Water for Zaria: Improving Healthcare And Agriculture By Abdulhassan Rabiu

Time and again, successive Kaduna State administrations have blatantly failed at meeting the one persistent yearning of the people of Zaria city to provide safe, drinkable tap water. The demand for this need has most often been met with mediocre action and despite their best efforts, the PDP administrations of both Namadi Sambo and Ramalan Yero still fell short of fulfilling this basic need.

Now thanks to current Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai and his commitment to guaranteeing the basic right of easy access to clean water, Kaduna State will witness a massive unveiling in July 2017 when the 150 million litres per day Water treatment plant in Zaria becomes operational. Water from the plant will flow through the taps of at least 2.2 million homes in 28 communities across 8 local Government Areas in Kaduna State.

The 150 million litres per day water treatment plant is only one of three components that constitute the Zaria Regional Water Supply and Expansion Project started in 1999 by the Kaduna State Government with the support of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN). The project was stalled in 2007 when the FGN implemented its Water Exit Programme which mandated it to transfer all water projects to beneficiary states and withdraw all funding.

Most other governments would have let this project stall or abandon it all together as is common all over Nigeria, after all revenues have only dwindled since the inception of this administration and the FGN had withdrawn its support, but no, that did not deter a government committed to delivering on this all important front.

El-Rufai and his team negotiated a smart deal with the contractors consisting of monthly staggered payments of N300m until all liabilities of N3.6bn owed by previous administrations on the project were cleared. N24.6 billion has so far been invested by the Kaduna State Government on realizing the decades long vision of bringing water to the people of Zaria City and its environs.

With a loan of $81 million obtained from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Kaduna State Government will construct 73km transmission mains, 10 service reservoirs and 2 booster stations. All these are part of efforts to ensure that end users have safe drinking water, are economically advantaged and have access to water sources for improved sanitation.

The third component of the Zaria Water Supply and Expansion project is funded by a loan of $101 million received from the African Development Bank (ADB). The loan will be spent on the rehabilitation and expansion of existing distribution networks and sanitation facilities in Zaria as well as creating water access to previously unreached localities across these 8 Local Government Areas.

Already, a 186.1million cubic meter (MCM) multi-purpose Dam has been constructed in Galma, Kuzuntu to serve as a raw water intake for the treatment plant.

El-Rufai knows that Kaduna’s water crisis requires bold solutions which is why he made true on his commitment to complete the Zaria Water Supply and Expansion Project. He also knows that a sure way to deliver on his commitment while meeting the basic needs of the people is to progress into a holistic solution by implementing even smaller, low cost, community based solutions alongside the development and implementation of high cost solutions.

Prior to 2015, the Kaduna State agency responsible for adequate water supply to the rural areas, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASA) was largely docile and underfunded. Presently, it has begun to engage community members in water supply and sanitation and has so far provided about 325 hand water pumps to various communities in the State as well as deploying ventilated and improved latrines to markets, primary health care facilities and schools.

One of its most proactive solutions is the provision of solar powered boreholes, this ensures that there are no power disruptions in the water supply process.

The understanding in community involvement is that in trusting local communities themselves to come up with local solutions, be part of managing and implementing the very same solutions, we guarantee that they have a say in dictating their living standards.

If communities are in charge of their irrigation and farming, they decide how much food security exists; because there is pipe borne water, school children who would have spent time gathering water can free up valuable time for schooling, learning and other productive activities, and families, because they control their water sources, they are guaranteed the right to proper sanitation.

El-Rufai knows the pivotal role access to safe water has on interrupting or wholly breaking the cycle of poverty, this is why early in his administration he designated completing this project priority and this is a great investment for long term success.

Abdulhassan Rabiu is an architect based in Abuja (rabiuabdulhassan@gmail.com)

The Broken Woman: Stranger Things By Blossom Obi

I stood there in shock as the doctor related my condition to me. Tears rolled down my cheek and for split seconds, I felt my throat tighten and the walls began to close in on me; my knees started to give way as I slowly fell to the ground.

The day of my cancer operation was due and my husband Chike whom we took solemn vows together: in sickness and in health and other related words that went with that statement. He was selfish and I understood that, but he had decided no amount of communication was going to make him come to see me as he saw nothing wrong with himself.

I was having one of my breast removed as a result of the cancer that had eaten deep into my system, so yes I needed all the support I could get. The process took a long while.

Some weeks had passed and still Chike hadn’t come to the hospital once. We had only a son whose presence became even when he just little. I felt very bad and depressed because I couldn’t place why on earth he didn’t come. Eventually I was discharged from the hospital and he didn’t even know that I was coming home that day or maybe he did, maybe our little boy had told him.

I held our little boy by hand as we strolled in and found him watching a football match; the surprise on his face meant two things and I wasn’t sure of one; was he surprised that I survived and was back much better or it could be that he wasn’t ready to see me. To me, we weren’t having problems; we were just fine or at least that was what I thought.

Sometimes we just have to embrace the situation at hand and transform it for the better. This might look quite challenging but not impossible, it’s like the saying life threw stones at you and you make a stone castle out of them.

Yes this person was supposed to be there in this case; Chike was supposed to be there, but he wasn’t.

Life doesn’t end; deal with what you’re feeling; embrace what you’re feeling; transform it and use it to find yourself. Create a well of positive emotions around you.

FREEDOM IN DEATH

I was so tired of all that was happening, I’ve been ill for so long it feels like a lifetime. In fact everybody at some point was expecting me to just die off, having spent a lot of resources on my ailment and still no improvement. I didn’t blame them because I was also tired of my state.

The unending pain I felt in my body would not give way, so there I was lying down and wishing that life would slowly drift out of me. Since I was a waste of space, why shouldn’t I just pass and give room for someone else with greater importance.

All these, I thought to myself as I closed my eyes and called on death to come take me. At least where he’d take me to my body won’t go through any traumatizing pain. I’d be free.


STRONGER; THE REAL YOU

We often forget that it’s our challenges that make life exciting and then there’s a reality and value check of the things we have and the things we do not. This valuation in turn makes us grateful for the little we have. There’s always someone out there whose case is much worse than yours and you even find them more excited and at ease.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling like giving up; that’s what makes us human. Seeing a stronger you is like waking to see the whole world wanting to hear your story and be inspired by your very living situation.

So rise! Rise like the army inside of you as the chains of what you’re feeling give way for a new feeling of hope and wholeness that should surround you, the real you.

When all you feel is lost and miserable, know that you are at the defining moment where you should stand and fight with the army inside of you, because you have always been stronger and just didn’t know it. Now you know it,  you have that power to push, push till there are no more dark clouds; push for hope; push for life; push for you. That’s what matters

Blossom Obi writes from Owerri, Imo State. For comments and responses, reach her via obiblossom8@gmail.com

It’s About Noon In Chibok, By Raymond Inkabi

 

It is about noon in Chibok, north eastern Nigeria, with the sun just a little overhead the community where 276 school girls were infamously abducted by the Boko Haram sect three years ago.

I had gone to Borno to witness first-hand the damage done by the insurgency for a report on internal displacement in the three states of North eastern Nigeria of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

As the news filtered in, one by one people started gathering around, with more women coming. At first, they all looked grim and bland, uncertain and not too sure if what they heard was true. Then the men came, and then the children. They had just received the news that 82 of their daughters had been released by Boko Haram and are being taken to Abuja the nation’s capital to meet with the authorities.

There was wild jubilation, singing, making and answering of calls as they confirmed it was true. They will be invited to Abuja to confirm their daughters, and also meet with the authorities.

However, these parents at the same time were not happy, had mixed feelings and expressed their fears of not being allowed to come home with their daughters. “Our daughters won’t be allowed to come home. The government will keep them. We’ve waited so long to have our children back” they said. While we are happy to receive the good news some have been rescued, the parents are not, because they fear the government won’t let them have their daughters.

Last October, both Nigerian and Swiss Governments with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) secured the release of 21 Chibok girls. And on Saturday, the ICRC acting as a “neutral intermediary” again “facilitated the safe return” of 82 of the kidnapped Chibok girls who were freed from Boko haram captivity in exchange for several militant commanders of the jihadist group. This release was confirmed by a press release by Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity. This swap came amidst continued calls for action globally by various governments, organizations and individuals.

