Election Postponement: The Resurrection Of Anti-Democratic Forces By Segun Tomori

Even the most strong-hearted incumbent President would have been scared to death by the rampaging momentum with which “hurricane Buhari” moved and saturated the length and breadth of Nigeria in the run-up to February 14. Like a force propelled by some unseen supernatural powers, all weapons formed against the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential candidate, Maj. Gen Muhammadu Buhari simply refused to prosper even tongues that rose against him in judgement ended up in utter condemnation to the chagrin of Jonathan and his spin doctors. Every mudslinging and campaign of calumny, some very vicious and scary instead of halting the Buhari advance, made him more popular. What a vast majority of Nigerians waited for was his coronation on “FeBUHARI 14”- the valentine’s day that was dedicated to “loving Buhari” . But Jonathan would have none of that! After all other options failed, he played his last card which was using the service chiefs and his National Security Adviser(NSA) to stop the elections.

Pronto, the service chiefs and the NSA wrote to the Chair of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega that they couldn’t guarantee security for the elections if it was held as scheduled. This was the final straw that broke the camel’s back as Jega’s insistence on the sanctity of February 14 caved in to pressure. His hands were effectively tied, blackmail became the most potent weapon, lo and behold, the “Jonathanian forces”won! The dirty job which the National Council of States tactically declined was thus executed by the “politicised” military and service chiefs and it had all the trappings of a coup, this time not against a sitting President but orchestrated by the President himself against his own people! 66% of the Permanent Voters Card(PVC) had been distributed as at 2nd Feb and INEC had put machinery in place to continue distribution at ward level till a day before the elections, if necessary. If the process had continued, an estimated 75- 80% of voters would have collected their PVCs which comparable to the usual voter turn-out of between 50 -70% is remarkably high and sufficient for credible elections.

While Jega ought to be reprimanded for lapses in the PVC distribution and other sundry voter registration hiccups especially since he had 4 years to prepare, but the challenges which he was already surmounting were not enough reasons to postpone the elections. The military and security agencies who for over 6 years reeked incompetence, manifested lethargy and total lack of tact and innovation on how to crush Boko haram suddenly needed time, a contrived one within an election period to defeat terror in 6 weeks! How plausible! It was obvious the military made itself available as a willing tool to buy time for a President, on the verge of defeat,but desperate to cling on to power. The success of the postponement plot which is just the beginning of other devious machinations by Jonathan and his lackeys to continue to hold forte at Aso-rock at all costs exhumed the corpse of anti-democratic forces hitherto consigned to the dust-bin of history in the aftermath of the June 12 struggle and the restoration of democracy in 1999.

Not a few Nigerians believe that the 6 week postponement is part of a grander plot to contrive a constitutional stalemate that will herald the extension of President Jonathan’s administration through the back-door. Jonathan, who has lost all opinion polls including the ones conducted by his aides in the run-up to the elections; who is running on the platform of a fatally fragmented party, and whose woeful performance has earned him scorn across a vast segment of the Nigerian populace knows the elections is his to lose, but will stop at nothing to remain in power. Already, National assembly members are being lobbied and bribed to buy into the unconstitutional tenure elongation agenda. This much was confirmed within the week by Hon. Rotimi Makinde, APC member representing Ife Federal Constituency. That is allegedly just a part of the plan as insider sources reveal a close-knit military topshots collusion with the President and his trusted allies to force another 6 months election postponement on Nigerians under the pretext of insecurity. The Okrika-styled shooting at opposition rallies in Rivers State is to be allegedly replicated in selected states, terrorism in North-east might be allowed to degenerate to create an alibi for the declaration of a national emergency that will make the March 28 Presidential elections a mirage.

The forces that scuttled June 12 are at it again. Just like Abiola was stopped by all means from becoming President, they are now set to stop the imminent Buhari Presidency not minding if the nation becomes the collateral damage in the process. The fear of Gen. Buhari is the beginning of wisdom for Jonathan and his marauding band of “locusts in power”. Having milked the country dry and rendered it prostrate, they are now engulfed in morbid fear of life in jail knowing how ruthless the lanky General can be against corruption. Massive corruption which has become the “art of the State” under Jonathan has also permeated the military hierarchy and as such “fat cat” generals who have helped themselves with several billions of defence budgets are in cahoot with Jonathan to stop Buhari. The danger here is these anti-democratic forces might face stiff resistance from mid-level officers, colonels downwards who are said to be disenchanted with the politicisation of the army ; rampaging corruption, and are thus opposed to the plot. This might prove fatal for the country if wise counsel does not prevail. Several lawsuits have also been filed by agents of the ruling party to get Buhari disqualified and throw spanner in the works of the electoral process.

The APC will need to move swiftly to curtail the advances of these forces of evil and counter their machinations. The starting point should be to effectively mobilise majority members of the national assembly across party lines to ensure they side with the people and form a bulwark against any further election postponement or tenure elongation plot. Elder Statesmen across the country and former leaders should be lobbied to prevail on Jonathan to let democracy take its course and allow the elections hold as rescheduled. Pressure should be brought to bear on Jonathan by the international community through effective lobby of world powers and their congress. The humanitarian crisis of a war-torn Nigeria of over 170m people will be disastrous for Africa and the world at large which any attempt to subvert the people’s will might instigate.

Much of the task of safe-guarding this democracy however rest with the people. We have seen incumbents lose recently in India, Sri Lanka, Ghana amongst others, heavens will not fall if Jonathan is voted out. We must resolve to keep our eyes on the goal of rescuing this country from the shackles of corruption and ineptitude which the present administration represents. The promise of this nation and the future of the generation yet unborn rests on this elections, we must not fail or falter to reward failure with severe censure which can only mean giving the President the red card. Together We Can!

Segun Tomori

Public Affairs Analyst

Twitter: @seguntomori, 08062672869

 

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Now that Mr. President has Blown it up, What the Future Holds for Nigerians? By Ibrahim Ilyasu

“What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve”
Napoleon Hill

So grey is this Nigeria with its trouble and strife! One of the more embarrassing difficulties of our age is to have clueless as a leader. Past week, I followed President Jonathan’s media tête-à-tête with confusion and disbelief. Needless to say, it was boring, drab and dingy. I was left struggling with my subconscious mind to contest whether it was real or myth, I couldn’t believe my eyes though. It took a great deal of effort and self-control to resist the temptation of my subconscious mind and accept it as real. In philosophy, the word “reality” means the totality of real things outside a person’s own knowledge or their perception of them. In fact, reality encompasses even much more. The paradox of reality, however, is that sometimes real things can look fake and fake things can look real.

I have been driven to my knees by overwhelming conviction that any person who desperately legalizes illegal is suspect, to begin with. As usual, Mr. President blew it up once again. Only this time the implication of his utterances is more or less precarious, yet his intent is remarkably understandable. When I watched President Jonathan making an infamous parable of the “goat and yam” I became speech less. This is because his answers were as hilarious as worrying. To follow his logic, it is absolutely normal for people to cheat and “steal” and by extension be “corrupt” as long as they are lucky enough to get the opportunity. Why? the answer is simple; you cannot give a goat a piece of yam and prevent her from eating. Alas!

Mr. President also messed it up when he told the world the postponement of the elections, which is seen by many as a sinister game plan to avoid imminent defeat, was something done by INEC and security agencies about which he was completely unaware. The gravity of this blunder is enormous because Mr. Jonathan was showing Nigerians as well as international community that Nigeria is literally running on auto-pilot or he is not in charge, at least for now. This, arguably, in my view, has serious security implications because the president openly concedes that he is not the real commander in chief; hence, military can take whatever decision of their choosing without him been interested in even knowing whatever they are doing. This perhaps explains why insecurity is still unravelling in the North East. It is only in a misguided entity called Nigeria a sit-in president will create this fiasco and get away with it.

Rather than using that golden opportunity to correct his quite unpopular “stealing is not corruption” mantra per se, President bungled it once again and left Nigerians in disbelief, terrible sadness and acquired unyielding anger. In his words, you cannot put goat and yam in the same place and say that goat should not eat yam. In other words, you cannot entrust President and his cohorts with your resources and say that they should not steal, since “stealing is not corruption” after all. Based on this logic, stealing is inevitable whenever you are given opportunity to serve because your goat ordinarily must eat yam as long as they are kept together. By making this tacit concession, Good luck Jonathan has not only institutionalized corruption but also officially endorsed it. What a glorification! He has also set a bad example for immortalizing corruption, perpetuating criminality and of course compromising ethics, integrity, honesty and personal commitment in public service. This is could be the reason why USD 20 billion scandal, petroleum minister’s oil N10 billion scam and other cases are swept under the carpet. This perhaps also explains why Jonathan has never had any impressive scorecard on fighting corruption over the last five years.

Now, the ten thousand dollar question is; has anyone ever advised the President on the efficacy of “mouth control” specifically for a leader of a great nation? If the answer is no, then I suggest he should fire all his personal assistants and special/senior advisors because they don’t deserve to be on Nigeria’s payroll. And this is an emergency. But let me be clear, resorting to a self-incriminating slogan/rhetoric to suggest corrupt people are “free” will simply not wash. For one, Nigerians are brilliant; they know their enemies and they understand that this government has no respect for them. I still maintain that if it is true that democracy entails putting in place government of the people for the people by the people, then Nigerian out-of-touch elitist must have read the Abraham Lincoln’s theory upside down and used ethno-centric pretext to foist Good luck Jonathan on 170 million persons. Indeed, history will never forgive Obasanjo for imposing Jonathan on us to remote-control Nigeria from his Ota farm. It doesn’t matter even if he decamps or tears his card now; he still remains the brain behind the quagmire that has engulfed the country.

Well, it all starts and ends with that magic word “leadership”. Leadership, we are told, goes beyond what the world or scientific management defines as the limits. Leadership determines if an individual or organization (country) will be able to maximize their full potential. Furthermore, leadership is all about having people willingly following you without you pushing them. Thus, it is all about pulling and not pushing. Having said that, a leader is the type of individual that has a vision for his people and spends their time shaping the future. An effective leader is the one who possesses the following qualities; dedication, moral integrity, courage, good judgment, justice, honesty, responsibility, faithfulness, industriousness, fairness, forgiveness, devotion, love and of course, spirituality. If he is found wanting in these characters then he does not deserve to be a leader.

