardly saw rea­sons to pay salaries regularly and in full. It was either that they paid the ministries and left out the parastatals, the pensioners, teachers and the local government workers. Governments in this nation treat teachers as if they are not civil servants; for local gov­ernment workers, it is difficult to ex­plain why they should be owed at all when every month the federal alloca­tion committee releases hundreds of millions to that tier of administration. Those looking for reasons states are broke should not go too far before they can get answers, all they need do is take a critical look at what governors have made of the joint ac­count system they have with the lo­cal government and the recklessness that has been the hallmark of opera­tions of that account would simply expose why they can’t eat our cake and we still expect to have it.

My local government, Ukwa- West in Abia receives between N80 million and N150 million as alloca­tion every month. This is exclusive of excess crude account and others and yet, every month it seems as if nothing is happening and some of us have imagined if only N10 mil­lion was creatively put into that lo­cal government in one year it would not be the same. One of the men who served in the contraption that passes for caretaker committee told me on two occasions they were made to sign for loan bids of N500 million each. I have only highlighted it to show the bleeding that public funds are subjected to across the nation. It is the same story from local gov­ernments, states to the Federal Gov­ernment; just read the Ebola mercy deals in the federal ministry of health in which N900 million was spent on isolation tents, N28 million to decon­taminate a hospital, N63 million to train volunteers, another N63 million for pre-departure training and N30 million for treatment research; I read that and shook my head. I can con­firm that this is a prevalent activity in almost all government departments.

We are not poor, Nigeria is a wealthy nation. What we receive even currently is enough to keep eve­ryone happy and still turn our coun­try into a First World nation within a space of 15 years. It is not so because we have always had ill-equipped leaders who hardly know what de­velopment of a nation entails. A few of them may have known, but they lack capacity and we know that a man cannot give more than he has, his well intention notwithstanding. The worst is that these visionless leaders have found a way of pro­ducing successors who are hundred times worse than themselves.

This is why our leaders over em­ploy, whether there is vacancy or not; it is the same reason they want to have over 100 special advisers excluding cooks and gardeners and also like riding a very long convoy. Why would a governor whose state’s allocation is N3.5 billion take N1 billion as security vote? A friend in Lagos once told me, “Na poor I poor, no be say I dey craze.” in this case Nigeria is not poor just that our lead­ers do crazy things.

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Re:Can APC stay long in power? Sat, 27 Jun 2015 23:00:51 +0000 I profusely apologise for the mix-up that occurred last week, in that what was published here was not the one intended for publication. The mix-up arose from value experience and the constraints imposed on my time. My lovely daughter was sick and given involvements, I asked my aide to send the material for the column [...]]]>

I profusely apologise for the mix-up that occurred last week, in that what was published here was not the one intended for publication. The mix-up arose from value experience and the constraints imposed on my time. My lovely daughter was sick and given involvements, I asked my aide to send the material for the column from my laptop but unfor­tunately she sent the wrong copy. Once again, I apologise for the mix-up. There are many issues to talk about – like negative political culture that makes every govern­ment kick off the same way; high cost of governance and states’ financial crisis which ought not to be if we had leaders with integrity and vision. But democracy is not complete until the people make their own contributions. So the parliament sits… MR. SPEAKER­rrrrrrrrrrr.

Your piece of May 31, 2015 refers. You wrote like a seasoned journalist by offering your piece of advice to Buhari unlike those syco­phants who seek to be appointed press secretaries by bashing Jona­than, a good man better than them. – 07068911760

The coming of APC to power is good; at least it has destroyed impu­nity. But they are exhibiting lack of astuteness which has always been their bane with power. The lack of organization that came up with the choice of key leaders for the National Assembly shouldn’t have been. APC had enough time to put its house in order. What is show­ing up now as Tinubuphobia is not healthy at all! The man brought so much to the victory. The event at NASS and the joy in the faces of Abdulsalami Abubakar, Olusegun Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar are signs that APC will run into nasty storms. If APC wants to stay long in power, it must learn to consolidate power and one thing it must take serious is consultation among its component parts and crave the spir­it of give and take. If any part goes on hunting spree, they will wake up one morning and find they have no party and this will be unfortunate. – Uchenna Chidi, 08035850140

How could you infer that Jona­than’s defeat was attributable more to gang-up than his performance? Jonathan’s woeful performance gave APC the lifeline they judi­ciously held unto. – 08059696243

Ralph, you have to pardon me on some of your recommendations in that piece, “Can APC stay long in power?” There is no place to my knowledge where the central and state governments work in sync on developmental programmes. Apart from Heads of Government hav­ing different visions, from state to state, the only programme that is done in sync here is treasury loot­ing. In my view, there is no marked difference between APC and PDP in real terms; with the separating door wide open to accommodate dissidents from either of the two sides at will. So what brought PDP down is in APC’s closet too. Ex­pecting Heads of Government to read newspapers and watch early morning television programmes is rather ambitious. The answer to that is a trustworthy, detribalised and very professional media assistant. Well Buhari has a lot of problems in his camp. Nigerians would have to exercise patience. – Lai Ashadele – 07067677806

Yes, if Buhari offers better lead­ership, we and APC can stay even longer than you and PDP ever im­agined. Thanks. – Frank Fyne – 0805006451

Ralph, the question should be can PDP be in opposition for four years? For now they are doomed in political wilderness, their suffering is just starting as the looted funds is fast depleting. It’s endgame for treasury looters. In fact, the mo­ment of truth. – Ogendegbe – 08038202973

Ralph, I enjoy your piece every Sunday. I tell you, APC will kill this government if mouths like Lai (“lie”) Mohammed are not cel­lotaped. Thank God I have never wasted my scarce resources on their publication. Thanks my brother. People with open minds will con­tinue to enjoy your weekly doses on Nigeria. God bless you. Tunde – 07065197667

Ralph, APC cannot stay long in power. The reason is simple: the party is made up of odd bedfellows. The crack in APC will soon be noticed. The North and the South- West can’t co-habit because of their different world views on political issues and the deep political sus­picion. The South-East and South- South will queue behind the North soonest. The North believes more in South-East and South-South than the South-West. Forget about the temporary coming together of the last election, its cosmetic, for the purpose of getting rid Jonathan. – A.I. Olisadebe – 08033119751

This piece is thought provoking. I agree with the position that power is in the hands of capitalists and capi­talism goes with greed. What future has the downtrodden in a peripheral capitalist economy with or without Buhari? Yes, a class society works for the class in power. – Amos Eji­monye – 08039727512

Let me commend your write up which is balanced and objective. You have proved me wrong for once and I admit. I hope all Igbo who angrily bombarded me with hate messages last week due to my rejoinder you published would have a rethink that we have no other na­tion than Nigeria. – Damilare Fadipe – 08054172776

Ralph, I enjoy your write ups in the Sunday Sun every week. You make deep suggestions but I am sure they do not get anywhere because the typical Nigerian does not read and does not care about popular opinion and alternative views. They have their mind set always made up. For me, the issue is not how long APC can stay but how well they will go to prove that brain is certainly supreme to brawn. They must study what it means to be true social democrats and wear the garb. In our kind of politics the best answer to the general madness is performance. Let APC identify key critical areas and post very im­pressive performance and the good would be scored regardless of the antics of subversives in our midst. I think they will surprise the doubt­ing Thomases in our nation. Ralph well done and please keep up your stimulating analysis in the Sun, you make my weekends always.

- Joe – 08137718156

“Can APC stay longer in Pow­er”? Good question and straight answer: they will even though the road would be tough, negative forc­es don’t give up easily anywhere and our nation is no exception. Un­der APC, corruption would reduce and I am sure we would see tangi­ble achievements to hold on to. The coming of Buhari alone, given the level of corruption and impurity, is a big achievement on its own. Suddenly things we thought were impossible, we now think are possi­ble after all; that is positive change on its own. All progress is now in material form. Let me warn APC leaders: they would have to play the politics of survival alongside great works, only few things hap­pen on their own. It would amount to foolishness to believe that current goodwill around Buhari is enough. Buhari must check some who like PDP governors want to control ter­ritories even beyond their areas of jurisdiction and the tendency to use brothers, uncles, in-laws and known cronies to run their entities. It is the same crime PDP leaders committed against humanity and for which they were slapped mer­cilessly. For APC to last, it must walk the change talk in full: no half measures, no pretences.


