My One Hour Breakfast With Nsima Ekere In Lagos, By Fejiro Oliver

The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river. – Ross Perot

We flew into Lagos State for one purpose on Monday, which was to see the current Senator representing Delta North, Mr Peter Nwaoboshi go to jail, courtesy of the dogged Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who acted on petitions and documents submitted by the duo of Anti Corruption and Integrity Forum, and the whitsleblowing online news portal, Secret Reporters. He was remanded on Wednesday and still there in Ikoyi prison as at the time of penning down this piece. Our joy is full!

While in the hotel, my friend and ally, Comrade Prince Kpokpogri, who’s the Chairman of the Anti Corruption NGO notified me of a breakfast meeting with the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nsima Ekere, on Thursday (today).

We were driven down to the hotel for the breakfast meeting; with my eyes perusing every angle to be sure that it’s a safe place for me. On getting there, I refused to follow Kpokpogri to Nsima’s room. I urged him to go alone which he hesitantly did.

This was a man that has been exposed by the newspaper I work for, Secret Reporters, quite a number of times. Nsima as NDDC MD has been on our spotlight with negative reports trailing him from our newsroom, while getting commendation for the roads he’s constructing in his native Akwa Ibom State. I was not ready to see him. The stories I heard about him as being brutally ruthless made me determined not to be close to him.

Unknown to me, setup was in the offing. My friend who was with him for almost one hour in his room has downloaded my presence to him. I heard my name, with my eyes fixated on my phone, and coming towards me was Nsima. Kpokpogri smiled. Could it be betrayal like the kiss of Judas on Jesus Christ cheek? The plot was to unveil later and a new theory about to be propounded. We made for restaurant for the buffet breakfast where it all happened fast.

“This is the Secret Reporters”, Kpokpogri told Nsima. My eyes rolled to him from Nsima and from Nsima to him. The MD brought his hands and gave me a warm handshake, screaming “Na una dey write all those kind strong things about me so Secret Reporters? Come here”. I went close to him and it was followed with another round of warm deep hug, such that speaks from the soul, even though you can never tell the hearts of men.

I have heard rumors of him contesting the 2019 governorship race of Akwa Ibom State but wasn’t fully convinced, as I have never heard him publicly declared his intention. This was the time to bring out my Journalism training as the trio of us discussed deeply. He emphatically made known his intention to me to govern Akwa Ibom and rescue it from the current kindergarten governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, under whose watch tens of Akwa Ibomites died in the Reigners Church collapse but refused to implement the White Paper report indicting ‘Bishop’ Akan Weeks, who caused the crash. How he still feels comfortable being called ‘Deacon’ Udom after such sin against man and God still beats imaginations of reasonable men.

Nsima spoke about his desire to govern his state and the need to carry everyone along. He was more of issue based and less of name calling.

Like one of the thieves on the cross when Christ was crucified, he admitted that he has sinned in some areas and truly need help, through constructive criticism not condemnation. He was humble to accept his wrongs and made no single attempt to defend any of the stories we reported against him. The admission of his flaws and weakness as human will break the strongest of heart and like ice melt the bravest of hot blood.

If only men like Udom will accept that he’s a crèche governor and needs tutorial, not from the great teacher but from technocrats, the state would have been better. If only Udom can accept his sins like Nsima, he would have watched Akwa Ibomites follow him with their whole hearts. Everyone loves leaders who are willing to accept their errors. But no, he’s a business class graduate while others including Nsima to him are illiterates. In Nsima, I saw the opposite of Udom, humility against arrogance, friendship against follower. As I munched my breakfast, I got the answers to why he has refused to speak against his former boss, Godswill Akpabio, whom he deputized, even though he resign few years into the administration.

The one hour breakfast and soul discussion felt like we’ve known for ages. Just like Kpokpogri told me, that we will end up being friends from the first five minute of discussion; it came to pass. No offense picked on the medium as he understood the difference between Secret Reporters and I, but one thing was sure, a new relationship for the good of Akwa Ibom has been born, the ever burning flame to rescue the state from the hands of the current Buccaneers just ignited and the unending struggle to redeem the future unfolded.

Agreed that there’s no art to tell the man’s construction on the face but didn’t they say ‘first impression matter’? If Nsima will be what I heard about him from a distance as the election months rolled by, can only be unraveled by time or if the first impression of him is who he truly is, lies in the womb of time.

One thing is however certain, Akwa Ibom must seize this moment to cause the change in 2019 and send back the Lagos returnee back to business school, to mingle only with his literate friends and allow the ‘illiterate’ who understands the needs of the people govern the land.

These little things matter…

 

Fejiro Oliver, an Investigative Journalist, Media Consultant and Human Rights Activist is also the Co-Convener of Coalition of Human Rights Defender (CHORD) and can be reached on +2348022050733 (SMS ONLY) or secretsreporters@gmail.com. Engage him on twitter on @fejirooliver86

Osinbajo, Still The Daniel Of Our Time, By Chukwudi Enekwech

While few critics tend to shy away from the sterling performance of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, but rather concentrate on concocting all manner of stories and innuendos on his person, I have chosen to take an alternative route.

Before I start, let me admit that occupying a high office anywhere in the world is not a tea party. It is a herculean task. Professor Yemi Osinbajo shares a lot of values with President Muhammadu Buhari, and principally among them is their legendary integrity, patriotism and commitment to national development.

Let me use this medium to address some of the mundane issues raised in the article written by Shaka Momodu, titled Osinbajo Unlike The Biblical Daniel, published on the Thisday Newspaper. That Vice president Yemi Osinbajo wants to be seen as a hero, I beg to say that this is a misrepresentation of his persona as he is always himself and not a pretender. To say that he was eager to impress his principal attests to his unalloyed loyalty to Mr. President, and the philosophy of the administration, which is to render service to Nigerians.

Granted that Professor Osinbajo is ‘’not tough’’ in the sense the writer implied, yet his belief in the rule of law, rather than brigandage remains unwavering, especially in matters of state. He cannot therefore on this account be seen as a ‘’spineless professor’’.

It is also wrong to make sweeping statements by linking the administration to any malfeasance, as the government has never hesitated to act if there is a grain of evidence against its officials. Professor Osinbajo still remains a professional with a world view to improve the lot of Nigerians.

On the allusion to his visits to the airports, markets and filling stations I want say that this is desirable as it shows a connection between the government and the people. There is no hypocrisy or self-righteousness in Professor Osinbajo as he is always himself. As a leader he owes it a duty to connect and feel the pulse of the people, as this is standard practice all over the world. It should not be misconstrued.

For the avoidance of doubt, most cabinet members hold the vice president in very high esteem and they repose a lot of confidence in him, especially when he stands in for Mr. President. Let me observe that most of the negative comments in the article are mere conjectures deliberately adumbrated to achieve a premeditated objective. They don’t reflect the position of the president, his vice or the entire administration about some happenings in Nigeria.

Though I disagree that the image of Professor Osinbajo’s party, APC is ‘’sagging’’ as the writer tried to impute, but I ask: what is wrong if a vice president shores up the image of his party with public appearances? To me this is pedestrian argument.

Till today, many Nigerians still appreciate Professor Yemi Osinbajo for his contributions to the Buhari administration as he has not failed at any time to make his wealth of knowledge available towards steering the ship of state. For example during President Muhammadu Buhari’s three months absence in London, Professor Osinbajo held forth and was able to assuage the feelings of the Niger Delta agitators who had threatened to bring down our oil production to zero. It can only be imagined the state of affairs in Nigeria if he had not acted as a go-between with the Niger Delta militants.

Professor Yemi Osinbajo has used his position as the chairman of the National Economic Council to proffer solutions to some problems that would have been intractable. Even in the case of the farmers/herders clashes, his leadership has resolved on the issue of ranching which ab-initio was the preferred option for the grazing herdsmen? It is only a blind man or someone prejudiced by bias that will not see the ‘’Daniel role’’ Professor Osinbajo is playing in Nigeria today.

He remains a towering example of a conscientious leader, consummate gentleman and preacher of the gospel. His participation in government has not in any way lowered his esteem in the eyes of right –thinking people as he has been taken things in his stride, observing a high level of sobriety and being loyal to the president and the country.

