DG NIA, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar: Quite A Good Choice Mr. President, By Maiwada Dammallam

When CIA Boss, Mike Pompeo quipped: “It’s an incredible privilege to lead the men and women who are providing intelligence so that we can do the national security mission, and in the finest tradition of the CIA, I’m not going to say a damn thing in front of the media”, he certainly didn’t have Nigeria in mind but, he certainly captured the Nigerian situation aptly at least, going by the media campaign against the newly appointed NIA Boss, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.
Nigeria is a peculiar country where people consistently believe things could work better in reverse than normal. It’s quite normal in Nigeria to see people working hard to squeeze water out of stone to quench their thirst while sitting by a riverside. Perhaps, this funny reversed intelligence could explain the proclivity of Nigerians to resist a ‘normal good’ in favour of their ‘reversed good’ (call it bad at your own peril).
Nothing explains this phenomenon more than the recent appointment of an accomplished intelligence officer, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, to head the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). Going by the uproar that greeted Abubakar’s appointment one could think President Buhari just went outside regular procedure and appointed Boko Haram’s Abubakar Shekau to manage the elitist Intelligence Agency. If that’s not enough, one could think President Buhari rolled Diezeni and Jide Omokore in one and appointed the deadly result DG, NIA.
Funnily, when sifting through the tons of literature deployed to not only pull Abubakar down but bury him under, the clearest thing one could pick is the fact that most authors of the venomous literatures doesn’t even know the highly professional, meticulous and well respected gentleman. Not even the fact that Abubakar twice passed the quality test of President Buhari, a man whose integrity and patriotic sense of duty is about the only thing Nigerians ever have a general consensus, could make the Abubakar narratives any saner. Abubakar was first appointed Senior Special Assistant to the President before being elevated to the enviable position of the NIA Director General.
So, who is Ahmed Rufai Abubakar? He was born in Kofar Durbi area of Katsina Metropolis right in the heart of the old city into a respected family of Quranic scholars. As was – and still is – the tradition in Northern Nigeria and indeed, West Africa, Quranic scholarship took his uncle Republic Chad and he took young Abubakar with him where he was partly brought up. Keeping to the tenets of the closely knitted family, Abubakar later married his cousin, the daughter of his uncle – Alhaji Ali KD.
On his return to Nigeria, Abubakar attended Arabic Teacher’s College, Katsina where he obtained his Grade II Certificate. He later went to Bayero University Kano where he obtained a B.A degree in French Language and Literature, and an M.A degree in Francophone Maghrebian Literature. He worked as a Lecturer at Bayero University before taking up appointment with Katsina State Goverment. Later he transferred his services to NIA in the 90s.
At different times the well groomed Abubakar served at Nigeria Embassy Rabat, Morocco, African Union Peace Mission in Darfur, Sudan and later joined United Nations as Director in Peace Support Operations, Mediation Process, Preventive Diplomacy and Good Governance office. He also worked as Senior Adviser with the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), with headquarters in Ndjamena, Chad before his appointment as Senior Special Assistant to the President. The added advantage of fluency in English, French and Arabic made Abubakar a versatile intelligence officer whose contributions to the growth of Nigeria’s Intelligence community could not be over-emphasised.
Abubakar had it so good and might have sail through to the end smelling like a rose flower but for the ‘misfortune’ of being noticed and appointed by President Buhari to occupy one of the most sought after officer in Nigeria’s administrative architecture. But for being appointed the substantive DG of the NIA, his narrative could be a permanent topic in career guidance and moral counselling. His impressive career should call for celebration anywhere in the world but Nigeria where success is a an unforgivable ‘sin’.
Interestingly all the attacks against Abubakar could easily be accepted as attacks provoked by envy and crashed ambitions of colleagues hence, the blind shots that could easily ricochets and cause more damage to the attackers than the attacked. For instance, is it not obvious that by trying to pull down Abubakar most of the sponsored literature only succeeded in denting the image of the respectable NIA? They argued foolishly that Abubakar is a dual citizen of Nigeria and Chad for the simple reason that part of his childhood was spent in Chad under the care of his uncle, a Nigerian Islamic scholar who could be said to be on Islamic diplomatic mission to Chad at the time. How much of this line of foolish thought rub on the children of many diplomats working under the NIA born in diaspora while their parents were legitimately working to protect the integrity of Nigeria? Is this saying that these ‘diplomatic children’ could never aspire or rise to achieve the pinnacle of their career if they chose to serve the NIA simply because they were born and brought up in foreign lands?
To me, it’s an added advantage in the circle of intelligence to be versatile and thoroughly exposed. By the way, it’s a rule that candidates for employment with the NIA must be vetted before being employed. It’s also a rule that such candidates must be 100% undiluted Nigerians. Were these rules waived for Ahmed Rufai Abubakar just so that one day President Buhari should appoint him DG NIA? I like table tennis but I don’t like when it’s played with brains of dunderheads for the pleasure of irreversible pessimists. NIA is structured to be practically impossible to compromised.
It’s human for those who lost out to Abubakar to be angry and disappointed but, it shouldn’t go beyond the limit of decent expression of disappointment to cross into the field of insanity. We may talk all the talk scripted to release bottled up anger caused by crashed hopes, dreams and expectations of contenders to the throne but, it shouldn’t escape us that the victim of any expressed anger is more the NIA than the man appointed to supervise it for a period. Abubakar was appointed based on track record and suitability. He fits President Buhari’s agenda to restore and secure Nigeria’s integrity.
NIA as a sensitive agency critical to this ambition need more than sentimental considerations to be positioned appropriately to execute this agenda. The earlier stakeholders get used to this idea, the better the chances of restoring the lost dignity of NIA which suffered a serious assault recently from people vested with the responsibility of taking it to the next level. We should be thankful to the President for his clear effort to restore confidence to the agency.
May Allah guide Ahmed Rufai Abubakar through a successful and blissful tenure.

The Nexus Between Climate Change And Herdsmen Crisis in Nigeria, By Chiagozie Udeh

Climate change is not ranked among the five top causes of conflict in Nigeria, namely, Tribalism, Resource Control, Religion, Land and Trade.  But that reality has been altered.  The past thirty-six months has been fiercely violent for several Nigerian States that experienced rampaging Fulani herdsmen killing many subsistent farmers, who defend their farms from grazing herds.

Variants of causative factors have been proffered for the visceral violence, but not the nexus between herdsmen migration southwards and the effects of climate change.  Herdsmen for whom cattle is a source of livelihood and wealth, have killed approximately 1000 Nigerians. Myetti Allah (the umbrella body of the herdsmen) in characterizing the violence as self-defense, seem to justify the killings. Analysts can’t help but ask; is the government really tackling the problem?

Having lived in Southeastern Nigeria for the past two decades, I have never witnessed a more turbulent time than the past three years. This is not to suggest that live has always been smooth, but we have hitherto enjoyed relative peace. Now, our farms are under attack, our children and women are the most vulnerable to attacks by Fulani herdsmen, who would rather kill humans than risk losing their cattle to hunger.

