Imo State: Where There Is No Legislature, By Walter Duru,

In modern democratic societies, the legislature performs three conventional functions of representation, law-making and oversight responsibilities. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) has provided the legislature in different sections, the powers to perform these functions at both the central and state levels.

The legislature controls through legislation, all economic, social and political activities of the state or country. It also scrutinizes the policies of the Executive and provides the framework of the judiciary to operate.

Contrary to the above norm, in Imo State, there are three arms of Government – the Executive, the Executive and the Executive. The executive has one name – Rochas Anayochukwu Ethelbert Okorocha, who rules the State (with his family) as a conquered people. The State Assembly is mere O yes rubber stamp. In Imo, it is the state versus her citizens, instead of the state for the citizens. I challenge whoever that thinks otherwise to prove me wrong, with verifiable facts and superior argument(s).

Anyone dreaming that recent developments at the State House of Assembly suggest they have woken up from slumber should wake up from that sleep and take some malaria pills. It is a huge joke and there is nothing like Imo State House of Assembly; instead, we have Okorocha House of clowns, in practical terms. What we have occupying the exulted positions of state lawmakers is a bunch of timid opportunists and puppets, who believe that their ascension to the state legislature is a special favour from the cad governor of the state, hence, they owe him worship.

How else do you describe a state Assembly that cannot boast of any meaningful people-oriented legislation since its inauguration? How else can one explain the fact that the only time people hear about Imo State House of Assembly is when there is a Budget or Supplementary Budget to ‘adopt;’ not pass, as this Assembly has never scrutinized any budget proposal submitted to it. The budgetary process is done in utmost secrecy and is mere ratification of the governor’s submission. Sometimes, the budget is signed and spending commences before the so-called annual budget proposal is submitted to the Assembly.

Majority of the members of the State Assembly do not know what goes on in the legislature. Most legislative decisions are taken in the Executive Chambers. Another time you hear of the Assembly is when there is a request for loan for the personal use of the ‘Emperor’ or when there is an obnoxious anti people bill, usually sponsored by the Executive, through one of the puppets? A typical instance is that of the anti-media bill, smuggled in through the Deputy Speaker, Ugonna Ozurigbo.

They are at the beck and call of the Governor and have never and will never investigate whatever the executive is doing. No questions are ever asked; by the way, who, in the State Assembly has the guts to contemplate questioning the Governor or any of his allies?

It is an indubitable fact that the Speaker of the State Assembly, Acho Ihim takes instructions from the executive and can do anything to please the Governor. Some other members of the State Assembly kneel before him and practically tremble at the mention of his (Okorocha’s) name. I refuse to include that ridiculous title of Honourable, because, they are about the most dis-honourable people I have ever seen in public offices.

I simply smiled when a Civil Society colleague in Owerri attempted preaching Open Budgeting to Imo Government. Without apologies to a few of the lawmakers that relate with me, I can bet with my life that majority of them do not even have copies of the annual budget of the state they claim to be passing. Has the Assembly ever interrogated any budget proposal by the Executive? The Imo State Annual Budget is a secret document that only the governor and his cronies have access to. How then can the citizens be involved in the business of governance? How can they track government spending and budget performance?

How many bills that can promote good governance, enhance accountability, improve the socio-economic well-being of the citizens and secure the livelihood and future of Imo people have the present State Assembly passed? If it is not abortion bill today, it is anti-media bill tomorrow; from one obnoxious move to another. How did we get to this point in Imo?

Not even the public outcry that followed the numerous atrocities of the Okorocha-led government has moved them to act. Not even the blood of Soromtochukwu spilled during the illegal demolition of Ekeukwu Owerri. They are so dumb that they could not even pretend to be investigating any of the allegations against this ultra-corrupt government in the state.

From the complete absence of due process and rule of law, to the waste of scarce resources on trivialities; from non-payment of workers’ salaries, gratuities and pension of retirees, to issuance of dud cheques to pensioners; from failure to account for Bailout funds, Paris refunds and even the over one trillion Naira that has entered the state in the last seventy months to the use of state resources in conducting personal businesses.

What about the flagrant disobedience to Court orders and illegal demolition of private and public buildings? Land grabbing is a major characteristic of the present administration. How can a government seize landed property, using governmental powers and convert them to private use?

Nearly seven years into the present administration in the state, no local government election has been held. Where are the hundreds of billions accruing to the twenty-seven local government areas of the state? Is it the billions said to have been spent on statues? Now, Imo has Ministry of Happiness, with the Governor’s younger sister as Commissioner. Indeed, Imo has been rescued.

What about the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission- ISOPADEC, which funds should be statutory? At some point, Okorocha claimed to be saving the ISOPADEC billions for the construction of a Maritime University in Osemotor in Oguta Local Government Area of the State. Where is the Maritime University, nearly seven years after and where is the money?

The present administration in Imo is synonymous with corruption and is obviously irredeemable. But, where are the other two arms of government? The State Judiciary has become a toothless bulldog and cannot bite. Judicial pronouncements are disregarded with impunity and till date, nobody is in Prison for contempt.

Members of the Legislature that should have been the hope of the people to check the excesses of this ultra-corrupt government in Imo go cap in hand begging for contracts and favour from the executive. At some point, the governor engaged them with executive functions in Local Government areas.

Of all the atrocities of the present administration, the public outcry, media reports and petitions from citizens, which one has the present state Assembly investigated? Which member of the governor’s cabinet has either been summoned or questioned by the Legislature? Which decision of the Governor, no matter how ridiculous and unpopular, has the present Assembly questioned?

How can you have a docile and complicit State Assembly and still expect to have a responsible executive? The fact is that the State Assembly is responsible and should be held responsible for the misdeeds of the present executive.

Recent developments in the State Assembly may have been fueled by the fact that the governor is sitting on their constituency allowance and may have reneged on earlier promises. Following the initial protest of Budget boycott, funds are said to have been released to the leadership of the house and their cronies, who are mere messengers of the executive to rise against their colleagues; yes, divide and rule. Some of the resignation letters flying around may have been written and assented, prior to their emergence as principal officers. No one should be deceived. These guys cannot be trusted.

Ultimately, the surest way forward is for Imo citizens to take their destiny in their hands. Little wonder the mood of the last meeting of Nigerian Human Rights community in Owerri was for a declaration of a State of emergency in the State.

The only way for the State Assembly to redeem its image is to initiate immediate impeachment proceedings against the governor. For the lawmakers already marked for suspension, the die is cast. Can they, for once, get emboldened and stand on the side of the people?

The sorry state of Imo State today should be a lesson for all. 2019 is around the corner. Ndi Imo should not only be interested in who emerges the governor of the state, but those that are going to the State Assembly.

In addition to the business of lawmaking, one of the functions of the Legislature in every democracy is to serve as a check on the activities of the executive. In todays Imo, where are the laws made by the present administration and what checks have they provided? What oversight functions have they performed? Whom do they represent, other than their pockets and pay master? They are playing along so they can return to the Assembly in 2019; what a shame. Governor Okorocha runs Imo like an extension of his private business empire and members of the legislature sit as spectators?

There is no gainsaying the fact that indeed, there is no ‘capacity’ in the State Assembly and its leadership deserves no place in history.

Building a vibrant legislature is one sure way of deepening democracy, checking tyranny, promoting good governance, ensuring checks and balances and indeed, safeguarding the future of the people. From 2019, Ndi Imo must ensure that these ‘traders’ do not return to the state Assembly for any reason and through any means. Write down all their names and blacklist them, as they are undeserving of any position of responsibility.

The step being taken by Imo People’s Action for Democracy to ‘Occupy’ the State during the Christmas celebration is commendable and should have the sign in of all well-meaning Imolites. All stakeholders must join hands in sending a strong warning to this Nebuchadnezzar in Imo. The surest way forward is for the citizens of the state to take their destiny in their hands.