Let me keep the record straight, I am not saying that leaders are perfect people, but they are flexible. They skillfully integrate flexibility into their goals, establish realistic priorities and lead by example because they do know that they are constantly on stage and individuals are watching their characters. With that being said, President Jonathan has shown that he is nowhere close to being able to fit these criteria and for this reason Nigerians have little faith in his ability as a leader. If that is the case, then I suggest another choice.

Mr President also negates zoning agreement of presidency something to which he is deeply committed. He has categorically stated that he would never contest in 2015 several times over. So, if he now decides to swallow his words, Nigerians should show him his action is morally, ethically, legally and religiously unacceptable. The question is when? Well, on 28th March 2015 if elections hold, that is.

Nigerians have been taken prisoners in their own country for additional six weeks. People became so disadvantaged because they have been systematically denied the opportunity to vote this regime out. Now it is time to turn the page. I have no doubt that Jonathan’s chicken have come home to roost. Every right thinking Nigerian is pretty sure that the 6 weeks extension is to finish the unfinished mission impossible of discrediting/disqualifying Buhari and heating up the polity of North East to stop elections. Nonetheless, no matter how thin they slice it, it is still baloney.

Now, the onus lies with Nigerians either to say No to this INSULT and defend their ideals or simply bury their heads in the sand. Remember, we lose our selves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend, and we honour these ideals by upholding them not when it is easy but when it is hard.

Ibrahim Ilyasu is a Phd holder in Tafsir and Islamic Family Law, a lecturer in Aminu Kano College of Islamic and Legal Studies, Kano Nigeria. He is currently a part time lecturer in the department of Quran and Sunnah in International Islamic University Malaysia, he could be reached at abunauwas2012@gmail.com
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Obasanjo’s Last Battle against Nigeria By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye

Though I’m startled and distressed, but I want to fly into a rage of letters. Our light has lost its status, but let’s makes our path right. And if after this, we trade our might to the exhausting sun, then we‘ll be translated into slaves of defeat, and all will become a nightmare.

Dear Readers, I am tempted by the current state of the Nigeria nation to explicitly coin this piece. I am angered by the attitude of a creature who God had favoured with long live and prosperity despite his many sins against Nigeria and her people. The Owu, Ogun State born former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo who certainly needs no much introduction in the political firmament of Nigeria and outside the shore is the man.

From a relatively unknown Soldier, he rose to become the number two citizen of Nigeria in 1975. In 1976, God extended the tentacle of his mercy to him by promoting him from number two to number one citizen of the most populous black nation on the surface of earth.  In 1999, he was catapulted through the support of the majority of Nigerians from Prison into the Aso Villa by some leaders of thought such as Generals Ibrahim Babangida, T.Y Danjuma, Chiefs Alex Ekwueme, Orji Uzor Kalu, Atiku Abubakar, etc.

Today, Obasanjo is known globally for always resolving international disputes most especially on the continent of Africa. Obasanjo is also known for his unique speeches at both local and international events.  He is also reputed for constantly writing emotion-provoked and controversial letters to Leaders within and outside the country.

However, let me confidently state clearly that Obasanjo has not done much for Nigeria despite miraculously risen through the rank and file of the country’s military and democratic institutions to become a crème-de-la-me. Obasanjo has impoverished Nigerians more than any other Nigerian leaders via his impious policies and actions.

Prior to 1979 presidential election, most Nigerians preferred the revered late political sage, Obafemi Awolowo to be their President, but Obasanjo as the Military Head of States, through the assistance of some internal and external forces, foisted an unpopular intellectual Lilliputian operating in the unbefitting office of  a secondary school principal in Shagari Village, Sokoto State on Nigerians. Awolowo and Obasanjo hail from the same state in Southwestern Nigeria.

As a result of Obasanjo’s action, Nigeria went up in political and economic flames. I had not been born then but history has it that Obasanjo perceived Awolowo as a hard nut that would be too hard to crack for him if he’s allowed to be the President, hence, his decision to impose a Lilliput on Nigerians. Obasanjo was apparently scared Awolowo would probe his failed Ajaokuta Steel project. He was scared Awolowo would probe the billions of Nigeria his Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) has gulped from the treasury.

In 1993, when most Nigerians within and in Diaspora were agitating for the affirmation of the results of June 12 Presidential election believed to have been won by MKO Abiola, Obasanjo conspired with his clan in the North to ensure that the struggle to actualize the lawfully given mandate of Abiola never materialized. Abiola died in prison.

In 1999, upon the return of the country to civilian rule, the South Western Nigeria was ceded the presidential slots of the two political parties in the country. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) handed its presidential ticket to Obasanjo and went on to triumph over his opponent, Olu Falae of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). However, for the eight uninterrupted years Obasanjo ruled Nigeria, a single street was not named after MKO Abiola whose glory he (Obasanjo) rode to power. Instead of empowering Abiola’s clan, Obasanjo strangulated his family, killed all his business empires. Under the watchful eye of Obasanjo, the once happy home of Abiola became a history. He got power and betrayed all his benefactors.

In 2007, well-meaning political actors with sound minds; blessed with intellectual sagacity and erudition, grounded and rooted, suave and courteous; signified their interest to run for the Presidency of Nigeria. However, like he did in 1979, Obasanjo imposed a visibly unfit and weak late Umoru Musa Yar’adua on Nigerians. His target was however not met as the physically unfit yar’adua distanced himself from him. As usual, Obasanjo joined opposition forces to declare war against Yar’adua when the latter was terribly ill. The tenure of Yar’adua was terminated through the help of a civilian coup called DOCTRINE of NECESITY.

In 2011, when Nigerians agitated that for the sake of peace, fairness and natural justice, the North is allowed to produce the presidential candidate of the PDP, Obasanjo kicked; he colluded with his foot-soldiers across and outside the shore of Nigeria to impose Goodluck Jonathan on Nigerians thinking that he would be able to remote Nigeria from his farm in Otta. But Obasanjo met a stiff resistance from Jonathan and his crew. Obasanjo’s move to neo-colonize Jonathan’s administration was rejected, hence, the beginning of another war.

Between 1999 to 2007, Obasanjo had a golden opportunity to write his name in gold among his Yoruba ethnic nationality but failed. He fought Nigerians from the south of the Limpopo to the desert of the Sahara. He sent his snipers in army uniform to Odi village in Bayelsa State to roast the community. The offense of the people of Odi was that they killed an armed soldier on duty in the town. Odi people were wrong but Obasanjo goofed.

Obasanjo gave Nigerians GSM but he didn’t end his tenure without killing the Nigeria Telecommunication (NITEL), sending thousands of bread winners to the labour market without terminal benefits. Many died in the process while those still alive among ex-NITEL staff lives in squalor and starvation. Instead of re-organizing NITEL, Obasanjo sold Nigeria to a South Africa owned company (MTN). Obasanjo ensured that FSTV is killed for another South Africa owned firm, DSTV to take over Nigeria’s market. What a leader!

Furthermore, as a President for eight years, Obasanjo had an opportunity to reconstruct Lagos-Ibadan express way but he did not. Being an Owu born, he failed to rehabilitate Lagos-Abeokuta road. Ibadan-Oyo-Ogbomoso-Ilorin roads were death traps during Obasanjo’s reign. Ikorodu-Sagamu road was a no go area when Obasanjo held the insignia of power. Ibadan-Ife, Ilesa-Akure and benin-Ore-Ijebu Ode roads were left untouched by Obasanjo despite being the Nigerian’s Minister of Works for about 3 years. Obasanjo awarded the dualization of Lokoja-Abuja road without mobilizing the Contractor.

Obasanjo would always be remembered for how he subjected Lagosians to hardship for 3 years. As a sitting President, Obasanjo disregarded the ruling of the Nigeria’s apex court that the Lagos State Local Government allocation which he withheld be paid. Obasanjo and his Deputy, Atiku Abubakar sold virtually all the Nigeria’s public properties and corporations to their cronies. All what the founding Fathers of Nigeria labored to build went into the flame of few pockets. He spent $16billion on power without giving Nigerians the power proper.

More also, Obasanjo increased the price of petroleum from N11 to N70. He met a US dollar at N83, but left it at N150. He liberalized trade a policy which made multi-national corporations turned Nigeria to a dumping ground. Also, without creating an enabling ground for automobile companies in Nigeria to innovatively and productively operate, Obasanjo banned importation of fairly used cars into the country.

Corruption during Obasanjo’s presidency was very mega. As a sitting president, Obasanjo, in flagrant disregard of the cold of conduct rules, tactically summoned all the stakeholders in Nigeria’s economy and politics to Abeokuta to donate to his personal Presidential library.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which Obasanjo established, directly and indirectly became a tool used between 2004 to 2007 to wage war against those against the interest of Federal Government. Nigeria was ranked by Transparency International as the second most corrupt country in the world during Obasanjo’s presidency.

Let me also remind Nigerians that the 2007 election that Obasanjo supervised has been declared by the United Nations as the worst in the anal of democratic governance in Africa. Obasanjo’s Military training could not save the people of Niger/Delta when he was ruling Nigeria. During his reign, Militants operates unhindered on the streets of Portharcourt, Warri, Yenogoa, etc. Then, there were rumblings in the region.

The level of political killings, assassinations and human rights abuse during Obasanjo’s presidency was second to none. Under Obasanjo, a sitting Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige was gruesomely murdered inside his bedroom at Ibadan. A sitting Nigerian Governor (Dr. Chris Nigie) was kidnapped for three days without traces. A prominent Lagos Politician, Engineer Funso Williams was gunned down inside his bedroom at Ikoyi. A Journalist, Mr. Gbenga Aruleba of the African Independent Television (AIT) was locked inside Police custody for two weeks for daring to criticize Obasanjo’s administration while on air. Governors Ayo Fayose (Ekiti), Joshua Dariye (Plateau), Rasheed Ladoja (Oyo) and Peter Obi (Anambra) were controversially and allegedly impeached on the instruction of Obasanjo. He awarded contracts to his cronies without monitoring them leading to non-execution of the jobs.

