#NotTooYoungToRun: What is wrong with the Nigerian Youth?

Anthony Enahoro moved the motion of independence at 23, General Obasanjo did this at this age. One other person did that in that age? What is wrong with the Nigerian youth today?

I am sure you must have seen this line of argument one way or the other. Either from Femi Pedro or from Wole Soyinka or from Bolaji Abdulahi, the Publicity Secretary of APC who was once Minister of Youth and recently added his own Op-Ed too. Well, Let’s really answer this question.

First of all, I am irked by the quality of persons from whom usually ask these questions and I say this with every atom of respect for their persons. They are usually relatively accomplished past their class. Femi Pedro for example makes a long list of his mates who came together to form a company that is now GTbank and how many others in his generation seized opportunities that older ones were trying to seize for themselves. He then uses this as a case to ask why the situation is different. Maybe this is responsible for my thought process on this issue, maybe not. But…

The promise of a better tomorrow is the hallmark of every successful generation. Since 1960, Not one Nigerian can stand up and say things were better now than they were when s/he was a kid. Professor Sonaiya, KOWA PARTY’s Presidential candidate in the 2015 elections have stated times without number how the continuous degradation of the educational system where she got her first degree and where she then lectured was one of the many factors that contributed to her candidacy.

The quality of education that Wole Soyinka got is way different from the one that Femi Pedro got or the one that Bolaji Abdulahi got. By the time you find out the kind of Education that I and my mates got, it’s an over-diluted version of what those who now ask what is wrong with us got in the first instance.

The standard of living is now at the lowest since it was 60 years ago. It is not as if we don’t know these things, it just seems too obvious to qualify as the answer to the question we are asking. One of the premises of the argument was that the youths of nowadays only have goals in the entertainment industry and are wizkid wannabes and linda ikeji wannabes. Excuse me sirs/mas ! What do you expect in an economy that is ladened with recession and the only growing sector is the entertainment industry?

What role models currently exist in the middle class in any other industry that can rival the lifestyles of wizkid and linda ikeji who belong to my generation? Where is the societal system that highlights the dignity of labour and the rewards of contentment? Are the current youths of our society responsible for creating these systems too?

Someone once wrote that s/he’s scared of what my generation would look like when we finally take the roles of leadership considering the rate of degradation and the level of education we have at the moment and then proceeded to lay the blame on the table of today’s youth. Ineffable!

There’s Mark Okoye in Anambra State, there’s Seun Onigbinde in BudgIT, There’s Sujimoto in Lekki, There’s in fact an event that is dedicated to rewarding young people who are defying the odds (which I must say were put in place by the older generation either by consent or by apathy) to make things happen every year with very few cases of awardees or even nominees being repeated year after year, organised also by young people who do not belong to the older generation. Someone needs to look harder.

It is hypocrisy of the highest order for older Nigerians to ask what is wrong with the “youths of nowadays” without looking in the mirror and seeing the answer.

There’s a Yoruba adage that says, “Agba o ki n wa loja, ki ori omo tuntun wo” translated to mean that an older person cannot be in the market and the head of a new baby (on the back of its mother) be wrongly tilted.

In today’s society, it is crystal clear that the quality of young Nigerians have decreased over time. To cast the blame on the victims is not even just hypocrisy, it is wickedness. If the head of a young baby is wrongly tilted in the market, nobody blames the baby.

In today’s Nigeria, the very same demography who are victims of a skewed and unjust society are getting the blames for what tomorrow will likely look like. It is a slander of the highest order and it MUST stop!

To the young folks of my generation who insist that things must be better, I have this to say –

We are in the minority! And we must realise this before anything else. The society we have found ourselves have ensured that we do not have the luxury of hope from many quarters and majority of our own people do not even believe that things will be better. Politicians have set a very strong cycle of induction rolling. This means we have more work to do and we cannot afford to fail.

We cannot afford to fail not because we do not want others to ask us like we now ask those before us if this was the best they could do as a generation. We cannot afford to fail because after us comes a generation that will number up to half a billion by 2050, be armed with the force of technology and hammered by the vices of our society.

We must deliver a better tomorrow than today just so we can survive and ultimately hold our heads high. This means we cannot allow ego or pettiness distract us. This means we cannot be divided along so many lines or scattered around. This means that we have to come together and keep challenging the status quo until a new and better society is birthed.

Only until we deliver this Nigeria can we hope that those of us who have been victimised by this current society and have turned into the worst version of themselves can look up to us and turn a new leaf.

We have work to do! Let’s get to it.

Jude ‘Feranmi is the National Youth Leader of KOWA PARTY and can be reached on Twitter via @JudeFeranmi or via email jude.feranmi@kowaparty.net

What Are Friends For? By Olusegun Adeniyi

If the former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan claims the billions of Naira found in her bank accounts were gifts from friends and former Group Managing Director (GMD) of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Andrew Yakubu also says the $9.77 million found in his house were gifts from friends, it’s high time I changed my present circle of friends. I need friends who can offer me cash gifts in Euro, Pounds and Dollars. So, if you don’t hear from me anymore, it is because I have concluded you do not know how to give what true friends give to their friends!

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When the late Dele Giwa wrote more than 30 years ago that Nigerians have been shocked to the state of “unshockability”, he was basing his thesis on the fact that there is hardly any public protest after revelations of scandal, no matter how huge. But then, the Yoruba people have a saying that if you face calamity so big that even your tears would not help, you must use humour to deal with the situation. That, I guess, is what many Nigerians have learnt to do over the years though there is another category of Nigerians who take delight in celebrating their oppressors which is a different matter altogether.

Meanwhile, the lesson from the joke with which I opened the page is that the surest way of “making” stupendous wealth in Nigeria today is to befriend the right kind of people In the right places but such “friends” must also be subversively generous enough to make you a billionaire. The flip side, however, is that a society with a preponderance of such “beneficial owners” of wealth obtained not from work but rather as “gifts from friends” is doomed. That unfortunately is the story of Nigeria today.

It is indeed very telling that at a time the federal government is making a song and dance over the oversubscription of its $1 billion Eurobond, one percent of that sum was retrieved from the residence of just one former career public officer who was not even elected. With the whistle blower policy recently introduced, this may be the season for all ill-treated aides and aggrieved wives to come forward with details of movable and immovable assets got “from their friends” that some fat cats have been hiding from the public.

As I once wrote on this page several years ago, there are inherent lessons in Ursula K. Le Guin’s short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” published in her 1974 collection, “The Wind’s Twelve Quarters” that will serve us as a nation, especially in such a time as this. The major theme in the interesting storywhich teaches profound lessons–is the place of morality and how different people within a given society accept certain norms while others would simply walk away. Using Omelas as a metaphor for Nigeria today, we can examine the different aspects of our society and the rot within but that is a task for another day.

On Tuesday, a Federal High Court sitting in Kano presided over by Justice Zainab Abubakar ordered the forfeiture to the federal government of the sum of $9,772,000 and £74,000 recovered from Mr. Andrew Yakubu, a former GMD of NNPC. Since the case is already in court, we must wait for Yakubu’s side of the story in this incredible country where even “grass cutters” now attend government-sponsored anti-corruption rallies to talk down on the rest of us!

While I commend the Ibrahim Magu-led Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for its tenacity and the efforts that led to the discovery in Yakubu’s house, there is one quick issue here that we must not gloss over: our society is what it is today because we have imbibed the ethos that wealth is not related to work. So, the corruption we are talking about is far deeper than mere stealing; it is about looking for “miracles” and all sorts of magic formula for illicit “gifts from friends”; after all, what are friends for?

In my presentation titled “Between Waste and Nigerian Work Ethics” at the maiden edition of Pastor Poju Oyemade’s “Platform Nigeria” in Abuja on 1st May 2015, I made allusion to this when I said: “… many of us know the ‘Okada’ rider of yesterday who now owns a fleet of cars simply because he has worked his way to become a pimp for some politicians who conspired to foist him on the rest of the society either as council chairman or a lawmaker. We also know the struggling business man of yesterday who could not even pay his house rent but who is now a subsidy billionaire with Private Jet to boot, just because he is fronting for some unscrupulous powerful political office holders who abuse their public trust. Let us not even talk about the low cadre civil servant who has made it big, after being posted to the Pension office, where he feeds fat on the misery of pensioners…”

Considering the damage corruption has done both to our national psyche and socio-economic well-being, some of the questions I have posed in the past remain: will the sensational stories we read in the media every day lead to the successful prosecution and conviction of some big fish in the pool of corruption to serve as deterrence to others? Are institutional mechanisms being put in place to make it difficult for people to fiddle with public funds and easily get away? What legal/judicial reforms are ongoing to ensure that public officials who steal billions are not asked to pay peanuts in fines to walk free? When are we going to get to a situation in which being invited to serve in public office would not attract celebrations and all manner of expensive social and religious thanksgivings?

