Cruel Treatment of Suspected Victims of Malpractice;  A Call To Reason By Nkannebe Raymond

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin” -Charlse Darwin (1809-1882).

One of the unpleasant realities that have over the years become a recurring decimal snowballing into the standard in citizen-government relationship, is that of a monstrous social injustice, administrative nonfeasance and the unwarranted flexing of administrative muscles in utter disregard of the interest of persons whom such nebulous relationship wield the shorter end of the bargaining stick; usually the masses. These odious and otiose acts and omissions have since taken for themselves a larger than life status and have found adequate accommodation in the quarters of Nigerian public institutions where governmental quangos who are routinely remunerated with tax payers money, carry on as Lords of the Manor who cannot be touched and whose crass dereliction of duty however inane, atrocious and unprofessional cannot be questioned or at best  treated with kid gloves.

The situation is not helped when one comes to the realization that certain institutions which ought to set the standard for others to follow  are also mired in the web of such administrative “anyhowness” and cruelty. And One such body which coincidentally forms the kernel of this intervention is : The Council of Legal Education?the sole body established to admit successful law graduates from accredited Nigerian universities and their foreign counterparts, train, and after having found them qualified in character and learning recommend them for Call to the Nigerian Bar by the Body of Benchers; the highest regulatory organ of the legal profession in Nigeria.

For starters, the Council of Legal Education (hereinafter refer to as the “CLE”), is a creation of statute having being established by the Legal Education Act of 1962 and further re-enacted 14 years later in 1976 with amendments relative to the composition of the Council and the appointment of the Director General of the law school?the academic organ of the council.

Section 2 of the Act clearly states the functions of the council namely:

The Council shall have responsibility for the legal education of persons seeking to become members of the legal profession”.

Section 5 of same Act went further to state the conditions upon which an aspirant to the bar would be entitled to qualification for the certificate namely:

A person shall be entitled to have a qualifying certificate issued to him by the council stating that he is qualified to be called to bar:

If he is a citizen of Nigeria

If he has, except where the council directs otherwise, successfully completed a course of practical training in the Nigerian Law School which (including the time spent in taking examination at the end but excluding any interval between the conclusion of the examination and the announcement of result thereof) lasted for a period fixed by the council as an academic year.

From the inception of the Nigerian Law School in 1962, it maintained a single campus in Lagos state up until 1994 when administrative convenience and the increasing number of aspirants to the Nigerian Bar, led it into floating another campus in Abuja. Since then, the campus has since produced millions of distinguished legal practitioners who both at home and in the Diaspora have continued to make the school proud through diligent professional practice, immense contributions to legal reforms, social advocacy, Human Rights activism and what not; all of which has served to sustain and develope the socio-political and economic life of Nigeria. Today, the campus is located across the six geo-political zones for administrative convenience; headed by Deputy Director Generals with the central organ of the campus currently located in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory.

We have attempted a brief deconstruction of the structure and management of the Nigerian Law School in the interest of the reader who may not be acquainted with its history, organizational structure and modest achievements.

The qualifying examination usually written at the end of the nine month rigorous program is notoriously called the “Bar Finals”— an examination very popular for the amount of awful result it can produce. Although in the last two academic sessions, a considerable level of improvement have been seen in the average performance of candidates; with the 2015/2016 class producing what unarguably could be called the best result in the chequered history of the exam.

Usually written between the hours of hours of 3-6 PM across the campuses, with the examination papers flown and returned to the headquarters in Abuja on each day of exams, the Bar Finals is arguably one of the most secured professional examinations written in the country with the lowest chance(s) of the questions leaking in any way ahead of the examinations. Myth has it to this day, that the questions are usually approved by the head of the campus on the day of each paper. Students are expected to attempt four broad questions among six, in the tiny space of three hours leading to many students being unable to attempt all the questions within the latitudinal window allowed; an often overlooked factor in consideration of the reasons for the recurring awful performance of students.

Apparently in a bid to protect and preserve the integrity of the examinations and to ensure that qualifying candidates are academically fit for the rigorous work of the typical lawyer, the CLE abhors exam malpractice(s) of whatever kind or manner like the plague and in its Exam regulations proscribes such act with a ten-year suspension from writing the exams if not outright dismissal and rustication—a  penalty which has served to disabuse the mind of too many a candidate from engaging in any such act or omission that might set them up against the Council on allegations of malpractice.

That candidates have over the years?at least in the recent past shown good examination conduct is a fact recently attested to, by the current head of the Nigerian Law School, Mr. Olarenwaju Onadeko SAN. While addressing the Body of Benchers and other distinguished guests at the presentation of candidates for Call to the Nigerian Bar on Tuesday, October 20th and 21st 2015, he said,

“…On a positive note, I must acknowledge the waning disposition of our students to the various forms of examination malpractice of the past. This is commendable and bears testimony to the emphasis which we place on character ……we shall continue to encourage our students to strive for excellence at all times”.

As a young lawyer who sat for the “almighty” Bar Finals last year and got called to the largest bar in Africa on the 29th of November, 2016, I make bold to say that the Bar Finals is one such exam approached with  total disinclination to any form of malpractice. Many students who passed through the exams would attest to not knowing who sat to their right or left throughout the duration of the tension-soaked academic showpiece, how much more engage any form of communication. Not with a swarm of internal and external invigilators gawking at you like The “Big Brother” in the Orwellian political satire, 1984. Hence why  candidates are rarely caught in the act of any form of malpractice in the examination halls.

Against the backdrop of the aforesaid, it becomes worrying therefore that despite not apprehending students “ inflagrante delicto” during the examinations, the CLE, through the Nigerian Law School virtually every year withhold the result of a number of students in the name of having been involved in one form of malpractice or the other. These unfortunate students who become victims of  a terrible stroke of circumstance are not communicated to throughout the six weeks duration of  marking of scripts, moderation , collation and approval of results at least to defend or otherwise, their scripts; only to be communicated afterwards at the publication of  results that their scripts are flagged or withheld for one form of malpractice or the other.

In the circumstance, these quite unlucky fellows miss out from the Call to the Bar ceremonies that succeeds the publication of results; are made to undergo psychological and emotional trauma that leads many of them into contemplation of suicide and substance abuse among a host of other asocial behavioral patterns that have scientifically been proven not to solve any problem. The females among them in most cases kiss goodbye to the profession while some contemplate marriage pending when the CLE jolts from their administrative slumber which it seldom does.

A senior colleague who sat for the Bar exams in 2015 and became a victim of this imagined and speculatory form of malpractice has had to sit at home in the past two years and counting without a clear definition of his professional status. One would have thought that such a sensitive and delicate issue would be treated with every urgency it begs, but it is regrettably lugubrious that the supposed panel of enquiry set up to look into the matter has sat just once with no logical determination of the logjam and no official communication from the CLE to these students or their parents/guardians as at the time of writing this piece.

Another colleague who sat for same exam last year at the Yola campus of the Law School, is currently engulfed in the web of such sweeping allegations among other victims too. In their own case, they are yet to face any such panel of enquiry where they’ll be expected to make representations that would guide the panel in coming to its verdict. He and other affected students are currently idling away at home while their colleagues have since announced their first appearance in the various courts of the federation?the highpoint in the professional career of any new wig.

The sad story of these two young men whose identities we have kept from the public domain for obvious reasons, mirrors the pains and anguish of many other such students who have had to forgo a career in law in same ugly circumstances.

One is not inclined to making a case for the allowance of exam malpractices in the Bar Finals or any other exam for that matter, but professional courtesy and due diligence demands that case(s)   of such nature because of their ‘sensitivity’ should be treated with dispatch , as it tethers around the professional career of  “unsuspecting” students who have spent a fortune materially and otherwise to earn a career in law. Torpedoing or foreclosing such dreams and aspirations through needless bureaucratic bottlenecks , nay administrative indolence, is to put it mildly, the greatest affront to their sensibilities and leaves a huge question mark on the good judgment of the council. For if the same Law school which every year inundate law students on the need and importance of a quick dispensation of justice are in themselves, the very antithesis of what they preach, then great is the plight of our justice system.

In the determination of justice, timing is always of the essence. A principle targeted at the attainment of even handed justice for litigants in the justice process and a fundamental right guaranteed in Section 36(1) of the 1999 constitution namely:

“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any governemt or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing “WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME ” by court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure it’s independence and impartiality” (emphasis mine).

Good enough, our courts have ad naseaum reiterated the need for, and the effect of Delay in the Dispensation of justice. In Okeke v. Federal Republic of Nigeria [2009] 9 NWLR pt 1145 94 C.A, the Court of Appeal Lagos Division , had this to say, “…A quick dispensation of justice is always paramount and of great essence. It is the duty of all parties as well as the courts to ensure that proceedings in a case and it’s determination are not unnecessarily delayed. For to do so would occasion hardship on hapless litigants….”

The Nigeria Law School should not hang on to the wide powers conferred on it by  its enabling statute ala , Legal Education Act, 1976 to work mischief on innocent candidates cum aspirants to the Bar. Wide as the powers given to the Council in section 5 with regards to qualifying students for the Call, it is a cardinal principle of equity that such powers must be exercised or discharged judicially and judiciously since equity will not allow a statute to be used as an engine or cloak of fraud.

One also suspects that that the CLE consciously or unconsciously may be goaded in its administrative nonfeasance by the supreme court Judgment in Akintemi v Onwumechili (1985) 1 NWLR 68 to the effect that in matters which border on the award of academic degrees, diplomas and certificates and matters incidental thereto like exam malpractice, an aggrieved party, be he a student or lecturer should first exhaust all the internal machineries for redress available to him before a recourse to court and when he rushes to court without first exhausting all the remedies for redress available to him within the domestic forum, he would be held to have “jumped the gun” and the matter declared bad for incompetence .

