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Does It Matter If A Cat Is Black Or White? [Why We Should Vote Buhari] By Akin Oyebode

In 1978, Deng Xiaoping became China’s pre-eminent leader at 74. Before leading China, Deng had cut his teeth in the army, helping it grow into a military machine during the Communist Revolution in the 1940’s. Though initially praised for his role by Chairman Mao, he fell out favour during the 1960’s because Mao considered him too self-centred; was stripped of all his posts and exiled to a rural province to be re-educated. Deng eventually made a political comeback after Mao’s death and started downgrading Mao’s legacies and opened China to globalization.

He was not a flawless leader; the Tiananmen Square Massacre happened under his watch and he also instituted the radical policy of limiting families to “one child per couple” to stem the rising population. However, his most important legacy is laying the foundation for China’s economic boom with forward thinking reforms.  He opened China to international trade and introduced reforms in agriculture and industry that improved the overall standard of living and triggered a period of sustained economic growth.

The similarity with the Deng story is a major reason I am supporting Muhammadu Buhari to become Nigeria’s next President despite his history of being a military ruler whose government signalled in the end of democracy in 1983, or a perception of being driven by ethnic sentiments and religious bigotry. I strongly believe he is the leader for the Nigeria of today, and that a government under his leadership will create the foundation for a sustained period of economic growth and development.

The next five points summarize why I’m batting for the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket to win the 2015 presidential election. Here goes…

Much Ado about Corruption

Nigeria has lost between $20 billion and $30 billion in the last two years to oil sector corruption alone, an amount equal to the Federal budget in 2013 ($31.7 billion). With this in mind, anti-corruption is the most important agenda for him during this election season. While it is obvious that one man cannot solve this problem, it is useful studying how Georgia managed to reduce corruption significantly when President Mikheil Saakashvili took over the government in 2004. If you read the comment below, you will understand why Muhammadu Buhari’s credibility is a great asset in the battle to minimize corruption.

This document here is a great read on how Georgia successfully fought corruption. If you can’t read the complete report, the summary is pretty simple – If a country’s leadership shows zero tolerance to corruption, the business community and citizens will fall in line. In Georgia’s example, the radical policies not only reduced corruption, they improved government’s credibility which increased tax collections. This is my biggest reason for asking voters to vote Muhammadu Buhari into office with a majority at the National Assembly.

What can others learn from Georgia’s success? Leadership and political will are all important. So too is establishing early credibility. In early 2004, the government thought it had 8 months to get quick results. Most famously, 16,000 traffic police officers received their waddling orders overnight. In an effort to sustain public support, attention grabbing symbols matter.

 

The APC Ideology

I am a member of the All Progressives Congress because its overall ideology is the right one for today’s Nigeria. A “left of centre” party will ensure social welfare programs which are badly needed in Nigeria today, protect workers and provide equal opportunities in the society. If you don’t belong to a group of Nigerians benefiting from Government patronage, this is the right party for you.

While there are legitimate concerns around the size of such governments and its impact on free markets, an APC government will provide a fine blend of grey matter to balance the impact of its policies on business and the cost of governance. Within the party, there are people like Nasir El-Rufai who led a lot of the privatization of public assets at the BPE; Ben Akabueze who has brought his banking experience to the public sector and ensures Lagos State delivers on an ambitious development plan; Olawale Edun, who led the diversification of Lagos State’s revenues between 1999 and 2007; and of course, Yemi Osinbajo, who is credited for reforming the Lagos State Judiciary during his term as the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice.

This is a stellar cast of grey matter that will thrive under a Buhari Presidency.  If there is one thing we have learnt from Buhari’s record of leadership, it is clear the man has no problem delegating responsibility where competent lieutenants are available.

It’s the Economy, Stupid!

James Carville might remain relatively unknown, but the campaign slogan he coined for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign is now one of the most iconic campaign slogans of all time. Nigeria is now facing headwinds as oil revenues, our major income earner, might experience a sustained period of suppressed prices. There is absolutely no reason to believe a government that frittered a period of boom away will manage this lean spell properly.

In a period of reduced revenues, exchange rate depreciation and  higher interest rates, voters need to be sure about the decisiveness of its leaders and the ability of government to respond intelligently to the rapid changes in the global economy.

For 16 years, Lagos State has used its share of growing oil revenues to boost non-oil collections by improving tax collections. Today, it is the only state where federal allocations contribute less than 50% of the total revenues recognized by the state.  Today, while the Federal Government and many states struggle to pay salaries, Lagos State is not only meeting its obligations to employees, it is also embarking on a large-scale infrastructure projects.  For those who will ask the inevitable questions on Lagos State’s debt, I already answered that here .

2015 is an opportunity to test if the relative successes seen in Lagos since 1999 can be replicated at a national level.  It is also the right time to test the economic policies of both parties and their presidential candidates. Since 1999, there has never been a period where the economic credentials of our leadership team are more important than now. Will you vote the government that ensured 24% of Nigerians remained unemployed despite record-breaking revenues or the one with a clear agenda to ensure at least 5 million jobs are created per year?