The Fulani herdsmen are nomadic and habitually migratory. They move from north to south annually, with their cattle in search of grazing fields. The movement is seasonal. Now with climate change, the movement pattern has been markedly altered.   Due to expansive desertification, drought and unchecked deforestation in northern Nigeria, the herdsmen naturally seek greener pasture southward.

As the resultant migration has intensified, so too has violent clashes over grazing lands between local farmers in the south and pastoral herdsmen, whom the former accuse of wanton destruction of  their crops and forceful appropriation of their lands.  The emerging conflict is compounded further by the shrinking of Lake Chad from 45,000km2 to 3000km2 in less than three decades. The consequence according to the United Nations, is the displacement of about 10.5 million people. It’s a combination of these factors that have pushed herders from the north-eastern Nigeria, the region closest to Lake Chad, to the southern parts of the country.

Paradoxically, the spiraling rise in killings by the Fulani herdsmen coincides with the assumption of office by President Muhammadu Buhari- also a Fulani- who may be standing for reelection in 2019.  In the two and half years that the Buhari administration has been in power, over 50 percent of the casualties recorded have been in the south-east and north-central geographical regions.  Farming communities in Benue, Kogi, Taraba and Nassarawa in north-central and Enugu, Abia and Anambra in the south-east have incurred the highest casualties.

It’s confounding that government’s response has ignored climate change, as the source of conflict exacerbating the herdsmen grazing crisis.  Historically, indeed, since the existence of Nigeria, the Fulani herdsmen have grazed their herds customarily in the north and intermittently in other areas; but incremental drought with resultant desert encroachment forced them to regularly look southwards for greener grazing areas.

As Mary Ikande observed in an article published on naij.com, “with regard to precipitation at the coastline, the eastern part records 430cm, the western region records 180cm, the center of Nigeria records 130cm, the upper north is the driest zone and records only about 50cm”.

These statistics, which merely confirm pre-existing academic research on rainfall patterns in Nigeria, point to the underlying problem. According to an International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) publication released in November 2017, “over 80% of Nigeria’s population depends on rain-fed agriculture leading to a high risk of food production system being adversely affected by the variability in timing and amount of rainfall.”

With the rising attacks, most Nigeria States have enacted anti-grazing laws that makes grazing in open field or farms a punishable offense. Whereas such measures have doused the tension in some affected States, in places like Benue State, it has failed.  The 2018 New Year day herdsmen attack resulted in the gruesome murder of 73 people in rural Benue communities. The attacks occurred despite the extant anti-grazing law Benue State government had enacted which prohibited indiscriminate and open field grazing.

The Herdsmen had vowed not to obey the law. The Federal Government’s response has been lethargic and its reactions, if any, has always been the deployment of security operatives to troubled spots. There has been no serious effort by the government to tackle the effects of climate change as ancillary to the crisis.

In developed and some developing countries, cattle herds are ranched with provisions made on growing their choice species of grasses. Nigeria can ill-afford not to do the same. Ranching has been widely recognized as a solution, but entrepreneurs are reluctant to take advantage. The onus is on the government to take the first step and introduce policies that will make ranching attractive such as effective ban on open grazing, easy access to land, improved species of grasses and compulsory inter-state transportation of cows by trucks.  This will also create thousands of green jobs for unemployed youths.

Intensifying the pace of the Great Green Wall project (a reforestation plan for sub-saharan Africa to fight desertification by planting trees at desert prone areas), in the 11 northern pilot States, where it is meant to take place is now imperative. Implementation of that project will help return green vegetation to the north.

Nigeria also need to quicken her adaptation measures on climate change (plans to tackle the effects of climate change) from vision to actions. It is distressing that Nigeria is not yet a member of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF)- a 43 nation group of most vulnerable countries that negotiate as a bloc at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

It speaks to the lethargy that characterize such issues of great importance. Joining the CVF will give Nigeria the opportunity for knowledge-sharing with countries facing similar challenges. Benefits from what the group is able to negotiate, will be bonus.

Nigeria can’t escape or ignore the impact of the climate change cause-and-effect relations to the herdsmen crisis without risking a worsening situation. The best way to tackle climate change problems is to approach them with the aim to explore the opportunities they present to empower people. In a country with terrifying unemployment numbers, this moment should be seized to avert naturally-induced crisis becoming politically explosive.

Chiagozie Udeh is a Climate Change Policy Research Associate at Selonnes Consult Ltd.

Perspective On The Benue Security Conundrum, By Thompson Udenwa

People seem not to have critically examined the issues and gotten the feel on the ground: While not exonerating the parties here, it is rooted basically in politics, and the competition for resources.

Sen. Barnabas Gemade, the former party chairman of the PDP, Senator David Mark, and former Governor Gabriel Suswam all have connections to this. Being once members of the same political family, they previously jointly controlled the State as if it were their personal estate.

What we are seeing in Benue had shown its head in Rivers (where the Odili children, after parting ways began controlling different militia/ cult groups.) Former Governor, Suswam who hails from Loko, has a vicious militia; Governor Ortom from Goma, also has his own fiery militia – they all once had an understanding on the control of the Zaki Biam Yam Market, where about 200 to 300 Million Naira worth of business takes place daily. When ex-Governor Suswam and Governor Ortom parted ways, the first victim of the separation was the yam market. Both of them unleashed their militia in the bid to gain control over the market, this has thus been the kernel behind the increase in militia activities and proliferation of weapons across the state.

On the other end is the very firm but now benign militia, run by Paul Unungo, this militia extends up to the Cameroons. Paul Unongo is perceived to be with the government of the day and thus the militia is remarkably quiet.

There is no part of Nigeria that has the highest number of independent militias like we have in Benue State. It is the State with the highest number of ex-Service men.

From these, we can see the battle for the control of the State.

Benue has 23 Local Governments; it is the only state in the country whose budget bill for salaries is 90% of its income. The inherent problems of this, and the fact that salaries have not been paid for the past 9 months, are underlying causes of some of the conflicts we are witnessing.

There is the allegation that some of the attacks are being carried out by militia from Nassarawa state. Those arrested yesterday said they were given the guns by the Benue State Government.

A curious BBC interview on Tuesday reported that a 69year old Benue State indigene claimed that they have on their routes Fulani settlements that equally have their cattle there, and that they have not seen any herdsmen attack their lands.

The militias, as mentioned above, recruit mercenaries, some of these mercenaries are Fulanis – not particularly herdsmen.

It is important to note that the Miyetti Allah are split along political lines – some loyal to the previous administration, of which the former Commander in Chief is their Life Patron, some loyal to the present administration, others loyal to various political overlords in the country.

The conflict is multi-faceted, and largely a resource based conflict – populations have expanded, herders, farmers, etc. The appropriation of land has also formed a problem – as routes for the passage of cattle have been appropriated. And new ones have not taken off.