Assuming, but without  conceding that such is the case, then the CLE would also be in error for hanging onto an obviously generous decision of the Court to perpetuate injustice and a crass dereliction of duty. And what is more? The actions of the three law students of the University of Ife in the Akintemi case (supra) leading to the withholding of their results and subsequent suspension by the university authorities is completely different from those of these suspected victims of malpractice(s) in the instant case.

The Nigerian Law School is no doubt a respected academic institution and thus should not through a series of careless and needless acts and omissions tear to shreds its glowing and time honored reputation among the generality of Nigerians. The Director General of the Law School therefore, should do all within the ambits of its powers to set all the necessary machineries in motion to ensure a logical conclusion off all hangover cases of exam malpractices pending determination. And at the end of the process, let those who are found wanting face the consequences while those who receive a clean bill of health be immediately apologized to and recommended for the next Call to Bar pronto.

The current situation whereby they are left with their fate hanging on the balance and their professional career foreclosed almost sine die is most inhumane, unconscionable, atrocious and the  worst form of man’s inhumanity to man.

The CLE must know that where all avenues of diplomacy and amicable resolution such as this fail, affected persons may be left with no other alternative  but to approach the courts; the last hope of the common man to seek for reprieve and the necessary reliefs, the judgment of the court in the Akintemi’s case (supra) notwithstanding.

At law, the mantra is:  Justice Delayed is Justice Denied and accordingly, though at the risk of sounding tautologious, the sole body responsible for the training of lawyers ought not be the grandmasters of the repudiation of same time honored principle of justice. May we also put it to the knowledge of the CLE that our judicial system is adversarial and not inquisitorial nor is it accusatorial. And therefore, suspicions of malpractice however grave, cannot be a conclusive proof of malpractice. The continued withholding of the results of candidates who sat for exams as with their colleagues, we dare say is a flagrant breach of the fundamental right of presumption of innocence as enshrined and guaranteed under section 36(5) of the 1999 constitution as altered by almost presuming them guilty even without having being heard thereby subjecting them to obvious ridicule in the eyes of rightly thinking members of the public. An act that falls short of the twin pillars of Natural Justice to wit: audi alterem patem and nemo judex in causa sua.

In the final analysis, the Rule of Law  is not a loose concept reserved only for governments and the law courts but as well as every tribunal by  whatever name called set up to look into a matter and of which the CLE panel on examination malpractice belongs to; and should be bounded by. There cannot be the much vaunted entrenchment of the Rule of Law and the eternal growth of our jurisprudence if such bodies persist in the unwholesome practices of condemning suspected persons on pre-conceived ideas or idiosyncracies. As such a spectacle forebode a gloomy and inhumane future for the trio of our legal system, man and country. These suspected victims of exam malpractice(s) ought to know their fate and the sooner that is done, the better; as the seemingly indifference to their plight is the worst sin towards them.

Let reason prevail. Enough said!

 

Nkannebe Raymond, a Lawyer and Public affairs commentator wrote in from Enugu.

Raymondnkannebe@gmail.com

Open Letter To The Comrades Of LAUTECH, By Ridwan Sulaimon

Dear compatriots,

Like the military would order, Attention! I urge you to listen carefully and do not disobey a ‘constituted authority’!

Let me start with the latest episode of your woes. I heard that one small girl insulted you; that she referred to you as “Generation of mannerless students” And you are angry. I was also told that the said girl is a daughter of a ‘constituted authority’ who is proud of owing salaries of workers.

My people in Yoruba land have a way of describing a wholly wrong situation, they would say “Amukun won leru e wo, oni isale len’wo eo wo oke.” (The implied meaning is that: A man with K-Legs has an entirely disorderly condition, not just the bent load he is carrying). There are so many things wrong with that poor girl, you shouldn’t be angry about her misfiring; she has been a victim of wicked circumstances.

That poor girl really needs help. She was raised by a man who saw power and ran out of control; she was raised by a ‘constituted authority.’

Being a true daughter of her father, her upbringing remains pitiable. Just like her daddy, she must have thought that being the daughter of who she is comes with a constituted right to run her mouth like relay race. Perhaps she must have thought that her daddy’s ‘constituted authority’ comes with the insignia to manufacture English words at will; I’m still searching for the word ‘mannerless’ in English dictionary since she described you as ‘Generation of mannerless students’. You recall her daddy also asked which course a student is doing? Yes, the daddy and the girl are a constituted authority; you can’t expect them to follow the rules of English. And if you insist that the rule must apply to them, then ‘do your worse’.

Sigh! Her case is just like an obiter dictum, it’s by the way. There’s more meat to chew than breaking bones. Her case is sorted by one phrase “Like father, like daughter.”

Dear compatriots, here is the thrust of my letter; I want to talk to you about a certain ‘constituted authority’ that requires praise and worship, please pay attention. I heard that your school has been shut for over seven months and most of you have in fact developed pot bellies and gray hair as a result of the unending holiday. I heard that you were tired and thus recently peacefully protested to the office of a certain ‘constituted authority’ in charge of your school that you want your school reopened; I learnt that the outing turned to a jungle lecture titled “How to worship a Constituted Authority.”

I watched the video of the tutorial and the only title that came to my mind was ‘Shame of a Nation.’ Of course he has been owing far many people for months and none of them have dared to challenge the constituted authority. So I understand that he is used to expressions such as “yes Sir, as your lordship pleases.” No wonder he attempted to arrest you, just because you answered a yes or no question. But then, it goes to show that beyond the struggle for resumption, there are even more pressing battles to fight.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal declaration of Human Rights (1948), Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, section 39 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria (as amended) and many other laws and instruments applicable to Nigeria. Therefore, what you have done is to express your pain to the constituted authority; it is called ‘peaceful protest’ and you are protected by law. Nobody can take that right away from you.

Back then in my days as an undergraduate of the prestigious Lagos State University, we had similar demonstrations taken to the office of the Lagos State Constituted Authorities. Some of the things they did were to call us for dialogue, to organise public hearings on the issues etc. That’s what civilised constituted authorities do.

On a final note dear comrades, I join other well-meaning Nigerians to salute your courage; you should never keep silent in the face of tyranny!

 

Yours in struggle,

Aluta Continua,

Ridwan Sulaimon.

The Endgame In Banjul, By Olusegun Adeniyi

Last Friday, leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demonstrated an uncommon resolve when, following their meeting with a recalcitrant Yahya Jammeh, they asked Mr Adama Barrow to move with the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to Monrovia. It was from the Liberian capital, according to an impeccable source, that Barrow was ferried to Senegal despite the tragedy that struck back home with the dog bite that would claim the life of his 8-year old son, Habibu.

Against the background of the dinner chat I had with President Mackay Sall penultimate Sunday in Dakar, part of which I reported in my column last week, http://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2017/01/12/buhari-sall-and-jammehs-defiance/, I am not surprised that Senegal is playing a crucial role in the bid to oust Jammeh. I recall President Sall saying categorically that it would be untenable for Jammeh to remain President of The Gambia by today. He even added a joke he said President Muhammadu Buhari shared with him about the situation. It is therefore safe to conclude that ECOWAS leaders had prepared their minds for a scenario now playing out in Banjul and they already have their own solution.

With a population of 1.8 million people, The Gambian National Army (GNA) boasts of just about 2,500 officers and men comprising two infantry battalions, an engineering squadron and smaller logistics, signals and intelligence units as well as the presidential guard. Ordinarily, that is not a force that can protect Jammeh from ECOWAS onslaught led by the well-drilled 19,000 men Senegalese military with support from Nigeria.

Last night, Senegalese troops were seen moving to the Gambian border. “We are ready and are awaiting the deadline at midnight,” Col Abdou Ndiaye, a spokesman for the Senegalese military. “If no political solution is found, we will step in.” At about the same time, the Nigerian Air Force also announced a deployment of a standby force as part of the contingent of ECOWAS Military Intervention in Gambia (ECOMIG). “A contingent of 200 men and air assets comprising fighter jets, transport aircraft, Light Utility Helicopter as well as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft” were deployed and are expected to “forestall hostilities or breakdown of law and order that may result from the current political impasse in The Gambia” the statement said.

To compound the problem for Jammeh, the African Union (AU) has also turned its back against him by the declaration that from today, he will no longer be recognised as the legitimate president of Gambia. In a statement after their meeting at the weekend, the AU Peace and Security Commission went further to warn Jammeh of “serious consequences in the event that his action causes any crisis that could lead to political disorder, humanitarian and human rights disaster, including loss of innocent lives and destruction of property”.

However, there is nothing to suggest that Jammeh understands the message that the market is over. On Tuesday, “Sheikh Professor Alhagie Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh Babili Mansa”, as the dictator addressed himself, declared “a state of public emergency throughout the Islamic Republic of Gambia” to counter “the unwarranted hostile atmosphere threatening the sovereignty, peace, security and stability of the country”. Yesterday, he raised the stakes even higher by getting the rubberstamp Gambian parliament to extend his stay in office by 90 days. The import of those two actions is that Jammeh is not prepared to surrender power without a fight which ECOWAS leaders seem prepared to give him.

Before I continue, let me also share an interesting perspective from the Principal of the Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, Father Joe-Stanis Okoye. A discussion with him last weekend somehow dovetailed into the situation in The Gambia and while he didn’t overly disagree with my position, he was nonetheless of the opinion that Jammeh has a valid point that nobody seems interested in listening to. He followed up with a mail. Having secured his permission, I will share his view before I conclude with mine:

“Aside his well recorded excesses, one of the reasons being advanced as to why Jammeh must go (irrespective of the integrity of the election results) is that he has ruled the Gambia for 22 years. That may well be a valid point but let us also examine a few issues, even if only in the academic sense. First, can Jammeh’s complaints (and the potential postponement of the inauguration of a new government in the Gambia) find justification in the minds of objective onlookers/bystanders?