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House of Reps: Tambuwal ‘reincarnates’ Sat, 13 Jun 2015 23:00:42 +0000 The Nigerian brand of polities never fails to intrigue and that is because there is always something new and you could add baffling happenings almost every minute. The throwing away of Peo­ples’ Democratic Party (PDP) was one development that sent shock waves across the nation and even the world recently. Even though many were happy, [...]]]>

The Nigerian brand of polities never fails to intrigue and that is because there is always something new and you could add baffling happenings almost every minute. The throwing away of Peo­ples’ Democratic Party (PDP) was one development that sent shock waves across the nation and even the world recently. Even though many were happy, the ripple is still with us. The hope of many was that it might take a while before we can see another of that kind. But that was a misplaced hope, because last Tuesday from the National As­sembly came another big shock; if you like call it a coup which has left everybody and particularly political players and watchers in a big state of surprise. In that development, which came against expectations, Aminu Tambuwal, the gentleman politician from Sokoto State made history as the first man alive to re­incarnate into a second life in the same environment but in a slightly different form.

We recall that in 2011 the PDP had majority in the National Assembly and in line with democratic conven­tion was set to produce the key lead­ers including the position of Speaker in the House of Representatives. For purposes of equity it zoned vari­ous offices to different geo-political zones and designated particular can­didates for each position. Mulikat

Akande was supposed to emerge Speaker to represent the South-West but that move died at the level of thought because a certain Tambu­wal even though of PDP but from the North-West decided to further the growth of democracy by leading a group of other PDP legislators to align with the opposition then known as the Action Congress of Nigeria to upstage the apple cart and take over the position. Some of us at a time thought it was wrong and should be condemned but some who said they were pushing to expand democratic frontiers insisted it was right, that an elected official on a party platform is a free agent who has the right to act as it pleases. I will come to the rightness or not of that position later in this discourse but for now, history repeated itself in the Assembly just on Tuesday when the inauguration of the 8th Assembly took place.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) of which defunct ACN is a part was set to produce the key lead­ers especially for the position of Sen­ate President, Deputy and Majority leaders and the Speaker, Deputy and Majority leader as well. But follow­ing the reincarnation of Tambuwal, the old order of 2011 resurrected in a most mysterious way to haunt APC, give a bloody nose to Tinubu and to restore some modicum of life back to a once dying PDP. Only last week in the work titled, “Buhari in the magical circle”, I stated that Bu­hari and his party are in the magical circle where things happen in a very complex manner and in rapid suc­cession and if care is not taken, the processes and their outcome could make or mar. Barely one week after, it is playing out and if you ask me, in very dangerous dimensions.

Let me explain: recently I have been reading books on develop­ment of other nations and one thing I found out is that even though they made terrible mistakes, most of them were not the kind that deliberately tended to debase the society or de­stroy existing rules. I discovered that every mistake was followed by pure motives and conscious efforts to raise better standards and regulations that would prevent a reoccurrence. But that is not what happens here, every aberration is rather improved upon and re-enacted and our leaders are satisfied so long it meets tempo­rary narrow interest.

Now see the absurdity in the cur­rent event: no matter what anybody says, whether written or unwritten, democracy is about the majority of­fering the lead and as such every in­trigue and negotiations ought to have the aim of furthering this objective but that was not what took place last Tuesday. The art of democracy was shortchanged by what has happened. Saraki of APC rightly emerged Sen­ate President but his Deputy Ekwere­madu is of the PDP and another PDP legislator was almost announced the Majority leader, even the Senate leadership that was conceded to PDP, a minority party, still leaves many wondering what model of democ­racy this is. I have made these points based on what precedence means to future developments. I don’t know who to blame for this development even though I must admit that a dy­ing PDP has every right to take ad­vantage of any life line thrown to it and that it has done perfectly well on this occasion. It has given them a resurgence they badly needed. For Buhari, his position not to politick is wrong and a disservice to himself and his party.

In a fluid political setting such as ours, the President of a nation com­mands more than enough influence to steady his party for smooth deliv­ery of democratic dividends and ex­cellence in coming elections. Buhari dodged in this instance that is if in­deed he did so and the consequence is that his party became exposed to ridicule and doubts about its ability to remain united and strong enough to weather future challenges. Buhari may not know this but it will play out in future as passage of some strategic bills could become difficult. There was also failure of responsibility and complacency on the part of the party leadership, they had two months af­ter the Presidential and National As­sembly elections to put their house in order but they did not, only to wake up when it was obviously too late. This omission has resulted in the po­larization of the party as would mani­fest in the coming weeks.

APC has been tardy about its ap­proach to politics and governance since after it won the Presidential election. There are no evidences of strong bonding meetings. The President has appeared to be work­ing with close friends and the gap created by this is confirmed by the sudden visit of party leaders to him in his temporary official residence in Abuja; of course the President’s visit to Chad and Niger barely two days after his swearing-in tended to suggest absence of a well laid out plan of action and this is especially against the knowledge that Jona­than was criticized over reliance on foreign forces for executing our se­curity needs. Many of us who wish him well had taught he would have started from implementing new measures at home before the foreign angle. There is nothing wrong in a party especially in matters of elec­tion trying to streamline its activities and assets that is why parties exist; APC’s case was wrong because it came late and in a manner that did not attract the acceptance of those concerned.

It is also wrong to say that elected officials, legislators inclusive are free agents once elected, who have the freedom to do as they like. The truth is that going by current laws es­pecially as expanded by a Supreme Court judgment, it is the political parties that own the mandate and not individuals. There is no doubt APC would have to work far harder if its status as a ruling party would jell with the millions that voted it into power. The leadership would have to sit down and do a proper reassess­ment of the party, its composition, their desires, their programmes and how they intend to go about realis­ing them with dispatch. APC and the President must play politics; they must be wary of foreign organiza­tions like Amnesty International, World Bank and their antics. By now it should be clear to Buhari and the rest of us that not all good is meant to achieve altruistic ends.

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Can APC stay long in power? Sat, 30 May 2015 23:00:12 +0000 On Friday, the baton of power at the federal level and in some of our states changed hands. I was particularly interested in the event at Abuja where another dimension of na­tional history was made – former military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari took over power from a civilian elected on popular mandate. What [...]]]>

On Friday, the baton of power at the federal level and in some of our states changed hands. I was particularly interested in the event at Abuja where another dimension of na­tional history was made – former military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari took over power from a civilian elected on popular mandate. What made that occasion very historic is the fact that Buhari won a popular mandate this time in grand style. The occasion reflected the sig­nificance of the moment. It was splendid and touching, just as it reminded critical minds of the task ahead in our developmental quest. I wished for one thing though that a time will come when our nation will learn to do away with ceremo­nies and attendant expenditures often involved, hold small sym­bolic occasions and thereafter go straight to deal with the issues at hand. I want to believe that that day will come very soon. One thing I desire is to see the infor­mation aides of Buhari, ministers and governors make them read the newspapers and watch early morning television talk-shop pro­grammes. This style would help them a lot, far and above newspa­per cuttings and stories retold.

In the column last week enti­tled, “Buhari and the challenge of statecraft” I touched on some vital issues other than government poli­cies and programmes that can make a government fail from day one. For example, I said that the dispo­sition of the elite group as in our own case, former Heads of State, retired generals and civilian bureau­crats and of course the money and propertied class go a long way to determine the kind of atmosphere a particular administration would enjoy. Their confidence and accept­ance determines whether the atmos­phere would be hostile or friendly. The Jonathan administration came tumbling down not so much for non-performance but essentially for reasons that had to do with the struggle for the control of power by a small elite group that has been at it since the nation gained Independ­ence in 1960. Once that group no­ticed that Jonathan, a protégé, was likely to play out of script, they began quite early to make the at­mosphere very cloudy and to some extent very hostile. There is also the international dimension which for those who know is very potent and explains why a Buhari that was yet to be crowned the President had to quickly hop into a plane and off he went to London to meet with David Cameron the British Prime Minister.

