Osinbajo’s Uncommon Leadership Style, By Chukwudi Enekwechi

It is an indisputable fact that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo shares some fundamental values with President Muhammadu Buhari in terms of integrity and vision to rejuvenate Nigeria into a prosperous country. This is amply demonstrated in his approach to the revival of moribund national institutions and establishment of new ones. 

Realising that economy remains the engine room of development for any country, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has continued to make deliberate efforts aimed at providing the enabling environment for the various states and Nigeria’s economy in general to once again witness a boost. 

For example, the creation of MSME Clinics under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan is meant to provide spot-on solutions to the challenges of the Medium and Small scale Enterprises in Nigeria. To realise this objective, the clinics partner with key government institutions like Bank of Industry, Corporate Affairs Commission, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Nigeria Export Import Bank and Bank of Agriculture.

Some of the benefits accruable from the MSMEs Clinics are speedy access to finance, business registration at 50% in some cases, product registration and certification within a record time. Already the federal government has launched the pilot scheme of the One Stop Shop Solutions for MSMEs in five states while more states will still benefit.

So far the vice president has visited sixteen states of the federation for the MSMEs Clinics.

His inclination to think out of the box as the leader of the federal government’s economic team has in many ways boosted the country’s economy and attracted the inflow of foreign direct investments. Presently Nigeria is the preferred destination for foreign investors while the stock exchange and Nigeria’s foreign reserve are on the upward swing. Professor Osinbajo is also applying ingenuous solutions to the myriad of problems in the country.

A typical example is the federal government’s initiative in setting up National Social Investment Programme NSIP Innovation Technology Hubs across the country. The focus is to use these hubs to fix problems that are peculiar to each of the six geo-political zones of the country and to ensure their sustainability the federal government is partnering with the private sector. The Innovation Hubs are tailored to meet the peculiar needs of each geo-political zone. For example, the North East Innovation Hub will support innovative solutions to the humanitarian challenges in the North East part of the country, and this will be in partnership with the private sector and the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

The South South Innovation Hub is meant to find workable solutions to the challenges in Tourism, Education, The Environment and Oil & Gas, while the South East and North Central Innovation Hub is tailored towards solving problems associate with commerce, finance, governance and agriculture. Similarly, the federal government is partnering with Ventures Platform Foundation to realise the objectives. This unique problem-solving model will be replicated in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria

There is no doubt that his unrelenting support to various state governments, federal ministries, agencies and parastatals has served as a catalyst for the turnaround we are currently witnessing in the various sectors of the economy. Firstly, on assumption of office, Professor Yemi Osinbajo with the support of President Muhammadu Buhari rolled out various policy measures aimed at alleviating the plight of the most vulnerable groups in our midst. 

To cater for the needs of poor school children, a school feeding programme was introduced across the thirty six states of the federation, whereby every primary school child was entitled to one meal a day. Similarly the N-Power programme of the Buhari/Osinbajo administration has become institutionalised and a global model for empowering jobless youths. 

It is also worth remembering that based on the collective vision of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Nigerians realised that Nigeria can actually be a rice exporting country. Today that vision has been realised as we are now self-sufficient in rice production. This achievement is unprecedented and was unimaginable until the duo came to the saddle. 

Professor Yemi Osinbajo can be said to have brought innovation into the way Nigeria’s economy is being managed as his innovative ideas have seen businesses being revived, industrial clusters being set up, technology hubs being established and markets being electrified with solar power across the country. 

These systematic and deliberate efforts by the federal government have helped to create jobs for the country’s teeming youth population and released the creative energies of the Nigerian people. There is no doubt that with the commitment the federal government has brought to bear on rejuvenating the economy that a solid foundation is being laid for the rapid industrialisation of the country.

 It is also gratifying that serious attention is being paid to the economy as it forms one of the three major planks of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cardinal objectives in government.  Security and war against graft are equally receiving adequate attention.

Professor Yemi Osinbajo has been tireless and focussed at ensuring that Nigerians reap the dividends of democracy as encapsulated in the ‘’change agenda’’  of the administration, and so far his efforts are reverberating across the country and yielding expected results. 

As a man of vision imbued with rare leadership qualities he is not given or predisposed to inanities and trivialities, rather he always concentrates on dealing with developmental issues that can impact positively on all Nigerians.

 From Kano to Edo, Lagos to Enugu, Calabar to Benue, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has become the man of the moment as he continually enjoys the goodwill and support of President Muhammadu Buhari in their collective vision and desire to make life more meaningful for Nigerians.

Perhaps it needs to be restated for the umpteenth time that with the various programmes and policies being put in place by the Buhari/Osinbajo administration such as the revival of the railways, agricultural revolution, and fight against corruption, poverty eradication, youth empowerment and support to businesses, Nigeria is on an irreversible path to growth, progress and development. This is possible and can only be achieved with the unalloyed support of the people.

By Chukwudi Enekwechi JP

An Abuja Based Journalist and Politician

Kwechis19@yahoo.com

 

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Reuniting APC: Why Oshiomhole, Mai Mala Buni Should Lead The Party, By Salihu Adaviruku

Election season in Nigeria is often marked by a complete focus of attention and development of narratives on the activities of political characters, with their political parties treated as an inconsequential appendage. While this may be attributed to a number of reasons, it is largely a manifestation of the lack of understanding or acknowledgement of the influence of political parties on candidates and government.

Political parties perform a crucial role as they, amongst many other duties, develop the guiding document which serves as the premise upon which candidates build their policies and government direction, should they secure victory. It is therefore of utmost importance that the leadership of political parties be competent, for proper handling of party affairs; dynamic to allow for innovative ideas and introduction of positive reforms; and fair to all as an exemplary practice of democracy to both direct members of the party and citizens of the country.

It is against this background that the ambitions of Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole and Mai Mala Buni as the Chairman and National Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress, respectively, must be viewed as a development of great importance and an opportunity to consolidate on the gains of the party and introduce reforms which would have a progressive ripple effect on the leadership of the country.

To start with the basic role of a political party, which is the presentation of candidates and securing of election victory, Adams Oshiomhole has a demonstrated ability to earn votes across divide and retain same through excellent leadership and management of human and other resources. His entry into Edo state politics at the time when all the machineries of the state, to the detriment of the people, were hijacked by the PDP saw him unite the entire people of Edo state and they, convinced that he represents desired change, stood with him as he handed a resounding defeat to the PDP, both at the polls and in court. He not only repeated this feat with a better margin, but also successfully installed a successor who is presently continuing his developmental works in the state.

Furthermore, Oshimhole’s years as the leader of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) gave him profound insight into the true yearnings of the people and equipped him with deft negotiation skill with which he manoeuvred obstacles and reached agreements profitable to all. No surprise he remains, till date, Nigeria’s most effective labour leader. All of these, especially his ability to unite people under a single banner, irrespective of differences, for the actualization of a common goal, make him the ideal leader the All Progressives Congress need at the moment – especially when the fragile state of certain relationships in the party is considered.

His endorsement by the President and other party leaders across the six geo-political zones of the country is an illustration of this fact. “He is one of us, that is why we have to come and identify with him here” said Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state when asked of his support for Adams Oshiomhole, and his counterpart from Kano state, Governor Umar Ganduje, echoed same sentiment before declaring that “all the votes from Kano State will go to the former governor of Edo State”.

The same can be said of Mai Mala Buni whose dedication to the party, over the years, has earned him plaudits from President Muhammadu Buhari. He has come to represent a stabilising factor within the party, ensuring that relationships, though strained as a result of competing interests, are kept for the progress and continued good of the party. His reputation as a great organizer and manager of men is common knowledge amongst those familiar with inside workings of the party.

A testament of his exemplary service as National Secretary of the party is the endorsement of his continuation by all Governors, Ministers and stakeholders from the North-East and other geo-political zones of the country. Many have identified his diplomacy and tact in handling party issues, especially in the face of conflict arising from differing interests, as one of the key reasons the party remains sturdy. This makes it glaring that with him as National Secretary and Adams Oshiomhole as the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, the party and its members are guaranteed an inclusive and harmonious future.

Adams Oshiomhole and Mai Mala Buni are presenting the All Progressives Congress with a chance to reinvent itself, repair fractured relationships and expand voters base through key alliances made possible by effective persuasion and articulation of people-friendly policies. This is a chance the party cannot afford to lose; and this is why on the 23rd of June, at the National Convention, delegates must ensure they file behind Adams Oshiomhole and Mai Mala Buni for the good of the party.