We have seen this happen before, last year, in Abuja, after the 21 Chibok girls were released in the girls were immediately sequestered and taken to a safe house in an unknown location for fears of their safety. And the only time they came home was a short stay during Christmas.

Rather than trading one form of captivity for the other, the girls need to return to their families, many of whom no longer live in their previous locations where they were kidnapped. Their families should be informed on the reasons for having their daughters held again, this time by their own government. If the Nigerian government can’t keep the girls safe or assure their reintegration into society, it is just because they have not completely succeeded in keeping anyone safe from Boko haram.

The reality is if no one can guarantee the safety and of these children with their parents, then no one is actually safe from terrorist attacks which raise serious concerns on how much premium placed on security. We must ensure the government reunites these separated families as soon as possible. As Boko Haram have been known to change tactics to carry out terrorist activities, with the most recent the use of child suicide bombers which are an increasing threat, with this year having more children; with most of them being girls according to UNICEF.

In Nigeria, the Bring Back Our Girls campaign has continually mobilized and raised their voices at various times to the government to immediately secure the release and safe return of the remaining girls from captivity. But sadly, the Chibok girls are not the first and only ones to be forcefully abducted, by Boko Haram in the North east. Are these girls going home to their families? Sadly this question remains answered and uncertain from precedence, and because attention has focused primarily on getting the girls back and not back home to their families which should rather be a top priority.

Many men, women and children have been kidnapped, some of whom have been rescued at various times by the Nigerian military, in spite of this there are many others who were not lucky to be rescued and were sold, killed, married off, sent on suicide missions by the sect at various times unnoticed or unreported by the media and the government. Till date the north east have been ravaged, a looming food crises, threat of climate change, loss of livelihoods and millions displaced the insurgency.

He complained bitterly of the seeming neglect, himself and other IDPs who managed to escape to Abuja and other places by the government and the international relief and aid agencies who have focused mostly all their attention to the North east. He says “the government doesn’t care about us. They all go to Borno but we that survived are still suffering here”

At Durumi IDPs camp in Abuja, where I met with Ms. Carolyn Ronis a Legislative aide who have worked in the US congress and now run a non-profit; the International Coalition for the Eradication of Hunger and Abuse founded in the wake of the Chibok abduction but now focuses primarily on IDPs and other vulnerable populations in Nigeria. “The suffering is too much for these victims and survivors of Boko haram, many who have been displaced, since 2014, the government and well-spirited individuals need to come urgently to their aid” she stated.

There are serious concerns about the state of IDPs outside the north east Nigeria both in camps and host communities.

Abuja alone has about 32 IDPs camps and host communities nestled in the capital, where living conditions are of the lowest unimaginable scales with little or no hope for these survivors.  This is the same situation with Lagos, Nigeria’s former capital where most IDPs from the north head to for safety and in search of better life.  Many IDPs are found living in uncompleted buildings, under bridges, parks and other open spaces, engaging in all sorts of activities to make ends.

We have to realize that these displaced persons are Nigerians, and who have to be looked out for, and protected by the government whose responsibility it is to do so. There is a need to look inwards and build stronger institutions, create sustainable peace, and aid to those affected by the insurgency. While tackling the root causes of terrorism; the government should provide safe homes, education, water, employment, security, reduce inequalities and improve on other basic necessities of life in the north. In this way the triggers and underlying causes of Boko Haram, the cycle poverty and the perpetuation of social violence can be stopped. But firstly, one great step will be the government allowing the released Chibok girls home to their families, then can the healing process and joy be complete.

Raymond Inkabi is a Nigerian writer, social activist and humanitarian. He tweets @rayinkabi

 

Adopting Models That Have Worked: The Kaduna Example, By Kareena Arabi

In running a government, one point which can never be over-emphasized is the need for a clear economic policy and direction. This economic policy, if inexistent, or when the realities are changing, brings up the issue of economic reforms. These reforms are meant to place the economy of the State in an upward direction growth-wise. The bedrock to such a reform has to be in Planning and Budget, as that is where the numbers are mooted and arranged, plans are conceived and forwarded for execution, and directions are decided as to where the State is going/wants to be. Mal. Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai has become synonymous with audacious reformation and it is only right that I take his Kaduna State as an example.

After the 2015 elections ended in a resounding victory for Mal. el-Rufai and his party in Kaduna State, all eyes were set on what names will be included in his team; economic, political, and social, and true to type, he delivered a master list. The most interesting of the members of this team was a young Development Economist Muhammed Sani Abdullahi, nominated for the Budget and Planning ministry. He holds two master’s degrees, one in Development Economics and Policy, the other in International Affairs and Diplomacy. Dattijo, as he is fondly referred to, worked at the United Nations as an adviser to SG Ban-Ki-Moon on designing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). That was a statement of intent from Kaduna State.

Arguments for or against Politically-driven economic reforms and the resultant policies have been as old as reforms themselves. The IBON Foundation, a Filipino non-profit development organization, in criticizing President Duterte’s 8-point economic agenda posited “…is good for big business at the expense of majority…and long term national development”. It brings to fore the delicacy of economic policy and reforms and the need for a thorough assessment of compatibility and workability. In a social media chat with Japheth J. Omojuwa (@Omojuwa) the Commissioner of Budget and Planning Kaduna State, Muhammad Sani (@Dattijo) stated “We’re not stuck on any ideology. We are pragmatic. Anything that works…” this is a very good approach to economic planning and policy reforms. The Commissioner also made mention of a few policies they modeled after those in other countries that have worked. Papua New Guinea as a model for their tax policy, a mix of Ethiopia and China for Infrastructure, “Healthcare is a bit of UK NHS”.

THE MODELS

The Papua New Guinea Tax Policy described by Dattijo is one that is pragmatic in all its ramifications. The policy has been presented in a document published by KPMG. The policy has very clear provisions on Corporate Tax, Indirect Tax, Personal Taxation, and other Taxes while incorporating Income Tax treaties for the avoidance of double taxation. These treaties have been concluded with Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Canada, Korea (Republic of), Singapore, China, Malaysia,and the United Kingdom while those with Germany, Indonesia and Thailand were at various stages of ratification. If Kaduna State adopts this model, adjusting for local realities, the Tax framework of the State will be in a good shape in no time. The State Governor, Mal. Nasir el-Rufai has announced an increase in the State IGR, without any increase in Taxation. Therefore, one will be right to hope that when next the IGR of Kaduna is talked about, the Tax policy must have contributed in the perceived increased IGR.

The Ethiopian Model for Infrastructural growth is predicated on improved roads, power generation and rail transportation. This was contained in Ethiopia’s First Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP I, 2010-2015) and reinforced in the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II, 2016-2020). The Plan yielded positive results with visible results apparent at the expiration of the tenure of the GTP I in 2015. In power generation, of any nation in sub-Saharan Africa,Ethiopia is experiencing one of the fastest rates of growth.

Starting with a mere 2,000 megawatts- (MW) of electricity in 2009, GTP I had hoped to increase output to 8,000 MW,this was not reached but with the completion of the Gilgel-Gibe III almost 1,900 MW hydroelectric plant in 2015, Ethiopia had doubled generation. Access to electricity was increased from 41% to 54%, and targets above75% upon completion of the Grand Renaissance hydro project. On road networks, the GTP I set a tall target of 136,000km from 49,000km of roads, but was able to achieve about 61,000km and an additional 39,000km of unpaved all-weather roads. In rail transport, a 34 km (20.5 mile) Addis Ababa Light Rail Tram, the first of its kind in sub-Sahara Africa became operational in 2015. The 753 km (481 miles) Addis Ababa–Djibouti railway, financed and built by China, also began transporting food to alleviate the effects of Ethiopia’s severe drought. This is a very people and result oriented model that if well leveraged on by the Kaduna State Government, the people will be better served by the outcomes of.

