Expected Milestones For The Incoming Administration, By Ako Abbah

The coming of a new era in Nigeria with the election of a new president of the federal republic of Nigeria in the person of General Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR brings a sigh of relief and hope for the common Nigerian, who expects a Change in the way the government is run, a Change in the behavioural attitudes of Nigerians and a Change in the way the world see us.

Revamping the Economy: Since the new government is coming at a time that the finances of the country is very low, with a debt profile of over $63 billion, Nigerians expect to see the following in the first few months in office:

Good Governance: There is dire need to reorganize the civil service to curb corruption and inefficiencies. I suggest the incoming government look into the Dr. Stephen Oronsanye and Gen. TY Danjuma’s reports to address this perennial problems and entrench good governance. There will be need to down size the civil service through a competence assessment or given a choice to be deployed to the agricultural sector with take-off grants and monthly stipends, since there is need to diversify into Agriculture and mining to boost our economy. There is need to reduce the number of MDAs to reduce cost of governance. The Servicom Act needs to be reviewed and empowered to improve service delivery nationwide.

Energy: The incoming government should look into building refineries in all geo-political zones and fix the existing ones to provide enough energy to run our vehicles and power our houses. We need to build Modular Refineries, which can be built in six months, to take care of our immediate needs and remove fuel subsidy to halt fuel importation and unhealthy payment of subsidy. We should also look at other alternative source of generating power like solar, wind and bio-fuel.

There is need to probe the oil marketers and bring those involved in ruining our economy to justice.

Infrastructure: Though the economy is on the low, there is need to review some of the infrastructural contracts awarded by the out-going administration special amongst them is the 2nd Niger bridge. That bridge can be constructed under the cost of N15b like the Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge in Lagos of about the same length which was constructed with less funds. There is need to increase infrastructure in telecommunication (broadband) to give access to everyone to the internet and better mobile network. Even though the incoming administration did not get an overwhelming support from the South-East, I will like to suggest that the new administration do what past administrations which they supported has not done for them. This will be completing the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, Onitsha-Owerri and Enugu-Port-Harcourt Expressways to give the common man in the south-east the dividend of good governance and not by appointments, which is usually to the benefit of the Appointee and his immediate family. This will also change the perception of governance to show the people who didn’t vote for you in the South and Eastern States that you represent their interest as much as the people who voted for you. There is dire need to review our procurement cost, since our cost of contracts is way too high than what is obtainable outside the shores of this country. This will curb corruption and save the country some money.

Education: Our educational system is at the verge of collapse. Our public schools needs to be revamped to surpass its previous glory. Teachers needs to be reassessed and unqualified be redeployed to either farming or other skilled jobs, which will be sponsored by the government. Highly qualified hands, like second class and above graduates, be sent to schools to teach. Private schools should be discouraged and provide free public schools from Primary to Secondary. This will further increase the spirit of patriotism amongst the citizenry and reduce corruption amongst workers. Scholarship should also be encouraged to promote excellence in our schools especially at the tertiary institutions. There is also need to revive the Technical Schools to close up the technical skills gap of the populace and further empower the citizenry to create jobs and sustainable development

Health: I suggest we look at the British model of healthcare to revamp our health system. We need a health system that works for all class. Medical practitioners under government payroll should be stopped from private practice. That is one major way to bring seriousness and hard work to the public health sector. Provision of genuine drugs and equipment is a panacea to bringing life to our hospitals and clinics around the country.

Agriculture and Mining: there are so many people working in the civil service and teaching that are not contributing any meaningful thing to the government should be redeployed to farming and mining. The Mining sector needs to be liberalized and opened up to create jobs and revenue for the country. We have vast lands uncultivated and in the face of dwindling oil prices, we cannot afford to keep depending on one major source of revenue. These will no doubt create more jobs and sustainable development. The Agricultural policy by Minister Akinwunmi Adesina, who just won AfDB Presidency, should be sustained and improved.

Transportation: our transportation system is unorganized and in most cases, run by touts. We should organize our commercial vehicles to load with timings and encourage designated Bus Stops and Phone-In Cabs. Investments in railway will reduce cars on our roads and cost of energy. It will also encourage physical and health exercises as people will have to walk short distance to get a bus or train to their destinations at stipulated times. Traffic rules will have to be enforced to protect lives and time. People can’t be crossing roads anywhere and anyhow. You can’t just stop a taxi anywhere and cause traffic jam. You can’t beat traffic light and go free, a ticket will be sent to your house or bill awaits you during vehicle papers renewal. This can be achieved with a comprehensive data on all Nigerians and the use of cameras not police officers jumping into people’s cars and demanding money.

Niger-Delta: I want to encourage the new administration to continue on the policies of the past administration like the Amnesty programme and continuous development of the Niger-Delta. Community Projects should be established rather than government dulling out cash to them, which they spend on drinks and women mostly. Schools, roads, hospitals and other social amenities should be provided and they should be taught skills that will keep providing income for them and their family.

Security: A reorganization of our security apparatus should be done without delay. Most of the Service Chiefs and Paramilitary Heads including the State Security Department that played partisan politics should be removed and disciplined to serve as a deterrent to others. The Act setting up the EFCC and ICPC be reviewed to reduce the influence of the police in the running of agencies and their leadership be sacked to pave way for new and vibrant bloods to take over. I have no doubt that the military has the capacity to defeat Boko Haram if given the right leadership and this is very eminent.

Databank: Nigeria has been run without proper and adequate data for too long. There is need to harmonise the data with Nigeria Immigration Service, INEC, NIMC with the National Bureau of Statistics to provide institutions with real-time information on all Nigerians and foreigners in Nigeria. There is also urgent need to re-introduce the Addressing and Postal Codes to give everyone proper identity.

Value Re-Orientation: All Nigerians need value reorientation. A change of thinking and character.


Ako Abbah is a Civil Servant and writes from Abuja. He can be reached on akoabbah47@yahoo.com, 08036001627, @akoabbah

A Work-plan for President Buhari By Mukhtar Jarmajo

In the aftermath of the 28th March, 2015 presidential election, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was declared winner and returned elected. By this therefore, Buhari is today inaugurated and sworn-in as Nigeria`s president for the next four-year constitutional tenure. And doubtlessly, he will inherit a Nigeria so much similar to the one he usurped from Shehu Shagari at the twilight of 1983.

Like then, there is nothing to write home today about Nigeria`s economy. Buhari will inherit a virtually empty treasury. Ditto, on health, education, water, electricity and infrastructures, there is nothing tangible enough to mention here. The only difference Buhari will find between now and 1983 however, is there is no more khaki to put-on and therefore the atmosphere of the power corridor and the process involved in running the affairs of government may be very unusual to him.

Whatever the differences may be however, if the “converted democrat” is ready for the job at Aso-Rock Villa, sooner than later Nigerians will begin to reap the seed we saw at the just concluded polls. It is thus hoped that Muhammadu Buhari didn’t join the race to Nigeria`s presidency without meticulously studying and comprehending our problems.

It is hoped that Buhari contested the presidency only after identifying the solutions to our problems and thereby found himself able and capable of steering the affairs of Nigeria in contemporary times. Buhari cannot make miracles but can make wonders by being at his best all day. And by employing people of equal strength, commitment and most importantly fear of God as lieutenants, the new president will only be on the way to bring the much yearned change here.

Nigerians have through the ballot box asserted with loud voice our desire for a paradigm shift from these days of so much uncertainty to those of stability. Therefore, we expect so much from President Buhari. Thankfully, he is aware of this high expectation as he rightly mentioned on the 26th February, 2015 in an address at Chatham House, London. Thus, as the tall gap-toothed Buhari assumes power today, he is expected to hit the ground running.

First, the Buhari regime is expected to begin the fight against corruption today because “if Nigeria doesn’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.” Corruption, which has eaten deep into Nigeria`s public space, is like poison coated with sugar. It is very sweet to ingest but mortally dangerous to the entire human species. It is an aspect of indiscipline which should be fought with all the ammunitions at our Arsenal. In doing this, it is significant Buhari understands the need to lead by example.

For instance, the president should say no to any gifts and there after ban government officials and senior citizens from receiving it. The president should demonstrate to Nigerians that honesty is the best policy. We must therefore learn not to bend rules, create short-cuts and or cheat. Only this way will we begin making efforts at bringing the desired change to Nigeria.