Or what more can you ask of a man who has denied himself pleasure and comfort to serve his country and help navigate the ship of state to a secure corner where all interests will be catered for? Luckily, he is in good company with his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari who continues to ensure that Nigerians reap bountifully from the hope they reposed in them.

Professor Yemi Osinbajo is still standing tall among eminent men and women in Nigeria if we consider that he has used his position to address the plight of the Nigerian youth who are the leaders of tomorrow. For example, the impact of the N-power programme; School Feeding Programme; Conditional Cash Transfer programme and several other social intervention programmes which he has directly midwifed in this administration are visible for all to see.

As things stand today, President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice Yemi Osinbajo are the most popular and charismatic politicians in Nigeria today. This did not happen by accident as the duo had through their sincerity of purpose and determination to improve the lot of the ordinary Nigerian have earned the trust and confidence of Nigerians irrespective of tribe and religion. This is the difference between the duo and the past PDP administrations. While the past PDP administrations focussed on serving some vested narrow interests, the Buhari/Osinbajo administration has made Nigerians the fulcrum of their development agenda.

On the issue of corruption, why would any right thinking person begrudge Professor Osinbajo who revealed that despite 60% less in revenue compared to the accruals for the previous government, that the administration has spent the highest capital expenditure on infrastructure in Nigeria’s history with about N1.3 trillion. It is needless to say that good infrastructure is key to the total revival of the economy, job creation and economic emancipation of Nigerians.

Based on the visionary leadership of President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the capacity of the Transmission Company of Nigeria to transport energy has grown from 5000MW in 2015 to 7,125 MW in 2017 thereby making more power available to Nigerians. This is evidence of a focussed government.

How can anyone in his right senses deride an administration that has deployed about N16.67 Billion to each of the six geo-political zones out of the N100 Billion Sukuk fund to fix our dilapidated road network? The difference between the PDP era and the Buhari/Osinbajo era is the absence of corruption and introduction of transparency in governance.

The Buhari/Osinbajo administration is also building two legacy projects which the previous PDP administrations shied away from for sixteen years. They are the Mambilla power project and the Second Niger Bridge. It takes courage and commitment to embark on this kind of projects in austere times as we have today.

Even on the issue of security, the Buhari/Osinbajo administration has ensured the release of 106 Chibok girls from Boko Haram captivity, while the fire power of the military has greatly degraded the ability of the terrorists to conquer and occupy territories.

President Osinbajo’s humble mien can easily mislead some people to adjudge him as weak, but far from it as Professor Osinbajo carries himself with dignity and within the confines of his constitutional responsibilities. His luck is also that the president reposes confidence in him and periodically entrusts him with the responsibilities of his high office. On his part Professor Osinbajo has always lived up to the billing.

For example, during such occasions when the president must travel outside the country, he usually writes the National Assembly to officially transmit power to him, and on several occasions Professor Yemi Osinbajo has presided over the federal executive council and they usually came out with useful resolutions for Nigeria. In my estimation and many Nigerians Professor Osinbajo remains a role model and his association with President Buhari is refocussing Nigeria and laying a solid foundation for sustainable development.

By Chukwudi Enekwechi

An Abuja-based Journalist

Kwechis19@yahoo.com

Re: ‘Osinbajo Unlike The Biblical Daniel, By Mr Shaka Momodu’

I read the piece by Shaka Momodu in which he singled out Osinbajo for scathing remarks, his major grouse is that Osinbajo dared to speak about corruption, wanton lootings ,when according to him, his party is also full of people with questionable character.

He even went further to question the integrity, reputation and competence of Professor Osinbajo. He accused him of being ‘spineless’ and conspiring to cover-up or advancing the course of the killer herdsmen.

There are different ways to approach this write up. The writer is obviously angry and intimidated by the person of the Vice President, it is easy to notice the contempt he holds him by the deliberate distorting and misrepresentation of events and facts for the mischievous and devilish ends of casting doubts on the his reputation.

It’s ironic that the vice president is getting the stick for telling the obvious truth. The people need to know how the PDP government mismanaged and openly looted their commonwealth and why we collectively, should never allow this to happen again. He deserves commendation, not the abuse he is getting from the writer, unless of course, if corruption is fighting back.

There are two major ways of knowing someone; (i) where he/she stands on issues that are critically important (ii) by what people say about him.

Let me start with where the vice president stands on critical issues; we all remember during the Boko haram days when they had some local government under their control, Osinbajo was asked to undertake the scary trip to Maiduguri, the heart of insurgency, he went there and even had meetings with state actors and the troops, similarly, during the height of dark days of Niger Delta militancy, bombing of pipelines was the order of the day then, the indefatigable VP literally took the bull by the horn, against security reports, against all wise counsel, went to the heartland of the militants-Gbamaratu kingdom, the dreaded eye of the storm, as it were, without any fear for his life, met with the stakeholders and secured a ceasefire that has brought us the peace we are now benefiting from today. Surely, these are not the works of a spineless person, as the writer would want us believe.

The writer questioned the audacity of the VP to openly speak about the wicked, reckless and wanton looting that took place during the past regime, that has brought untold hardship to the people, he accuses the VP of not calling out the individuals that are equally corrupt within his party. That I also find faulty. If I recall the VP during his time as Acting President was confronted with allegation against the then SGF, He immediately undertook to investigate and suspended the SGF ,and after investigations were conducted, took the findings to the now present President Buhari for implementation. It was not the convenient thing to do at that time, yet, it needed to be done and he did it.

As regards to the killings in Benue, Taraba and other states, I recognize the unfortunate carnage taking place there, but the best way to approach the problem is not by making boisterous statements to appease the base, but to take painstaking time, engaging with major stakeholders and all concerns to unearth the remote course of the killings and find ways of resolving the matter holistically. This is the path the VP elected to pass. We must not forget that the VP is not for South or Christians alone, but for all Nigerians, therefore ,all Nigerians interest must be seen to be protected by him without any bias or prejudice, that is the hallmark of a great leader, to be a unifier , a peace seeker, not to play to gallery, just so that he can appease some individuals or section. He probably had ODI in mind, where senseless wiping out of a village was done and yet it never resolved the issues, instead it worsened it.

Secondly, let us examine what others say about Prof. Oluyemi Osinbajo, amongst all important and well meaning and unbiased groups, He is knowledgeable, intelligent, with impeccable character, integrity and fearless in pursuit of his objectives, not flippant and has attention to details (hence he carries about his little black book) . He has won several awards and recognitions for his excellence on his job.

These are too much for the writer to handle, hence he condescend to distorting and outright lies to seek to cast doubt on the character of our Vice President, maybe he sought to distract attention or to intimidate him from the good job he is doing or to force him to backtrack on corruption, but either way it is D.O.A –Dead On Arrival. It will fail. I believe the VP is too committed to be distracted by such a bad piece of writing.

Osinbajo: When Not To Bow To Machinations Of Columnists, Hack Writers, By Bernard Okri

The past few weeks have been very engaging for hack writers who seemed to have been commissioned to bring down Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, using the platforms of the media as a tool.

Besides Reno Omokri who has since imposed on himself the task of speaking ill of every policy of the government of President Muhamadu Buhari, and making unrestrained verbal attacks on the person of the President, editors of some newspapers appeared to have been conscripted too to join the fray of attack on the present government.

These days in Nigeria, Journalism is assuming a convoluted fate. It is that which confers on writers the free will to veer into the murky waters of politics, and dabble directly into contending partisan issues while turning the real players into mere spectators.

The situation is worst for journalism in Nigeria when editors, mostly handlers of columns throw the ethics of the profession to the dogs, devoting more spaces in their respective columns to spurious attack on the person of Vice President Osinbajo and key officials of the Buhari’s administration believed to be on the other side of the page with former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Only last week, a certain Bolanle Bolawale took to the Tribune Newspaper to publish an article, titled: The Painful Confession of a Vice President. I read through it, and it was as mischievous as the title sounds. The article attempted to put words in the Vice Presidents mouth and impute what was never said during his visit to Adamawa, at Mrs Binta Marsi Garba’s 50th Thanksgiving ceremony.

The writer claimed that the Vice President said that Christians had not made the desired impact in the government. The hunger for mischief was so evident that after quoting the Vice President’s straightforward comment, the writer said: “what this means is that they are not making the desired impact.” How clumsy.