However, despite Obasanjo’s countless sins against Nigeria and her people, today, he is regarded as a pro-Nigeria by some hypocritical elements in the political firmament because he has agreed to be recruited as an advocate of CHANGE being echoed by the opposition’s All Progressives Congress (APC). With due respect to the ranks and files of APC leaders and its Presidential candidate, General Muhammad Buhari (Rtd.), I want to expressly declare without any fear of intimidation that the open endorsement of Buhari’s candidacy by Obasanjo is an automatic indictment of the party and an affirmation that APC was the one who mis-governed Nigeria between 1999 to 2007.

As a Nigerian, I am against any attempt to return Nigeria to Obasanjo. Obasanjo and his trusted allies do not deserve top leadership positions again in Nigeria. He’s one of the major architects militating against Nigeria. Therefore, I see the battle that Obasanjo has declared against the incumbent President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as a battle against the nation of Nigeria which must be repelled by all means necessary.

As a General and @78, this is certainly Obasanjo’s last political battle. Those that love Nigeria must join hands together to ensure that the coming battle is pursued and fought by all means necessary.

 

Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye, Magodo, Lagos.

Maxwell_adeleye@yahoo.com

 

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A Revolution Long Foretold, By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, no matter your faith or religion you’ll agree that there’s something spiritual about the current contradictions afflicting the ruling class in Nigeria. A few years ago, it would have been unthinkable that the almighty People’s Democratic Party (PDP) would be on the defensive in a major election year. Not when its powerful operatives had projected that it would reign and control Nigeria for a minimum of 50 years. But how the times have changed, sooner than later.

The PDP is now fighting the battle of its life and desperately searching for an escape from a seemingly imminent massacre in the hands of its most daring foe to date, the All Progressives Congress (APC). The Presidential race has become such that even members and friends of Nigeria’s biggest political party would confess secretly that the war is virtually lost and won. As at last week however, a few members of the privilegentsia still lived in denial, under the illusion that the election would not hold and that there are options to be explored. One prominent member assured me that “all of us are thieves and most people at the top don’t want and can’t even contemplate a Buhari Presidency.” Another told me “I’m a Northerner and I can tell you that most Northern elites are opposed to Buhari’s ascendancy.”
While I do not doubt the veracity of some of their postulations, I have always believed that there is a power bigger than all of us and that God, Allah, Olodumare, Chineke, or whatever name He’s called in your language, is the One and Only. It is true that since 2003, General Muhammadu Buhari has emerged as a recurring Presidential contestant beating previous contenders like The Owelle, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The full story of Buhari’s audacity of hope and tenacity of spirit would have to be told by historians, political scientists and eminent psychologists in the future. It will be a tale in the realm of thrillers.
Not many of us anticipated that, a day like this would come again when, Nigerians would practically unite behind a man who once upon a time, carried so much negative baggage that we all treated him with disdain. I’ve read and heard of salacious tales of turning adversity into prosperity but this is indeed a classic in all ramifications. I would like to posit that the foundation for this miracle was laid by no other than PDP, a party that burnt many bridges and wasted its uncommon goodwill and humongous privileges.
We must travel to the past in order to understand how we arrived at this junction of confusion. PDP was the biggest beneficiary of the protracted crisis that resulted from the annulment of our best election yet on June 12, 1993. Power was then auspiciously handed over to the usual conservative elements in Nigeria, offshoots of NPN and NRC, so to say. My theory at the time and till this day is that General Ibrahim Babangida was encouraged and actively supported by the Nigerian Mafia to kill the baby of June 12 right inside the labour room. This innocent kid was just about to birth when they struck and its life was cruelly terminated.  That was it! Since then, Nigeria has known no peace. What we’ve managed to enjoy are occasional flashes and sparks of hope but nothing tangible about moving our nation forward in the right direction.

We watched in wonderment and amazement as our country waltzed from one demonic attack to another. For example, General Olusegun Obasanjo’s reign had a fair share of its own turbulence. Senate Presidents were changed like diapers. Governors were in suspended animation under the close watch of Nuhu Ribadu’s EFCC. A promising regime almost collapsed under the weight of a Third Term misadventure. Somehow, President Obasanjo survived the political volcano and promptly handed over power to a rather taciturn and sickly President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who seemed to have had some great vision but was handicapped by ill-health.  The months leading to his demise were highly suspenseful as those referred to as the cabal vanished into rarefied air with the terminally ill President.
As always, many concerned Nigerians rose up stoutly to the occasion. The then Vice President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, was seen by many of us as an underdog and a pawn in the power game. Human rights activists and celebrities gathered and lined up the streets not because they believed that PDP would suddenly become a party that would care more about the people but to establish the rule of law and enforce the rights of man. This defence of principle led to the emergence of President Jonathan in an acting capacity until the death of his boss was finally confirmed and publicly announced. The mileage accruable to President Jonathan was so massive and he enjoyed this till the election of 2011 which swept him to power in his own capacity. His Fresh Air campaign and the grass to grace trajectory resonated with most Nigerians at that time.
But no sooner had Jonathan settled in than the tribal warlords moved in confidently and hijacked the President in the fashion of “he’s our son and it is our turn to enjoy power like other regions…” Thus a man who ought to have been the father of the nation was soon transfigured into an ethnic jingoist, inadvertently. He began to dress the part due, I am sure, to some experts who must have assured him that it would be better to portray his Ijaw nationhood through his mode of dressing.

The President needed to concretely invest in infrastructural development for his people rather than turning a few guys into emergency billionaires. All it would have taken to build a mini-Dubai in the South South was the will and determination to resist the flights of fancy; reduce graft and profligacy, and work as if there is no second chance. But reverse was the case. What we have seen is nothing short of a monarchical Presidency, with exhibitionist proclivity. I seriously doubt if an average Niger Deltan can confidently say that his life is much better today than it was pre-Jonathan. Whatever support the President therefore enjoys today is plainly filial and no more.
PDP and the President have been extremely lucky that Nigerians don’t ask for much from their leaders. I had tried in my own little corner on this page to write endless epistles to Dr. Jonathan. The whole idea was to advise and encourage him, at no cost, and warn him about a future that would creep in on him like a thief in the night. I have been around long enough to understand and appreciate the foibles of leadership as well as the sinful appurtenances of power. It would take plenty of prayers and loads of discipline to survive the temptations that strut and fret along the corridor of power.
Nigeria is a country with too many needs in the midst of plenty. Our country is a paradox or an oxymoron of pain and luxury. A committed leader has to urgently shed off the toga of American-style Presidency and instantly embrace the quasi-revolutionary outlook of a Welfarist. As I repeatedly maintain, it is impossible to practise Capitalism without capital.  This is the crux of the matter. Both opposition and ruling parties in Nigeria have to make up their minds about their business-as-usual attitudes or let loose the wrath of the masses on the country one of these days. I’m certain that we are at our ‘Last Chance Saloon’ of having a bloodless revolution if we can successfully manage the forthcoming elections.
The popularity of Buhari is clearly evidence, and symptomatic, of a threat of revolution if we mismanage things as usual. I must say that this election has also brought out the best out of President Jonathan. The energy and resources he has pumped into this campaign should have been unleashed on the country upon attaining power. Now he’s looking very Nigerian by reflecting the fashion of different parts. He is now talking to Pastors and Imams unlike in the past when the impression was that he cared only about his Christian brethren.

He has suddenly energised the military by attempting to achieve in six weeks what he couldn’t in many years. The North East has finally returned to Nigeria after what seemed a deliberate ostracisation by the President and his war commanders. The President is making promises that may now be difficult, if not impossible to fulfil in four years. What I see in all of the above is that the President has ostensibly realised what we have been talking about, that he has underperformed, that some of his closest aides have undermined him by engaging in “galloping corruption” (apologies to Christiane Amanpour), that some of the most advertised achievements of his administration are of the lowest quality at this time and age especially for a country as important as Nigeria…
Yes, we can see the President working at frenetic pace in the hope that it is not too late to salvage whatever is left of his terribly decimated Presidency. The entire world seems to know that these are not the best of times for Dr Jonathan and indeed Nigeria. From editorials in The Economist, New York Times, and comments on CNN and Al Jazeera, the story is uniform that President Jonathan has lost substantial popularity to a former dictator. All those who wrote off General Buhari in the past (I was one of his most vociferous critics) now have no choice but to see him as a veritable option worth exploring.
Such is life. The arrogance of a ruling party that could not keep its house in order has now spawned a spiralling movement across the nation. The poor have always seen Buhari as their friend and saviour. What has finally put a stamp of authority on it is the fact that even members of the comfortable class are now ready to embrace Buhari warts and all. No one is ready to provoke the poor further in Nigeria. We’ve already seen the effect of poverty in the way many idle youths are easily recruited for acts of terror. If they can find someone like Buhari who they fervently trust and adore, we can hope for some reprieve from those children of anger. But if Buhari is patently and brazenly rigged out, we are at the risk of igniting a bigger conflagration. The other reason is that many of us now think we must practise democracy properly by demonstrating that no person or political party can condescendingly perpetuate itself in power when it is very obvious that it has not met our expectations.

I offer the following advice to PDP, APC, INEC, Military, Eminent personalities, Nigerian Citizens, in that order.
PDP – There is no question that as a party in power for so long, PDP may not wish to relinquish power but it must know nothing lasts forever. Please, try to run a clean race and leave the rest to the electorate. If you win, you will be applauded and if you fail but concede without rancour, the ovation will be louder. You have fought too many enemies lately and lost a multitude of friends in the process. Who knows, a man whose head has been chopped off may still try to puff some smoke! Nothing is impossible. But do not attempt to win through foul means.
APC – My admonition to you is not too different. This is your best chance ever as a coalition of opposition forces. You have managed a formidable campaign against all odds and all polls put you beyond or at worst neck-to-neck with PDP. This is a great compliment to a new party. You have five more weeks to perform a miracle. You are closer than you know but try to avoid complacency and over-confidence. Please, encourage your members and supporters to eschew bitterness and violence no matter the degree of provocation. In particular, reach out to all peoples and groups.