Yemi Osinbajo vs Namadi Sambo

This one is the clearest reasons to bat for the APC ticket. I don’t know Namadi Sambo, but the limited influence of the Vice-President suggests he doesn’t add sufficient value to Nigeria’s leadership. While the Vice-President of Nigeria might be seen as an expensive appendage, it is clear under a Buhari presidency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo will get a lot of leverage to lead policy implementation. Like thousands, I have been exposed to the “incoming” VP’s clear thoughts on Nigeria and the solution to our underdevelopment. It is therefore exciting to finally see an opportunity for one of the finest thinkers I know to put those theories to test.

I can’t remember any Vice-Presidential candidate being so important in an election, but Prof. Osinbajo brings a lot more than religious and ethnic balance to this ticket. It is an incredible opportunity to get a proper intellectual into office especially one who has spent most of his adult life proffering solutions to his country’s problems. For those in doubt, please wait for a debate between Vice-President Sambo and Professor Osinbajo. Get your white towels ready, it promises to be a remake of that epic battle between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran.

Buhari 2.0 > Buhari 1.0

The Buhari running for office in 2013 is very different from the one that ruled Nigeria in 1984 or the one that ran for office in 2003. I will use two quotes from the man himself to explain.  I attended a session where he sounded very sad about the Supreme Court judgement where the result of the 2007 Presidential Elections was upheld by 4 votes to 3 despite an admission of irregularities during the election. Buhari seemed surprised the judges who dissented with the majority were Justices Oguntade, Onnoghen and Aloma Mukhtar (who later became the CJN), and not the ones who came from the same ethnic origin as he did. In that moment, I suspect the strong ethnic connection Buhari had been associated with slowly dissolved, and he realised people are aligned by interests and not where their origins lie.

The second was his admission that he submitted to democracy‘s power over autocratic leadership when the U.S.S.R. dissolved without a bullet. In both admissions, it was clear that both incidents had a huge effect on him and contributed to the renaissance we are now witnessing.

The result is very interesting. For the first time since 2003, GMB has finally built a coalition with a national outlook instead of the Northern based candidacy which was never going to deliver him the Presidency. For me, his conduct during the merger that created the APC showed a man who now understands compromise is an important word in the political landscape.  I don’t regret not voting for the 2003 version but the 2014 version surely has my vote in the bag.

Cats and Mice

Many ask which version of Muhammadu Buhari will show up. Is it the hard-line one that will truncate privatization reforms and increase government’s involvement on business or the one that will provide a platform for technocrats within his government to thrive?  My answer lies in Deng Xiaoping’s most famous quote:

It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white as long as it kills mice

 

Akin Oyebode

 

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I Remain in PDP – Gbenga Daniel

The immediate past Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel has re-emphasised the fact that he remains in the People Democratic Party (PDP) together with his teeming supporters contrary to reports in some media. 

In a statement, Otunba Daniel  debunked the reports of his defection to other political party as  “mere speculation with no iota of truth. I remain in the PDP and nothing has changed”, he affirmed.

He then implored his supporters to remain calm, steadfast and work assiduously for the success of all PDP candidates as presented by the National Working Committee (NWC) at the forthcoming polls.

It will be recalled that Otunba Gbenga Daniel had granted interviews several weeks ago electing to opt out of the senatorial race making his intentions known not to contest for any political post in this dispensation. Although the leadership of the Party, through the National Working Committee  has decided that he should run for Ogun East Senatorial seat, Otunba Daniel has yet to concede to the directive or change his mind in spite of pressures on him to run.

“We have not also seen a single poster or any indication to that effect. We all know that if he is running, we would have started to see and feel the vibes and the tell-tale signs in memorabilia, jingles and other electioneering campaign strategies. 

According to the former governor, he, along with others are right now busy perfecting strategies to ensure that President Goodluck Jonathan has an impressive showing in Ogun State and the entire Southwest geopolitical zone in this year’s presidential election.

 
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Nigerian of the Year I and II By Gimba Kakanda

2014 was a tumultuous year. It’s a year I remember in the shade of red, in my imagination of the globe now as a mottle of red, green, blue and brown – blood, vegetation, oceans and deserts. And Nigeria, especially the northern part, is one of the red patches on the globe, having lost too many citizens to the year’s escalated terrorism. Several disasters, mostly initiated by the folly of man, contributed in making the globe redder this year. In Middle East, the State of Israel was furious in highlighting the red on the territory that hosts the people of Gaza, while, close by, the ISIS militants did theirs in Syria and Iraq. Africa which, like Middle East, has always been a slaughterhouse where we seem to celebrate the death of humanism, joined the Project Red fad as we killed one another in Central African Republic, Kenya, South Sudan and Nigeria, while the saner societies advanced in technological and scientific inventions. By the time Ebola struck,
we weren’t actually caught off guard, only lacking the medical facilities to contain the virus that spread across various countries killing and exposing the deficiencies of a continent. Nigeria, having won the fight against the spread of Ebola, was badly hit by terrorism, and also by the ethnic militancy in the north-central states of Nasarawa, Plateau and Taraba, which are the fault of its insensitivity to cultural and religious dissidents over the years. Consequently, 2014 was also the year of emergency activism and inspiring heroism by Nigerians who had had enough of the government’s unimpressive and considerably politicised counterterrorism and systemic corruption.