As for the present Imo State House of Assembly, the members should bury their faces shame.

The time to reclaim the people’s state is now. Do not be left out!

Dr. Walter Duru is a Communication expert and Executive Director, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption-MIIVOC. Reach him on: walterchike@gmail.com

What Manner Of Party Is The PDP in Anambra? By Nwanna Chidozie

Since losing the state to Peter Obi inspired APGA following the 2003 election that temporarily produced Sen. Chris Ngige as governor, the PDP has become a workshop for “political merchants” who continue to use the party for their business interests. The PDP stalwarts who are age-long in this trend, as the last election revealed, include; Mr. Chris Uba, Nicholas Ukachukwu and brothers, Prince John Emeka, Ken Emekayi, Ben Nwankwo and recently others joined, including Sen. Stella Oduah, Ifeanyi Ubah and almost all the PDP House of Representatives members from Anambra State.

They specialize in nurturing their own political structures in the State to place them at an advantage at the negotiation table during every election year. They use the strength of their so-called structures to earn higher negotiating power and send them to work for the highest bidder during elections. The highest bidder is usually from another party. To them, anti-party is just a word. This has gone on for so long that it now seems normal with the PDP in Anambra State without any consequence.

Enter Peter Obi. That trend was destined to change. Once the former Governor, who is widely seen as one of the best governors in the history of the country, was forced out of APGA by the party leadership and dragged into the PDP by an irresistible entourage that stormed his Onitsha residence on that fateful day in 2014. Obi began to gradually change the face of PDP in the State and started putting up a strong base for a re-launch of the party in the State.

PDP had agreed that Governors will automatically become leaders of the party in their States while it will be immediate past governors in States were PDP are in opposition. That officially handed Peter Obi the leadership of the party in the State and set the stage for the rancor by the political merchants in the party who deemed Peter’s presence an eternal frustration of their age-long business.

It proved to be so as the party, for the first time in a long while, attracted a personality such as Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze, a globally-revered diplomat whose career at the United Nations was replete with excellence and not just that, the PDP also for the first time in twelve years conducted one primary election which was televised live on national television as against multiple primaries that obtained previously. It was unthinkable!

That angered the business lords whose deal was burst with the introduction of transparency into the PDP. They tried to derail the party as Ken Emekayi and Ifeanyi Ubah did, and were hit with suspensions. Both, in addition to Hon. Ben Nwankwo, eventually defected officially and worked for APGA.

Others including Stella Oduah, the Ukachukwus, Chris Uba and all other PDP National Assembly members, excluding Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu and Hon. Chris Azubogu, worked for APGA while still maintaining that they are PDP members. Figures that circulated on the social media showed that they were heavily paid by the incumbent governor to work for him. Some allegedly received over N600 million while the lowest payout was N50 million. They worked against their party and ensured it lost the election.

Barely two weeks after betraying their party, they are back to the same party to maintain the structure that feeds their pocket as the Ward, Local Government and State Congresses commenced and it left me to wonder if God is so unkind to leave these ones without conscience? How can one be so brazen in impunity? I expect PDP to bite hard at all those that engaged in anti-party activities during the election. Failure to do so will mean there is no PDP in Anambra State for certainty. This practice is killing the enthusiasm of those who want to genuinely join the party.

Beyond that, they now have a harder nut to crack. It was only Peter Obi about a year ago, now Mr. Oseloka Obaze, as the candidate of the party in the concluded elections, is the leader of the party in the State. If I know him well, he will insist on global best practices in the Anambra State PDP.  He won’t take anything less and that is why another battle is on by the political business merchants to hijack the party from him.  This is a battle they are destined to lose.

Anambra PDP has an amazing opportunity to rebuild itself with the mouthwatering Obaze – Obi combination. If they get the needed support from the National PDP, Anambra State will boast of the best PDP state structure soon, especially with 2019 around the corner. PDP needs to pamper Obaze and Obi well enough as they have very few of their ilk as members, losing them will be suicidal for the party’s survival.

There are rumours that Governor Obiano is very interested in PDP structure in the State to ensure that those members who worked for him are firmly in control of the party.

I am sure the party’s national Chairman,  HE Ahmed Makarfi is not ignorant of all these. My dilemma is; will they allow these individuals that publicly sabotaged the party to remain in the party? Is PDP planing to close shop in Anambra? As Obaze recently said during his speech at a State function, “the best way to immortalize Alex Ekwueme is to rebuild PDP in Anambra State”.

Nwanna Chidozie is a Political Scientist and a Social Commentator. He writes from Awka, Anambra State.

2019: Oyo Guber And The Power Of Rotation, By Asojurere Alao

As more candidates continue to indicate interest for the 2019 Oyo governorship elections, there has emerged lately, questions revolving which part of the state should occupy the Agodi seat of power. There are two major groups with distinct line of thoughts. While the first group argues in favour of the rotation of power between the three senatorial districts, the second group opined that such rotation should be between the five major regions of the state.

  It appears that since the introduction of zoning policy by the erstwhile ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party, citizens across the country have come to adopt it as the formula through which the fears of the minority in a heterogeneous society like ours, could be allayed.

The merit or otherwise of zoning itself is not a subject of debate. The big question is what pattern will the zoning take? Is it zoning across the major regions or senatorial districts? The answer to the posers are not far to seek in view of the unique and distinct nature of Oyo politics in South-Western Nigeria. Other five states of Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Lagos have adopted the zoning of governorship seat across the three senatorial districts of their respective states.

The governor of Lagos state, Akinwunmi Ambode is currently filling the slot of Lagos East, while former governor Babatunde Fashola occupied the Lagos Central slot. The same line is towed in Ondo state where the incumbent, Rotimi Akeredolu represents the Ondo North while former governor Olusegun Mimiko took the space of Ondo Central.  Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state hails from Ogun Central, while his predecessor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel was from Ogun East. Ekiti and Osun are not dissimilar. In spite of this common political trend in the same geo-political zone, Oyo state presents an exceptional case.

Granted the traditional history of towns and communities that constitute the present day Oyo state and their political gladiators, it is difficult if not impossible, to allow for zoning across the senatorial districts. The cultural identity still and largely remain with the people. It is worthy of note that the classification into five major regions of Ibadan, Oke-ogun, Ogbomoso, Oyo and Ibarapa was as a result of the unique communal  identity  of the people in the towns and villages making up those regions. Such an age-long identity cannot suddenly give way for power rotation across senatorial districts.

The recent call by Elder Jide Ajao under the aegis of Oyo State Reality Forum, for Oyo central to produce the next governor, is therefore doubtlessly lacking merit and of no consequential importance. The senatorial district comprises of eleven local governments carved out from Ibadan, Oyo town and Ogbomoso. In the event that an Ibadan aspirant from any of the following places; Akinyele, Egbeda, Lagelu, Oluyole and Ono Ara, becomes the governor, the turn will again be counted in favour of Ibadan, not the district. The same political calculation is expected in favour of Ogbomoso, should the next governor hail from Surulere or Ogo Oluwa, to lend credence to the above assertion.

Conversely, there are more convincing reason to allow for power shift on the basis of region. Oke-ogun, the second region with highest voting strength after Ibadan, has never had the opportunity of producing the Number One citizen of the state, despite occupying more than fifty percent of the total landmass of Oyo state.

The political strength of the region played out in the 2015 governorship elections. The vote split between candidates and their political parties (Ladoja of Accord Party, Alao-Akala of the Peoples’ Democratic Party and Seyi Makinde of the Social Democratic Party) almost led to an electoral defeat for governor Ajimobi save for the massive votes, in favour of the All Progressives Congress, recorded in the 10 local government areas of Oke-ogun culminating in the re-election of the governor for a second term. It is in recognition of this fact that the governor announced his support for the region, to produce his successor.