INEC – I watched the presentation of INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega at The Senate chamber a few days ago and was very impressed. With what I saw, nothing stops us from having near-perfect elections on March 28 and April 11, 2015. Between now and then, INEC should continue to train its personnel and educate the electorate. History will never forget your salutary efforts if these elections are concluded satisfactorily.
Military – Our military and security forces are first and foremost Nigerians. Your loyalty, as you swore, should be to your nation and not any individual or political party. You’ve always performed wonders while on national and international assignments. I’m happy and reassured about your renewed determination to rid Nigeria of insurgents. Our prayers continue to be with you. There have been all manner of rumours that you may be used by politicians to scuttle the current democratic process. Thanks for coming out openly to deny this allegation. We shall all build a better Nigeria together.

Eminent Personalities – Like your counterparts elsewhere you are always worried about safeguarding your personal interests but the time has come to put the nation first. Let’s give democracy a chance.
Nigerian Citizen – It is your right and prerogative to want the candidate of your choice to win. However, once we exercise our right to vote, let’s keep calm even if things don’t go our way even if we think elections aren’t free and fair. There are many ways to seek legitimate redress. We should utilise those options.
No matter who wins, it is certain Nigeria will never be the same.

 

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A Tale Of Two Godfathers By Ogbu, Blessing Ekpere

They are not godfathers properly called; but their political antecedents and propensities can be explained only within the context of the godfather phenomenon. Alternatively, but with limited accuracy, they may be described as oracles in so far as they remain formidable national figures whose perceived political sagacity attracts an assemblage of political actors of motleyed plumes whose ambitions border on the threshold of political relevance. As the 2015 Polls inch closer, it is becoming inexplicably difficult to unravel the motivations that have seen these two personae berthing on different sides of the political fence. Originally, finding shelter under the same accommodating umbrella, these oracles have sidled up to the two major contenders in the 2015 Presidential Polls to the utter befuddlement of Nigerians. When the history of this era is written in the coming years, students of Political Science will, no doubt, find the events of today puzzling.

The points of divergence between these godfathers are heightened by the points of convergence existing between them. These two godfathers were former military leaders and, at epochal moments in the history of Nigeria, determined the destiny of the nation. Both attained the enviable rank of army generals. Both committed heinous crimes against the mass of humanity which Providence had given them to lord: assassinating opponents, decimating whole communities, silencing voices of dissent, becoming tools for neo-imperialists, misappropriating and defalcating with impunity state resources and, at other times, converting same to their personal use. Both have loyalists within the political class and the military hegemony. Until recently, both harboured no reservation in finding refuge under the behemoth umbrella whose reputation for its generous accommodation of characters of diverse orientations and moral persuasions is now a matter of common knowledge. And, to round off the points of convergence, both have their abodes on hilltops: the one in Abeokuta; the other in Minna. But, at that point, the similarities end. One was in the army engineering corps; the other was in the army armoured corps. One willingly forewent power even when it would have been expedient politically to retain same; the other was forced to abdicate the seat of government after the criminal annulment of the presidential election of 12, June, 1993. Providentially, the first godfather would return to power twenty years later as a democratically elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and eventually served the constitutionally stipulated two terms. Remarkably, the other godfather contributed in no small measure to the emergence of the first godfather as a political leader, having become, by default, the public face of that politically oriented cabal of military generals who sought to retain political power by proxy. Like the Biblical story of Joseph who progressed from prison to palace, this godfather, then doing time in General Sani Abacha’s gulag for being an accessory after the fact of treason following the aborted 1995 coup was released, granted presidential pardon, rehabilitated and then installed as the first Executive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the Fourth Republic.

It conduced to the impressive records of this godfather that he willingly handed over to Alhaji Shehu Shagari in 1979 at a time when military adventurism in politics was in vogue in Africa and in most third world nations. That action earned him the toga of a statesman. It was on the strength of this reputation that this godfather sought to become the Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1991. This status also generated a groundswell of global condemnation of the Abacha junta when the latter implicated him in the coup of 1995 and actually sentenced him to death. These condemnations played no small role in compelling the junta to commute the penalty to life imprisonment. Twelve years later, this godfather, as a cunning fox, gauged national and international outcry against his third term scheming and promptly struck down the obnoxious intrigue. Today, he is positively regarded globally. He is, for instance, a member of the Club de Madrid, a group of more than 80 former leaders of democratic states who are committed to strengthening democratic leadership and governance. He is also a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), a group of ten distinguished individuals who advocate at the highest levels for equitable and sustainable development in Africa. He has also held several plenipotentiary posts, such as, for example, Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was also the leader of the African Union Election Observers during the Zimbabwean election of July, 2013.

This godfather has been known to swim, sometimes, against the tide of popular opinion. The man’s capacity for brusqueness dates back to the antiquated past: it was not a newfangled habit. Take, for instance, his condemnation of the presidential ambition of Chief M.K.O. Abiola. His rather widely reported declamation, ill-advised at that time, but rather prescient with the benefit of hindsight, that Chief M.K.O. Abiola was not the messiah that Nigeria sought at that material time. This pitted him against his Yoruba kinsmen who saw him as a betrayer of the June 12 mandate and a stooge of the northern oligarchy.  So, when he made that infamous proclamation, as it were, Nigerians were understandably piqued. But, a little introspection would have shown that Abiola, large-hearted as he was, was a victim of karmic justice. Nature possesses the ability to resolve conflicts in its peculiar way such that the manifestation of the consequences confounds even the most perceptive of men. It was Nature’s prerogative that Abiola could not lead the Third Republic – not after the sinuous and pleonastic transition programme of his friend, and, certainly, not after the scent of his finger was detected in the coup that terminated Shagari’s administration and the putsch that sounded the death-knell on the General Muhammadu Buhari-General Tunde Idiagbon dyad not to talk of other malfeasances against democratic ethos.

The second godfather, who, in one interview with Tell Magazine, described himself as an Evil Genius, possesses that benevolent mien which endeared him to Nigerians when he overthrew the mean-faced distich of Buhari-Idiagbon in 1985. By means of fascinating speeches and his captivating gap-toothed smile, the man ingratiated himself into the heart of Nigerians and proceeded to consolidate himself in power as he played kalo-kalo with Nigerians for eight indeterminate years. Nigerians are wont to forget that this man did not overthrow General Buhari out of his love for Nigerians but as a measure of self-preservation, his friend and confidant, Aliyu Gusau, having being recommended for retirement for his role in the inflation of defence contracts figures. From his economic policies to his political programmes, this godfather’s administration rode the tumultuous tides of increasing general discontent as his transition train, travelling on a parallel course, lurched erratically like the motions of an inebriated man. Eventually, he was humiliated out of office after he annulled the globally acclaimed and popularly accepted June 12 1993 presidential election. Incidentally, Nature, too, like the gods in classical mythology who, for their amusement, played callous jokes with lesser mortals, must have chosen this godfather as its human instrumentality to fulfil its design on Chief Abiola. Faced with widespread acts of civil disobedience unprecedented in a military regime which grounded all economic activities, and having seen his threats and ultimatums to the politicians of the two major political formations to line up like schoolchildren in his interim government go unheeded, he retired ignominiously to his Minna hilltop mansion with his tail between his hind legs like a chastised dog where, till date, he has remained a pariah both to his countrymen and to members of the international community. Twice he had attempted to run for the presidency and twice Nigerians have unequivocally denounced his impetuous ambition. Till date, the man has refused to avail Nigerians of the hidden story behind the annulment, choosing rather to treat Nigerians to his condescending acceptation of responsibility for the heinous evil. Till date, too, it is doubtful if the man has been assigned any role by international agencies.

Except that certain of his countrymen, least of who is not President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, still harbour that pardonable illusion that the man has the superman capacity to move political mountains. It is a testimonial to this godfather’s propensity towards evil that his name is associated always with scheming, stratagems and devices where the government plots to weaken democratic structures and to subvert the collective will of the Nigerian people. It speaks volumes of our national flaw as a people that these two godfathers could afford to deport themselves with sublime oracularity in a nation bristling with human resources. Yet it is easy to deconstruct the factors that conduce to these unfathomable ethical contradictions. In a nation where the dominant political value is a praetorian and rentier ideology subsumed in material acquisitiveness; where a politician’s relevance is determined by his capacity to dole out patronages to loyalists, and where the emphasis is not on political sagacity but on demagoguery, people like these two godfathers will continue to appeal successfully to the basic instincts of the people from their hilltop mansions.

But, it must be allowed that even in the worst of poverty-stricken climes, there is a limit to the quantum of political chicanery and administrative wantonness a people can endure. Nigerians have attained that stage of saturation where they can no longer, reasonably, be expected to be complaisant to a system which negates their existential choices. In the chequered political history of Nigeria, Nigerians have demonstrated that, contrary to their famed longsuffering, there is a point beyond which no maximum ruler, the presumed unfathomable reach of his powers notwithstanding, cannot cross without dire consequences either to himself or the nation or to both himself and the nation. After eight years of transition to nowhere, the Minna general annulled an election which was reputed to be free and fair. The people reacted, much to his consternation and he hurriedly left the seat of power after two months. Similarly, the denizen of the Abeokuta hilltop mansion never reckoned with the groundswell that would attend his ill-fated third term project.