“By objective bystanders, I mean persons of goodwill who care equally about what is just for all involved in the matter, including for the political process, for Gambians, for Jammeh and his party on the one hand; and for the opposition party/parties on the other hand–in short, persons who care deeply about all the parties to the conflict and yet do not really have a dog in the fight, as it were.

”Now let us juxtapose what is happening in The Gambia with another scenario: If America, for instance, finds out today (as it is increasingly reasonable to believe) that it is the Russians that have “elected” Mr. Donald Trump as their next president, would we have a major problem agreeing with Mrs Hillary Clinton or some other Americans who might object that Trump should not be sworn in as the next president of the United States? Would people argue against Hillary simply on the grounds that she had previously conceded defeat to Trump or that those Americans had previously accepted the outcome of the election?

“I think the major challenge is that Jammeh appears to be a judge in his own case, given that he is currently the sitting president. Therefore, no matter how he goes about his current complaints regarding any anomaly in the way the presidential election was conducted, it would likely seem to most observers that he is angling to sit-tight, not minding the merits of his complaints. Had it been he was not in power, perhaps the election umpire and/or the courts would/could have looked into his complaints and judged them according to their merits -whether he had previously conceded to his opponent or not.

“For me, while I do not support the man, what is fair is fair. To that extent, I believe Jammeh’s complaints and his insistence that they be looked into before determining whether the scheduled presidential inauguration should go ahead, is rational/reasonable. Why? Because, according to Jammeh, the assumption that led him to concede defeat has been undermined by the electoral commission’s admission of error while tallying the figures. Under such circumstances, the result of the elections should not stand. What remains though is to investigate and judge the complaints/allegations that Jammeh has made. But we are well aware that could take a very long time and a process that might end up being inconclusive.     

“At the end, that central virtue, truth or standard, which we are both pointing to, and looking for the best ways to articulate, is at the bottom of the present kerfuffle in the Gambia. Unfortunately, the same can be said of most other political conflict situations not only here in Africa but also in the entire world. The challenge really is that the problem is easy to understand, but the solution is not always easy to find.”

To address the point raised by Father Okoye, S.J., there is a saying that when you go to equity, you go with clean hands and on this matter, Jammeh’s hands are not only unclean, they are dripping with blood. While the flip-flop by the Gambian Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is shameful, three factors stand against Jammeh. One, he has been manipulating the process for 22 years and that he failed this time was because the opposition was able to rally the people to oppose his continued stay in power. Two, the IEC statement captioned ‘Error in the Total of Final Election Results’ which Jammeh uses as an excuse for his intransigence actually reaffirmed that Barrow indeed won the election despite also admitting that “when the total votes per region were being tallied, certain figures were inadvertently transposed”. Three, in as much as Jammeh is free to seek redress in court, he cannot stay in power beyond his mandate by delaying the inauguration of the man adjudged to have won the election.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the challenge now is to ensure Jammeh goes without doing much damage to his country. That is where President Buhari and his colleagues have to be very careful, especially when ECOWAS has no protocols for dealing with a situation like this though how the Jammeh drama ends may very well provide the new template for handling sit-tight despots in future. But the situation in the Gambia is nonetheless still dicey, except of course Jammeh chickens out and flees to Morocco where, President Sall told me, he has already been offered asylum. He could also flee to Mauritania where, I understand, he will find refuge.

Who knows, when the heat is turned on him today and perhaps in the coming days if he is still holding on, Jammeh may yet flee the Gambia to go and enjoy his loot, especially with Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy joining the Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr. Aboubacar A Senghore among other cabinet members that have resigned and fled The Gambia. But Jammeh could also decide to stay and play Laurence Gbagbo with dire consequences for himself and his country.

Like all desperate dictators versed in divide and rule, Jammeh has for long been playing the eight ethnic groups in the Gambia against one another. These are: the Mandinka (about 41% of the population); the Wolof (15%); the Fula (19%); the Jola (10%); the Serahuli (8%); the Serer (2.5%); the Aku (0.8%) and the Manjago (1.7%). But most of the critical appointments are from his minority Jola tribe: From the Inspector General of Police to Chief of Defense Staff to Minister of Interior to the Director of the National Intelligence agency (NIA) to head of the presidential guards etc. If Jammeh therefore decides to go for broke, he will likely cause a serious crisis in his small country, having already laid the foundation for that.

At a campaign podium on 1st June last year, Jammeh threatened an ethnic cleansing war against the majority Madinka tribe to which his main opponent (and eventual winner of the election) Adama Barrow belongs. “In 1864, there were no Madinkas in this country. You came from Mali. I have solid evidence that the Madinkas are not from this country. I will wipe you out and nothing will come out of it. The first demonstration, they were all Madinkas. The second demonstration was by the Madinkas and two Fullas. The Fullas have joined the bad guys, welcome to hell. I urge the Madinkas to repent to Allah for your bad deeds. The Madinkas, who the hell do you think you are?”

Jammeh ended his rambling campaign speech with a threat, before placing a ban on demonstration in The Gambia: “This time around, no police will arrest and charge you. The army would be deployed to shoot and kill anyone found in the streets demonstrating. Just demonstrate and see what will happen to you. I will not send the police. I will send the army to wipe you out and see who is going to talk about it. Wallahi Tallahi, I will kill you like ants and nothing will come out of it.”

When such a desperate dictator is cornered, as Jammeh now evidently is, he will use any and every weapon to stay afloat. That is why the ECOWAS leaders must not play into his hands. But to the extent that this is the first internal political problem they will try to resolve on their own without being instigated by Washington, Paris or London, there is so much at stake for them too. I hope they can get the tyrant out of Gambia without doing damage to the people. Yet, even with all the uncertainties about how the current drama will eventually play out, one thing is already sure: the era of Sheikh Professor Alhagie Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh Babili Mansa is over!

Understanding Osun Workers’ Salary Issues By abiodun KOMOLAFE

In deference to the dictates of the Holy Book, it is not my practice to jump into issues, especially, when they are laced with politics. However, turning the other eye is always not an option when an organization abandons its core mandate to regale an unsuspecting public with very tepid, hurtfully unfactual and sillily inaccurate assertions that are capable of igniting conflagrations of unimaginable proportion.

A statement, purportedly issued by the Civil Societies Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun State (CSCEOS) in which Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State was accused of “illegally diverting over N7billion of N11.744bilion out of N84billion Paris Club funds accrued to the state by the federal government” (Thisday, January 6, 2017) refers.

To understand the issues, some questions become pertinent. What is Modulated Salary structure and how applicable is it to Osun state’s salary situation? Was there an agreement, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the government and labour on the modulation of the latter’s salaries and for what reason? Indeed, what’s the salary status of a typical Osun State civil servant as at December 2016?

With a particular focus on Osun State, Modulated Salary structure refers “to the payment of salaries on the basis of what is available. Full salary to Workers in Grade Levels (GL) 1-7 and at least half or more to those on levels from 8 and above.”

The existence of an agreement between the government has never been repudiated by Labour. It was indeed the magic wand that bailed the state out of a protracted wage crisis in 2014. In the heat of that crisis, the Aregbesola government placed its cards on the table and gave labour an opportunity to choose between staff rationalization and salary apportionment, or modulation. After intensive deliberations by its congress, labour opted for the latter. Going by the principle behind this agreement, which is still in effect, Osun state could be rightly adjudged to have paid salaries and pensions till December 2016. But this is without prejudice the outstanding which the governor knows would have to be paid as soon as the fortunes of the state improve. Believe it or not, the governor has never stopped expressing his administration’s appreciation to the workers for their sacrifice at a time like this. These facts are understood by Osun workers and their Labour leaders and that is why there has not been any irrational action from the workforce.

Prior to September last year, workers were always paid, based on agreed rates put in place by the Hassan Sunmonu-led Osun State Revenue Apportionment Committee, comprising representatives of labour and other stakeholders. Nonetheless, certain categories of workers had their salaries jerked up in September 2016 as a result of slight improvement in allocations to the state, principal among which was the Paris Club Refunds. By way of explanation, workers from GL 1-7 were paid their September to December 2016 salaries 100 per cent; GL 8-10, at 75%;  and GL 12 and above, at 50%. Similarly, passive workers, or pensioners, on N1, 000 to N20, 000 collected 100 per cent pensions; while those on N20, 001 to N80, 000 collected N75 per cent; and pensioners on N80, 001 took home 50 per cent. Arrears of balance of 2014 leave bonus were also paid while local government workers and pensioners were not left out. Lest I forget, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) also commended the governor for earmarking N1billion for Osun State University and the jointly-owned Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH). And, in the real sense of it, only a prodigal administration will not prepare for the raining day!

George Fabricius made an apposite remark about performance when he wrote: “Death comes to all but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold.” If one may ask: has integrity so lost its pride of place that an elder-statesman and a labour veteran of Hassan Sunmonu’s stature and status in the society could no longer be trusted with defending the interest of labour, his primary constituency? For how much ‘shekels of silver’ could Osun labour leaders have mortgaged the interest of their colleagues? In reality, did Osun even have the financial war chest with which to have greased Labour’s palm to the detriment of those it was elected to represent?

To the best of my knowledge, indigenes and residents of the state alike, especially, those who were around, pre-November 27, 2010, will agree with me that, in spite of its socio-economic peculiarities, Aregbesola was well-prepared for the task ahead as governor. In the area of infrastructure and roads, there is no doubt Osun state has been transformed. For instance, roads from Ijebu-Jesa, my Native Nazareth, and adjoining communities were at a time so impassable that one could simply wonder if there had ever been a government in place. But to our amazement, Aregbesola came on board and changed the narrative by getting those roads fixed pronto. As a matter of fact, not only in Ijesaland were such feats recorded but other parts of the state also felt Aregbesola’s presence.