So far, only two regions; Ibadan and Ogbomoso have had their share of the power rotation. It is only logical and accord with democratic tenets of equity, justice and fairness characterized in the Yoruba adage; “Eni kan onje kile fe” (No one consumes endlessly to deny others) to allow other regions occupy the Agodi government house. If the statement credited to the governor is anything to go by, Oke-ogun is ripe and better position now, to fill their slot.

Asojurere Idris Alao is a native of Ogbomoso in Oyo state.

Gains By Kano, Buhari’s Vote Bank, Secure Political Base, By Garba Shehu

When Kano gave Muhammadu Buhari about two million votes, the highest by any state that swept him into office in 2015, one issue had dominated election-time discourse, and still remained: Security

As President Muhammadu Buhari embarks on a two-day visit to Kano, his strongest political base this week, a simple question the Kano man or woman should answer for himself/herself is: How well did you fare in two years, six months after Muhammadu Buhari took power?

When Kano gave Muhammadu Buhari about two million votes, the highest by any state that swept him into office in 2015, one issue had dominated election-time discourse, and still remained: Security.

A few morons who did not any way represent Islam, a religion of peace had launched a series of horrendous gun and bomb attacks on the city as they did on a number northern towns and villages.

Nowhere was safe in Kano. A place that was safe today, can be site of a deadly attack tomorrow. The police, the other security agencies and the general civilian bore the brunt of a large-scale insurgent offensive. The security situation was intensely volatile.

Men and women leave home to fetch food for the children and later in the day, their dead bodies are brought back.

The casualties mounted to dramatic levels. On a particular Friday in February 2012, Boko Haram launched a deadly attack on police and other security establishments leaving its trail, hundreds of deaths and thousands with various degrees of injury. In December 2014, suicide bombers and gunmen launched yet another deadly attack on the city Juma’at mosque killing 300, leaving hundreds of others injured.

Kano residents, as did nearly everyone across the country had by 2015 lost confidence in the incompetent, corrupt Jonathan administration which they said was not doing enough to protect them against Boko Haram.

Nigerian soldiers with centuries old reputation for courage, valor and accomplishment were starved of needed arms and ammunition. They recorded their first-ever failure to bring peace and stability.

It is instructive to remind ourselves that the people didn’t just fold their arms doing nothing about their plight. Given that they had a government that failed to govern, in the circumstance, they did the most they could to overcome the life of fear and anxiety clamped upon them. They imposed security rules on themselves and listened to their own instincts.

They erected high blast protection walls and barbed wire around homes, institutions and public places.

After years of murderous campaign by the terrorists, what everyone wanted form Candidate Muhammadu Buhari was security first, security second, security third, then economy and jobs and the fight against corruption which only a man with his credentials of impeccable personal integrity could wage. Group after group of voters promised him that if only you show us a plan for ending the dislocation and disruption of our lives, we will give the kind of support that no others will give.

On the day he assumed power, there and then on the inaugural Dias, President Buhari began the war against terrorism and insecurity.

After billions of Naira sunk and thousands of the lives of our servicemen and women lost, he has put he terrorists out of business, albeit a part of the mopping remains. Boko Haram designs for Kano and as many other cities has come to naught.

Peace is back and the people are enjoying freedom all over again. This freedom and democracy is what people are expressing when they go on radio and social media to say nothing has changed in their lives; that nothing has been achieved.

Peace is back and people are no longer preoccupied with the fear of when the next bomb attacks will happen.

They are fighting over their favorite football teams. Our men and women are squabbling over who is the best player.

In the two-and-a-half years in office, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is putting Kano State through a revolution in the way projects are being assigned and executed.

Kano, long one of the fastest growing economies in the country , had begun to lag in the  years preceding Buhari due to problems occasioned mainly by the acute shortage of power. Neighborhoods spent weeks without electricity; factories sent workers home and shut down because they had no money to sustain production using diesel generators.

Now, things are getting better. The numerous projects put in place to enhance power generation and transmission in particular are being brought to fruition. Records indicate that Kano today enjoys a daily cumulative power supply of about 18 hours.

To bring a permanent solution to the problem power epilepsy, the Buhari administration has been discussing the idea of of a contract for the laying of gas pipelines from Ajaokuta through Abuja and Kaduna to Kano. This should meet the needs of manufacturing industries as it has been for the coastal areas including Lagos and Ogun states industrial zones.

Road projects that are ongoing include the following:

  •       Dualisation of Kano- Maiduguri Road Section IV (Postikum – Damaturu) with over 58% now completed;
  •       Dualisation of Kano – Katsina Road ( From Dawanau – Katsina)
  •       Kano – Western Bye Pass
  •       Rehabilitation of Saminaka – Doguwa Road; and Doguwa – Tiga Road

The state of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano dual-carriage way which has attracted so much public criticism is now receiving attention.

But the President, it has reliably been gathered, has a different plan for the road. It is expected that in the course of this visit, he might be making a significant pronouncement on the future of this road.

The Aviation sector has also given Kano good deal. Presently, Construction is ongoing of a new international terminal building at the Kano International Airport, as well as rehabilitation of car parks and service roads

Kano, as to be expected, is one of the major beneficiaries of the administration’s Social Investment Programs. Following successful awareness creation among the state’s large population of the unemployed and the downward revision of the entry requirements to accommodate NCE and Diploma certificates holders, Kano entered more than 80,000 applications for the current wave of N-Power recruits.

On the Conditional Cash Transfers, Cash Transfer Facilitators have been giving orientation and training; State Cash Transfer Offices have already been set up in the state and enrollments have commenced from the 23rd of November. The payment of beneficiaries is expected to start this week, that is the first week of December.

The Implementation of the Home Grown School Feeding Program is commencing soon. The month of December has been set as the target month.

The Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program, GEEP loans through the Bank of Industry are currently being received by traders, artisans and small scale business men and women in the State. The special intervention fund for textile manufacturers is already making possible the return of the industry in Kano and other states.

Before I end this discourse, let me address an issue of frequent interest in radio talk shows in the city’s vibrant broadcast industry. Hardly do you have a day without one hearing such claims as, “we gave Buhari two million votes. That is the highest by anyone. What special consideration is he giving us?”

Although Kano appears to be well served from the litany of projects illustrated here, and truly deserves even more, it is evident that government’s effort in developing the state, and indeed all parts of the country is driven by the party, APC’s philosophy of integrated development. Kano remains President Buhari’s strongest political base. The President will however be the first to say he does not consider any community or state a vote bank. He will not treat any section or community as a vote bank because he is bent on pursuing a policy of inclusiveness. If one part develops and the other lags, then the country cannot be said to be truly on the path to sustainable development.

Instead of treating parts of the country in any preferential way, President Buhari has stuck to his themes of development and uplifting the poor and the marginalized , saying over and again that he belonged to everyone and he belonged to no one. To that extent, the man at the bottom of society would continue to be at the centre of development.

The people of Kano should themselves grow out of the feeling that they are tools or items of vote bank but a people who are just and fair to themselves and to others forming a part of the mainstream of development; a people who want to be treated as equals and who do not expect or demand anything special, over and above what is due to them.

Although this essentially is an official visit, millions of Kano people will turn up to see and listen to the President with decorum. And given the high level of political consciousness in the state, expect our people to sport Buhari masks, T-Shirts, banners and buntings saying “we love Buhari.” Don’t even rule out a shouting match between splinter groups. It is a way to show true love for the President.

GARBA SHEHU

SSAP(Media and Publicity)

Abuja.

Off The Norms; The Pretentious Youths And Their Opponents, By Eniola Opeyemi

I feel so sorry for the youths of the black race. Many of my contemporaries preach freedom frivolously like a priest that preaches what he doesn’t practice. At the mention of freedom my heart beats double knowing it’s a clarion call and a sacrifice that requires embellish not for just an individual but from one to all.
 