Some people, however, are destined to be bad students of history. Twenty-two years after, this godfather who exploded the historic opportunity of etching his name on the marble of history believes that his political survival, and that of his apologists, lie in the protection afforded by the acquisitive plutarchy. Twenty-two years after and he is in consort with the President who, having disconnected his umbilical cord from the nutritive navel of his original godfather, is the new face of the regnant political and economic order keen on perpetuating the currency of praetorian forces represented by this godfather as its archetype. Twenty-two years after and Nigerians are bemused that the lessons of 12, June 1993 appeared to be lost, inexorably sunk in the murky seas of collective amnesia which is the bane of the Nigerian masses and patronizing hauteur which is the affliction of the elites. Rather puzzling is the inexplicability of someone who nourishes an egotistical pleasure from the cognomen of ‘the Evil Genius’ finding the times and the national mood too profound to comprehend. If, as it is rumoured, he is the unseen force behind the postponement of the 2015 polls, seeking to perpetuate in the process the reign of his proselytised protégé through disingenuous manipulations of events and the law, then it is disturbing that he has not learnt the lessons of history properly. Either that, or he believes he is still possessed of his twentieth century charms.  But, even in 1993, those charms lost their potency. When people fail to learn from history, they invariably repeat history, often with startling replication and devastating consequences. The President, by cleaving to this godfather, is preparing himself for the same fate that befell his adopted godfather. As Simon Ayobolu wrote in his Op-ed piece titled “A President and his Mediocre Security Chiefs” in The Nation of Saturday, February, 14, 2015: “Can Dr Jonathan get away successfully with his current efforts to manipulate the elections in his favour? I do not think so. The weight of public opinion is too much against him. . .The truth is that the all-powerful Nigerian President has demonstrated a visceral fear of people’s power by desperately trying to avoid elections by all means. A President who won and celebrated a pan-Nigerian victory in 2011 is obviously scared of a pan-Nigerian defeat in 2015. . . The unprecedented presidential fear of elections is itself a great victory for the Nigerian people. Dr Jonathan cannot postpone the ever increasing momentum for change forever. Furthermore, history is not on Dr Jonathan’s side. All Nigerian leaders before him who tried one form of tenure elongation or the other failed abysmally. He will not be an exception.”

Uncannily, however, and contrary to the other godfather and his adopted godson, the Ota godfather has noted the increasing undulation of people’s discontent with his erstwhile godson. This godfather has therefore decided to identify with the masses whose aspiration for a departure from a culture of impunity and praetorian tendencies is personified by General Muhammadu Buhari. If this godfather, who started the process of integrating Nigeria into mainstream capitalism, could endorse General Buhari, whose political and economic ideology bothers on, mildly speaking, socialism, then it can be said that, like the contrite prodigal son, he recognises he has transgressed against God and the good people of Nigeria. If this godfather, whose regime was reputed for unexecuted projects, especially in the road and power sectors, where billions of dollars were budgeted and released for same, could acknowledge his failings as a leader, then no time is too late for anyone to come for the redemption of his soul. This godfather has realised that he had been on the wrong side of history all his life, and, like the thief on the cross who called on the Son of God to remember him in Paradise, this prospicient godfather, in the twilight of his life, has chosen to do penance by pitching his tent with the Nigerian masses in their call for change. He has, by this show of penitence, atoned for his years of profligacy and iniquity. The prescience of this godfather is legendary. This godfather possesses the preternatural ability to read correctly the temperature of the political space. We should be minded of the fact that he was instrumental, and, in fact, accelerated the political development of the incumbent President. To his credit, or disgrace depending on one’s perception, it must be added, that his arbitrary fiddling with the electoral process in 2007 gave the minority nationalities of the Niger-Delta the opportunity to hold and exercise political power at the highest level. Having clinically orchestrated the assumption of the office of the President, this godfather, five years later, is disappointed at the dismal performance of his erstwhile protégé. As far as prognosis goes, that is a red flag up for Nigerians.

While one godfather appears to have resolved to make reparations for the afflictions which he has inflicted on Nigerians as a result of his capricious ambitions and his inordinate greed, the other seems determined to perpetuate his name in infamy.

As Nigerians go to the Polls in less than six weeks, they await to see if the President, who has adopted the other godfather as his political father while abandoning the godfather that gave him his political break, will seek to replicate the duplicity of this godfather. He has got one postponement of the general elections by six weeks. The terminal date for his present term of office will be 29th day of May. Nigerians await his next move on the political chessboard. As this writer grudgingly conceded somewhere, the President has the right to contest, subject to judicial pronouncement on the matter by the Supreme Court, but Nigerians reserve the right to determine who leads them beyond 29th May. What he owes Nigerians, and indeed posterity, is the conduct of a free and fair elections. He should be seen to be giving effect to his oft-quoted line that his re-election is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. Whether he will allow the godfather to lead him down the path of duplicity and tyranny will unravel in the coming weeks. Whatever the nature of the broth the President and his new political father are brewing, one thing is certain: the will of a people cannot be subjugated for too long. This quote from Sam Omatseye provides an apposite conclusion to this article. In his Monday column “In Touch”, he wrote, on the 9th day of February, 2015 in his article titled “The Ambush”: “What we see today is a President who is running away from a time. But he cannot run away from time. He is running away from the people also. But both time and people will catch up with him. Maradona did same, postponed election after election and handover dates after handover dates. Eventually, the inviolate voice of the people spoke. Time always overthrows tyrants.”

Ogbu, Blessing Ekpere Esq., a Legal Practitioner, writes in from Abuja

 

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Let Save Our Future By Azeez Abdullahi Opeyemi

Bi Eniyan Ba Daake, Ti Ara Re ma Ba Daake – If a man keeps silent, his tribulations will keep silent with Him – A Yoruba Adage.

Fellow compatriots, we are people of good culture. We are people of intellect, we are people of diversified mind, and people of good morals. Amongst us are the Ganis, Anikulapo, Falana, el-rufai et al who showed us methods of promoting human rights and encouraging equals whilst the Dokubo, tompolo, Bokos’, mindless, and clueless leaders along with their partisan cohorts also Livet with us. The latter is been focused on because they are ensuring we have a destructive end from the beginning.

The Leaders (fathers and mothers) of the current generation are instilling uncultured, uncivilized acts into the minds of youths. Whereas, information and advices on moral values, cultural heritage are been thrown away. Youths are now political and cyber thugs of our leaders. There is a barricade to youth participation in governance, I ask, how will the acclaim ‘youths’ control tomorrow when experience isn’t garnered from present?

We live in a habitat where all bad vices are normal. Felony isn’t a thing to hide from the law, since ‘we-are-in-power’ ideology walks fully armed amongst us. The Ekiti recording can’t claim exemption to this. Two participants (Gov. Fayose and the Minister of Police) have claimed being part of that discussion but alas! They walk freely on our streets while the ‘oga at the top’ says it’s a fake recording. Mr Obanikoro who is a party to the discussion is being given space for a ministerial position. Aren’t we losing our morals? Are these leaders imbibing good values in the next set of leaders?

History has it that unemployed youths of over 700,000 applied for vacant 25 positions at immigration recruit in 2014. Sadly, these people paid a fee of N1,000, wherein some of them were killed and buried in the name of job interview and nothing happened, no one was prosecuted, no one resigned but silence prevailed. Where is our leaders’ moral? Many questions kept crying for answers. Where did the budgeted cost for recruit evaporate into? Who owns the company been used for the recruit? Where did the revenue made from the recruit dissolve into?

Nigeria is aging, a 54 years old entity shouldn’t be found constructing statistics so as to portray goodness to outsiders. We heard that our economy is rebased, making us the third fast growing economy in the world. But in real economics, GDP is measured base on savings, investments and consumption. My country people, Nigerians are sufferings, make enquiries from people on the streets, how much do they earn? How much they save? How much are they investing?. Interestingly, the quarters (government) that are to be blame claimed innocence, they sucked the nation’s savings (excess crude oil account) and now reality is dawn on us all.

Currently, the exchange rate is at 202 to $1, inflation has increased to 8.2%; our managers of the economy are preparing the 2015 budget at a benchmark of $74 while the price of our only source of revenue (oyel! like my brothers from the south do pronounce it) is at $54. I ask, how do we fund the budget? Isn’t that a way of claiming another debt from foreign quarters? Not forgetting that our $1billion used in purchasing arms to fight insurgence has not started functioning. Oh! Maybe the 6weeks election holiday will justify that, though Professor Jega gave us doubting ground that elections might not hold on the re-scheduled dates.

As a cultured Yoruba youth, I was thought to give respect to elders. Sadly, a fellow and elderly man of my tribe violated this code when he had a death wish for an elder on front pages of our dailies (in front of 170 million people faa). Has he forgotten that in the Yoruba Holy Book, anyone that wish a fellow being death as brought curse on himself? This is a sign of lost moral been passed to the present day youth.

In short, our leaders who are inversely fathers and mothers to this generation (youths) have showed, promoted and endorse impunity, corruption and negligence. It is now a great deal to disperse these behaviours in the minds of the youths. They made chunk of youth claim the ‘National Cake’ dogma which is transcending in our daily activities. When last has NANS sent a message to the Presidency on the lost Nigerian students (chibok girls)? Are these girls not captured under the constitution of NANS? I stand to be enlightened. Well, they kept shut since the national cake is gulped through their throats.

Our silence as a Nation is bad, let save our future. March 28 and April 11 for elections are dates (God willing) which we can use to direct our noble cause, to guide our ‘tomorrow’ leaders’ right, to help our youths know the truth. And not forgetting that in love and being honest to ourselves can make our country grow and being just, and true to ourselves can make us attain great height, and without doubt, we will build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.

I tweet @harbdula

 

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The Use of the Card Reader by INEC Does not Contravene the Electoral Act, 2010

The news item on Page 3 of the Daily Trust Newspaper of Wednesday 18, 2015 read thus: “Election: Card Reader Violates electoral act-Senate”.

The story was based on the contribution of the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) on the floor of the Senate on a motion which came under consideration when Senate resumed plenary on Tuesday the 17th February 2015.

According to the Senate Leader, the use of card readers by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accredit voters is contrary to Section 52 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

Last week Campaign Office of President Good luck Jonathan had denounced and rejected the use of card reader and PVC for the 28th general election scheduled for 28th March 2015 and 11th April 2015 respectively.

It is worthy to note that Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, the platform under which President Jonathan is contesting the presidential election scheduled for 28th March 2015.

The PDP has suddenly developed cold feet over the use of PVC and Card reader in conducting the scheduled election.

With due respect I vehemently disagree with Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba that the use of a card reader violates Section 52 of the Electoral Act.

Section 52 subsections 1, 2, 3 & 4 of the Electoral Act provide thus:

“(1) Voting at an election under this Act shall be by open secret ballot.