That journey reminded me about the partitioning of Africa in 1884/85 and that it still subsists and regret­tably I want to admit that it is one of the vestiges of the discredited old era we have to live with since we have refused to do the little things that would have given us a lift. Getting round these and ideologi­cal differences in the All Progres­sives Congress (APC) are serious matters Buhari has to grapple with from now onward and how he does this especially in these early stages would determine whether the APC would be guaranteed positive re­views and possible long stay in power. It is important at this point to remind Buhari and APC that run­ning a peoples’ government is inevi­table, a government the far greater majority of the citizens can relate to and feel it is theirs. What this means is that the philosophy should be humanism focused on the human element as the reason for all gov­ernment actions. We need not be-labour the fact that our recent past history makes this very necessary. PDP shortly after creation became a victim of deep distortion and from that point impunity became the rule. The contradictions that arose therefrom would have destroyed the party a long time ago but they found a way round it through the hijack of the peoples’ will in 2003 and in 2007, when our nation recorded the worst kind of elections ever.

We have heard the APC say they have learnt lessons and our hope is that they have learnt the correct lessons and our expectation is that those lessons should reflect in the vision and attitude of the incoming leaders. Buhari should work to de­mystify power. The issue of leaders keeping themselves away from the electorate and wallowing in hedon­istic frivolities and coming out to hide under an attitude of impunity should be consigned to the dustbin of history. What this suggests to me is that there is need for a code of conduct, possibly a retreat and fi­nally a template that should regulate the code and performances of offic­ers that will work under the Buhari administration. The template should clearly state what each ministry and department intends to do, within what timeframe and time lines for levels of achievements. Of course appointees should be periodically assessed and their scorecards made public in a very transparent man­ner and also subject to the amount of money released to them. It has become clear that we hardly im­plement budgets in this nation at all levels. I am also suggesting that the budget pattern at all levels be re­viewed and made in such a way that ministries and departments have few projects that should begin and be concluded within the life-span of their administration.

There is an innovation I think Buhari can introduce and that is the idea of the three tiers of government running similar programmes at the same time. I have often imagined the kind of progress we would have made if all the governments working simultaneously focused their attention on issues such as job creation, industrialization, social infrastructure, urban renewal, food security and sports just to mention a few. The situation we have is that all of them work at cross-purposes and in the end there is no sense and shape to what we have as outcome. There is no doubt that Buhari would have to run fast and in the right di­rection and also with the right things troubling us if he is to sustain the goodwill that brought him to power. Already we are hearing we have to be patient. As correct as that is, that is not the right message. The right thing to say is that we know the problems and we are ready to give it our best shot and we are sure our efforts and commitment will receive the acclaim of the people. Buhari’s media team would have to be alive and understand that there is a differ­ence between the periods of seeking power and governance.

There is need to once again re­mind Buhari what the issues are: job creation, turnaround in social infra­structure eg. roads, housing, water, power supply, security, food and ru­ral development, qualitative health­care and education, Niger Delta development, oil sector and the big one – the restructuring of the politi­cal architecture of our nation. On no account should Buhari start with in­flicting any kind of pains while the administration must be willing to have a look in into the outcome of the last Constitutional Conference, the issue remains a compelling one. Finally, Buhari must develop a Nigerian model for development of the country and follow it – not to succumb to foreign distractions which sometimes require us to fight malaria with nets, even when the environment is filthy or spending billions of naira to import foreign made stoves for citizens who have no means to even procure foods to be cooked on those stoves. Buhari has already showed signs that he knows what to do. He has asked governors to keep off his nomina­tion process. I am sure with such a mindset he will make the difference we expect. All he needs is our genu­ine support.


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Buhari and the challenge of statecraft Sun, 24 May 2015 00:58:15 +0000 I had done a piece titled “Buhari and the new times” which would have appeared on this page today but at the last minute I had to repackage a new discourse with the title you have above to reflect the real challenge that Buhari and his administration will face, especially at the initial stage. It [...]]]>

I had done a piece titled “Buhari and the new times” which would have appeared on this page today but at the last minute I had to repackage a new discourse with the title you have above to reflect the real challenge that Buhari and his administration will face, especially at the initial stage. It is true that the Buhari foray this time given our circumstances indeed offers new times. The victory has diminished those among the leadership class who believe their day will not be made except they played God. There is no doubt that such arrogant and haughty misbehaviour especially in governance arena contributed greatly to stall positive developments. But it is not the new times that will post the biggest challenge to Buhari, but the management of statecraft in such a way that both inherited and planted beliefs and other such obstacles are scaled without doing any harm to the issue of legitimacy.
There would be as usual the issue of ethnicity and religion and the contention on this front we have already started to see with the discussion on which area gave APC the highest votes and whether zones like South-East and South-South should be given strategic federal positions in the light that the two areas voted massively for the now disintegrating Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). So I perceive that three major groups will be looking out on how the Buhari administration constitutes the government and how this is done would reflect in the degree of acceptance Buhari would receive among them. The cumulative of this general reception would determine the kind of atmosphere Buhari would have to implement his vision for the development of our nation. These segments include the two zones mentioned earlier, the group that has managed and manipulated power in the nation since Independence, the religious circles and of course the western world represented mainly by Britain and America.
Buhari before his victory was branded a religious fundamentalist. Therefore, a section of the religious world would keenly be watching his balancing ability and that would count for him if it meets the expectation. The same way the old political war horses would be looking out if they can find their voice and faces in the new order. In the past, it was said Obasanjo initiated a deal under which Buhari would have been supported to be the President while Okonjo Iweala, the World Bank protégé would have been appointed as the Finance Minister. That project negotiated by El-Rufai did not materialise leaving Obasanjo to throw in a sickly Yar’Adua and eventually naïve Jonathan with the same Okonjo Iweala becoming their Finance Minister. Today, the same El-Rufai, Buhari and Obasanjo are in the new game. Would it be true to say that the old interest is no longer there?
I don’t think that will be true, that group does not join political struggles in vain, there are always motives both narrow and extended and for those who know, there is the international dimension to the motive. I don’t have space to enunciate fully on that but I can predict that as always they would be interested in who takes charge in the ministries of petroleum, finance, foreign affairs and army chief and how Buhari handles those portfolios would determine the level of welcome these strategic groups and persons would extend to him and the amount of peace he is likely to enjoy. In fact the first key test for Buhari would begin on Friday with the actual handover of power, his first key note address to the nation would definitely open his flanks very wide and subject his ideological leaning to critical scrutiny.
Not too many know that Buhari has an ideology, even himself may not realize it but the way a leader thinks and sets about doing things places him within an ideological bracket. Buhari is a nationalist conservative, and this, we can see from the fact that Buhari believes that all he needs to positively change his nation are just two things; power and good disposition. It is his thinking that if he has political power, he can work with conventional state institutions like the police, army, legislature, judiciary and civil service the way they are to bring to pass his envisaged kind of change. I won’t debate the merit or demerit of that position but it certainly has many throw backs capable of discomforting any leader even when he means well. Am sure Buhari would soon come to that reality very early in the life of his administration on different fronts including the party he has laboured to build with Bola Tinubu.
Already the signs to these are here with us. The issue of power privatization and the return of the fuel queues are not essentially about debts owed petroleum marketers, it is more about trying to smoke out Buhari from his hole and make him show his direction. Those engineering it, of course, prodded by outside interest desire to have a fore knowledge of what the Buhari options are concerning fuel importation, subsidy or no subsidy and the great one: rehabilitation of old refineries and the building of new ones. Whatever option the Buhari administration chooses is bound to follow with reactions that would have consequences for the amount of peace the regime will enjoy. There is also the fact that the right wing conservatives, both the business and the ex-military segments, wanted a change in the presidency badly, especially against the fact that a Jonathan second term would have meant early retirement for most of them from the political scene but we must note and this is important that the change they finally got is not the one they had in their minds’ view. In the ordinary sense, Buhari is not their candidate. So the space for new fight is still wide and open, the handover of a blue print from Obasanjo to Buhari is indicative of what is to come.
Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would definitely clash, both are ideologically different just as their strategies for sustaining power. Both understand Nigeria and the power architecture from different perspective. For those who have eyes, the war has already started. Last week in Port Harcourt, Tinubu demanded that the federal government run a peoples’ government, the statement is suggestive of alienation and in the papers daily are write ups trying to re-emphasize the role Tinubu played in the APC victory as if it is a forgotten issue.
There have also been attacks on some Tinubu lieutenants’ like Fashola and Kayode Fayemi. All these are indicative of simmering disagreements which Buhari administration has to handle with great dexterity if it desires to gain stability. There is no need over emphasizing the fact that Buhari should hit the ground running from day one because expectations have been raised too high. Excuses would be counter-productive. My advice: the new administration should avoid dwelling on the past and issues of vendetta, they have never helped revolutionary moves anywhere, instead they become distraction and divert attention from real issues. The coming of Buhari is good if not for anything the lesson that man is not God. We all owe him undiluted support because what is at stake is beyond individual or group aspirations; it is about Nigeria, the hope of the Black Man all over the world.