I chose to categorise this recognition of exceptional accomplishments by Nigerians into two to highlight the contributions of the private citizens who had no link with, and had never been in, government and that of public servants, past and serving. “Nigerian of the Year I” is a celebration of those ordinary Nigerians who, noticing the deficiencies of this country and seeming cluelessness and incompetence of the government, sacrificed themselves to protect the resources, interests, virtues and lives of the citizens. “Nigeria of the Year II” is for those influential public servants, both past and active.

Nigerian of the Year I

This recognition can never go to an individual as it’s on record that all the most successful advocacies witnessed in 2015 were pursued by groups of likeminded citizens. And it has to be given to a group because all involved in such advocacies were equally threatened, and members have lost lives or fortunes in their attempts to protect us from either the system or a perceived external threat.

My nominees for the first category are: the Ebola Fighters in Nigeria, led by the inspiring Dr Stella Adadevoh; the ?#?BringBackOurGirls??? Campaigners, led by the courageous Dr. Oby Ezekwesili; and the Civilian JTF, led by that faceless and unknown Nigerian. I must add that all of these groups deserve this honour, but there’s a certain privilege that wasn’t enjoyed by one of these groups, in spite of its consistent incursions into danger all through the year, which make them the most qualified for this category. This privilege is media representation and praise, and the group denied that is the Civilian JTF!

Being the most dangerous, and yet unfairly underreported advocacy, the sacrifices of these vigilante groups of the north-eastern Nigeria are hardly noticed and rarely praised by us, because we’re only moved by televised tragedies, and while some of us were busy with the ?#?FreeGaza??? campaign, with a certain people even writing to justify anti-Semitism in their attack of our call for commitment and dedication to protecting Nigeria, these unnamed and faceless “soldiers in kaftan” were walking the talk, being killed for what’s not exactly their business, doing the work of those constitutionally tasked with protecting us: the military and para-military institutions.

But I must apologise to those expecting me to mention the Ebola fighters, already declared as Man of the Year by TIME, especially our own beloved Dr. Stella Adadevoh whose sacrifice was indeed inspiring. The recognition, without mincing words, is in acknowledgment of the existence of a group that had risen to fight the biggest threat in the history of this country, a threat that is already turning the whole country into a funeral house. Similarly, while it’s the duty of doctors to protect lives, for which they may be paid, it’s not the duty of unarmed citizens to fight terrorism in the field, and succeeding despite getting killed.
But I understand the sentiments in favour of the Ebola fighters. It’s the reality that, here, Ebola is seen as a threat to us, the urban and itinerant haves, while the major victims of terrorism in Nigeria have been the “subaltern” citizens, the “second-class” Nigerians in Gwoza, Potiskum, Chibok, Bama, Baga, Mubi, and at Nyanya Parks, churches and mosques that can’t afford advance security arrangements.

Nigerian of the Year II

In 2014, of the Nigerian public servants, while the Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah and her colleague at the Ministry of Petroleum, Ms. Diezani Alison-Madueke were graduating from scandal to controversy, leaving their most cerebral colleague in charge of Finance to defend the government’s misappropriations of public funds, there was a Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, an active public servant, alerting us to the worst of such scandals, General Muhammadu Buhari still struggling to remain the poster-child of the opposition party in Nigeria, prominent members of the APC weaving cheap conspiracy theories about the genesis and operations of the Boko Haram and promoting them as facts to blackmail a clearly underperforming government and a Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, a former public servant, as the face of the nation’s hitherto dormant civil society. 2014 was indeed the year of both exceptional and characterless public servants, and while Sanusi had played a part
in his whistle-blowing showmanship, with Buhari being resisted as a spent force, Oby was unstoppable.

Sure, you know the winner. I stood firm in defending her and even took it personal when some close friends disparaged an aspect of her, with clearly flawed statistics. She’s no saint, but Dr. Oby Ezekwesili is that beautiful mind whose existence, especially this year, challenged us to stand for something in life. She had paid a price for her revolutionary stance as the face of the civil society, pursuing a cause that most of our NGOs that had fed fat on grants from the West ought to have advocated and sustained.

She was called names even by some of her Igbo kinsmen in the cause of her struggle for a responsible Nigeria as she led the ?#?BringBackOurGirls??? campaign to the attention of the world. She was called names for standing up for the destiny of some “northern girls” by a mischievous group that sought to blackmail her with a sentimental history of the Biafra War, reminding her that the ongoing social devolution in the north is an atonement for the sins of the North.

But she wasn’t deterred, she’s first a human being – a principle she advocates. And not even the opposition party was safe from her unpatronising criticism this year. As a guest of the opposition party at a summit held in the first quarter of the year, she reminded the members that the quest for change is more than just a change of party and acronym, highlighting their structural and ideological flaws. That’s the spirit of the phenomenal woman!

Needless to list her antagonists, among whom are young Nigerians on the payroll of, and sympathetic to, the government, especially the delusional ones on the social media who have made a career out of tweeting disrespectful rants at her. And these are young people, whose country and future she was fighting to salvage, young enough to be her kids. They called her a hypocrite, and it’s so because the indecorous clowns didn’t seem to know that they were really referring to that seasoned technocrat who’s become a globally sought-after policy advisor, having paid her dues at various international financial institutions, which peaked at appointment as a Vice President of the World Bank, after a tenure as Minister of Education. It’s, however, disquieting that a notable citizen who has sacrificed a lot in reactivating our dormant civil society, amplifying the tragedy of the ordinary Nigerian was so vilified by amnesiac hacks. But, may God save us from us!

Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter

 
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Abia PDP Guber Candidate, Ikpeazu Denies Allegation of Tax Evasion, Says His Opponents Are Afraid of His Pedigree

Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu Denies Allegation of Tax Evasion

.Says his opponents are afraid of pedigree 

The Abia State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has debunked rumours making the rounds that he is having issues with tax payment, describing the report as false and the handiwork of his detractors.

The PDP governorship candidate who addressed journalists at his campaign office in Umuahia, said that  having been in public office in the past 12 years both as the General Manager of Abia State Passengers Integrated Manifest and Safety Scheme (ASPIMSS) and the Deputy General Manager of Abia State Environmental Protection ASEPA, Aba, payment of tax for him is not a choice since it was deducted compulsorily from source through the Pay As You Earn system (PAYE) before his salary gets to him.
He explained that his detractors imported the tax papers of one Chief Okezie Ikpeazu, a businessman also from Obingwa who bears the same name with him and went to an Abuja High Court thinking that he was the one involved.
Dr. Ikpeazu who said that his lawyer challenged the issue in court and costs awarded against the plaintiff stated that he has no business going to any tax office to negotiate, adding that those peddling the rumour are making mockery of themselves as the tax matter is a non issue.
He said that those spearheading the rumour are doing so because they see him as a threat and pointed out that his vision for the state include looking for alternative ways of funding projects as well as enhancing the internally generated revenue base of the state.
According to him, he was lucky to be enjoying the support of the Governor of the state, Chief Theodore Orji and major stakeholders in the state and stated his commitment to consolidate on the achievements of the Governor.
Dr, Ikpeazu maintained that what should occupy the minds of people at this point is not tax but how how to move the state higher.
In his speech, a member of the legal team of the Okezuo Abia campaign organization, Barr. Teddy Eruba disclosed that Dr. Ikpeazu does not have any tax issues that will disqualify him from running for the governorship position, saying that it is infantile for any person to consider tax default as one of the conditions likely to disqualify Dr. Ikpeazu or any candidate from running for governorship position.
He maintained that the only thing that can disqualify him is a judicial action by a qualified court.

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2015 Elections: President Jonathan Relocates Children to UK Over Uncertain Future

In a move that seems to betray his fears ahead of the February 2015 general elections, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has quietly moved his children to the United Kingdom.

Presidency sources said the action was  based on security advice.

Militant elements from Jonathan’s Ijaw ethnic group have been threatening war if he loses the election. For the first time, Nigeria’s opposition has come together to forge a strong alliance through the All Progressives Congress (APC), whose presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, is currently making waves across the country.

Jonathan’s Special Adviser (Media & Publicity) Reuben Abati had on Sunday issued a statement that his boss “left Abuja this afternoon for a brief private visit to the United Kingdom.”

“The President was accompanied on the trip by some of his principal staff and personal aides,” he said.

Before their relocation, Jonathan’s children were living with him and First Lady Patience Jonathan in the Presidential Villa while receiving an education at an elitist school in the Nigerian capital.

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Farmers Donate 5 Million Tubers Of Yam To Raise 5 Billion Naira For Buhari’s Campaign

Rev. Jacob Musa, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the farmers under the name “Buhari-Osibajo Presidential Appeal Campaign Fund (BOPCAF), said that farmers from 10 states of the federation were planning the fundraiser.

Musa said members drawn from Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau, Adamawa, Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Niger and Kaduna states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, would feature at the occasion.

He said that Prof. Emmanuel Garba, who lost the governorship primary of the APC in Plateau, was a founding father of the group.

“We have contributed five million tubers of yam to be donated in support of the funding of Buhari’s presidential campaign. The five million tubers of yam will be retailed at a special price of N1,000 each towards raising the sum of N5 billion in support of the APC candidate,” it said.

The statement said that the public presentation of the five million tubers of yam would hold at the Mararaban Demshin village yam market in Qua’an Pan Local Government Area of Plateau on Jan. 4, 2015. It stated that the ceremony would also witness traditional wrestling involving 500 traditional wrestlers from the 19 northern states and the FCT.

“The aim is to mobilise the wrestlers in the campaign against poverty, crime, killings, kidnappings, armed robbery, cattle rustling, rape, cultism, election rigging, looting of public fund, smuggling, terrorism and other social vices now prevalent in the society,” it said. The statement also said that the event would be heralded by a world press conference in Jos, sponsored by Imo Gov. Rochas Okorocha.

It added that the event would be attended by Gov. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers in his capacity as the Director-General of the Buhari-Osibajo Campaign Organisation on Jan. 2, 2014.

(NAN)

 

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Buhari versus Jonathan: Now That Our Choices Have Been Narrowed Down, By Toks Ero

Who will win next year’s Presidential election and assume the position of President come May 29, 2015 is no doubt the most important issue to Nigerians at this time. Nigerians are hopeful for a President that will stem the tide of Boko Haram and provide lasting solutions to the long list of problems that plague the country.