(2) The use of electronic voting machine for the time being is prohibited.

(3) A voter on receiving a ballot paper shall mark it in the manner prescribed by the Commission.

(4) All ballots at an election under this Act at any polling station shall be deposited in the ballot box in the open view of the public”.

It seems Victor Ndoma-Egba was alluding to subsection 2 of Section 52 of the Electoral Act which prohibits the use of electronic voting machine for the time being in voting.

It is my view that the card reader, INEC intends to use to ascertain whether or not a Permanent Voters’ Card belongs to a particular voter. Thus the use of a card reader does tantamount to an electronic voting machine contemplated by Section 52 subsection 2 of the Electoral Act; from whatever prism it is construed.

When the words used in a statute is clear it must be given its natural and ordinary meaning.

The phrase “electronic voting machine” used by the writers of Section 52 (2) of the Electoral Act is not the same as a card reader.

Section 16 (1) of the Electoral Act empowers INEC to issue a PVC to every voter that has his or her name in the National Voters Register.

Section 16 Of the Electoral Act provides that INEC shall design, cause to be printed and control the issuance of voters’ cards to voters whose names appear in the register.

What is a Card Reader?  According to Wikipedia, Card Reader is a data input device that reads data from a card shaped storage medium. Modern cars readers are electronic devices that can read plastic cards embedded with either a barcode, magnetic strip, computer chip or another storage medium.

The card reader is not intended to be use in voting. The whole essence of the card reader is to identify or authentic whether or not the biometric data inserted in a voter’s card truly belong to holder of that card whose name is in the card.

It objective is to stop electoral roguery that has become a recurring decimal in the chequered history of the country.

It is intended to prevent those who want to use voter’s card not belonging to another to vote.

It is imperative and in the interest of democracy that the political elite and political parties desist from interfering with the statutory responsibilities of INEC.

OKOI OBONO-OBLA

 

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Niger 2015: Deputy Governor Ibeto and the Price of Desperation

Somebody once said that Nigerian politics is dominated by politicians lacking principles, and this has never for once been contradicted by the unfolding drama we see in this country, especially now that we approach the dreaded Election Day. This unfortunate trend was also experienced in Niger State when the Deputy Governor, Malam Ahmed Musa Ibeto, and a few other loyalists defected to the APC in what is a protest for the former not being chosen as PDP’S Governorship candidate. You would think the Seat of Power in Niger Stateor anywhere is designed to be succeeded by an incumbent’s Deputy.

 

The background to Ibeto’s bitterness was from the momentthe incumbent Governor, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, endorsed a Governorship candidate other than him. Ibeto’sdispleasure over that decision was not in doubt, and it didn’t take much to see that the man actually considered himself the worthiest successor, perhaps in his assumption that politics is meant to be built on the personal ambitions of an aspirant, and not lobbying for the will of a political party as it is in every true democratic space.

 

As it is with serving political leaders at the end of their tenure, it’s already a tradition to register support for an aspirant likely to represent the ideals which the leader seeks to implement or which he’s sure can be implemented by a particular aspirant. In the spirit of such popular political tradition, GovernorAliyu endorsed Malam Umar Nasko, his Chief of Staff and many-time Commissioner in his administration. This decision, even with the boss’s appeal that it’s the best, didn’t go well with the Deputy Governor. But, for him to have come out so openly to rebel against the decision of the man who chose him to serve as his Deputy, which he has done for almost eight years, only goes to prove how selfishness destroys the reputation of our self-centred politicians.

 

In his refusal to accept the endorsement of Nasko, Ibeto, undiscouraged by Governor Aliyu’s decision, launched his political ambition and, forming alliance with some PDP stalwarts in the race, he challenged Nasko’s victory in the primaries and acceptance in the race. The outcome of the primary elections, however, showed, without even a doubt, that even the weight of the party is behind Nasko as the latter emerged winner in an undeniably landslide victory. With paltry 34 votes, against Nasko’s 908 votes, one would expect Ibeto to accept this convincing rejection in the party’s poll in good faith, seeing that he wasn’t even close to the overall winner. It’s even amusing that an aspirant who was seen as a political neophyte, a certain Malam Hanafi Sudan, even “outvoted” our own Ibeto, by having 57 votes – what’s alsopaltry compared to Nasko’s!

 

This humiliation, and seeming end of a political future, was too much for Ibeto to handle. Like other bitter aspirants who lost in the primary election, Ibeto waited to see the fall of Nasko by the libellous and slanderous schemes against Naskoinitiated by a “coalition” of fellow aspirants and allied paid agents who couldn’t accept the idea of a youthful candidate as winner, being still plugged into our patriarchal and gerontocratic system that hardly favours younger people. The wait and scheme to destroy Nasko, which has come in various arrangements, from courtroom sessions to fabricated tales of Nasko’s past, were all futile.

So, it didn’t shock anyone when Ibeto eventually defected to the APC as General Muhammadu Buhari visited Niger Statefor a presidential rally, seeing that as an avenue to launch an image of him as an actually principled politician, whereas what he has shown is simply a selfish bid and desperation to have it his own way. This goes against the philosophy of party politics that emphasises adherence to the dictate of the party and not the ambition of an individual. Sadly, Ibeto wanted the party to adopt his own version of democratic ideals, which is appealing to his private interests.

 

What beats me now is the fact that opportunists of such low standard always present themselves to the people as heroes, in their distortion of the true narrative of their ambition and greed. This is because our politicians assume that Nigerians are not smart enough to see between their dishonesty. As Ibetodefected out of frustration over having his hope of remaining in power and relevant after 2015 dashed, one can easilyassume that it’s just a matter of time for him and other loyal opportunists to realise that politics is not built on selfish interests, only by collective struggles of the party stalwarts. Just the way a leopard can’t get rid of its spots, a self-centred politician will always remain desperate. But the price for this self-destructive ambition is the politician’s fading into eventual political oblivion, becoming irrelevant even in his constituency.

 

By Aminu Ibrahim

Plot 41, Bay Clinic Road, Tunga, Minna, Niger State

 

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2015 Another Golden Chance for Nigerians to Speak Through Their Votes By Tajudeen Ganikale

We had a golden chance in this country in 2011 to speak through our votes, to tell our fraudulent leaders that No! it is no longer business as usual through our votes but rather, we allowed ethnic/regional and religious sentiment to cloud our judgement and vote for a man who we proclaimed as a God sent.

 

This man cooked up stories, the story of I “have no shoe when I was young”and Nigerians were moved by this deception. We failed to realize that being a president of a great Nation like ours goes beyond not having shoes when you were young. To be the president of a country requires competence and capability at least.

These sentimental factors led Nigerian voters to make an unwise decision and there emerge Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as the president of Nigeria in 2011. It is believed from some quarters that the 2011 Presidential Election was rigged in favor of the winner. Trust me, that is not correct. The Nigerian voters trooped out in mass and voted for this man because they believed he is a messiah that has come to take them out of pool of poverty, unemployment, poor power supply, insecurity, corruption and other prevalent social problems in Nigeria which need not be mentioned. His major contender in the 2011 presidential Election, General Muhammed Buhari could not have secured the majority of votes cast and one quarter of votes cast in each of at least two third of all states of the federation including the FCT to be declared the winner as required by Section 134 of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, because the country was divided based on religious and ethnic sentiment, only some states in the north voted for him. Buhari lost woefully in the south west and south south.

 

The proclaimed messiah spent his first term in office in addendum to the remaining one and half year left upon the death Late Umaru Musa Yaradua. All the promises made via their manifestos during 2011 presidential campaigns are there on the flat page of posters printed. They only read it to Nigerians and we did not see them put lives into it. Nigeria remain in a deplorable state. We are the cause of this! if only we had shun sentiments and opted for another candidate. Other candidates in the 2011 presidential election were Shekarau of ANPP, Nuhu Ribadu of ACN and General Muhammed Buhari of CPC. We could have opted for any of the candidate from these parties and if after four years they appears not to know what they are doing, we throw them out again through our votes.

 

After almost six years of trial and error administration under Jonathan, here comes another golden opportunity for Nigerians to make an informed choice. To go for a chance of new Nigeria or to remain in the status quo. This same man is asking for our vote again in the forthcoming presidential elections adopting the same method he used in 2011 appealing to sentimental conscience of Nigerians with all forms of tactics. Mr president is going around the churches in the country kneeling and kowtowing. I see a lot of desperation. Out of all the social problems we have in this country, I think five years is enough to pick one and address it, not even to the fullest but to a reasonable level most especially the issue of power because it affects common Nigerian on the street. To me, Mr President is calling Nigerians fools by asking us for another chance. In ideal democracy, people vote for a government that has performed significantly well. Citizens do not vote for a candidate because he is a Jew, Muslim or Christian, or he is yoruba man or an ijaw man.

 

I cannot comprehend why people will put in a government that does not affect their lives positively via its policies after almost six years in office. What more can such a government have to offer? For me nothing, but a further stealing and mismanagement of our national resource which is not corruption to them. According to them, stealing little amount of money in our public purse is not an act of corruption. When I heard that statement on the national TV (NTA) I was not surprised because I know that we made a grave mistake in 2011. It was not a news to me, this is a President who granted Presidential pardon to a person convicted of corruption related offences, Diepreye Alameiseyeigha, the former Governor of Bayelsa State. He washed him of the crime and made him a new person in the eyes of the law even though the said former Governor is still a wanted suspect in the United Kingdom for money laundering. A President who is serious and making efforts to cleanse corruption out of this country will not exercise that constitutional power in favor of such person. Mr President has by this act thrown this country into murky waters of ridicule in the face of committee of Nations.