It should worry all of us that because of the “gifts from friends”, Nigeria is now defined by majority of the Seven Social Sins identified by Mahatma Gandhi which are: politics without principles; wealth without work; pleasure without conscience; knowledge without character; commerce without morality; science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.

However, the real issue for me today is not even the magnitude of the money usually stolen from public treasuries in our country but what the “beneficial owners” do with such money. That is where the double jeopardy that has become the lot of our people comes in. After some crooked officials might have cornered to themselves what belongs to the people, the next thing is to lock up such “gifts from friends” either in some bank accounts (home and abroad) or convert them to Dollars and store in some silos or/and overhead/underground tanks. That way, the money does not work for them or the society.

As I wrote in my 23 June, 2013 piece, “The Craze of Dubai Weddings”, having stored up such illicit treasures, they can afford to mark their birthdays in Toronto, keep their mistresses in Alaska, celebrate the weddings of their children in Hong Kong and bury their parents in Baghdad. And when they finish the loot, as they most often do, they then begin to hustle again for contracts or appointments. I saw many of them at the Villa between 2007 and 2010, men and women of yesterday who came to see my late boss for “just anything”. These basically are people who cannot turn N10,000 to N10,010–all they know how to do is spend easy money, “the gifts from friends”!

Imagine if Yakubu had taken half of the money he locked up in his safe to Lagos and spread it by investing in many of those young Nigerian serial entrepreneurs who are creating hubs in the growing tech-ecosystem in the country, employing young people like themselves, generating incomes and making profits. With that, he would have added value to the society, helped to put many of our young citizens to work and on top of that, he would have also be earning huge financial rewards by turning black money into white!

However, like the others like him (and there are still many out there), he had to bury his “talent”. And now, he must face the consequences!

Akufo-Addo and AIG

Simple, unassuming and soft-spoken, Mr Ken Ofori-Attah exhibited his depth of knowledge at the Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG), an initiative of Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede where we both sat on the Advisory Panel chaired by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. It is therefore a delight to learn that he has been appointed the Minister of Finance in Ghana by President Akufo-Addo.

With a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Columbia University and an MBA from the Yale University School of Management, Ofori-Attah, who co-founded Databank in Ghana and is also on the boards of commercial banks in Gambia and Liberia, comes highly recommended for his assignment. I wish him all the best as he serves his country in such an important capacity. But it is also strategic for what Aig-Imoukhuede is trying to achieve with his AIG initiative for both Nigeria and Ghana.

In June last year, the former Access Bank Managing Director signed a five-year partnership with the Blavatnik School of Government (BSG) at the University of Oxford to make available on an annual basis five Scholarships and a Fellowship to outstanding Nigerians and Ghanaians to pursue the Master of Public Policy degree. Former INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega who is currently in residence at Oxford was our first pick for the Fellowship while the first set of Scholars will soon be announced.

I was privileged to be on the panel that interviewed about 15 brilliant young men and women in December before we eventually shortlisted ten from which Oxford University can admit five, following their own process. The expectation is that such AIG Scholars and Fellows would, on graduation, return to their home country (Nigeria or Ghana) “informed by knowledge and understanding gained through their research into regional and global best practices to help shape and influence policy decisions”.

Yet, as laudable as the idea is, the fact that some Nigerian professionals who were equally exposed to good education both at home and abroad are now building silos not to store grains but to keep illicit cash running into billions of Naira is depressing. But that should not deter Aig-Imoukhuede and other public-spirited individuals who may want to deploy their resources to encourage young men and women with passion to serve in the public arena. It is still a noble calling.

 

Against The Run of Play

As the countdown to the April release of my book, “Against The Run of Play: How an incumbent president was defeated in Nigeria” continues, interested bookshops and sales outlets should direct all their inquiries by email to info@kachifo.com or call 08077364217. Meanwhile, I have also uploaded on my web portal, olusegunadeniyi.com, materials from the 2003 series of The Verdict for the pleasure of my readers.

Nigerian Youths As Selfenemies By Bolaji Abdullahi

In the last couple of days, I read two articles by two of Nigeria’s most talented youths, Chude Jideonwo and Ohimai Amaize. The two articles were asking essentially the same question: why are African youths voting for old men? This is a very important question indeed.

“It’s odd to see so many engaged, empowered and angry youth turn to symbols of the same old order to make change happen in countries desperate for a turnaround,” Chude wrote, and then gave reasons why it may not be so odd after all.

He said when young people are confronted with a choice between a bad candidate and an old candidate, a sense of “responsibility” makes them to overlook age as a factor. “Pragmatism”, “cynicism” and a “ferocious mix of anger and hope” he said, are other reasons young Africans are helping to bring old men to power.

For Ohimai, everything boils down to a “conspiracy of the elite class”, who has continued to disempower young people, using the potent tools of illiteracy and poverty.  In other words, youth participation in politics has been limited largely to playing in the supporters’ club of the same older politicians who have denied them the means and the opportunity to take to the field themselves.

Both writers have offered us valid interpretations. However, I tend to disagree with Chude where he appears to suggest that the political fortune of young people on the continent are changing. Young people, he said, have “only now begun to build the street savvy that can win elections or hijack political systems.” In particular reference to Nigeria, this would appear a little like an overstatement. I have not seen the evidence anywhere that young people are developing the essential capability that could win elections or “hijack political systems.” Worse still, I can’t see even a theoretical movement in that direction.

On his own part, Ohimai has tried to frame the youth as hapless victims of some elite conspiracy. This may not be completely correct. Young people are victimised by many things and at different levels, but in recent times, they are no longer as passive as Ohimai would want us to believe. And as Chude rightly noted, 2011 was the age of “real” participation in politics for the youths. That was also arguably the golden era of youth enlightenment and participation in social enterprise and entrepreneurship. Interestingly, Ohimai himself is a prime example of this coming-of-age, when he became the youngest Nigerian to manage a presidential candidate at the age of 26! It was the era of “Futures Award”, pioneered by Chude and his irrepressible companion, Debola Williams, which recognises and celebrates exceptional young people. It was the era of “Enough-Is-Enough” and “Occupy Nigeria”.

I was Minister of Youth Development at the time. And I experienced quite intimately, the sheer energy and ingenuity of the Nigerian youth at the time. While so many factors combined to make Goodluck Jonathan president in 2011, his “Breath of Fresh Air” arrival was surely a creation of Nigerian youth. It is also clear that the decline of the Jonathan presidency started when he lost the youth population with the fuel subsidy removal of January 2012. If ever there was a time that the youth were going to truly come to their own in this country, it was 2011 and 2012.

However, if 2011 was the golden age of youth political participation in Nigeria, 2015 would go down as the age of decline. Shortly after the election, I asked my friend, Chetta Nwanze, another incredibly talented young man of that era, what went wrong. Ever perceptive, he pointed out that ‘youth’ is a finite identity.  Many of the youths of that era have grown to become men and women with their own families. I think there are bigger issues as well.

The Nigerian youth was a powerful force in 2011 because they were able to build a consensus and mobilise around a common political agenda. Even though a 2011 report indicated that being Nigerian was a fourth-level identity to most young people at the time, Nigerian youth were able to subordinate those other primordial identities of tribe, religion and region that mattered to them to an overarching considerations for good governance, rule of law and social equity. This was not the case in 2015. Things, literally, fell apart.

Looking back at the 2015 election, one should ordinarily be delighted that youth participation in politics was even more intimate and more clearly defined along political party lines than on the previous occasion. Unfortunately, this has turned out to be a destructive force, at a level we have not witnessed before.

Two years after, the youths are still carrying on as if the election was not over. Those on the losing side are still smarting from defeat and have allowed their pains to determine their reaction to everything. They have proudly adopted the banner of the “wailing wailers” that was thrown at them and appear to constantly be in need to justify the political choice they made two years ago. When they should be sober, they have been gleeful. When they should be reflective, they have been vengeful. Their political affiliation appeared to be more important to them than the Nigerian nation itself.

On the other hand, those on the winning side have indulged in suicidal triumphalism. They are intolerant of even the slighted criticism and have gone round with annoying sense of entitlement and exaggerated patronship. Meanwhile, the people that really mattered, the political elite class that Ohimai blames for the disempowerment of young people,  have responded to new realities; they are now busy working on new relationships and building new alliances. They have forgotten about 2015. The Nigerian youth is however, still there, locked in a fight-to-finish, abusing, cursing, caricaturing, falsifying, and doing everything to win a battle that had long been over. The actual players are busy seeking new opportunities, the Nigerian youth is locked in a mortal combat over who could blow the loudest vuvuzela.