The Chinese model of Infrastructural reform is best discussed from the point of view of the stimulus package of 4 trillion Yuan (RMB) announced in 2008. The package dedicated 1.5 trillion RMB to infrastructure including roads, railways, irrigation and airport construction. The rest of the stimulus package was allocated to be spent on post-quake reconstruction, social welfare, technology advancements, rural development, sustainable development and educational and cultural projects. The above stimulus package is to fund new projects and also projects already included in the PRC’s 5-year plans, which was then in its 11th round; the 5-year plan is in its 13th round now. Though Kaduna State does not have the economic wherewithal to have such a massive package, not helped by the low and unrealistic lending conditions of the country, it can however copy the plan rounds adopted by the Chinese government. There is evidence that Kaduna has since launched its first State Development Plan (2016-2020), a five-year plan, this is a step in the right direction, if continuity issues do not arise. Another aspect that Kaduna State should be able to copy from the Chinese model is the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) concession. The model was used by China and it has over 70% of the world’s toll roads but on a brighter side, it has also successfully accelerated the number of roads constructed. Kaduna can build malls and public buildings using this concession and will stand to benefit long term. Hopefully, the Galaxy Mall, to be anchored by Shoprite, in a PPP, is built under this model.

Finally, the Healthcare system planned to be adopted is the UK-NHS. The flagship model for the NHS is England’s NHS which is similar to those of the rest of UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Wikipedia article on National Health Service (England) does enough justice to this wonderful system, excerpts:

“The National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded national healthcare system for England and one of the four National Health Services of the United Kingdom. It is the largest and the oldest single-payer healthcare system in the world. Primarily funded through the general taxation system and overseen by the Department of Health, the system provides healthcare to every legal resident in England, with most services free at the point of use. Some services, such as emergency treatment and treatment of infectious diseases are free for everyone, including visitors.”

“Some specific NHS services do however require a financial contribution from the patient, for example eye tests, dental care, prescriptions, and aspects of long-term care. However, these charges are often free to vulnerable or low income groups, and when not free, often lower than equivalent services provided by a private health care provider.”

“The NHS provides the majority of healthcare in England, including primary care, in-patient care, long-term healthcare, ophthalmology, and dentistry. The National Health Service Act 1946 came into effect on 5 July 1948.”

This system, about 70 years old has been described as one of the best ran social services in the world. There is abundant literature and readings on the workings of the NHS, if well studied and adopted, the Kaduna State Healthcare system may, after all, become the model for other Nigerian States.

The Kaduna State Government has identified wonderful models to emulate in Taxation, Infrastructure, Healthcare, Budgeting and Treasury and I feel other Nigerian States should adopt those models too. They have started implementing some, like the Zero-Based Budget and Treasury Single Account. It is my since hope that the planned adoptions are done with the utmost care and adaptation to prevalent peculiarities are made. My hopes are high because of the team that is carrying this out and I hope to come to you, one day, bearing tales of the success of these adoptions.

Dr Kareena Amrah Arabi wrote this piece from Kaduna.

 

Osinbajo: Who is Scared Of A Professor? By Eniola Opeyemi

The rise and rise of Professor Yemi Osinbajo, no doubt has shown the result of Hardwork and loyalty, giving hope not only to the academia but also to professionalism in the nation. Nigeria’s political terrain have harbored the best script writers, actors and actresses whose precedent have put the nation as one of the politically tensed country in the world, owing to the sectionalism, evidential that we are divided across various beliefs.

Professor Oluyemi “Yemi” Oluleke Osinbajo (born 8 March 1957) is a Nigerian lawyer and politician who is the current Vice President of Nigeria, in office since 29 May 2015. He is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Professor of Law and until his inauguration as Vice President, a Senior Partner with SimmonsCooper Partners, a commercial law practice.

Osinbajo a key player in the President Muhammadu Buhari’s ?led administration, saving the former military head of state of major crises to put the economy and the unity of the nation back on track, while Buhari’s absence has kept the rumor mill spinning, his vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo, has been quietly effective in addressing some of the crises affecting the country. Among other things, the 60-year-old former lawyer has met with stakeholders in the volatile yet oil-rich Niger Delta and addressed protesters demanding economic reform and an end to government corruption.

The Redeemed Christian church of God pastor has not shied away from difficult topics. The vice-president has visited the Niger Delta, the country’s oil hub, and tackled the issue of militancy head on. Osinbajo has said that young men in the region must be “properly engaged” to stop them falling into militant groups or participating in illegal refining of crude oil. Osinbajo also confronted rare public demonstrations in Lagos and the capital Abuja earlier in February, where hundreds of protesters decried the state of the country.

Nigeria’s economy is struggling to become less dependent on oil—which makes up more than 70 percent of GDP—while various security threats continue to plague the country. These include the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast: the group has been largely contained by Nigerian and regional military forces, but continues to launch guerrilla attacks and suicide bombings on a not-infrequent basis.

Earlier in 2017, Osinbajo met with protesters who marched on the presidential villa in Abuja and put out a reassuring statement. “To those who are protesting…we hear you loud and clear. You deserve a decent life and we are working night and day to make life easier,” said Osinbajo.

The cabals influence in Nigeria’s politics can’t be underrated as they perform more functions behind the scene than most elected and appointed officials,  some of these cabals surrounding the President has constantly choose to put the Vice-president under their control, owing to avoidance of seeing him overshadow their prowess in the affairs of the nation. But rarely would you see Osinbajo comment on this, showing maturity, professionalism and the figure he presents in the church, consequently, the vice – president have continually pay his loyalty to his boss which have payed off over his continous popularity waxing stronger in the Nigeria’s political scene.

Just recently, the powers around the President prove to have something hidden as regards the Vice – President, in every political and non – political setting, it is expected that the deputy acts in the absence of his/her boss, hence, it’s another scene here in the country. The President’s letter to the senate notifying the hallowed chamber of his medical trip has causes stir among the people of the nation, kudos to the leadership of the senate for preventive measures to put the matter to rest. In his letter to the National Assembly, to inform the lawmakers of his medical leave and to transmit power to his deputy, is generating controversy.

Buhari had stated that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo would coordinate the affairs of the nation while he was away instead of writing that Osinbajo would act as the President.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, at the plenary read the letter from Buhari, informing the legislature of his medical vacation in the United Kingdom.

?The letter read, “In compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I wish to inform the distinguished Senate that I will be away for a scheduled medical follow-up with my doctors in London. The length of my stay will be determined by the doctor’s advice.

‘‘While I am away, the Vice-President will coordinate the activities of the government. Please accept, the distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

By this letter, it’s a clear indication that there are powers that are willing to sabotage the constitution because of the fear of Osinbajo who has done no wrong in wishing his boss success, hitherto, there I need to beef up security around the scholar so as not to play foul in the hands of the saboteers.

Nigeria would be great irrespective of the tribe or powers that make, so there is no need to be scared of a professor.

Eniola Opeyemi writes.
eniolaopeyemi@gmail.com

Buhari’s Letter vs The Law; Acting President or Coordinator? By Baba Isa

President Buhari’s letter to the Senate has opened a debate. Some persons are of the opinion that it wasn’t properly worded, that what the letter made the Vice President was a mere coordinator not an Acting President.

Is this true?

First, let’s look at President Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly.

“In compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I wish to inform the distinguished Senate that I will be away for a scheduled medical follow-up with my doctors in London. The length of my stay will be determined by the doctor’s advice.

While I am away, the Vice President will coordinate the activities of the government. Please accept, the distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

– President Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly

Now let’s dissect the wordings of this letter with the scalpel of the Constitution, the highest law of the land.

  1. Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended states thus: “Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.”

Pause. Read that section again. Have you? Because most people who are making a mountain of the President’s letter are those who are neglecting to grasp the import of this section.

All the president’s letter has to say or needed to say or required by the Constitution to say is that he will not be available. The letter has no power to say what the Vice President will become in the president’s absence; the constitution has already said that.

Any such letter from any president is simply to state that the president will not be available to discharge his duties and why. Buhari’s letter above did that. Any other thing is superfluous. But as usual, we are distracted by the superfluous.

Whatever the president’s letter said the vice president will become is null and void if it is not in tandem with the constitution. In the absence of the president the Constitution is clear on who will take over and in what capacity. It is the Vice President that will take over as Acting President. QED. The president has no constitutional powers to name any other person or group of persons to take over; he also has no powers to assign a nomenclature by which the Vice President will be called in his absence. The constitution says he will be known as “Acting President”. Period.

We are giving the letter too much importance. The letter cannot override the constitution. No law in this country can override the constitution. So assuming without conceding that the said letter is at variance with any section of our Constitution, the letter will be null and void and the Almighty Constitution will prevail.