Also, we expect to see serious improvement in the security matters of this nation as soon as possible. This is simply bringing the matter of insurgency to the fore. If Nigeria is to be secured again, Buhari must understand the need to thoroughly investigate the insurgency matter and bring to book whoever is found an accomplice no matter their connections. This can be done through establishing an international commission of enquiry involving Nigeria`s neighbors to justly look into the matter. This way, the outcome of the investigation, which should be taken to The Hague, will be accepted as credible and fair by the majority.

Only then will the Nigerian intelligence community, Army and Police restore its lost glory. Much the same, only then will we be sure of the safety of our lives and property. And because peace guarantees effective economic activities, if the President restores the security of Nigeria, he will indirectly be making efforts at revamping our economy. However, resuscitating Nigeria`s economy at this critical point in time takes more than that.

Today Nigeria depends largely on crude oil for revenue. And as indicated earlier, the oil sector is one of the corruption infested sub-sectors of Nigeria`s economy. Thus in an attempt at stabilizing our economy, the president should aside sanitizing the oil sector, make concerted efforts at diversifying it. Nigeria is blessed with vast arable land and other natural resources. Government should therefore show willingness and facilitate the exploration of such resources to create employment opportunities and thus make the economy healthier.

Meanwhile, even with economy diversification and exploration of other natural resources, without adequate electricity supply, the economy can never stabilize. Buhari is sadly inheriting a nation that has been in virtual darkness for almost two weeks. He is thus expected to within the shortest possible time resuscitate the power sector so that the economy will witness some boost and Nigerians will get out of darkness.

Other ways of revamping the nation`s economy include establishing policies that discourage importation and encourage exportation, blocking leakages in running government and regulating trips to international countries including Mecca for Hajj/Lesser-Hajj and Jerusalem for pilgrimage. For instance, no one should be allowed to go for pilgrimage to either Jerusalem or Mecca twice in six years and Lesser-Hajj twice in three years.

Another sector which the new regime is expected to give so much attention is that of education. Indeed, given that the future of any nation solely relies on how its youth were nurtured, the new regime should as a matter of urgency take very serious measures to brighten Nigeria`s future. Frankly speaking however, there is no quick fix as far as education was concerned. So the new regime it is hoped, will invest so much time, energy and resources in the education sector to better it`s lot.

Obviously, there are issues relating to learning environment, instruction materials, training and retraining of teachers to improve their capacity and many more that are bedeviling the education sector. Therefore the Buhari/Osinbajo administration should despite the economic situation in the country, try as much as possible source funds to begin revamping the education sector in earnest.

Aside all this that require urgency, Buhari also should consider the idea of leadership recruitment. Indeed, young men with potentials should be brought to power corridor to learn and have firsthand experience about the challenges involved in leadership. This is with a view to preparing them as leaders of a future Nigeria. This is to preclude Nigeria from having accidental leaders in the future.

Jarmajo is on Twitter: @mukhtarjarmajo


President Buhari: Dead End Or The Rebirth Of A Nation? By Chido Onumah

“We can’t continue to search the branches of a sick tree for the cause of its sickness.” – African Proverb

As history unfolds in Nigeria, it does appear that “the more things change the more they remain the same”. As a military dictator, thirty two years ago, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), truncated Nigeria’s Second Republic which was reputed for its scandalous corruption. That intervention lasted twenty months. Today, Buhari will be sworn in as the fourth elected president of Nigeria since the country’s return to civil rule in 1999, replacing a government that was associated with monumental corruption.

The transition from Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) to President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) has taken thirty years from when he was overthrown in a palace coup in August 1985. The expectations are high for the new president considering how corruption and years of ineffectual leadership have blighted a once promising country. But will anything change? Of course, it depends on the people you ask, where they come from and what interest they represent.

Personally, I don’t think it will be “business as usual”, at least on a private level, for Nigeria’s oldest president. Beyond his foibles – alleged provincialism and antecedent as a military dictator – Buhari is famed for his asceticism. President Buhari, 73 in December, obviously is a man who has seen it all. I agree completely that leadership is important and that Nigeria needs a strong and purposeful leader. Chances are that President Buhari will not toe the line of malevolent accumulation which has been the hallmark of leadership in Nigeria. He can bring this discipline to bear in the way Nigeria is governed in the next four years.

Candidate Buhari campaigned on the track record of integrity and anti-corruption. It is understandable, therefore, if Nigerians expect, and indeed, demand from him an end to the bleeding as far as corruption is concerned. Even though he has promised to draw a line between past malfeasance and the new order, I think there are a few politically exposed persons – both within the new government and the opposition – who ought to stand trial for their egregious financial crimes against the country whether as presidents, governors, ministers, lawmakers or contractors.

Indeed, President Buhari does not need to entangle himself in the debate about whether to probe certain ministers and individuals or not which dominated the political space preceding his inauguration. All he needs to do if he is serious about fighting corruption is to empower and make truly independent the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other state agencies responsible for tackling corruption. That way, he extricates himself from the “politics of fighting corruption”.

But looking at the big picture, is this intervention enough to pull Nigeria back from the brink? Nigeria, like many Facebook relationship updates, is complicated. Buhari rode to power at the behest of some people for whom what took place on Election Day, March 28, was nothing but state capture. The fundamental concerns will be how he navigates the interest of this group, his vision of a “new Nigeria”, the interest of millions of disillusioned and deprived citizens, but more important the lack of existential confidence in the nation Nigeria.

Nigeria is a nightmare. Ours is a country of many internal antagonisms and seemingly irreconcilable contradictions. These contradictions define our daily existence and relationship with one another; the antagonisms manifest in the mad quest for political power by individuals and power blocs within the country and ultimately their attitude to the nation’s resources. Reputed as one of the most corrupt nations in the world, Nigeria offers very little hope for self-fulfillment and survival.

Many have argued, and rightly so, that corruption remains perhaps Nigeria’s biggest problem. The hope, therefore, is that President Buhari, “Mr. Anti-corruption”, can deal with corruption and get the Nigerian state to function. So, why has the Nigerian state been unable to tame corruption and why has the state itself defied many attempts to make it functional? The answer is simple: we can’t have a functional state without a functional nation. Clearly, we can’t witness the rebirth of this nation, and by extension the Nigerian state, without unmaking Nigeria. In unmaking Nigeria, we have to deal with the fundamental fault lines that throw our nation into episodic convulsions and define our attitude to our common patrimony.

So while we bask in the euphoria of “change”, we necessarily have to rethink Nigeria. Nigerians must have this conversation not minding the intimidation, blackmail and threats routinely issued by those for whom this nation is a “perfect union”. There is an undeniable link between national identity and development. As Francis Fukuyama notes in his book, Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy, “Critical to the success of state building is a parallel process of nation building.” This is the missing puzzle in Nigeria’s quest for development.

The deep-seated corruption in Nigeria is fundamentally structural. Therefore, we have to dig a little further if we really want to tame this canker. Here again, I refer to Fukuyama’s seminal work and his assertion that, “Much of what passes for corruption is not simply a matter of greed but rather the by-product of legislators or public officials who feel more obligated to family, tribe, religion or ethnic group than to the national community and therefore divert money in that direction. They are not necessarily immoral people, but their circle of moral obligation is smaller than that of the polity for which they work.”

What I think Fukuyama is saying in essence is that you can’t deal with entrenched corruption as is the case in some parts of the world without first dealing with the crisis of identity or nationhood. There is no better proof of this notion than the nation Nigeria where the resource that ought to serve our collective purpose and need is pillaged because in the end, nobody really owns it.

It is for this reason that our rulers gratuitously stash billions of dollars – money they may never have access to – in foreign bank accounts; it explains why they would buy and invest in choice property – property they many never live in – around the world. It explains why the president of the federal republic can conveniently make a distinction between “stealing and corruption”; why when a governor or a minister is accused of corruption, for example, his or her “people” will rise in defence. They seem to be saying, “We know Minister A or Governor X is a thief, but he or she is our own thief.”

Essentially, the state, and by extension governance in Nigeria, is about how much of the “national cake” our politicians and rulers can appropriate for themselves and their “people,” not about service to the nation because the nation simply does not exist in their moral universe.

Undoubtedly, Nigeria desperately needs a leader to inspire the people, but we must also have a nation for that inspiration to be meaningful. In the end, this will not be about Buhari but about Nigeria. Buhari can definitely make a difference. If he doesn’t succeed, it won’t be for lack of trying.

People have to feel ownership of this contraption called Nigeria for things to work.

This piece is extracted from an upcoming book: Unmaking Nigeria: The rebirth of a nation.

conumah@hotmail.com; Twitter: @conumah

May 29th: President Jonathan and Gov. Uduaghan; Now That You Are A Commoner, Fejiro Oliver

God give us men. The time demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and willing hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie;
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking;
Tall men, sun-browned, who live above the fog
In public duty and in private thinking.