Salihu, an APC member, writes from Okehi in Kogi state.

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Osun 2018, Politics Of Zoning, And The APC’s Big Gamble, By Olalekan Adigun

Keen observers of Osun politics are never caught by surprise about its unending drama especially during election seasons. Things got to the climax during the preparations for the 2003 elections which saw some of the darkest and lowest periods in Osun political history.

This period saw unimaginable forms of barbarism, savagery, and disorder manifest in the shape of broad daylight election rigging, political thuggery and violence, and series of assassinations (and disappearance) of well-known political figures including the yet-to-be-resolved murder of Chief Bola Ige, Cicero of Esa-Oke, former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

As though these were not enough, 2007 elections in the state refused to win turn pessimists to optimists as all known attempts in the books were deployed to steal the people’s mandate by the powers that be. Nothing was spared to achieve this objective. Fortunately, in 2010, the tables turned when the Court of Appeal, sitting in Ibadan, against all odds, delivered a landmark judgment in favour of Engineer Rauf Aregbesola, the rightful winner of the 2007 gubernatorial election.

Needless to say that Rauf Aregbesola will later win the 2014 governorship election to become the first governor in the state to be re-elected in a free and fair election since its creation in 1991. The rest, as they say, is history!

This background is necessary, first, for those who may not be too familiar with developments in Osun since 2003. And, second, for those who may be familiar, it serves as a reminder about the immediate dark (and bloody) past on her path to the present.

With Governor Aregbesola’s successful completion of tenure later in 2018, understandably, the competition among other contestants for the exalted seat is gradually heating up.

The political landscape of the state shows that two leading parties- All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)- have fairly equal strengths and weaknesses. For analytical purposes, we may add the Social Democratic Party (SDP) who will fancy its chances with the party’s latest acquisition of Senator Iyiola Omisore, a former deputy governor of the state.

While the two APC boasts of the current governor Rauf Aregbesola and a retinue of influential figures in the state, the PDP on its part lays claim to the governorship seat with its profile as the former ruling party in the state.  Also, of the three Senatorial seats in the state, APC has two as against PDP’s one which it got in the recent landslide victory (winning 9 out of 10 LGAs) in the Osun West Senatorial by-election. On the surface, things may look rosy for the ruling party, but things are in fact, murky especially for lovers of the party if it fails once again to respond to the challenge from Osun West.

The recent by-elections in Osun West show that there have been questions APC strategists are not answering. And this is very strange!

This writer is not a big fan of “zoning” in electoral democracies. But, as a keen observer of Nigerian politics (which is strongly based on primordial sentiments), this author thinks there are good reasons why the APC must zone its ticket to Osun West.

First, let us do some political reality checks. The 2014 governorship election results show that the APC candidate won elections in 22 out of the 30 local government areas of the state scored a total of 394,684 to defeat PDP’s Omisore (as he then was) who got 292747 votes from 8 LGAs mainly from Osun East and two from Osun Central. The difference between the two candidates is 101,937 votes.

From this, let us remove the votes from the 10 LGAs in Osun West and give them to Omisore. With Omisore winning (assumedly) 18 LGAs against Aregbesola’s 12, this will produce one of two situations most political strategists will prefer to avoid: first, a possible re-run, if the votes from Osun Central (especially Osogbo) will still be strong enough to charge APC on in the election.

The outcome of such situation would have been largely unpredictable. Second, with 18 LGAs against 12 and with PDP armed with the power of “Federal might”, the party may just kiss the governorship goodbye like it happened in Ekiti.  And with the 2015 elections in sight, the morale of the party’s supporters would have been seriously dampened!

Let us also take a look at the merits of the argument of the people of Osun West for the governorship. Late Senator Isiaka Adeleke was elected during the Third Republic under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as the first executive governor of the state for a period that unfortunately ended after 13 months.

In the Fourth Republic, Osun has had a total of three Governors: Chief Bisi Akande (1999-2003), Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola (2003-2010) and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (incumbent). Of all these, both Akande and Oyinlola from Osun central while Aregbesola is from Osun East. Other zones have spent 19 years against Osun West’s 1 year! Isn’t it just logical and natural for the Governorship to return to Osun West after over 25 years of waiting, yearning, and agitating? Who best should lead this charge if not the APC? Who benefits more from returning the exalted seat to Osun West than APC? If not now, then when?

If Osun West will get it soon, how SOON is soon? For how long should people from Osun West wait and endure? How are we so sure their patients aren’t running out?

Let us look at another possible scenario. If the PDP fields a candidate like Senator Nurudeen Adeleke (who recently signified his intention to join the gubernatorial race), who is from the influential Adeleke dynasty in Ede and APC fields a candidate from another zone, even if APC can brag about bulk votes from Iwo, that will still be a big gamble it does not want to take going by figures from the latest Senatorial by-election and the damage may be incalculable.

Even though Iwo has been the traditional fortress of progressives in the Osun West, recent experiences should have taught the APC leaders the bitter lessons of assuming too much that “Iwo will always respond”. To avert a messy situation in the forthcoming election, APC leaders should field a strong candidate from Osun West. If they are to take my line of arguments and field a good politician from the zone, such may serve two strategic functions: first, it will placate the seeming eternal yearnings of Osun West people on their chance to produce the governor; second, it will neutralise the threats parties like the PDP might pose thereby reducing complications that might arise from other unpredictable areas like Ife which might prove really damaging to the APC’s chances.

APC leaders will be engaging in a big gamble should they fall for the temptation(s) to choose their flagbearer from Osun West. Too much is at stake in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state. Some of us are old enough to know the consequences of returning to our immediate dark past.

One good reason to return to this past will be APC’s choice of flagbearer outside Osun West. This will be a massive gamble with terrible implications!

Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN is a political analyst and author of the fast-selling book WITNESSING THE CHANGE. He can be reached on +2348136502040, +2347081901080 or email: adgorwell@gmail.com. He tweets from @adgorwell. He blogs at http://olalekanadigun.com/

 

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Stabilizing The Economy Through MSMSE Clinics, By Amaechi Agbo