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Re: Igbo and Buhari’s dispensation Sat, 16 May 2015 23:00:32 +0000 Peoples’ parliament I have gone through your article in the Sunday Sun, please keep it up. Ahmed Odom – 07033762759 Nigerians like double stand­ards and double speak. The Yoruba almost always voted against the party at the centre and we branded them progres­sives and enlightened. In 1999 they refused to vote the PDP and yet [...]]]>

Peoples’ parliament

I have gone through your article in the Sunday Sun, please keep it up.

Ahmed Odom

– 07033762759

Nigerians like double stand­ards and double speak. The Yoruba almost always voted against the party at the centre and we branded them progres­sives and enlightened. In 1999 they refused to vote the PDP and yet they got the presidency. In 2011, the North voted Bu­hari’s Congress for Progres­sive Change and nobody called them names, and the Jonathan Government that emerged from that election looked more like a federal government of Ni­geria dominated by persons of Northern extraction.

That happened and nobody complained; instead Jonathan a minority lost out and now Igbo have voted according to their conscience and suddenly hell has broken loose. A case of all animals being equal yet some are more equal than others. The mistake Buhari and APC will make is to think they can do without the Igbo. I don’t know how the Ogbonnaya Onus, Chris Ngiges, Ralph Obiohas, Rochas Okorocha and many others who joined them to fight for Buhari will be feeling when they hear some Nigerians in­sult the Igbo for a democratic choice; the way we treat and react to each other make me wonder if we are serious about building a cohesive and strong nation out of the present entity called Nigeria.

Joe 08137718156

You amuse me by your re­quest that an Igbo should be made Secretary to the Govern­ment of the Federation. For now that is not feasible, they shall be in the political wilder­ness to learn a few lessons in nation building, period.


Ralph, there is no doubt that any Nigerian or zone has an in­alienable right to vote in what­ever way they choose. Those who were saying that Igbo “mis-voted” in 2015 election meant no harm. I believe they said so along your thinking that “if a people did not vote for the win­ning party, they suffered official denial.” Although you rated the idea as a “discredited sys­tem” which is correct but it still holds sway today. Many Nige­rians are not voting party lines anymore but what will bring federal presence to their zone. Britain is different because po­litical parties have clear ideolo­gies they follow to the letter in their leadership choices. Many people claim they voted PDP for presidency and APC for states in the last election so that their state could get federal pa­tronage. That is the thrust now. Party and ethnic patronage has subsumed competence. Option is play to political design or …

Lai Ashadele

– 07067677806

Ralph I agree with you, but as an Igbo man, I am worried about the implications for the Igbo, looking critically at the last presidential election. It makes it glaring that any of the other tribes can jolly well do without us to clinch the presidency. This goes beyond whether Buhari does anything for us or not. Our political lead­ers should have done better, add to that, we are a disliked tribe.


Note: Alliance of today may not be the same tomorrow, after all, south-south was the pally of the north, so what hap­pened?

Sir, the last general elections presented one of the ferocious campaigns of calumny, charac­ter assassination, hate speech­es and damaging advertorials especially by PDP championed by Ayo Fayose, Femi Fani- Kayode, etc, against Buhari, yet people voted for him massively including me. Please can you do a write-up on “dangerous campaigns” that are counter­productive. I am a party mem­ber.

Pst. Hycinth Chukwuemeka – 08060960555

Ralph thanks for your piece. I quite believe you read what Femi Adesina wrote on the back page of The Sun on April 24th, 2002. I told him that we are “Igbo nation” and distinc­tive as you said. We voted the way we wished. The Igbo hat­ers who weep more than the bereaved should not take it as a political opportunity. God bless you.

Ewike – 08072091436

People should stop insulting the Igbo. The Igbo at any ma­terial time and circumstance know who their heroes are.


Ralph, you people are now talking about equity, you don’t reap where you refuse to sow; you people hate Yoruba and Fulani, but forgot that South- South and South-East votes can’t win the presidency.


My brother, you will live long. I almost stopped reading news­papers because of the rate of lies by many of your shameless colleagues who were dancing openly in their columns against the course of posterity. I leave them with God’s word in Isaiah 5: 20: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”


Ralph, you make my Sunday every week. I read the sun be­cause of you. I simply enjoy your works in a special way. Even after the elections, I like the few pieces you have pro­duced. I just want to say well done and keep it up.


Ride on brother! Your article of April 26th, in The Sun spoke my mind. For the Igbo let it not be business as usual, we should have a voice in Nigeria. We can’t be deterred. I am all the way with your write-up.

– Chief (Mrs) Rose Udeagha JP National Treasurer PPA, 08033222047

I always read your articles and see you as biased com­mentator. It is people like you that misdirect the Igbo nation instead of showing them the way. Your article of April 26th is no exception. No one stopped Igbo from voting as they liked but if the leaders have been proactive and returned only Ngige, an Igbo son would have been helped to correct the lop­sidedness witnessed in present era. Cries of marginalization must be met with deft moves to correct same. Know that this is Nigeria – our democracy is still developing. I am waiting to see how the Igbo will fare in 2019 and beyond with this mistake.

Damilare Fadipe

– 08054172776

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Abia in the hands of Okezie Ikpeazu Sun, 10 May 2015 00:07:10 +0000 I have in recent times been talking about Abia, God’s Own State. This focus on Abia is anchored on reasons that every human activity has its basis in a person’s imme­diate environment and every such talent ought to be placed at the disposal of humanity be­ginning, of course, from one’s immediate environment. I hope to [...]]]>

I have in recent times been talking about Abia, God’s Own State. This focus on Abia is anchored on reasons that every human activity has its basis in a person’s imme­diate environment and every such talent ought to be placed at the disposal of humanity be­ginning, of course, from one’s immediate environment. I hope to expand on this thesis some other time. Today’s empha­sis is on Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, who recently emerged as the Governor-elect of Abia State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Not many Nigerians know Ikpeazu nationally, but at home he has made a good name through good relationships, exemplary conduct anchored on amazing humility and distinguished ca­reer in public service at various levels.

I know Ikpeazu from close quarters having also worked with him in the service of Abia State for a long time. I remem­ber two occasions he proved to me the intrinsic positive values that he carries. On one occasion I had to call him aside to ask him about a very serious mat­ter and he opened up not mind­ing if his disclosures could even turn around to hurt him. For him, truth is truth and a good man needs to say it always to free himself from a troubling con­science. His compassionate side was once availed to me when on a lonely road Okezie had to stop to inquire why I was stuck at a particular location that was bushy and deserted. This gesture recorded in my sub-conscious because it took place at a time many of those in power would not touch supposed opposition figures especially very promi­nent ones like us with a 500 metre long pole. So if am happy today, it is because a good man was declared the winner of the keenly contested governorship election in Abia.