Governor Ortom, without proper consultation, implemented an anti-open grazing law. While saying the herders must ranch, adequate provision for the elements of ranching have not been made, such as water. Ranching is by its nature a capital intensive venture. You cannot expect people who live subsistent lives to ranch.

Dr Thompson Udenwa

It is unfortunate that the crisis is also being made to look like a religious crisis – this has been observed from the CAN President’s recent releases.


Dr. Thompson Udenwa

CAN: How More Divisive Can This Organisation Be? By Farid Labaran

The claim that and the description of the unfortunate killing that happened in Benue State by the Adamawa chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), and indeed the National body of the association as a waged Jihad disguised as cattle herding is yet most insensible, foolish, callous, childish, irresponsible cum Insensitive. It is as laughable as it is untrue. It is a claim that exists only in the figment of  imagination of an Umbrella Organisation that purports to represent Christians in this country.

For quite sometime, there has been a conspiracy theory being championed and advanced by CAN to the effect that efforts are in full gear to Islamize Nigeria. This false misinformation has been swallowed hook line & sinker by our Christian brethren to this writer’s greatest dismay without questions.

Few weeks ago, innocent and defenseless Fulanis were maimed in cold blood in Taraba yet nobody described it as a Christian crusade  let alone label it a christianization attempt. The most intriguing part is that no statement of condemnation was issued by CAN which compels us to ask the question that are those Fulani not human enough as to deserve the same sympathy of CAN and a state burial in Taraba too?

It is not the intent of this write-up to identify who is right or wrong between the farmers and herders because this writer is convinced that both sides were at one stage or the other at fault. Rather it is the conscious intent of this piece at least to bring to the fore the real victims of this madness because whenever there’s an attack or reprisal, it is usually not the perpetrators that suffer, online warriors, or even CAN but those defenseless, weak, indigent and aged members of the society that know nothing or did nothing are the ones that bear the brunt. In this regard, this writer believes successive govts have done little or nothing to curb the excesses of both sides.

It is therefore not out of place to add our voices to those of the good people of this country in calling on the govt to act and act fast in resolving this crisis before the situation deteriorates further.

Permit me to debunk the false impression of CAN that Islam or Muslims are violent. For the umpteenth time, Islam is a religion of peace and grows faster in climes where peace reigns. It’s not mere rhetoric when Muslims at different fora incessantly restate the peaceful nature of Islam. There is no religion that is keen to protecting & preserving lives and property than Islam.

The Quran states that when one kills unjustly, it is as though he has annihilated humanity and when one preserves the life of someone, it is as though he has saved/preserved humanity. How then can CAN justify its cheap blackmail and campaign of calumny against Islam & the Muslims?!

Yes, Islam is not a passive religion. Yes, It gives one the right to repel an attack or defend one’s self from any assailant but it must be in accordance with Islamic principles which prohibit the killing of women, children, the old; the destruction of places of worship; cutting of trees; killing of animals etc. If any person calls himself a Muslim yet violates these principles then know that his actions have no Islamic backing and they are inconsistent and ultra-vires of the provisions of Shariah and therefore are null and void.

Islam frowns against aggression. Allah SWT frowns against aggressors. He said in the Quran that He dislikes the aggressor.

What is happening in the North Central is not a Jihad. No sane Muslim would support criminals attacking the innocent.

What is yet to be known though is whether or not CAN is waging or is encouraging the waging through its unguarded and unguided statements a religious war in order to annihilate anyone that is not a Christian in Benue, Plateau, Southern Kaduna, Taraba by whipping up sentiments and cooking up lies.

We seek God’s guidance and assistance from the evil of men.

Farid Labaran, Esq.




How President Buhari Is Maintaining Peace And Security, By Ayobami Akanji

I want to assure you without mincing words that the Boko Haram terrorists have been defeated, all we are fighting for now is the peace in the northeast”– Lt Gen Tukur Y. Buratai

The maintenance of national peace and security by the present Administration, though incredibly tasking, has been largely misunderstood. However, taking everything into account, we will begin to appreciate the excellent achievements of the Administration in keeping Nigeria safe and united, despite the odds. On assumption of office, the Buhari Administration inherited a plethora of crisis – the Boko Haram insurgency had raged on for over ten years, the Niger Delta militancy, the Biafran agitation, and the herdsmen/farmers attacks.

President Buhari himself aptly noted this reality when he posited that ‘Insecurity and the parlous economy were the challenges (we) inherited at inception.’

In reviewing President Buhari’s deft response to these crises and his unwavering commitment to defending the territorial integrity of the country, it is clear that he has demonstrated profound capabilities in ridding the nation of insurgency and other insecurity challenges. The Administration has taken a multilateral approach in decimating the enemies of the State, a holistic retooling of the starved Armed Forces is ongoing strategically, deployment of full battalion of Special Forces, establishment of the new Order of Battle (OBAT).

As a military strategist who understands the import of gathering intelligence in the fight against counter-insurgency, President Buhari approved the setting up of an intelligence fusion center to serve as an analytic hub to help understand the local implications of national intelligence by tailoring national threat information into local context. The fusion center is in Maiduguri, the epicenter of the insurgency in the North-East.

The Buhari Administration is coming with a mix of solutions in this battle, as the President launched a new policy framework and national action plan for the prevention and combat of terrorism in Nigeria.

Fighting insecurity is very complicated and requires deliberate and sustainable winning strategy. The United States which is known for a strong commitment in combating terrorism commits billions of dollars to ensure its national security on one hand and global safety on the other, giving the scheming of agents of destabilization and their secret dealings in harnessing resources to resurface and destabilize the prevailing achieved peace.

There is need therefore for maximum wisdom backed with necessary financial support.  On that ground, it becomes illogical and futile to start challenging the financial commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari in maintaining peace. Nigerians trust that President Buhari will use the funds exclusively to address the insecurity challenges and that same will not be misused, misappropriated or diverted. 

Let’s assume the government does not take adequate measure to sustain the achieved security, and the situation degenerates into full-scale lawlessness and anarchy, the critics of the government would turn around to blame the Federal Government for allowing such case that could undermine our corporate existence and national unity.

Therefore, the opposition in some quarters to Government’s courageous decision to commit 1 billion dollars to fight insecurity is both unhelpful and unwarranted. It is also unpatriotic and self-serving. Do the critics care for this country or do they simply want to hear their own voice. This is one criticism beyond reason and commonsense. Government’s intentions have been made clear ab initio.

Moreover, the Vice President specified in his address during the National Security Summit of the National Economic Council that the 1 billion dollar vote for security was rationally allocated to contain various security challenges in different parts of the country. In essence, these dedicated funds will also be used to tackle the militancy in the Niger Delta, herdsmen crisis in the North, kidnapping in the East, Boko-Haram and many others.