The story of Libya, the enslavement, torture and injustice to fellow African brothers had played for so long, but it’s never too late for the struggle to fight the oppressors that have deprived the many fellow brothers from gaining freedom.
I watched the videos, I saw the pictures and was touched by the tortures, the cross- mutilation, hence, I won’t join other many youths to blame the Libyan government alone but  firstly, it’s necessary to address the root of this, I mean the government of the African countries. In my country, Nigeria, many youths have not just written off their potentials to take charge and dethrone the sit -tight old goons, we either worship or ignore them, any of the these actions is detrimental to our future and generations to come.
 
No where in my country do we have a councillor which is the smallest government elective position in his/her twenties (though I stand to be corrected with substantial facts and figure), rather we hustle hard to go in and out of the country through which-ever means as our sure link to wealth.
Discussing with my uncle on electoral power, revolution and change of baton, I could remember telling him that it is such simple a word but ambiguous actions is required to be adopted by the youths, actions not ambiguous to few of us but it is to many other out there. If this word sounds  degrading to you, then I have just one question for you; how many youths will vote and stand to defend their votes? If your answer is below the required then you must agree with me that most of we the youths are pretentious in manner.
 
The social media rave is something deceiving that we can easily debate, deliberate and conclude while the people on the field take the day. Talking politics and governance doesn’t mean it’s all that is required to be successful, NO!. We have quite good numbers of youths that are making it through entrepreneurial skills and things we overlooked yet it matters and fetch cool money. The income is necessary, we need not to apply for jobs before cashing in legally, then, we have are a step mightier than the perceived opponents.
 
Who are the opponents?
Opponents are enemies that hinders ones success or will go extra-mile to take the shine while the pretentious youths clamor to take charge of governance.
In my own terms, I will regard the old politicians and leaders that doesn’t want the commoner or the youths to rule as the opponents.

The Libyan Slave Route And The Greed Factor, By Kayode Ogundamisi

Just glanced through a list of over 2380 Nigerians who had returned from the notorious Libyan Slave camps on failed suicide trip to Europe. NOT ONE name from areas affected by the deadly Nigerian Boko Haram war. All the names on the list of 2380are from stable Southern Nigeria. Is Boko Haram also operating in the South?

Aside the general state of insecurity, the economic crisis that is also applicable to most countries, do we really have a full-blown war in Southern Nigeria? Are people ducking from bombs and mass refugee’s camps, even if we had war in Southern Nigeria would it not make sense to see long lines of refugees heading towards Semme Border in Lagos or the border between Cross River and Cameroon or any other bordering countries in the South?

No, our compatriots head North, cross to Niger and then to Libya on the dream deadly journey to Europe.

Our young girls now account for the largest number of prostitutes in Europe, our drug dealing compatriots now account for the number of undesirables on European streets, not one will you meet a Nigerian victim of Boko Haran crisis, just that migrant who wants and desires a ‘better life’ and nothing wrong in that but for choosing a deadly route and expecting applause when it goes wrong.

One would have expected those facing Boko Haram war in the Northern part of Nigeria to be the first to face North Africa considering they are also closer to Niger and the Slave trade route, but no, they remained in IDP camps, relocated to safe areas within Nigeria and Africa, hoping things will get better. They are now our maiguards in Lagos, you find them pushing wheel barrows in Aba, working on farms in Ikare and doing all that it takes to survive.

AS we cry against the Libyans, can we also call out GREED disguised as DESPERATION, the very factor influencing most of the travelers? We can all try being politically correct but we have to go into our Southern Nigerian communities and find out what is really happening, who are the criminal gangs selling greed to our vulnerable citizens?

It is natural for humans to seek opportunities but if you chose to pay thousands of dollars so you can have more than the basic needs of life, live in affluence areas or build mansions, the price you pay could be disastrous.

It is understandable when refugees from war torn areas such as Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and if even Boko Haram crisis infected areas chose the Sahara route over gun and bomb blasts at home, but for an economic migrant to invest millions of naira into a journey of no return? It sure speaks volumes, I shudder in disbelief as one of the victims with a Yoruba sounding name on CNN claim he would rather die than return to his home town in Ogun State. I try to imagine what could be going on in Ogun State that would inspire such desperation.

I acknowledge that Nigeria is not an outstanding place to be, a number of us migrated years back as a matter of choice, but that choice does not include subjecting our dignity in a slave camp. As I type this another set of Nigerians are probably on their way to the land of no return, they may have watched the CNN expose but ignore the danger, the only image they see is that of a neighbor who left few years back and he’s now ‘doing well’ in Europe.

They will never see the drowning family, the young girl raped to death, the viral video of the Edo lady made to swallow the urine of her Libyan slave master, the young Nigerian girls buried in Italy, abandoned by their own government, the new set of victims are propelled by the Nigerian lingo of “It is not my portion”, it is only when death come staring at them during the journey they know danger does not understand Nigerian lingos or our religious mumbo jumbo.

You have nothing but yourself to blame. Welcome back home, borrow yourself some brain, there are better legitimate means of migration, invest those millions on small scale business or die hard trying to migrate to Europe. The choice is yours. Nigeria is facing multiple challenges, don’t add your own self-inflicted choices to it. 

The Hay In The Sun And The Next Level Of Political Implosion, By Jimi Bickersteth

“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is still the same problem you had last year.”- John Foster Dulles,Secretary of state under president Dwight David Eisenhower,aka Ike,  34th president of the US.

This morning, the entire suburbs of Oraifite was as usual its sleepy self,a lot of flu about,people,many of whom were suffering from it,were just standing about on street corners trying to work out where he was.
It had been pathetically, nicely peaceful, particularly,so,since after the recent clampdown on the impolitic and without a lodestar warmonger and son-of-the-soil,zoo commander,Nnamdi Kanu and his group of dipsomaniac Boy’s brigade; whose effusions of second-rate verse embarrassed the nation. One should add in parenthesis, that, they were dislodged and left to scampered in fright at the mere sight of the
Python -the Python, who sated with pleasure in its dances, yanked on Nnamdi Kanu’s tactile sensations rope and it broke.

If the tacit approval ratings and support by the general populace given Operations Python Dance II,Lafiya Dole before it and Crocodile Tears after it were anything to go by,then,the ops were necessary;and the compelling reasons that made them acceptable to the generality of the people that gave the ops imprimatur,was that they were in the pursuit of peace,(one cannot say if they were there in the pursuit of the truth)an admission of the trite statement,paraphrased,”if vanity is not raised the gauntlet is not raised”.

Operation Python Dance, on one hand,was like the rain that sent everyone scurrying for shelter,and on the other hand, was one of those momentous events which caused a sea change in public attitudes, as the noise about a “Biafra republic” died a natural death, just as the semantics and ensuing confusion of “restructuring”,” self-independence”,
“self- determination”,et al,all in an attempt to reinvent and rediscover a new nation went with the wind into thin air, accompanied by Nnamdi Kanu.

Once the furore of the agitation for the nation’s jugular had died down and all the confrontation petered out and the nation regained its pulse and composure, then comes the sheriff to town. The president mien and the confidence and cadence in his speeches throughout the short official visit showed everyone that matters who the defacto and dejure c-in-c is.

He stepped on the Igbo soil-Anambra,amidst threats to his safety by some disgruntled remnants of whatever remained of the hapless Boy’s brigade; whose chief protagonist’s were merely interested in negotiating for power,and that is speaking of the prig, kanu,who in his utterly ruthless determination to succeed, gave as his raisons d’être and took advantage of the Republican and
peace-loving Igbo people as a pawn and at the same time as a bait.

In an environment redolent of history and tradition,unlike the kanu’s imagery of the people as having the smallest size and least value in the federation, using his sanctimonious voice. What a sacrilege! Thank goodness, the people had the courage and sincerity of purpose to rise to the bait.

In any case, Mister president not only went where the splinter group and scandalmongers thought he was not wanted as an “Igbo hater”, he went,he saw and he
conquered-and with chieftaincy titles to the bargain. All hail the Enyi Oma I.