More than that, the victory is historic because it is the first time the Ukwa/Ngwa block that has the highest number of local gov­ernment areas in the state would be having power either in the former old Imo or now in Abia State since its creation in August 1991. In this victory, democracy assumes its proper dimension in the state. Democracy is not only about the people having power to choose their leaders in free and fair elections, it is more about massive, overwhelming participation of citizens in the shaping and reshaping of the environment, a phenomenon that has its essence in what po­litical scholars describe as po­litical pluralism. Democracy is not about merit and competence alone though essential variables which will make democracy produce results that enhance its sustainability; it is about creative marriage of ability with equity and fairness which will make for a sense of positive bonding and result in a congenial atmosphere that will make the people see the onerous task of development as a collective responsibility.

There are those who expressed surprise that Ikpeazu won, but I think that is a misplaced con­ception and I have my reasons. Firstly, the winner comes from a highly populated zone and am aware that our society is yet to outgrow the situation where a people can abandon their son or daughter going for the highest honour in the land. Besides Ik­peazu ran on a strong and huge platform that was at the time in control of power at the local and federal levels. The platform is a rich one and we all know that money is still a potent factor in our elections. It is more so in an underdeveloped economy where the space is closed and hunger and deprivation are the second names of many citizens. The challenge from Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) came against expectations but I think it has served very good purposes. For a long time it was beginning to look like the politics of the state was revolving around single in­dividuals and families and if the truth is to be told, this trend was beginning to create new but se­rious distortions and problems. Their whims and caprices were being supplanted for state poli­cies and programmes and in turn a new order was being created in which political mercantilism, sycophancy and blurred vision were becoming the acceptable virtue.

So Otti’s foray appeared re­demptive and that is why I hold the opinion that he should not be vilified, rather he should be courted and brought very close, not only him but his supporters as well. We must tap his vision and reach and in equal measure guarantee him of a bright politi­cal feature. The challenges his entry into the governorship race threw up are the issues of the moment and matters that will shape the future of the new Abia for a long time to come. Ikpeazu would have to embrace them to win and engrave his name in gold or fail to use them and face the calamity that could be his tenure. I know Ikpeazu to be a wise man.

A lot of people have expressed serious concerns about what they perceive as odds that could make any good man not to per­form even when he has powers. I know the odds and they are real but one thing about power is that it is like air comprising different gases. A disingenuous attempt to compress it together turns an ordinary handless air into an explosive, which can ex­plode in the face of the unskilled meddlesome element. I will not go too far to draw examples for they are all around us beginning from this state. Besides no two personalities are the same, not even a father and son, both will act differently with power.

The power configuration in Abia has since drastically changed especially with the change of baton at Aso Rock. This will rub off in the small assistance the security agencies used to give. By the instrumen­tality of Otti the structure in the Abia State House of Assembly has gone beyond what power manipulators envisaged. Today power is in the hands of the people, so Ikpeazu will have no reason not to fly from Day One. One way of doing this is to open himself to the people. Those who advised him to stop receiv­ing people are not his friends, what was needed was proper pri­oritising of time. He should jet­tison imperial kind of leadership and adopt the pragmatic model. The programmes must be sci­entifically chosen and contain transformative seeds. If I were Ikpeazu, on May 29th, I will opt for private swearing-in to dem­onstrate intent to be frugal in the face of scarce resources and inability to meet routine obliga­tions.

I have heard him say that tar­ring of Aba roads would com­mence immediately. Good as this is, it is within the realm of adhoc responses. Indeed, Aba requires a Marshal plan. I envi­sion a strategy where Aba should be divided into five zones with capable supervisors, whose task will be to oversee major re-creative works on such areas as roads, drainages, remodelling of areas, street lighting, road markings and street sign post­ings. Aba needs total re-creation to make it our own Lagos. I in­tend to hand over the blueprint I had planned to use to run for the governorship in this state in the last election. I think Ikpeazu will succeed but if he must, he will have to free himself from the attitude that anyone not sharing his view is an enemy. This state has enough resources to give it quality development all round.


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Chibok dance of confusion Sun, 03 May 2015 01:01:10 +0000 The issue of brigandage and terrorism is an important and very serious matter anywhere in the world. It touches on security and security was essentially the reason man was forced to discover the institution of government (social contract political science calls it). Because of this knowledge I have many times discussed security matters from the [...]]]>

The issue of brigandage and terrorism is an important and very serious matter anywhere in the world. It touches on security and security was essentially the reason man was forced to discover the institution of government (social contract political science calls it). Because of this knowledge I have many times discussed security matters from the perspectives of an experienced political administrator of many years standing. I remember I have written a detailed work on making the police an elite crime fighting institution, that would be very professional and so interesting and with high dignity that the best graduating students and the sons of the rich and mighty would make it their number choice of career just like they do with the military. I suggested that this would mean redrawing everything about the institution, course content, police drivers’ mentality and even the kind of police building and stations we have; several policemen greeted the work. Beyond that I hardly hear our leaders or the aspiring ones discuss these things, all we hear are general statements mouthing vague promises.

I was provoked to talk on terrorism, when top government officials began singing the out of order song that terrorism took the nation and security personnel by surprise. Some say it is new to us, that it never happened here before the recent ones. This does not mean it has not been happening elsewhere; and why those incidents should not raise our alert antennas and serve as lessons to shape our preparations is something I will leave to scholars on security and public administration to decode for us.

When things like these happen elsewhere, America, Britain, and the rest of the sensible world do not wait until it happens in their territory before the pro-active search for solution begins. They use the experiences of others as test case and go into tasking their brains to find appropriate responses in the event one deviant happens to re-enact such development in their nations. It is these solutions after they have become obsolete that we rush to embrace in the guise of foreign assistance and trainings. We have been at this even before independence and yet our hold over our development and affairs still appears tenuous and rudimentary.

I have told friends and said it in this column severally that if I were a dullard manipulated into power at any level like power speculators have been doing since independence, I will acquit myself excellently because in the newspapers everyday could be found very brilliant thoughts and prescriptions by equally highly cerebral men and women whose only hindrance is their inability to engage and walk through the nasty war we pass for political processes.

It is unfortunate that some people have reduced the huge security challenge facing the nation to a dance around the Chibok abduction. Before some shallow minds and fault finders get at me, let me explain: the abduction of anybody is a huge crime and in fact a crime against humanity because it debases the humanity in all of us, it is more so when the victims are adolescents and when they are of the feminine gender, it is heinous. In spite of these, I still believe that such development is a fall-out of the bigger act of terrorism. So if solution is to be found, the attack should be to the root cause and not the symptoms.

For those looking for reasons why Jonathan failed to get a second term, here is the second reason, the terrorism threat and particularly the Chibok schoolgirls’ incident. The first reason for those who want to know is zoning and whose turn it is. One of the mistakes of the out-going administration was its inability to properly locate the Boko Haram menace clearly within the ambits of terrorism and that omission proved costly in that it affected the degree of reaction and opened the administration to easy pummelling by opposition and its enemies. It gave so many opportunities to dance naked in the public place to the detriment of our dignity.

It is regrettable that our reaction to the Chibok abduction for a long time remained at the level of the blame game and it is more painful that those who should have paid heavy prices for clear abdication of sacred public responsibilities have become beneficiaries of this blood transaction by their surprise re-election into high power positions. Somebody turned that school which was formerly an all girls’ school into a mixed school and that was sudden and somebody allowed the school to be in session when obvious security indices dictated that the school should be closed. Whoever it was should be carrying a big cross by now. What have we said about the local government chairman and where are the community leaders and the youths around that area? I do know that the youths can have any kind of information if truly there is a serious desire to get at any clue. This kind of intelligence does not cost money. What have the intelligent agencies done?