Therefore, the criticism is a mere distraction which the government needs to ignore and instead vigorously pursue its popular agenda of securing Nigeria. This Administration received an overwhelming, nationwide electoral mandate and therefore has both a constitutional and moral duty to keep the country safe and secure. If it requests for funds to achieve this goal, it goes without saying that it is acting appropriately and deserves everyone support. 

The government of President Buhari is not only appreciated internally for responding responsibly and efficiently to national insecurity, but the international community continues to recognize its commitments to maintaining regional and global peace and security. It is no surprise that the Administration enjoys the support and respect of the governments of the United States, Russia, France, Britain, and Pakistan.

Once again, the support and goodwill of the international community vindicates the present Administration in its fight against insecurity. Nigerians certainly feel safer under President Buhari because they consider him strong-willed and capable of confronting the numerous security challenges faced by the country. As a democratically elected government which respects people’s right to an opinion, the Buhari Administration employs a mix of persuasive force and diplomacy in responding to security situations, depending on their nature. That was what was lacking in the immediate past Administration which consequently compounded the fight against the insurgency.

The critics should, therefore, reexamine their position and join the government in ensuring that peace and security are achieved for Nigeria to forge ahead as the mouthpiece of Africa in the global context.

Ayobami Akanji is a political strategist and writes from Abuja

2019: Governor Yahaya Bello, An Affliction That Must Not Rise The 2nd Time, By Sheyi Babaeko

According to Jean- Jacques Rousseau, “When something an affliction happens to you, you either let it defeat You, or you defeat it”
Dear Kogites, the unpopular, accidental and garrulous administration of Gov. Yahaya Bello will be two years in few days time. The two years of GYB’s leadership in the state has not only brought pains, anguishes, tribulations and hardship but also pestilence and untimely deaths of some Kogi State peoples who could not survive his draconian rule and unresponsive attitudes to the challenges and plights of the people of the state.
As a desideratum, we must collectively rise to send Gov. Bello back to his sender especially now that President Buhari’s ears are apparently too busy to hear our yearnings and outcries. At the same time, our Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo’s hands are too tied to save us from the tyrannical, despotic, and low-minded governor of the state.
If Governor Yahaya Bello were to vacate office today, he would be leaving the Lugard’s House worst than he met it.
It is an irrefragable fact that this present administration has brought nothing better than darkness, affliction, jeopardy and discomfort to the state.
The good people of Kogi State should as a matter of urgency begins to shop for a replacement for GYB and his retinue of jackleg subjects and unschooled figures whose knowledge about good governance is unsophisticated, antediluvian and primitive.
We cannot afford another four more years of tragedy. How can I explain a Governor who has been in power for two years without a single meaningful project to be commissioned in any of the 21 Local Governments of Kogi State? What a shame!
Our people must stop their lamentations and begin to think of a way forward ahead of 2019 when they would have another opportunity to make a decision that would either make them GYB’s animals or true sons and daughters of Kogi State. It is obvious that GYB can never make us feel like a true son or daughter of our lovely state if he continued to remain in office.
The delay in seeking a replacement of him will spell doom for us as a people.
We must resist any further form of  misrule. We actually thought we had seen the worst under the thieving political elites of the People’s Democratic Party until we witnessed and saw hell under the white devil who claims to be our governor.
Our debt has doubled without nothing to show, the insecurity and violence crime is beyond control and might likely get out of hand especially with the election around the corner. The school enrollment and the education of an average Kogites is threatened because of the abject poverty that has now taking over Kogi state which is caused by the ineffective and inefficient governor of the state who has mismanage our resources despite the fact that we have all it takes to succeed as a state with ample opportunity to also be an example to other States in Nigeria.
Only a visionary leader can redirect the ship of this state to the utopian State that we all desire.
It is in view of this worrisome and pathetic situation in Kogi state that I am calling on Kogites at home and in the diaspora to reject the  leadership of GYB and APC  (a party of retrogressive political elements) for bringing us to this present state of quagmire and dystopia.
GYB’s second term ambition must not be made to see the light of the day if we must succeed as a state.
I remain faithfully yours sincerely in struggle.
Sheyi Babaeko, the candid candidate for the Kogi State House of Assembly, Kabba Bunu constituency under the Unity Party of Nigeria,
Sheyi is a Social Commentator, Policy Analyst and counter-terrorists strategist.
He Writes from the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria.
God bless Kabba Bunu constituency!
God bless The Confluence State!!
God bless The Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!

Dele Momodu: The Judas Iscariot Of Nigerian Journalism, By Saleh Ibrahim Bature

The pendulum, the name which Dele Momodu chooses to call his weekly column certainly captures the true contents of the stuff which he writes therein. Momodu’s views, as represented in the column, peddle his delusional analysis of the unfolding events in our country. He vacillates between truth and falsehood defending on the motives. His latest open later to President Muhammadu Buhari is one of those tirades. Nigerians read Momudu for the belief that he is a trusted citizen journalist who can be relied upon for information and guidance. So Columnists like Dele Momodu should not take the goodwill of Nigerians for granted. They should understand that they occupy delicate and sensitive positions in the society that demand thoughtfulness and circumspection. I read the Pendulum, his weekly analysis of events on the social media last week. In this write-up, Momodu is wrong. So he should not expect me as a devoted reader of his column to accept his delusional narratives about President Muhammadu Buhari`and his government as the truth. Nigerians are perceptive observers who can read between the lines in order to separate the wheat from the chaff. There is no denying the fact that the Buhari led APC government is embroiled in myriad of problems, but the enormity of the problem is not like how it has been presented by Dele Momodu.

Genuine supporters of Buhari do not believe in the mirage which Momodu in cahoots with his accomplices believe that Buhari possesses “the magic wand and talismanic effect to make all our problems evaporate and vamoose in a jiffy“. Critics and detractors of the government who Momodu represents would find it difficult to accept that no man can fix Nigeria within a short period of 3 years, the time within which Buhari has presided over the affairs of the country. We must accept the home truth that in a complex country like Nigeria, whose people are divided along ethnic and religious fault lines, a country whose national wealth had been ruined by the people who were entrusted with leadership, fixing problems in such a multifaceted ambience is not as easy as writing a one page critique in a newspaper.

Even in most of the developing and developed countries in Europe and Asia we often look up to as role models, none of the leaders in those countries who had shaped history has achieved prosperity in an instant.

For example, The United Arab Emirate [UAE] did not transform from a quiet backwater to one of the Middle East’s important economic hubs in a jiffy. It is quiet true that one man can transform a nation as exemplified by Lee Kuan Yew who changed the small island of Singapore to become one of the most advanced nations in the world, “that has an economic standard that would rival most countries in Europe and America. This is a task that took Minister Lew many years. The “Miracle of the Han River “, a phrase referring to the rapid industrialization of South Korea from a developing to a developed nation did not happen within the short time frame which Dele Momodu expects Buhari to transform Nigeria. In the same way, Mahthir Muhammed did not claim to have magic wand with which he used to create the export-driven industrialization programs, nationwide entrepreneurial skills and effective work ethic that brought prosperity to Malaysia.