“In a society in which nearly everybody is dominated by somebody else’s mind or by a disembodied mind, it becomes increasingly difficult to learn the truth about the activities of governments and corporations, about the quality or value of products, or about the health of one’s own place and economy.
In such a society, also, our private economies will depend less and less upon the private ownership of real, usable property, and more and more upon property that is institutional and abstract, beyond individual control, such as money, insurance policies, certificates of deposit, stocks, and shares. And as our private economies become more abstract, the mutual, free helps and pleasures of family and community life will be supplanted by a kind of displaced or placeless citizenship and by commerce with impersonal and self-interested suppliers…
Thus, although we are not slaves in name, and cannot be carried to market and sold as somebody else’s legal chattels, we are free only within narrow limits. For all our talk about liberation and personal autonomy, there are few choices that we are free to make. What would be the point, for example, if a majority of our people decided to be self-employed?”
Above excerpts from Wendell Berry’s, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays, sums up how a society would be when government policies and programmes were not well-tailored or targeted at the people.
For all that government does, no matter its name or configuration, the people are at the centre. It is based on this that every government that wants to win and retain the support of the masses or its citizenry, must go a long way in fashioning and churning out policies and programmes particularly economically, not only to empower the people but also to engage them and prosper them for greater contributions to the national economy.
In keeping with its three cardinal election campaign promises, one of which is economic stability, the federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari in January, 2017 launched the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Clinics.
In many ways the administration has attempted to ensure that  it betters the lives of its citizenry through establishment of the right economic policies and empowering institutions geared towards overseeing the economic welfare of the people. Because a healthy populace, is a healthy and stable economy.
Upon assumption of office in 2015, the administration has been working round the clock to ensure that Nigerians – over 70% of them living below one dollar per day – live better lives, engage in businesses of their choices and contribute, in greater propensity, to the growth of the economy. Economically empowered citizens contribute towards building a vibrant and robust capital development of the nation.
To fast track this, the federal government launched its Economic and Recovery Growth Plans, ERGP in 2016. Embedded in the policy is the Micro, Small Medium Enterprises, (MSMEs) Clinics launched in 2017.
The programme, apart from ensuring increased production of goods in the manufacturing sector, agriculture as well as provision of substitution to hitherto imported goods, is also designed to bring about significant and sustainable Gross Domestic Product, (GDP) growth, spur employment generation and increase in local productivity, thereby reducing import bills on food and essential products that can be produced locally.
MSMEs Clinic also realigns the role of government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as facilitators of business as well as bring about increase in foreign exchange earnings through export.
By so doing, the clinic addresses all the plethora of challenges affecting the growth and productivity of MSMEs in Nigeria.
The principal objectives of the MSMEs Clinic programme are to create a platform for stake-holders and businesses to discuss issues affecting set-up and operations of small, low-income businesses in the country; create a platform where government and other stakeholders can share and provide information of all the policies, programmes and initiatives currently existing in the country for encouraging MSMEs.
At different times and cities, the MSMEs Clinic has been launched in some States with Aba in Abia state, Nigeria’s largest commercial hub kicking off the establishment of the scheme across the states on January 26, 2017.
This was followed by the establishment of that of Onitsha, the commercial nerve of the South East in Anambra state.
Other states that the scheme has been established include Cross River, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, Kwara, Kano, Katsina, Anambra, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Ondo, Osun, FCT, and Kogi.
Like in the FCT, Onitsha launching had 4, 000 beneficiaries in attendance while Kano recorded 12, 000 participants.
Although official documenation on the actual figure of MSMEs in Nigeria remains a subject of debate, it is estimated that Nigeria currently has a total of 39 million micro, small and medium enterprise businesses.
In the same way a hospital clinic is established with doctors deployed to diagnose, cure and provide professional medical advice to patients, in the light the MSMEs Clinics operate.
MSMEs Clinic agencies such as Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; Bank Of Industry, BOI; National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, etc, who offer specialized incentives to the small business owners meet with the businessmen and women with the intention to identify and discuss business hindrances or obstacles militating against their growth, offer professional advice and provide solutions to the challenges.
The federal government has intensified its outreach in championing the establishment of the MSMEs Clinic in the states across the federation with the latest being that of Edo State which was carried out on Thursday, June 14, 2018.
In launching the MSMEs Clinic in the Federal Capital Territory, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, explained the importance of the clinic to over 4, 000 beneficiaries who turned up for the event.
According to the Vice President, “MSME Clinics serve as a one stop shop to address challenges faced by small business owners in the country
“Working very closely with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, we came up with the idea of MSMEs Clinics as an important building block not as a silver bullet, but as an important block in finding a solution.
“The term Clinics was chosen deliberately to reflect three things all borrowed from the health sector. The first is that individual MSMEs face problems that can hopefully be addressed through direct access to relevant officials.
“The second is that direct consultations with very senior experts will find solution.
“The third is that a reasonably large number of people can be attended to without any need for expensive and time consuming travel to agencies offices,” he stated.
Relevant agencies being mobilized to ensure the initiative achieve the objectives include: Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), Nigerian Export Promotion Council(NEPC), Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDAN).
Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Export-Import Bank and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
Others include, Bank of Industry (BOI), Nigeria Customs Service, Ministry of Trade and Investment, among many others.
It could not be forgotten that Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had launched the MSME Development Fund with a share capital of N220 billion, in order to support the MSMEs programme
In launching the MSME Clinic in Onitsha, Anambra State, in April last year, the VP explained the reasons for the scheme and its importance to the growth of the nation’s economy as well as roles that certain agencies will play to make the scheme a success.
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“As individual units, MSMEs may be small, but together they account for up to 50 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and over 80 percent of the labour force. It therefore follows that they are of decisive importance in the national economy.
“MSMEs have tended to be neglected in this country over the years. This is partly as a result of competing priorities and a tendency to discount their contribution to the national economy.
“The MSME Clinics were conceived in this context and they are designed to bring the regulatory agencies whose work affects the business experience of MSMEs nearer to them. This will enable MSMEs to bring their business-related problems to regulatory agencies for solution outside the formal and sometimes intimidating offices of these agencies.
“Of course, having all the agencies in one location at the same time saves MSMEs the travel time and cost of going to different agencies.
“MSME Clinics have also enabled regulatory agencies to gain a better understanding of the difficulties that MSMEs face and caused them to take steps to remedy the situation where required. For instance, several agencies have reduced the cost and timelines for service delivery to MSMEs. Since the launch of this programme last year, it has been easier for small businesses to access funds, because the Bank of Industry (BoI), Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) and NEXIM Bank have used it to expose their products and increase their loans to MSMEs.
“NAFDAC has made it easier to do business, by reducing the cost and waiting time for product registration for small businesses. What used to take 8 months now takes 3 months.
“On its part, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) now registers businesses within 48 hours and also carries out registration during the Clinics at reduced prices.”
“The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) have both slashed their charges on various products and services, just to support small and medium enterprises.
“To foster continuity after the Clinics, at least five State governments have set up ‘One-Stop Shops’ that bring all the relevant agencies together in one place, so as to enable small businesses access their services on an on-going basis with relative ease,” he said.
The states that have established MSMEs Clinic One-Stop Shop include Plateau, Kwara, Katsina, FCT, among others.
World Bank in its report on the MSMEs’ roles in fast tracking the development of economies of 3rd World nations noted that:“MSMEs are, collectively, the largest employers in many low-income countries, yet their viability can be threatened by a lack of access to such risk-management tools as savings, insurance and credit. Their growth is often stifled by restricted access to credit (loan), equity and payments services.”
Access to financial services can therefore boost job creation, raise income, reduce vulnerability and increase investments in human capital.
MSMEs account for a significant share of employment and GDP around the world, but, when they have limited access to finance, the economy suffers a series of negative consequences: Economic and social opportunities are restricted or lost entirely, enterprise creation and growth are restrained, households and enterprises are more vulnerable to threats, and payments are costlier and less safe.
A World Bank Enterprise Survey found that the smaller firms are less likely to have access to capital – a factor that constrains their ability to grow and become more productive. They are also more likely to rely on informal sources of capital – a factor that is often negatively associated with growth and firm performance.
 Access to finance is disproportionately difficult for smaller firms in the least developed countries (LDCs), with 41 percent of SMEs in LDCs reporting access to finance as a major constraint to their growth and development, by comparison to 30 percent in middle-income countries (MICs) and only 15 percent in high-income countries (HICs).
These are the problems the MSME Clinics are tackling in Nigeria.
The renewed focus on MSMEs sector is significant because they constitute the bedrock of economic development in most countries, with four out of five new jobs being created by the sector in emerging markets such as Nigeria’s.
?To underscore the importance the Federal Government attaches to the MSMEs Clinic, the Vice President, during the establishment of the MSMEs Clinic in Jos, Plelateau State, gave this caveat “Every time that a public servant is an obstacle to anyone seeking approvals or licenses, he or she attacks the Nigerian economy and its future. Our individual and collective vision or objective as civil or public servants must be advancing the social and economic prosperity.”
Amaechi Agbo is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja.
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Super Eagles And Marcus The Pig At The World Cup, By Reuben Abati

There has been nothing in recent memory like the build up to Nigeria’s first match at the on-going 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament in Russia. Football is Nigeria’s greatest unifier: when it is football, our compatriots drop all ethnic, religious and ideological differences and profess the missing faith and ideology of one Nigeria.

They have expressed similar solidarity over whose jollof is sweeter in the competition between Ghanaian jollof, Senegalese jollof and Nigerian jollof  – the way Nigerians defend our national cuisine, you would think we are a nation of gourmets, but nothing compares to the magic of football and its connection with nationalism. When it comes to football, Nigeria is the home of passion, zeal and boundary-less excitement. This is intriguing so to speak in the same nation where politics is combustible and a comment about another person’s faith or religion, or ethnicity or a mere disagreement between a Hausa-Fulani and a Yoruba at Mile 12 market, or between a pastoralist and a farmer in the Middle Belt could result in bloodbath, even at a football-viewing centre. The only explanation we have for this is that Nigeria is a complex country, full of paradoxes, and clearly, only Nigerians understand their country.