I am not happy with Oby Ezekwesili over what she and her group of publicity and relevance seekers have done with a matter which we all know if not handled in a manner that shows that we can think and possess ability, exposes us to the risk of further denting our image and diminishing our dignity before the world. The initial Federal Government hesitance was bad and the nonchalant attitude of the political class which must have arisen from lack of creative mindedness and of course the naked dance naked in the market place by a group led by a personality of the status of the former Deputy Managing Director of the World Bank unknown to us confirmed to the world the old stereotype they have always held on that the black man is incapable of thinking out solutions to his own problems.

Let me say this and am serious about it, hardly in the organized world would you see a lady of Oby’s pedigree take to Oby’s strategy in finding solution to serious national problems. It would never be contemplated when it is known that such a personality has access to the power that be. The truth is that not every issue requires social activism and sustainable results are many times achieved through institutional pressuring and direct interactions with those with the power to provide solutions. This way too, we avoid washing our dirty linen in public. Terrorism is not a new development in the world, so there are examples to draw from if we can’t be creative to find solutions that suit our problems.

In other nations, terrorism is seen as a common threat, a national concern and not the President’s fault or his concern alone. Citizens help the government to identify residents and what they do, they demand for identity cards and proper numbering of street houses; they are quick to take photographs of incidences and to report same to law enforcement agencies.

They are not aloof. If what happened here happened in Europe, the citizens would have discovered who the idiots were and where they stay. It was the citizens who decoded recent the incident in France. This is the turn-around we need and not one woman standing at the market square shouting as if she is the Hitler of the modern time. Buhari should beware.

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2015: Igbo and the Buhari dispensation Sat, 25 Apr 2015 23:00:19 +0000 For me, and I want to believe many other Nigerians, today’s discourse is very important and of huge significance to the proper making of the New Nigeria we earnestly desire. Since independence in 1960, ethnic loyalty and alliances have been an issue and their divergences most of the time have been at the root of [...]]]>

For me, and I want to believe many other Nigerians, today’s discourse is very important and of huge significance to the proper making of the New Nigeria we earnestly desire. Since independence in 1960, ethnic loyalty and alliances have been an issue and their divergences most of the time have been at the root of distorted political structure we have which to a reasonable extent is the cause many of us are still concerned whether Nigeria as presently constituted would remain or disintegrate at a point in time. The presidential election of March 28, 2015, in which President Goodluck Jonathan from a minority tribe and General Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani were main contenders, have come and gone but as has been acknowledged by the world, it has settled some issues and raised new posers with wide implications for politics in our nation.

The first major outcome of the poll is the new interesting knowledge that incumbents can be beaten silly but the one I am more concerned with in this piece is the voting pattern, which has seen the Southeast and the South-South go in same direction, different from the other zones in the nation. This development has attracted many reviews but not in equal dimension. The South-South support for the People’s Democratic Party has received far less attention, perhaps because it was expected they would naturally line up behind their son, who is the outgoing President. The other reason could be that power manipulators in our nation hardly take seriously the minorities especially when they standalone. But most of the reviewers have given focus to the Igbo loyalty to PDP, and given the situation in which Buhari and APC swept the poll, now insinuate that Igbo have at last shut themselves out of the national reckoning.

Some insist Igbo have made a mistake for which they should bow their heads in shame. What do I make of these posturings? Ignore them? No, it is rather good opportunity for the Igbo leaders to teach Nigeria what the new order means and from this point stage the final reclamation of their image and place in the Nigerian nation. Those who think Igbo made a mistake for which they should be traumatised, not only miss the point, I see them as Igbo enemies whose penchant is to look for reasons to further their past-time of ethnic downgrading, reducing the Igbo, a majority group for that matter to an insignificant people especially as it relates to the management of affairs of the nation. For these Latter Day Saints, it is beginning to look for them as if the Buhari’s resurgence would be the beginning and end of group political supremacy in our nation. Good as it is, our level of development shows it is just a fraction of the changes that would come and to make it matter, all hands must be on deck.

When people talk of voting oneself out of contention, I perceive that what they have behind their minds is politics of the old order, when for lack of exposure political leaders saw democracy in very restricted forms. In that era, if a people did not vote for the winning party, they suffered official denial. Those who remind us of this discredited system do us no good and should be cautioned accordingly. They live in the past and want to drag the rest of us to their suffocating world. We would not allow them because it has become common knowledge that the meat of democracy is pluralism, which is best suited for a nation like ours. It recognises our differences and offers everyone the encouragement to maintain our distinctiveness within the level that make for peace. In America, Britain, France, just to mention but a few,  established electoral pattern shows that till tomorrow, some areas would always vote in a given direction irrespective of who is contesting and after each poll that ends it and the task of nation building commences without discrimination; rather differences in opinion are rightly seen as the challenges the new leadership must lead the nation to solve.

The only issue that draws strength from electoral outings is that of prioritization and not denial as we tend to suggest in our part of the world. Buhari and Tinibu are too enlightened to fall for the baits of those who want a restricted government. It will do them no good in the long run if what I know of power management in this nation is anything to go by. I have told many of the political players of the APC stock who are my friends that it is politically suicidal to think that PDP is dead, just because they suffered massive defeat; conservative parties don’t die neither can they be weakened to the point they lose total potency. Few months after Buhari inaugurates his cabinet, they would come alive proving my position that you “can’t destroy the beetle” and this where the Igbo new direction would be potent and decisive and only those who can see the future, can reap from it. The new posture of the Southeast and South-South, for me, symbolises a need and a challenge to be solved.

I see a new Biafra; many Nigerians loathe the word and equate it with secession. Those who know history know that Biafra was more about glaring injustice than anything. It was the poor management of the wrongs that ignited the bigger inferno. More than 40 years since the civil war ended the issues have remained the same but an emasculated Igbo needed and sought for a voice and cohesion and for that long could not find any because the forces that held them went the extra mile to kill rising voices and to deny them the weight of support of their close neighbours while consolidating theirs. What their natural strength and intelligence could not do the push against South-South has done. The new Igbo direction is a plus; it is their opportunity to redefine who they are and what they want from Nigeria. Like we have seen from the Yoruba, they could be in government and still shout loud that they are in opposition, this style has great gains. It will afford this majority group the chance to make the rest of Nigerians appreciate the uniqueness of the Igbo race and what their contributions have meant to the development of the nation. What the Igbo should do is to use the new found strength not in a beggarly fashion but in a most creative manner that the leadership would be clear and patriotic, and the issues, those things that have held the area back and underdeveloped.

Buhari, if he wants to succeed must see the opening and go in to harness them for his own good. I have heard about Southeast getting the position of Secretary to Government of the Federation. It is good but not good enough. The APC would have to bend a little more backwards to solicit Igbo understanding. If the nation could alter situations to produce two Yoruba presidential candidates at a time, it can do more than this, to properly place the Igbo ingenuity at the disposal of the Nigerian State. South-South should not be forgotten, they are angry. Nothing is too much to give for the building of a virile nation, especially one like Nigeria that is the hope and pride of the black man.

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DEMOCRACY: Bitter truth we must tell ourselves Sat, 18 Apr 2015 23:00:54 +0000 I want to apologise to my fans for my inability to post on this page today the third part of the discourse about on “Abia Paradox” which has re­ceived acknowledgements for its expository depth on the path Abia should take from now. The concluding part would come perhaps next week. For the week I have [...]]]>

I want to apologise to my fans for my inability to post on this page today the third part of the discourse about on “Abia Paradox” which has re­ceived acknowledgements for its expository depth on the path Abia should take from now. The concluding part would come perhaps next week. For the week I have to quickly join in doing a review of what the 2015 elections have been and hazard a guess on the implica­tions of the outcomes on our march to proper and sustain­able development.

In one of the analysis I did shortly after the presidential election, I chipped in the fact that one thing I detested about the poll has to do with clear manifestation that in spite of our boast and false posturing as a strong nation, our country from what I see, is yet to gain full sovereignty or has completely lost the one we gained with In­dependence in 1960.