 

Although, during the recently held presidential media chat on Nigeria Television authority (NTA) on 11/02/2015 in Abuja, President Jonathan made an attempt to correct this reckless statement crediting it to the former Chief Justice Of Nigeria Hon justice Dahiru Musdapher. Mr President claimed to have quoted the eminent jurist when he said “ordinary stealing is not corruption”. It seems to me that our president forgets very quickly, he has forgotten he made a like statement during one of his presidential campaigns January 9th 2015 in Enugu when he said “how much did Jim Nwobodo Steal? Money not up to the price of a Peugeot and Buhari regime sentenced him to jail, is it good?”. This statement needs no further interpretation. Is this the kind of president we want to vote into office again? Only Nigerians can respond to this poser by their votes in the forthcoming presidential elections. Nigerians are waiting for the president to credit this statement to another prominent Nigerian. No informed Nigerian will believe Mr President, the eminent jurist who lived almost all his life in the judicial world with caution couldn’t have uttered such dirty and unreasonable statement. To that end, I hope the learned jurist will have something to say to Nigerians in response to the feces Mr President is trying to pour on him.

 

Pre-PDP/Jonathan led Federal Government

 

There is no doubt the only development we had in this country happened during the military era. That was the last time citizens of this country feels the little impact of Governance. Since the coming in of PDP led federal government in 1999, there has been no meaningful developmental project. All we hear on tv stations and read on the pages of newspapers is award of contracts running into several billions of dollars, yet there is so much hardship in the country. I wonder why people will continue to vote for such party. $16billion was spent during Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenor to revamp power sector, nothing was put in place at the end of the day and no electricity. $16 billion gone, wasted and no body was questioned. This money will be in the private bank account of some top Government official. My naija people dey try o! Suffering and smiling fela said it well I guess.

 

Late president Umaru Musa Yaradua of blessed momery, came into office in 2007 lunched investigation into how the $16 billion was spent. That was the last thing we heard about the money. Oh my God, this joker party has taken Nigerians for a ride for too long. Recently, during the 2015 vice president election debate showed live on NTA, all the contestant were asked “how would your party solved the power issue if elected into office?” Vice President Namadi Sambo of PDP in response said, “the PDP has better approach to solve power problem in Nigeria and the PDP is the government that has developed this country” chai! After PDP has expended several billion of dollars since 1999 this is the position he maintained. I asked myself how did we end up with people like this in Government then I recalled this is Nigeria we don’t vote base on the competency and credibility of a candidate but rather on the principle of he is a Christian or Muslim, he is an ijaw man, hausa man. Oh my God! this is shallow! Even if we did not have Electricity supply before in this country, is over $16 billion spent by the PDP led Federal Government to fix the power problem in Nigeria not enough to take us somewhere? I leave this poser to all the readers of this piece to answer.

 

Before going further, it is necessary to point out that power sector is not the only sphere of governance the PDP government has failed Nigerians, they have also inhibited our national Development in other areas of governance such as unemployment, insecurity, wide spread poverty and so on.

 

Golden opportunity for Nigeria and Hope for Good Governance.

 

The 2015 presidential election is around the corner, the two major political parties in the country People’s Democratic Party and the All Progressive Congress have presented their candidates and concludes their campaigns. If not for the postponement of the elections by The Nigeria Independent National Electoral Commission (inec)14th of February 2015 would have been the deal day. However, that is not the subject of this discourse I will not dabble into that.

 

The role of political parties in any democratic setting is very germane. Our choice of candidates at any election is limited by what the political parties presents to us. The people’s Democratic Party and the All Progressive Congress are the only political parties that have the Popular strength to win presidential election in Nigeria. The people’s Democratic Party have presented the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo as their candidates. It is my view that they presented bad choice for Nigeria. These are leaders that have been in Government in the last five years and failed to transformed the lives of Nigerians. It will be a grave mistake if we vote these set of leaders into office again. They have both shown themselves to be uninspiring and unworthy of our votes. I can only hope this is clear to the eyes of every Nigerian voter. If we consider the party these candidates are from, reasonably they do not deserve another chance.

One would have thought because they are educated packed leaders they will move this country forward, but despite the academic qualifications of President Jonathan and Vice President Sambo, their leadership skills have in no way benefited or improve the life of common Nigerian.

 

Let me sound a note of caveat at this point that I am not saying the candidates presented by All Progressive Congress General Muhammed Buhari and Professor Osinbajo are the best candidates or another messiahs, but in the face of the mess the PDP, Jonathan and Sambo administration have put this country into, they stand to be the best alternative. it is only wise for the Nigerian voters to vote for New set of leaders. Let us try something new. After all, Nigerians still retain the right to speak through their votes again and vote them out of office if they performed below expectations. This should be the wide spread application in all the elections all over the country. By doing this, we are telling our selfish leaders that it is no longer business as usual. Ethic and Religious sentiments should not be our watchword in choosing our leaders.

 

Every Nigerian voter should asked his or herself this question. why should I vote for President Jonathan? Is it because he is a Christian Or Muslim, or because he is from the south or north or because he is holy and likes to go churches and kneel down before God or because he has solved one among all the problems we have in this country. I can only hope we will speak wisely through our votes this time.

 

Tajudeen Ganikale Esq is a Lagos based lawyer and Social Commentator.

Tweet@Abeet4real

tj_ganikale@yahoo.com

 

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Olusegun Obasanjo: A Gift That Keeps Giving Sh*t By Adekoya Boladale

For those of us not privileged to have been born in the 60’s, the heroic and bravery of Retired General Olusegun Obasanjo was taught to us in the four walls of elementary and secondary schools.

‘…the civil war lasted for years’ my primary school teacher, Mr. Bayo began in one of his numerous recounts of how the Nigerian civil war of 1967 ended. ‘So many people were killed but the war was brought to an end when the commander of the 3rd Marine Commando Division led by, Olusegun Obasanjo took over Owerri, this single act ended the civil war’

Like every patriot who have served before and after him, he bled to protect fellow countrymen and women but above all he stood his ground in ensuring the sovereignty of our dear country is never jeopardized.

Unlike many of his colleagues in the military, who lust for power thereby forcefully getting one through coup, Obasanjo showed exemplary leadership, discipline and great respect for the democratic institution by not participating in any of the military coup and even supervised the return to civilian rule in 1979. These Obasanjo should be praised for.

But as story becomes history and history becomes legend and legend becomes myth, Obasanjo became the president of Nigeria in 1999 after years of military rule. Many have argued that this single act rubbished whatever goodwill Obasanjo has and he could have simply rejected the offer and preserve the illusion of his heroism. Others believe that Obasanjo became the president of Nigeria at a time his patriotism was most needed and he could have written his name in gold if only he didn’t let greed take over his soul.

Far different from the Obasanjo of old who served with Late Murtala Mohammed, the Obasanjo of 1999 was a man changed by the iron bars of the prison. If there was any goodwill Obasanjo worked hard to achieve before 1999 he forfeited it there after.

Under his watch; corruption, graft and nepotism were knighted into the nucleus of democratic institutions and Nigeria, a nation with every needed elements to grow and develop was dragged back to the primordial days. He corrupted key institutions and processes – INEC, Police, Civil Service, Legislature among others. To say the Obasanjo’s administration didn’t have some pluses will be unfair. The privatization of the telecom industry and bank recapitalization were strong and needed policies his government implemented but his bad over weighs his good.

-In the report of the infamous Halliburton fraud, President (as he then was) Obasanjo supervised the sharing of the $74million bribe by Halliburton to influence the award of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) contract in Nigeria. He was reported to have given his aide, Bodunde Adeyanju, a whooping $21million of the bribe. This is less the Siemens and Wilbros oil scams.

– The $16billion allocated for the National integrated power project developed magical legs while additional 16billion naira was paid to 34 ghost companies to execute project under the same scheme.

– Obasanjo directed the sales of the Kaduna and Port Harcourt refineries to friends at a give away price of $750milion

– In his promise to revive the railway sector, President Obasanjo removed 8.3billion naira from the nation’s treasury but this money miraculously didn’t get to the rails even after leaving the treasury.

– On February 5, 2009, the Daily Sun reported that President Obasanjo was alleged to have singlehandedly withdrawn N232billion from the federation account without any approval from the National Assembly.

– The Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) fund of $86million felt the touch of the former president as $68.8million of its fund suddenly disappeared via an order from Obasanjo

– Transcorp believed to be directly linked to Obasanjo Holdings limited suddenly got acquisition of four major oil blocs namely OPL218, 219, 209 and 220 allocated to it on 21 July 2005 by President Obasanjo, it also acquired NITEL and Nicon-Hilton.

– At the twilight of his administration, President Olusegun Obasanjo awarded some contracts totalling 850billion naira in the following tranches. 70billion naira to revive the textile industry, 58.6billion naira for the second Niger Bridge and maintenance of same for 42billion naira, 16.53billion naira for the reconstruction of the Lagos port harbours, 20billion naira for the expansion of the Lagos airport, 4.8billion naira for the building of permanent accommodation for the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), 1.39billion naira for the construction of the Ministry of Defence’s permanent residence, 1.4billion naira for the conversion of steam and head for power plant, 47.4billion naira for the conversion of the Alaoji power plant to double circuit, 3.5billion naira for the procurement and repair of two boilers at the Egbin power station and 233million naira to fix the Agege-Lagos road. All these funds were stolen!

– In his infamous third term move, the former president was reported to have bribed members of the National Assembly with a total sum of 10billion naira, a report former Senate President, Ken Nnamani and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila corroborated.

Today, the same Obasanjo now parades himself as a nationalist and statesman. In his recent book titled ‘My Watch’, Obasanjo amplified himself as a saint who was surrounded by criminals but above all a saint. The book illustrates the fiction of what Obasanjo would have loved to be and represent. Just like he demonstrated in ‘My Command’, his personal memoir on the civil war, he centers himself as a Marvel super hero against evey other. Today, he stands up tall to blast the administration of Goodluck Jonathan as he did against Late Umaru Yar’adu and Gbenga Daniel. The sin of the trio was that they didn’t give him the privilege to run via proxy. Most of the attacks on the Jonathan administration were based on the flaws and frauds of the Obasanjo’s administration.

A renowned political satirist, Elnathan John, said recently, “Nigeria is great. You can try to elongate your tenure, fail, leave office, then write sermons to the incumbent on good governance and shit.”

The new Obasanjo has shown himself to be a man whose engine runs on consistent publicity. He places himself as a center of attraction and loves to be in control of everyone and everything around him. A friend recently described the new Obasanjo  as ‘ a selfish, vindictive, narcissistic Fox’.