Nonetheless, the disappointing performance of the Super Eagles in their first match at the on-going 2018 World Cup tournament has nothing to do with paradox or complexity, it was a display of sheer absent-mindedness.  In the build-up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Nigeria was the darling of the entire world. The news was that we had the best set of jerseys and kits in the world. Despite the shoulder-rubbing aspiration of Egypt, Croatia and one other country like that, the Nigerian jerseys designed by Nike became the aso ebi of the World Cup – a nice combination of colour, mood, shade and tint. The jerseys sold out a few minutes after being made available on the Nike website. Before you knew it, everybody that is somebody or simply pro-Nigerian started wearing the jersey, across the world. If the World Cup were to be won by the beauty of the garment, Nigerians would have seized the trophy even before the tournament began.

There was even a quarrel over the attires: there must be like four different types, but the one eventually designed by a local tailor made as much wave as the Nike ones and one guy went on twitter to protest that there was a Nigerian conspiracy against the Warri guy who designed the local aso ebi. At that point, the ethnic element came in, but Nigerians didn’t dwell on that. They quickly recognized @gt_stitches and asked the Super Eagles to show the world what they have.

Beautiful Nollywood girls and professional local slay queens pushed their frontal and back-end assets in our faces proclaiming Up-Nigeria. Some even exposed nice, succulent, tempting flesh, to reassure the Super Eagles that the women of Nigeria were behind them. Some celebrities joined the craze, including a few pot-bellied, and white-hair-in-the-nose actors wearing the Super Eagles jersey. The international media spotted the story – BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera etc and adopted the Super Eagles as the best-dressed team in the World Cup and we all went wa-ah–oh. They even interviewed Russians watching our Nigerian football fans, dancing round the streets of Russia, singing, jolloficating, and energetically pounding the streets. “The Nigerians just won’t stop singing and dancing”!

The excitement was so much that even the President of Brazil endorsed Nigeria as a key team at the World Cup. The Irish, not having a team at the World Cup, ignored England and said they were supporting Nigeria. It was clear to me, doing a structuralist and semiotic reading of this that Nigeria is a country in desperate need of good news. I didn’t attempt a Marxist reading-   the Russians themselves having killed Karl Marx after his death. The World Cup is not about the struggle of the masses, or equity or justice.  It is war, even if at the end of the day the gifted are separated from the waka-pass and a dictatorship of the former is established.  Every qualifying team joins the war to defend its country, its brand, national ego and corporate brand. Very sad. Very bad. So frustrating, therefore: The Super Eagles messed us up on Saturday, June 16.

Many Nigerians were disappointed with their performance. It was Nigeria’s 6th World Cup appearance. The boys may have worn the most fashionable clothes, but they failed to realize that the World Cup is not a Dolce and Gabana show where Wizkid and Naomi Campell can exchange boy and woman banters or that the garment does not make the Monk.  Every World Cup match is a macho game, a game of thrones, with too much at stake – personal brands, national brands, and the ego and emotions of nations.  Our team lacked energy, drive and creativity. Alex Iwobi, the leading light from the qualifiers was anonymous on the left wing. Victor Moses was the man every Nigerian thought would make some difference. The fella was busy showboating all over the pitch on Saturday, falling up and down like a yoyo, kicking the ball like a headless chicken. Ighalo was left isolated with no secondary support.

Troost-Ekong certainly does not know that the World Cup field is not a night-club. He should be told to stop holding and embracing the opponent in the penalty yard. A football match is not a ballet where people cling to each other and do the pirouette. Mikel Obi should try and help his country. Cristiano Ronaldo had a big tax evasion matter on his head, but he still stood up for his country. Diego Costa: he proved himself for Spain. Lionel Messi may have lost the penalty: I blame the coach – never ask Messi to take the penalty, he would mess it up- but he worked hard for Argentina.

With an own goal and a silly penalty give-away in the match against Croatia, we have all now become a nation of football coaches.  Young Nigerians who claim to understand football, even if their only claim to that is the Aba-made Super Eagles jersey they bought in Lagos Traffic, or at Yaba bend-down market, are now telling Gernot Rohr what combination he must adopt in subsequent matches. Many amateur coaches have recommended the 4-4-2 combination but I think Nigeria probably stands a chance of doing better in this World Cup if all the arm-chair coaches on social media can be blocked and all the fine girls with corruption-laden body parts can be banned from sending Direct Messages to the Super Eagles.

Also, the boys must not visit Mikel Obi’s in-laws until the end of the tournament. They must stay away from Russian hospitality and Vodka. Nigeria as a country needs to concentrate on the task at hand. Switzerland was able to hold Brazil down to a 1-1 draw because they focused on the job. The same was the case in the Portugal-Spain match. Marcus, the pig had predicted that Spain would beat Portugal. But that didn’t happen. In the dying minutes, Ronaldo made it a hat-rick and cancelled Diego Costa’s brace. We need people like that in the Super Eagles.  Portugal obviously did not rely on the pig.

It is indeed a crying shame that Nigerians are relying on fashion and animals for their World Cup 2018 fortune. Just before our first match against Croatia on Saturday, we were told that the Football Association Chairman in Russia had issued a statement forbidding Super Eagles fans from bringing live chickens to the stadiums. Apparently the Super Eagles Fans’ Club Association had asked for permission to bring live chickens to the match venues- chickens are said to be symbols of the Fans’ association. I don’t know whether or not the Russians were being polite, but they said No.  I have tried to put myself in their shoes.

Having heard all those stories about snakes that steal millions of money in Nigeria, who in his right senses in the world today, will allow Nigerians to bring a live chicken to a competitive football match? What if any of the chickens, the sprightly, springy ones broke loose, jumped onto the field of play and caused some havoc in the course of a peregrination across the stadium?  There is also the additional threat of bird flu, being spread inadvertently through contact or air-borne pollination. But may be it was not even the chickens that posed the greatest danger, it was probably Marcus the pig- the prophesying-animal that reportedly told the whole world that the Super Eagles would make it to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.

Nigerians generally, including the Super Eagles are very superstitious. But we all need to be told that the World Cup is not about chickens and pigs. Some Nigerians were so dependent on the pig’s prediction that when they were disappointed at the end, they slaughtered and barbecued Marcus – representations of it – literally, and figuratively, on social media for its treachery. May they be reminded that the same pig probably predicted that Spain will beat Portugal in their first encounter. But Portugal had Ronaldo who proved to be brighter than the pig and in the dying minutes, he changed the game.

And that takes us to where we are going: the Super Eagles must stop relying on predictions, or pigs or chickens and play football. The on-going World Cup tournament is already springing surprises and living up to the hype. Mexico trashed Germany the defending Champions. Switzerland held Brazil with their individually and collectively talented squad to a draw. Portugal and Spain played as if they were at war. Iceland, a first-time participant at the World Cup, put up a great showing, 1-1, against Argentina, a team mentioned as one of the favourites to win the tournament.  This particular match recorded specular saves by the Iceland goalkeeper, including a Lionel Messi penalty kick. Magical moments like this indicate determination and the desire to win. Hannes Halldorsson, Iceland’s goalkeeper, is a film-maker away from football- he would never have guessed he would produce a film-like performance at the World Cup and also be named Man of the Match.

On Friday, June 22, the Super Eagles will again be on the field – against Iceland. If there is ever a must-win match to keep a nation’s hope alive, that must be it. The Super Eagles must not play like pigs or chickens. We expect them to play like champions.  Just before the World Cup began, Javier Mascherano, an Argentine player commented on how the great thing about Nigeria is that we are a disorganized team, and that our disorganization disorganizes other teams. Masherano was proven right in our match against Croatia. That is disheartening.

As a country that has football ingrained into its identity, we expect a lot more even if, to be honest, there is an obvious lack of high-end talent representing the national team. Many of our own who can make a difference are, sadly and unfortunately, representing other national teams at this World Cup. Manuel Obafemi Akanji, born to a Nigerian father, has just helped Switzerland to secure a draw against Brazil. Dele Alli, another Nigerian is in the English national team. So I ask: are we expecting too much from the Super Eagles?

Are we putting too much pressure on them to perform?  I don’t think so.  Romelu Lukaku, a star of the Belgian team and Manchester United, is from a family that had no access to Cable TV.  His family was poor. He is now making a second-time appearance in the World Cup finals. He has scored 2 goals in this World Cup to help secure a 3-0 victory for Belgium over Panama. Gabriel Jesus of Brazil used to paint streets; today he is one of the leading stars for Brazil at the World Cup. What Nigerians want from the Super Eagles at this World Cup is good performance, a display of ability and seriousness, and a successful defence of the Nigerian brand.