The mischievous writer went ahead to impute all manner of non-existent negatives from an innocuous comment made by the Vice President.

The entire piece of write-up by this Bolanle was another clear reflection of the deliberate attempts to slander Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Even when there is nothing to slander.

Day-by-day and week after week, Osinbajo became a subject of focus and a cannon fodder of sort which columnists willingly pummel and call names. His only offence was calling a spade a spade on the reckless pillaging and plundering of the treasury of Nigeria by the past government presided over by former President Jonathan.

Vice President Osinbajo did not say anything new or strange about the mindless acts of corruption that is now associated with the past administration of Jonathan. Nigerians are quite aware that key ministers in the cabinet of former President are currently being investigated for alleged mismanagement of the national economy. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has continued to make seizures of hidden local and foreign currencies as well as ill-gotten properties traced to treasury looters under Jonathan. Till date, Mrs Diezani Allison Madueke, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Madam Stella Oduah, Sambo Dasuki, Nenadi Usman, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, Patience Jonathan and others have been unable to clear their names of allegation of corruption and mismanagement of huge sums of monies traced to their different accounts.

Vice President Osinbajo was not saying anything new when he revealed most recently that former President Jonathan, few weeks before the 2015 election ordered that the sum of N100 billion and $295million be withdrawn in cash from the treasury. He allegedly shared the monies among his cronies in desperate bid to win re-election. He lost woefully in the election, all the same.

Indeed, Nigerians still remember very vividly how the former President, just two weeks to the 2015 elections, carted their hard earn monies in plane loads to Lagos with a bid to bribe the political stakeholders in the south-west to vote for his re election. Nigerians still remember the Ikoyi gate and huge denominations of foreign and local currencies of $43, 449, 947, £27,800 and N23, 218 scooped from Flat 7B at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Will Nigeria ever forget that the un-curtailed stealing under the past government of former President Jonathan plunged Nigeria into a worst case of recession, which literally paralysed governance and required the ingenuity of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to roll back? Do Nigerians need any soothsayer to tell them that had Jonathan won his reelection bid, Nigeria would have become history at the expense of his inaction, lack of focus, determination and know-how on attending to Nigeria’s intricate problem?

Vice President Osinbajo spoke the truth on his insistence that the phenomenal brand of corruption that underpinned the 6 years of governance by Jonathan should not be swept under the carpet so easily, and that emphasis must always be placed on it, just to prevent future occurrence. This is a fact that has kept eluding the attention of newspaper editors and wailers who are arrayed against the Vice President for exposing the dark sides of the governments they seemed to be very much in love with. It presupposes that Remo Omokri and newspaper editors who keep defending the corruption under Jonathan are beneficiaries of the loot shared to newspaper houses at a point in time. A day will come when the lid will blow open.

If newspaper editors are ceaselessly engaged in the task of puling down Osinbajo, just for speaking out the truth on corruption, the fact remains that their plans will amount to naught. The government of President Buhari is unrelenting in the fight against corruption and will continue to expose all the secret places hosing stolen wealth in Nigeria.

In a nutshell, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is not a man who should be hacked down by the machinations of ill informed editors and their paymasters. He is a Cabinet member who deserves the massive support of well meaning Nigerians at all costs. It follows that in Nigeria, a Vice president who earns the trust of his boss is hard to come by. Graciously, President Muhammadu Buhari reposes deeper confidence in Osinbajo and that should be the take home point for anyone who appreciates what a responsible government should look like.

Osinbajo is meant to be a spare tyre as implied by the constitution of Nigeria. Yet, his ability to ride on the crest of hard work, dedication to service, unflagging loyalty and truthfulness is making the difference for him. He is in the mainstream of the agenda of President Buhari, carrying out some major tasks. His background and good pedigree in service have continued to push him to the foreground, making him a doyen in the government of President Buhari. If such a Vice President who means well is not appreciated, the implication is that Nigeria may exist only to appreciate bad leaders and worst conditions.

*Bernard Okri, media practitioner, Public Affairs analysts wrote in from Asaba Delta State.

Social Change, Youth And Political Leadership, By AbdulYassar AbdulHamid

A month ago I, alongside a friend with whom I share almost everything in common, had about an hour-long, educative discussion with a Kano-born, Hausa musician Aminu Ala in his office on the rise and sudden decline of many Hausa musicians.

He raised this argument citing many examples with live and dead musicians who could not cope with the turbulent waves of social change and at last lost their voices. He argued that many of those musicians could not fashion out some ways, either by changing their theme or adopting foreign musical instruments, in order to adapt to changing circumstances.

“For example”, he said, “many of those artists had held tight to the past forgetting innovation and the merciless sword of radically unstable time had to cut them off the pages of stardom. A month ago I had to blend Indian musical tune and Hausa’s kalangu to produce a song. I used this as a boat to float safely on the tides of social change.”

We unanimously agreed on this point and a friend of mine cited an example of Craig David and Steven Wonder, who after releasing some captivating best-selling albums withdrew to the gutter of forgetfulness, to support Ala’s claim

At once I referred them to a philosophical assertion Ibn Khaldun set forth in his masterpiece, Muqaddama (Prolegomena), a timeless book that analyses the social organizations, their rise, growth and sudden decline; and in the words of Albert Guarani, a book “Full of reminders of the fragility of human effort”.

Sometime thereafter I often ask myself many philosophical questions on social change, the way civilizations are “Visited by a destructive plague which devastated nations and caused populations to vanish…when they had reached the limit of their duration. It lessened their power and curtailed their influence”, in the words of that great historian. Should this give both our youth and political leadership a clue about the reality of life?

Must people chance in accordance with convulsive movement of time, weather and the universe? How will Kano, Nigeria, perhaps the world at large look like in the next one hundred years when we are long gone?

Although many anthropologists have argued that change is natural and inevitably ever-present in every aspect of life, why do we look at alteration in individuals rather than social structures, institutions and social relationships that are the leading agents of such changes?

By applying the theories of social change to the Nigerian context, one can argue that we are somehow caught in the stagnant webs of the past.

In more than sixteen years of democracy only two agendas have pathetically materialized out of tens of others: lazy unproductive youth struggling with cargo of negative mentality and irresponsible leaders that have built structures upon structures on quicksand.

Changes in our population both in number and composition have far reaching effects on our social co-existence. It affects our economic well-being especially when the authorities fail to invest in its population to make them an asset rather than a liability to themselves, their immediate family members and the larger society.

This is, perhaps, because subsequent governments have failed to chart some sustainable ways to resuscitate the economy. An increase in the population, since political leadership has failed us, results in an increase in unemployment, crime rate, poverty and inadequate facilities.

“The establishment of systems where democratic principles abound and are upheld”, argued Strashbourg, “requires a civil society where the youths are predominantly the catalyst of a socio- political and economic culture attuned to democracy, liberty and freedom”. This reminds me of the Not Too Young to Run bill passed recently by the National Assembly.

Indulge me to say the future of this country, though bleak, pardon my calling it bleak,  lies in the hands of our youth; but because of their quality of their education, unpreparedness and cargo-mentality, they lack the prerequisite skills to run a political office effectively. Until our youth wake up from their daydreaming, shake off that extravagant, wishful thinking and take up responsibilities with changing circumstances, the country will continue to languish. Not my hope!

There is a clear indication that an increase in population, if not empowered by a committed leadership, results in high rate of unemployment, poverty and crimes to mention just a few. All this is because, perhaps, subsequent governments have no plan for the future which is fast approaching with its sharp projectiles.

Political leadership is a “permission to govern according to declared policies, regarded as officially granted by an electorate…upon the decisive outcome of an election” (Chambers dictionary, 1993). But unfortunately, the law that should have been an effective instrument of socio-economic and political changes and protector of the interest of the weaker section of the society has ended up a subject of mockery. Take for example the recent happenings in the parliament. A serving senator flanked by some hoodlums, so they called them – perhaps taking it after the former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, who used it as a weapon against his perceived enemies in 2013 – allegedly invaded the parliament and carted away the mace, which is the symbol of authority. Wonders, it is not about the structure which is made of mahogany, rather what it symbolizes, the context and the people involved.