Now that our choices have been narrowed down to incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari, the wise thing for Nigerians to do at this time is to carefully assess the antecedents, character and circumstances of these individuals and what they represent. Engaging in this task will be confusing; however, care must be taken to weigh the pros and cons objectively and as devoid of every form of emotion or sentiment as possible.

President Jonathan sadly has presided over a very corrupt government that has proved incompetent and ineffective at tackling the nation’s problems. Arguably though, at no time in Nigeria’s history have Nigerians experienced such turbulent times as to seek whatever immediate change is available. However, our quest for immediate change should not becloud our sense of judgment as to what kind of change is expedient.

General Muhammadu Buhari as a serving military officer overthrew a democratically elected government without any subsequent plan of return to civilian rule. Nigerians bold enough to criticize his regime were hounded under a draconian Decree 2. One way to judge a person is by their utterances. Buhari has to his credit statements that indicate subtle display of sympathy for Boko Haram and calls for the promotion of Islamic Sharia law in a secular Nigeria. Buhari represents the age long northern mentality of “born to rule”. The unique selling point of Buhari is his supposed character and how that will influence his anti-corruption stance. Birds of the same feathers flock together is a popular saying. Buhari’s character is as legendary as it is mythical and significantly flawed by his association and dalliance with the corrupt elements that hold sway in the All Progressives Congress (APC).

I watched Buhari’s interview on the programme “Politics Today” aired on Channels TV and all I perceived was an old, slow, inarticulate and uninspiring man; most probably not one to herald the change Nigerians seek; certainly not one to represent Nigeria as President aside other world leaders in this day and age. I saw a Buhari that seemed to have no more than a pedestrian grasp of the issues that a presidential candidate should be able to debate and argue intelligently.

Yes! We want change. But at what cost? Do we want change so much we fail to think that such change could be for the worse? Can Buhari effectively curb the excesses of the corrupt elements in his party if he becomes President? Will these corrupt elements in the APC not have put in place a machinery to shield themselves from probable Buhari anti-corruption stance against themselves? Can Buhari sincerely say that he does not know that the intentions of APC bigwigs concerning Nigeria are not nobler than those of PDP’s? Will the emergence of Buhari as President not further strengthen the northern “born to rule” mentality which should be discouraged? How are we sure a president Buhari will not attempt to promote the spread of Sharia law to all parts of Nigeria as he once advocated? How sure are we that a president Buhari will not operate the authoritarianism he did in the 80’s? How are we sure that our National Assembly would be able to moderate the authoritarian and dictatorial tendencies of a president Buhari? These are some of the questions Nigerians must ask themselves before casting a ballot in favour of Buhari.

Our path to nationhood must be based on certain fundamental principles of equality, fairness, competence, justice, transparency and accountability, etc. Politics of ethnicity and religion must be discouraged. All Nigerians must strive to influence the electoral process such that our votes would definitely count.

I feel sad being forced to choose between Buhari and President Jonathan. It is having to choose between a rock and a hard place; between the devil and a deep blue sea; a classic case of having to choose between two evils. However, based on my perception of both candidates and their circumstances, President Jonathan is a lesser evil.

Dear Nigerian, Buhari is not the messiah!!!

Toks Ero blogs at www.toksero.org

 
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It’s Christmas in Chibok, Mr. President! By Gimba Kakanda

You know what this is about. But, have you contacted their family to understand the meaning and depth of sorrow? Which family? This is the reason for this reminder. 
 
While you feast, in the spirit of this sacred season, sharing love with your political family, especially the billionaire donors, there are, somewhere in the hinterlands of this country or between the borders of the country to Niger Republic, Chad or Cameroon, innocent citizens condemned to a slavery that can only be imagined by us. 
 
I’m talking about the innocent school girls abducted at a government secondary school in Borno State. For these girls, Mr. President, December 25 doesn’t mean anything, having been held captive by savages to whom any Christian values and even the values of peace-building Muslims represent a threat they seek to exterminate, a fantasy for which they have killed thousands of your subjects, and which you seem to take for granted at our peril. 
 
The question that your loyalists who proudly, actually shamefully, parade themselves as “Jonathanians”  always ask is, are the girls of Chibok the only abducted since the wake of this insurgency, in their attempts to discredit the #BringBackOurGirls campaign? The answer to this has been proffered by members of the campaign from the incredibly energetic Mrs Aisha Yesufu whose resilience has been an inspiration for faint-hearted and absenting advocates of the movement like me to the courageous Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, on the back of whose charisma and audacity the campaign rose to the attention of the world, and now continues to dominate the discourse of man’s inhumanity in global politics. 
 
The answer to this stubborn refusal to let go of this campaign and continuous call for the rescuing of Chibok Girls, as understood by all who still believe in the cause, is that it not only calls for you to bring back the missing girls, but any thinking person knows that any mission initiated to rescue the girls of Chibok will definitely result in the liberation of not just all the citizens abducted so far, but also the country itself from operations and oppressions of these ragtag agents of the Devil. 
 
You see, #BringBackOurGirls is more than just a campaign, more than just a hashtag, more than just a sit-out, more than just a congregation of the nation’s finest minds, it defies the criticisms of all employed by you to frustrate and discredit it as a result of nothing other than this very singularity of the campaigners’ exact purpose: #BringBackOurGirls. 
 