Well, while it is not my intention to bore Nigerians with rhetoric on the governor’s achievements, it is gratifying to note that this mission-minded man of uncommon courage has done excellently well in rekindling the hope of the good people of Osun State who defied all odds on August 9, 2014 to resubmit their political totality and administrative authority to him. Undeterred by the antics of pathological critics whose first instinct is to circumvent, not support, ideas, however innovative, he has to a large extent succeeded in replicating his feat as Commissioner for Works under Bola Tinubu in Osun and I’m sure he’d have done more, but for paucity of funds. Little wonder the opposition is still in shock with regard to Aregbesola’s feat in the state without taking into consideration that it was the shout of ‘Halleluyah’ that brought down the ‘Wall of Jericho’.

When the going was good – in terms of allocations accruing to the state, civil servants were paid as and when due. Indeed, Osun was not only at a time rated as the highest paying state in the country, it was also giving ’13th month’ to its workers across board. Apart from the employment and retraining of teachers to compliment the works of existing hands, his government also embarked on the training of some of our students in institutions outside the country. And, when it dawned on us that Agriculture was the way to go in the face of challenges confronting the state, his government ‘went back to land.’ So far, so fair! His administration has sent no fewer than 40 of our youth to Germany to learn technical skills in Agriculture. Of course, this is in addition to other schemes which overall intention is to restore the lost glory of agriculture. People-friendly policies and programmes were also put in place through which interest-free and subsidized loans were given to farmers. Then, everyone and anyone who had cause to be happy did; and Aregbesola was seen, even by his enemies, as the best thing to happen to our state.

Again, while one is not attempting to give approval to delay in salary as a way to go by any responsible government, the state’s present pass is, in my view, not an indefinite inconvenience but a  temporary setback which demands the understanding and cooperation of all to surmount. As things stand, Ondo, even with its 13% derivation, is, as we speak, “broke”, with not less than six months in salary arrears to its workers. If my memory serves me right, only some few weeks back, its workers protested and  picketed its Accountant General’s Office for his refusal to pay them just one out of their then-six months’ arrears in salary, pensions and gratuities. The situation is not any different in Taraba, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Oyo, Kogi, Kwara, Zamfara, Delta, Imo, Enugu, even Anambra States.

At the national level, it is not a fairer tale! For example, just some few days back, the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) threatened indefinite strike by mid-January, 2017, over “unpaid salary, non implementation of the National Health Act and poor infrastructure in the sector”. And, officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) once threatened to start obtaining bribe from motorists if they were not paid their November salaries and allowances before December 25, 2016. Indeed, the list is endless!

 

But, how for God’s sake did we get here? Basically, it will be unfair and stunningly ignorant to believe that Nigeria’s slide into recession started with Muhammadu Buhari’s administration; that the events which culminated in Goodluck Jonathan’s exit from Aso Rock started on March 28, 2015; or that the unfriendly economic situation which succeeded in ‘throwing 1.7 million Nigerians into the job market in nine months’ was a product of the present administration’s ‘planlessness’. In the case of Osun, in as much as we all agree that Nigeria’s failure as a country did not start just yesterday, it may therefore amount to standing the truth on its head to assume that the only way out of this situation is by singing from the same, old hymn book of disappointment as if such is a sure ritual to accessing Bola Ige House!

At the risk of immodest, Aregbesola’s leadership style has demonstrated to us that if we put things right with regard to the resources that accrue to the state, especially from agriculture and other mineral resources, we will have enough to the extent that we’ll not have to run cap in hand to Abuja for handouts.

Yes! Our state is endowed with natural resources. But will the almighty Federal Government allow us to take ownership of them?

May principalities and powers, assigned to rubbish our leaders’ efforts, scatter!

 

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

Self-Determination: What If We All Have It?, By OlalekanWaheed Adigun

Every 15th of January in Nigeria is celebrated as Armed Forces and Remembrance Day. That date is unique because of two landmark events in the history of the Nigerian military. First, it was the first time the military staged a successful coup in 1966. Second, it was a day of victory for the Armed Forces over the former secessionist Biafran forces. For obvious reasons, we should forget about the second partly because of the emotions that comes with it. The question of “self-determination” is now been chorused loud in some parts of the country that it is in fact, a right!

Last year, I wrote under the title, Can Biafra Be Achieved Through a Referendum? In response to the article, I got some obvious replies. The reply from one Chris, looks like the most intellectually sound. I decided to engage him in what I thought was an intellectual discourse on WhatsApp, but was left disappointed when Chris resorted to insults and name-calling, like many ill-educated persons that have engaged me on the subject of self-determination. At that point, I stopped replying his messages, even after saying: “I am sorry for insulting you, Lekan.”

The simple question Chris struggled with is: What will the world look like if every nation of fifty thousand people is granted the right to statehood? I will come back to this later.

After the Leave campaigners won the referendum for Britain to exit the European Union (EU) last year, code-named, #BrExit, some pro-Biafra supporters here in Nigeria celebrated it as a “major victory.” They saw it as something that should be used as a basis for a sovereign state for Biafra. That was, and will never be, because there is absolutely no relationship between both political phenomena.

For those who do not understand the issues clearly, Britain voluntarily joined the EU, then known as the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973. Under the EU Constitution, a member state is free at anytime to exit the Union. This is not secession; neither does it look like it. The decision to leave the Union is at the sole discretion of the member state ONLY. Britain was not the first the leave the EU, and may not be the last!

The EU, just like its African counterpart, African Union (AU) has Nigeria has a member state. If Nigeria decides to leave the AU today, that is simply at the discretion of the Nigerian state, which elected to join the Union voluntarily at inception in 1963.

In parenthesis, Morocco had since 1984 left the AU, then known as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) over the controversial issue of the status of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Till data, Morocco is yet to rejoin the Union and it is doing just fine as an independent African state. The question I asked one of those using #BrExit to justify Biafran agitation is: What is the relationship between Morocco’s exit from the OAU in 1984 and the struggle for Eritrean independence in 1993 or of South Sudan in 2012?

Those who called for referendum to determine the Biafra’s continued existence as part of Nigeria will probably have to wait longer. This is because the issues like Biafra are largely political, not legal. If it were that easy as some people want us to believe, Cataluña in Spain conducted referendum as recently as 2012, but as at when I checked this morning, Cataluña is still part of Spain. We need to add that the struggle for Catalan independence dates back to the 17th century. Can you now see why I said it is not that easy to solve like a simple algebraic equation.

In 2001, East Timor, formerly part of Indonesia, after over three decades of struggle for independence, was granted independence by President Suharto. The new country soon descended into a Civil War less than five years after its independence with the agitation for “West-East-Timor” to become a sovereign state. Those who knew (about East Timor) understood the fact that German philosopher, Immanuel Kant asked: “What if everybody did that?”

After thinking about Kant’s statement, I ask myself what the world will look like if Igbominas in Kwara suddenly make a claim for self-determination, and file to the United Nations for a sovereign state? What will the world look like if every 100,000 people file for sovereign state, there will probably be a world of complicated 8000 states. This is what happens when every group file for self-determination as a right!

OlalekanWaheed ADIGUN is a political analyst and independent political strategist for wide range of individuals, organisations and campaigns. He is based in Lagos, Nigeria. His write-ups can be viewed on his website http://olalekanadigun.com/ Tel: +2348136502040, +2347081901080
Email: olalekan@olalekanadigun.com, adgorwell@gmail.com
Follow me on Twitter @adgorwell

Oyedepo: The Folly of a Shepherd with Wiser Sheep, By Ayodele Olabisi

I had to re-title this write-up in view of the emerging feeble rebuttals of the dating of its video-data and damning acquiesce from the authorities of Winners Chapel Nigeria Limited.  I had initially titled it: “Oyedepo: Needless Self-Attrition and War of Annihilation” as a follow-up to my “Oyedepo: Caustic Order from a Worldly Investor.”

For an umpteenth time last week on Saturday, January 14, 2017, Nigerian Dailies were awash with screaming headlines such as “Oyedepo: I made those remarks in the heat of Boko Haram Crisis” (The Cable), “Living Faith Church reacts to Video showing founder, Oyedepo, urging members to ‘kill,’” (Premium Times), “Southern Kaduna Killings: Oyedepo denies inciting Christians against Muslims,” (The Nation), and “Trending: Oyedepo denies inciting Christians against Muslims” (Punch) among the plenitude of headlines.  The headlines’ screaming continued on Sunday, January 15, 2017 with The News’ “Trending Video of Oyedepo tweaked, fraudulent, says Living Faith Church,” and Daily Trust’s “Bishop Oyedepo reacts to trending video.”  Trust bloggers and other Online news harvesters, they were also caught in the frenzy with headlines such as “Video of Oyedepo circulating is old – Winners Chapel” (Naija.com), “[Video] Oyedepo denies calling out for Muslims to be attacked” (NaijaMotherland Daily Nigeria News).  As expected, all the media reported one Special Adviser to Bishop David Oyedepo had claimed that the widely-circulated caustic order least expected from a newly Born-Again Christian not to talk of a Bishop with towering reputation and earthly investments, was issued far back in 2015.  According to Dr. Sheriff Folaranmi, the embattled and now-defensive posterity-preacher, Bishop Oyedepo said that he never incited, didn’t mean to incite, wouldn’t declare war on Muslims and Islam, and never wished that Nigeria split.  Interestingly, neither the Special Adviser nor the Bishop denied the authenticity of the video which has now gone viral online.  What they contested was its dating!