“A leader”, argued John C Maxwell, “is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”. Gosh! Most of our leaders have undying contempt of the law. They, many analysts have suspected, arrogate all the powers to themselves, forgetting that the masses are the real power. How on earth an occupant of an established political position called a leader that should have imbibed moral principles and set up a good model for the followers to copy from exemplifies the opposite?  But when a responsibility-laden character chooses to misbehave one has nothing to say but as Thomas Carly claimed that, “Modern democracy has produced many fools who vote leaders into the parliament to palaver”.

Political behaviour as a theory has never made any attempts at admitting such misdemeanors into its fold. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but, leave him when he is wrong,” as an individual affected directly by the misdeeds of such leadership I will flag them down by giving them a very  low mark.

Perhaps this is what makes Bigger Thomas to say, when tired of mulling over his feelings, “God, I wish I had a flag and country of my own”; but at least here as there the mood will soon vanish, too, and everyone goes his own way.

Abdulyassar abdulhamid wrote in from Kano and can be reached at abdullahiyassar2013@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The North East Intellectual Entrepreneurship Fellows (NEIEF) and Countering Violent Extremism – Joy Mamudu

Terrorism is currently on the lips of Nigerians, and not as a random topic of discussion. It is a reality for citizens, especially in the North Eastern part of the country. From the first attack in 2009, the region has been plagued with attack after attack, leaving pain, anguish and destruction in its wake. Men, women, children, Christians and Muslims, no one has been spared the devastation by the insurgents under the auspices of Jam?’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jih?d, popularly known as Boko Haram. Amnesty International said in 2015 that Boko Haram had over 15, 000 soldiers fighting to create an Islamic Caliphate.

An increasingly resounding sentiment is that beyond the warfare staged by the military to reclaim captured towns, unearth and safely dispose of land mines and other improvised explosive devices, there is the ideological and mental warfare that is just as, maybe even more important, for two reasons.

The first reason revolves around the fact that these insurgents are the sons and daughters of the community, and are known to them. Stronger relationships between the communities and the security forces will build trust and help to generate greater intelligence.

The second reason focuses on recruitment of new insurgents online and offline, which Boko Haram seem to have had a lot of success with. The Nigeria Army, through its Director Army Public Relations Officer, Brig. General Sani Usman Kukasheka, revealed that Potiskum in Yobe state is the epicentre for recruitment, saying, “The Boko Haram terrorists group have always perfected survival tricks to continue their nefarious activities through enticement, deceit, concealment and outright propaganda.”

So, how does a country slow down or halt the recruitment of other misguided youth into what has become the most wanted terrorist group in the world?

Enter the North East Regional Initiative (NERI), an organisation sensitive to the debilitating problem of violent extremism and the growth of violent extremist groups in the Northeast. NERI believes in open discussions as a means of discouraging conversion and radicalisation by violent extremist groups.

Who else to lead these discussions and host conversations on building community and shunning the activities of insurgents than the members of the community themselves? This thinking led to the creation of the North East Intellectual Entrepreneurship Fellowship (NEIEF), a think-tank focused on countering violent extremism, promoting religious tolerance, dialogue and reintegration, as well as promoting support for gender and social inclusion. The NEIEF Fellows are concerned mainly with online practices that can significantly reduce, if not completely eviscerate the threat of violent extremist propaganda and campaigns across online networks.  Using the hashtag #NotAnotherNigerian, the Fellows host tweet chats and other social conversations but also opens spaces for youth to ask questions and debate along political or religious lines.

The NEIEF Fellows made a debut appearance at Social Media Week Lagos 2018, and sparked a lot of interest and engagement, especially with retinue of events scheduled for the week-long event drawing youth from different parts of the country and beyond. Attendees thronged all four events as issues of the North East were examined in great detail, and NEIEF Fellows shared live accounts of incidents encountered, provoking further conversations on solutions. A master class on Deploying Social Media to Counter Violent Extremism was particularly subscribed to thanks to the demographic of attendees at Social Media Week.

As we count down and eagerly anticipate the demobilization of the extremists and the rehabilitation of affected areas, there is a call to constant monitoring of young people to ensure that while we’re working to reduce the activities of one group, another isn’t silently breeding.

Open Letter To Supposedly Educated Nigerians, By Ogundana Rotimi

Dear Supposedly Educated Nigerians,

Permit me to talk to you on this subject matter that has been on my mind for a very long time, I strongly believe that no society can grow beyond the mentality of its supposedly educated class. I believe that if the educated class is liberated from the shackles and bondage of sycophancy and praise singing of its leadership, the supposedly uneducated class will consequently find its liberation.

As much as education grants the attainment of various academic degrees and accolades for various research works, it is more importantly a tool for freedom and liberation.  It is the key that opens and empowers the human mind with the ability to demand for ones right and stay demanding until such demands are achieved. Education empowers individuals to know their responsibilities as members of a society and what is/are needed from them. It also helps to make citizens know the roles of the government in a society and what is needed from them.

However, governments are put in place to serve the people. They are set up to improve the standard of living of the people- to provide security of lives and properties and to make attainable with ease the basic essentials of life – food, clothing, and shelter. These are the responsibilities of the government which are enshrined in the laws that govern every society.

Democracy- arguably one of the finest system of government, empowers every citizen to demand that government fulfill its responsibilities and further gives the citizens the absolute power to replace any government that defaults in carry out these responsibilities.

It is never the responsibility of the people to make silly excuses for government in justification for their failures.  Governments are put in place to get it right and when they do otherwise, it is incumbent on the people to get them replaced. But how would they be replaced, when those that should push for their replacement end up pushing for their continuity?  There are no amounts of excuses that can turn failure into success and make an incompetent leader becomes competent. Only performance can!

President Buhari and the APC- led government have been on the blame game and dishing out excuses as justification for their failures since assumption in office, but painfully, supposedly educated citizens who are expected to know better and lead the supposedly uneducated to demand for a fair deal, either knowingly or unknowingly, or as a result of greed and shamelessness fall for this cheap political defense displayed by the government.

Ironically, the same leadership that travels abroad at will- where it enjoys uninterrupted power supply, good road networks, reliable and efficient health system, dependable security, multiple infrastructures, amongst others, leaves Nigerians back at home with no provision of the above to meet their need. This on its own is not the biggest issue, but it is increasingly worrisome to see those that are left home, those that are meant to enjoy these facilities as a right enshrined in the constitution to end up displaying sycophantic behaviors instead of demanding for their rights.

The same leadership exposes all to danger but itself and the “ruling class”, yet those in danger turn around to sing their praises. There is something fundamentally wrong about this and the educated class should be blamed for it.

Make no mistake, while it is good to commend leadership whenever results are achieved, I mean results not just efforts; it is worthy to note that there is a thin line between commendation and sycophancy.

I have realized that educated Nigerians, too often than normal, fall into this trap of sycophancy in a bizarre attempt to commend the government for as little as efforts that are yet to achieve results and that may not even end up achieving any tangible result. You hear educated Nigerians, screaming “Sai Baba”, just for an intention to increase workers` wages, like how low could that be, or for signing the budget proposal into law, or for re-commissioning a project that had once be commissioned, and the likes.

It is quite pathetic that ours is a society of mediocrity backed up by sycophancy. This infamous synergy is a bane on any society in dire need of progress, growth and development.

It is understandable when supposedly uneducated folks engage in sycophantic behavior but how does one begin to explain this when such attitude is displayed by supposedly educated Nigerians that are meant to help sensitize the uneducated about their rights.

There is a thin line between rights and benefit just like I said earlier for commendation and sycophancy. It is incumbent on government to deliver the people’s right to them and also incumbent on the people to enforce its collection when necessary if it’s not gotten as at when due. But it is quite unfortunate that the reverse is the case today.

Instead for educated folks to take the lead in demanding for their rights and that of others from leadership, they take the lead in singing praises of leadership failures and even curve out excuses for it. No society develops like that!

Leadership is intrinsically swift to assume they have done enough for the people and then naturally goes on hibernation. However, it is the responsibility of its citizen, most especially the educated ones, to lead the demand for continuous improvement and more and better deal for all.

This is a wakeup call to all Nigerians especially the educated ones, if indeed Nigeria is to progress, we must refrain from the habit of complacency and sycophancy. No leader must be given that chance to think that the Nigerian people can be easily satisfied and cajoled by the words of mouth in the midst of multiple failed promises and a failing system. This responsibility lies in the hands of the educated- to lead the demand for a better society through continuous engagement with and questioning of leadership for a better deal and not through sycophantic praise singing of incompetent leadership and failure of governance.