The subtle message in the infamous letter crafted by the columnist of the pendulum was to denigrate President Muhammadu Buhari so that Nigerians will completely lose hope in him. This is a sinister move aimed at preparing the ground for the emergence of a yet to be announced candidate who would slug it out with the incumbent President in 2019. Momodu’s ill-fated and unsolicited advice tells it all: “is it not better and more profitable, to return home, triumphantly, with your reputation intact than to win a pirich victory with everything you earlier stood for wasted on the altar of vainglorious aggrandizement“. He did not stop there. What guarantee, Momudu further asked the President, “do you have that you will win in the election…“.

If we shall look at the above question in relation to the campaign promises made by Buhari, I will not hesitate to say that the President will win the upcoming election regardless of all the verbiages and lies labeled against him by detractors. His government has done very well in fulfilling its major campaign promises under the broad themes of -Fight against Corruption, Economic Diversification and Security.

Development, pundits say, is relative. So the best way to appreciate this government is to place it on the same pedestal with the one it has inherited. Buhari took over a broken down nation that was “dancing on the brink“. We should not forget that the PDP under Good Luck Jonathan earned a record $460 billion oil revenue in 5 years which is the highest in the history of our nation.

Instead of the government to diversify the economy for growth and prosperity, we got in return a depleted foreign reserve, demolished Excess Crude Account, accumulated more foreign and local debts, abandoned key projects due to indebtedness to contractors, left N600 billion fuel subsidy bill, N60 billion fertilizer subsidy bill, accumulated salaries and pension arrears for workers and retirees running into billions of Naira. I do not want to bother you with the details of damage done to Nigeria by those that plundered and raped our economy, and who are surreptitiously trying to stage a comeback.
Nigerians are happy that a revolution that has attracted foreign and local investors is taking pace as evidenced in the rice and wheat production in Kebbi and other states especially in the north. Private capital is flowing into the processing sector of the agriculture value chain. Lagos and Kebbi states have made history in Nigeria when they jointly launched the “Lake Rice“brand for consumption to Nigerians. WACOT just opened N10b Rice Mill, Dangote opened Tomatoe Paste Factory in Kano, Olam will commission N20billion Livestock Feed and Chicken Hatchery Plant in Kaduna among other investors“. This is the first time in decades when Agriculture is revived to be a major source of employment and revenue for the government.

Today, almost all the newspapers in Nigeria carried the heartwarming news of report that our Foreign Reserve has grown to $40 billion – the highest in 4 years! In a similar development, Nigeria’s All-Share index has recorded the highest surge since 2008. The nation’s stocks were on a first class ride into record territory at the end of 2017. CNN money had reported that Nigeria’s money market was the darling of investors as it recorded a bullish performance against all the odds in 2017. Nigeria recorded a top score of 43% price increase in shares, giving it the enviable global 3rd position after Argentina and Turkey. The accomplishments of Buhari in the last 3 years cannot be listed in a write-up like this one. These are the kinds of stories Momodu and his fellow faultfinders would not avail Nigerians.
In the area of fighting terrorism in the country, those of us in the north know what the government has done. For that alone, Buhari deserves our votes. In my own hometown in Bauchi state, which had been attacked 5 times in 2 years, we lost lives, property and stability to deadly and incessant Boko Haram attacks.

There is no doubt that the popularity rating of President Muhammadu Buhari has dwindled. Nigerians who supported him in 2015 had high expectation on him. Some of his supporters wrongly assumed that he had immediate solution to the myriad of ills bedeviling the country as caused by the PDP. It is wrong to therefore believe in the spurious and deceptive narratives given to us by politicians who masquerade as journalists. They are Promoting a covert Political agenda. We should not be deceived by their antic. I do not say Buhari is flawless. The Nigerian masses make the president through their voting powers. They still have confidence in him, in spite of the calumny by his detractors to bring him down. We look forward to who among the politicians angling for the most coveted office in the country will slug it out with Buhari in 2019.

Don Waney: Still Too Early to Celebrate, By Walter Duru,

One of the biggest stories about the Niger Delta region of Nigeria today is the killing of a dreaded cultist, Johnson Igwedibia, also known as Don Waney, by a combined team of men of the Military and Department for State Services- DSS.

In a Press Statement issued by the Nigerian Army entitled: “End of road for notorious cultist, kidnapper and mass murderer- Don Waney, signed by Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Aminu Iliyasu, the military announced the death of Johnson Igwedibia.

The statement reads in part: “The authorities of 6 Division Nigerian Army Port Harcourt wish to inform the peace-loving people of Omoku in ONELGA in particular, Rivers State and indeed the entire good people of Niger Delta in general that the notorious cult leader, kidnap kingpin and mass murderer Don Waney is dead.”

Igwedibia, one of the big players in the game of the underworld in the region is said to have been gunned down alongside two of his close allies in a border town between Rivers and Enugu States.

A former heavy weight in militancy, based in Omoku in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni-ONELGA Local Government Area of the State is a prime suspect in the new year massacre that took the lives of over twenty persons returning from a ‘cross-over’ midnight prayer in Omoku.

Johnson Igwedibia is not a push over by any standard, as at some point in the area, the fear of Don Waney was the beginning of wisdom. Even the Oba of Ogba land, H.R.M. Eze Nnam Obi gave him his way and never crossed his path. Reports say that some security agents were afraid of him, as he was deadly and believed to be invincible. The routes to his mansion in Omoku were manned by soldiers, said to have been detailed to arrest him, dead or alive, yet, he operated without encumbrances. Did security give way for conspiracy?

In the days of militancy in the region, sources say Don Waney and his boys were allegedly involved in pipeline vandalism, sea piracy, kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, thuggery, rape and all other forms of criminality, prior to late President Yar’Adua’s amnesty programme for militants in the region.

But, did the amnesty deter him? Years after accepting same, he returned to his trade in full capacity. In 2016, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike introduced another round of amnesty programme, which he also accepted; but to what extent did that influence him? Don Waney was a billionaire by all standards and the peanuts provided for the amnesty programme may have even infuriated him; yet he accepted it, but continued with his ‘business’.

On the 20th of December, 2016, Don Waney was conferred with a chieftaincy title of Onyirimba 1 of Ogbaland by the paramount Ruler of Aligwu in ONELGA LGA, King C. Nwokocha. Two of his foot soldiers, Ikechukwu Adiela and Augustine Osisiah were also installed chiefs.

In his response to the recognition, Waney commended the Rivers State government for their efforts in ensuring that peace reigns in the region, even as he urged youths of the area to embrace same, promising to join hands with stakeholders to ensure that peace reigns.

Contrary to his pledge, he still returned to his old ways, compelling the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army to invade his camp and shrines in the early hours of November 20, 2017. Reports say he narrowly escaped death in that brutal military operation.