That this advocacy has survived all brazen fabrications and conspiracies  against it, becoming the longest ever in Nigeria, is a tribute to the power of what the advocates themselves refer to as “the singularity of purpose” – keen focus on the efforts, reported those are, to bring back the 219 girls. This advocacy survived being dismissed as partisan, that it’s a tool of the opposition of the party. But even an excited APC chieftain, Mr. Audu Ogbeh, who, in his praise of the advocacy, tried to link it to the opposition party had to issue a press release at once, retracting his statement, and apologising for the mistake and embarrassment caused.
 
What I really don’t understand, Mr. President, is this: that your people’s daughters and sons and mothers and fathers, citizens of the country you’re elected to protect, have been in captivity without any update on efforts taken to rescue them, without any sobering, even if pretentious, assurance that they will be home soon, with their grief-stricken families, YET, 
here you are, again, asking for their votes, proud of your under-achievements and acting as though nothing has gone missing, not even the billions, because your family or interests are not affected. I just don’t get it. 
 
Mr. President, if you actually believe the propaganda that places you on the same platform with the Mandelas of this world, which seems to have given you the audacity to ask these betrayed people for another opportunity to rule, to mismanage this animal farm, then your case is more than just political, it’s psychological. Or is it that I don’t really get it? 
 
But, let’s agree that I don’t get it, can you give me, a curious subject, just one reason to cast my vote for you? You may be a good man in the closet – introverted, soft-spoken and ambitious, but your political decisions and even communication over these years, with this retinue of indecorous media aides you employ to insult citizens asking genuine questions, have only damaged you.
I know you may get elected again, a reality no sane citizen wants to ponder, because beside the few million agents of change whose decisions are based on the outcomes of their brains, there are several millions of victims of maladministration too hungry to use their brains, some only possessed by dangerous sentiments.  
 
You may empty even the nation’s foreign reserve which is now, I learnt, in red, but history will remember you as it does those who occupied the office before you: harshly. Wait, if the problems of this country are beyond you as shown, why desperate to remain in that Office?
 
While, to you, politics is a game, it’s a matter of life to us. The #BringBackOurGirls campaigners are immune to the partisan sentiments of your handlers and that of your opponents, are only interested in a nation  under the leadership of a human being who is, not just a Muslim, not just a Christian, not just a Yoruba, not just a Hausa, not just an Ijaw, not just a northerner, not just a southerner, but responsible! For this, Nigerians across all divides, owe this group immense gratitude, if not for anything, for amplifying the voice of the ordinary Nigerian. The group has travelled the country and the world spreading the word of our miseries and keeping the reality of our hopelessness on the headlines of both local and international media, print, broadcast and online. 
 
On Christmas Eve, while we empty shopping malls in our grand cities, and while you decorate the State House for another of your many fanfares, living as though all is well with the territory you have vowed to protect, members of the group, already known for their identifications of deficiencies at our squalid camps for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), were in action in Adamawa State to launch #ChristmasForIDPs campaign to excite the lives of those subjects of government that is everything but responsible. This humanitarian cause was led by another incredibly amazing advocate, Mrs. Bukky Shonibare. 
 
And do you, Mr. President, know that Mrs. Shonibare, despite her schedules, have been posting photographs of herself holding a placard that reminds us of the days our girls have spent in captivity as she counted down to Christmas, optimistic that you may surprise her, and make the girls of Chibok and all in captivity return home to mark this Christmas with their loved aways, safe from those indoctrinating them, and protected from the monster they are being turned into? Thanks to this group, your media aides in whose skulls that mass of tissue called brain is absent, once referred to as “psychological terrorists”, we learnt that this Christmas is the 255th day since the abduction of the Chibok girls, 255 days of miseries for over 200 families. I just want you to know, I just want to remind you that among other things missing, also #BringBackOurGirls. And for this horrifying reality, I may change the antagonist in my weekly prayer for the first time ever: may God save us from you!
 
By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter
 
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Alao-Akala Insists Oyo PDP Guber Candidtate, Teslim Folarin is Dubious

Says he stands by his assertion that everything about the PDP guber candidate is fake.

Former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala has insisted that everything about former senate leader, Teslim Folarin is fake.

Following Folarin’s claim that Alao-Akala sponsored violence during his reign as governor of Oyo State, the gubernatorial candidate of the Labour Party had revealed that all what the gubernatorial candidate of his former party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, acquired were through dubious means.

Reacting against what he termed as “damage control” after monitoring a programme broadcasted by a popular Ibadan based radio station where Folarin debunked all the allegations levelled against him by the former governor, Akala, through his director of public affairs, Oludare Ogunlana, said that he stood by his “earlier assertion that everything about Senator Teslim Folarin is doubtful, including his academic credentials”.

Urging the University of Ibadan, which Senator Folarin claimed to have attended, “to commence the process of withdrawing his certificate if truly he got any from the respected Ivory Tower”, Ogunlana said that “It is public knowledge that in University of Ibadan, certificate are awarded base on learning and character”, alleging that “the dubious character of Sen. Folarin suggests it either he forged or received his certificate by proxy”.