Josiah Gilbert Holland

I do not intend to mock anyone in this piece; neither do I seek to be sarcastic to the characters that will be mentioned frequently. My only aim is to speak truth to their conscience and men who will be taking their place, as well as generations yet unborn.

First, I will start with my State Governor, Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan aka Asamaigor (a title given to him by sycophants which made his head ‘swell’ up). Hello Governor, who could have thought that the power you weighed 8 years ago will leave you so soon? In less than 30 hours from now, your appellation will change from GOVERNOR to ex, immediate past and former governor, with all the apparatus of office leaving you like a magic band worn on your wrist. Few minutes from now, you will cease to be the Alpha and Omega of Delta State but join us the commoners who gave you their votes in 2007, but rather than use it to our benefit, you used it for your sycophantic friends and allies.

Yes Mr Governor, the time will tick in seconds to come when your words will no longer be law and all immunity stripped off you. Then your eyes will be opened to the real world which you tasted back then in Sido, Warri, but somehow, you allowed the spoils of office to blindfold you. With no one telling you, you will be left alone in a world of thinking to assess all the years you spent in government from 1999 and if you are true to yourself, you will nod your head saying “I led wasted years”. Let no one deceive you Sir that you led us well; for you didn’t.

Your Excellency, exactly 12 noon on the dot, the paraphernalia of office will naturally be stripped of you, and even though you would have loved to stay for just one more day, there will be no such time. It will happen like rapture on May 29th and my boss and leader, Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa (SIAO) will be wearing the shoes you ones wore and luckily for him, your shoes are not big for him to fit in, like his compatriots in Lagos and Akwa Ibom states will find hard to wear their predecessor shoes. This is the gospel truth.

Power is blind only to those who chose to make it blind them, and unfortunately you fall into such category. Due to talks by close friends and political leaders I respect, I decided to stop writing about the situations of governance in the State, but I will be doing you lots of evil if I don’t tell you this before you bid Unity House FINAL farewell, for you can never occupy there again, except a military coup take place and you are mistakenly appointed as an administrator. I used the word ‘mistakenly’ knowingly because Deltans can never pray for your type to govern her again or even be a councilor of a local government chairman.

Sir, you are a very good man, and nice to a fault, but like every hero, you chose to allow the chorus decide how you acted your part in the democratic play. It will soon dawn on you that the many friends who clustered round you while you held sway are not truly friends but fair weather ones who only seek the benefits that come with your signature. All of them will not only desert you, but they will write the petitions that will send you to jail.

As I write, I can tell you authoritatively that there are 342 petitions written against you to the anti graft agencies with some in my possession, meant to be used against you in the media. If you must know Sir, the Macaulays of this world will Brutus you and when it will happen, just seven men will stand by you, which includes the current governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa whom you never wanted to succeed you. The Funkemekes of this world who sang your praise and urged you on will be the ones to sing like canary birds when the anti corruption agents that President Muhammadu Buhari will send after you and your commissioners. If you think I am lying, wait till when you will be celebrating your next birthday and see how many of them will take pages in Newspapers or slots in broadcast houses to congratulate you. I will be among the last 7 men standing to see how you can be set free in own little ways.

I can imagine how the night of May 29th will be to you. It will be to you like nightmare with you wishing the day should never break and even God coming to take all of us to heaven, so that you will not experience what will befall you. The Press Corps whom you dole out money for will be the ones to start the first fireworks, by dishing out those little secrets they know about you to their colleagues. This time, money cannot save you, as they will be dancing to the tune of another master who controls the state purse. Such is power; very vain.

You have not only stepped on toes but have unknowingly sent some Deltans to their graves through your actions and inactions. Your last days in office can only be likened to the reign of an Emperor, whose words if not obeyed amount to having the person who disobeyed placed on gallows. But now, you will realize that when you speak as soon as you hand over, your aides will scorn you and those who once trembled at your voice will challenge you. You are leaving office in the worst of time when your party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will not be controlling the State apparatus. I sincerely pity you, but again I will stand by you.

Your Excellency, you are one man I have always known through sources as a keeper of promise, but how you decided to ignore the promise to set the young man, Moses Akpagha who was sentenced to death free still beats my imagination, despite you telling him to withdraw his appeal which he did. Sir, you have a chance with history here by setting this boy free from the hangman. You have a date with destiny to stop the execution of this boy, especially since you promised to do so. In case you don’t know, the world media is currently focused on you, and while I can assure you that the boy will be set free even if you don’t do it, you would have lost the goodwill of the world and attention of the world media that comes with it, since Amnesty International is involved. Do not miss this destiny before your hours finish counting.

On behalf of Deltans, we welcome you to our commoners’ world, where eyes are open and friends lost while in power are regained. Though you have no second chance to undo all that you have done, we hold it in our hearts that you will set up a power tutorial class to let future leaders know that power is not only vanity but ephemeral.


As President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan begged for forgiveness from Nigerians, I closed my eyes and began to rewind back to when he took over the reins of power and how he used it. Sir, I must tell you that you are a disgrace to anything called leadership, and unworthy to bear the toga of ‘Your Excellency’, because nothing about you is ever excellent.

From where do we begin to forgive you? That you gave us a New Year package of fuel subsidy removal which sparked protest and killed Nigerians? Will those you caused to go 6 feet beyond ever forgive us if we forgive you? Sir, Nigerians may forgive you, but over 50 million of us cannot and will not forgive you.

I am so glad that I was a prominent voice that saw to you being voted out of power and if given the chance again, I will do it. How can we forgive you when the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro who conducted the worst recruitment exercise that killed Nigerians during the last Nigerians Immigration Service exercise attended the last Federal Executive Council meeting (FEC) which you chaired, when he should have been sacked the moment one Nigerian died? Those bloods will never forgive us if we forgive you.

How can we forgive you after inheriting billions of dollars in our treasury and you are leaving debts for us to pay, because of you corrupt style of governance? You finally outsmarted Gen. Sani Abacha when it comes to looting, so much that we now see Abacha as a saint compared to you. Can I even forgive you when you allowed the SSS to kidnap me on the order of one of your corrupt governors, Thief Servant, Babangida Aliyu of Niger State and had me imprisoned for two weeks? Sir, even if we forgive, we can never forget but we cannot forgive you.

You will soon realize that there is difference between six and half a dozen in few hours to come, just like Gov. Uduaghan, when all your ‘friends’ will abandon you to sink to depression. We cannot forgive you when you opened our money vault to your criminal friends every Wednesday, during your FEC meetings which you turned into a contract bazaar.

From May 29th you will feel the pains we feel as a commoner and the tears we shed secretly. Then you will be welcome to the real world where the rule of law will apply and you facing charges for all your crimes against Mother Nigeria.

To all the governors that will be sworn in on Friday May 29th especially Senator Okowa, I hope you will learn to know that friends are not made when elections are won during primaries and general elections, but made before any election takes place. I hope you learn that the power you will be wielding is not yours but only kept in trust for millions of Nigerians who have a right to take it back after every 4 years. I hereby announce my humble self as the unofficial opposition person to the incoming Delta State government and other state governors.

These little things matter…

Fejiro Oliver, an Investigative Journalist, Media Consultant and Human Rights Activist is also the Co-Convener of Coalition of Human Rights Defender (CHORD) and can be reached on +2348022050733 (SMS ONLY) or secretsreporters@gmail.com. Engage him on twitter on @fejirooliver86.

Kano Will Forever Miss You Baba Kwankwaso, By Muhammad Sulaiman Abdullahi

“May your good work and pure intention follow you to wherever you will be. May your foresight, commitment, dedication and hard work never depart you. Whatever you do for the good people of Kano, may the almighty Allah reward you abundantly. May all your wishes be granted. Wherever you erred, may the almighty Allah give you the chance to notice and correct it. May your enemies come to terms to reality. Kano misses its humble, hardworking and extraordinary governor. Governor Kwankwaso II is the best thing that happened to Kano in its recent history.”

This is part of the things I hate in democracy. No matter how good you find someone to be, there must be a time for that person to vacate office. Such a person must leave his supporters stranded, thinking whether he would be the last beautiful thing to have ever happened in their life under democracy. If democracy allows people like Kwankwaso to leave an office he tremendously and enormously served, then democracy is not near to perfection. Democracy is not in any way a best way of governance. I would prefer monarchy in this regard. How I wish Kwankwaso is a monarch, someone who only death would do him apart from the Kano state government seat. I sincerely and truly pray for this guy. Wallahi he has really tried. Political myopic thought and little headedness aside, Kwankwaso is great. According to Bob Marley “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” He positively affects the lives of all Kano people. He performs almost better than all the Nigerian governors.