It speaks to the weakness of our political parties that a single electoral defeat would lead to the collapse of one of the strongest political parties in Nigerian history, the PDP. However, despite its factionalisation, we could see efforts being made to rebuild the party. One would expect that this presents a good opportunity for the youths be truly involved and ensure that whatever comes out in the end reflects their aspirations. But you don’t see them do this. Rather, it is the same “elite class” that Ohimai said is the problem that is now left alone to be the solution. The “PDP youths” appear content to just play their politics on social media.

A couple of weeks ago, the APC inaugurated its constitutional review committee. Given the frustrations and grievances that the so many “APC youths” have shared with me in private conversations, one would expect that they would see this as a great opportunity to push for a real youth agenda by actively engaging the committee members. Regrettably, you don’t get a sense that this engagement is happening. Our youths are rather busy returning “fire-for-fire” and tearing at one another on twitter and Facebook.

If we are to see the kind of savviness that Chude mentioned in his article, which would bring the youths to the centre of political power, Nigerian youths will have to be guided more by what they can think, rather than what they can feel. They have to rise above sheer egotism and cultivate the social skill that would enable them to understand that a political opponent is not necessarily a personal enemy. Nigeria is in desperate need of a successor generation. This can only emerge incredibly talented youth population. However, as long as the youths remain trapped in a culture of hate, cynicism, talkativeness and self-destructive egotism, young people will continue to see themselves running back to the past to find a solution to the future that belongs to them.

The Missing Ingredient, By Muhammed Karamba

Buhari’s absence has brought to light some interesting aspects of the current government which Nigerians should be proud of. The Acting President Yemi Osinbajo is doing an excellent job while his boss is away. Some are already calling for Osinbajo 2019. But who is to take credit? What is the reason for such disparity between the stewardship of a Boss and his deputy?

One thing is for certain, Prof Osinbajo was chosen by President Buhari. Whatever good comes from the former came as a result of a decision by the latter. The least we could do is to give Buhari the credit of choosing such a capable hand to be in charge of this Nation in his absence.  Moreover, Osinbajo cannot make any critical decision without contacting his boss. Everything the Acting President has been given credit for has to be sanctioned by the President himself. The only area where the VP has superseded his boss is one which I call “The missing ingredient”

The success of any government depends greatly on its Public Relations management. Buhari doesn’t have the best of PR management teams. His PR team is characterized by either making statements and systematically retracting them or staying mute when the nation is asking for answers or refusing to give the voice of the people a listening ear. This has mostly been the case.

A good PR team is one which scrutinizes the meaning of every word or statement that should be said in the name of the Presidency down to the comprehension of the most biased Nigerian. It is one which forces the President to make statements when the need arise and vice-versa. It is one which understands that citizens deserve comprehendible truth when they demand for them and even when they don’t. It is one which understands that, it is the makeup artist which determines whether citizens see good president or an ugly one.

Prof Yemi Osinbajo has a good PR team and we all have seen the difference it has made. Few days and people are already appreciating. This is the litmus that has exposed a flaw in Buhari’s administration. It is time for the President to look beyond political affiliation and choose the best artists to paint a picture of his administration. I wish the President a healthy return and a successful tenure. God bless Nigeria

Muhammad  Karamba

Twitter: @Mukib_

Kwankwaso, Atiku, Youth, Others, Good But… By Yahaya Mohd Usman

We are in interesting times, as Simon Kolawale puts it “The Drama Republic of Nigeria” one day one drama, to think that some people are still shouting Buhari 2019 is moving from drama to tragicomedy.

We pray Buhari gets well soon, finish this tenure, retire and enjoy more abundant  private life, how would anyone wishing Nigeria well be thinking of hoisting Buhari on Nigeria at the age of 76?  Certainly that is not patriotism but rather parochialism.

One thing is certain here, Buhari in my view will not contest in 2019, if he does he will loose not because he has done anything wrong or because of the things he has not done right but because some factors have changed, the people’s thinking have also changed.

In the event Buhari for obvious health reasons decides to let go of power even before the end of his tenure in 2019 and Osinbajo steps in, the whole of northern  Nigeria save 2 or 3 states, will shift it’s base to other parties, especially if Osinbajo wishes to contest in 2019. If he Osinbajo doesn’t throw in the cap then the battle supremo will be between the Kwankwaso, Atiku,  and others in APC, Sule Lamido, others in PDP and others In other parties.

Atiku in APC cannot get the ticket, it is very obvious as the “Buhari cabal” will never support him, it is clear why El-rufai despite been a major beneficiary of the Atiku extensive network has launched series of attack on Atiku, those vituperation are not unconnected to his membership of the “cabal” Atiku will certainly contest so long he is alive and healthy, he will leave APC to another party may be PDM.

Atiku has some things going for him, stupendously rich, has a national outlook, married across Nigerian tribes and religions, the elites and business men seems to like him, he has rich network In the south south, southwest  and south east and a few states in the north central and north east, but the average northerner has a wrong perception of him. He is viewed as an “elite” not “populist” and age too is not on his side even though he looks very healthy.

Kwankwaso is another major player for 2019, his Kwankwasiyya movement has got traction across North Western and North eastern  states, he also performed well as a Governor of Kano state during his second term but beyond that, Kwankwaso is not a major national player, he is not seen to have a broader national view, he has not proffered any national view point,  he has not being able to build any network  outside the north, he is just like Buhari before Ameachi and Tinubu gave him a major face lift and pimping. Kwankwaso seems to has been edged out of the “Buhari cabal” he might have to jump ship from APC to another platform if he will appear on the ballot in 2019.

Sule Lamido, a northern radical politician with nine lives, Sule is good but like Kwankwaso Sule has no rich network even though he has manage to stay in the news for a long time either for good or bad he is good flying on the PDP ticket but PDP with its excess luggage can hardly spring any surprises in 2019 even though it is too early to call.

Another agitation that is gaining weight is the desire of the youth to take over from from all past leaders who have refused to retire and recycling themselves, in this category are several young men and women building bridges across the country but their major setback is funding, how they overcome these and other challenge is left to be seen.

Kogi 2017 Budget: Revealer Of The Cluelessness In Senator Dino Melaye By Tosin Jide