But,you may ask,was this the right and correct handshake? However,one thing became clear and glaring from the visit,and that is,all,now know that the nation is too big and too sophisticated to be bullied into submission or coerced by any person, group or organization.

Yet,it is not Uhuru. One have a premonition of an impending implosion,even, beneath the façade of indifference and hand pumping with Mister president, there was: (I) the whiffs of unhealed wounds whose stench had refused to go away,and (ii)the unresolved issues of the national question, both of which should be the utmost centre-piece of the national Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly,as the nation begin to put in place a number of measures congruent with the seriousness of the situation,

There is also the compelling need for the nation to try as much as it could to assuage the Igbos longing:and for the gales to be abated the nation has to assiduously cultivate the support of the Igbo constituents that is presently assailed by worries, doubts, tears and fear,and a feeling of panic of whether they too can be number one. That is the long and short of the question,every other claims are extraneous.

The self-independence tantrums is thrown by a people who felt they were in the throes of danger and uncertainty;all you see is an excitement by a people dropped in the Creek, left alone to hold the baby. Even where the people should be seen working for and making the goal of a reality, the nation do not have to leave them to rue and grapple with the expectations and the intermittent heartbreak forever. Fair is fair.  Let’s all be able to speak sincerely and truthfully and faithfully of a one united Nigeria.

Here in Oraifite,seeing the sun beat the dust and the wind pick up the dust and swirl it;with such a ferocious force that gave everything on the ground,everything, wings in the wind, the wind picked up everything in sight and scattered them all over into a nervous sky. The wind gathered slightly and beat the heads of the palm trees,ruffled the mangoes and pear trees, and graceful to a graceless people, with the hackles on one’s neck beginning to rise, a pair of secateurs on one hand, as I brushed back some of my wife’s hair that the wind caressed out of place with the other hand. We were all in tenterhooks when the rains came down in the searing heat of the beautiful, tropical summer afternoon.

After the rain that wet the hard clay and powdery soil,the men came up to us,enjoying the fleeting coolness and waiting until it was time to eat. Water dripped from the thatch gathered and gushed in the storm ditches, a puddle formed in the courtyard, the dust was mud. The sun was still proud in the white blue sky. The men growing old by the minutes with an undying underlying philosophy that, an arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. That when life is dragging one back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch one into something great, and that as long as the dice is still rolling, “Double Six” is certain.

The heat’s more than worthwhile – makes you appreciate the coolness, like fever. But my mind was up country, at Mister president’s office. I had told the gathering most of the things that I know of Abuja, the essence of government and why it was important to troop out to vote at elections;that there votes were veritable tools to ‘instal’ there own people and representative  into elective political offices.”So,do you understand. “I said blandly and they all smiled. They did not talk much, they only listened with rapt attention, as you listen to a hostage of fortune and a sanctimonious catechist who knows everything.
Uh-huh!

All the “stories” of and about Abuja, from the reading of their faces and countenances could as well be an exaggerated yarns invented. To them it was spinning a yarn,and not truthful. All the yarns that had oversimplified the metaphor the nation has become, of wanton penury,poverty and lack that has no discrimination. That had not proffered solutions to the pervasive inequality in the land, inadequate representation, autonomous administration at the grassroots, devolution of powers-from a centre that is too strong to the circumference, equity,fairness and equal and unfettered access to the good things and resources the nation has and can offer.

After the meal of pounded yam,unripe plantain and grass cutter,I was enjoying the fullness in my stomach, when the company returned to the bungalow and invited me to join them,once more in the verandah, wonderful hosts they were. You’ll never know the strength of your anchor until you feel the full blast of the anchor. This was one such moment for yours sincerely, who did not understand a word of Igbo language. Many thanks to Emekaa,my dutiful guide and interpreter.

I was moved by the willingness of these distinguished peasants and farmers,esteemed ones at that, a willingness our politicians have taken advantage of, and turned to gullibility. I also came to a realisation that all the talks and noises about marginalisation in the land, were indeed a creation and an elitist bellyache. The real people with the real problem don’t really care about who rules them,apart from maybe their monarchs. Far away from government as they were, it appeared meaningless to them,where the GMD,NNPC or the minister of petroleum resources hailed from. It mattered little to them and they care less,if they could move around in their farms unmolested and they could have their gourds of freshly tapped palm wine in the cool of the evening.

One feels the nation should stop this its political allegory of a two-up
game- ridiculous game. Where two pennies are placed on a stick and throw the coins up into the air and bet on whether the coins come down both heads,or both tails,on one head and one tail. Gambling with the people’s fate has became like breathing air to the nation.

But to the people, their major concerns and fear were on why(1) They could not have or access health/medical facilities for common ailments not to talk of debilitating and acute illnesses. (11) Why their children could not attend government schools or the more expensive private schools. (111)Poor housing programmes.(1v) Poor nutrition and food programmes.(v) Why their wards and children leave the homestead in droves, sometimes not to be seen again. Other than these, they were seemingly OK.

Having patronised all of these and the agitation and disturbances that almost turned into full scale insurrection and without unduly rationalising the pros and cons of why we are where we are, the nation’s proper response is not to suppress but deal with the issues.

The problem is,to see the truth about oneself is like trying to see inside one’s own eyeballs. It is not gainsaying that the source of our peoples dissatisfaction with one another is that we often forget that we have different histories,cultures and traditions. We have our own ideas, of what’s right and what’s wrong for us,first as Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo, the national interest come second.

Everyone has an opinion and we keep spending till eternity arguing backward and forth over opinions and getting nowhere. We failed ourselves because we’ve been too viscous. We’ve not related well with ourselves the way we are supposed to, this habit is obvious in those institutions of state that were expected to unify us,the NASS,the armed forces, the police and other paramilitary agencies. This been the case,therefore, subscribing to fuzzy notions about federalism would only be in abstract and contextual and like broken rope and hope won’t get us  nowhere.

Whilst there are,many issues festering under the surface that needs to be dealt with before we can move forward, the nation had found itself at the mercy of circumstances, unable to solve and in other cases resolved the myriads of problems confronting it,have found itself facing the same obstacles over and over, and habitually in reaction mode and unable to navigate the deep knee bends of life.

We only need to understand the basis of the nation’s diversity and unity. It is not the absence of conflicts that makes nations great,but keeping conflicts from mushrooming into hurtful and divisive standoffs.It also means knowing what to do with disappointments and dashed expectations.

There are truths that can transformed every of our national question and tests as a potential triumph and stabilise the inherent instability, differences, conflicts and disagreement in the polity in spite of our copious and collective pretensions; but our leaders must be awakened by a soft tap on the shoulder or two-by-four on the head to their responsibility and set the parameters for the struggle.

But like gardeners,we must look for tools, a hoe,to care for the garden. The hoe never cuts what the gardener intends to save, and never saves what the gardener intends to weed. We can roll up our sleeves and work on what our problems are with vision and passion. We may have failed ourselves in the past,but we can write a new story of success,with a sustained and zealously pursued campaign with ‘passionate’, ‘proactive’ and ‘persistent’ our watchword.

Nigerians don’t have to live the rest of life,stranded and in straitened circumstances, with phobias, hangup, poverty, injustices, prejudice in this somewhat tricky raft adrift in the unfathomable waters of eternity with no horizon in sight, one in which our hearts ache for every precious life upon the raft.-drifting, drifting, drifting ,wither no one knows.

P.S. There was an overbearingly long, thoughtful silence in the land. A searing indictment of poverty.
As the hours tick down to the end of the day, so do the hours left and the chance for our political leaders to wakeup from their deep slumbers and start thinking and working to change the lives of the teeming mass of our people and the countryside. The nation has got this long to decide how and where it wants to see success in a future majority of Nigerians may not have but are earnestly hoping for.