Developing football? Whatever happens at the end of the day in Russia, we have to learn to develop Nigeria’s football sector and the entire sports sector – the management, the leadership recruitment, the diversification and strategic intensification –  to demonstrate to the world that we are a serious-minded nation. Super Eagles – a severely depressed nation in search of good news waits on you.

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Femi Fani-Kayode A Turncoat With Destructive Tendencies, By Nathaniel Adoji??

The man Femi Fani-Kayode is twisted. He has a twisted mind and he writes and says things that are twisted. He is incoherent, inconsistent and very unstable like an internet connection. He has accused Presidents, ministers and politicians only to turncoat and defend them with more vigour and enthusiasm.

It’s the same for switching political parties and turning on the fingers that once fed him and even helped him when he was down. The issue of substance abuse has popped up a couple of times, with many concerned that he sometimes says things when he’s on ‘overdrive’

In 2015, then opposition spokesman, Lai Mohammed, said Fani-Kayode – then Peoples Democratic Party Campaign Organisation spokesman – may be abusing substance owing to the series of “incoherent” allegations he has levelled against the party.

FanÍ-Kayode had alleged that Yemi Osinbajo, then APC vice-presidential candidate, is a stooge of Bola Tinubu and would eventually pave the way for him to become vice-president.

“No, we have never and will never wish anyone any ill-health. However, we are seriously concerned that Fani-Kayode may have unhinged, perhaps as a result of a relapse into an unhealthy lifestyle of substance abuse. Our concern stems from the series of incoherent statements, outlandish claims and inconsistent behaviours exhibited by Fani-Kayode in recent times, which call into question his state of mental health,” the APC said at the time.

“We wish Mr. Fani-Kayode well and call on him to tell Nigerians that he remains clean, despite the massive pressure of work, and that he will not do anything that will see him needing a prolonged reformation in a foreign land,” the APC added.

Three years down the line and the ‘stooge’ suggestion by Fani-Kayode remains an illusion, a phantom. Osinbajo is still Vice President and will most certainly remain in his position.

But there’s more from the Mario Balotelli of Nigeria’s politics. In 2013, he said this of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who he later served.

Fani-Kayode popularly referred to as FFK said President Jonathan was too weak to win the war against Islamic sect, Boko Haram. “As long as Jonathan is in power, Boko Haram will be there because he is not man enough to tackle the problem’’. Until a president who is man enough is in charge, Boko Haram problem will continue to be there,” he said on 5 Thursday 2013, in Osogbo, capital of Osun state.

Similarly, on 6 February 2014, FFK said “Jonathan has failed in all sectors, including the economy and security, and if he should be allowed to continue in office, this country is heading for serious disaster and it will be calamitous.

On February 5 2014, again FFK said “Yorubas have been marginalized by Jonathan’s administration and thus, should not vote him in 2015”. He went further to say that “Any attempt to allow President Jonathan stay in office beyond 2015 would mean doom for the Yoruba nation. Jonathan is bleeding Nigeria to death, It is time for change.

But it did not take long before he began singing his praise. Once he was appointed spokesperson of Jonathan’s campaign, Fani-Kayode began praising Jonathan and he immediately took on his opposition Buhari.

Earlier, this year, he said this about Jonathan, “A man of honor and peace and one that has brought so much joy and hope to millions. You have proved to the world that African leaders can be competent, kind, gentle, humane and selfless. You have everything to be proud of and much still lies ahead for you in the affairs of our nation. You are the light amidst the darkness: a man that was prepared to let go of power whilst others crave for it, abuse it and are obsessed with it.”

Like Jonathan, he served under another former President, Olusegun Obasanjo as minister of aviation. And even Obasanjo was not spared of his vituperation. “But the truth is that Obasanjo caused the problem we have today. The joy of it is that the same Obasanjo who anointed an incompetent leader (Jonathan) for Nigeria is now cleaning up the mess,” he said referring to Obasanjo’s castigation of Jonathan’s government.

But there are others. He has attacked Igbos, the PDP. On 8 August 2013, he turned on the Igbos. “The Igbo and their Biafra fought Nigeria and killed Nigerians for three hard years in that brutal civil war in which over one million courageous, loyal and faithful sons and daughters of the Federal Republic lost their lives at the war front trying to stop Biafra from seceding from the federation, from taking our land and from taking the minority groups of the Mid-Western Region and Eastern Region and our newly-discovered oil with them’’

Not done with Igbos, FFK in an effort to disparage the most revered Igbo man living or dead, made a public rendition of how he frolicked with the wife of late Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, Eze Igbo Gburugburu. Today because he is in President Jonathan’s government some Igbos have embraced him as their friend not minding how this man diminished the Igbo race by diminishing their legend. Igbos who supports FFK are ignorant and they don’t even understand what is means to have your legend diminished.

Five years down the line, he is the number one advocate for Biafra. “What has Nnamdi Kanu or indeed the Igbo people done to warrant this primitive show of barbarism and force? We are on the brink of a total breakdown of law and order and a prolonged and bloody armed conflict.

I urge restraint on all sides and I call on President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the army from the east and leave Nnamdi Kanu alone.Terrorising your own people with soldiers is not the act of a courageous man but rather the act of a tyrant, a coward and a bully. We call on the international community to bear witness to what is unfolding in eastern Nigeria,” he wrote in an op-ed on 16 September 2017.

Days ago, he became an advocate of President Muhammadu Buhari who he has vehemently insulted at every opportunity that has presented itself. He did not only advocate for Buhari, he also defended him. But minutes later, he was insulting him again. That stunned me because this was a new low for Fani-Kayode.

I commend @MBuhari for announcing June 12th as our new Democracy Day. This is long overdue and I am pleasantly surprised.I also commend him for honoring Chief MKO Abiola, the winner of the June 12th 1993 presidential election, with the posthumus award of GCON.This is great news!” he wrote on 7 June 2018 on Twitter.

The award of GCFR to MKO Abiola by @MBuhari and the declaration of June 12th as Democracy Day is a classic case of a cunning, self-seeking, self-serving and evil man doing the RIGHT thing for the WRONG reasons. If you really want to win our hearts beg for forgiveness and resign!

Shortly after he was defending the President again. “Ocherome Nnana called the Yoruba “sophisticated morons”for accepting what @MBuhari did relating to MKO Abiola and June 12. This is unacceptable and he is wrong. He did NOT speak for @vanguardngrnews and he did NOTspeak for the Igbo.He only spoke for his sorry self.God forgive him,” he tweeted.

Like the opening song from the classic, Sound of Music, “How do you solve a problem like FFK”? I think the Bible has just the verse for him, James 1 vs 8, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”.

Apt, absolutely apt

?.By Nathaniel C. Adoji?

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#Russia2018: Why Nigeria Could Win The World Cup, By Akinremi Ayo

Our darling super eagles will start their world cup campaign against their Croatia counterpart on Saturday 16th of June.
Looking at the crop of players the Super Eagles will be parading, it is easier to say that we really have a wonderful team of individual players. But the major constraint is them playing as a team.
Nigeria played 5 Friendlies. We won 1 , drew 1 and lost 3. This stat is not too good for a team that is playing at the world cup but at the same time, friendlies doesn’t really determine your world cup fate. But the bottom line is that our super eagles team doesn’t have a playing pattern.
Let’s take for instance, our last game against Czech Republic. The Czech Republicans came with a game plan. The were playing long balls and making some sharp crosses. They knew the Super Eagles are weak in defending crosses. Their game plan really worked for them at least they won the match.
Talking about game plans, super eagles team is disorganized. You see players of the same team colliding against each other while trying to clear an area ball. Could it be that Genort Rohr is trying to play safe by not not really exposing is tactics to his opponents?
According to Javier Mascherano, He said, “And Nigeria are quite well known to us, we’ve always met in the last World Cups. They’re tough, not just because of their physical power, but because their disorganisation has the effect of disorganising you as a rival. And that’s when teams like ours suffer the most – in disorder.” I find this really interesting as it could be an advantage to us. That means other teams would be wary of our disorganization and it might be difficult for them to really study us.
Don’t forget that Super Eagles always perform anytime we Nigerians right them off. Do you still remember what happened at 2013 AFCON? who knew super eagles will win it? Who knew Nigeria will even qualify for World cup?
Winning the world cup is realistic but Las Las we sha go fit enter semi-final if we no win world cup
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Osinbajo’s Stabilising Role In The Polity, By Chukwudi Enekwechi JP

Whenever this historical epoch of Nigeria’s political evolution is to be evaluated the role being played by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo will not go unnoticed or be swept under the carpet. In the last three years of this administration he has worked tirelessly with President Muhammadu Buhari to help realise the vision and mission of the administration as encapsulated in the ‘’change agenda’’ and several other policy documents. In doing this he has brought his extensive knowledge of law, public and private sector experiences to bear in the many successes of the Buhari /Osinbajo administration. 