  1. We are not in the Yar’adua era anymore. The Constitution has been amended after that saga. Section 145 now has a new subsection 2. Let’s look at it “In the event that the President is unable or fails to transmit the written declaration mention in subsection (1) of this section within 21 days, the National Assembly shall, by a resolution made by a simple majority of votes of each house of the National Assembly, mandate the Vice President to perform the functions of the office of the President as the Acting President until the President transmit a letter to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives that he is now available to resume his functions as President.”

That’s it. The letter is not that important anymore. In the absence of the President, with or without him transmitting a letter to the Senate, the Vice President will eventually be mandated to Act as President. Point is, don’t lose sleep over a letter. The Yar’dua days are long gone.

  1. Please go back and read the President’s letter to the Senate as captured above. Done that? Good. Now, to be fair to the President, is there really anywhere in that letter he said that the Vice President will assume the office or carry out the functions or take the title of a coordinator, whatever coordinator? Check again. The truth is, the letter never said that. The president knows he has no power to say that. If he had said that it would have been null and void as I pointed out earlier. But the truth is Mr President never said that in his letter. Please.

“While I am away, the Vice President will coordinate the activities of government” is different from saying he will be a coordinator not an Acting President.

The President even said in his letter: “In compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I wish to inform…” The President’s letter directed the Senate and Nigerians to the Constitution to get the full meaning of his letter. Why are we refusing to go there? The President by referring us to the constitution in his letter, agrees that the words of the Constitution are more powerful than the words of his letter. If anyone is just trying to construe words out of the letter while refusing to look at the words of the Constitution concerning the issue, then such a person is just being mischievous for political reasons. Or maybe it’s just deliberate and willful ignorance.

  1. And yes, one of the functions of the President is to coordinate the activities of government. It’s in the Constitution.

See what section 148(2)b says, look out for the word “coordinate”: “(2) The President shall hold regular meetings with the Vice-President and all the Ministers of the Government of the Federation for the purposes of-

(b) CO-ORDINATING the activities of the President, the Vice-President and the Ministers of the Government of the Federation in the discharge of their executive responsibilities”.

So, if the Vice President assumes the office and functions of the President as Acting President he is also mandated by the Constitution to be “Co-ordinating the activities of the President, the Vice-President and the Ministers of the Government of the Federation in the discharge of their executive responsibilities”.

You see, so much ado about nothing.

In a country where governors travel without transmitting powers to their deputies, where a sitting President shut down this country when he went for medicals abroad, President Buhari should me commended for always transmitting powers to his Vice. You might have your issues with the Buhari administration but we should never miss opportunities like this to teach ourselves the ropes of governance and the law.

First Baba Isa (FBI) is a Legal Practitioner and writes from Abuja.

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Electing Adeyemi Odubiyi As MD: Shareholders And Sterling Bank Perilous Journey To Golgotha By Fejiro Oliver

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning” – Henry Ford

I look through my hotel window two hours after being released from alagbon police station this day of March 2017 by the bribe taking police officer, DSP Kenneth ogbeifun who conspired and connived with sterling bank to frame Dennis Ukpabi and I up, and wonder what the future holds for the bank

Except there is a last minute political game at play, Nigeria’s financially struggling Sterling Bank will be picking a new Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer to head it for the next ten years. This ultimate decision will be reached on May 11, 2017 by the shareholders. Months before now, the rumour mill from the bank is that the current MD/CEO, Mr Adeyemi Adeola, has positioned his alter ego, Mr Adeyemi Odubiyi, to be his successor. It is only when this financial coup fails that Adeola will fall back to his second option, in the person of Abubakar Suleiman, the Executive Director, Finance and Performance Management. His first option of Odubiyi is not likely to fail going by the horse-trading already going on.

For ten solid years, against moral and financial ethics, he has groomed Odubiyi into his perfect choice of MD, even though he is the least qualified and has the worst CV among the contenders. To prepare him towards the journey of covering up whatever illicit financial dealings he carried out, such as the Diezani election money saga, he caused his godson Odubiyi to enjoy rapid promotion, such that is unprecedented in the history of Sterling Bank since the merger. From a Group Head, he was made a General Manager and quickly made a Chief Operating Officer in 2013. Obviously aware that it takes only and Executive Director to contest for Managing Director, he was made Executive Director, Operations and Services in 2014. In 2015, Adeola introduced him to the board for ratification which was done. At 41, he became the youngest Executive Director in Sterling Bank, without merit but obviously for this deciding moment. This is compared to Kayode Lawal, who was also made Executive Director same time with him, even though it should been earlier. Lawal, a Chartered Accountant is said to have the most impressive CV and has achieved numerous marketing feat that increased both bank and customers’ deposit bases. The only achievement credited to Odubiyi is changing the core banking application from BANKS to T24, which has failed both the bank and customers, as its mobile and internet services is the worst ever in Nigeria. For a bank MD whose first word should be integrity and credibility, Odubiyi has lost every iota of it. For the first time in Nigeria banking history, he may be the first bank MD/CEO that will stand in the dock and cross examined by a group of ten lawyers and captured by the media for his role in the now infamous N100 million Deposit Mobilization Fraud. That a CEO of a bank will not only be cross examined, but also his integrity called to question, it begs to ask how customers’ monies can be safe under him.

Odubiyi’s statement acknowledging the fraud alone nails him and disqualifies him from being an Executive Director in the bank, not to talk of a Managing Director position. The only thing close to the truth is that they faced disciplinary actions because of their involvement in the Deposit Mobilization Fraud is his inglorious statement to the police. Anywhere all over the world where a top banker is allegedly involved in fraud, he steps aside to clear his name and not getting rewarded with the post of Managing Director. Odubiyi has not denied the fraud, neither has he denied telling his godson, Adekanlu Desalu, and his female staff, Eguru Nyenke, who he is alleged of having an affair with, to run to the police for obvious protection that has now boomeranged. The heavy allegation by this journalist and Dennis Ukpabi, who blew the cover off the fraud and Odubiyi’s attempt to cover his two staff, will only make the bank spend money in image laundering.

The first code of conduct in banking is integrity. The moment your integrity is called to question, the door is left open to walk out. Will the shareholders turn a blind eye to this brewing integrity storm that is about to consume the bank? Will they dance to Adeola’s political drum to make Odubiyi the Managing Director and face the worst media crisis since their merger? Or will they throw away this financial Jonah into the sea to save the bank’s image? As they sit for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday and take that crucial decision that will either make or mar the bank, they must have it at the back of their hearts that Odubiyi carries with him baggages of problems that are unheard of in a bank, from financial integrity to alleged sexual immorality with staff. Every Managing Director of a bank must command respect among staff, but this cannot be said of Odubiyi who is secretly divided by staffers nationwide and hated by even the gatemen. Will the shareholders turn dear ears to the murmuring of the staffs and top customers who are already feeling ashamed that from June 12, 2017, their new Managing Director will be embarrassed as he stands in the dock?

In 2015, Fidelity Bank MD, Nnamdi Okonkwo, arrested a top journalist in Chris Keheinde Nwandu (CKN) even when he was advised against it by the Group Head of Corporate Communication. His cup was full with Seun Oleketuyi and CKN spending few weeks in Ikoyi Prison and then the bubble of his involvement with Diezani busted. Efforts to keep the story out of the media failed as CKN and co were determined to fulfill their constitutional duty of questioning Okonkwo’s involvement. Unable to save his neck, the bank shareholders in shame replaced him. This is what Sterling Bank shareholders must know, that, like Nnamdi Okonkwo, Odubiyi will not last long as Managing Director, as Adeola’s sins which were obviously covered up by PR including frantic mails sent to the staff by management to remain calm when he was picked by the EFCC and was weeping like a baby while pleading will be made public. The epic event that happened on the Sterling Towers will have the records opened as well as the N363 million Gbagi fraud that has been kept away. To prevent this, the shareholders should beware the ides of May 11 and June 12; they should look beyond Adeola and save the bank’s future.

Kayode Lawal commands respect among Sterling staff nationwide, with his integrity never called to question. Lanre Adesanya who was beaten by Adeola to be Managing Director is a better person that Odubiyi even though he may not be contesting. Suleiman as the Managing Director will serve the bank and her customers with years of professional banking. The mistake of electing Odubiyi can best be described as the gloomy days ahead of Sterling. His emergence will see him groom the arrowhead of the N100million fraud, Adekanlu Desalu, as the next Managing Director or Eguru Nyenke as another successor.