Despite my strong conviction that Ganduje is also equal to the task, something deep down inside me keeps on going round my mind, telling me Ganduje is not Kwankwaso. I call on the new governor to please, prove that thing going in me wrong. I want Ganduje to outsmart, surpass and outdo Kwankwaso in terms of performance. But there is something in Kwankwaso which I dearly like and appreciate. Courage, hard work, commitment, honesty, sincerity of purpose and above all, foresight. I implore you, Ganduje, please imitate all the good works of Kwankwaso and do more. Some people are of the opinion that, you will do more than Kwankwaso. Please do it. Yes, we believe, you can! There are so many other suggestions to be given to you on this regards. You can make it.

After the inauguration, all I need Ganduje to do is for him to start building a strong political empire in Kano, which will hence forth continue all the good works, which the people of Kano need. Whatever is needed in Kano, Ganduje should immediately continue doing it without any hesitation. Kano is not like any ordinary state in Nigeria. People of Kano are now advanced. Kano of 2015, is no longer the same Kano of 2011. With over 2600 foreign trained Kano youths in different fields of academic excellence, the story must have changed internationally. We now know our rights from our lefts. We will not in any way tolerate any negligence of duty. We will not even tolerate non-performance in the camouflage of anything, whatever that thing may be. What I see in Ganduje’s government is a government which will face the most serious challenge in the early 21st century history of Kano. It will be a government which will be run by a PhD holder and a Professor as governor and his deputy; a government which will be assessed by numerous seasoned potential academicians, while the overzealous politicians will never relent in their effort and quest of mediocre governance. Therefore, Ganduje has to act like a governor. He has to face all these challenges and work vigorously in order to engrave his name, his predecessor’s way.

Now in Kano, we need discipline, we need more commercial activities, we need sanity in religion and education; we need every professional and professorial sophistication which will make Kano to be the greatest nationally. On the other hands, there is infrastructural development; we need more flyovers, more light and more street lights (which consume less); more equipped hospitals and more designed and qualitative roads. Whatever is an art of development, whoever initiated it, take it and continue from there. Try and complete what Kwankwaso hasn’t finished, then start new gigantic projects in order to better the lives of the citizenry.

Mr Kwankwaso you are now an elected senator. A distinguished senator, with highest votes throughout the whole Nigeria. Your votes coincide with your capability. It is not by mere coincidence that you got it. People expect you to be better than all the senators. Continue the good work you are known, with in the Upper Chamber. We are solidly behind you wherever you go. Don’t compromise your powerful passion for justice. You are not corrupt; you hate corruption and corrupt people. Clear away all and sundry who happen to pose threat to the unity and development of this nation. We will forever miss and remember you as the most unassuming and hardworking governor of Kano state. See and hear you in the senate, Sir!.

Muhammad Sulaiman Abdullahi (Abu Hanan)

Change Is Still A Long Journey Ahead By Jude ‘Feranmi

Arise O Compatriots! Let’s celebrate the beautiful thing we have together achieved as a people. If this were to be other climes, books would have been written of how an incumbent president was unseated by a popular general who would now assume the most prestigious civilian title in the land. In scriptural imitations, what we have together done is wonderful and marvelous in our sight. Congratulations are in order as we transit from 16 years of selfish, pro-pocket, elitist rule to 4 years of what we all hope would be a direct opposite of our experiences for the past 6 years.

The hashtag #ChangeIsHere trends this week with Nigerians showcasing their sense of humor and sarcastic ability in the mood of celebrating the manifestation of the removal of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan from Aso Villa through the voting process on March 28. To be considered a Nigerian, you possess an aggressive survival instinct that exudes an ability to find humor in some of the hardest circumstances. This is understandable, but those of us who keep finding out the path to a prosperous nation day and night know that CHANGE is a long journey ahead!

The last two weeks of the Jonathan-led administration gives us an inkling of what problems Nigeria really faces, how deeply intertwined and connected they are, the difficulty of the measures to be adopted in solving them and the sacrifices that Nigerians would have to make in seeing the problems become a thing of the past. Many a Nigerian expects the Buhari Miracle. Unfortunately, that miracle might take years to manifest. Everybody including myself would love a possible world where GMB would just wave a wand and all our problems would disappear, but such a possible world is epistemologically and metaphysically impossible.

Fellow Countrymen, this is a few things we should not forget in the midst of our celebrations and felicitations, CHANGE does not come in a day, nor does it come in a decade. Most times, CHANGE comes gradually. It took Lee Kuan Yew 35 years to turn Singapore into a success story he could write about after he was booted out of Malaysia with people of different tongues and backgrounds.

Now that we have successfully booted out those who think the luxury of power is the end of it, and we now have a party whose slogan is CHANGE, the greatest mistake we would make is sitting down and watching whether what we hoped for would materialize. We did not kick out PDP by sitting down, watching and hoping. This CHANGE of the people occupying the positions of power, the only CHANGE we have so achieved was not gotten by wishes and painting fantasies. We took ACTION. If we would achieve the true CHANGE; in our standard of living, in our industrialization figures, in the unemployment rates, in the level of corruption, ACTION and not sitting and watching and hoping, is what need to take.

Itemizing what the incoming government has to do will be boring you with rhetoric. However, I need to itemize one thing that we, the people, need to do. Demanding for good governance is priority. Without an active citizenry, a lot can go unnoticed and the government would be seen to be trying their best while we remain the way we are. One thing we should not forget is the capacity of the ruling party to maximize the media. The kind of Nigeria we get is the kind of Nigeria we demand. Favorable policies will not make themselves. When we keep reminding the ruling party that it is the people’s mandate that brought them into office, Only then would we achieve the true CHANGE that reflects in the average Nigerian’s life.

Jude ‘Feranmi can be engaged on twitter @juded27

The Current State Of The Nation: A sad Commentary On The Last Sixteen Years By Jaye Gaskia

Let me begin by explaining a personal dilemma. Since the conclusion of the March 28th Presidential and National Assembly elections and the trumping defeat handed to the outgoing ruling [some, among them myself, will say ruining] party, by the now incoming self-styled ‘governing party’; a victory resoundingly confirmed in the subsequent State level elections two weeks later; I have tried my possible best to refrain from critiquing the continuing mis-governance of the incumbent government.

I had felt, and still feel that there would be no use literally flogging a dead horse! Nevertheless the deepening crisis of bad governance and the rapid unraveling of the transformation agenda in the last few weeks compel one to speak. And to speak out loudly not so much because one loves to dissipate energy flogging a dead horse, but in order that in-coming horse can hopefully take a different path and avoid the fate of the now over flogged dead horse.

In the few weeks since the general elections were won and lost our nation has been thrown from pillar to post, pilloried by the intensified storms of adversity. It is as if the nation is now running on auto-pilot, as if there is no government in place! The situation has been so bad, and is still deteriorating so steeply that many citizens have wondered what would be left of this nation and her people were the PDP and the outgoing regime to have won another four years mandate.

How did we get to this sorry state? In the twilight of the sixteen years of the PDP inclusive of six years of the GEJ presidency, on virtually all major critical fronts we are back to where we took off from in 1999 at the inception of the 4th Republic. And in some significant instances we have been taken even beyond the low levels of 1999.

It is that bad. Take for instance the argument over the national debt profile. The in-coming government says it will be inheriting a $60bn debt portfolio. The out-going government through its de-facto Prime Minister and coordinating minister of the economy comes out to say the debt stock is actually $63bn, but it is infact the total debt stock since independence in 1960, and furthermore, the GEJ government incurred only $21bn of that stock.

Now this is amazing coming from the same person whose claim to fame and economic wizardry lies in the fact that she successfully negotiated the pay off and write off of our national debt before 2006. In fact as a result of that deal we paid up in cash and at once $12bn in exchange for the forgiveness and write-off of the remaining $18bn.

So how come this current debt stock is the total debt stock from independence? And regardless of whether this current total debt stock is since independence or post debt forgiveness and therefore since 2007; the fact that the GEJ administration is responsible for $21bn of the $63bn is very significant. The implication of these is that if it was from 1960, the GEJ regime alone accumulated over 33% of the total debt; that is in 6 years out of a total of 55 years since independence.

Whichever way you look at it, it is another one of the indicators of the level of wanton profligacy of the Jonathan administration.