 

God Bless Nigeria.

Ogundana Michael Rotimi, Socio-economic, & Political Commentator. He tweets @MickeySunny

 

2019: Nigeria’s Emerging Political Leaders, By Reuben Abati

A strong indication of both the quality and failure of politics in Nigeria, as the people look forward to the next general elections in 2019, is the manner in which virtually “every” Nigerian believes that he or she is good enough to be President of Nigeria. This may speak to a deepening of political consciousness, but it is also a reflection of the people’s anxiety and frustration about how the office and position of the President of Nigeria seems to have been mishandled and demystified.

The process of that demystification has taken different shapes and tones since the return to civilian rule in 1999, but now everything seems to have gone so bad, far beyond expectation.  My mechanic couldn’t have phrased this national dilemma better. He came to see me the other day, full of excitement.

“Oga, it’s you I have come to see oh.”  Typical Nigerian manner of speaking: you are right in front of me, and yet you still consider it necessary to announce your presence. Anyhow, I nodded affirmatively, already working out a response to a likely solicitation for money. It is school resumption time, and it is usual for people to go soliciting for help to pay children’s school fees in a country where basic education is so unaffordable.

“Oga, I have come to inform you that I am thinking of running for President.”  I thought the guy was talking about the Presidency of the Mechanics Village Association. So, I brightened up. No, he meant President of Nigeria. I removed my eyeglasses and dropped my pen.

“President of Nigeria? How? Look, have you been drinking?”

 “Oga, you know I am a Christian.  I don’t drink. I am serious oh. I have been thinking about it for a while. I can do a better job. The way these people are running Nigeria, some of us have good ideas about what can be done. If we leave this Nigeria to these politicians, they will finish all of us. Anybody that likes this country should get involved.”

I paid attention to him.

“Oga, look at me, I can do it.  We can do it. I have worked it out. By the grace of God, I will be the next President of Nigeria.”

I had known this mechanic for a while, but I never suspected he had very tall ambitions. I had not yet given him my honest opinion; he had already conscripted me. “We can do it”. We?  Every Nigerian politician is an optimist, and the most optimistic are often the ones who don’t even stand a chance at the polls.

I pretended to be interested all the same; so he continued with his campaign.

“Oga, you know me. Am I a lazy man? No. I am not.”  When people insist on answering their own questions the best you can do in the circumstance is to listen.

“What this country needs now is a mechanic, somebody who can take a look at a vehicle that is having problems, and fix it.  We mechanics do that every day. When they bring a car to you, first you diagnose. What is wrong with the car? Why is it not functioning well, and then you go straight to the problem and fix it.  Why can’t people fix Nigeria? If we mechanics were to behave like politicians, this whole country will be littered with broken down vehicles. In the hands of these politicians, Nigeria is broken. E be like say Nigeria don knock engine sef. I am the man who will fix that engine.”

“But nobody will give you any chance. Everybody will laugh and think you are joking.”

“I am not joking, Oga. What does it take to be President? I have done my homework. The only thing they are asking for is a WAEC certificate.  I have my certificate ready and I can produce it to prove that I completed secondary school.”

“How many credits?”, I asked, trying to humour him.

“INEC does not ask for five credits. Even F9 parallel sef can be President of Nigeria. No be Nigeria?”

“But you don’t have the resources. You’d need a lot of money.”

“Oga, it is not about money. And if it is money, God will provide. Our Pastor in our church has been praying for me and God is speaking to us. When I become President, I will declare free education, free health and there will no lazy youth in Nigeria again!”

“Why don’t you start at a lower level. may be local government chairman, gain some experience.”

“Ha. Oga, Experience has shown that in Nigerian politics you don’t need experience. Who has experience helped? All those former Governors in the National Assembly, what kind of experience do they have? In fact, let me just say a lot of them go there to sleep and collect free money, travel free. I have seen their pictures. They go there to sleep. When some thugs stormed the place to steal the Mace, not one of them could stand up and protect the Mace. Lazy Senators. Only a woman, a sergeant at arms was courageous enough to challenge the Mace thieves. When I am President, nobody will dare steal the Mace. It won’t happen.”

I felt like telling him that there has been too much drama over the significance of the Mace in our legislatures.  It is at best a ceremonial symbol.  For a session of the legislature to be valid under the 1999 Constitution what is required is a quorum as defined under Section 54, but of course the kind of criminal conduct that was put up at the Senate, last week, is condemnable and should be investigated and all authors of that act of impunity must be sanctioned accordingly. I didn’t say anything to him along these lines, rather I was more impressed by his passion, his determination to save Nigeria and arrest the drift.  I was also struck by the fact that he is not the only Nigerian with such passion. There have been many of his kind, now active on social media, promoting a vision of Nigeria and insisting that they would be better materials for 2019.

The number of these aspiring Presidents keeps increasing everyday and while I consider some of their posters a bit curious and the candidates a bit unusual, taken together, the shared anxiety about the Presidency and who is best fit to lead Nigeria beyond 2019 says a lot about public expectations.  There are online, video-tapes of a certain Aunty Monica, for example. She is based in Europe and she wants to come home to be President, to bring investment and tourism to the country, and she says she has “ideas in her head.” I have also seen such banners as “Vote Iya Bayo for president, Aunti Ramota for Vice President”, and “PFANN: A new refreshing wind blowing over the nation. Get ready. Elishama 2019.”

The names of a popular Fuji musician, Wasiu Alabi Pasuma, and that of the legendary footballer, Kanu Nwankwo have also been mentioned as potential Presidents of Nigeria. Neither Pasuma nor Kanu has confirmed their interest in the job.

But the social media is the forum where many ideas are hatched, and many of such ideas also die on social media, but what is said about public reality should not be ignored. Nigerians want what is now referred to as the #realchange. They are disappointed. They are angry.  There is also a growing resentment to the repeated claim by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Buhari’s handlers that there is no alternative to Buhari.  In a most recent article, Garba Shehu, a Presidential spokesperson asks what he considers “an important question”  – “who do you have that is better?.  Then he answers it himself; “…certainly there is no face (other than Buhari) that can be called the President of Nigeria.”  Garba Shehu even scoffs at the Coalition Movement that started a protest against the two leading political parties in Nigeria – APC and PDP, and asked for a one-term Buhari Presidency.  He says “a so-called Third Force has failed to gain political traction since its birth.”

My mechanic, Aunty Monica, Iya Bayo, Aunti Ramota, and Elishama – these are ordinary Nigerians- certainly disagree that only one man’s face is good for the Nigerian Presidency. They in fact believe that they will do a much better job. But perhaps the more significant development is the emergence of new faces on the political scene who are also keenly interested in rescuing Nigeria and whose declared starting point is the Presidency. I once described them as products of the Trudeau-Macron effect. Justin Trudeau, 46, became Prime Minister of Canada in 2015.  Emmanuel Macron, 39 assumed office as President of France in 2017.  There is also the current Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz – he is the youngest President in the world. He is 31.

An emerging group of Nigerian political leaders falls into this category: they are challenging current political orthodoxies; they are educated, they are internationally exposed, they can think out of the box and above all, they are united in their resolve that President Muhammadu Buhari is replaceable in 2019.  They equally pose a challenge to the traditional political elite, which so far is yet to make up its mind about presidential candidates or alternative platforms for the 2019 Presidential and general elections.  The usual tendency is to dismiss them as “noise makers and attention seekers”, but they probably constitute the real “Third Force” that will produce the traction that the Presidency is yet to see.

One newspaper has identified up to about 24 of these emerging “game changers”. There is Bukunyi Olateru-Olagbegi, 27 who has registered a political party – the Modern Democratic Party (MDP).  He is not running for President but the MDP could become a useful platform for youth mobilization and conscientization.

There is also Omoyele Sowore, 47, former students’ union leader, civil rights activist and founder of Sahara Reporters, an online newspaper.  For the past month or so, Sowore has been on the campaign trail, addressing students and civil society groups. He has also appeared on radio and television.  His main message is that Nigerian youth should “take back Nigeria” from those who have destroyed it.  He has in particular been very critical of the Buhari government. “I can run Nigeria better than Buhari in my sleep”, he says.