The shareholders have a date with history to wreck the bank by allowing Adeola have his way or build the struggling pretending bank by electing a man with impeccable record as the next Managing Director. Whatever happens after then will determine if Arsenal Football Club will continue to partner with them or sever their partnership. No foreign organization wants bad press and affiliation with a notorious institution that Sterling Bank and its staff are fast becoming.

The One Customer Bank may just be bidding goodbye to Nigerians if Odubiyi, who may be docked alongside his three protégé, is stamped on the bank. May Sterling Bank not begin the nailing of its coffin on May 11. Ise!

These little things matters…

 

Fejiro Oliver, a journalist writes from Lagos. He can be reached on secretsreporters@gmail.com and tweets @fejirooliver86.

Editor: Opinion expressed on this page is solely those of the writer and does not necessarily reflects the views of Abusidiqu.com or its associates.

Electing Adeyemi Odubiyi As MD: Shareholders And Sterling Bank Perilous Journey To Golgotha By Fejiro Oliver

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning” – Henry Ford

I look through my hotel window two hours after beingreleased from alagbon police station this day of March 2017 by the bribe taking police officer, DSP Kenneth ogbeifun who conspired and connived with sterling bank to frame Dennis Ukpabi and I up, and wonder what the future holds for the bank

Except there is a last minute political game at play, Nigeria’s financially struggling Sterling Bank will be picking a new Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer to head it for the next ten years. This ultimate decision will be reached on May 11, 2017 by the shareholders. Months before now, the rumour mill from the bank is that the current MD/CEO, Mr Adeyemi Adeola, has positioned his alter ego, Mr Adeyemi Odubiyi, to be his successor. It is only when this financial coup fails that Adeola will fall back to his second option, in the person of Abubakar Suleiman, the Executive Director, Finance and Performance Management. His first option of Odubiyi is not likely to fail going by the horse-trading already going on.

For ten solid years, against moral and financial ethics, he has groomed Odubiyi into his perfect choice of MD, even though he is the least qualified and has the worst CV among the contenders. To prepare him towards the journey of covering up whatever illicit financial dealings he carried out, such as the Diezani election money saga, he caused his godson Odubiyi to enjoy rapid promotion, such that is unprecedented in the history of Sterling Bank since the merger.

From a Group Head, he was made a General Manager and quickly made a Chief Operating Officer in 2013. Obviously aware that it takes only and Executive Director to contest for Managing Director, he was made Executive Director, Operations and Services in 2014. In 2015, Adeola introduced him to the board for ratification which was done. At 41, he became the youngest Executive Director in Sterling Bank, without merit but obviously for this deciding moment.

This is compared to Kayode Lawal, who was also made Executive Director same time with him, even though it should been earlier. Lawal, a Chartered Accountant is said to have the most impressive CV and has achieved numerous marketing feat that increased both bank and customers’ deposit bases. The only achievement credited to Odubiyi is changing the core banking application from BANKS to T24, which has failed both the bank and customers, as its mobile and internet services is the worst ever in Nigeria. For a bank MD whose first word should be integrity and credibility, Odubiyi has lost every iota of it.

For the first time in Nigeria banking history, he may be the first bank MD/CEO that will stand in the dock and cross examined by a group of ten lawyers and captured by the media for his role in the now infamous N100 million Deposit Mobilization Fraud. That a CEO of a bank will not only be cross examined, but also his integrity called to question, it begs to ask how customers’ monies can be safe under him.

Odubiyi’s statement acknowledging the fraud alone nails him and disqualifies him from being an Executive Director in the bank, not to talk of a Managing Director position. The only thing close to the truth is that they faced disciplinary actions because of their involvement in the Deposit Mobilization Fraud is his inglorious statement to the police. Anywhere all over the world where a top banker is allegedly involved in fraud, he steps aside to clear his name and not getting rewarded with the post of Managing Director.

Odubiyi has not denied the fraud, neither has he denied telling his godson, Adekanlu Desalu, and his female staff, Eguru Nyenke, who he is alleged of having an affair with, to run to the police for obvious protection that has now boomeranged. The heavy allegation by this journalist and Dennis Ukpabi, who blew the cover off the fraud and Odubiyi’s attempt to cover his two staff, will only make the bank spend money in image laundering.

The first code of conduct in banking is integrity. The moment your integrity is called to question, the door is left open to walk out. Will the shareholders turn a blind eye to this brewing integrity storm that is about to consume the bank? Will they dance to Adeola’s political drum to make Odubiyi the Managing Director and face the worst media crisis since their merger? Or will they throw away this financial Jonah into the sea to save the bank’s image? As they sit for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday and take that crucial decision that will either make or mar the bank, they must have it at the back of their hearts that Odubiyi carries with him baggages of problems that are unheard of in a bank, from financial integrity to alleged sexual immorality with staff. Every Managing Director of a bank must command respect among staff, but this cannot be said of Odubiyi who is secretly divided by staffers nationwide and hated by even the gatemen. Will the shareholders turn dear ears to the murmuring of the staffs and top customers who are already feeling ashamed that from June 12, 2017, their new Managing Director will be embarrassed as he stands in the dock?

In 2015, Fidelity Bank MD, Nnamdi Okonkwo, arrested a top journalist in Chris Keheinde Nwandu (CKN) even when he was advised against it by the Group Head of Corporate Communication. His cup was full with Seun Oleketuyi and CKN spending few weeks in Ikoyi Prison and then the bubble of his involvement with Diezani busted. Efforts to keep the story out of the media failed as CKN and co were determined to fulfill their constitutional duty of questioning Okonkwo’s involvement. Unable to save his neck, the bank shareholders in shame replaced him.

This is what Sterling Bank shareholders must know, that, like Nnamdi Okonkwo, Odubiyi will not last long as Managing Director, as Adeola’s sins which were obviously covered up by PR including frantic mails sent to the staff by management to remain calm when he was picked by the EFCC and was weeping like a baby while pleading will be made public. The epic event that happened on the Sterling Towers will have the records opened as well as theN363 million Gbagi fraud that has been kept away. To prevent this, the shareholders should beware the ides of May 11 and June 12; they should look beyond Adeola and save the bank’s future.

Kayode Lawal commands respect among Sterling staff nationwide, with his integrity never called to question. Lanre Adesanya who was beaten by Adeola to be Managing Director is a better person that Odubiyi even though he may not be contesting. Suleiman as the Managing Director will serve the bank and her customers with years of professional banking. The mistake of electing Odubiyi can best be described as the gloomy days ahead of Sterling. His emergence will see him groom the arrowhead of the N100million fraud, Adekanlu Desalu, as the next Managing Director or Eguru Nyenke as another successor.

The shareholders have a date with history to wreck the bank by allowingAdeola have his way or build the struggling pretending bank by electing a man with impeccable record as the next Managing Director. Whatever happens after then will determine if Arsenal Football Club will continue to partner with them or sever their partnership. No foreign organization wants bad press and affiliation with a notorious institution that Sterling Bank and its staff are fast becoming.

The One Customer Bank may just be bidding goodbye to Nigerians if Odubiyi, who may be docked alongside his three protégé, is stamped on the bank. May Sterling Bank not begin the nailing of its coffin on May 11. Ise!

These little things matters…

Fejiro Oliver, a journalist writes from Lagos. He can be reached on secretsreporters@gmail.com and tweets @fejirooliver86.