Obviously referring to the pictures posted on the social media showing Senator Folarin being honoured at Sultan Bello Hall of the premier university a day after Otunba Alao-Akala alleged that his certificate was fake, Ogunlana noted that Senator Teslim “is a disgrace to his Alma mata if truly he graduated from U.I. Sen. Folarin need not to rush to Sultan Bello hall to entice students with money to prove he attended University of Ibadan. We challenge Mr. Folarin to tell us when last he visited that same hall of residence.

“Senator Folarin who has no record of service even as ordinary student should tell the public what he did for the University of Ibadan community during his eight years of wasteful tenure in the Senate.

“While other senators use their position to influence Federal project to their Alma mata; it is a shame that our own former Senate Leader has nothing to show apart from numerous controversies, frauds and violence are things the people of Oyo State could remember him for”.

Ogunlana therefore advised the people of the State “not to fall for Senator Folarin’s scam, insisting that everything about the Ibadan High Chief is fake “and he is a man with no integrity”.

 
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Why We Stopped Buying Nigeria’s Oil – White House

OFFICIALS of the United States government have for the first time in months presented an explanation on the sudden termination of oil imports from Nigeria since July, an action which spurred concerns whether there were any possible political connotation especially because of the current strain in Nigeria-US diplomatic relations.

Answering a question on the issue from The Guardian, during the week, White House Director of the US National Economic Council, Mr. Jeff Zients, said the cessation of oil imports from Nigeria had to do with the significant rise in US oil production.

Zients, US Labor Secretary, Thomas Perez, and White House Policy Council Director, Cecelia Munoz, were addressing a few US journalists on Thursday afternoon on the state of the American economy when The Guardian raised the question wondering why the US brought oil imports from Nigeria to a complete zero, while still importing oil from Saudi Arabia and other major oil producing countries.

According to the White House Economic Council Director, “across the last several years, US oil production has ramped up significantly by more than 50 percent to now over eight and a half million barrels per day.”

He explained that such a high turn up in local US oil production “has now dramatically reduced our dependency on imports,” Zients noted, adding that “in fact, we now produce more here than we import.”

The White House official stated that the development is consistent with President Barack Obama’s energy strategy, which has changed “quite a bit over the last few years as we are much less dependent on oil imports.”

That strategy has not only left Nigeria in the lurch, but has generally also driven down the international market price of oil to a ridiculous $60 range by the close of trading on Friday. Oil price, which soared around $100 in September, is now $56.52 for the WTI Crude and $61.38 for the Brent Crude oil.

But Zients and the other US officials at the press briefing did not address the issue of the ongoing importation from other oil producing nations, including OPEC members like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and non-OPEC suppliers like Canada. In fact, as at last month, it was reported that, while US completely halted oil imports from Nigeria, it increased its importation from those three countries.

The reduction of US oil importation from Nigeria to zero is the very first time since 1973 that the US did not import oil from Nigeria. US Shale oil production is responsible for the infusion of “light, sweet crude,” said to be similar to Nigeria’s Bonny Light oil, and US refineries are said to have preferred buying the locally produced oil, which is cheaper than Nigeria’s light crude.

Before Zients explanation on Thursday, there have been muted concerns whether the decision to completely end oil importation from Nigeria has any political connotation. For instance, a German top bank, Deutsche Bank had commented last month that “as if the recent drop in oil prices was not enough bad news for Nigeria’s economy, recent data show the US completely stopped importing crude oil from Nigeria. This marks a dramatic reversal for Africa’s largest economy, which in 2010 was still among America’s top 5 oil suppliers and exported at its peak 1.3m barrels per day to the United States.”

The German bank analysis further questioned why Nigeria was singled out, an aspect of the question posed by The Guardian to which the US government officials did not address. According to Deutsche Bank, the decline in US imports from Nigeria, “proceeded much faster than for the US’ other major suppliers.’ It is the rather drastic and complete zero oil imports from Nigeria that suggested a possible political connotation, which was however left unexplained by Zients.

Observers say it is not unlikely that oil imports termination with Nigeria and the refusal of the US government to sell weapons to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram might both be political signals from President Barack Obama to the Nigerian presidency as it can be seen as demonstration of a lack of commitment by the US government to a supposed strategic partner —Nigeria — in Africa.

The Obama administration’s outright refusal to approve the sale of specific military equipment to Nigeria, in a clear-cut public renunciation of the Nigerian military and security apparatus which requested the okay from the US Defense department is also a potential dampener to US claims of a thriving diplomatic relationship with Nigeria. First, it was the US Ambassador in Nigeria who confirmed that the country would not okay the weapons sales to Nigeria, and then the State Department in response to Nigeria’s Ambassador’s complaints on the issue.

This particular refusal is sending clear indications that there are strong oppositional voices against President Jonathan in the White House, the State Department and Pentagon, causing further strain between Nigeria and the American governments, according to knowledgeable US sources.

Last month, Nigeria’s US Ambassador had to openly criticise the US government for not approving the sales of Cobra fighter jets to Nigeria to help fight the Boko Haram insurgency at a meeting he had with the influential US Council for Foreign Relations in his office. Adefuye, US sources say was expending his far-reaching influence with top US government officials in an apparent last-ditch effort to change the tone of the Obama administration towards the Jonathan presidency.