Having read a write up by Senator Dino Melaye on Kogi state 2017 budget, one will but wonder if indeed Dino Melaye is a graduate of the great Ahmadu Bello University. His write up was a gross display of cluelessness which is simply curable if questions were asked. Dino Melaye is still representing us so let me on that ground cure his ignoramus behavior.
We are doing 66% capital expenditure and 34% recurrent expenditure.  It takes a lot of political will to achieve this. We must commend His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello for this courage. We have never had it so good since the creation of the state.
His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello has made it clear that he is directing capital expenditure on critical infrastructure with special emphasis on the five thematic areas in The New Direction Blueprint, viz: Education, Health, Job Creation and Youth Engagement, Infrastructure and Utilities and Public Sector and Pension Reforms.
*LUGARD HOUSE:
On 24.9 Billion voted for the running of Luggard House, N7.5b is for social investment Programme that is targeted at touching lives of at least one million poor and highly impoverished kogites on monthly basis. We have similar intervention programmes under presidency at the federal level.
N1.5b is meant for youth empowerment across the 239 wards of Kogi State. Youths will be trained and empowered on monthly basis.
N1.5b is meant to build town hall equipped with modern communication gadgets across the 21 local government areas of Kogi State.  This is to enable all kogites be able to call our digital governor and chat with him without intermediaries.
N8b is meant for security vote. We need this money to secure kogi state. Kogi State is bounded by 10 states and FCT therefore making it prone to criminal activities. You don’t prepare for a football match during the competition, you prepare before the competition.
Government house is responsible for paying all the cleaning service providers to all MDAs and Lokoja environs hence the N800m. why the noise? Which of these items is (are) not desirable?
*AGRICULTURE:
It is sad that Senator Dino Melaye wants us to do things the old way and expect a different result. What makes a leader is ability to think creatively in situations of difficulty. We have voted more than N7b for agriculture and have made arrangements to attract more that 40b investment to agriculture through public private partnership. This is a creative step in the New Direction of the Executive Governor of Kogi State.
The Maputo Declaration mandates Federal and State government to allocate 10% of its yearly budget for Agric sector but in Kogi State with a total of 47b we are doing about 27% to the agriculture sector.
*EDUCATION:
We have voted over N24b into educational development in 2017 proposed budget and this is for the total overhauling of the education sector in Kogi State. Construction and equipping of our school to meet international standard. Provision of all basic needed materials towards enhancing conducive learning environment.
*HEALTH:
We have voted close to N10b for health delivery system in the state. Our Hospitals and Health Centers will be upgraded and equipped with Standard Machines and Equipment. Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello has made it clear that “The Health of all Kogites is a priority”. More Health Centers will be constructed in line with International Standard across the 21 Local Government Areas.
*FINANCE:
N530m is meant to insure Kogi State property against fire which is high level of wisdom when compared to the cost of reconstruction when even one of the property gets burnt.
N2.5b is meant for the recapitalization of Kogi Savings and Loans. Kogi Savings and Loans is a Mortgage Bank established basically for the creation of Mortgages. This will empower the bank to deliver affordable house to civil servants and citizens of the state. It will also empower the bank to source for funds for the creation of Mortgages.
Senator Dino Melaye must not forget that without a roof over his head he will not think of buying those cars in his compound.
N1.5b is a savings (Stabilization fund) for raining day. No Wise Government spends all its money.
N1b is meant for the construction of treasury house. Treasury house will house Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Budget and Planning, Sub-Treasury and other related financial MDAs.
N1.5b is meant for the payment of consultancy fee for the people that helped worked out the details of our Paris club refund. We will be getting N44b from this refund incase Dino don’t know. Why is the noise? The practice anywhere in the world is 10% payment for any recovery but we are doing just 3.3% from my calculation. GYB is not only creative, he is creatively disciplined and effective in cost reduction.
*DEPUTY GOVERNOR’S OFFICE:
Travel and transport is N120.5m.This is even lower than 2016 estimate.
N100m for Upkeep of deputy governor’s office for one year. When you divide 100m by 12months you will get 8.3 Million monthly. Is 8.3 Million too much or too small for the Deputy Governor Office for monthly expense?
N100m for construction of Kogi State Emergency Warehouse while N200 is meant to purchase relief materials in case of emergency
*SSG:
N1.9b for payment of salaries and allowances of all political office holders.
N124.2m is meant for security and executive meeting
N450m for Kogi SIEC
N120m for the office of SA on donor agencies, Multilateral and special projects
N100m for security trust fund
120m for renovation and furnishing SSG office
N100m for political office holder’s annual retreat
N250m for the construction and landscaping of the official residence of the SSG.  I wondered if Dino did his analysis before writing his article or someone did. If someone did, am I sure he reviewed before releasing the write up? So what’s extraordinary in this budget?
*HEAD OF SERVICE BUDGET:
 Over N500m is for salaries of some civil servants who receive their salaries through the office of head of service
N1b is for purchase of vehicles for Ministries, Department and Agencies of government
N200m is to renovate the dilapidated Staff Training Centre. Staff Training Centre is where Civil Servants get trained. It is also where they write their promotional examination and it is a place for the general development of those in Civil Service. No civil Servant can deliver beyond what they know. GYB is committed to training and retraining of our civil servants for maximum productivity.
N85m is meant for automating the human resources management .It will help with productivity as truancy will be checked. It will serve as a data base where information of all civil servant can be access anytime,anywhere and by anyone. Civil servants can also check on their current status. It will help processing of pension and gratuity without stress or bribing anyone for processing.
N200m for staff training
*ROADS:
We have budgeted over N40b for construction of roads and houses across the 21 local government areas of Kogi State.
2017 Budget has stopped Dino from turning Kogi state into an Elephant he can share.
Dino Melaye is known all over Nigeria and the world at large for his notorious nature. He is legislator whose life style is irreconcilably different from his legitimate earnings. I, Tosin Jide, Challenge Dino to show me one project he has done for the people he is representing. I have never seen a heartless Demonic man who buys different type of cars only to pack it in his garage when his community is struggling with clean water.
Senator Dino Melaye, please tell me how much you have collected as constituency allowance in 19 months? What have you done with it?
We will never be cowed into working with someone who does not have the interest of the state at heart but his selfish interest. Kogi State is no longer a State where people like Dino will want to control. Governance is not about shouting or speaking English language it is about service delivery.
It is clear that Dino has decided to serve as a distraction but I can assure him that we are known for unshaken victory. He is inconsequential on our journey towards a New Direction.
Finally , we are most sorry we sent the wrong phone number to the National Assembly.
God bless Kogi State.
God bless Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello
 Tosin Jide

The Drama Republic Of Nigeria, By Simon Kolawole

You can conveniently call Nigeria the Federal Republic of Drama. Or the Drama Republic of Nigeria. It is one day, one drama. This is probably what keeps us flying in spite of this economic headwind. Three weeks ago, President Muhammadu Buhari boarded the presidential jet and left the country for vacation in the UK during which he would undergo medical checks — in his own words. Immediately his letter to the national assembly was read, effectively empowering Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to act as president, the rumour mill went into production at full capacity. Vacation? UK? Medicals? Acting President? Ah! Something is about to happen…

It did not take too long for the first rumour to be rolled out of the mill: Buhari is gasping for breath somewhere in a London hospital. He had a failed kidney transplant. No. He had “cancer of the ear” that had spread to the rest of his body. Forget it, he won’t survive. To the credit of the refined rumour mongers, they were patient and honest: they avoided announcing Buhari’s death very early. But the unprofessional rumour mongers wasted no time in announcing with authority: Buhari is dead! In this millennium of fake news, it was soon all over town. I was busy enjoying an English premier league match when I got a WhatsApp chat authoritatively announcing Buhari’s death.

Those who know me as a journalist were soon bombarding me with calls to find out if “it is true”. My answer was standard: “Buhari is a Muslim; if he dies he will be buried within 24 hours.” He is not Oba of Benin who would be “communing with his ancestors” one full year before he is buried. It took me only one phone call to determine the president was alive, and I never looked back. My answer was not satisfactory to many of the callers, and I very well understood why. What they wanted to hear was that Buhari was critically ill or dead, and when you were busy telling them he was neither on hospital admission nor in the morgue, you were not worthy to be believed.

I heard a lot of people say Buhari’s media managers should have come out to tell Nigerians the “truth”. But there was nothing the managers could say that would be the “truth” — except to proclaim Buhari dead. Saying the president was alive, saying he was not in the hospital, saying he was receiving visitors, releasing his pictures to the public through the social media — these can never be the “truth”. The only “truth” that some people wanted to hear was that the third-day fidau would hold in his family compound at Daura, Katsina, “tomorrow”. Or that the body would arrive Abuja airport this evening. Any other thing was not the “truth”.

A friend who was genuinely worried about the situation suggested that the president send a video message to Nigerians to say he was alive. It looked like a brilliant idea until you realised that it would take “fact checkers” just two minutes to “bust” the video as something that was recorded in 1914. All the pictures Buhari took with his wife, Aisha, and Governor Ibikunle Amosun in London were “busted”. Even if Buhari appeared on CNN to confirm he was alive, “investigations” would still “reveal” that it was a body double. It was not a battle Buhari was going to win. He was dead and only an obituary announcement would be the “truth”.

Along the line, northern governors were supposed to have met in Abuja and resolved to force Osinbajo to resign as VP and allow Senate President Bukola Saraki to step in — so that power could remain in the north since Buhari had died or was dying. Two former military leaders, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, were reportedly at the meeting. Actually, northern governors met (in Kaduna, not Abuja) to discuss the security situation in southern Kaduna. In fact, both Babangida and Abubakar were out of the country (maybe they joined the meeting by Skype, who knows?) These rumour merchants got a lot of rebroadcasts on social media.

Could Abdulsalami really be part of a meeting where it would be resolved that a southerner must not be allowed to succeed Buhari? His antecedents do not suggest so, given the role he played in power shift to the south in 1999 and in working behind the scene to ensure Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan was allowed to step in as acting president in the absence of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2010. More so, if a few chauvinistic northern governors truly wanted a “northern” president, would a Bukola Saraki from Kwara — whose mastery of Hausa language is worse than his Japanese — be their choice? In the world of rumour mongering, everything is possible.

Meanwhile, Buhari was busy scripting his own drama. Instead of coming out straight to tell us he was not in the hospital or Aljanna, he resorted to modelling jalabiya and skull cap for the social media. In one pose, he put his “feet up” (actually, on the coffee table) watching Channels TV with a phone stuck to his right ear. In another, he was having breakfast or lunch, maybe even dinner, with Amosun. There is something about Buhari that I can’t understand — he likes to keep quiet while damaging accusations are pouring like rain. If he thinks it is a virtue, then he still doesn’t understand that he is president of Nigeria in 2017 and not 1984.

Although Buhari paints the picture of somebody who doesn’t care about the rumours, in truth he cares. If not, he would not have engaged in a flurry of phone calls, like a customer service agent, with the Osinbajo, Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara. He did not tell them to keep it secret. He would not have received Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande and seen them off to the door. He did not tell the photographers not to shoot. So he cares. I believe all the pictures were deliberately arranged to prove to Doubting Thomases that he was alive, that he was not on any sick bed. So he does care what Nigerians say. What’s the issue then? Basic aloofness? Or ego?

To be sure, Nigerians have every right to know the state of health of their president. He is president of 180 million Nigerians (forget that infamous line about 97% vs 5%). His medical state means a lot to the political stability of Nigeria. His health has a direct impact on the economy. What the economy needs now is anything that will boost confidence — not kill the spirit. So it is not about Buhari, his family, his party, his part of the country or his ethnicity. It is about us. All of us. The actions and inactions of Buhari affect every single soul in Nigeria, so he cannot carry on with the attitude of “I don’t give a damn” (apologies to Jonathan).