 

Youths And The Race To 2019 By Abdullahi Malumfashi

As the race for 2019 draws closer, many of our youths and others have been advocating for youths’ inclusion and perhaps complete takeover of government. I would have love to keep mute, but seeing that many have concluded that youths are the solution to all our ill-gotten worries, I can’t help but comment on this. Before I proceed however, there is the need to understand who a youth is. Youth is the time of life when one is young, usually from childhood to maturity. In Nigeria however, it refers to people aged between 18–35 years and they encompass almost 70% of the total population. These are the sets of people who many poise as the Messiahs of this nation, those deemed to solve our present problems. Many are campaigning for “a youth government”, and if possible, a youth president as they think would be a better alternative to our leaders right now. But, are the youths really ready to govern this country? Is their claim really true?
There is no doubt that youths have played a vital role in the politics of our dear country. From the struggle for Independence, to the 1966 coup which was executed by young army majors, to the counter coup, youths have played a major rule. Yakubu Gowon, the then Head of state during the turbulent period of civil war was in his thirties, so was Murtala Ramat Muhammad who was executed at the tender age of 37, while he was still the Head of state. In subsequent military regimes and the second Republic, youths have been highly involved. Elder Statesman, Maitama Sule was only in his twenties when he became a Federal Legislature, so also when he was appointed Minister and countless of others. Many youths have been political leaders in their respective regions and States then.
Why am I saying all this? No doubt the role of youths in politics is very important, but some see that as enough reasons for youths’ comeback in 2019 or beyond. Sadly, and most regrettably, some of those campaigning for youths’ inclusion in government have cited the above examples as reasons with no any other one apart from that. These same people have failed to realize the fact that the youths of today are not the same with those of yesteryears. What has changed?
Unfortunately, the youths of today cannot be compared to those of the past. While those of the past were patriotic, diligent and have the interest of the nation at heart, this cannot be attributed to today’s youth. The former is largely corrupt or at least toy with the idea of corruption, and always ready to feast on the national treasury at any given chance. To most, governance is all about fraudulently enriching one’s pocket with ill-gotten wealth. The few are perhaps attracted by the juicy package of the politicians and their influence, rather than the will to serve. Greediness, avarice and selfishness which can be seen in students’ unionism seem to be the natural traits of some of our youths.
Incompetency is another problem facing the youths, as most of our students’ associations are sometimes held by incompetent individuals. Leadership skill is also lacking in our future leaders, perhaps due to lack of experience. The youths have also started exhibiting the so-called qualities of a good politician; deceit, lies and hypocrisy! One moment, we are busy dropping all kinds of abuses and insults on our leaders and the next, we are busy campaigning for the same people as soon as a chunk of the cheese is smeared into our hands.
Poverty, is another burning issue which has seriously dealt with our youths. Perhaps this is why they live off the pockets of politicians, and in return spread all kinds of false stories capable of tarnishing the image of an opposition. They are sometimes being used as thugs and all forms of political mercenaries during elections. Due to our naivety, we always think the easiest and quickest route to become wealthy is through politics.
Let us not forget about immorality. Our youths are highly involved in all immoral acts which has affected our leaders of tomorrow. From the obsession with sex, to indecent dressing, smoking and taking all forms of hard drugs, to thuggery, armed robbery, kidnapping and all forms of heinous crimes which has not been so in the previous years. Sadly, this has been a gauge for measuring how responsible our youths are.
The issue of unity is another hurdle too. Assuming we agree that youths are our saviours after all, who shall lead us, and under which platform? Is it the National youth party, or the National Movement for Youth or the so many other countless ones? The less incompetent ones vying for posts may be reluctant to give up for the experienced ones even after knowing so. Many believe that to achieve success, most especially politically,is to drag down their colleagues. Lack of unity among youths is in one word “embarrassing”.
I am always in awe when many people believe that youths are the rescuers of this nation, and I wonder which category of youth they are talking about. Is it the ordinary youth that is embedded deep in corruption and other fraudulent activities, or the youth who engage in all kinds of hooliganism, and violence in the name of unionism, or the one who engage in all other immoral activities such as vandalism, kidnappings, thuggery and so on, or the one who only uses the social media to spread all kind of false claims, and useless messages?
However, this can all change when we start by redeeming ourselves and getting rid of all corrupt acts and other immoral activities. We can start by gaining and demonstrating good leadership skills, and through striving to achieve success in our present endeavors, so that when the time comes, we would be taken seriously in leadership.
We may need to do away with all forms of deceit, greed and lies. Learning to be creative and developing good entrepreneurial skills are also important so that we won’t need to depend on any politician for financial support. Most of us forget that we need the requisite experience to attain the highest levels. You cannot just start and expect to be at the top of the hierarchy without working for it or not having the necessary experience.
There is also the need for unity among youths. Formation of a strong independent youth platform, not controlled or funded by any individual, with strong and able leadership that would carry all youths, irrespective of religion, tribe or ethnic affiliations might be a good idea.
As much as we have to, we can’t do it all alone. Whilst the biggest enemies to youths remain corruption and hypocrisy, we can eliminate them by shunning all acts of corruption and purging corrupt officials from our associations or organizations. The higher authorities have roles to play too, for instance, School authorities taking stringent measures against corruption in associations.
However, all these cannot take place without proper enlightenment about the roles of the youth and the lapses associated. There should therefore, be public enlightenment and orientation both on Social Media and through organized lectures, leadership workshops, seminars, symposiums etc, targeted at the youths by patriotic citizens or even government agencies. Keeping in touch with government policies and activities would also aim to prepare us to study the lapses and then avoid it when our time comes.
The bad news is that if the present trend continues, we won’t be ready come 2019 nor subsequent years, as we would still not be taken seriously in leadership and when we finally do, we would experience numerous catastrophes and challenges. The good news however, is that with adequate measures taken, we can still overcome our numerous challenges and give these set of politicians a good run for their money. In the meantime, be patriotic and harbor good intentions with a clean mind when running for a public office.
Abdullahi Malumfashi, a student of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria can be contacted via abdalladamfashi@gmail.com.

On Macron: Youth/”Yoots” For President, By Jude Feranmi

“History repeats itself first as a tragedy, the second time as a farce”?—?Karl Marx

First and foremost, congratulations to Emmanuel Macron the recently elected Presidential candidate in France who beat his opponent with a landslide. Many have quoted this victory as a win over Fascism and Trumpism, but that is another discussion for another day.

After Macron’s win, there will be so much inspiration to draw from and so many labels and analysis and then a call to action will follow for those who will take the opportunity and replicate the phenomenon in our part of the world. This, as we know by now is the usual pattern.

Emmanuel Macron has again challenged the young Nigerian who is ‘challengeable’, the same way Barack Obama did in 2008. The question we should be asking now is what is going to come out of it?

George Santayana is the one who said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Isn’t that really why History repeats itself, because majority of us don’t learn from history?

The 1999 Narrative

The Military regime ended in 1999 but competent Nigerians failed to engage the new system to the detriment of all of us

Were there young competent Nigerians who could have taken over the country in 1999 when the Military rulers finally decided to officially go back to the barracks? Yes!

So what happened? Those who were competent enough were so handicapped with their analysis that they refused to show up. It was either arguments about how the military were going to come back after a couple of years or how it wasn’t worth risking their lives for.

It will be 18 years since the return back to civil rule in 21 days time and those who were smart then are still trying, in vain, to get back into that system.

By May 29th of this year, we will have active citizens who will not have witnessed any strain of military rule and will be eligible to vote in our elections. The question of their experience of the quality of democratic rule is another matter entirely. Yet, the intellectuals of the time are still struggling to invade the system and at least test their many theses on what and how good governance can be provided.

The 2017 Narrative.

There’s so much influence everywhere else you look and so little political influence

 

No matter what the older generation of Nigerians tell you, there is a rising number of young Nigerians blazing the trail when it comes to professional careers and disrupting industries. Against all odds, young Nigerians are still able to raise their heads high and mention scores of young people making things happen in their fields. But the story more or less remain the same.

These young competent influential people are staying away from politics. At this time where the country is almost ripe for a Macron style revolution, most of those who are competent enough are intellectually excusing themselves from contributing their quota to society politically. Most are found in religious houses, entertainment, business and those who are still passionate are found in civil society.

When it comes to anything that disrupts the political status quo, young competent people are busy with other things. So the environment is left for the rest who are either too passionate to not do anything about the country or those who are not as competent and are left with the only option of engaging the system. In any case, we are back to 1999

In 1999, 5 Nigerian Governors were below the age of 40 including 36 year old Ibrahim Turaki. Orji Uzor Kalu was 39, Donald Duke was 38, Chimaroke Nnamani was 39 and Ahmed Yerima (same Yerima) was 39.

Worthy of mention is James Ibori who was 40, Niyi Adebayo who was 41, Lucky Igbinedion (42), Rabiu Kwakwanso (43), Ahmed Makarfi (43), Abdulkadir Kure (43), Joshua Dariye (42) and Attahiru Bafarawa who was 45.

With these figures, you would often find these same young, competent analysts of our time tell you that this means ‘youth’ does not necessarily translate to good governance in defense of their myth that the country is doomed and we should only sit down in our AC tight offices and engage in analysis paralysis.