Whatever there is to do so as to be able to take most of our men and women stripped of all finery from be hind this bamboo cage, the time is now. The obstacles on our paths, be it economic, financial, political,agitation, psyche, labyrinthine complexities of party politics, are merely a challenge to strengthen our position, not surrender
our dreams. When we look back on today, we’ll regret the things we didn’t do more than the ones we did.#
Jimi Bickersteth
Jimi Bickersteth is a blogger and a writer.
He can be reached on Twitter
@bickerstethjimi
@alabaemanuel
@akannibickersteth
Email jimi.bickersteth@yahoo.co.UK
jimi.bickersteth@gmail.com

Mr. President, Welcome To Kano State, Your Political Stronghold, By Salihu Yakasai

The long-awaited official visit of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to his most solid political base in the whole country, i.e. Kano State will become a reality anytime from now.
It is expected that Mr. President will embark on a 3-day official visit to the most populous State in the federation during which he will commission some landmark projects executed by the administration of His Excellency, the Executed Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje OFR, inspect on-going ones, and also some private agro-based industries and meet with the cream of the society made of the Ulama, traditional rulers, businessmen and political bigwigs and lay the foundation stone of other gargantuan ones.
For long, Kanawas have been longing for this historic visit since the epoch-making elections of 2015 when the APC swept away the then ruling PDP at federal and state levels. But due to some intervening variables, Mr. President could not make this visit prompting speculations by some political funambulists to insinuate that the most populous politician in Kano State has forsaken his political base which is very far from the truth. Kano people will forever remain loyal and solidly supportive of Mr. President and I am sure he will never jettison Kanawas through thick or thin.
Equally worth-mentioning is that the amiable Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR is also a Buhari loyalists and he has demonstrated this in both words and actions on several occasions which has angered some desperate politicians who accuse him of disloyalty, “anti-party” activities and betrayal of their “cause and ideology” as if he is subservient to someone rather than being the chief executive of Kano State who is accountable to the Almighty and the people who voted for him en masse. Mr. President, be rest-assured that the Governor, his administration and majority of the people of the State are yours and when you visit, you will see huge crowds of Kanawas that will line the streets to welcome you chanting in chorus Maraba! Maraba! Maraba! Sai Buhari! Sai Buhari! Sai Buhari! Sa Mai Gaskiya! Sai Mai Gaskiya! Sai Mai Gaskiya! Sai Baba! Sai Baba! Sai Baba!
Though not a fortune-teller, I am sure the successful visit of Mr. President to Kano State will give some desperate politicians sleepless nights because they will then realize that they have no any political base upon which to realize their self-centred political ambition because Kano ta Buhari ce da Ganduje.
Mr. President, let me be the first to welcome you to Kano State because during this visit you will see the laudable progress so far recorded by the present administration of His Excellency, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje supported by loyal lieutenants. In fact, in the last two years since the Ganduje administration came to power, we have seen unprecedented transformation in the form of infrastructural development, implementation of people-centred policies and programmes especially empowerment of youth and women as well as the determined efforts of the State Government to ensure the security of lives and property of the citizenry.
These are not a mean achievement especially as some assume that the governor is not the right stuff to assume the governorship of the State and they have not relented in their futile efforts to cast him in bad light. However, the people are much wiser and things are becoming much clearer by the day.
It is really a great achievement for the Ganduje administration to consistently pay salary to public servants and still execute these numerous money-guzzling projects within this period of two years since its assumption of office. While other States are grappling with salary liabilities for many months, the State Government has been paying a colossal monthly wage bill of about N10 billion. Mr. President, this is a great achievement and the Governor deserves a pat on the back for this has demonstrated his prudent management of scarce financial resources, acumen, transparency and accountability.
Mr. President is scheduled to commission two mega hospitals inherited and completed by the Ganduje administration which will impact directly on the lives of the people unlike some elephant projects executed by others for mere prestige and self-deification. The government also installed state-of-the-art equipment with a view to providing efficient and effective healthcare services to the teeming people of the State. The completion of these two projects in particular has clearly demonstrated that Dr. Ganduje is not a short-sighted politician as others wilfully refuse to complete projects initiated by their predecessors however important they are to the betterment of the lives of the people that defied rains and sun to vote them into office.
Apart from spending billions of Naira to complete the two health facilities, the Ganduje administration also expended the sums of N964,883,036.56 and N1,999,053,126.54 for the procurement of modern equipment and furniture for the 250-bed Zoo Road Paediatric and 250-bed Giginyu Specialist Hospitals respectively, these equipments and furniture have been successfully installed ready for commissioning by our august visitor in sha Allah. During his recent visit to the hospitals, the Hon. Minister of Health was highly impressed by these ultra-modern pieces of equipment which he described as the first of their kind in the country that will go a long way in preventing medical tourism by some Nigerians that flock to foreign countries in search of quality healthcare services.
Other gigantic projects to be commissioned by Mr. President include the multi-billion Naira Madobi-Panshekara underpass embarked upon by the present administration in order to ensure safe motoring, bring to an end chaotic traffic jam and beautify the environment, the CBN Quarters Road, among a host of many others all executed within a space of two years of the present administration.
Also, Mr. President will embark on inspection visits to some projects which include the resuscitated Kano Agricultural Supply Company (KASCO) that has been provided with a second modern fertilizer blending line and the company now supplies assorted fertilizer to even the federal and some state governments. Unlike before, KASCO is now a very profitable entity ably run by a new team of visionary and dedicated management staff which is to the credit of the Ganduje administration.
There is no doubt that the Buhari administration has clearly made its policy on agriculture known loud and clear so that the age-long over-reliance on oil will be a thing of the past and the Ganduje administration has unwaveringly towed this line. That is why it has been according the agricultural sector much-needed support in terms of provision of fertilizer and other inputs and credit support to local farmers.
To this end, the President will inspect some private rice mills established by some businessmen to support the federal government initiatives on local rice production to reduce its importation that guzzles billions of US Dollars annually.
One project that is dear to Gov. Ganduje is the on-going multi-billion Naira ultra-modern skills acquisition centre project aimed at training the youth of both sexes in about 22 vocational skills in an effort to make them self-reliant and productive. It is this gigantic project that Mr. President will inspect especially as contract for the supply and installation of equipment worth about N2 billion at the centre has been awarded recently by the State Government.
Another inherited project which the Governor is bent on completing under a PPP arrangement is the Kanawa Modern Market (Kano Economic City) and that is why Mr. President will lay the foundation of this ambitious project that will transform the commercial landscape of the State and even the West African sub-region. Upon completion, the market will consist of thousands of shops of various sizes, hotel, and other modern facilities/amenities. In addition, Mr. President will visit the famous Kantin Kwari Textile Market to witness the on-going modernization projects embarked upon by the State Government in line with the consistent policy of the Ganduje administration to modernize all major markets in the State aimed at creating a conducive commercial/business environment.
So, Mr. President, Kano State is working as it is undergoing rapid socio-economic transformation under Gov. Ganduje. Remarkable achievements have been recorded and the Kanawas are very appreciative of this progress which you will see in sha Allah when you visit this ancient and historic city of Kano, how i wish you will stay for months, to be able to visit all the projects embarked upon by Ganduje, as two days will certainly not be enough to go round and see them all. All this despite the recent economic recession in the country that affected all tiers of government, but our amiable and far-sighted Governor has weathered the storm. Apart from initiating new projects, the Governor has vowed on several occasions to complete all inherited projects that have direct bearing on the lives of the teeming people of the State and we have seen that he has kept to his promises as a gentleman with vast experiences garnered from various public spheres.
Salihu Tanko Yakasai is the Director General, Media & Communications, Government House, Kano.

Open Letter To President Buhari, By Amiru Halilu

Well meaning Nigerians were gladdened to see that you had stood for over an hour before the national assembly and presented the 2018 budget proposal. This ought to have been a confirmation that you are now hale and hearty. May the Almighty God give you more strength, wisdom and energy to surmount the enormous challenges besetting the nation.