Like President Muhammadu Buhari, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has equally through a dint of hard work and commitment to the Nigerian project emerged as a man of the people, hence the incredible show of love he garners wherever he goes. His wide acceptance across the country has added value to the administration and will surely attract needed support in the 2019 general elections. 

His focussed leadership of the administration’s economic team has helped to rejuvenate the weak economy they inherited from previous PDP administrations. Today Nigeria has become the preferred investment destination in Africa, while several policies the administration has enunciated have alleviated the plight of the poor. For example the N-Power, school feeding programme and anchor borrowers programme have translated into life-changing experiences for a good number of people. 

For the myriad of problems facing the country, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has never shied away from proffering workable solutions and a typical example is the farmers/herders clashes which he has been in the forefront in addressing the fundamental causes. This has contributed along with the security approach in restoring relative peace in the restive communities. Professor Osinbajo has proven that his position can be used to give support to his principal President Muhammadu Buhari rather than fight for supremacy or undermine the principal as we witnessed in past dispensations. 

As a loyal party member he has at critical periods brokered peace towards ensuring the cohesion necessary for the growth of the party and democracy in the country. He has also earned the confidence of President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the ruling All Progressive Congress as a peace maker, solution provider and out-of-the box thinker in resolving several knotty issues that crop up from time to time.

 His interventions in other issues of national importance are also worthy of mention. Recently he opted to intervene in redressing the action of the Lagos state government in forcing Luxury Bus Owners to relocate to a location that is obviously unsuitable for them to continue rendering seamless transport services to travellers from Lagos to other parts of the country.

 By offering to help find solution to the transporters’ plight he has demonstrated responsible leadership, especially considering the pivotal role transportation plays in the economic development of the country. Added to the fact that he leads the administration’s economic team, he is the most suitable to help find solution to such unnecessary disruption in the movement of goods and services across the country. Even in the United States, transport companies own bus terminals as we have in the Greyhound Bus Company and many others.

It can therefore be said that Professor Yemi Osinbajo is a blessing to the Buhari administration and Nigeria in general. History is replete with examples of such highly rated statesmen like President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who had rare opportunities of leadership to transform their societies and presently Nigeria is witnessing a focussed leadership that is positioning the country well.

By Chukwudi Enekwechi JP

Kwechis19@yahoo.com

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Buhari As Omoluabi-General Of Yorubaland, By Tunde Moshood

President Mohammadu Buhari must have scored another vital political point again, if feelers, turn of events and the elated mode within the caucus of the masses, at this critical, time is anything to go by. Critical time because the nation is on the verge of exercising its democratic process of changing the baton of leadership and with this, political jobbers, most especially haters from The Judas Iscariot Camp have began all sorts of mudslinging games.

The echoes of tension which seemed to be looming in the political arena before now appeared to have been doused with an epoch making decision no leader has been able to meet in years; for once, we have a President who was able to make a national impact to erase a political injustice of many years, little wonder feelings of guilt have been troubling discerning minds.

Even one of the daughter’s of the symbol of democracy, the brilliant Hafsat Abiola-Costelo  could not hide her feelings to refer to President Buhari as the most quintessential Omoluabi of this generation as shesettled for poetry to celebrate the recognition of her father by President Muhammadu Buhari and the dual honour done for his memory. In one fell swoop, President Buhari gave Abiola a posthumous honour that ranked him with all Nigeria’s leaders and also declared June 12, the day Abiola clearly won a democratic election that was annulled by Babangida’s junta, as Nigeria’s Democracy Day.

What other honour can one give a consummate elderstatesman and exemplary leader of note if not the title of the Omoluabi-General of Yorubaland. The Omoluabi title which is the heart and soul of being good is a philosophical and cultural concept that’s native to the Yoruba people across the world.

For whatever it is, and for whoever is behind the concept of honouring late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, popularly known as MKO, the acclaimed winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, with the most coveted medal in the land-GCFR, and at a time when it seems like the chips are down, that person is nothing but a genius of politics.

Twenty Five years after successive governments had overlooked what would have been a lasting glory by honouring the man believed to be Nigeria’s messiah of democracy, President Mohammadu Buhari, in his magnanimity woke up, just few days to the silver jubilee anniversary to apply a soothing syrup to the age-long pains of the botched election and the eventual loss of the main victim and symbol of the famous June 12 struggle.

The decision has not just been uproariously applauded in the circle of people of high administrative capability, and leaders of thought who think beyond ethnic bigotry but has attracted encomiums from heads of state and comity of nations all over the world.

The pronouncement of awarding the land’s highest medal on the man who walked tall in the keenly contested democratic process that remains the most freest and fairest in the anal of political history in this country is more than being commendable, but timely and long overdue.

Although, some school of thoughts who’re top echelon of the Aggrieved Looters and Losers Association of Nigeria-ALLAN will never see anything good in the befitting honour, to them, everything is politically motivated, and even if it is, then it means politics and its processes do not just end on election day, it is a continual procedure that requires nation building tactics, and knack for upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty.

In his views, human rights activist and lawyer, Ayo Obe has this to say, ”June 12 represented more than just a person. June 12 represented an idea that everybody in this country can live together as one, that we can treat ourselves as Nigerians without regard to tribe, ethnic origin, religion and all those things they have been used to divide us”.

Also one of the nation’s respected journalists and deputy editor at This Day Newspapers, Wale Olaleye who told the story of how he got a revelation on the need to make a big political statement with the approaching June 12 anniversary, sometime during the epileptic administrative days of the immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. The topflight political writer and analysis, according to his story had made frantic efforts to get in touch with the then government of the day, especially those he was close to, to do something remarkable instead of the usual frivolities of just a public holiday, ”I called Dr. Doyin Okupe, telling him what I think they can do with the approaching June 12 but he never got back to me as promised, and as if that was not enough, I also spoke to the man everybody referred to as The Leader, Chief Tony Anenih, though he {Chief Anenih} saw and bought into the idea, he however rang back to let me know it was too late,”, Wale wrote.

That reminds one of the popular Yoruba adage, Aja ti yoo sonu, kii gbo fere Olode, literarily meaning a child who’s destined to go astray will never listen to warning, that was how no one, out of the 6 past leaders that have ruled within the 25 years frame of June 12 anniversary, most of whom are kinsmen of the late symbol of democracy, Bashorun MKO Abiola, was able to  key-in, into the historic opportunity.

Like they say, it takes two to tango, so also it takes a messiah to honour a messiah, hence President Buhari’s groundbreaking verdict that has changed the political landscape leaving the Judas Camp totally shattered.

This is not just a coincidence nor a matter of political correctness but understanding something philosophically strong to bring us together when it seems that chips are beginning to go down, and these are the characteristics of Omoluabi, the exemplary traits and art of doing good and mending fences, succinct to say that, President Mohammodu Buhari deserves the title of the quintessential Omoluabi of Yorubaland, for his foresight and impressive leadership quality.