It is time, I believe, we tell ourselves the truth that what we are practicing here is not democ­racy and that in us there is hardly any spirit disposed to demo­cratic nuances. It was nauseating for some of us great patriots to see how foreigners of different shades and small organisations led by young whites swarmed into the nation and virtually took over the administration of this nation in all segments and ram­ming down on us lessons on how to conduct ourselves in a most “civilised” manner. The ambas­sadors of various nations where virtually everywhere and dictat­ing to us what we should do and the way to go.

For me it was not amusing seeing young graduates from foreign nations teaching us les­sons on what democracy is and what it is not and why we should maintain peace and never think about annihilating ourselves over simple but necessary task of picking few from among us to be entrusted with power and the obviously onerous task of leading us into a modern soci­ety where life and living would be worthwhile. The level of this debasement of a people who de­scribe themselves as “The Giant of Africa”, was such we even took lessons and intervention from leaders like Dr. Amos Saw­yer of Liberia of all places.

Now nobody should get me wrong: there is nothing wrong in other nations offering assistance to other countries, but in a world where there is this constant fight for supremacy and pulling down one for the other to survive, the kind of assistance, how it is of­fered and by whom, inclusive of the kind of nations obviously has a link to the level of influ­ence and status the receiving na­tion carries. When nations like Ghana, Sierra-Leone and Liberia are among nations intervening to teach us how to behave, what that tells clearly is that the recip­ient nation is still at its infancy with rudimentary structures. We confer on ourselves backward status when every Tom and Dick can come in and in five min­utes can see our president and hold humiliating sessions with him. I am still wondering how many of us were happy hearing foreign officials telling us our officials could be punished by the non-issuance of visas. This prescription tells an ugly story about how they see and regard us. It is indicative that they are aware of our hate for our envi­ronment and love for what they have turned their nation into. It confirms our wrong perception about our world and the world generally and the kind of priori­ties we have set for ourselves as a people.

The foreign observers’ trend is one other aspect we must watch. We seem to welcome the idea and clap when they come and at the end issue many of their frivolous reports designed to maintain a direction and ensure a status-quo. Unknown to many of us, their activities have become a tool used by their local lack­eys to propel subversion of real democratic practice and to stall nationalistic march to true dem­ocratic development. These for­eign observers are few and they restrict their monitoring to few urban centres, where also their activities are limited mainly to the accreditation period. With ban on vehicular movements, they see empty but peaceful streets, at the polling units they see citizens in orderly queues and they return and pronto there is a report that the elections are transparent, fair, free and credi­ble, whereas the massive manip­ulations and subversions of the electoral process that take place at most crucial stages of colla­tion and in remote locations are not seen and so allowed to stand.

What is more, we the locals that should be more concerned about issues that touch us di­rectly rely on these reports from foreigners to draw our own inferences and to reach misdi­rected conclusions, which return to haunt us and leave us with greater hate and instability. To­day we are being led to praise Jega, the electoral boss, when his activities, if you ask me, posed far greater danger to both democratic practice and the sta­bility of the nation. In sane plac­es it would have been frowned at greatly that we were still talking about voters register and cards until few days to the take-off of polls. Given the contentious nature of social relations here, we could still allow voter card machines to be used for the first time for the most important elec­tion in the land, the presidential without the good sense of first trying it with polls of lesser con­sequence. This is why I join in commending President Good­luck Jonathan, a strong willed African Leader who could have capitalised on this to cause us plenty trouble.

In these elections, many un­democratic things happened across board, acceptance or re­jection depended on political cohesion and attitude. In some places voting centres where ei­ther in personal houses or in the bush. There where glaring cases of under aged voters. There were manifest threats just as voters cards were purchased, security agents were bribed, in fact all the rich parties and candidates had special votes for security personnel and these led to their being misused in many instanc­es, thousands of electoral offi­cials both official workers and adhoc staff still saw elections as a means to make the biggest money; it was heartrending that even youth corpsmembers who should be worried about the state of things joined in this race of perfidy. I cried for the nation when I saw that even the suf­fering old woman and stranded youths in villages preferred N500 to voting right to change the situation of things. Almost 55 years after Independence and with many examples to guide us, many still say we are learning. When would this Nigerian stu­dent graduate? We are not demo­crats and what we practice could be anything but democracy. It is painful.


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THE Abia paradox (2) Sat, 11 Apr 2015 23:05:47 +0000 Continued from two week… The point I made last week is that vision should drive pow­er if power is to bring good things. The Abia Dream is not be­ing driven by big visions, hence 23 years after creation we are moving at slow pace, fighting each other and blaming ourselves. No matter what anybody tries [...]]]>

Continued from two week…

The point I made last week is that vision should drive pow­er if power is to bring good things. The Abia Dream is not be­ing driven by big visions, hence 23 years after creation we are moving at slow pace, fighting each other and blaming ourselves. No matter what anybody tries to say, the reality that stares us in the face is that of low quality of life. In our rural areas ma­jority of the people can hardly afford decent meals and simple diseases like malaria still terminate lives. Our social relations are not very lively for a people that are homogenous in terms of crucial social factors such as language and religion. Some insti­tutions are not where they ought to be by now. I want to single out the civil service, which we had dealt a terrible blow by infesting it with politics that in turn dealt fatal blows to vision, merit and espirit-de-corps among the work force. What reigns in that critical sector is gossip and political connection. This has diluted commitment and creativity, leading to very low productivity.

There is still no serious effort to carve out a master plan, neither is there genuine effort to stir up the inherent creative energies in a par­ticular manner to achieve predeter­mined goals. The organ better placed for this push is the state government under a reinvigorated leadership ad­equately equipped for the rigours of development.

We must get this clear: efforts to re-engineer our affairs will not produce results except the leader­ship post-2015 election realises that the first thing to do, is to change the philosophy of governance from “clientilism” – rental and mercan­tilist mentality that has pervaded the atmosphere for some time – to visionary, merit-driven and full par­ticipatory institution, which a gov­ernment and governance should be. For a long time we have ran a system of government where those in power and authority simply get there and shut themselves off the people. The result is the low-level development we have. If things must assume dif­ferent shape, then leaders at all levels should henceforth resolve to be there for the people, they should be very accessible to the governed. Undilut­ed frequent sectoral town-hall meet­ings should be part of the bargain. Funding has always been an issue; as such I recommend a change in the budgeting pattern from the old sys­tem in which ministries, parastatals and agencies compete in inserting new but very irrelevant sub-heads every year with huge capital outlays, to one in which every ministry will run a four-year budget plan based on core visions of the incumbent administration. This method will not only save funds, it will also enhance professional and focused allocation of scarce resources and help to real­ise completion of projects within the life span of a particular administra­tion. For instance, for the Ministry of Sports, besides the issues of sport­ing competitions their main focus between 2015 and 2019 should be construction of ultra-modern stadia in Aba and Umuahia and uplifting of Nsulu Games Village into a full-fledged games village/sports acad­emy, where discovered talents can train as well as be educated. These projects are enough to engage the at­tention of an administration for four years and beyond. Therefore, a four-year rolling plan is easy to carry over into the second tenure. In addition to the above, our new sports policy should revitalise schools and local government sporting competitions, just as private schools should by leg­islation be made to own their play grounds. Enyimba and Abia Warri­ors football clubs should as a matter of policy source 50 per cent of their players from among the indigenes and residents while the sports de­velopment efforts should emphasize building of local talents into interna­tional stars and importantly the use of sports for economic enhancement.