Immediately upon spending one year in office, your apologists hastily remind us that it was too early to judge your government; they argued that the messy situation we found ourselves was created by your predecessors decades ago. All the same, we have heard a container of these analogous and suchlike in the past. The most inferior, lowest and the worst administration in the history of this nation symmetrically said that to us. Now, you have spent two and a half years in office, and that is significant in the life of any meaningful and serious administration.

It will stimulate euphoria in many Nigerians to be all ears that you evaluate yourself by raising questions like: Am I performing? Am I different from my predecessors in the way I manage the affairs of this nation? Are the enormous hopes and expectations vested in me by millions of people across the country being realized? Are my policies marching my campaign promises? Is the journey I embarked on different from the same road Nigeria was already on? As a seemingly elixir perhaps political Messier, should you ask yourself these questions, it will certainly help you to ascertain your lacklustre performance and fine-tune in near future.

Sir, whoever not evens a political heavyweight or luminary wills objectively asses your government base on its own parameters; you can hardly obtain a pass mark. Security was the first item on the list of your campaign promises. I will like to know out of intellectual curiosity, what type of security have you successfully provided? Physical security, financial security or emotional security? Honestly none of the above. Although, your effort to provide security particularly in the North East is commendable. But you have not obtained a fifty percent (50%) mark.

It is of course commonsensical at this juncture to remind you of your disparaging remarks against Boko Haram insurgents. Could you remember that a reporter once asked of your view about the dangers and powers of Boko Haram terrorists before you were elected president? You ferociously and disparagingly replied, “What is Boko Haram?” Such disparaging remarks raised so many questions. The big questions are: Is it the same Boko Haram you belittled in the past that you are now unable to defeat?

Is it a new brand Boko Haram that is more powerful than the one you disparaged? Have they now metamorphosed into more organized terrorist group than the purported mishmash group? Are they still invincible as they were under your predecessor? Is Nigerian army still under fund and under equipped? Or are you proven to Nigerians that it is easier said than done? The spate of killings by Boko Haram, armed robbers, unknown gunmen, kidnappers, cultists, still persist and it morphed an average Nigerian into an ogre.

Sir, are you still aware of the shortcomings you vowed to address if elected president? Will I be at fault to say that you have not convincingly distinguished yourself from your predecessors in the way you are managing the affairs of this country. It appears we are still on the same road we were already on. After all, we discharged our civic responsibility out of burning desire to better out lots and that of our future generation.

Let me digress a little and take you back to Chatham house where you address the Nigerian community in Landon on Friday February 26, 2015. Insecurity, corruption, infrastructural decay, plugs wastages in the budgetary process and inequality were the epidemic you pledged to address squarely. What is unfolding guarantees neither. You will agree with me that social justice must be the hallmark, if not the guiding principle of any government that mean to tackle insecurity. Basic social amenities, financial security are essential part of security of lives and property.

Chenua Achebe said, “One of the truest tests of integrity is blunt refusal to be compromised.” Your actions and doings are not consonance with your campaign promises. You promised to end medical tourism but you reneged. You gladly opted to seek for sound medical treatment in UK while leaving our hospitals with broken windows, outdated vehicles and ambulances. Without a standby generators, blood bank and well equipped pharmacies. Most of the hospitals in the country are overcrowded; some patients received treatment in hallways due to non availability of space. Doctors come to work the time they like and do their job as they deem fit and go. I never find it astonishing when in retrospect, you denied the existence of subsidy (who is subsidizing who) but I often wonder when you removed the same subsidy. Mr President, these impugn your integrity.

It is truism to say that under your leadership, the gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider. Daily trust newspaper edition of Wednesday November 16, 2016 (P.3) reported that 558 Staff of Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) gulf 4.5 billion as salaries and allowances annually. Sometimes last year, your attention was drawn to the clandestine and unjust recruitment done by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) respectively. Only the children of highly influential men were recruited into these lucrative places, and no action has been taking to redress such monumental injustice.

In less than six months in office, you approved the negotiation of new salary increment of NNPC staff which is reviewed after every three years. The salary of staff working in ministries and some parastatals – a reservoir for less privilege with a take home pay that can’t afford to put a decent meal on one’s table is yet to see the light of the day after five years. This deliberate unequal distribution of wealth, plunge many Nigerians into desperate situation. When people feel insecure as a result of deliberate inequality which deprived them from meeting their financial and social obligation, they may become frustrated, aggressive and hostile. Most of those who resorted to criminal behaviour, find themselves in such desperate situation.

Sir, it has not comes to anyone’s knowledge not even your worst enemy that corruption will be conspicuously present in your government. Your chief of staff, some of your ministers, state house permanent secretary, former NIA’s DG and former SGF were accused of all sort of corruption. You initially treated these corruption cases with a kid glove; then you succumbed to a gravitational pressure bearing down on you; followed a suspension and finally sacked the NIA’s DG and the SGF as well but they are yet to be prosecuted. While you turned a blind eyes to the rest. Isn’t this a contradiction of your popular quote, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.”

In all honesty, your budget of “change,” (2016), budget of “economic recovery and growth,” (2017) and budget of “consolidation,” (2018) are synonymous with that of the previous regimes in terms of wastages. There are absolutely no any discrepancies. “It breaks my heart that at a time when many Nigerians can’t eat we are budgeting (in 2017) 40 million naira to feed wild life animals in Aso Rock presidential villa.” Said a senator.

Sir, when you were declared the winner of 2015 election many thought that who you know syndrome, inequality, selective justice and other menaces would become a thing of the past. Unfortunately the situation persists.

Amiru Halilu is a public affairs commentator and an opinion writer; he can be reached through haliluamiru@gmail.com or follow me @Amiruhalilu

President Buhari Makes His Presence Felt At The 5th AU-EU Summit, By Garba Shehu

During the just concluded 5th AU-EU summit held in Abidjan November 28-29, President Buhari demonstrated the pivotal role Nigeria plays in continental affairs and in the relationship that Africa must forge with other regions of the world.

Discussions at the conference were productive and frank.  This was due in no small measure to the interventions of President Buhari.  Others who attended the summit described President Buhari’s contributions as cogent, timely and highly perceptive.

The theme of the summit was “Investing in Youth for a Sustainable Future.” At the summit, the President declared that the single most important investment we must make is to grow and develop our economies in ways that will provide jobs for our youths.  While we also must invest in education and in other social areas, he emphasized that it is upon our economic maturation that the future of Nigeria and Africa will hang.

Without jobs, even educated youth become vulnerable to forms of extremism, ranging from joining the ranks of terrorists to risking their lives migrating to Europe through the “sea of sand that is the Sahara and the unforgiving waters of the Mediterranean.”

He said we must declare this the era of African industrialization for this must be the primary goal of all AU members.  President Buhari said this and future AU-EU summits must be dedicated to this goal unit it I achieved.

Regarding trade and investment, President Buhari said Nigeria was not opposed to trade reform but said reform could not be indiscriminate.  Trade reform should only occur within the context of the push to industrialize.  He also said that direct foreign investment that produces jobs and creates tangible wealth must be encouraged.

With regard to peace and security, President Buhari stressed the need for greater cooperation to halt human trafficking and the need to act to curb the deaths of desperate migrants.  He focused attention on Libya.  He said the once stable nation had become a house of chaos where northbound migrants were often sold into slavery and the means of violent terrorism were transported southward to upend political stability and peace in the Sahel.  He called on the EU to work more diligently with the AU to bring normalcy to Libya and for the EU to be more forthcoming with humanitarian aid to those directly affected by terrorism.

He said that the exit of former President Mugabe closed chapter in Zimbabwean and African history.  Mugabe symbolized a good dream gone badly awry.  Now, the rebuilding of that nation can become a symbol of how Africa and Europe can work together to develop a society based on justice, democracy and shared prosperity.  If this is to be the case, we must be careful not to disregard the aspirations of the common person in Zimbabwe.