Secondly, we all now fully know that under the watch of this administration and as a further since of its congenital profligate nature we exhausted both our external reserves which came down from over $60bn in 2007 to less than $30bn by 2014; as well as our Excess Crude Account, which came down from $10bn as at Dec 2013 to below $2bn as at January 2015 for instance.

Now the case of the Excess Crude Account is even more worrisome. This is the account created to save for the raining days proceeds from sale of crude oil above the Benchmark in the annual budget. So let us do some mathematics. In the Jonathan years, for at least 5 of those 6 years crude oil sold for not less than $110 per barrel, whereas the annual benchmark never exceeded $80 per barrel.

The implication of this is if we assume a daily sales of an average of 1.5 million barrels of crude oil, over 300 days a year, over 5 years; and multiply this by an average daily excess of $30 per barrel, the total amount of money we get should be what is the total inflow into the Excess Crude Account throughout the Jonathan years. [1.5 (million barrels) multiplied by 360 (days) multiplied by 5 (years) multiplied by $30 = $81bn].

What does this mean in concrete terms? It means that as at May 2014 the total in flow into the Excess Crude Account out to have been $81bn, but what was in fact in that account as of that date was about $7bn which had been drawn down to $3bn by Dec of that same year, and which is now less than $2bn since then. I will leave us to make our own deductions with respect to the profligate and rapacious treasury looting capacity of this regime in particular and the entire ruling class in general given that this money was shared and looted by all the tiers of the government in contravention of relevant laws over these several years.

And because both the outgoing and incoming ruling parties participated in varying degrees in this dance of the insane, that is why we must take this promised change with a large dose of cautious optimism backed by eternal vigilance.

Let us now shift our focus to the combined energy crisis that has shut down the country and put her people in a state of National lock down.

At the inception of the 4th Republic in May 1999 the PDP inherited actual and available power generation capacity of about 2,500mw, and a national grid transmission capacity of about 4,000mw. Well 16 years down the line and after spending $40bn on investments in power generation, along with the unbundling of PHCN and the privatization of the power sector; what do we have?

As of May 22nd total available and transmitted power was down to 1,400mw. Additionally we have also witnessed a total and comprehensive collapse of the national grid.

According to NERC of the 23 power plants across the country 18 had to shut down completely and were not generating any power at all. These was due to a combination of reasons including ageing and increasing dilapidation of the transmission and national grid facilities, as well as inadequate [due to pipelines vandalisation] or non-availability of gas supply [due to workers strikes in the sector].

A number of issues are cogent here. First the grand scale and scope of corruption in the power sector reform process that has ensured that after injection of $40bn into increasing power generation, the result is that today all of the power plants, including independent power projects cannot generate more than a combined 6,000 to 8,000mw. The same level of corruption has ensured that the Gencos and Discos were fraudulently sold to and bought by cronies who had no technical expertise in power generation or distribution, and who took loans from our banks to effect payments for the fraudulent bids they made and won.

Another related issue is the parlous state of the transmission capacity and national grid. This national grid has not undergone any significant upgrading or refurbishment in three decades. And all the inchoate and frenzied attempts over the last decade or so to overload the grid with generated power has only further led to the weakening of the integrity of the grid, and rapid decline in its transmission capacity. This was a major reason to trigger the last collapse of the national grid which was triggered when a load of a mere 1,900mw was going to put and transmitted on it.

In fact over the last 5 years we have witnessed on the average 18 to 20 system collapses annually, with 80% of this being total collapses.

This lack of upgrade or maintenance of the national grid is responsible for the situation of frequent failures and collapses; and the consequent incremental decline in its transmission capacity is why even if all the power generation projects and plants were completed and working at full capacity and generating say 10,000 to 20,000mw combined today, it would still be impossible to evacuate and transmit the generated power and there will be no improvement in the power situation overall.

It takes a combination of three interrelated factors to achieve sustainable improvement in the power sector: adequate generation capacity which for the size of our economy ought to be at least over 30,000mw; adequate transmission capacity, which for a generation capacity of 30,000mw ought to be at least about 35,000mw; as well as robust distribution infrastructure.

As usual blinded by corruption, powered by impunity, we have placed the cart before the horse, and have developed a power transformation road map that is imbalanced and irrational; over focusing on power generation, eager to reap distribution booties without any thought at all for transmission and how to evacuate the generated power.

Relatedly also, why depend on gas fired power plants when you cannot guarantee gas supplies to the plants? And instead of establishing specialized trained units of the armed forces to undertake pipelines protection and the protection of other critical national infrastructure, the Jonathan presidency decides to outsource this critical national duty in lucrative seedy contracts to cronies, ex-militant generals and militia warlords.

And now the other leg of the energy crisis, the fuel scarcity saga. The near shut down of the economy occasioned by non-availability, scarcity and outrageous black market pricing for PMS, Diesel, and Aviation fuel is the most significant evidence that buttresses our point that due to the parlous state of power generation and availability in the country, petroleum products to power generators and the transportation system have unwittingly become transformed into factors, and in fact major factors of production, rather than consumption.

The high cost of fuel, and the near total dependent of citizens on independent self-generated power through generators for business, industrial and domestic use is a major contributant to the high cost of doing business in Nigeria, and the abysmally low levels of industrial capacity utilization. It is why businesses close down, reduce their operations and lay off of workers; and it is therefore a major factor in growing unemployment in the nation.

And corruption and impunity that drives it is the major reason why our refineries are not working and why we are dependent on importation of refined petroleum products to meet our domestic needs by more than 90%. In fact we are the only OPEC member country to be this totally dependent on imported refined petroleum products. Across OPEC, the average figure is that 80% of domestic needs in refined products are met through domestic refining; the near exact opposite of our own situation.

Let me illustrate the pervasive corruption; for instance in 2010 the nation paid subsidy on 33 million litres per day of petrol; however this figure irrationally short up to 60 million litres per day in 2011, and came down again after the outcry occasioned by the January Uprising of 2012 to 40 million litres per day in 2012, and 38 million litres per day in 2013. Similarly number of importers short up unexplainably from less than 60 in 2010 to 170 in 2011, and came down again to about 70 in 2012.

The fact is that these figures came down and yet no one was punished; not the marketers, nor the different officials of the respective MDAs who enabled this to happen, nor the political office holders who super intended over these sordid affairs.

We have said before, and we need to reiterate it, we have no business importing refined products. We need to quickly develop adequate domestic refining capacity and identify and severely punish economic saboteurs and criminals responsible for the failure of our refineries and abusing the subsidy regime. The proceeds of crime should also be seized along with recovery of looted funds.

In the interim, it is possible and desirable to do away with the subsidy regime without increasing prices. The best to do this is to negotiate crude for refined products swap deals utilizing the 444,000 barrels per day of crude allocated for domestic consumption.

To conclude, after 16 years of the 4th Republic, we are in the midst our worst economic crisis for decades; we have found ourselves right at the center of a combined energy crisis, with fuel scarcity combining to deepened an already bad power situation to produce a near shut down of the economy and a lock down of its citizens.

The unfolding crisis of absent governance of the last six weeks is turning out to be a sad commentary on 16 years of PDP stewardship of the economy and an epitaph on the years of the locusts.

The in-coming government and ruling party will do well to learn the appropriate lessons; otherwise the same fate shall befall it, and this time much quicker than the last time.





The 5 Things Buhari Must Do To Make Us Trust And Hope Again By Kayode Ogundamisi

Nigerians are extremely patient; you won’t be making a mistake if you come to the conclusion that Nigerians are genetically modified to tolerate a mediocre government and still be thankful to this same government for providing services that it is their duty to provide.

It is not unusual to hear Nigerians say, “We know he stole but at least he did something”. To these Nigerians a public office holder is expected to steal but not too much, or, if he steals a vast amount he should ‘sow something’ either by investing the stolen MONEY in the country or invest the funds in pursuit of a political agenda, the logic is at least some of it will trickle down to the ordinary man.

The election of General Muhammadu Buhari is unique in a number of ways but the most obvious is the platform that brought Buhari into the Presidency because it is a coalition of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Take General Buhari and very few individuals out of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and you will be left with nothing but a perfect copy of the outgoing ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). So for many who supported the candidacy of General Buhari and elected officials under the platform of the APC it is cautious optimism.

Across the land Nigerians have hope but even as they hope, they remember history; they see the same buccaneers now kowtow to Buhari.

Standing amid members of the oil subsidy cabal, characters who became billionaires as a result of unfair monopoly bequeathed by the state and politicians who brought Nigeria to its sorry state, Buhari cuts the picture of a lonely man, a spotless patriot surrounded by people with dubious hidden agendas.