When a serving Minister, Adebayo Shittu told Sowore to go and start as a councilor, during a radio programme, Sowore held his ground. Kingsley Moghalu, 55, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), an author and a scholar, has also declared his interest in the Nigerian Presidency.  He is offering Nigeria, “bold and decisive leadership …something different … by a capable, experienced technocrat.” Like Sowore, Moghalu means business.

You also have Fela Durotoye, 47, a Presidential aspirant on the platform of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN).  Durotoye wants to rebuild Nigeria through visionary and inspirational leadership.  Alistair Soyode is the founder of BEN TV in the United Kingdom.  For years, he has been reporting Nigerian stories to the world and to Africans in diaspora. Like Sowore, he has also decided to become directly involved in Nigerian politics.

Other emerging aspirants include Professor Funmilayo Adesanya-Davies, 55 who says “power must go to women and the youth”; Sam Nwanti, an international detective, and a member of the Labour party, who wants to “fight crime and corruption”. Others include US-based Omololu Omotosho, Lewis Omike, a filmmaker and photographer, Dr. Thomas-Wilson Ikubese, 47, of the National Conscience Party, and 35-year old Adamu Garba II.

The temptation is to dismiss this category of aspirants as Minister Shittu has done, in part because they do not preach the message of religion, ethnicity and money, and they do not seem to have any Godfathers who can offer them existing structures in exchange for conditions of service.

Many of them may even throw in the towel before the actual race begins. The old brigade of  Nigerian politics is not in a hurry to retire, change tactics or yield space. People don’t become Presidents in Nigeria by merely pasting posters and social media messages or through sheer idealism. IN 2011, Dele Momodu, 51 at the time, tried to run for President. He has many stories to tell.

The Trudeau-Macron effect in our politics may still take a few more years. But it would be wrong to ignore what the new faces represent: a more deep-seated yearning for change among the youth and the middle class, and at least two of them: Sowore and Durotoye are already exercising much influence among the Nigerian youth, not just on social media but also across the educational institutions and the streets.

Osun West Senatorial District: Close To Two Decades Of Unfair Treatmeant, By Biodun Popoola

Osun, the Land of Virtue or Abode of Omoluabi as it is foundly called,has always fascinated world’s admiration for many good things. It is the cradle of the Yoruba people whose historical culture has transcended geographical boundaries over the years.

It is an abode to many cultural artifacts which have continued to entice foreigners, with a population of 3,432,535 people; and it is blessed with numerous untapped natural resources that can push the State with a quantum leap into the rightful position in the comity of states. Yet, an imbalance in the executive leadership of the State has facilitated its restricted walk to overall development which is worrisome .

Close to three decades of creating Osun State, the baton of governorship has often been exchanged between two main senatorial districts – Osun Central and Osun East. Osun West has for long been unduly marginalised in this regard. This unfair rotation in the leadership of the State has invariably affected her long walk to the path of transformational development. This is worrisome because the State has been denied the wealth of leadership expertise, intellectual strengths and strategic insight which the people of Osun West could have made in developing the State.

A cursory glance into history enlivens our conscience and broadens our perception on this  inequality. The powerful Ooni of Ife for about 50years (1930-1980), Oba Adesoji Aderemi was governor of Western Region from 1960-1962; he was an indigene of Ife, what later became part of Osun East Senatorial District. From 1979-1983, the late sage, Chief Bola Ige, was governor of old Oyo State. He was a native of Esa-Oke, Osun East Senatorial District; S.M Afolabi as his deputy and secretary was Chief Bisi Akande; who is from Ila Orangun, Osun Central Senatorial District.

When the State was created in 1991, late Sen. Isiaka Adeleke, a native of Osun West Senatorial District became the first elected civilian governor. However, his laudable plans to transform the State were short-lived as his 22-month administration was truncated by military junta. On the day his administration was arbitrarily ended, the sky wept heavily and the sun refused to smile at the earth for several days; while the trees in the Osun-Oshogbo Sacred groove wore a countenance of sadness and dissatisfaction. It was a day of unprecedented unhappiness in the State.

Close to a decade later, Chief Bisi Akande became the governor again; with Sen. Iyiola Omisore as deputy; the latter being a man from Ife, Osun East Senatorial District. Even though Chief Akande lost his reelection bid, one would have thought that fairness would come to play by allowing another astute leader from Osun West to govern the State.

But no, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola from Okuku, Osun Central Senatorial District succeeded him and governed the State from 2003-2010; while his deputy Mrs. Olusola Obada, came from Ilesa, Osun East, the same Senatorial District with the current governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. It should be borne in mind that even Aregbesola’s deputy, Mrs. Titi Laoye-Tomori comes from Osogbo, Osun Central Senatorial District.

This foregoing catalogue of Osun governors with their respective chronological duration reveals that for the 242 months for which Osun State has been governed under democratic dispensations, Osun West Senatorial District has only led for 22 months. This clearly brings to the fore that the Senatorial District has been too marginalised. And when marginalization thrives, overall development becomes threatened.

In actual fact, this marginalization has led to inequality in the distribution of essential amenities and services to the people. This inequality has resulted in impaired growth of the State’s economy; which has manifested in the under-ulitilisation of abundant natural and human resources in the State. Sadly, should this uneven trend continue the inhabitants of Osun West Senatorial District will continue to lag behind due to lack of infrastructural developments.

The American businessman and writer, Max De Pree appears to have dined in Osun State when he counseled the people thus: “We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Osun State is in dire need to jettison this partial rotation of state power between the Central and East Senatorial Districts by voting en masse any reputable, tested and trusted leader from Osun West Senatorial District. It is no gainsaying that the time has come to change the status quo lest we continue to recycle the same ideas that have governed the State over the years.

Essentially, economic prosperity, grass-root development and impactful projects through exploration of available resources and involvement of the citizens are necessary ingredients to propel governance in Osun State to the desirable status. Therefore, should the good people of Osun State leave the extant unfair rotation of power between the Central and East Senatorial Districts, they will be consciously directing their path to sustainable success in the State. After all, Bill Copeland could not be more apt when he opined that “You’ve removed most of the roadblocks to success when you know the difference between motion and direction.”

It appears only the contenders from Osun West Senatorial District for the gubernatorial seat have demonstrated the foresight and readiness to expedite the State’s progressive development. Hence, it is a great opportunity for the citizens not to look elsewhere in the coming election; because when opportunity meets preparation, success is certain.

The sun has risen from the East with its rays becoming visible at the Central horizon; but those who feel its impacts may never enjoy it because it is only in the West they can find succor from the scorching sun. And when the sun refuses to set in the West, there will be eclipse which could plunge people into a pervasive state of apathy. It is time Osun West brings the desired succor to the good people of Osun State.

Vision begins with one person, but it is only accomplished through the coordinated efforts of many people. The virtuous people of Osun State have been known with dignity and courage; a people whose conscience and soul cannot be bought with ephemeral gains; and can never be intimidated with threats and violence.

Therefore, as the race to Government House in Osogbo continues to gather momentum, the people and importantly, the progressives must embrace fair play by allowing the next governor to come from Osun West Senatorial District. Our aspiration for a greater Osun State will surely be realised when its pursuit is hinged on fairness, hope and equal sense of belonging in governance. Let’s not always forget Abraham Lincoln’s wisdom, that “As our case is new, we must think and act anew.”

You can also click to watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfJiMTB6dIM

Biodun Popoola for Coalition of Osun West Youths.

Buhari’s 2019 Bid And Matters Arising, By Garba Shehu

The country is gearing itself up for the General Elections in February next year and with President Muhammadu Buhari announcing that he will bid for the governing Party, APC’s ticket to run fo a second term, all hell has been let loose by the chaotic, ill-prepared opposition camp.

A joke on WhatsApp last week was about the abuse and insults heaped on Muhammadu Buhari, attacking him for everything wrong with the country but failing to answer an important question: who do you have that is better?

In democracies around the globe, second terms by incumbents are usually harder to get simply because, somehow, there is always some kind of anti-incumbency leading to a loss of faith among those supporters.