On the developing situation in Togo, President six other West African leaders with one form of stake or the other to sit down with President Fabre Gnassingbe Eyadema to press for an urgent agreement between the country’s President and the coalition that has been opposing him. You must talk to each other and avoid political explosions, insisted the President.

Presdent Buhari made clear that a crisis in Togo will have a destabilizing effect on her neighbors given social and ethnographic ties that bind their peoples. Here in Nigeria we are already reeling under the weight of displaced millions from the Boko Haram in the Lake Chad basin. We have more than we need.

Others, including Ghana are almost nervous about the prospects of a refugee crisis.

In side meetings with nations such Germany, President Buhari has set a process in motion for the negotiation of a new agreements that may open doors of migration and also lead to the curtailment of illegal migration.

Under this, thousands of scholarships may come the way of Nigerian and there will be skills and vocational training for illegals before they are brought back.

Credit must be given to leaders including our president who fought back attempts by some of the Europeans to push the issue of forced repatriation.

This was a successful summit as Nigeria joined with other Africa nations in plainly and clearly stating Africa’s interests and in seeking ways to cooperate with the EU in mutual benefit.  The relevance of President Buhari’s foreign policy speaks for itself because it speaks to the best aspirations of the Nigerian people and of all of Africa.

Garba Shehu
SSAP (Media and Publicity)
ABUJA

Tinubu’s Visit To Afenifere Leader: New Rapprochement Or Re-alignment? By Tunde Rahman

Since last Wednesday’s visit of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to the Akure residence of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, the media, particularly the social media, have been awash with commentaries and analyses on the visit. Writers have hit the highway overdrive, analysing, speculating and conjecturing.

Some of these analyses have been interesting to say the least. Some surmised that the visit was a new political rapprochement between the leaders of the Yoruba socio-political group and All Progressives Congress National Leader.

Some labelled it a re-alignment of forces. Some alluded to the division, which broke out within the Afenifere around 2003 leading to the creation of Afenifere Renewal Group by some younger elements within the group, a division many anticipated at the time given the position of the mainstream Afenifere on some national issues.

So the writers deduced that the visit was to reconcile the Afenifere leader and Asiwaju, as if Tinubu and Pa Fasoranti were at daggers drawn. What new rapprochement? What re-alignment? Re-alignment of which forces, one may ask.

True, there may have been certain differences over some issues, which is normal in interactions among leaders or individuals within a group, a socio-political group for that matter. True, the differences may have been accentuated by the politics of the 2015 election.

But this is how far it appeared to have gone as the differences are neither deep nor cast in iron. In the build-up to the 2015 election, apparently baited by the curious decision of former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to convene a national political conference on the eve of an election and the promise of implementation of the outcome of same, the Afenifere leaders fell heavily for Jonathan.

They openly embraced the conference and participated fully in it. It was no surprise then that they went on to campaign and work for Jonathan’s re-election. Asiwaju, on his part, had a different view about that Abuja conference. He saw it as a trap; he doubted if the man from Otuoke had genuine intentions.

And because he belongs in the then opposition party, APC, a party he founded along with a few others, Asiwaju worked for his party’s candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, whom he believed and still believes in. This should be understandable in the normal run of politics. The APC candidate would later go on to win the 2015 election, unseating an incumbent for the first time in Nigeria’s political history.

On the matter of the move towards a better Nigeria, Asiwaju and the Afenifere leaders have always been on the same page. They have always operated on the same wavelength, for instance, on issues like the need for true federalism, devolution of more powers to the states and all of that, though they may couch this in different titles.

This may come in different forms or names. It is incontrovertible that both are united in the view that in order to engender a better country, Nigeria needs to be re-configured in one way or another.

My sense, therefore, is that there are no fundamental differences between Afenifere and Tinubu. This much was evidently clear from what transpired at the Akure meeting.

Because there was no division between them, because the visit was a family one, there was no fanfare about it. No trumpet blast, no ceremony. Asiwaju was only in Akure to give obeisance to whom it is due. Only a few close associates knew about the meeting. The APC leader felt he owed the Afenifere leader a return visit after the leaders of the group visited him in Lagos in early 2016. He felt he needed to visit Akure to restate his allegiance to Afenifere under Papa’s leadership.

Chiefs Fasoranti, Ayo Adebanjo, late Olanihun Ajayi and other Afenifere leaders had first visited Tinubu’s Bourdillon residence in 2016. At the meeting, there was a heart-to-heart discussion on Yoruba unity and how to advance her course in the Nigerian nation. Since then, the APC leader had been looking for an opportunity to reciprocate the gesture. It materialised on Wednesday.

Tinubu was accompanied on the visit by former APC Interim Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, and the party’s National Vice Chairman, South-west, Chief Pius Akinyelure. Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, his deputy, Chief Agboola Ajayi, some of his cabinet members and party leaders received the team at Akure Airport and joined it to Pa Fasoranti’s residence.

On hand to receive the visitors at the residence were Papa himself, former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae, Afenifere Secretary, Chief Seinde Arogbofa, and a few others. The meeting was held in Pa Fasorant’s living room. The excitement of the leaders in seeing Tinubu was palpable. The meeting itself was very impressive. The ensuing discussion was frank and guileless.

Accosted by journalists as he came out of the meeting, Asiwaju spoke about why he visited Pa. Fasoranti. “I am in Akure to acknowledge the leadership of Pa Fasoranti in our own race (Yoruba). He is a great leader of the Omoluabi and in his twilight we want him to be happy. He has been a great leader to all of us. His intellect is still very intact. We are here to seek his advice, seek his understanding and prayers. That is why I am here”.

Pa Fasoranti too commented on the import of the visit thus: “It is an indication of great things to come. With the coming together of Yoruba leaders, there will be an understanding on major issues affecting the Yoruba race. We will consult and move ahead.

As it is now, there will be a great understanding among the leaders as Tinubu is a leader in his own right. I think it (the visit) should lead to reconciliation, ARG and the mainstream.” The two leaders called for regular meetings. They said there was a need for them to be interfacing frequently so they understand each other better and their positions on issues would be clear and unambiguous. Any need to add more?

Rahman is media adviser to Asiwaju Tinubu.

Hon Mato And Hon Hembe: Not Yet Time For Comparison, By Terfa Naswem

My attention has been drawn to some articles and comments making unmerited comparisons between Rt. Hon Dorothy Mato, member House of Representatives representing Vandeikya/Konshisha Federal Constituency of Benue State and the former member of the same House and constituency, Rt. Hon Herman Hembe in terms of impact at the Green Chamber and at the constituency.

I want to make it clear that such comparisons are being carried out by ardent opponents of Hon Dorothy who want to see her fail at all cost. Such comparisons do not have any basis based on merit to begin with in the first place.

Hon Hembe was elected to represent Vandeikya/Konshisha Federal Constituency in 2007 and since then, he has been an Honourable member of the Green Chamber before his exist in late 2017 based on the judgment by the Supreme Court. He has spent 10 years at the Green Chamber.

I have always been an admirer of Hembe for the impact he made at the Green Chamber and on his constituency through his Hembe Foundation among others which one of my friends is also a beneficiary while he was at the Green Chamber. I really appreciate him for the impact made but it is not yet time for anyone to start making comparison between the two of them in terms of achievements.

Hon Mato was sworn-in on October 3, 2017. So comparing her with Hon Hembe at this point in terms of achievement is synonymous to comparing the GPA of a 100 Level Student in her first semester who has not even written her first semester examination to even have a GPA for any comparison to be made with the CGPA of a graduate who has completed 8 semesters for a 4-year course.

Let us support and vote for Hon Dorothy in 2019 for the House of Representatives representing Vandeikya/Konshisha Constituency. When she completes her term in 2023, any comparison made will by then be deserved.

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