In fact, authoritative US sources said the denouncement of the military sale and the abandonment of the highly valued Nigerian crude oil by US oil future traders recently are happening at a time when the offices of National Security Adviser and Finance Minister of Nigeria are spending millions of dollars to retain US lobbyists in Washington DC to help plead the case of the Jonathan presidency without much success.

Explaining the desperation from the Nigerian government over the need for such lobbyists, a source from the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Abuja also said while the federal government through the office of the NSA and Finance Ministry were paying millions for lobbyists, the salaries of Nigerian diplomats were still backlogged, including in the US.

 

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Hillary Clinton Accusses Jonathan of Squandering Nigeria’s Oil Wealth, Allowing Corruption to Fester

The immediate past United States Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, in separate events in New York City said the Nigerian government under President Goodluck Jonathan, squandered its oil resources, and indirectly helps corruption to fester in the Boko Haram troubled country.

In the words of Hillary Clinton: “The government of Nigeria has been, in my view, somewhat derelict in its responsibility toward protecting boys and girls, men and women in northern Nigeria over the last years.

“The Nigerian government must accept help – particularly intelligence, surveillance and recognizance help – their troops have to be the ones that (are) necessary, but they could do a better job if they accept the offers that are being made. Nigeria has made bad choices, not hard choices,” Clinton said.
“They have squandered their oil wealth; they have allowed corruption to fester, and now they are losing control of parts of their (own) territory because they would not make hard choices.”

Mrs. Clinton spoke with ABC-TV’s Robin Roberts on American national television, and also at a public function organized by the International Crisis Group. Later, the former Senator and First Lady made other critical remarks concerning Nigeria at a philanthropy parley, as she was widely quoted by several American media outlets, including CNN.

Clinton stated the following position in the New York events she attended, challenging the credibility and quality of the country’s leadership under President Jonathan’s watch.

“The seizure of these young women by this radical, extremist group, Boko Haram, is abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism, and it really merits the fullest response possible, first and foremost from the government of Nigeria.

“The Nigerian government has failed to confront the threat, or to address the underlying challenges. Most of all, the government of Nigeria needs to get serious about protecting all of its citizens and ensuring that every child has the right and opportunity to go to school,” she said in her address to the function organized by the International Crisis Group.

“Every asset and expertise should be brought to bear. Everyone needs to see this for what it is, it is a gross human rights abuse, but it is also part of a continuing struggle within Nigeria and within North Africa,” she added.

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Bode George Needs Social Rehabilitation, Says Obanikoro

The verbal attack between the immediate past Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, seems to have heightened in the past days.

Ever since Obanikoro lost the Lagos Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), governorship primaries to Mr. Jimi Agbaje, favoured by George, both parties have engaged each other in a war of words.

In the latest of the verbal attack, George had referred to Obanikoro as a lunatic for accusing him (George) of manipulating the recent governorship primaries of the PDP in Lagos.

But in his response, Obanikoro yesterday said George should seek rehabilitation  for  post-traumatic stress arising from his stint in jail.

Obanikoro said, “Indeed, there is nothing unexpected about the recent tantrums by Chief Bode George targeted at me in spite of the ignoble role he played in the fraudulent outcome of the Lagos PDP gubernatorial primaries. For whatever it is worth, it is to Chief Bode George’s credit that his family name is tainted and now constitutes a generational blemish as Nigeria’s leading metaphor for gross moral deficit, lack of integrity and public dishonour,” This is in apparent reference to the imprisonment of George by a Lagos State High Court for corruption during his tenure as Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). However, the Supreme Court has since quashed the sentence and declared him blameless.

Continuing his tirade Obanikoro said: “As Chief Bode George embarks on his feeble attempts at painting a picture of me that exists only in his perverted imagination, let someone remind him that the post-traumatic stress disorder that comes with a time in jail would take more than just an unholy alliance with a pharmacist to heal.

” It is instructive to state here that not only that I am properly raised in the best of Yoruba tradition, I owe a large part of my successful public service career to a childhood and education built on godly principles and sound moral values.

“In all my life and public service career, I have never been accused, arrested or convicted for fraud whether at home in Nigeria or abroad and I have been happily and responsibly married for 34 years.

George had, in his own statement, dismissed Obanikoro’s allegation that he manipulated the PDP primaries as alarmist provocations and described the former minister as “a desperate and obsessed man who is apparently incapable of absorbing the reality of his defeat by a well-bred and better man.”

He added: “For Obanikoro to claim in sheer ludicrousness that I, even remotely, identify with any intimations of violence is utter lunacy and blind, vindictive madness. Surely, Obanikoro is possessed and obsessed. He needs immediate psychiatric treatment. He is a desperate sinking man, grasping and thrashing in self inflicted chasm.

“What is the pedigree of this young man who has abandoned the typical African deference to elders? We know who sprung from violence and banditry. We know whose antecedents reek in noisome, vagrant, untidy ruffianism.

“Politics is not a do or die affair. No civilised person with impeccable pedigree will seek a tacky refuge in destruction and ruin simply because he has lost in a free and fair contest. Obanikoro should go quietly into that good night if he means well for Lagos.

“Enough of his desperate tantrums and lunacy. Lagos has moved on, far beyond the primitive wretchedness of little, ill-bred hooligans.”

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