 

This controversial video isn’t the first that has been linked to the Winners Chapel and the Oyedepo’s family.  Sometimes last year, specifically in the month of November, one of the daughters of Bishop Oyedepo, Joy, shared on her Facebook page the video of the ‘miracle’ she performed on herself.  In the said self-made video, Joy Oyedepo beckoned to the world to watch her as she prayed for her arms to elongate and contrast in a supposedly healing session.  This act of cheap publicity, attention-seeking, self-glorification and miracle-faking of the young Oyedepo was roundly condemned on the social media.  Critics interpreted Joy’s action as a “deliberate ploy and strategic positioning to take-over the sprawling family business of which Winners Chapel is a part.” Others said it was typical of the training the young miracle-worker had received and her initiation into the make-believe atmospheres of miracles in her father’s church. “Why did she get in front of camera to pray for her healing?,” a social media critic wondered.  Criticisms and condemnations poured out until it flooded the expanse Canaanland in Ota and got to the Oyedepos.  On Wednesday, November 16. 2016, Blogger Linka Ikeji stylishly captured the reactions like-father-like-daughter controversial self-made miracle-video as “Pastor Oyedepo’s daughter blasted online after she posted a video of her performing a ‘miracle.’  Consequently, the said ‘fake miracle’-video disappeared from her Facebook page but, too late…it has been copied, downloaded and widely shared!

 

Despite the controversies about the actual dating of the Bishop Oyedepo’s video, I have decided to revisit the said tape because its contents were never disputed.  Its animated pictures show the embattled Bishop Oyedepo exhibiting unholy anger, dramatizing unChristlike outbursts, inciting unBishoply hatred and ordering unstatesmanly annihilation of the Northerners dubbed as Boko Haram or Islamic forces.  The visibly embittered pastorpreneural Bishop was convinced that Northerners sponsored Boko Haram for political reasons and wondered why the North wants to stay in power for ever. “Must the North continue to ruuuuule?”  Jumping and stamping his feet in rage, the Bishop who lost his voice in the process of fiery-prayers with curses laced with intermittent speaking-in-tongues, ordered his congregation to kill and spill the blood of whoever tries to attack his church, his life-time investments.  Griped by the explicable fear of an investor, Oyedepo shouted: “I was told they were targeting this church, … Even if I was asleep, if you see anybody here [in my church] kill him! Kill him and spill his blood on the ground.”  And throwing all cautions to the winds, Oyedepo shouted like some battle-ready Motor Park touts: “who born their Mothers, who born their Fathers?  They are too small.” Imagine what would have happened to Nigeria if a Muslim President had ordered Bishop David Oyedepo’s arrest for inciting violence against the nation! Hell would have been let loose, as the highly politicised Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) would declared Armageddon as well as the war of Gog and Magog! And the politically-charged Muslim Umaah as the Sultan-led Grand Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria (GCIAN) would countered with fatwa and fiery Jihad. Lucky us, Government ignored the Bishop’s tantrum and none of these ever resulted.

 

Until we finally get the outcome of a likely carbon-dating on the video, Shepherd Oyedepo was convinced that he had succeeded in grooming an army of morons in Winners Chapel.  He was very confident that all Living Faithers in attendance that day had been sufficiently brain-washed and reduced to mindless zombies.  His secret crystal-balls clearly told him that at his order, all the Born-Again Southerners and Northerners would be instantly launch deadly attacks on the Muslim-Northerners. The self-styled Apostle of Liberalization of the Africa Continent was highly impressed by the sporadic tumultuous Amen-choruses to his fire-declarations and hate-speeches.  “If I put fire on your tail to overrun the city, you will do it in one minute…. If you catch anybody that looks like them, kill him. … There is no reporting to anybody. Kill him and we spill his blood on the grounds,” he declared unequivocally.  The order of the ‘anointed’ Revolutionary anti-Jihadists was without any ambiguities and to which one expected spontaneous conformity.  Sadly and inadvertently, the Bishop declared a war on himself, being a Northerner from Kwara State.

 

No matter how hard the authorities of the Winners Chapel Nigeria Limited try to deny the evident intent of the video’s contents, the truth is that the embittered Bishop meant his carefully-chosen words.  Thousands of lies and denials cannot drown the truth. Whoever listens and watches the video keenly cannot miss Oyedepo’s deep-seated bitterness against the Northerners.  His grouse is that the Northerners have consistently cheated the Southerners in Nigeria by forging successive censuses to claim advantageous population and disproportionate national resources.  Hear him: “all those zeros censuses, … they are fake.  Where are the human beings?  Where are they?  We go around the place… Where are they?  We’ve never had a successful census in this country.  Where are they?”  The North’s second offense was its connivance to facilitate the escape of a captured Boko Haram member.  “A Boko Haram agent was captured and they said he escaped,” the Bishop alleged the Northerners.  With the confidence that the North wasn’t as populated as claimed, he was very sure that victory would be his army’s if they should go to war.  By converting his ‘sacred’ Altar to a bullying political platform, the Bishop has clearly breached his supposed higher Calling as an Ambassador of Christ.  His vituperations conflict with those of God’s Oracle! It was the columnist Tatalo Alamu who cautioned so-called religious leaders that “to whom much [tithes, offerings, first-fruits, covenant-seeds] is donated, much probity, accountability and fiscal godliness is expected (The Nation, January 15, 2017).  He added that religious leaders should resist the “temptation of turning their exalted platforms to bullying pulpits for…wrestling political and economic concession from the state.”

 

Were the caustic video recent, one would have expected Nigeria to be engulfed in the ethno-religious wars.  But the authorities of Winners Chapel Nigeria Limited said the video was two years old!  The contents of the video were strong enough for people to cast aspersions on the ability of Oyedepo’s God to answer his prayers.  Despite the fact that Boko Haram, Northern Forces and all Islamic Forces were cursed into extinction in the video, they’re very much active two years after their requested death.  Does God really answer Bishop Oyedepo’s prayers?  Some cynics of religions would even question God’s ability to answer any prayer considering the volumes of curses in prayer-houses and cursed-pebbles heaped on Satan regularly during Hajjs to Saudi Arabia.  In addition, the fact that Living Faithers didn’t take to the streets and city killing and maiming Northerners as ordered by their Bishop left one wondering if the congregation was actually in agreement with their Papa.  Interestingly, the Bishop who acted as if he has pocketed God boasted to his congregation that if he prayed for rain to cease, there wouldn’t be rain in Nigeria for three consecutive years!

 

Curiously, the congregation has not heeded its Papa Bishop’s caustic ordered till now.  Has Oyedepo become a Bishop without a Church?  Is Bishop Oyedepo really in charge of Winners Chapel?  Does the Bishop command any respect from Living Faithers on issues that conflict with basic Bible principles?  Is the Winners Chapel a congregation of rebels?  Has the Oyedepo’s congregation unconsciously embraced unbelief?  Is Bishop Oyedepo now a Shepherd without a Sheep?  Or is it the case of a foolish Shepherd and wise Sheep?  Does Bishop Oyedepo enjoy monopoly of access to God? These and many more questions have agitated my mind considering the evident Command-Obedience discrepancy being experienced.

 

In conclusion, I would like to commend Living Faithers in attendance that day for keeping their sanity.  I appreciate them for firmly resisting the provocation and instigations to ungodly acts wrapped and delivered from the supposedly holy altar at Canaanland.  I praised them for being wise enough to know that their Bishop has overstretched his anointing.  I thank them for selectively chorusing Amen to prayers and No to the self-serving war declared by their Papa.  My profound gratitude for saving their Papa from destroying himself with his despicable rage.  The commendable disobedience of the teeming Living Faithers have symbolically cautioned their Bishop against pulpit-bullying from which I hope other pastors in Pentecostal Assemblies would have learnt. “Papa n pa ara ?, o lo n p’aja” (Every worm’s attack on its dog-host is detrimental to its existence) and “Ida n ba ako je, ko mo pe ile ara oun lohun n ba je” (Whenever a sword tears its sheath, it invariably becomes homeless), the Yoruba always caution against self-attrition.

 

Ayodele James Olabisi, Ph.D.

January 15, 2017

Sustaining Peace Talks With The Niger Delta Agitators, By Kunle Somoye

A KALEIDOSCOPE INTO THE RECENT PAST

Pearl Buck once said “If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday”.

Why Nigeria is in a state of recession today is not unconnected to the events in the past, in just five years, between 2010 and 2015, the last administration sold crude oil for $120 and most times $110 (the highest) earning N55 trillion in total while the total earning from sales of crude oil since independence was 96.212 trillion, please kindly do the maths.

Some of us beclouded by sentiments and hatred are quick to forget that the international price of crude began to drop drastically in the second quarter of 2014 plunging all the way down to $28 per barrel in the first quarter of 2016 and we look for who to blame, we quickly lay the bulk at the doorstep of the President Muhammadu Buhari. Well, after all he asked for this right?

Well, here is one analogy: For years you’ve been living on two million naira monthly salary, you have a family of five, you bought a house and three cars, one for you, one for you wife and one for your children, you pay their school fees, you feed them till their cheeks become chubby, and at the end of every year, you take them on exquisite vacations abroad.

Then by happenstance, the company you work for had to cut loose some workers and reduce salaries, you are fortunate they still keep you but your salary was cut down to seven hundred thousand naira, would you be able to spend the way you use to? would there not be some adjustment in the house?

So if you ask me “Why did Nigeria suffer Recession”?

My simple answer would be; the consistent pipeline vandalism and the reduction in price of crude oil in the international market.

In 2015 alone 3,000 pipelines were vandalized translating to a loss of over 643 million liters which hitherto amounts to a loss in monetary value of up to 51.28 Billion Naira.

Between January and May 2016, 1,447 pipelines were vandalized also leading to a loss of 109 million liters of petroleum products and 560,000 barrels of crude oil that could have gone into refineries. It was also at this period that our domestic gas supply dropped by 50 percent due to vandalism leading to nationwide power outage.