Meanwhile, the intellectuals of 1999 who were young and vibrant are still trying to get into the political space they refused to join then.

If you take a look at the political space today in 2017, young people are currently engaging the system and just like 1999, majority of these young people are not the kind of people who you would like to engage in an intellectual debate, because they are tied to paymasters and godfathers.

In the end, there will be those who will refuse to give up on the system that will be competent and passionate and will just try to make a mark. In the end, those kinds of people will be invited to speak in events some years later that other young people of that time will attend. We will then start the whole analysis paralysis again and we will still be worse for it.

By that time however, our population will be upwards of half a billion and we will probably be facing drastic decisions of increase in crime and how we want to provide food for half a billion citizens.

As i journeyed for more than 4 hours to Osogbo last weekend to meet with hundreds of young people who gathered for our youth town hall meeting in KOWA PARTY. The singular thought that kept on coming back to my consciousness is what exactly is bound to happen when the younger generation finally takes over power?

Take it or leave it, the occurrences in the outside world have effect on us and will contribute to the happenings in our own political atmosphere sooner rather than later. I have no doubt in my mind that young people are going to take over the affairs of our country, and soon.

What I don’t have an answer to is whether we are going to be led again by youths ( young, competent and genuinely compassionate Nigerians) or yoots (young, average, desperate Nigerians)?

Jude Feranmi can be reached via jude.feranmi@kowaparty.net and on Twitter @JudeFeranmi

Osinbajo Is The Acting President of Nigeria Simpliciter, By Inibehe Effiong

The written declaration or letter transmitted to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by President Muhammadu Buhari conveying his decision to proceed on medical vacation has ignited an avoidable controversy regarding the status and role of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN for the period that Mr. Buhari’s medical vacation will subsist.

On Tuesday 9th May, 2017, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara read the separate but identically worded letters they received from Mr. Buhari during the plenary of both houses of the National Assembly. The content of the controversial letter (the Senate President’s copy) is reproduced infra (below) as reported in several mainstream and online media:

It reads: “In compliance with section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, I wish to inform the Distinguished Senate that I will be away for a scheduled medical follow-up with my doctors in London.

“The length of my stay will be determined by the doctor’s advice.

“While I am away, the Vice President will coordinate the activities of the government. Please accept, the Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.’’

The part of the letter that has elicited public debate is where Mr. Buhari offered his view on the role his Vice; Mr. Osinbajo will play in his absence. He stated thus: “While I am away, the Vice President will coordinate the activities of the government.”

Many commentators have interpreted this statement to mean that Osinbajo will not assume or exercise the functions of office of the President as an Acting President, but will merely ‘’coordinate the activities of the government” only as the Vice President of Nigeria.

The above interpretation, I submit with respect, is constitutionally untenable, baseless, wrong, faulty and legally indefensible.

The reasons are summarised as follows:

It is not open to Buhari, Osinbajo, the National Assembly or any other authority or person to go outside the express and unambiguous provisions of Section 145 (1) of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) (hereinafter referred to as the Constitution) to determine the status and functions of the Vice President when the President is proceeding on vacation and transmits a letter to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The only legally cognizable and acceptable reference on this matter is Section 145 (1) of the Constitution.

What does Section 145 (1) of the Constitution provide for? It states as follows:

“Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.”

There is nothing in the quoted provisions of Section 145 (1) of the Constitution that justifies controversy on what should happen whenever the President is proceeding on vacation or leave. President Buhari has acted in line with this constitutional process in the past without argument.

In the present case, the President transmitted a written declaration to both the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives that he is proceeding on medical vacation to London. That is ALL that was/is required of Mr. Buhari by the Constitution. Any other statement in his written declaration or letter to the presiding officers of the National Assembly is constitutionally irrelevant. Buhari’s assertion that Mr. Osinbajo will “coordinate the activities of the government” in his absence is a surplusage in the eyes of the law.

There are two elementary canons or principles of statutory or constitutional interpretation which have received unchallenged judicial blessings from every superior court of record in Nigeria, including the Supreme Court, as decided in a plethora of cases which are relevant to the current discourse and they bear repeating.

First, it is a settled rule of interpretation that when the words of a statute, including the Constitution, are plain and unambiguous, they should be given their ordinary meaning unless it would lead to absurdity or be in conflict with the Constitution. In the case of Okotie-Eboh v. Manager & Ors. (2004) 18 NWLR (Pt. 905) Page 242; (2014) LPELR-2502(SC) (pp. 30, paras. E), the Supreme Court, Per Edozie, J.S.C. correctly stated the principle thus:

“According to the canons of interpretation of statutes, it is a cardinal principle that where the ordinary plain meaning of the words used in a statute are very clear and unambiguous, effect must be given to those words without resort to any intrinsic or external aid.”

The position taken by the Supreme Court in the Okotie-Eboh’s case quoted supra is very instructive. Applying same to the present case, it will be unconstitutional to resort to any external aid in giving effect to the clear and unambiguous provisions of Section 145 (1) of the Constitution. Since the Constitution has clearly stated what should happen whenever the President transmits a written declaration to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives that he is proceeding on vacation, Buhari lacks the vires (power) to go further to define the role of Prof. Osinbajo.

Buhari can neither add to nor subtract from the provisions of Section 145 (1) of the Constitution.

See also the pronouncements of the Supreme Court in the following reported case: Nyame v FRN (2010) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1193) Page 344 at Page 399, Paras. B-H; Action Congress v. INEC (2007) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1048) Page 220 at Page 318, Paras E-H and Utih v. Onoyivwe (1991) 1 NWLR (Pt. 160) Page 166 at 238, Paras. D-E. These authorities are to the effect that when the words of the statute or the Constitution are plain and unambiguous, effect must be given to their ordinary grammatical and literary meaning.

The second canon of interpretation which is relevant to this discussion is on the import of the use of the word “Shall’’ in an enactment”. The Supreme Court, Per Adekeye, J.S.C. in Dr. Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo & Ors. v. Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua & Ors. (2010) LPELR-2109(SC) at Pages 78, Paras. D-E had this to say:

“The word shall when used in a statutory provision imports that a thing must be done. It is a form of command or mandate. It is not permissive, it is mandatory. The word shall in its ordinary meaning is a word of command which is normally given a compulsory meaning as it is intended to denote obligation.”

It should be noted that the word “Shall” is mentioned only once in Section 145 (1) of the Constitution. The mandatory word (shall) is not mentioned in the provision with regards to whether the President should transmit a written declaration to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives or not when he is proceeding on vacation. It is only mentioned at the later part of the provision embodying the consequence of transmitting a written declaration, whenever he chooses to do so.

What this implies is that it is not compulsory for the President to do so.

However, WHENEVER he acts in line with Section 145 (1) of the Constitution, that is, anytime the President deems it expedient to transmit a written declaration or letter to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Vice President automatically assumes the position of an Acting President and perform the functions of the President.

The moment the written declaration or letter transmitted by President Buhari conveying his decision to proceed on medical vacation was received and acknowledged by the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Prof. Osinbajo had, by operation of law, assumed the position of Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Not even the National Assembly could stop him from assuming that position. It is automatic and there is nothing that can be done to the contrary by any authority or person without offending the spirit and letters of the Constitution.

Had the President proceeded on vacation to London without notifying the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Prof. Osinbajo would have continued to “coordinate the activities of the government” as Vice President for the next 21 days, after which the National Assembly shall pass a resolution empowering him to perform the functions of the office of President in line with Section 145 (2) of the Constitution.

Interestingly, Mr. Buhari had expressly indicated in his written declaration that he was writing pursuant to Section 145 (1) of the Constitution. This forecloses any contrary inference on his intentions other than for Osinbajo to become the Acting President.

It should however be noted that it was not necessary for the President to expressly indicate that his written declaration was made pursuant to Section 145 (1) of the Constitution. It was equally superfluous for him to state the nomenclature, status or functions of his Vice while he is on vacation. The Constitution has already catered for this.

I will like to assume that the language used by Mr. President in his letter was innocuous and not intended to subvert the Constitution. It will amount to a rape on the Constitution and democracy if Mr. Osinbajo is prevented or inhibited, in any manner, from assuming the position of Acting President and excising full presidential powers and functions.