For President Buhari, who won with massive votes in 2015, his major challenge is to do as well as he did, or even better. He came to power with a lot of expectations and Nigerians had, justifiably placed very high hopes on him. As we said sometimes back, he as a consequence, has became a victim of the tyranny of expectations. The weight of unrealistic expectations has evidently blinded many of the people from seeing the revolutionary changes happening across the nation.

Nigerians expected him to undo the damage in several decades of misgovernance and naturally, many are already feeling frustrated that he hadn’t done that in three years.

The problem with our opposition is that beyond fault-finding, they are unable to give or innovate a vision of their own on how they can make the nation better.

A so-called Third Force has failed to get political traction since it birth. This is understandable, given that they have promised to give the country everything that is new but have so far produced no new faces, no new ways of doing things. Certainly, there is no face that can be called the President of Nigeria.

For the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP parading itself on the glory of being the largest opposition, the party has not less than 10 leaders acutely ambitious to rule Nigeria. It will take them minimally two to three terms of presidential tenure, that is eight to twelve years to reinvent the party.

Looking at the entire opposition landscape, it can be said that they cannot be united by ideology, the type that made the pre-2015 opposition fuse into a formidable challenger that pushed an incumbent out of office. There is in no way therefore, they can choose leaders with unanimity.

What then they have taken to, is scaremongering by fanning ethnic and religious divisions among the minorities especially in the Middle Belt where hundreds of innocent citizens are confronted with violent death.

Before they take the words out of my mouth, let me state that the spate of those killings are tragic and unacceptable. They ought not happen and I’am aware of how sad the Presidency is about these unfortunate goings-on. And there is so much that is being done to end the killings.

More, however, could still have been achieved if there is cooperation extended to the security agencies by everyone, and by everyone, I mean especially the political opposition. A political warlord recently ordered the provocative stoning of a Nigerian Air Force personnel as their chopper landed in a Northeastern state.

Today, government has irrefutable evidence that much as most of these killings are arising from herdsmen-farmers attacks, some of it is driven by politicians. The recent arrests by the army in Taraba State point to a clear political sponsorship, and the kingpins, some of whom have been arrested have been handed over to the DSS for further investigation. Others who are being sought have either gone into hiding or they are pulling strings of blackmail to force the hands of government to abandon the search for them.

It is clear by now that the Middle Belt killings even if they are not caused by the opposition are no doubt seen as a political opportunity to set the tone for the 2019 elections.

Another matter of great disappointment is the ongoing attempt to victimize a group of religious leaders, the Arewa Pastors Initiative for Peace, representing 45,000 members, simply because they paid a visit to President Buhari. We see this development as an unnecessary distraction at a time the country should be united against its common problems and challenges.

We are both mystified and disturbed by the growing lack of tolerance and accommodation by some groups who see it as their birth right to visit and address the President on their issues but lack the modicum of respect for others to do the same. It is regrettable that an innocuous visit is becoming a subject of needless and unprintable attacks on the President and his visitors for doing nothing wrong.

For the avoidance of doubt, the President would not want to set a dangerous precedent for the country by discriminating against any group exercising their democratic rights of freedom of speech and association.

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo told the tale of the toad at the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu Colloquium recently in Lagos.
“Let’s discuss tails,” the toad was told. It, not having a tail, the toad said, “no, let’s talk about other things.”

Rather than coming to the table to discuss what has been achieved or not in key areas of policy, the conversation is today limited to one, the morbid tale of the relationship between farmers and herders.

Sad as these incidents involving farmers and herdsmen are, I wonder what the result will be if half the newsprint and airtime devoted to this is used to draw attention to malaria which kills 300,000 Nigerians every year; the 88,000 malnourished children and the 230,000 malnourished, pregnant women in the northeast, a quarter of whom the UNICEF said would most likely not make it.

An important motivation for President Buhari’s bid for second term is that the gains made from 2015 should not be frittered. Buhari is not involved in corruption and is not desperate for the office. He is among the few leaders we have who are not obsessed with money, cars and homes but working passionately for the country’s economy, peace and safety. If a corrupt politician wins, we will go back to where we were in 2015.

Many by now have forgotten where we are coming from. The daily bomb blasts in our cities between 2012 and 2015 including the deadly attack on the United Nations office in Abuja have been forgotten by many. The Juma’at Mosque bomb attack on Kano that left 300 dead and the theft of 270 girls in Chibok as they assembled to write their final exams, with 113 yet to return have for many, faded into history.

We lived in perpetual fear. I remember the story of the roadside Mosque in one settlement in which a black plastic bag was noticed by the congregation as the Imam led in prayer. The entire congregation fizzled out, the Imam realizing that he was left alone only from the eerie air of silence after everyone had quietly left.
Today, religious gatherings and crowded markets have resumed. Witnesses reported that Abuja and Kaduna witnessed the largest simultaneous assembly of people when the Tijjaniyya Islamic movement celebrated their Maulud a week ago without the fear of bomb blasts.

Cabinet meetings are now about how trillions of Naira are to be used to provide long delayed infrastructure such as roads, bridges, railway, power, drugs and equipment for hospitals. Grand corruption, by which ministers sat around the table to share money drawn from the treasury has been ended.

A majority of our people are farmers who depend on good rains, access to land and fertilizer to grow the food they eat and sell the surplus to make money for school fees for their children and where possible, add a wife or two and make the Hajj or other plans. This administration has broken the jinx of fertilizer shortage and its high cost and has put land clearing for agriculture on a priority. Loans at low or no interest rates are being given by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Bank of Agriculture, the Bank of Industry and the Development Bank. It will take years to raise our rising population from poverty. Even in China, with the world’s fastest growing economy, this, still, is a work in progress.

The administration is doing so much for women, children and our enterprising youths. This is the first time anyone has given our country a social welfare scheme.
By it, 7.5 million children are served free meals in schools. This has improved school attendance. Two Hundred thousand graduates are now enrolled in N-Power, and 300,000 have just passed screening in the biggest, most audacious employment scheme on the continent. Our youths have a lot of ideas and many who need support, mentoring and guidance under the various schemes under the Social Investment Programme of the government are getting help.

Three years on, the economy has seen a paradigm shift with agriculture getting a pride of place. We are importing 90 percent less rice than we did three years back. The World Bank has certified Nigeria as being one of the top ten most improved economies in the world. Power ministry has done commendably well, raising generation from an average of 2,600 megawatts to 7,500 mw.

Today, each state has a minimum of between one to five federal roads under construction or reconstruction. Some have as many as eight or nine. The legendary second Niger Bridge is by now 44 percent complete, putting to shame the many years of platitude and lies by several past administrations.
With the advent of the Buhari administration, foreign policy has become robust. Nigerian enjoys a good reputation in West Africa, Africa and the world.

What this government is doing is different and the results are showing, for example:

Ø Reversing the decline which began in 2014 and stabilizing the economy for Nigerians.

Ø Recovery of stolen national assets.

Ø Economic restructuring for the growth of private sector as the best solution to unemployment.

Ø Demonstrable infrastructure improvement: roads, power and energy

Ø Re-establishment of collaborative working relationship between the President and the Vice President as model of how Northern/Southern, Muslim/Christian, Older/Younger Nigerians can and should work together.

The thing about Second Term in all political climes is that voters must have a practical reason to vote for someone. President Buhari has not given anyone an excuse not to choose him on this count. His is an administration that has something for everyone.

Supporters who talk about a noticeable loss of faith by some must note that there is nothing permanent in politics. Many of the allies will, in pursuit of power, come back to the APC, being the party with superior power.

The party did extremely well in the North to come to power and every indication is that in 2019, it will do in the South, what it did in the North in 2015.

By the way, did anyone notice the poll on who to choose in 2019 by a young man, Mark Essien @markessien on Twitter? Buhari supporters need to read that to cheer up!

Garba Shehu, is the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity)

April 22, 2018

Kwara 2019: Why Ali Ahmad Deserves The Job, By Kehinde Abdulsalam

Leadership, they say is the capacity to translate vision into reality. The closest I have ever been to Honourable Ali Ahmad, one of the governorship hopeful and current speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly was in 2017 in Abuja.

I was assigned to cover a public lecture (Professor Epiphany Azinge Annual Lecture) and behold, the man Ali Ahmad was one of the guest speakers. He delivered a lecture titled: The Legislature in Emerging Democracies; Challenges and Prospects.