NNPC is targeting a consolidated approach to reviving the refineries, they want to bring in investment partners to revamp the existing refineries so the production capacity can at least move up to 75 % but that is only possible if the pipeline vandals stop their illegal activities.

Is this reading getting too long? I think so too, but please stay with me on this journey to understand the core issues…

It was reported that in the last ten years, 16,085 pipelines breaks were recorded, 398 pipelines broke due to ruptures while the vandals accounted for 15,685 pipeline breaks.

Be honest, would much be gained for our collective good if all avenues of making money are blocked by some people?

NO!

Is there a way forward?

YES! there are always solutions to problems, this year looks good for Nigeria already as oil price has been on the rise from $55 per barrel to $55.5 and now $58.37.

The 2017 budget oil price benchmark for revenue is $42.5, but with the increase in price of crude oil?—?thanks to Opec?—?a difference of $12.5, $13, and $15.87 will go into what we call the Excess Crude Account which will also in turn serve as a cushion against the plummeting Naira to Dollar exchange valuation.

Brethren, it is important to note here that the simple reason for the current Naira to dollar exchange rate is the lack of dollars in Central Bank of Nigeria’s coffers (please don’t ask me if I’ve seen CBN’s vault)

So if you were asked what caused the Forex crises, know that it was caused by the three headed monsters;

  1. Reduction in price of the only reasonable thing we produce for now (Crude)
  2. The incessant pipeline vandalism that further reduces government’s income
  3. Looting and wasteful spending when things were going good.

We can talk about the Bureau-De-Change and CBN’s erstwhile pendulum Fiscal and Monetary Policies later..

SUSTAINING PEACE 101

“Order your thoughts and you will order your life. Pour the oil of tranquility upon the turbulent waters of the passions and prejudices, and the tempests of misfortune, howsoever they may threaten, will be powerless to wreck the barque of your soul, as it threads its way across the ocean of life”. -James Allen

The above quote was drawn out of my understanding of the psyche of this country, I think we have been driven by forces that are not beneficial to us, this is the time to redirect Nigeria’s soul, This is the time to order our collective thoughts away from greed, distrust, hatred and seek peace, tranquility and economic prosperity in the Niger Delta Region and in Nigeria.

Our country currently produces an average of 1.6 million barrels of crude oil in a day at the rate of $58 but we can increase our production to 2.2 million barrels if vandalism stops.

If we are able to keep our production at this level for six months without pipeline vandalisation, Nigeria would be out of recession.

For the benefit of our collective economic prosperity, I want to quote Jalaladdin Rumi to reinforce my point on the need for the Federal Government and the Niger Delta Agitators to come to a middle ground.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there”

If you are reading this, may 2017 be a year of economic prosperity for you, your family and for Nigeria.

Magu: Garlands At A Time Like This, By Ibrahim Modibbo

There are several ironic happenstances around the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, almost to the level of the myriad of paradoxes around Nigeria as a country.

However, of these many ironies about the man, the most interesting to me, and I think to majority of the discerning public, is the temerity of a public officer, with what in Nigeria is a huge political bridge to cross, namely confirmation of his acting appointment, to throw all caution to the wind and embark on his work, firing from all cylinders, as the work demands. Some people have said, “The problem of Magu is that he acted like he has been confirmed, like he has no river to cross.”

If one is to hazard a guess, I could say the man went into the work in November of 2015 with the mindset of a wartime military commander—thinking of nothing else but how to surmount the assigned task, no matter how Herculean it was. And, in tackling the malfeasance, Magu diversified the fight with a clear focus on how to make the Nigerian economy function; restore the confidence of foreign investors and clean up all sections of the formal economy.

However, the most ironic of the ironies around Magu is that at the right time when his stewardship was beginning to be assessed and rated by the public, having reached one year in office steering the delicate operations of the EFCC, he got drown into needless controversy around the politics of his confirmation. This, sadly for keen watchers like myself, threatened the dispassionate atmosphere to consider the performance of the man bearing the torch of President Muhammadu Buhari’s celebrated fight against corruption. But it did not take away the glows that came from different quarters, even at the thick of the intrigues.

Magu’s gallantry and dispassionate drive has earned him, the EFCC and Nigeria, accolades from all angles of the compass. The influential Abuja-based newspaper, Leadership, crowned him as a joint winner of its person of the year award. Few days later, Silverbird TV, owned by the controversial senator from Bayelsa State, Ben Murray-Bruce, listed him among its nominees for man of the year. Not long afterwards, The Nation newspaper came up with Magu as its man of the year.

Previously, several prominent Nigerians had given their endorsements of what is happening with the fight against corruption, with credit to President Buhari for his square peg in square hole appointment and to Magu for being courageous and sincere about his work.

According to the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), the fiery Prof. Itse Sagay, the country has not had a more committed anticorruption czar with “sterling qualities as Ibrahim Magu” since the pioneer EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu. Interestingly, Ribadu himself has publicly acknowledged Magu’s vision and the renewed energy he has given the anticorruption fight.

This is what Ribadu had to say recently about Magu: “I will assure you that the leadership of the EFCC today is one that has the same spirit and belief in the vision of the EFCC right from the foundation and time the EFCC was established. It is a leadership that carries itself with integrity, a leadership that is strong, a leadership that is honest and a leadership that works with a lot of courage. You can see it in war that is going on.”

“Today, more than ever before, in our history, we have more cases that are being taken. We have more in terms of recoveries taking place, more than any time ever. You can simply say that maybe there is no one single anti- corruption organization in the world today that is doing the work that the EFCC is doing. So, that must be acknowledged and that must be understood,”

International commendation is equally huge, coming from world leaders such as President Barack Obama, the UK Government, the Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland, and a host of others. When the US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry visited Nigeria in August, 2016, he specifically commended President Buhari for “making significant progress” in the fight against corruption, as he pledged US government’s support.

When the Nigerian delegation, led by President Buhari attended the London Anti-Corruption Summit in May last year, Nigeria stood out. That delegation was the toast of all with President Buhari conferring with fellow heads of government, while Magu was the toast of the experts from around the world.

Interestingly, as Magu approached one year in office with the uncertainty of his appointment hanging around his neck, it was the media, alongside civil society, as the voice of the critical mass, that began agitation for his confirmation as a tribute to his “dogged fight against corruption”, as one newspaper put it.

Many newspapers, among which the very credible and influential foursome of The Punch, Leadership, The Nation and Daily Trust on Sunday, have variously penned editorials, giving kudos to Magu for taking the war against corruption from a mantra off the mouth of the policymakers to a daring, resulted-oriented crusade. The four newspapers were also unanimous in calling on those saddled with the task of making Magu the substantive chairman of the EFCC to hasten and do that.

According to Leadership, in its editorial of November 3, 2016: “In our considered opinion, the best interest of the anti-corruption effort will be served when someone who has what it takes to call a spade by no other name is encouraged to do the work for which he is trained and has the aptitude. At the risk of being misunderstood, Magu, from our disinterested position, is one man who has been well primed for the task.”

Also in November, the who-is-who of civil society organisations working on anticorruption issued a joint press statement calling for Magu’s confirmation as substantive head of EFCC citing these credentials: “…the EFCC has of late stepped up the fight against acts of corruption and abuse of public trust as exemplified in the tracking of those remotely and directly connected with the misapplication of monies meant to fight Boko Haram insurgency, confiscation of the properties suspected to have been acquired from proceeds of crime linked to politically exposed persons as well as the investigation and prosecution of alleged owners”.

With this gale of endorsements from independent-minded individuals and stakeholders, and with the outburst of public outrage witnessed penultimate Saturday when the orchestrated news went out that Magu had been relieved of his duties, it is clear where Nigerians stand on this matter.

These two scenarios: the praises and the rage, are clear pointers that though the anticorruption work may be a thankless job, with majority of Nigerians, the effort is much appreciated. And as the Latin maxim says, the voice of the people is the voice of God.

Modibbo is editor-at-large at Verbatim magazine. He can be reached at ibrahimmodibbo60@gmail.com

Nigerian Army and Contemporary Security Challenges, By Sagir Musa

n line with the constitutional mandate of the Nigerian Army to assist civil authority when directed, the Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Tukur Buratai proactively appraised the myriad of security challenges and scenarios across the nation. Consequently, he directed the conduct of several Simulation, Command Post and Field Training Exercises in various regions of Nigeria.
These Exercises were deliberately initiated and conducted with an overarching aim of checkmating identified security challenges prevalent in the regions where they were carried out. In this regard, Exercise SHIRIN HARBI was staged from 17 -19 April 2016 in 3 Division Area of Responsibility to take care of the insurgency and sundry crimes such as cattle rustling and armed banditry common in parts of the North Eastern Region.

In the same vein, Exercise HARBIN KUNAMA was held in 1 Division Area of Responsibility from 9 – 15 July 2016 to rid the general area of the North West Region of banditry, insurgency, religious insurrection, armed robbery and cattle rustling among other menaces.

Also, Exercise CROCODILE SMILE was conducted from 5 – 10 September 2016 in the Niger Delta Region by a combination of 2 and 82 Divisions with the major aim of reducing incidences of illegal bunkering, oil theft, piracy, pipeline vandalization and other criminalities across the entire region. Additionally, it was the objective of the exercise to sharpen the skills of army personnel to be proficient in Internal Security duties in maritime operations.
Similarly, Exercise PYTHON DANCE was carried out in the South Eastern Region from 27 November – 27 December 2016. The peculiar security challenges in the region such as kidnapping, abduction, armed robbery, farmers – herdsmen clashes, communal crisis, traffic gridlock and violent secessionist agitation among others were the targets of this Exercise.