It has been argued that Buhari should tell us exactly what is wrong with him. Good point. What I don’t know, however, is how we will receive this “truth”. Let us, for the purpose of this discussion, say that he has a terminal cancer, as speculated, and he discloses it. What will happen next? Let me guess: there will be a nationwide protest asking him to “honourably” resign because he is “too sick” to lead Nigeria. If, on the other hand, he says he is just diabetic, would we be satisfied? I can hear us sternly declare that he is not telling us the “whole truth”, like “can’t you see that he is very frail? Can he rule us with diabetes?” Whichever way, he is damned.

All said and done, whether we like it or not, our democratic experience has been enhanced by the events of the last three weeks. For one, there has not been a power vacuum like we witnessed in 2009 when it seemed Nigeria had no president in Yar’Adua’s absence. The constitution was amended to avoid that scenario. Even if Buhari had not written to the national assembly, Osinbajo would still have legally started acting as president after 21 days. And, really, Osinbajo has impressed me with the way he has handled the situation — even when he didn’t assume full presidential powers. He has spared us more episodes of the drama. Good stuff.

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…

EURO BOOM

The news that Nigeria’s $1 billion Eurobond was eight times oversubscribed sent a chill down my spine. So the outside world still has faith in Nigeria despite all the mess we have got ourselves in? You can argue that the 7.875% yield is very enticing to investors, but any interest in Nigeria at all is worth celebrating. I’m somehow sad thinking of what might have been. Many foreign investors were ready to swoop on Nigeria when President Buhari assumed office in May 2015 but lost interest and went elsewhere because of “ponderous policymaking” (copyright FT). Just imagine what could have been. Going forward, I trust Buhari to spend the Euro bond on infrastructure. Promising.

DOLLAR DUNGEON

I’m certainly no longer a fan of media trial, but I just have to comment on the huge cache of foreign currencies allegedly recovered from Mr. Andrew Yakubu, former managing director of NNPC. In all, $9.8 million and £74,000 were reportedly recovered in cash. When I was told that many Nigerians are still keeping billions of dollars in raw cash or abandoned in bank accounts (no thanks to the BVN virus), I found it hard to believe. Now I believe. But how can we get the money back into the system? Are we going to get more whistle blowers? Or are we going to declare “go and sin no more” to make more substantial recoveries? Billions of dollars! Mindboggling.

RUNAWAY ELITE

The Nigerian elite will always take care of themselves. Have you noticed their staunch opposition to the closure of Abuja airport runway for reconstruction and the diversion of flights to Kaduna for six weeks? You would think the world is about to come to an end! They are afraid to travel between Kaduna and Abuja by land because of bad roads and insecurity. This is the road thousands of non-elite Nigerians take everyday without anybody complaining on the floor of the national assembly. Thank God, the ministry of works is working day and night to repair the road for our elite to use during the six-week closure. You see, they will always take care of themselves. Naija!

SAVING ARIK

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) — you can call it the “bad bank” —  has finally intervened to save Arik Air from a certain death. With reported debts of over N300 billion, and thousands of cancelled or delayed flights, it was so glaring that something had to give. Since the federal government is looking for a national carrier (which doesn’t make sense to me), Arik may have offered them an easier way out. Convert the debt to equity and get world-class managers and partners to run it. It would make no sense if the government saves Arik with such massive capital and still goes ahead to set up another airline. Options.

Right To Know: Privacy, Public Office And Disclosure Of Medical Records Of President Buhari

Do I really need to know whether the President has Erectile Dysfunction going by Ruben Abati’s libidinous search for answers to systemic failure in Aso Rock or Blood Coagulation, Sinus Allergy and Asthmatic Episodes?
I do not need to know because they are inconsequential to governance given the constitutional routine to be followed in the event of indisposition of the President.

We are all humans susceptible to sickness either as head of a family or institution and during the period of temporary disability we have associates authorise to act as our representatives. Therefore, the President cannot be an exception and whatever medical informations about the health of the President presented to me as a citizen have no significant negative effects on me in respect of my opinion about policies and outcome of deliverables in this democratic dispensation because I know there are capable hands working with the President.

The fundamental question here is to reflect on whether the above statements can be transplanted into subject We. Put differently do we need to know the medical informations of Public office holders in Nigeria? My answer to that is emphatic NO. Do we need to know the medical records of the President. My answer to that is emphatic NO.

Who is/are Public officer(s) in Nigeria?
For the purpose of this piece I shall take the definition of Public officers as enunciated in the Fifth Schedule of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution as my starting point precisely speaking the interpretation Part 2 Public Officers for the purposes of the Code of conduct.

This is necessary for clarity and to avoid ambiguity noticed in the statements of those canvassing for full disclosure in the use of the term Public office, most importantly and specifically item number 10 is for me very interesting to flesh out my views on this subject matter.

Here is the reproduction of the interpretation (Part 2) Public Officers for the purposes of the Code of conduct.

Part II
Public Officers for the purposes of the Code of conduct
1.
The President of the Federation.
2.
The Vice-President of the Federation.
3.
The President and Deputy President of the Senate Speakers and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and Speakers and Deputy Speakers of Houses of Assembly of States, and all members and staff of legislative houses.
4.
Governors and Deputy Governors of States.
5.
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justices of the Supreme Court, President and Justices of the Court of Appeal, all other judicial officers and all staff of courts of law.
6.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Attorney-General of each State.
7.
Ministers of the Government of the Federation and Commissioners of the Governments of the States.
8.
Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff and all members of the armed forces of the Federation.
9.
Inspector-General of Police, Deputy Inspector-General of Police and all members of the Nigeria Police Force and ther government security agencies established by law.
10.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of the Civil service, Permanent Secretaries, Directors-Generals and all other persons in the civil service of the Federation or of the State.
11.
Ambassadors, High Commissioners and other officers of Nigeria Missions abroad.
12.
Chairman, members and staff of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Conduct Tribunal.
13.
Chairman, members and staff of local government councils.
14.
Chairman and members of the Boards or other governing bodies and staff of statutory corporations and of ompanies in which the Federal or State Governments or local governments councils.
15.
All staff of universities, colleges and institutions owned and financed by the Federal or State Governments or local government councils.
16.
Chairman, members and staff of permanent commissions or councils appointed on full time basis.

Fellow Nigerians, here is my dillema considering the the long list. Are we saying all these Public officers must make full disclosure of their health status or medical records available for public consumption whenever they are sick or on sick leave? Please note that emphasis is on public consumption not statutory declaration which is protected by constitutional provisions on privacy.

There are people with the view that since Labour Act Chapter 198 (8) sub (1) says ”Every worker who enters into a contract shall be medically examined by a registered medical practitioner at the expense of the employer” that the president in this case must have to be medically examined before assumption of office.
However, this line of argumentation is fallacious because in sub (2) The State Authority may by order exempt for the requirement of medical examination workers entering into contracts for- (ii) in non-agricultural work which the State Authority is satisfied is not of a dangerous character or likely to be injurious to the health of the workers. Please note that the word State here represents Nigeria i.e Federal/State/Local Government

It is very vivid from the foregoing that the role/job of the President is seen ab-initio by State Authority as not of a dangerous character or likely to be injurious to the health of the President hence no constitutional compulsion on medical examination. Item number 10 specifically states that ”…all other persons in the civil service of the Federation or of the State”
Here again are we to ask every civil servant to declare for public consumption their medical records whenever they are ill or on sick leave? This is not done anywhere as much as I am knowledgeable never being asked by my employer to make my medical records public information and I do not see that happening in Nigeria.

The statutory requirement for medical examination is not an instumentarium for discrimination nor goverment tool to deny citizens jobs based on their medical history the anti- discrimination provisions in the Constitution have taken care of that so what is now the significance of the irresponsible clamour for full disclosure of medical records for public consumption especially when it has to do with the President or Elective offices.
Why discriminate/Where comes the need to discriminate against these categories of people?
We have become a nation bereft of deep thinking looking for salacious news to titillate our gossipry wishing others misfortune, a situation exacerbated by media hunting for dirty news that leaves a metallic taste in the mouth of people who are genuinely interested positively in the welfare of all Public officers.

Emotional desideratum of people or citizens is not a legal justification for demanding what is unconstitutional. Let it be succinctly put here that there is no constitutional compulsion on the President or any Elected public officers to make public medical records or informations for public consumption. Therefore, there is no right to know ab-initio.

I do not think we need any provision that is bound to jeopadise the privacy of a section of our populace in the name of bogus transparency. Where is such amorphous provision leading us to? A situation wherein Privacy regulations, Hippocratic oath and the Code of secrecy and the privilege of non-disclosure or the Code of medical ethics in Nigeria shall be subject of impunity with grievous implications for all citizens socio-political and economic wise.