Tunde Moshood, a mediapreneur and journalist of international repute writes from Lagos State

 

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And The Power Is In Chapter 41, By Ayobami Akanji

Electricity can transform people’s lives, not just economically but also socially – Piyush Goyal
Former President Obasanjo has in the past weeks, characteristically dominated the headlines and political discourse nationwide. From his “Third Force Movement” which started out as a “non-political movement” to its concomitant collapse into an opposition political party, the African Democratic Congress ADC the sudden meeting after over 10 years with his erstwhile enemies, the Afenifere and many other shenanigans he has brought to bear.
The reason for this piece is to continue the national discourse, concerning the investment of the humongous sum of over – ‘$15 billion’ power reference made by President Buhari, while addressing members of the Buhari Support Organisation BSO. It seems to have struck Obasanjo in places he didn’t expect. While no name was mentioned, he quickly took the path of self defence and in his response, referred the President to Chapters 41, 42, 43 and 47 of his book ‘My Watch’
It is really funny that Obasanjo, who ruled Nigeria like his personal fiefdom used just four chapters out of his 3 volume and more than a thousand five hundred pages of book to defend a heist running into billions of dollars which has kept millions of Nigerians in perpetual darkness. According to investigations done by Ibrahim Lamorde, former EFCC Chairman, Obasanjo’s administration spent N1.2trn on the National Integrated Power Project NIPP, only N360.7bn has been paid to contractors as at the time Obasanjo left office in 2007. Same administration also spent N273.65bn on the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN between the period of 1999-2017.
Controversies abound as to the exact amount spent, giving that Obasanjo said “only $3.7bn” was spent out of $10bn.  Statements credited to the former speaker of House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, during the power sector probe shows that $16bn was spent. The most important conclusion to be drawn out of this back and forth is that billions of dollars was spent and no considerable improvement was witnessed between the said time frame.
It was akin to spending money and more money to make darkness darker. What makes Obasanjo’s stand laughable is that his government spent an excess of a trillion naira and gave darkness. A little over this said amount at N1.40trn was awarded by the President Buhari, in contract from the construction of a 3,050 megawatts Mambilla Power Project. This project is expected to last a period of 6 years. The only long term project undertaken by the Obasanjo administration is his letter writing and that too, expires after the President he criticizes invites him over for dinner. This administration has managed to power generation capacity to 7,000 megawatts. It didn’t have the luxury of favourable oil prices others had.
It is, amongst other numerous actions, building 8 power plants projects as reflected in the statement credited to the Minister of Works Power and Housing, Raji Fashola. The projects are the Azura (450 MW), Katsina Wind Farm (10 MW), Gbarain (115 MW), Kashimbilla (40 MW), Afam III (240 MW), Gurara (30 MW), Dadin Kowa (29 MW), and Kaduna (215 MW). This seems to be a little, considering that Nigeria has N4.637trn power plants with a capacity of 6,000 megawatts idle, with some being as idle as far back as 2001. The 270 MW capacity AES Barge IPP completed since 2001 is not operational. 1000 Megawatts Enugu coal plant’s Mou was signed in Sept 2014 at the cost of $3.7bn hasn’t even taken off. $4bn Delta State 2,500MW, started in 2015 with a 13 months completion schedule hasn’t recorded any tangible success. This mess, created by Obasanjo’s former party is what the Buhari administration is working earnestly to clear.
Obasanjo is quick to point to global happenings and trends for validation. He chose to un-look the fact that as of the year he left office, Brazil had more than 600 hydroelectric power projects with a total capacity of more than 73,000MW according to their Ministry of Mines And Energy. This is more than 14 times the highest power generation levels Nigeria had in her 58 year history at 5,156MW. This didn’t happen under Obasanjo. TCN’s Interim Managing Director, Mr. Usman Gur Muhammad said that the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme of the TCN will upgrade Nigeria’s transmission capacity to 20,000MW in the next 4 years. We’re witnessing progress that Obasanjo and his clout of Nigeria PLC don’t want to admit. It must be painful seeing someone doing better than one who thinks he is the best. We’ll read chapter 41 sir, but it hasn’t answered the question of “Where is the power?”.
Written by Ayobami Akanji a political strategist from Abuja.
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2019: Ogun State And Amosun’s ‘Third Term’ Gamble, By Afolorunso Idowu

For over a year now, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun has been expressing a desire to hand over power to a man or woman of Ogun West extraction in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), come 2019. His sentiment, he has continually argued, is engendered by the clamour of the people of the area to produce the chief executive of the state just like the other two senatorial districts, Ogun East and Central have done over the years.

There has been a lot of stories in the media detailing Ogun State political journey since its creation of 1976. Some writers have argued that it was agreed between the old Egba and Ijebu Provinces to be rotating the governorship seat. Since 1979, it has always been a rotation between the old Ijebu and Egba Provinces.

Ijebu, of course has its Remo minority, while Egba has an Egbado minority, which they now call Yewa or Yewa/Awori. But Egbado remains the constitutional designation of the people of Ogun West until they came up with the idea of changing Egbado to Yewa/Awori without official gazette. Since this aberration was incorporated into Ogun State, it has been confusion. In all fairness, the agitation for an Egbado Governor might have been a product of insensitivity of the political class in the majority Egba, who did not cede the governorship seat to the minority Egbado when the opportunity came in 2011.

In the words of a scion of late Chief L.A.K. Ogunwoolu, former Principal Organising Secretary, Unity Party of Nigeria (1979–1983), Prince Akinyele Sharafadeen Ogunwoolu, “Amosun’s pronouncement on a choice of successor from Yewa remains the major cause of the unpredictable situation of the Governorship Election in 2019. His assertion is selfish and of no substance in the politics of Ogun State,” underlining what many have come to believe is a Third Term bid by Amosun. Ogunwoolu explained that after the tenure of Chief Olabisi Onabanjo, an Ijebu, it was Chief Olusegun Osoba, who filled the slot for the Egba Province. “It was the turn of the Ijebu Province in 2003 with Otunba Gbenga Daniel, who is from Shagamu in Remo, duly filling slot,” he said.

According to the Abeokuta-born politician, “Amosun’s intention to pick his successor from Yewa is just a gimmick to cause confusion as Ogun State never has the record or agreement of sharing Governorship among three Senatorial Districts as most baby politicians are clamouring. The provisions of the amended 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Section 71 has clearly without mincing words, clarified the purpose of creating three Senatorial Districts per State and do not change the Ogun State Politics.

Ogun State was created on the 3rd day of February, 1976 out of the merger of two old provinces of the Western State, that is, the Abeokuta/Egba Province and Ijebu Province. In accordance with the report submitted by the Justice Ayo Irikefe Panel on creation of states, and upon the memorandum submitted by the first Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the state capital was to be located at Sagamu. But unfortunately on the 3rd day of February, 1976, Abeokuta, capital of Abeokuta/Egba Province became the capital of Ogun State.

He pointed out that one of the major factors that favoured late Chief Bisi Onabanjo from Ijebu to serve as governor, before soldiers truncated that Republic in 1983, was the need to compensate the Ijebus as the first elected chief executive of Ogun State, because the capital was taken from them. “When democracy, or half of it, resurfaced under Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Olusegun Osoba, an Egba, became governor.

By 2003, the Ijebu allowed Otunba Gbenga Daniel, a minority from Remo, under Ijebu to run, he became governor, served two terms and it was time for Egbado. This was the time all hell broke loose. Therefore, anybody who has been following Ogun State politics for a while would conclude, without any fear of contradiction that Amosun’s position is nothing more than what it is – a wish,” he said.

Observers agree that 2011, when the pendulum of Ogun State Governorship swung back to the old Egba Province, was Egbado’s turn, if the leaders of the Province had followed the good step of Ijebu leaders, who conceded the ticket to the Remo, being a minority in the division. A highly placed official, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, being a member of the state cabinet, observed that, “we are confused ourselves here, because we know Oga should not have come in after Akinrogun (Osoba) has just left. I know the argument on our side is that the Yewa did not show unity, thus giving away the Governorship, but we should have stood on the moral high ground and insist that none of us from Abeokuta should contest. That would have been honourable for us.”

An old politician from Abigi, Ogun Waterside Local Government, Chief Bashiru Ogundaini, said, “In 2003, none of the two major political parties fielded a candidate from Ijebu, leaving the political scene for the Remos alone. It was the same process in 2007, despite the emergence of late Otunba Dipo Dina (AC) and Alhaji Sefiu Adegbenga Kaka (DPA). We, Ijebus, told them through our votes it was not our turn, and both men lost seriously. The only political party that could be described as a major one after the then ruling PDP was the ANPP, which fielded Senaator Ibiunle Amosun. Ijebus are honourable, because we always stand by any agreement, no matter what is in it. I wonder why these other people are not doing the same thing.”