Thus, the concept of Exercise PYTHON DANCE, just like others before it, is purely Command Post, Field Training and Real Time Exercise. It is aimed to enhance troops’ agility and preparedness across spectrum of contemporary and emerging security challenges peculiar to South Eastern Region. The Exercise is three in one, in that – it was – deliberately designed as – a Command Post Exercise that transmuted into Field Training Exercise and where necessary dovetailed into real time mission or activities such as anti kidnapping drills, Patrols, Raids, Cordon and Search, Check Points, Road Blocks and Show of Force.
One interesting aspect of the Exercise is that it is multi agency in nature and execution. Relevant Para-Military organizations such as elements of the Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, State Security Services and Federal Road Safety Commission synergized and collaborated to ensure successful execution and attainment of outlined objectives.

Also, the non reliance on only Military Line of Operation to achieve the end states of the exercise was part of the texture of EX PYTHON DANCE. For this reason, an elaborately generous Civil – Military Cooperation Line of Operation had been successfully planned and executed during this exercise. In this regard, some relevant Nigerian Army Corps and Services such as the Medical Corps and Engineers Corps carried out medical outreaches, roads and schools repairs across the South Eastern Region. This contributed to positive public perception of the exercise and won the hearts and minds of the civil populace in the targeted areas.

On the whole, Ex PYTHON DANCE has numerous objectives. Some of which are; to practice participating units on planning, preparation and conduct of Internal Security Operations, intensify training on Counter Terrorism and Internal Security Operations as well as to deter the activities of kidnappers, cultists, armed robbers and violent secessionist agitators. Others are – synergizing with relevant Para- Military services to address the identified threats and sharpening the skills of troops towards curtailing current and emerging security challenges peculiar to the South Eastern Region. In all standards, this Exercise and others before it were successful. The earmarked objectives have been achieved and lessons learnt are being put into practice for the benefit of future training and exercises.

Despite the initial disinformation, agitation and misplaced apprehension about the Exercise, the record of achievements during Ex PYTHON DANCE is huge and highly acknowledged particularly by well meaning locals and visitors across the South Eastern Region. Due to intensity of patrols, road blocks, raids and other activities in the Military Line of Operation, miscreants and criminals were denied freedom of action. As a result, most of the criminal elements fizzled out of the region into neighboring Delta and Rivers States. The account of peace, law, order and secured environments in the entire South Eastern Region occasioned by the Exercise was widely circulated by the media among others. Accordingly, the political leadership, some elites and the locals in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States appreciated and differently voiced their commendations about the Nigerian Army.

Also, most of the security challenges such as intra and inter communal crisis, farmers – herdsmen clashes, kidnapping, armed robbery and cultism as well as “trading in human misery” in the region were grossly reduced to the barest minimum. These menaces are and have been the focus and targets of this Exercise and have so far been effectively achieved.

Similarly, violent secessionist agitators and related irredentist groups were silently suppressed. Consequently, the region was stabilized, with an increased level of free movements and a boost to economic and social activities.

Parenthetically, the annual gridlock on the Niger Bridge at Onitsha was effectively remedied. The yearly sufferings, inconveniencies and insecurity arising from traffic jam on the Asaba-Onitsha axis of the bridge were curtailed. Seamless flow of traffic was achieved by own troops working in synergy with the Federal Road Safety Commission and the Nigerian Police Force. Above all, Federal Road Safety Commission available Road Traffic Accident Statistics in the entire region present a significant reduction occasioned by the strength of road blocks, check points and patrols during the period.

Equally important is that the Exercise has further raised the image and reputation of the Nigerian Army in its struggles to end insurgency, crimes and criminalities across the nation.

It is therefore interesting but not surprising to security and intelligence community, – that Command Post and Field Training Exercises were initiated and executed with the major objective of addressing peculiar security challenges across the various regions of Nigeria. This idea assisted significantly in the huge successes achieved in all the areas where the Exercises were conducted. The Buratai’s Approach – that of putting – realism/pragmatism and subterfuge into training, exercises and/or operations strategically aimed or targeted to solving identified security threats across the nation has so far yielded the desired results.
Some of the effects of this “Realist Approach to Warfare, Training and Exercises” are obvious not only in the successes recorded, but also in the elements of surprise as been achieved. Miscreants, saboteurs, bandits and criminals were taken unaware – believing that the Exercise remains – a Command Post and/or a Field Training Exercise only.

Similarly, the art of warfare –real or putative, is part of a training period for the participating troops. In this regard, a lot has been learnt on real time situations during Ex PYTHON DANCE and the other Exercises before it. Here, lies the beauty of the pragmatic approach to Internal Security Operation, the imperativeness of its sustenance and possible extension to Southern Kaduna and other identified flash points across the nation.

Colonel SAGIR MUSA
Deputy Director Army Public Relations
Enugu

Remembering Our Fallen Heroes, By Deji Adesogan

Armed Forces Remembrance Day Parade holds on 15 January every year. It is the day aside to remember service personnel that paid supreme sacrifice during the 2nd World Wars, the Nigerian Civil War and other operations within and outside Nigeria.

Religious services to commemorate the remembrance day are held on the last Sunday for Church services and last Friday for Juma’at prayers which are preceding to the d-day. Both National and Regimental Colours are carried on parade.

Of recent, Nigerian Armed Forces has performed and still performing creditably well in the war against Terrorism in North-East, Militancy in Niger-Delta, Herdsmen banditry in North-West and other internal security operations across the country. The good leadership qualities of present COAS, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai has rekindle our hope in the Nigerian Army in defending the defenseless Nigerians against insecurity and threat to national security.

Today 15 January we are celebrating and  remembering our Gallant Soldiers (dead and alive) that fight to create peace and unity in Nigeria, “they speak to give silence, they train to get fit, they kill to live, they live to kill, Confidence and respect is not sold in the World Trade Centre, it is earned by Nigerian Military. Who else could challenge in the face of death if not our gallant troops, they do not see death as threat, it’s an obstacle they always cross so as to be a valiant compatriot whose name will never be washed away in the face of a million flood. Their family and friends are far away from them. What else could be so honourable than to defend your Fatherland. They suppress those who oppress, to impress the depressed, defend the defenseless. Field they sleep, sea they sail, sky they fly, to tread on the wings of the octopus and give peace to our people. They will fight till they die, sail till they sink, fly till they crash to restore anomie to normality. Three in one, they stand as one in togetherness to build a great nation”.

Citizens and the Government should see security of lives and properties as collective effort not security agencies work alone. God Bless Nigerian Armed Forces!!!#HappyArmedForcesRemembranceDay #AFRD2017 #VictoryIsFromGodAlone

DEJI ADESOGAN, a Political-Scientist & Security Consultant, writes from Abuja

Church Leadership: God’s Tenure And Dynastic Leadership, By Ade Ilemobade

Church leaders as they claim are individuals that occupy position of power over their followers based on anointing of god. They combine transactional and transformational elements of leadership like charisma and being opinionated.

The fundamental philosophical question to ask is how do we know when and what are the criteria used by god for such anointing.

Why this individual (x) and not the other person (y).

Do we have to take it for granted that the purported anointing confers life long leadership of an organization like a church or an automatic dynastic generational transfer of the so called anointing from god.

The source of authority of a church leader derives from his/her ability to command and to enforce obedience either by referential points in the Bible as injunctions of command to followers who accept the leader as an anointed Man of God or the abundance charisma of the Man of God whose opinion is taken as God’s commandment to his/her followers in a relationship of delegated authority.

The implication of the above is that God is the supreme authority. Therefore, the primacy of God’s authority cannot be disputed by any Man of God in christianity.

However, how do we elucidate the intermediariness of Christ and The Holy Spirit in the anointing process of our Man of God since there are no empirically verifiable evidences or justifications to the claim of anointment by The Holy Spirit which is one of the explanations for sit tight mentality often observed in churches in respect of leadership tenure in Nigeria.

John Locke in his work: A Letter Concerning Toleration, advices us to desist from accepting wholesale reliance on emotional considerations in the defence of religion or religious doctrines. We must adopt rational explanation to religion and the basis for religious beliefs I wonder what religious zealots would make of the above given the narrative of anointment by Holy Spirit often propagated by pastorpreneurs.

This brings me to my encounter recently at the RCCG Camp in Mowe where I was opportuned to have a discussion with a Pastor from RCCG about this subject matter and he made it vividly known to me that most members do not believe in the idea of leadership for life but that the indoctrination machinery of the church is so overwhelming that members were being forced to accept the doctrine of divine inspiration and authority to justify leadership for life.

This is similar to the argument for Absolute Monarchism a despotic system of hereditary supreme authority based on the divine right of Kings, a repugnant theological justification of God’s mandate for Kings to rule forever that was propagated in Europe, Asia and in Africa.

I have read articles online concerning separation of church and state as the bedrock of John Locke’s argument which supports freedom for religious groups but those using this idea to justify the recent action of president @mbuhari sack of Obazee are not doing justice to our constitution because they are indirectly encouraging dictatorship of the theological community in concert with political society.

In my view Nigeria is a secular state and the government must not in any way be seen to be encouraging theological influences in governance processes.

Secularism defined by Longman Dictionary as “ A system of social organization that does not allow religion to influence the government or the belief that religion should not influence a government”.

Section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution provides:

The Government of the Federation or of a State shall not adopt any religion as State Religion.”

John Locke rejection of government interference or interest in Godly salvation or religious truth is legendary but his arguments in support of this position are not without fundamental philosophical problems which I am not in position to discuss fully here. While his idea is good for religious freedom in a democratic society but it can also create a dangerous development something I call ”POSTLEVIATHAN”  a situation wherein (if/when) political community allows itself to be hijacked by theological community in the formulation of policies, rules, regulations and laws of a secular state and this is happening as we speak in Nigeria in contradiction to John Locke’s idea on this subject matter that religious bodies must maintain absolute distance by not interfering in political community affairs or the affairs of the state.