During the raid, about ten human skulls and human bones were allegedly discovered. Seven suspects, including two women are said to have been arrested and they must be helping security operatives in their investigations.

Ultimately, the slain Don Waney was an extremely dangerous person and had caused indescribable harm to many. He is believed to have been involved in the killing of many and destruction of property.

At some point, multinational oil companies in the area could not operate without paying homage and some royalty to him. Yes! It was that bad. The situation was helpless at some point. He became a negative role model in the area. Many young people gained employment in companies operating in the region through him. He had large and committed followership, no doubt.

On a number of cases, there were unfounded reports of his death, following attacks and invasion of his camp(s). Such reports made it difficult for people to believe that he has eventually been killed.  But, now that there is evidence that he is dead, is the battle over?

The truth is that the problem in Omoku and the entire Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area may have just begun. Those celebrating his demise at this stage may need to have a rethink.

First, reports have it that among his followers are deadlier young people living under oath. Among his hundreds of followers are blood-thirsty and trigger-happy radicals, ready to take after him. In fact, his biological younger brother, whose name is given as ‘Obata Osu’ can best be described as a worse evil. While Don Waney was of a calm disposition, his younger brother is a more radical and violent person. In fact, reports say Don Waney alone could control him.

Hundreds of young people benefited from his criminal activities and still owe allegiance to him, even in death. These individuals leave among unsuspecting citizens.

More so, the arms at the disposal of the boys are so sophisticated that anyone believing that they are push overs is doing so at his own peril. A combination of high capacity for mischief, absence of repentance, sophisticated weaponry and very deep pockets makes the situation very complex.

Taking a clue from history, the crises in Omoku will take strategic planning on the part of security operatives, effective communication, stakeholders’ engagement, sustained operation(s) and ultimately, the grace of God to end. In fact, it will take the grace of God for normalcy to return to the oil-rich city of Omoku.

Prior to the reign of Don Waney, one Chi-boy was practically being worshipped in the area. Don Waney was said to have toppled Chi-boy, with support from some known politicians in the area, before assuming kingship over the ‘jungle’.

Now that Don Waney is no more, a few things are likely to happen. First, within his camp, there may be conflict over who pilots the affairs of the gang, particularly, now that he was killed alongside his 2iC, while the number three man broke away earlier, over alleged poor compensation from a bootie from some government quarters. The internal crisis may lead to the breaking away of a faction, thereby weakening the Don Waney camp further.

Another possible development will be that some other camps that were calm over the years as a mark of respect for the king of the jungle-Don Waney will want to rise to fight for superiority. This rivalry may mark the first phase of violence to be witnessed in the area, after the internal conflict in Don-Waney’s camp. Then, other camps and groups may spring up.

Ultimately, the way militancy has been handled over the years in the Niger Delta region shows that crime attracts handsome reward. Changing this narrative requires strategic planning.

Those thinking that the sad end of Don-Waney may serve as a bitter lesson and outright deterrent to others involved or intend to be involved may have a rethink. In fact, it will amount to wishful thinking. Even if Don Waney was caught alive and made to die slowly; even through an open torture, it will not change anything. After all, armed robbery attracts death penalty in our law books, but has that stopped the menace?

Nigeria’s security operatives must therefore go back to the drawing board and critically analyze the situation and think of the way forward. The way forward is not to celebrate the death of Don Waney, as nothing appears to have really changed, but leadership. There are still many other Don-Waneys in the jungle.

One very important task for security operatives is to ensure the protection of lives and property in the area, by taking steps to prevent any further attacks on soft targets.

For Omoku, it will take divine intervention for normalcy to return to the area anytime soon. Anyone thinking otherwise is living in fool’s paradise. Stakeholders must return to the drawing board, review the situation, adopt a carrot and stick approach and employ professional public relations strategies, in addition to excellent intelligence and security approaches in order to succeed. Community stakeholders must be engaged on sustained basis as a deliberate strategy.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that the 2019 election is fast approaching. Will politicians allow normalcy to return to the area? Who then will they use for thuggery, kidnapping and assassination during the elections? The problem is huge and requires a holistic approach.

Indeed, it is too early to celebrate, as not much has changed!

Dr. Walter Duru is a Communication and Public Relations expert/strategist. He is Executive Director of Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption-MIIVOC and chairs the Board of Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria-FOICN. Duru can be reached on: walterchike@gmail.com.

N-Power: Why President Muhammadu Buhari Is My Hero, By Omolayo Osunbayo

I am a female graduate of Tai-solarin University of Education, Ogun state with a BSc Certificate in Industrial Chemistry. The forlorn hope about the future started gripping me two months to graduation, driving me to a point of sickness. I came from a poor family not privileged to have the right connection for people like me to secure a job after graduation.

I got sick more and more listening to stories of frustration told by those who graduated before me. Many of them, out of frustration became apprentices to learn menial jobs. Many who languished under inclement weather of bad economy turned to prostitution to eke out life. Many ended up as mere servants in the homes of even the middle class, contending with attendant insults and low self-esteem.

Even those who got supposedly good jobs lament bitterly about poor pay and treatment of ignominy by the agencies who recruited them. Majority of young graduates, I know are still in their parents homes, degenerating by the day. I had prayed every day to God to make my case different. Yes, there were few privileged graduates who earned good jobs, yet, they could be counted on fingertips, I had hoped to be one of them.

After graduation in 2014, I was posted to Kebbi State in 2015 for mandatory National Youths Service. I love Kebbi for the peace and tranquility it offered, coming from the southwestern part of Nigeria. Within a year of my service in Kebbi, I opened my mind to the possibility of becoming a rice merchant. This is because, Kebbi by the grace of the Anchor Borrowers Programme initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had become a leading state in the growth of rice. My plan then was to purchase rice in bags and transfer them down south to start a business as a graduate after my NYSC programme. It was a solid plan, which I would have initiated for others to follow, all things being equal.

Bright as the idea of becoming a rice merchant looked, I had the excitement cut short by my Local Government Inspector in Kebbi, Alhaji Idris who raised the issue of huge capital as the first requirement. I had no idea of how to raise over a million naira to start the business. Yet, I was hopeful. After completing my NYSC year in Kebbi, I returned to Ibadan, Oyo State to start counting on mother luck to bail me out. Nothing was forth coming until six months after when my lovely father put a call across to me to intimate me of a programme initiated by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, called N-Power; offer of job opportunities to 200, 000 young Nigerian graduates.

I did not appreciate the initial efforts by my father to link me up with N-Power. I had always regarded any programme from the federal government in that line, a ruse. My father persisted and had one day referred me to a statement by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that the programme was real. Osinbajo, in that report, impressed it on young graduates not to waste the opportunity, being part of President Buhari’s passion to mop up unemployment under his government. Incidentally, he was the Anchor of N-Power.