Foremost 2019 governorship aspirants of Yewa extraction in Ogun State APC include Lagos West Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (Yayi); Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Tolu Odebiyi; former House of Representatives member, Hon. Biodun Akinlade; Ipokia/Egbado South House of Representatives member, Hon. Kehinde Akinlade; and Speaker, Ogun State House of Assembly, Hon. Suraju Adekunmbi. It is not clear if Yayi is still in the race as he was conspicuously absent at the recent State Congress of the party in Abeokuta, but it appears a protégé of Mr. Governor, Odebiyi, is the most favoured by Amosun to get the ticket. But all the others were at the Congress with their supporters in tow.

From Ijebu, it appears only the duo of Commissioner for Finance, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, and Senior Adviser/Counsellor to the Kaduna State Governor, Otunba Jimi Lawal, are left in the race from an initial list of nine aspirants following the controversial selection of Ashiru as the consensus Ijebu aspirant. The initial Ijebu list included former Deputy Governor, Alhaji Adegbega Kaka; 2015 deputy Director General of Buhari Campaign Organisation, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora; and Ogun State Commissioner for Culture, Hon. Muyiwa Oladipo, who is from Remo. Ashiru, according to a source has been cautioned twice by Amosun to desist from his ambition or resign from the cabinet if he is not prepared to support a Yewa candidate.

“That is why Otunba Bimbo Ashiru did not attend the State Congress of APC, which was held in Abeokuta recently. Mr Governor has told him to prepare for the deputy governor position, because there are two of them in the race. The second person being considered as deputy governor from Ijebu is the former Deputy Speaker, Ogun State House of Assembly, Hon. Tola Banjo, who is also from Ijebu Ode like Ashiru. But it is very likely that Banjo will be considered given the fact that he is Amosun’s boy,” the source said. Otunba Jimi Lawal, who remains the only APC governorship aspirant across the divide that has gone round the 20 local government areas of the state selling himself to APC stakeholders was at the State Congress, where Amosun welcomed him warmly. It appears he is also the only APC gubernatorial aspirant with campaign secretariats in the three senatorial districts of the state.

Alhaji Ramoni Ogunleke, from Ilaro, who described himself as a former APC member but now without any political affiliation claimed he is peeved with Amosun over what he said is the governor’s desperate bid for a Third Term in office using a Yewa as stooge. “If the governor genuinely wants a Yewa to be there, we should be the one to determine who the person is. Our paramount ruler, the Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, was mistreated because of his support for Yayi.

Go through the whole of Yewaland, there is hardly anybody of importance that does not support Yayi, because we believe he will not be a stooge to anybody. But because Amosun has a Third Term Agenda he does not want any independent-minded Yewa person as the next governor. If that is the case, he is not fighting our cause, he is only pursuing a personal agenda using Yewa people as crutches. That is why I left the party.”

Although the paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, who is very close to Amosun, has not openly expressed anger about the governor’s preference for a Yewa candidate, it is an open secret the king firmly believes it is the turn of the Ijebus to produce the next governor. During the New Year prayers for Ijebuland by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in his palace, Adetona openly distance himself from Ashiru as the consensus Ijebu aspirant, in a move that a credible palace source said was informed by his belief that the process of selection was done to please Amosun, who wanted an Ijebu as deputy governor. Adetona described the leading lights of the consensus arrangements as persons of questionable values who were only interested in what they could benefit and not the actual interest of Ijebus.

The palace source concluded that, “Nigeria has many Senatorial Districts apart from states and so on. But the only arrangement for rotating The Presidency remains between the old Northern Region and Southern Region. Nobody has ever talked about states or senatorial districts as they are saying in Ogun State today. We are waiting for APC to miss it so that they will know where we stand.”

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What Happened To Mama Taraba? By Azu Ishiekwene

Last September, the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, fondly called “Mama Taraba”, had led a team of loyalists on a Sallah visit to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

I had to read the story twice to be sure that the minister had not overdosed on the remedial political treatment she received at the hands of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Here was what she said to Atiku during that visit: “Our father and our President by the grace of God come 2019. Before you are your people, your supporters for life, and the people of TarabaState; they are here to pay homage and to greet you on the occasion of Sallah and for all that Allah has done for you because Allah has raised your status.”

She went on to say how she was an Atiku Abubakar born through and through, and how the only way for her to repay Atiku’s kindness was to invest herself in his presidential ambition in 2019.

The video went viral, with expectations of a backlash. But she held her ground and told the BBC Hausa Service: “Since I was in the civil service, His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, has been my mentor and godfather. He has remained so even now that I have joined politics. There is a reason for every political relationship.

“Baba Buhari has not told anybody that he is contesting in 2019. I can assure you that today, if Baba Buhari says he is going to contest, wallahi tallahi (I swear by Allah), I will go and kneel down before him and say, ‘Baba, I am grateful for the opportunity you have given me to serve as a minister in your administration but Baba, like you know, Atiku is my godfather.’

“If Atiku says he is going to contest – but he too has not said he will contest…why I said (Atiku) is ‘our President come 2019’, is that we expect that he will contest. But if he contests, I will go and do what I just told you I will do.”

The NWC of the APC was so embarrassed by Alhassan’s comment it summoned and admonished her behind closed doors. The official word was that she apologised. However, given the depth of her conviction that there was no turning back from Atiku, not a few thought her apology was a backhanded excuse for time to pack her things. Her position was no longer tenable.

It didn’t even seem she would get the courtesy to pack. Ultra-Buhari loyalists, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna and his Ogun State counterpart, Ibikunle Amosun, lounged at Mama Taraba, accusing her of betrayal and adding that they knew that it was only a matter of time before her sin would expose her.

All of that now must be in the past. It is not just its being in the past that is surprising; it is the extraordinary capitulation of Mama Taraba. In what must rank as one of the most intriguing political turnarounds of all time, Mama Taraba moved 360 degrees from declaring that there was no turning back from following Atiku, to becoming one of the leading cheerleaders of Buhari and the APC.

The ruling party, she has now said, will not only rule, but will rule forever. What happened? Was there something at her meeting with the NWC that inspired this complete change of heart and audacity of her forecast? Or is there something Atiku has done?

If politicians have taught us anything at all, it is that we shouldn’t take them too seriously. But at what point do we need to tell them enough is enough, that they should not take us for their fool’s ride?

Mama Taraba can change her mind as many times as she wishes. She can go from APC to PDP to ADC to nPDP and back to APC in the same day. That’s fine. But to say that any party will rule forever because she is overdosing on privilege and access to power is ridiculous.

A woman of her standing does not need to run a fool’s errand to remain in reckoning – and I thought that was the point she tried to make in that sober moment when backstabbers went after her.

Of course, voters will be pleased to return a party that is doing well to power for as long as it keeps its promises. Or at least is making an honest effort to do so. But that vote is earned, not appropriated by a party that assumes immortality in the face of shambolic congresses, internal rebellion and a deepening sense of disaffection amongst members of the public.

Surely, Mama Taraba knows a certain Vincent Ogbulafor, one former chairman of the People’s Democratic Party. At the height of his reign, he said PDP was unbeatable and, well, by the standards of political longevity, immortal. He said the party would rule for 60 years and only after that would it begin to consider whether or not to give up power.

At the time he said this, the party was rotting from the inside; its vital organs had been badly infected by the virus of impunity, corruption and a deadly power struggle between a few powerful governors and an isolated president.

But this Ogbulafor, like his party, wasn’t looking. He didn’t care. Or was he in denial? As it turned out, he did not last till the end of his tenure; and his boast about PDP’s immortality was the last notable joke before the party was swept away from power.

If Mama Taraba has decided to stick with the APC, abandoning her godfather Atiku to his fate, that’s OK. I’m not sure that Atiku, himself a serial defector, would feel betrayed at all. But she should just stop at saying she has decided to stay on, and save us the insult of presuming that we’re condemned to any one party for the rest of our lives.

Those who called her a betrayer when she vowed to stick with Atiku will only see her recent extravagant comment as a confirmation that she cannot be trusted. How is anyone to believe that this was not planned with Atiku ahead of another last-minute surprise?

Yet, Atiku partisans, so used to fair weather friends, might on their part see Mama Taraba’s about turn as just another payback in a familiar political currency.

It doesn’t matter in politics, does it? As long as you get what you want. Heads or tails, Mama Taraba is diminished by her inconstancy.

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