According to John Locke we need to make a vivid distinction between political society which he gave the description secular community and religious group which he described as theological community because failure to do so shall endangered the political legitimacy or authority to govern of a secular state leading us into theocracy.

My opinion is that president @mbuhari has violated the constitution of Nigeria for politico-theological expediency under pressure from RCCG Adeboye. Where is the legitimacy of this government if it fails to understand that politics must free itself from religious interference by an appeal to the strict observance of laid down regulations, rules and laws of the land at all times.

In my opinion whenever there is disagreement or conflict with rules, regulations and laws of political society that affects theological community as we have witnessed in Nigeria recently, secular community must assert its legitimacy since those rules, regulations and laws concerning religious groups are not made about religion but they are made based on social-political and economic argument in the interest of the Nation.

Church leaders and Political elites in Nigeria are in concert of dictatorship to impose the concept of divine authority on the populace which is to dictate to us that the right to rule directly derives from the will of God. Nigerians must resist the impending dictatorship and incestuous relationship between the church and the Nigerians government moving forward.

LONG LIVE SECULARISM, LONG LIVE THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

OTUNBA ADE ILEMOBADE  IS A PHILOSOPHER

TWITTER; PEARL2PRINCE

Tell-tale Signs Of Underdevelopment, By Simon Kolawole

We were stuck in traffic along Lagos-Ibadan road. Then we started hearing a familiar wailing — a police van had decided to announce its importance by blaring its siren at full volume. The van was snaking its way through the thick traffic, harassing motorists out of the way — as usual. I was curious. I wanted to know the identity of the VIP that was terrorising us this afternoon. What I saw when the van overtook us was quite amusing: the VIPs were actually rams. It was Eid-el-Kabir. The rams, sitting majestically at the back, deserved VIP treatment in their final days. And who could do it better than the police, who spend most of their working hours protecting VIPs?

When I saw the rams, I turned to my driver and said: “Didn’t I tell you this is an animal kingdom?” He laughed in conspiracy. We spent the next 30 minutes discussing the animalistic behavioural patterns among Nigerians. That discussion inspired today’s discourse. I will list some of the tell-tale signs that prove we are grossly behind, caused largely by Nigeria’s human and economic underdevelopment. We are a society that is evidently below what is widely considered to be acceptable in a normal human community in the 21st century. I must warn that I believe these tell-tale signs are mere symptoms. I discuss the root problems in the context of our underdevelopment.

Use of siren by VIPs. In a civilised society, siren is reserved for emergency services. If you hear a siren sound in such societies, it is either from an ambulance or a police van. It is to alert other road users that there is an emergency and they should be given the right of way. A life is most likely at stake. If there is no emergency, the siren stays quiet. What is the origin of use of siren by VIPs in Nigeria? I keep suspecting it started during the military era and it is part of the baggage that we inherited. The root cause of the continued misuse of the siren, I would think, is this pompous posture by government officials that they are not in the same category as the rest of us.

Tin-god leaders. David Cameron, then British prime minister, was campaigning ahead of the 2015 general election. He visited a hospital with a camera crew to showcase the success of the National Health Service (NHS). As he was talking to a patient, the doctor came out and started protesting. “You are invading my space,” the doctor said. Cameron quietly left. If that happens in Nigeria, his security aides will first brutalise you before you are arrested and dismissed from service for “disrespecting constituted authority” (apologies to Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo state). Our leaders think that they are gods. In civilised societies, they see themselves as servants.

Driving against traffic. A European, who came to Lagos a few years ago, observed motorists driving against “one way” (as we put it here) and concluded: “Anywhere people drive against traffic, there is a fundamental problem in such a society.” I would say not just fundamental but mental. The root cause is that law enforcement is weak and road users do not have value for their own lives and the lives of others. Law enforcement is weak not because the agencies don’t know what to do, but they also stand to benefit by extorting from offenders. Whatever the case may be, driving against one way is not what you expect in a sane human society — except in emergencies.

Open defecation. The natural state of man, before civilisation kicked in, was very similar to the lives of lower animals today: they could urinate and defecate anywhere. Goats don’t build toilets or hide their shame when passing waste. Human beings have learnt to build and use toilets. So when you see a human being passing waste by the roadside, then it is not fit to be called a civilised society yet. The animalistic instinct has refused to leave the community. You would say it is because the government did not build decent, functional public toilets, but then you are only agreeing with me: a civilised government would know that people need public toilets.

Open drain. In all the civilised societies that I have visited, drains are covered. Why would a normal human society leave the drains open — exposing people to putrefying smells, sickening eyesore, threat of diseases and even danger of physical harm? We’ve been rolling malaria back and forth for decades, spending billions of dollars and ending up with more malaria patients every year. Malaria is vectored by mosquitoes, and mosquitoes are bred in stagnant water and open drains. A normal human society will target elimination of mosquitoes, not distribution of nets, as the ultimate antidote to malaria. But remember I said a “normal” society.

Rotten roofs. I remember when I was growing up in the village, my grandfather used to change the roof of the house from time to time. He also repainted the house at least once in two years, particularly at Christmas. As the economy entered rough weather, it was no longer priority. These days when I am in an aircraft and it is about to land, I look down to see the condition of roofs. Many old houses have “rotten” roofs (and, well, faded painting). This has nothing to do with civilisation — it is just that aesthetics is not a priority for a hungry person. In fact, I would suggest that the condition of roofs and painting can tell you the economic wellbeing of home owners.

No queuing. One of the things that distinguish the human race from other animals is the ability to organise society intelligently — with law and order. Any society where the culture of queuing is virtually absent, where people think survival is always for the fittest, is very similar to an animal kingdom. Animals don’t queue, as we all know. In Nigeria, you will see three people scrambling to enter a bus that still has 10 vacant seats. You will also see dozens of people on the queue and some guy will just walk straight to the front as if others are idiots. I do not know the root cause of this, but I guess there may also be a cultural angle to it.

Stomach infrastructure. Any society where voters need to be induced with rice and bread is patently backward. We give excuses for the inducement, like saying the voters are impoverished and hungry, and would rather eat their tomorrow today. The leaders they elected into office soon begin to distance themselves from the people. In fact, the leaders use their official cars and siren to chase the people off road. They implement oppressive policies that deprive the masses of their livelihoods, thereby worsening their poverty. The ultimate sign of underdevelopment, though, is that after four years of misrule, the people collect rice again and vote for their oppressors again.
Conclusion. I have by no means exhausted the list of the tell-tale signs of an underdeveloped society that manifest daily in Nigeria.

As I was listing them, I guess you too were compiling your own catalogue. I prefer to see all these signs as the symptoms of deep-rooted problems. In any society where these things are prevalent, there are fundamental problems. Many will argue that our inability to address political and economic problems is responsible for these chronic symptoms, while some will say, rather, that these are the problems responsible for our underdevelopment. It is not an argument that will end today, but it is a conversation worth having all the same.

Most of these issues are around governance and leadership. If the country becomes developed, civilisation will come as part of the package. We can stop the misuse of siren. Mr. Babatunde Fashola, as governor of Lagos state, successfully did it. He didn’t die. His successor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, has not been using siren and it has not affected his performance. We can build decent and sufficient public toilets, can’t we? We can re-orientate Nigerians to embrace civilisation, can’t we? We did not develop a culture of using seat belts until 15 years ago. Today, we do it with ease. It proves that we are just one step from civilisation — with a little push. Good news.

“A European, who came to Lagos a few years ago, observed motorists driving against ‘one way’ (as we put it here) and concluded: ‘Anywhere people drive against traffic, there is a fundamental problem in such a society.’ I would say not just fundamental but mental”

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS

SAINT OR SINNER?
These are my condensed thoughts on the corporate governance code (not law, as generally believed) for churches, over which Mr. Jim Obaze was fired as the CEO of FRC. One, it is in the best interest of church leaders to submit themselves to transparency and accountability. Too much power is temptation in itself. Thumbs up for Pastor EA Adeboye for implementing a new leadership structure at RCCG. My own pastor, Rev. Sam Adeyemi, started devolving power at Daystar Christian Centre in 2014. Two, I think it is too much for government to want to determine who church leaders can’t appoint as successors. No. These are spiritual matters. #MyTwoCents.

BOKO BOMBERS
Now that the Nigerian military has done a good job of ending Boko Haram’s insurgency — meaning the militants no longer hold any part of our territory — the next, and I would say the most deadly, frontline is the “asymmetrical” warfare which terrorism thrives on. Dislodging them from holding territory may end up looking the easiest part: suicide bombing is the most difficult to tame. This is the time for intelligence agencies to step up their game (and stop prosecuting APC’s political fights). Citizens must be properly enlightened on how to spot strangers and strange movements in their neighbourhoods, and where to promptly report to. Proactive.

MEDICINE AFTER DEATHS
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said 204 people were killed in the southern Kaduna clashes. This is way below the 808 casualty figure given by the Catholic Church. What really saddens me is that the clashes between Fulani herdsmen and locals went on for months and threw up hundreds of dead bodies before the Nigerian state began to perform its primary duty: securing the lives and property of Nigerians. If your country cannot offer you basic protection, what else should you expect? The military has launched Operation Scorpion to tackle the killings — after the sting of death had sent hapless Nigerians to their graves. Depressing.

ALL HAIL ADEBANWI!
Our own Wale Adebanwi has been appointed to the prestigious Rhodes Professorship in Race Relations at the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, University of Oxford. He is the first black African scholar to be appointed to the endowed chair since it was created some 60 years ago. Adebanwi, who is currently a professor at the University of California, US, has two PhDs — one in political science from the University of Ibadan and the other in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge. And, if I may brag a bit, he was my classmate at the University of Lagos in our undergraduate days. I am so proud of him. Congratulations!

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