The inherent danger with such misadventure cannot be captured enough in this short piece but one thing is certain our vampire media would make a mincemeat of any medical records revelation and opposition shall take advantage for political capital by spreading spurious narratives weave around such medical records to create political uncertainty and instability in the country.

Please do not come to me with your American story. We are not Americans. We are Nigerians and I do not see United States of America as a good example to follow concerning this subject matter. Really America is an aberration and embarrassment politically speaking. Nigeria should not follow that path wherein candidates go around with exposition of their medical records foolishly making gullible Americans believing that it will engender transparency but the reverse is what obviously come to the fore when they eventually become elected into public office.

The teleology of all these show of shame I do not know. Nothing will be gain by providing medical records for public consumption rather we will be making the citizenry more confused with medical terminologies and narratives that would make it difficult for them to make the right decisions.

Furthermore, it is common knowledge that medical conditions or medical records have no one on one corresponding relationships to the performance of an individual, equally there is no straightforwardly instrumentarium for the prediction of the final outcome of a medical condition at a given time because of the complicated ontolology of diseases.

This whole hullabaloo is mere sensationalism and unnecessary, we should be more interested in the question of policy, institution enhancement and not medical records of Public officers. Governance is not about the President alone we should be more interested in the constitutionality of the president’s actions.
The constitution envisages that the President may be sick and the provisions for the transfer of power are vividly incorporated into the constitution so that continuity in governance is secure. Making public medical records of the President is not a constitutional requirement. Therefore, the so called right to know is a mere Emotional Desideratum.

OTUNBA ADE ILEMOBADE IS A PHILOSOPHER
TWITTER@PEARL2PRINCE

2Baba and His Ajebota Generations By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, let me confess straightaway that I have a special space for 2BABA formally known as TUFACE IDIBIA. It is impossible to meet this perfect gentleman and not fall for him. I’ve come to know him reasonably well since his days with the Plantashion Boyz when I invited and took some of the hottest artists to the Obafemi Awolowo University for the biggest show ever, the Ovation Concert. It was a night to remember for many students who were fortunate to attend the event that evening. One thing that always stands 2BABA out is his humility. He is humble to a fault. He has of course been very nice to me generally. Our paths have crossed in far-flung places like Canada and Australia and the love and respect between us is always palpable.

Therefore, when news broke about two weeks ago that he was planning to lead a nationwide protest against the Buhari government, I was genuinely and seriously stunned. Never did 2BABA cut the image of a radical in my view. At best, I knew him to sing love songs and offer subtle criticism of government policies or human suffering. He is one of the most comfortable singers in Africa and my opinion was that he could not be expected to risk anything that would jeopardise his comfort zone. But after watching his recorded videos concerning the planned protest which had gone viral on social media, my incredulity started turning to credulity and credibility. So 2BABA was going to do what some of us had attempted in the past, activity that had landed me in detention at CID Alagbon detention centre Ikoyi, and later forced me to exile in London for three solid years under the dreaded regime of General Sani Abacha, I soliloquised.

Holy Jesus, I screamed. This was it and let’s see how it would play out, I thought aloud as I journeyed around Africa in connection with my job. As days climbed days, we his admirers waited with bated breath. Will government listen to the cries of the people or will government get angry and summarily massacre the citizens in a shooting spree? I doubted such possibility at this time and age and knew 2BABA to be too gentle to cause unnecessary mayhem in the land of his birth, or indeed anywhere else. I decided to encourage and support him him with my modest social media presence. Something needed to be established once and for all; that no Nigerian should be deprived of his right to participate in a peaceful demonstration in our dear country. Freedom of expression and association continue to be fundamental and inalienable rights of every citizen in our democracy and, more importantly, under our Constitution.

Anyway, the dream of witnessing a revolution led by 2BABA, the most unlikely candidate for such venture, opened my eyes to fresh realities. I was cocksure that 2BABA and company would never be deterred or scared by the fear of some armed security guys. It was not I thought going to be a protest that would die with only a whimper, ending up as all noise and sound but no fury. I also trusted that those organising the peaceful demonstration would have to do something about the real risk of breakdown of law and order by hoodlums and political flunkies who would be manipulated to disrupt and distort the noble aims of the organisers.

Barely hours to the start of the protests, news filtered in again that 2BABA and his friends had called off the demonstrations. Who was pulling my legs, I imagined/ The news soon spread like wildfire. There were speculations that 2BABA had been threatened by some government agents. No one could verify the authenticity of all the conspiracy theories. The video lackadaisical video that 2BABA put out did nothing to dispel the views and theories, one way or the other. What was important was that another opportunity to galvanise Nigerian youths into taking their destinies in their own hands had just evaporated into thin air. 2BABA came out in yet another broadcast to warn his friends not to come out on the streets. Many of those who expected some action were obviously disappointed. Some even attacked him as a lily-livered man who promised what he could not deliver. As for me and my house, I knew all the things that could have transpired and how tough it would have been for many of the silver-spoon kids who were largely his followers to follow through on their threats.

That is why I have started out in my headline by describing this generation of youths as an ajebota one, youths who grew up on bread and butter and not village-trained ones who fed on dusty rough meals like us. We should not have expected them to have the kind of tenacity we enjoyed in our time from secondary school, through to University and teaching, when we confronted tear gas and bullets on the streets. This particular generation is blessed with computers, smartphones and social media. They can hide behind some tiny screens to throw darts and arrows at their perceived enemies. We were being stupidly optimistic to have expected so much more from them. However, I was not too surprised or utterly disappointed. I was happy 2BABA had stirred the hornets’ nests and for whatever it is worth, my belief is that it is going to wake up the Buhari government from its deep slumber and seeming reticence or complacency, whatever word you can find in the lexicon. The time has come to, at least, tickle this government and hope that something good can still come out of them.

That symbolic act for me was still an achievement. The future of Nigeria lies in the hands of the youths. I’m not so interested in their street protests but in the efficacy of their votes. For far too long, the Nigerian youths have failed to make use of the power and strength of their majority population to affect their nation positively. I am in a way part of a guilty generation of youths that failed our nation in that way.  Another generation is now behind ours. All we continue to hear is that the ancient generation has refused to hand over power, firstly to us, and now, to them.  But they studiously forget that they have to go all out to wrestle for power. The youths of Nigeria have always suffered from self-doubt by singing the same endless chorus of “It is not possible, it is not possible for us to take power…”  However, we must be reminded that this ancient generation that we speak about did wrestle power from the colonialists in their youth.

The youths don’t seem to realise that when one of their own comes out to contest, they are the first to shoot him down and say he lacks experience. However, what they call “experience” is mainly the ability to have looted enough funds while serving in one government position or the other and coming back years later to buy everyone with this loot. If elections were held tomorrow, I won’t be surprised if our youths vote again for men in their seventies under one excuse or the other. I can speak authoritatively on this as someone who came out genuinely to champion the cause of the younger generation a few years ago. Everyone else was qualified to run for presidential election but not a publisher. A Soldier, Police officer, Customs officer, Teacher, and others were eligible because they had somehow served in one government or the other but not an international Publisher who on account of his job had been able to be close to governance in many countries. Many, in fact, took delight in poking fun rather than look objectively at the credentials and programmes of each candidate objectively, thoroughly and dispassionately. They did not consider any guiding principle or ideology. They were hoodwinked and mesmerised by the old foxes who had amassed wealth legally or illegally. At the end of the day, they were sorely disappointed.

The story of Nigeria is not about age or generation alone. President Goodluck Jonathan, if we are to believe his official records, was not that old when he became President. He is easily the most experienced leader Nigeria could ever have in terms of service at the highest level of each tier of government. He rose through the ranks going through the gamut of governance as Lecturer, Agency Director, Deputy Governor, Acting Governor, Governor, Vice President, Acting President and substantive President. What more could we have asked from a candidate? But he still could not take us to the promised land. After him, we have now tried a man with the age and wisdom of Methuselah in President Muhammadu Buhari but it is still no longer at ease.  What then is the solution and what is the future of Nigeria?

As always, I will propose a few things. My humble thesis that while it might not really matter in all instances, a country like Nigeria once again deserves some injection of youthfulness in  governance. It seems that we have once again returned to the nascent days of our struggle for independence from our colonial masters, except that the independence that we now seek is from a corrupt, incompetent and twisted gerontocratic oligarchy. Anyone above 60 to 65 may soon become a liability to the nation. Those who made retirement age to stand at 60 and, with certain exceptions 65, were not stupid. The law of diminishing return begins to set in once you cross that age barrier.