How Buhari deals with these contradictions will define his Presidency. While in the past Nigerians have seemed to be genetically modified to excuse failure and incompetence, the GOODLUCK Jonathan Presidency changed that notion. Nigerians now know that not only can they not afford bad governance and cluelessness; they also have the power to challenge it and hold those in public office to account.

The Buhari Presidency is inheriting a damaged country. Nigeria’s economy is in ruins, thanks to incompetence, mismanagement and corruption. The country has massive internal and external debts, dwindling foreign reserves, a local CURRENCY whose value continues to slide and low international demand for the product that is its biggest earner of foreign exchange, oil. The country suffers from chronic insecurity, the terrorist Boko Haram group continues its rampage in the North East, armed robbers and kidnappers continue to terrorize other parts of the country and impunity is commonplace.

There is institutional decay, the judiciary is in shambles, the civil service is bloated and lazy and there is a total dearth of social infrastructure.

Worse still, Buhari is also inheriting a highly suspicious citizenry who will understandably be impatient and want to see almost instant ‘change’. Four years ago they were promised a “breath of fresh air” by the outgoing Government but instead received foul air in return, they were promised transformation but the government only altered the lives of praise-singers and hangers-on, they were promised security but over eighteen thousand Nigerians had their lives illicitly terminated by terrorists. The outgoing Government promised Nigerians a united country but ended up dividing Nigerians along religious, ethnic and primordial lines. Under these circumstances, it is not likely that this time around Nigerians will give the incoming government a long rope.

What Buhari should/must do.


Country before Self:

The first task before President Buhari is to recognize the fact that Nigeria and Nigerians are more important than him; he should see his Presidency as a collection of servants, appointed and entrusted by the people to SERVE them.

The interest of Nigeria and Nigerians should come first in every decision he makes. He (Buhari) is a symbol of the collective will of the Nigerian people to overcome every challenge; he must resist every temptation to betray the people’s trust.


Derive Power from the People:

President Buhari should derive power from the Nigerian people, those who voted for him, those who did not vote for him and the citizens who did not trust the system enough to vote. He should reject every attempt by vested interests to hijack his presidency including his coalition of good, bad and ugly. If he builds his foundation on the Nigerian people, they will protect, defend and fight for and with him.


Beware of Sycophants and Praise singers:

The Nigerian Presidency is a powerful organ, very soon President Buhari will be told he’s next to God, in fact some will go as far as saying he is ‘God’.

READ: The only title the APC didn’t give Amaechi in this tribute is “king of kings and lord of lords”

He needs to avoid praise-singers and sycophants, that is, the Achilles heel of most public office holders. The real friends of the President would be those who can stare at him straight in the face and tell him when he’s going wrong or taking the right decision but at the wrong time.


Say the Truth At All Times:

The Buhari Presidency should avoid SPIN-doctors, Nigerians needs a Government that will level with them, tell them the truth no matter how bitter. Nigerians want to know the true state of their economy and the true state of the health of those who govern them. They want a transparent government that will not use the Nigerian Television Authority as a propaganda tool, or go into alliance with corrupt members of the 4th estate of the realm to deceive them.

Nigerians expect General Buhari to say it as it is and be truthful to them. They have been lied to time and again that they have lost hope in Nigeria, it is his task to rekindle it

Do as I do, not Do as I say.

President Buhari is expected to lead by example and compel those he has influence over to do the same.

Nigerians cannot and should not be asked to tighten their belts whilst those in public office live a life of luxury. We expect Public Servants to be considerate in spending the resources of the people, cut down on waste and be prudent.

The list of what Buhari can and should do is endless but we are hopeful that by the end of his first term he would have restored confidence in Government, built the trust between the Government and the Governed, restore law and order, built stronger institutions that will outlive him and outlive every Nigerian and finally SAVE Nigeria from the shackles of the 1% who have continuously enslaved Nigerians.

If Buhari can put Nigeria before Buhari, Nigerians will have every reason to TRUST again and be hopeful of a country that will serve all and of which everyone will be proud to call home.

– Follow this writer on Twitter: @ogundamisi

Economy: Okonjo-Iweala’s Hidden Figures By Governor Adams Oshiomhole

As the country transits from one democratic dispensation to another, there is no gainsaying that the state of the nation’s economy is the focal point, especially with the unending fuel scarcity, which is gradually grinding the nation to a halt. No doubt, the best person to explain the state of the economy today is Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Honorable Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, whose management of the nation’s resources in these past four years has elicited different reactions from Nigerians.

As a member of the National Economic Council, I had spoken out at different times at NEC meetings and even in public on the way the economy is managed under Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, again, I want to share my views with the public on some of the issues affecting the Nigerian nation.

Recently, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Honorable Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy (CME) has been all over the place, pointing in the wrong directions and blaming everybody but herself for the parlous state of the Nigerian economy.  Coming after her deafening silence on the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) audit of NNPC crude oil sales and receipts, which revealed massive abuse of public trust and stealing of our common patrimony in high places under her watch and the government she serves, it is quite intriguing that with barely few days left in office, she has suddenly woken up from her slumber to realize that oil marketers have been all along falsifying subsidy claims and defrauding the nation of billions of naira and dollars.

This latter day “policy activism” on her part deserves closer scrutiny and interrogation. Perhaps for fear of the incoming President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, come May 29, 2015, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is now compelled to disclose to Nigerians that a cabal is holding the country and the government to ransom.  Beside the abuse of the subsidy regime, we will insist that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala also comes clean on some other critical issues that demand accountability from her and her office.

According to Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, after paying N156 billion to the oil marketers, the marketers came with another claim of N200 billion, which includes a N159 billion coming not from actual supply of fuel but from exchange rate differentials.  This resulted in a prolonged bickering that led to the current nation-wide fuel scarcity and total blackout.

The question to ask is: how come that it is now, for the first time, that we are hearing from the Minister of Finance about fraudulent claims by the oil marketers amounting to billions of Naira? At what point did the Minister of Finance and CME realize that these fraudulent and similar claims are going on? When did it start? Is it just recently or it has been going on all along? These questions are pertinent because we know that if the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) were doing its work diligently, all claims by oil marketers would be vetted on a daily basis before the Ministry of Finance processes their payments. Hence, there should be no dispute about the amount due to oil marketers at any point in time.

What the foregoing, therefore, suggests is that all along, PPPRA, the Ministry of Finance and the oil marketers have been involved in an unholy alliance, in the mismanagement of the fuel subsidy regime and in the process defrauding the nation of its revenues.

The Minister of Finance cannot stop at simply shedding crocodile tears about fraudulent claims by oil marketers. Having found her voice, thanks to the fear of Gen. Buhari, it is very necessary that Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala takes one more crucial step at full disclosure. She must disclose to the nation the full details of subsidy payments made to oil marketers in the last four years, including the parameters used to calculate the subsidies. This also must include how much of the subsidy was paid to the NNPC since the NNPC is also being accused of making the same fraudulent claims. In other words, the Minister of Finance should be prepared to provide more information and make more explanations regarding the management or mismanagement of subsidy payments in the last four years.

The squandering of the Excess Crude Account (ECA) is another area in which the Minister of Finance should come out, shed more light and put all the cards on the table. During several meetings of the National Economic Council (NEC), which has all the governors as members and with the Vice-President as Chairman, I had cause to observe that the State Governments, who are joint owners of the ECA, with the Federal Government, were not being adequately briefed on the status of the Account.

Accordingly, I had consistently demanded from the Minister of Finance a transparent and periodic disclosure of accruals to the ECA, at least on monthly basis. I had argued that even village associations do make available their financial statements from time to time, and as NEC, I see no reason why we will not even do better. All these years, my pleas fell on deaf ears. The Minister of Finance consistently failed to apprise the NEC with critical information on the management and operations of the ECA in black and white, when she eventually got to do that, it was usually verbal and casual, and hardly meaningful enough for decision-making.

The Minister of Finance had also developed the penchant for deliberately avoiding NEC’s crucial meetings, which many saw as a ploy to keep the governors in the dark. And when she is not around, no one gets any information, as if she was running a one-man show.

Coming to the specifics, it is interesting to note that by December 2012 the ECA had a balance of over $10 billion. This has been depleted to $2.07 billion by May 2015, according to the Finance Minister. Between January 2013 and May 2015, not more than $4 billion was shared from the ECA. Indeed, the last time any money was shared from the ECA was in May 2013.