There is no office with the appellation ‘’Coordinator of Nation’s Affairs’’ under our Constitution. Buhari cannot amend the Supreme Law of the Land by implication. If Osinbajo is to coordinate the activities of the government while Buhari is away, he can only do so as the Acting President of Nigeria. Anything contrary is ultra vires, illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

Mr. Osinbajo cannot refuse or reject the position of an Acting President. It is not in his mouth to say whether he will temporarily lead the country as the Vice President or as an Acting President. He has no choice in this matter other than to perform the functions of the office of President as Acting President. It is the law that parties cannot by conduct or consent alter the Constitution. See the case of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) v. Famfa Oil Limited (2012) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1328) 148.

Pending when Buhari transmits a written declaration to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives indicating his return to Nigeria and readiness to resume his functions, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN is and will remain the Acting President of Nigeria.

Thank you.

Inibehe Effiong, a Legal Practitioner can be reached via: inibehe.effiong@gmail.com

Do We Have A Minister Of FCT? By Abuh Andrew

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja is very significant for various reasons, besides being the capital of Nigeria and the sit of power, it’s the best planned city in the entire country and serves as a model for planning modern Nigerian cities, the pride if you will of Nigeria.  Right from its creation there has been a running battle to adhere to its master plan and maintain the standards and quality for which the city was designed. This task has always been a tough one with the city witnessing a distortion of its master plan by various administrations and administrators.

It was a great relief when in 2003 Mallam Nasir el Rufai undertook (and successfully too against all odds) the task to bring back the city to its original master plan. Unfortunately this great stride like every Nigerian dream story was quickly eroded and gradually degraded by subsequent ministers and administrations. While the degeneration of Abuja and distortion of its master plan persisted after the great strides by Mallam Nasir Elrufai, the level of such distortions however varied.

The current decay and decadence in the FCT clearly places the current FCT minister Alhaji Mohammad Musa Bello as unarguably the most ineffective minister in the history of the city. The city’s comatose state begs the question, do we really have a minister of FCT?

Before proceeding, I’ll like to make it clear that I am not just a card carrying member of the APC but also an active member of the All Progressive Youth Forum, possibly the most influential youth body within the APC. Hence, I speak as a resident of Abuja and not as a party member, as such the views expressed herein are entirely mine.  Secondly I have been a resident of Abuja for over 20 years and have been through nine ministers from Lt. General Jeremiah Oseni to the current minister and have witnessed the city evolve over the years.

A tour of the city during the day and night time clearly shows that after almost two years in office, the current minister of the FCT seem not to have any bit of control or comprehension of the structure that runs the city, a clear indication that he also has no plan, strategy or vision of where he wants to take the city. If any, it would seem to be one of excuses for failure rather than development and innovation.

The deplorable environmental and sanitary condition, the horrifying surge in criminal activities such as armed robbery and kidnaping, the aggravating traffic jam situation due to non-functional traffic lights in major traffic points across the city, the pitch dark and precarious atmosphere at night due to lack of street lighting around the city, the invasion of the city by all manners of miscreants, beggars, prostitutes, street hawkers etc., tells the tale of a city that is fast becoming another urban jungle.

For the purpose of this article I will be concentrating on Abuja town and municipal, which is supposed to be the reference point and bench mark for the administration of the FCT. A cursory look at various parts of the city will give an insight into the very sad decaying state of the best planned city in Nigeria. Beginning with the highbrow sprawling district of wuse 2 which is known for its centrality, beautiful neighborhoods and relatively high rents, the decay is most obvious. The district has witnessed the most incursion of beggars, street hawkers, drug peddlers, prostitutes and miscreants, within the city.

During the day at major traffic junctions around the district, you’re are accosted by a myriad of beggars and hawkers soliciting help and patronage even to the point of aggression. You have beggars on standby at ATM points waiting to approach you and beg for money.  At night, Ademola Adetokunbo road the major road in the district, is a beehive of all manners of illicit activities, from parading prostitutes, to drug dealers and peddlers advertising and breaking the law openly.

The inner residential streets is gradually been taken over by sprouting brothels and prostitute hostels attracting a huge number of patronage and all manners of characters and illicit activities. The property value in this district is fast depreciating as some areas within the district have every indices of a slum.

The city stays precariously pitch dark at night, safe for car headlights and glimmering lights from residential and commercial buildings. Driving from the Games village through Gudu around Apo legislative quarters through the secretariat road down to Banex junction onward to Next Cash and Carry down to Gwarimpa, a long stretch that takes you from one end of the city to the other, not a single working street light can be spotted. You take another stretch from life camp through old airport road down to kabusa junction through Sun City road, not one street light working.  Back into the city and through inner city streets, non-functional street light poles line up across the sidewalks like decorations with some damaged by car accidents and others vandalized.

As you exit Wuse district towards Banex and first forty junction to the major express way leading to kubwa and Mabuchi, you are greeted once more by the decaying situation of the city, an improvised illegal motor park actively been run by miscreants (popularly called agbero) is brazenly operated by the road side calling out to passengers to catch the next vehicle to kubwa, suleja and other areas along the Abuja Kaduna road. Just by the same spot, a road side market has also emerged with food vendors cooking right by road side and selling all types of food, snacks and drinks. Cars are parked wrongly and indiscriminately causing serious traffic obstruction on that stretch of the road, with the whole spot littered with plastic bottles, paper and pure water sachet. It is a very ugly sight.

The Area 1 of town axis is a red spot notorious for robbery and car snatching and the ever increasing taxi and bus passenger robbery popularly known as “one chance”. Just right under the overhead bridge at Area 1by the roundabout, taxi drivers and miscreants popularly called agberos blatantly block the road taking their time to solicit for passengers without any consideration for other road users and pedestrians. It’s a lawless situation with no traffic official in sight. The roads are practically blocked and chaotic and as usual littered with all manner of filth.

Trees, flowers and grasses planted for beautification and vegetation across the city, bears evidence of the poor maintenance and incompetence that’s now the hall mark of the city. As you drive through the whole of wuse, Maitama, Garki and Jabi districts you see over grown Trees almost covering the roads, Street signs and in some cases traffic lights (that’s if they work).

The Abuja environmental protection board seem to be in comatose, not even its first charge of ensuring a clean city has been achieved. The streets are filthy and filled with illegal garbage dump sites and indiscriminate dumping of waste by residents, offices and even pedestrians.  Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if the minister of FCT drives around the city to see the activities and conditions of the city he governs? If he does, is he happy with what he sees?

There is a rising wave of criminal activities in this once relatively secured city, top of which is robbery and kidnapping. Kidnappers have been on the prowl literally unchallenged. Kidnap stories in the city has made national headline, as Abuja is fast becoming a kidnap capital.

From the continuous decaying situation of the FCT, one thing is clear the minister must admit that he lacks the capacity to effectively run the city, 2. It’s obvious he was not prepared for the office and the responsibility and such does not have a vision or plan for the city. 3. It is apparent the minister is clearly surrounded by an equally incompetent team.

Given his obvious lack of experience and capacity, one would think the minister would assemble a competent team to help him run and optimize the potentials of the city. Why is the minister not approaching fellow party members like Mallam Nasir El Rufai who excellently administered the FCT, for advice and an effective template or Governors Raji Fashola and Akinwumi Ambode, who have successfully managed and governed a more complex mega city like Lagos, with all its attendant challenges?

The minister can for instance ask Governor Ambode to share how he was able to light up every major street in Lagos in less than 2 months which has seen a drastic reduction in crime! Or how he has been able to manage the humongous refuse situation in Lagos and kept the city clean. The FCT if well managed can self-fund itself, as such the minister’s continuous excuse of lack of funds does not hold water. The minister needs to be ingenious and look beyond federal allocation.

I am very passionate about the FCT. It should be the pride of every Nigerian. We cannot stand by and watch a beautiful city become a shadow of itself due to ineffectiveness. We will speak up and get this FCT administration to work especially when it’s part of the focused APC government ably led by President Muhammadu Buhari. This minister is clearly dropping the ball on delivering the change promised.

This is no time for excuses, it’s a time for innovation and pragmatism. If the minister cannot deliver then he may choose to leave the stage honorably.

Abuh Andrew

Resides in Abuja and is a member of the All Progressives Congress.

@abuhandy

 

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