I wish and hope that Nigerians would support some bright and smart Nigerians in the next dispensation. Buhari for a variety of reasons does not deserve to run again but it is his prerogative to run if he so chooses. If he does not, then within his party, the coast should be clear for younger folks to run. The baton could go to the likes of Yemi Osinbajo, the current Vice President, Bukola Saraki, the current Senate President, Nasr El Rufai, Nuhu Ribadu, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Akinwunmi Ambode.  From PDP I can think of Godswill Akpabio and Ben Bruce and from the currently non-aligned, Oby Ezekwesili, Donald Duke and Fola Adeola stand out. There are so many others from APC, PDP and the other fringe parties.

Running a nation is not rocket science. What matters most is performance over and above our obsession with fighting corruption. Corruption would reduce when we bring on board competent and hardworking men and women who love their country and are willing to perform and not just attain power for self-aggrandizement and the fun of it.

Please, note that I can’t be bothered about party affiliation for now. I’m more interested in performance only. I’m also disinterested in zoning formula. I don’t really care where our next President comes from. We have wasted enough time and resources on primordial sentiments and we should move forward or perish in the process of sticking to our old ways of doing things. If we truly wish to get Nigeria out of this quagmire, we should be prepared to do the unusual and go for radical reforms. We all seem to know what is wrong with Nigeria but refuse to do the needful.  This is one of the reasons I am happy with the Ajebota generation as they seem to care less about those primordial ethnic and religious feelings that have for so long been a huge divisive setback to our progress as a nation.

We must seek very modern, well-educated, urbane, civilised, exposed, energetic, accomplished, detribalised, visionaries as leaders. Please, note that I did not say a saint because we are not likely to find one anywhere. Murtala Mohammed was no saint but in the few months that he governed he brought discipline, respect and performance to Nigeria. Enough of experimenting dangerously as time has already left us behind. We need to search critically and frantically from every part of Nigeria and beyond since God has blessed us with incredible talents.

Next we must reduce the cost of governance drastically because our country is haemorrhaging heavily and it is being killed quickly. The atrocious resources we waste on public office holders can never augur well for our nation. Under President Buhari, a man who is well known for frugality, the cost of running the presidential villa has been most disappointing and embarrassing. Nigeria needs to declare a state of emergency on the current spending spree or collapse under the weight of our reckless profligacy.

The next leader must demonstrate practical ways of bringing our infrastructural deficit to a reasonable level. It has become obvious that a typical politician would only come to waste four to eight years and this is not the type of leaders we need. If we fail to act and only succeed in bringing another ceremonial leader to Aso Rock, then it means Nigeria is jinxed, doomed and sentenced to eternal damnation and perdition.  We should then blame no one for our woes but ourselves…

Osun Is Under The Siege Of Disinformation, By Inwalomhe Donald

There is a partial media blackout in the State of Osun. There is almost no reporting on positive developmental strides taken by Governor Rauf Aregbesola.

Instead, the reports that make it to the media appears to be a huge smear campaign of Aregbesola’s character by paid ‘bloggers’, who use smear headlines like ‘Osun Pensioners IDP Camp’, ‘Islamizing Osun’, ‘Osun Debt’, and others to smear the character of the Governor. A section of Osun media is curiously silent on more than 300 kilometers of roads constructed across various local government areas of the state and the East-West bypass in Osogbo. Interestingly, Osun has one of the longest road construction records in Nigeria, which enhances easy access for residents, but this is never reported by the media in Osun. They have simply refused to report it.

In addition to the roads earlier mentioned:

*The Eastern bypass axis of the intracity ring road in Osogbo is being completed, with work rounding up on the three link bridges connecting the roads;

*A strategic trumpet interchange at the ever busy Gbongan junction of the Ife-Ibadan highway is also nearing completion;

*The Trumpet interchange bridge further connects another dual carriage road construction that links Gbongan town to Osogbo;

*Also, there are a number of intercity and other major road constructions linking Osun to other neighbouring states, including-

*A 74km boundary highway connecting Osun and Lagos through Orile-owu, Ijebu-Igbo;

*A 47km highway connecting Osun and Kwara States; and several other road maintenance and repairs projects across the state are being handled by the Osun Road Maintenance Agency.

Has the media in Osun State collapsed? This question is germane because  Osun makes leading headlines for negative reasons, but when there are positive developments in Osun, the media will be silent. Since 2012 when Governor Aregbesola started the Osun school feeding programme, a section of the media has been silent on it. When Governor Aregbesola took sukuk bond, a section of the media said that Aregbesola wanted to Islamize Nigeria. Now that sukuk projects are being commissioned, the media is silent.  The media is silent on the six completed High Schools built with sukuk fund: Ilesa High School, Osogbo High School, Ataoja High School Osogbo, Fakunle High School, Osogbo, Wole Soyinka High School Ejigbo and Seventh Day Adventist High, Ede.

Given these evidences, the credibility of the media in Osun has collapsed because the same media who reported that Governor Aregbesola wanted to Islamize Nigeria when he was taking sukuk bond can not tell Nigerians that Governor Aregbesola has used sukuk bond to build 792 classrooms, 66 laboratories, 22 ICT halls for the 11 High Schools across Osun State. The media can not tell Nigerians that Osogbo High School, Ilesa High School and Iwo High School are built with steel, not cement blocks and these are first of their types in Nigeria.

From 2012, the news organizations have suggested over and again that they can never be believed on anything in Osun. They have proven that, if given the chance, they will deliberately withhold important information from their readers while knowingly publishing false, defamatory hit pieces that are engineered solely to misinform the public and subvert the democratic process in Osun.
In essence, the mainstream media in Osun is so desperately biased and unfair in its exasperating effort to destroy Governor Aregbesola that it has obliterated any illusion of credibility it once had. Journalism has utterly collapsed across the entire mainstream media in Osun.

From the inception of his administration in 2010, Aregbesola has been in the eye of the press storm, often for the wrong reasons. His energy and drive; the openness of his government; and his outspokenness attracted the attention of his political detractors and the press. To complicate matters, his enthusiastic embrace of people-oriented policies and programmes generated a lot of debate. This was particularly true of the revolutionary education programme, featuring school reclassification, school mergers, school feeding and uniforms; a social welfare programme for seniors; and an ambitious infrastructure development programme, featuring a ring road around Osogbo and the construction of a modern airport with a hanger.

To be sure, a number of these developments have been reported and discussed in the press. Unfortunately however, it appears that the press can hardly pass off an opportunity to drop a negative line or two about Aregbesola. This was evident in how quickly he was made the scapegoat among the 26 or so governors owing salary arrears for their workers.

The false reports began as soon as Aregbesola assumed office in 2010. He was falsely accused of moving Osun towards secession from the Federal Republic, by styling his state the State of Osun. Later, in an editorial, one newspaper listed Osun as one of the states which purchased exotic cars for their traditional rulers, when not even a bicycle was purchased for any traditional ruler.

In 2014, a newspaper also published a feature article, with a headline which suggested that controversy still surrounded the state’s free school feeding initiative, while in reality, parents, farmers, and caterers were thanking the governor for it. Not done, the newspaper went on, almost a year later, to publish another false story, indicating possible cancellation of the school feeding programme, when no such plan was ever contemplated.

In none of the fabricated school feeding stories were the health benefits of the meal programme highlighted nor was there a mention of the multiplier economic benefits to the farmers, who produce the foodstuffs; the local traders who sell fruits and vegetables; and the caterers, who cook the food, many of whom were simultaneously empowered to service their local communities.

The intensification of the crisis surrounding the delayed payment of salaries was the motive behind another false story by the same newspaper in which a chairman of a pensioners’ forum was cited as calling on the Central Bank of Nigeria to stop the bailout for Osun. The fellow cited in the story claimed that he never spoke with the said newspaper.

These false reports raise a major question. First, why would a reporter habitually publish false stories, and against the same target? There are three possible answers. One, the newspaper has a hidden agenda against the target of the false stories. Two, the reporter is being rewarded for publishing the stories by the sources of the false information. Three, the reporter is ethically challenged.

Today, the media in Osun State could not tell Nigerians that Federal Government school feeding is not different from the operation of the school feeding programme embarked by the Aregbesola administration and now it has been taken over by the Federal Government. Osun State, the first to provide free meals for primary school children, has had marked progress in school enrolment, retention, and performance but the successful programme has been under-reported by the media. From 2012-2016, Osun State was the only state in Nigeria that sustained the Nigerian school feeding programme and the media under reported it.

Today the media in Osun State could not tell Nigerians that the Osun Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme now known as O-MEALS is the only surviving school meal programmes in the country. It was formerly known as the Home Grown School Feeding and Health Programme (HGSFP) . This has now been restructured and enhanced by the administration of  the State of Osun, to reach a larger number of  students (254,000) and to empower  over 3000 community caterers.