Owing to ceaseless efforts from daddy, I registered on line for N-Power on the very closing day, just to make him happy! I never placed hope on the efforts because of cynicism and bias I had against anything from the government. But six months after I turned in the application, I heard the rumour that names of beneficiaries had been shortlisted and published. Truly, some of those who were shortlisted came back pumping hands and getting pats on the back. It never occurred to me to make an effort to check.

But I did because my father again prodded me to do so. I made the list and it was incredible, very unbelievable! I did not depend on the usual connection or link to pull through. The opportunity came on merit, just like that. Awesome! That was on November 21, 2016. From that day, President Muhammadu Buhari who many love to castigate became my own hero!

I went for the mandatory screening exercise in December 2016 and was finally selected. I was posted to Ewekoro Local Government area in Ogun State and resumed as a teacher on January 9, 2017. I appreciate the privileged to serve in that capacity. Since joining the N-Power scheme, I noticed that the government has never failed in paying up as at when due, monthly. Now, I reckon with the power and importance of the scheme. I was able to acquire additional skills and knowledge on Social Development, while also gaining from the study habits of the people through the other initiatives the government provided.

I am prodded to write my experience with the N-Power initiative, first to appreciate the concern by the Buhari’s government had on the high level of unemployment in Nigeria and the need to solve the problem. Most importantly, I intend to use this write up to beg the government for more.

For me, N-Power is a good initiative designed to solve the riddle of life for 200, 000 young graduates and providing hope for them. I urged the government to offer permanent employment to all the beneficiaries while opening fresh avenues for more young graduates to benefit. I make this appeal because the programme ends this year. Then, it is out of place for the government to throw the beneficiaries into the labour market again, after investing in them.

I seize this opportunity to thank the government of Ogun State under the able leadership of Senator Ibikunle Amosun for being very accommodating and hospitable to benefiicaries of N-Power. His government has promised not to let the worthy beneficiaries down. We will continue to count on his promise too.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, deserves praise because of his steadfastness in making success out of N-Power. For me, he is the reason the programme was not hijacked by the very greedy and insatiable political leaders, either at the state level or federal.

I end by saying that no matter the machinations by the opponents against the government of President Buhari that means well for the youths, we the beneficiaries of N-Power will always appreciate it for what it stands for. I join others in praying for the continued success of the President and his government.

 God bless President Muhammadu Buhari!

God bless Nigeria

 Omolayo Osunbayo (Miss)

N-Power beneficiary, Ewekoro Local Government Area,

Ogun State.

Governor Ahmed: Funding Infrastructure Through IGR, By Eyitayo Oyelowo

Revenue generation is the path to modern development. For government at all levels to meet the demands of its citizenry in terms of basic infrastructure, sustainable revenue is key. For most state governments, these means effective collection and management of revenue.
In the light of this, when the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed got re-elected into office in 2015, his first line of action was to reposition the revenue collection process through the change in people, process and technology having realized that the allocation coming to the state from the federal government had dwindled.
This repositioning birthed the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) in January 2016. Without mincing words, the existence of the revenue agency has changed the financial position of the state.
In its first year of operation of the agency boosted the state IGR by over 400%. Mind you, the agency did not impose fresh taxes on individuals and businesses in the state, it only assesses and enforces payment of due taxes, levies, fees and charges in the state.
This laudable increase led to the establishment of Kwara Infrastructure Development Fund (IF-K) in September 2016, where the revenue house has been contributing a total sum of N500 million on monthly basis to fund infrastructure.
According to the State government, the scheme is to serve as a sustainable funding window for the implementation of major infrastructural projects.
Through IF-K, the State government has been able to fund ongoing projects and initiated new ones across the State. Some of the major projects initiated under the scheme are the ongoing construction of Geri-Alimi Diamond underpass, ongoing KWASU campus in Ilesha-Baruba and Ekiti LG, KWASU Post-Graduate School in Ilorin and dualisation of Kulende-UITH-Oke Ose road project.
Also the internationally recognized Light-Up Kwara Project (LUK) on major roads in the metropolis is included under the IF-K.
The Infra Fund Kwara scheme has no doubt fortified the Governor Ahmed-led administration’s capacity to bridge the infrastructure gap across the State despite the current economic challenges.
Therefore, one can conclude that the growth in the State’s IGR and its successful utilization under the IF-K scheme has made positive contribution to the development of infrastructures in the State and the government has pledged not to rest on its oars until it ensures a balanced approach to IGR appropriation for even infrastructural across the State.

IGR-driven IFK has also boosted Kwara State’s growing reputation for project continuity and Governor Ahmed’s image as perhaps the only Governor without abandoned projects.
Indeed, based on the funding structure put in place by the government under IFK, Governor Ahmed has vowed to keep implementing infrastructure until his last day in office. Only a well structured and innovative funding scheme such as IFK can provide such confidence.

Tambuwal: Leader, Mentor, Visionary Clocks 52, By Imam Imam

Six years ago, five young Nigerians graduated from Usmanu Danfodio University with a bachelor’s degree in Law and were on the verge of missing admission into the Nigerian Law School due to lack of finances. Over dinner, it was mentioned to the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, of the dire situation the young ones were in and how their dreams of becoming lawyers was getting away by the hour. Without asking who they were, he directed us to contact them. Few days later, he not only paid for all they required, he ensured each of them got a laptop computer to aide their studies.

The interesting aspect of this story is that few days ago, I encountered one of them in Abuja and while thanking me for intervening at a very critical period in their lives, he expressed disappointment that none of them was able to meet with Tambuwal to thank him collectively and individually for his dream-saving gesture.

Why am I telling this story today? The lesson here is simple: some people are attracted to those who need help because it feels good to be of help at critical times. Whenever someone is hurting or suffering in some ways, kind-hearted individuals deliberately come forward to help without even wanting to be praised. This is where Tambuwal comes in.

I am sure the lesson in this encounter is not lost on Tambuwal himself. This is because his life does not lend itself to embellishments – it is an inspirational and captivating study of the triumph of mind over matter. As we mark his birthday today, we will all meditate on this lesson, and draw the positives that will continue to illuminate paths in our relationship with others.

In the last 52 years, Tambuwal has left no one in doubt about his capacity for fair and equitable representation. Over the years, he has demonstrated ability to meet with the needs and demands of the people that he encountered. His profound achievements as Governor in the Seat of the Caliphate have drawn praises, honour and recognition from far and near.

In his role as the Number One citizen of Sokoto, Tambuwal has raised the ante of purposeful leadership and good governance. By a magic of work, ethics and sincerity of purpose, his administration has prioritized areas whose importance will continue to have enduring impact on the life of the citizenry. Such sectors include education, agriculture, health, women and youth empowerment, energy, poverty eradication and revamping of the entire governance structure.

His administration is making positive impact in public schools by building new classrooms, supplying of chairs, tables and textbooks for students, delivering new buses to schools, and flagged off program to enroll 1.4 million new kids into schools in the next 12 months. All these led to a stamp of commendation by UNICEF after the number of out of school children dropped by half in the state in two years.