For six clear months in 2013, NEC did not meet, an act many believed was contrived to conceal information on the operations of the ECA. When eventually NEC met after those six months, the Minister of Finance reported that the ECA had dropped to $4 billion. This prompted me to ask a very pertinent question: if the closing balance of the ECA as at December 2012 was over $10 billion and that for three years running Nigeria’s budget have been based on the average of between $77 and $79 benchmark while the average price of Nigeria’s crude has been $108 per barrel, suggesting an average of about $30 per barrel, how come that there was no accretion to the ECA? Indeed, based on a rough estimate, we should be expecting not less than $30 billion accretion based on the official oil exports of 2.3 million barrels per day. The question, which Dr. Okonjo-Iweala should answer, therefore, is why did Nigeria not make any savings during the unprecedented boom years from 2011 to August 2014?

The explanation offered by the Minister of Finance, which was as usual oral, and of course, far from satisfactory, was hinged on three factors, namely: (a) because of oil theft not much accrued to the ECA; (b) part of ECA was also used to fund petroleum subsidy and SURE-P; and (c) part of the ECA was also shared to the three tiers of government at the request of the state governments. Her claims in my view are untenable, fraudulent, illegal, unconstitutional and clear breach of extant financial regulations.

In the first place, ECA is not an exclusive preserve of the Federal Government. It belongs to all the tiers of government: federal, state and local governments. Moreover, the Minister of Finance has no power whatsoever to spend monies without the express consent and approval of the State Governments. Until questions were asked as to the status of the ECA, no State Government was put in the picture about the fact that money was taken from the ECA, why it was; and for what purpose.

It is also a fact known to all that under the 1999 Constitution (as amended), only the National Assembly (NASS) has the power to appropriate monies for subsidy. Similarly, nobody spends money that is not appropriated or in excess of what was appropriated without recourse to NASS. And with regards to funding subsidies and SURE-P from ECA, there was no indication anywhere that NASS authorized the use of ECA for that purpose.  The amount in question is also evidently far in excess of what the country can consume of petroleum products, even if every Nigerian is a consumer of petroleum products. In this regard, therefore, the Minister of Finance has a lot of explanation to make; particularly in the manner she knowingly enriched oil marketers and condoned abuse of due process in the operations of ECA.

Regarding the funding of SURE-P, the understanding from the outset was that SURE-P would be funded from the difference between new and old price of petroleum products, after the partial removal of the subsidies in 2012. Why the Minister should fund SURE-P from the ECA is inexplicable, because it is a complete violation of the law and due process. In this regard, it is necessary that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala makes available to the nation SURE-P’s financial statements, indicating clearly the sources and uses of funds.

The Minister of Finance also made allusion to the sharing of the ECA as requested by the State Governments. This is obviously one-sided and being economical with the truth. What Nigerians are asking is not what was shared but the whole story about the operations of the ECA itself. At any rate, considering that not more than $4 billion was shared, this is not adequate to explain how the country went from $22 billion at the end of 2007 to the current paltry $2.07 billion balance in the ECA in 2015, bearing in mind, the oil boom period from 2011 to 2014.  For the sake of transparency and accountability Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has a duty to herself, to the nation and the international community to account for what transpired in the ECA by giving full disclosure of how much accrued to ECA on a month-by-month basis and the subsequent outflows.

On the question of oil theft, I can proudly say I was among those whose probing questions compelled NEC to set up a Committee to investigate the problem of crude oil theft. It became quite apparent in our interaction with security agencies that crude oil theft has indeed, become official. Some of the military officers confessed that whenever they apprehend oil thieves on the high sea, a telephone call from above would compromise all their efforts. When we suggested that any ship caught in the act be immediately destroyed, we were told that that would pollute the waters. Hence, till date not a single person was caught or prosecuted on account of this heinous crime against the nation.

I recall during one of NEC’s meetings with the Vice-President presiding, one of the Governors was on record, as having expressed concerns that the inability of the government to deal with oil theft might be because the proceeds of such a crime flow into political coffers as one of the means to compromise the 2015 election. Still, under her watch the problem persisted; the country keeps hemorrhaging and all we get are banal excuses and obfuscation of our concrete realities.

The recent nationwide fuel and energy crisis, adjudged the worst in the economic history of Nigeria, is merely a reflection of the gross mismanagement of the economy, which characterized Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s tenure since 2011.  As we speak, there is a widespread and popular feeling that she has presided over the wanton mismanagement of the Nigerian economy since the inauguration of the democratic order in 1999. Aspects of this could be seen from the reckless borrowing and debt accumulation since 2011, as well as the manner in which government’s recurrent budget has been continuously funded through borrowings, while about a quarter of the national budget is allocated to debt servicing.

Under Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, government borrowings were programmed to support wasteful expenditures. In the same vein, budgets were so poorly formulated and skewed towards consumption such that 90% of budgetary releases were meant for recurrent expenditures, which is injurious to the economy.

There is the urgent need to launch an audit trail of the sources and uses of the borrowed funds we have accumulated in the last five years amounting to over N8 trillion. It does not make sense to accumulate such huge debts without a tangible infrastructure project that we can point to as evidence of fund utilization.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was quick to blame State governments for not paying salaries, but the situation with the federal government employees is even worse. Things have gone so bad that even salaries of federal employees have to be paid by recourse to irresponsible borrowing from the capital markets.

Let me state for the record at this juncture that while Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, as Minister of Finance is borrowing recklessly to pay salaries of federal employees, in Edo State we are paying salaries as and when due, including teachers employed by Local Government Councils without recourse to borrowing.

The implication of this reckless borrowing on the part of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is that the future of workers’ savings in the form of pensions is clearly at stake. It means that there is no guarantee that workers and pensioners will have value for their hard-earned savings in the future.  In the first place, she has effectively withdrawn the entire savings of workers meant for pensions through issuance of bonds to fund payment of workers’ salaries and other wasteful spending. Secondly, excessive borrowing has devalued the Naira. At the time Dr. Ngozi assumed duty, the exchange rate was within the region of N100-N116 to one dollar, now it has been officially devalued to about N200 to one dollar. This has done incalculable damage to the value of savings of the pensioners, and when inflation is factored in, it is clear that by the time the Nigerian pensioner accesses his savings, the value will have been drastically reduced, no thanks to the gross mismanagement of the Nigerian economy by the Minister of Finance.

In this regard, the Minister should swallow her pride and admit that her tenure as Minister of Finance is a total disaster and colossal failure as far as economic management is concerned. In the same vein, given her so-called background as an international bureaucrat with the World Bank, our present sordid economic realities present a huge embarrassment to the country, particularly her penchant for violating financial regulations and all tenets of fiscal responsibility.

Finally, I will like to briefly touch on the Sovereign Wealth Fund. It is understood from the law establishing the SWF that the State Governments are part of the decision-making regarding the operations of the Fund. However, till date, no State Government has any idea about how the Fund operates or how it is managed. Like the ECA, its management is opaque.

The only information we stumbled upon, as State Governments is that the Minister of Finance had unilaterally and without recourse to NEC and the State Governments, withdrawn money from the SWF to fund consultancy services in the name of the Second Niger Bridge. In this regard, I wish to remind the Minister of Finance that before she leaves the stage, she is duty bound to inform the State Governments, as critical stakeholders about the financial status of the SWF backed up by convincing evidence.

There is too much of secrecy surrounding the management of our public finance. The earlier the Finance Minister comes clean on the management of our financial resources, the better for all of us, so that the incoming government will derive the baseline from which to launch its economic recovery strategies to combat our present morass. This is the irreducible minimum that is expected of any Minister of Finance worth his/her salt. Otherwise, for now, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s tenure is bile in the dish.


*Oshiomhole is Governor of Edo State

#NoProbeNoHope: We Will Probe GEJ, OBJ and The Entire 30 Years Of IBB and His PDP Sons For Stolen Billions

On This Children’s Day; Be A Gift To The Helpless Nigerian Children: An Appeal To Muhammadu Buhari By Eniola Opeyemi

Some years ago, while I was so young and could hardly see a children’s day as a day for me rather a day to help my daddy at his workshop, as a true African child hardship can be taken as fun when we find our way to get water from faulty water works pipeline, we could queue for hours sometimes it takes thirty minute or much to get a water to would fill a bucket, this is how years of mine was spent under bad leaders though some of the these days were spent under the military regime.

On Children’s day (s) celebration, me and my junior ones are forced to fast though it’s spiritually certified but most times its a way to see that we manage the little resources at home, we sneak out to watch cartoons at our neighbour’s home even when we are sure we are going to receive the beating of our lives if our parents get to know. Now am a youth in my twenties and  from my own little story, am sure some children are passing through the same hard times I experienced, some even worse than mine .