The programme was initiated by the Federal Government in 2004 through the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act but on assumption of office, the Aregbesola administration undertook a comprehensive review of the inherited school feeding arrangement and came up with an overhauled and rebranded programme that was officially launched on the 30th April 2012. Implementation in primary schools is ongoing throughout the State. The key areas of improvement undertaken by the current administration are,  inclusion of elementary year 4 , thereby increasing beneficiaries to 254,000, Capacity Development  and Empowerment of 3007 Community Caterers , Backwards Integration to  Local Markets and  Process Improvements.

Till date the media in Osun State has not told Nigerians that this scheme has gained international endorsement as well. In November 2012, Partnership for Child Development (PCD) United Kingdom and the Government of the State of Osun signed the Osun Elementary School Feeding Transition Strategy Plan Document to further strengthen the programme. O-MEALS aims to reverse the very low academic performance of pupils, given that good nutrition is necessary for  development of  cognitive skills. The daily feeding allowance for each pupil has also been increased from ?50.00 to ?250.00.

For effective service, a total number of 3,007 food vendors/cooks were trained and are currently employed to serve midday meals for pupils of classes 1, 2 , 3 and 4 in all primary schools in the State of Osun. For easy identification, each of the food vendors was provided with uniforms free of charge.

Till date the media in Osun State has not told Nigerians that the programme has helped increase school enrolment by a minimum of 25% since the commencement of the revised programme.

When one considers the gross underreporting of developmental strides by the State and the frequent lies published as truth against the current administration, there is only one valid conclusion: Osun is indeed under a media siege.

*Inwalomhe Donald, a public affairs analyst writes from Benin City (inwalomhe.donald@yahoo.com

Moremi Ojodu’s Letter To Tinubu Lacks Merit, By Adenike Ajanlekoko

My attention has been drawn to a “A LETTER TO ASIWAJU BOLA TINUBU – We want a ‘Change’ – You sold us Nigeria using Lagos as a Model” written by one Moremi Ojudu who I understand is the daughter of Senator Babafemi Ojodu, the Special Adviser on Political Matters in Presidency.

I disagree with her statement that the letter was her personal opinion because she went with crowd to Asiwaju Bola Tunubu’s house in Lagos.

If Moremi is claiming that the “ship of state is currently sailing into an avoidable storm because the current leadership of the country which is enamoured to anachronistic methods of running a multi-ethnic, religious and politically sensitive state such as ours” why has her father, who is holding a sensitive position in the Government, still in office? My opinion is that she should write her father first to resign before accusing the Government.

I am sure the lots of her friends and acquaintances, who she claimed has invested their hope and return on investment that is not commensurate must be those who are corrupt who can’t stand the heat of anti-corruption war of the Buhari administration.

I want to remind them that this administration cannot continue to support corruption via sponsored protest to so called leaders who are part and parcel of the corruption cankerworm that has eaten deep into the Nigeria system.

Asking Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to intervene as Nigeria “continue to drift in the wilderness of economic hardship and political uncertainty, to me is like asking a blind man for direction.

I am reminding Moremi that Nigerians did not vote for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s astuteness and political savvy but President Buhari to take us out of Corruption that has total destroyed the economy of the country.

 

Adenike Ajanlekoko is the Coordinator of Nigerian Youth and Women for Good Governance Services based in Lagos.

As Dogara Enforces Budget Reforms In the House of Representatives By Adesuwa Tsan

The two chambers of the National Assembly are presently working assiduously on the details of the 2017 Appropriations Bill after debate on its merits and general principles during its second reading.

To ensure there are no distractions while the lawmakers carry out this task, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara, adjourned plenary for three weeks for committees to dedicate themselves to perusing the nitty gritty of the budget and produce a document that will impact on the lives of Nigerians.

While it is not unusual to adjourn sitting for committees to work on the budget, what makes this particular one different is that the reforms which the Speaker introduced to the budget will be implemented in the 2017 budget document to make it more transparent and people oriented in accordance with the 8th Assembly’s Legislative Agenda introduced by the Speaker.

Last year, Dogara had promised to introduce a series of reforms to the budgeting process to ensure that there is more citizen participation, more disclosure on the details of the budget and to make it more responsive to the need of Nigerians, among others.

In keeping to his promise, the Speaker reminded his colleagues right on their first sitting day in 2017 that they should all up brace to embrace the budget reforms and ensure that it is implemented to the fullest.

Thus, in his speech at the resumption of the House on January 10th, the Speaker said, “We pledge to reform the budget process. To this end therefore, we would ensure that the procedure and process of consideration and passage of the 2017 Budget is transparent, inclusive and professionally handled. The details of the Budget should be debated and passed in Plenary to avoid those needless pitfalls that normally characterize the budget process.”

To underscore the importance of the reforms, the speaker set up a House Budget Reform Committee to ensure that the  listed objectives are met.

He explained that the committee would “undertake a thorough and holistic review of all issues relating to the Budget to ensure due process, more transparency, better accountability, openness and value for money. This Committee will comprise experts and professional organisations and will work in liaison with the Senate and the Executive branch.”

The reforms, aimed at producing, in the words of Dogara, a ”realistic, credible and lasting Budget Reform process,” will involve amending some sections of the Nigerian Constitution, such as section 318, to clearly define the financial year through which the budget must run through to ensure that its full 12 months course is completed and Section 81(1), which gives the President authority to present the estimates of revenue and expenditure ‘at any time’ within a financial year.

Dogara explained, “this is due to the imperative necessity to ensure that the budget is passed on time, before the commencement of the next financial year. This may, if necessary, require that a budget time frame be included in the Constitution to bind both The Executive and Legislature,” he added.

More importantly, to avoid distortion of facts concerning “insertion of projects in the budget” by members of the National Assembly who want their constituencies to benefit from the budget, Dogara moved for an extensive stakeholder consultation at the executive level during preparation of the Budget so that both the legislators and members of the executive are aware of projects that are reflected in the budget accordingly.

The Speaker noted that, “there must be a robust pre-budget interface between the Executive and Legislature, to reduce areas of friction during the Appropriation process. Indeed, the National Assembly should be consulted on issues of project selection. In any case, even though there is both constitutional and practical need and imperative for the National Assembly to work in a cooperative manner with the Executive on Budgeting matters, nevertheless, it cannot give up its constitutionally assigned responsibilities in the budget process in the guise of seeking cooperation with the Executive branch. The watchword is cooperation not abdication.”

He continued, “Projects that are admitted to the National Budget are not properly thought through and based on actual need with relevant spread to reflect federal character of Nigeria. This entails that project selection process must be more transparent, need based and technically driven with justification. Discretionary and whimsical selection of projects must be downplayed.”

On transparency of the process among the lawmakers, he assured that the reform of the process of the passage of the Appropriation Act in the National Assembly will ensure “more openness and transparency, especially at the Committee levels. The plenary of both House should be more involved in the Schedule to the Appropriation Act.”

In recognition of the need for capacity building for all parties involved in the budgetary process, Dogara moved that the technical capacity of both the bureaucracy and members of both the executive and legislative branch on budget matters is deliberately beefed up. He said, “We must as a legislature ensure during this session that the National Assembly Budget and Research Office, Bill (NABRO) is finally passed and signed into Law, to provide timely and accurate financial and economic information to the Legislature.”

For stakeholders outside the National Assembly, Dogara is ensuring that they will be part of the process  in a form of public hearing. “Subjecting the annual budget to public scrutiny at National Assembly will give stakeholders opportunity to make their inputs and challenge incorrect assumptions in the Budget. This process will involve the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other professional bodies. The National Assembly will benefit from the research skills of various CSOs and the technical expertise of professional bodies at the enactment stage of the Appropriation Bill. I am aware that many CSOs scrutinise the Budget yearly and usually point out areas of duplications and wastages. We need to institutionalise this mechanism,” he stated.

After directing that public hearing be held on the budget, in addition to the budget defence exercise by various Committees for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, the Speaker also directed that the Report of the Committees decisions on the Budget is endorsed by at least 2/3rd of members respectively to foster inclusion.

While the committees of the House continue with oversight visits of the various ministries, departments and agencies of government with a view to appraising the performance of the 2016 budget and conduct of budget defense of the 2017 budget, it is safe to state that the reforms applied in the 2017 budget preparation by the House of Representatives will make it one of the best copies ever produced.

“We must brace up and work assiduously and conscientiously to give Nigerians a budget that will not only lift us out of recession but kick start the needed expeditious journey into Nigeria’s prosperity.  We pledge to reform the budget process. To this end therefore, we would ensure that the procedure and process of consideration and passage of the 2017 Budget is transparent, inclusive and professionally handled. The details of the Budget should be debated and passed in Plenary to avoid those needless pitfalls that normally characterize the budget process,” Dogara charged.

 

Adesuwa Tsan is Chief Press Secretary to Speaker Yakubu Dogara and tweets via @TsanAdesuwa 

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