I was not only awestruck by the depth he went to exhaust the content of the paper, I was amazed that a politician could take me back to class with rapt attention.

I did a further research about him after the lecture, I then realized Ahmad is not only gifted intellectually but he’s as well imbued with capacity to translate vision into reality.

The success stories of today’s Administration of Criminal Justice Act is unarguably the brain child of Ahmad. The ACJA, as described by the former chief Justice of Nigeria, Aloma Mukhtar is a revolution in Nigeria Criminal Justice Administration.

The 480-clause of the ACJA sponsored by Ahmad successfully repealed the erstwhile Criminal Procedure Act which applied in the South and the Criminal Procedure Code which held sway in the North.

The ACJA is no doubt promoting efficient management of criminal justice institutions, speedy   dispensation   of justice, protection   of the society   from crime and   protection of the rights and interests of the suspect,   the defendant,   and the victim”.

How well could you describe man reputed to be the Number 1 legislator who sponsored the highest number of Bills in the 7th Assembly?

His relentless efforts and passion for vibrant legislation for the good of the downtrodden saw him being elected as Speaker of theKwara State House of Assembly on June 8, 2015.

Since his assumption of office as speaker, the Kwara State House of assembly has displayed unprecedented vibrancy in the quality of its Motions, Bills, Resolutions and overall legislation.

The House under his leadership engaged in strategic interventions in burning State matters including those involving the Labour and Students and all were resolved to the applause of Kwarans.

Notable among his interventions include:-

Donation of food items to NUT and NULGE during the non-payment of salary crisis.

He interfaced with the Executive for the release of N1Bn from Paris Club Refund for payment of Teachers’ salary.

He advocated for removal of Primary school Teachers’ salary from Local Government.

He advocated for takeover of payment of Basic School Teachers’ salary by the State Government.

He Intervened in Labour-Government faceoff over payment for Training by State Civil Servants.

As the Chairman Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly, he facilitated the passage of the Not Too Young To Run bill which seeks to reduce the age limit for running for elected office in Nigeria.

Facilitated the bill which suspend the payment of pension to former Governor and Deputy Governor.

He ensured the passage of the people with disabilities bill, which seeks to strengthen the right and privilege of the physically challenged in the State.

Ensure the passage of the bill which seeks to prohibit unlawful dealing in Human parts.

As Kwarans look forward to who will mount the saddle of leadership come 2019, of course the selection process of APC flagbearer may not be an easy one owing to some certain factors, but it is imperative to state that competence and purposeful leadership are needed at this time to lay solid foundation for economic prosperity and challenges ahead.

The State need a passionate leader with a robust way of looking at the entire facets of the state, so that at the end of the day, no sector will be left unattended to.

A leader that will hold the view that only a strong economy can give our people what they want by making life more abundant and generating employment for its teeming youths.

A leader that will look at the state’s potential and grow it without waiting for allocation from Abuja before delivering on dividends of democracy to the people.

A leader who will offer al-Amaanah (the trust and moral responsibility or honesty) and accepts all the commands and prohibitions with the conditions attached.

Dr Ali Babatunde Ahmad is the most qualified Kwaran at this time we can trust the affairs of State with, won’t you rather support him?
Kehinde Abdulsalam Writes from Abuja
He can be reached via e-mail: arkehinde@gmail.com and on Twitter @arkehinde11

Chibok Girls And Doomsday Prophecies, By Aliyu Abdullahi

A good journalist uses his power to influence correctly, since content is created by people and not some stoic, perfectly impartial, and unbiased entity, there will inevitably be those that will act selfishly and impede the divulgence of the truth, a journalist can act selfishly and unpatriotic, some might use their pen to leverage human emotions that elicit strong reactions, for the purpose of benefiting  themselves and their publications, and it is precisely because of the influential nature of journalism that we need good journalists in this Country.

As Edward Bernays said “Small groups of persons can, and do, make the rest of us think what they please”. Such is the power that a Journalist hold, the defenders of the fourth estate of the realm.

Over the last weekend exactly 4 years to the abduction of the famous Chibok Girls by the dreaded Boko Haram Sect, A journalist, Ahmed Salkida displayed such power whether positively or negatively when he made some startling revelations through his Tweeter Handle about the current status of the remaining Chibok Girls in an attempt burst the bubble and as he claimed “for the Parents of the abducted girls to know the truth”, his revelations raised more questions than answers, he claimed that out of about 113 remaining girls still in captivity, only 15 are alive so far as most of them were killed during the several bombardment of the terrorist cell by the Nigerian Armed Forces over time, he went further to state that even the 15 that are alive have since been married off and the difficulty to secure their release from the Boko Haram leadership absent negotiation from their terrorist spouses, the later claim is a notorious fact to us.

The Government through the Presidential Spokesperson, Mallam Garba Shehu and the Military Command has since came out to refute such claims from Ahmed Salkida majorly because he was not privy to the ongoing negotiations and efforts on the release of the girls which the Nigerian Government has been doing through credible third parties which involves International Organizations among other players.

Now, the questions on my mind and I am sure to the rest of many Nigerians particularly the parents of the remaining girl are, is  it logically possible for Ahmed Salkida to come out with such certainty without entertaining any doubts whatsoever about the number of the girls that died and those that are alive when we have heard from the freed girls that these girls were divided among several factions of the Boko Haram Cell, is it even possible for one of the factional Leaders to have such knowledge absolutely, and could Ahmed Salkida’s real or perceived connection to the terrorist group provides better and superior intelligence than that of the Nigerian State along other Countries that are helping on the intelligence front such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, and the Lake Chad Countries among others, with all their level of intelligence sophistication?

On the claim that the girls were killed from bombardment, was it not the caution and risk assessment by the Nigerian Military that made the use of force in securing their release almost a non starter to pursue as we were informed several times the Government knew where the Girls were located but it was too risky to plan a rescue operation hence the pursuit of the option of negotiations through credible third parties that has since yielded result when over 80 of the Chibok Girls were released by this same Government that Ahmed salkida claimed has killed the girls from Military operations. Not forgetting President Muhammadu Buhari’s position on this as he had often said, the priority of his Government was to secure the release of the Girls alive, safe and sound.

Did Ahmed salkida consider even for a moment that his actions could jeopardize the ongoing negotiations for the release of the remaining girls even if there were only 15 of them left as he claimed, why could not he share his concerns with the Government in order not to endanger the lives of many others the Government was trying to secure?

What about hope? Did Ahmed Salkida consider the parents of these girls that are being tethered by the tiniest rope of hope and what his revelations could do to them in hearing such information with an air of authourity and finality from him? What about the Bring Back Our Girls (#BBOG) Campaign that comes out in their large number for a daily sit out to demand the return of the girls, did he wanted them to stop by giving up hope? What about the Millions of Nigerians praying fervently for the return of the Girls, should we all give up and accept Ahmed Salkida’s weekend tweet as the gospel truth and continue to go about our business as life goes on? Are we not entitled to our hopes, miracles, and above all trust in a government that has not lied to us about their efforts in release of all persons under the captivity of Boko Haram Terrorists?

Is the Government not entitled to some benefits of doubt on this matter especially as they have delivered over and over on this promise when over 80 of the Chibok Girls were released and of recent 105 out of the 110 Dapchi Girls also released through the Government’s efforts, should not we as citizens trust in them, and as Journalists, shouldn’t we support the Government’s effort by passing over to them any relevant intelligence we might have gathered through our sources to aid their decision making process, or should scoring points, limelight and attention seeking dictate our ethics and professionalism as journalists?

Let us now speak to the motives of Ahmed Salkida, what did he hoped to gain by this revelation, considering his accounts of events are best described as hearsay in a legal parlance, not one of these events happened in his presence, so how absolutely sure can one be when you are reporting events that did not happen in your presence? Some could argue that Ahmed Salkida was looking for a payback for not being part of the Government’s negotiating team, or is it a case of a weekend spotlight, or perhaps some political undercurrent is at play especially in a time like this when we are approaching an election as a Country, but I want to give him benefit of doubt by thinking this is the case of an overzealous Journalist that stepped beyond the realm of professionalism in trying to be the society’s watchdog.

A good journalist uses his powers to influence correctly…

*Aliyu Abdullahi is a Lawyer and a Journalist, and can be reached on his twitter handle @AliyuAbdullahA

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