Entertainment, good as it is, re­mains a residual factor. It is in the axis of urban development and re­newal that the harm we have done to the Abia Dream comes clear. In the 23 years of Abia’s existence, there doesn’t appear to be a clear policy on what the state accepts as the stand­ard form for the development of our physical environment and the result is what I can describe as sub-human settlements dotting the landscape. We have grown our urban and semi-urban centres in such a manner that we have succeeded in creating more slums. Obehie, Azumini, Akwaete, Ohafia, Arochukwu, Umuoba, Uzua­koli, Owerrinta, and Isuochi are testi­monies of what our efforts have been in physical transformation; I don’t know how many of us like what we see. Umuahia is a state capital but it does not look like one. We make things worse by our concept of what Umuahia capital territory should be. Umuahia capital territory stretches to the periphery of Isiala Ngwa North, Ikwuano, Bende, Uzuakoli Axis, and some portions of Imo State, but in its development we have restricted ourselves to the city centre thereby denying the state of an expanded capital city with all the advantages it portends. If we had a better view, a new Umuahia would have since emerged, comprising sections such as ultra-modern housing estate in the real sense of the concept, beautiful open spaces, sophisticated industrial parks, provision for inter-linking rail and monorail lines, four and six lane highways that will provide alterna­tive routes to motorists away from the city centre and at the same time opening up city outlets for new de­velopments, positive emigration of persons and quality investors, a phe­nomenon that would have positively re-bounced on the welfare status of the people. We didn’t think this way and the result is the debasement we see in the half-hearted efforts we have made. Ehimiri Housing Estate that would have been a model for others that would have come after it became bastardized mid-way.

Unpatriotic town planners ad­vised and achieved the unprofes­sional redesigning of that estate, consequently the plots became less than standard and the streets can hardly take two cars passing at the same time. Worse still the streets have been abandoned, making the habitation look far less a modern es­tate. The other estates we hear about Agbama, Isieke, Umuobia, Kings Court Amuzukwu, and others by real standards, are no estates, but are a few blocks of flats tugged away in one hidden corner. Umuahia needs a Three-Arm Zone, road and pedes­trian flyovers. We can be futuristic. The long and short of this story is that Umuahia needs re-planning and so much of conscientious effort to re­write the story. Am still searching to see whether we would have someone to take us along this desired path. It will require great vision, drive and collectivity to change what is on the ground. The only good news is that it can be done.

Muhammadu Buhari has finally won the presidential race. By this history has been made and the point that governments can be changed by peaceful means firmly established. I congratulate him and the others, and hope they will live above hate and pursue real change. The contradic­tions between the new and old order would certainly come but I pray the triumph. The Obasanjos would defi­nitely come to see how to prepare the stage for their surrogates. I hope APC knows their romance with Oba­sanjos is one of convenience. To sur­vive they must have we, the people.

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NEXT Abia governor? Sat, 04 Apr 2015 23:00:31 +0000 From last week, I de­cided to keep my focus on Abia, my state and to draw from my experience spanning over 16 years in top public offices in the state, to dissect issues and paradoxes in the state and to proffer the way forward in a very dispas­sionate way. Part two of the series entitled [...]]]>

From last week, I de­cided to keep my focus on Abia, my state and to draw from my experience spanning over 16 years in top public offices in the state, to dissect issues and paradoxes in the state and to proffer the way forward in a very dispas­sionate way. Part two of the series entitled “Abia Para­dox” would have continued today, but I had to break it to acknowledge the historic landmark that is the Buhari/ Tinubu/APC victory in the presidential election and to discuss in a direct manner the next election which is about the governorship polls, es­pecially as it concerns Abia. The two developments are very crucial to me and I guess for many readers because of what they mean to the devel­opment of our nation and in particular the people’s wel­fare.

One thing common to the issues is change, trying an alternative in the cherished search for a better lifestyle for the people. The Buhari victory, no matter how we look at it, is refreshing es­pecially for me. What we desired and thought was an impossible task has been accomplished with great fi­nesse. Few weeks back it was difficult to comprehend democratic peaceful change from a ruling party that so much loved power and saw it as be all and end all to anoth­er. Now that change is with us and virtually at no great cost. No lives were lost in the mag­nitude that some of us feared and the unity of our great nation did not come under threat as most of us feared; even though some of us na­tionalists may not have been very comfortable with the way foreign officials and out­side bodies came down here breathing down our necks as if we were savage people without a brain or conscience to decipher what path is good for us.

But the good thing is that in the end we were able to defy odds to expand the scope of democratic frontiers. I con­gratulate Buhari, Tinubu, Onu and others for seeing the need to come together as de­manded by some of us in the writing business. The bane of opposition politics has been the inability to act as a collec­tive.

We must not fail to give President Jonathan his place of honour. If there is a big legacy he has bequeathed to our nation, it is restoring faith in the electoral process and the democratic process; and allowing a truly demo­cratic atmosphere to prevail even when it would be costly for him. Something many of those talking today had op­portunity to effect, but de­liberately chose to walk the wrong path.

The change mantra would work if the agents do a few things immediately. The first is to abhor hate, and the next would be to move fast to show their case is not one of just mouthing slogans. They appeared vague during the campaigns but with the elec­tion won and lost, the chal­lenge is obviously very differ­ent; they would have to prove their mettle and very quickly too. A note of warning though – the power management equation has greatly altered.

Those who will wield power in the next four years except for Buhari are outsid­ers as far as those who have manipulated power since In­dependence till this historic revolution. Even Buhari is not quite an inner circle mem­ber of the caucus. We know the rest. Anybody conversant with the power game here would know that this kind of change comes with its own big troubles and challenges. Obasanjo and the others are still there and they don’t give up control and interference easily. They have tried to es­tablish a romance with the new order but in my opinion, that move was a clever way to run from their past and to take measures to avoid possi­ble backlashes. It was a face saving move that had nothing to do with the proper devel­opment of this nation.

For now they will be calm and critically watch appoint­ments and key policy enun­ciations, and once it is clear to them that they are not in control of key portfolios like finance, defence, and a few others, and that they can­not substantially control the Tinubus, Amaechis, Onus, and Sarakis, a new trouble will brew and to our chagrin we would begin to see alter­cations, akin to the fights Obasanjo staged in the past against Shagari, this same Bu­hari, Babangida and the last one Jonathan. As we have seen, it can be nasty. How the Buhari team responds to this expected storm that will surely come would go a long way to determine the level of peace and legitimacy they would enjoy. I think Buhari has always meant well and is determined to give his best and all he needs is our sup­port.

For the governorship and state assembly elections scheduled for next weekend, I believe like many Nigerians that the wind of change blow­ing should reach the state as well. The truth is that the states have become a shame to democracy for a long time. Governors and corrupt party chieftains handpick candi­dates for House of Assembly elections and muscle them through shambolic elections into offices.

The result is that most of our legislators remain ap­pendages of the state gov­ernor and so fail woefully in their responsibility to the people and one consequence of this is massive underde­velopment, stealing of pub­lic funds, and arrogance of power. This has left the peo­ple prostrate and diminished. The Buhari resurgence there­fore opens the states to the challenge of openness and fresh air.

Abia needs this badly, the system of narrow group in­terest and short sightedness has ran for too long to the extent the people cannot tell between the devil and man, who their real enemy is. From the feelers I get, 90 per cent of Abians agree on the need for change in personal­ity and administrative style but who would the cap fit this time has become the issue. Choice has been made dif­ficult by certain factors like zoning for equity and justice and merit and competence. Zoning is important since in the present day Nigeria, we can find a competent man in every family. I believe it is the turn of Abia South and given current scenarios I would throw my heart with Nyerere Anyim, the gubernatorial can­didate of the All Progressive Congress (APC).

He is brilliant just like the rest and is a former banker but more than these, he is the least controversial of all the Ngwa indigenes in the gover­norship race. What is more, before now those in PDP had always told us it is very rea­sonable to remain with the party in power at the centre; if this was more applicable at any other time, it is now.

With Nyerere, we can rest all issues that have been of concern to us in Abia State and still record massive posi­tive development within a very short time. We have the resources; what we have lacked has been big vision and the right calibre of per­sons to execute it. From what I know, many competent Abians are willing to make themselves available to serve the state if only they can find a governor that shares their passion, loves merit and is open to collegiate system in the development of the state.

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