Africa’s children destiny ?aren’t necessitated for sufferers, being treated as a second fiddle, our destiny was just ill-celebrated by bad governance.

Sometimes, I wonder what the feelings of this little children would be watching terrorist take over their regions, loosing their close ones to insecurity, corruption of the political leaders, crises amongst the political leaders, injustice, cases where hooligans are more valued than the office men and times that they have to get excuses from their parents that the politicians are causing us all these.

Today, Chinedu, a neighbour’s son couldn’t spend his day at a resort centre because of fuel scarcity, so are many other children out there.

Where are the missing Chibok girls? How would they feel now as we assumed some of them are now pregnant teenagers, what a feeling!

When would child trafficking be ended? So many of African children are now prostitutes, slaves and even terrorists, all these are just caused by the inability to stop Child trafficking.

Now, we have a new president -in- waiting, there is no doubt that there is fresh breathe in Nigeria considering the success of the general election producing the All Progressives Congress Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, the CHANGE as come as the slogan of APC is spelt, the people’s general as being referred to by the ?Nigerian masses is here, we hope you put smiles on the children’s face which is much more important, this is possible if the party’s manifestos are fulfilled by:

– free and qualitative education
– Security
– A day free meal
– better economy
– & most especially job creation to keep the hopes alive

These and more  can bring back happiness to the faces of the Nigerian children, their parents and the entire citizens especially if the chibok girls can be brought back home.

Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, please be a gift to the helpless Nigerian children.

N.B: This short piece is dedicated to the suffering African Children and the missing chibok girls.

Eniola Opeyemi writes from
Badagry, Lagos Nigeria.

Cheerio Fashola, Welcome Ambode By Lateef Raji

Babatunde Raji Fashola, Senior Advocate of Nigeria,   a descendant of Bello Fashola of Isale Gangan, who picked the gauntlet to lead in the pursuance of sound democratic governance for the good people of Lagos State on May 29 2007 will be bidding Alausa, Lagos State’s power hub bye on May 29 2015.

How time flies! An eight year of astonishing and meritorious service to Lagosians in the Centre of Excellence has come to a glorious conclusion. Its needless asking a mimosa how it closes its laps; the unquestionable God cannot be questioned.

Courteous, suave, prudent, focused and attentive, it’s no gainsaying that Fashola is a brilliant manager of men and resources who successfully managed Lagos State and cemented its financial independence. He refrained from governing his people with any form of abandonment. He is lowly at heart and in principle.

On reflection, my first encounter with Fashola in 2005 wasn’t a quite a pleasant one. As the State Secretary of Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Lagos, a colleague requested that I accompany him to Fashola’s office to secure an order to supply Ileya Rams. The then Chief of Staff to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu declined, and was blunt in his refusal. According to him, the contractors list was exhausted. Not pleased with what sounded like a casual dismissal, I pushed further stating that the man in question was an executive officer in the state a strong member of our party in his Local Government but Fashola, stricto senso maintained his ground.

Our second encounter was equally no so much different. Sometime in June, 2006, Members of the State Executive Committee of our party were to have a meeting at the instance of the Governor, on getting to the Round House at the appointed time, the governor was away on a more crucial assignment and the Chief of Staff held brief for him. Yes, he received us cordially and delivered his Oga’s message in his most characteristic officious and efficient manner. He however mentioned nothing about the logistics of the parley despite the fact that some of our members journeyed into Ikeja from as far as Badagry and Epe. It took some persuasions and convincing to get him to provide the necessary logistics. He affirmed that he did not have such instructions. I didn’t like it one bit as the facilitator for the visit. That was putting me on a spot among my colleagues.

However, as the battle to succeed Tinubu gathered momentum in 2006, I got a shocker from my leader. Cardinal James Odumbaku, Alhaji Ganiyu Badmus, Fouad Oki, Abdullahi Enilolobo, Wasiu Moshood, Alhaji Eyinfunjowo, myself and others were in Abuja for the First National Convention of the now defunct Action Congress which was formed in order not to be caught in the web of the fractionalization of AD.

Engr. Rauf Aregbesola, the incumbent Governor of State of stormed our hotel room and announced that Babatunde Raji Fashola the man for Lagos in 2007! We all marvelled, and as a loyal party men and devoted supporters of Tinubu, our national leader, we were bound to accept and give life to the decision knowing his capacity to discover and nurture talents.

The eight years of BRF in Lagos strongly lends credence to this fact, as Nigerians will soon discover with the ascension of Asiwaju’s brand of ideas-driven progressive politics on the national stage.

Accordingly, from that moment, we swung into action. Our platform-The Mandate Group was instructed to swing into action, and we willingly obliged. Right from the convention ground, the information had caught on that Fashola was the man to fly. In fact, a serving Permanent Secretary who was also a governorship aspirant came to wag a threatening finger at Fashola where we were seated, but Fashola, the gentleman, kept his cool.

He eventually emerged convincingly at party’s primaries held at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja. Some of his opponents were aggrieved and sought other platforms to pursue their aspirations.  Jimi Agbaje picked the ticket of Democratic People’s Alliance. Femi Pedro sought accommodation in Labour Party; Akeem Gbajabiamila made do with what remained of the Alliance for Democracy. Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi considered the option All Nigeria People’s Party but upon persuasions, he found his way back to the fold and even served as the party’s State Returning officer for Fashola’s elections.

On April 14 2007, the ‘do or die’ rigging machinery of the then Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo and his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that had hijacked the mandates of the people across the nation of Nigeria could not fly in Lagos. Lagosians trooped out to vote and defended their votes. Despite the resort of his main opponent, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro to violence, easy-going Babatunde Fashola was handed a four year mandate by the people to administer Lagos State.

The landslide he returned in 2011 is more than enough to underscore the value he delivered to Lagosians. He knocked his main challenger, Adegboyega Dosunmu of the PDP with the widest margin ever.

When Fashola was presented to us in 2006, little did I know I was  meeting a man who will make so much difference in this generation. A man of positive ideas. Today, I can confidently proclaim that Fashola is leaving Lagos a lot better than he met it. He has given Lagos a lift in virtually all sectors.

Today, marvellous parks have emerged from the slums and confusion of Oshodi, Ojota and a number of such locations across the state. Transformation from dens of criminals to tourist centers of choice.

He will for long be remembered for the first class Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge, the Cardiac and Renal Centre in Gbagada is also a lifetime legacy. Today, the number of Nigerians travelling to India for renal and cardiac attention is reduced considerably courtesy of the hospital. The eight Maternal and Child Care Hospitals sited across the state are life changing innovations.

The Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) continues to expand and evolve as a true world-class teaching hospital. He will be leaving behind 16 skilled acquisition centres, and five functional Technical Colleges in Lagos. In his time, the annual Lagos Carnival assumed international status.

As a part of the creative measures to reduce traffic gridlock in Lagos, the Lagos Traffic Radio came on air. Today, the station has become a favorite day planner for Lagosians. Lagos State University, (LASU) Ojo is getting adequate attention as one of the best state university in Nigeria.

Furthermore, through public-private partnership, projects such as the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Eko Atlantic City, Lekki Free Zone, etc. are delivering efficient for the benefit of the people.

Presently, massive work is ongoing Adiyan Phase II Waterworks to supply water to Badagry, Ojo and Ijanikin axis is ongoing. The Mile 12-Ikorodu road is almost completed. The light rail aimed at widening the Lagos traffic nodal and give the people other alternatives is steadily on course.

That BRF has accomplished so much should not surprise even a cursory observer. He is a man of purposeful and these are the type of people you can find around Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor Emeritus of Lagos. He confidently enlisted his successor from the pool of talents available from the Nigerian private sector.

The society is not static and in essence no one government can do it all, it’s surely the end of an era when Tunde Fashola bows out on the morning of Friday May 29 2015, his experience will however be valuable in the coming days.

To continue to enjoy the support and confidence of the good people of Lagos, Asiwaju has decided to vary and flavour the greater Lagos agenda by recommending another seasoned technocrat, this time from the public sector to receive baton of leadership from the out-going Governor.

Akinwunmi Ambode is not new to Lagos; he was there when the going was tough, when the foundation of today’s Lagos was incubated. His profound experience will surely count and serve him in good stead. Without doubt, greater days are yet ahead.

Cheerio, Babatunde Raji Fashola, my boss and friend; welcome Akinwumi Ambode, my comrade in the struggle for a better Lagos.

Lateef Raji is the Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to Lagos State Government.

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