In agriculture, 140 women and pensioners were trained in fish farming and supported with grants and starter-packs of tanks and fish feeds to start businesses. The government gave out 981,000kg of improved rice seeds to farmers free of charge to support them, and after ir introduced wheat farming to the state for the first time, it gave 6000 bags of 100kg wheat seeds to farmers, free of charge.

To ensure sustainability, promote new technology and enhance private sector participation in farming, the state government and Dangote Industries Ltd started a rice outgrower scheme at Goronyo and Middle Rima Valley. 1000 farmers were engaged for the pilot project in 2017 with 500 hectres of land committed. For the 2018 farming season, 2000 hectres will be used with the number of farmers also increasing.

All these efforts were complemented by distribution of fertilizer, water pumping machines and pesticides. The result is increase in yield and more wealth and prosperity for Sokoto farmers.

The same team work and strength of character led to these successes replicated in all the sectors of the economy of the state.

Tambuwal’s approach to leadership is defined by the vision to build people and enduring structures that can stand the test of time. While most are admired because they move others to follow their example, Tambuwal belongs to the category of a few who are special enough to encourage others to find their own unique path. Just by being who he is, he has sparked many to be who they want to be. Through thoughtful leadership, great vision and sincerity, all parts of Sokoto have felt the positive impact of his activities. And for that, if for nothing else, he deserves to called a leader who inspires.

In this season of politics, many, especially closer home, have deliberately chosen to misunderstand Tambuwal. But as Ralph Waldo Emerson said decades ago, “Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

With time, people will understand the fact that Tambuwal is indeed a role model for all those seeking to understand how to make impact with their lives. And on this momentous day of his 52nd birthday, I thank him for his service, and wish him a happy birthday.

*Imam, the spokesman to Governor Tambuwal, wrote from Sokoto

How Gaidam Finished Strong In 2017, By Abdullahi Bego

As 2018 rolled in – and the Gaidam administration positions itself to turbo-charge Yobe’s economy for even more service delivery – the people of the state can look back on the preceding year as one in which the prospects for a brighter future have been firmed.

With a record 82 percent budget implementation rate by the Yobe State Government – and more in the lived reality of the people’s lives – 2017 will go down as a tipping-point year in the annals of Yobe’s socio-economic recovery.

First, the economic recession in which the country was stuck for most of the year was a pivotal, defining moment. The recession depleted the nation’s revenue earning and meant that many states across the country, at some point, were unable to meet certain basic obligations to their people, including obligation to workers who are at the front and centre of every service delivery effort. With less going into workers’ pockets, local businesses took a hit as well resulting in many of them finding it hard to replenish their inventories.

How Governor Gaidam successfully navigated Yobe State through that difficult period still puzzles many keen observers of the state’s socio-economic development. The governor, for instance, not only did not take any bank loans to finance expenditures, such as salary payments, he towered above them with visible impact in the lives of the people while never slowing down on the projects he was executing. Projects in healthcare, road construction, school renovation and expansions, waters supply in communities across state, etc., were carried on with unbelievable consistency and panache.

Part of this has to do with his background as an accountant and auditor who knows what it takes to maintain a balanced sheet but most of it is about his commitment to the values of transparency and accountability in the conduct of government business. These ensured that the governor remained faithful to the provisions of the 2017 budget and the budgets before that; they ensured that he measured every single move that the government makes according to the strength of its purse and resulted in never invoking any expenditure or spending unless he was sure the government could properly finance it.

As a consequence of these measures, Yobe emerged stronger because of the governor’s leadership.

In healthcare, for example, 2017 marked the formal opening to the public of the brand new Yobe State University Teaching Hospital (SUTH) that Governor Gaidam has built. The government recruited more than 500 doctors, nurses and other professionals to work in the hospital well ahead of the commencement of clinical services.

The year also marked the completion of most of the rehabilitation and expansion works carried out in major government hospitals across the state. It marked the procurement and installation of new and badly needed equipment that those hospitals in Gashu’a, Gaidam, Potiskum and Damaturu need to provide quality services to the people in those areas. It marked the start and completion of the construction of a new College of Medical Sciences complex based inside of the Yobe State University campus in Damaturu.

More significantly, the year marked the expansion of Yobe’s drive in maternal and child care, topping the third straight year in which no case of polio was reported throughout the state because of the measures being taken to prevent its resurgence and those of other child-killer diseases. Indices for maternal and child health also improved significantly. In short, in 2017, Yobe’s healthcare sector got better than in the previous year.

Professionals wowed by the governor’s effort to transform a sector so vital to the lives of everyday people expectedly took notice. First, the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) conferred its honorary membership on the governor for his effort at improving the health of women and children in the state. Then, two weeks later, the umbrella body of all medical and dental practitioners in the country, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) through its Yobe State branch, followed suit by honoring the governor at a well-attended ceremony in Damaturu.

Outside of the health sector, 2017 was also historic for Yobe’s education sector. It’s the sector that was the hardest hit by Boko Haram violence. So much of Yobe’s education infrastructure was destroyed during those insurgency years by a ragtag army of crazed fanatics who hold fundamentally distorted – and demonstrably wrong – notions about the place of western education in Islam.

As a result of these setbacks, primary and secondary education, for the most part, had to be rebuilt across the state from the ground up. Progress, of course, wasn’t easy. But because of Governor Gaidam’s determination, many primary schools have been rebuilt and expanded and provided with the basic learning tools and supplies that the pupils enrolled in them need.

In secondary education, five secondary schools were selected and worked upon by the Gaidam administration. The schools were totally rebuilt, expanded and furnished with new classroom, staffroom, hostel and staff quarter furniture, laboratory equipment and chemicals and other vital supplies at over N2.8 billion.

Six more secondary schools are slated to be totally rehabilitated and equipped this year. This means that by the end of 2018, an environment more conducive and more amenable to great teaching and learning would be fully secured for a lot of Yobe’s secondary school students.

The preceding year also marked the start of Yobe’s International Cargo Airport project. When completed in November this year, the airport will not only be Yobe’s first, it will be the first of its kind to be wholly dedicated to cargo and freight services in the Norrtheast, a move likely to accelerate business and other economic activities in a region now recovering from so much devastation from Boko Haram attacks.

Governor Gaidam will surely build on these and other milestones of his administration in this ‘legacy’ year. As he nears the end of his eventful two-terms in office and the start of the rest that he so richly deserves, the governor will seek to make even more impact in the lives of the people by, amongst others, completing ongoing projects and starting new ones. He will consolidate on his feats in security, healthcare, education, water supply, agriculture and the civil service, amongst others, and make the APC, his political party, an even stronger political platform around which to rally the people.

He’s already started the year strong with a donation of vehicles worth N350 million to the military as they make their final push to defeat Boko Haram. He’s paid N1.1 billion as gratuities to retired workers. He’s saying, by these actions, that 2018 will be as action-packed as the preceding year and the years before that.

Bego wrote this piece from Damaturu, Yobe State

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