During an interview recently with Fox TV and reproduced by ‘Washington Times’ on why he has refused to critique the Obama’s administration, George W. Bush replied “I don’t think it’s good for the country to have a former president undermine a current president; I think it’s bad for the presidency for that matter,” speaking further he said “Secondly, I really have had all the fame I want,” he continued. “I really don’t long for publicity. And the truth of the matter is in order for me to generate publicity I’d have to either attack the Republican Party, which I don’t want to do, or attack the president, which I don’t want to do. And so I’m perfectly content to be out of the limelight.”

The new Obasanjo needs to understand that to truly seek equity, one must come with clean hands. The backwardness, dilapidation and putrefaction of Nigeria is majorly the result of eight years of grand corruption, greed and graft supervised, presided and executed by him.

Adekoya Boladale wrote via adekoyaboladale@gmail.com. Please engage on twitter @adekoyabee and Facebook www.facebook.com/adekoyabee

 

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2015 Elections: How to Make Nigeria the Winner? By Abdulrahman Dambazau

The theme “2015 Elections: How to make Nigeria the Winner” appears simple, but I found it very complex and thought provoking. Certain assumptions could be made with regard to our theme today: first, that although most of the elections conducted in Nigeria in the past had presented some serious challenges, the 2015 elections are likely to present much more serious challenges that could jeopardize national security interests unless plans are made to ensure hitch-free elections; second, that going by what has been speculated within and outside Nigeria, there is the possibility that the country will disintegrate, and the 2015 elections would probably be the platform for it unless it is handled with care; third, that there is hope the 2015 elections would provide the opportunity to strengthen Nigeria’s unity and uphold her integrity; and fourth, that the 2015 elections would provide opportunities to elect good leaders that would clear the path for peaceful co-existence, security, and national development. Since this is a dialogue, I will be raising a lot of questions in an attempt to provoke discussions on how to make Nigeria the winner after the 2015 elections, which are just around the corner.
Winning itself in the context of the 2015 elections has its own implications: what stage of winning are we referring to, such as prioritizing into short, medium and long terms; or are we looking at winning in terms of successful conduct of the elections in 2015 in which they not only would be free, fair, all-inclusive, and credible, but also free from the type of post-elections violence we witnessed in 2011; or that the 2015 elections would lead to the long awaited consolidation of democracy in which good governance would be evident through accountability and transparency, and the respect for the rule of law and human rights; or ensuring that the aftermath of the 2015 elections does not lead to the disintegration of Nigeria as earlier predicted by some US security analysts? Would the 2015 elections bring about a radical change leading us to economic growth and political stability? Would they improve Nigeria’s corruption image in which the Transparency Corruption Index (TCI) depicts Nigeria as one of the most corrupt nations on earth? Would they improve Nigeria’s poor governance image as depicted by the 2013 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG)? IIAG defines governance as “the provision of the political, social and economic public goods and services that a citizen has the right to expect from his or her state, and that a state has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens.” The framework comprises four categories: safety and rule of law; participation and human rights; sustainable economic opportunity; and human management. Nigeria’s 2013 ranking was 41st among the 52 African countries assessed. Or would the 2015 elections provide the opportunity to improve Nigeria’s status in the UN Human Development Index (HDI) from being among the low developed to highly developed countries in the world? The 2014 Human Development Report (HDR), the latest in the series since 1960, ranks Nigeria 152nd out of the 185 countries assessed. In the context of human security, what would be Nigeria’s post-2015 development agenda? To what extent would the outcome of 2015 elections significantly reduce the risks of terrorism to which Nigeria presently occupies the 4th most risk position (even ahead of Somalia) in the world according to the 2014 Global Terrorism Index; or to turn things around in the world of cyber crime in which a computer crime and security survey ranked Nigeria as the most internet fraud country in Africa and the 3rd in the world. In other words, what is our target of Nigeria being the winner in post-2015 elections? And at what point after the 2015 elections should we feel comfortable that Nigeria is the winner, assuming we are able to identify the winning parameters and thus map out her winning strategy?
There is no doubt that as we move towards the 2015 elections the political environment in Nigeria has been anything but stable, accompanied by high tension signaling warnings of impending political instability and violence, added to the criminal violence resulting from such crimes as kidnapping, armed robbery, ritual murders, and rape occurring all over. Already, over the past five years the nation has been struggling with the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast that is threatening our peace and stability, and to a very large extent, Nigeria’s sovereign and territorial integrity, bearing in mind that some parts of her territory are already under the control of the insurgents (according to recent reports, 20 out of the 27 local government areas of Borno State are under the insurgents, with the flag hoisted).
There is also the issue of recognition and ownership of Nigeria, and one may not be far from reality to assume that Nigeria is still struggling to be recognized as a nation by those who reside in her territory. To be the winner at anytime, Nigeria requires collective ownership to the extent that the approximately 170 million “citizens” see themselves first as Nigerians rather than clinging to their various ethnic and/or religious identities. We identify ourselves on the basis of our religion and ethnicity, and the only time we are Nigerians is when we identify ourselves at international borders holding the travelling passport. No wonder we find it difficult to conduct successful census that would enable us plan for development as a nation, mainly because we argue over which religious group, section or tribe is more in number, without focusing on the quality of the population.

Today we talk of ethnic nationalities and the urge for self-determination for each ethnic group. No doubt there are people who do not believe in Nigeria as it is currently structured. Similarly, there are those who believe that the amalgamation of the north and south was either a genuine mistake or a deliberate gerrymandering by the British colonial government in line with its interests; still there are others who are convinced that the north and south do not share anything in common culturally, therefore it is impossible to live together as one nation; others feel that Nigeria is too large a country, therefore would prefer an arrangement that would give each region self-determination; and yet there are even those with separatist agenda, such as Boko Haram, NDPVF, MASSOB, MEND, and OPC, who believe that everyone should go his separate ways for whatever reasons they hold. From the foregoing picture, what has become very clear is the fact that the unity of Nigeria has been under intense threat, and with the current divergent political interests and the combative nature of most politicians in pursuant of do-or-die politics, what would likely be the picture post-2015 elections? As a matter of fact there are people who threatened to put the country on fire if their preferred candidate does not win the presidential election. How can Nigeria be the winner after 2015 elections against the forces of anarchy, violence, and disintegration? What should be the strategy for this winning agenda? The 2015 elections represent just the peak or high point of this contest, but there are many other factors that come to play in deciding the “how” to make Nigeria the winner.
The 2015 elections are not going to be the first in Nigeria, but there are signs that they would be the most critical in Nigeria’s history. These elections would hold in a highly charged political environment, a situation that began within the last 15 years but apparently reaching its peak currently. Although there are a number of differences between the current situation leading to the scheduled February 2015 elections and those relating to past elections in Nigeria, the most serious one however is the fact that at no time in the history of this country did we find ourselves so divided along religious and ethnic lines than now. Most politicians rely on the strength and efficacy of using religion and ethnicity as tools for political mobilization by taking advantage of the strong religious and ethnic sentiments among Nigeria’s populace. Hardly do politicians argue on the basis of the issues reflecting national interests and national development, and to a large extent, the bulk of Nigeria’s population neither understands nor appreciates the implications of such political manipulations. Furthermore, capitalizing on Nigeria’s unequal wealth distribution system, a rich natural-resource country but with over 70% of the population living below the universal poverty line, politicians have also introduced money as an additional tool for political mobilization. People are ready to do anything for money, including selling their votes and killing political opponents. It is very clear the extent to which politicians have used money to establish private “armies” used for political violence with the clear mandate by their masters to maim or kill whoever they consider an enemy, using all kinds of weapons (including small arms and light weapons). The last 15 years have witnessed the gradual militarization of politics which gave birth to, for example, the Borno ECOMOG, now transformed to Boko Haram; all manners of armed “cultists” groups, especially in Rivers; the Niger Delta militant groups, such as NDPVF and MEND; the Yan K’alare of Gombe; Ombatse of Nasarawa; the Area Boys of Lagos; the Egbesu Boys in Niger Delta; Sara-Suka of Bauchi; Bakassi Boys of Cross River; Yan Daba of Kano; Kauraye of Katsina; etc.
On the other hand, although one may argue that the process of politicization of the military began with the January 1966 Major Chukwuma Nzeogu’s coup which led to the termination of the First Republic and the beginning of an extended involvement of the military in politics, it is equally worthy to note that the last 15 years of the current democratic dispensation has witnessed a deeper politicization of the military and of course, the police. Both institutions have been distracted from their constitutional and professional responsibilities into carrying out tasks that seem to be geared towards regime security, rather than national security. Though there was an attempt to re-professionalize the military beginning in 2003 using a framework designed to transform the Nigerian Army over a ten-year period, there appears to be a derailment, though not in the form of direct involvement of the military in governance, rather it had to do with the deployments of the military to perform tasks that are outside their constitutional responsibilities. Almost all the states in Nigeria have maintained Task Forces, a combined military and police outfits, funded by the State Governors and deployed to conduct routine policing duties, a situation that is detrimental to the constitutional functions of the military in particular. By and large, if the initial phase of the transformation project designed to end in 2013 had succeeded the army would have improved on its professionalism, culture and values; curbed waste and corruption for greater efficiency; meet both local and international obligations at less cost; repositioned to effectively deal with its traditional roles based on new fighting concepts and broad range of threats; and developed lighter, lethal, sustainable, and rapidly deployable and responsive force (see Framework for the Transformation of the Nigerian Army in the Next Decade, Volume 1). Today the performance of the military against the Boko Haram insurgency has been below expectation, a situation that has been tied to both tangible and intangible factors such as discipline; inadequate or inappropriate equipment; poor leadership; and quality of personnel and troops morale. The professional conduct of our armed forces and police is being questioned by the international community following the accusations of human rights abuses; and our sincerity in dealing with terrorism is being doubted for various reasons. The situation is gradually reversing the position the Nigerian military held in the immediate past as one of the best in the world as a result of the leadership role we played in the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Chad, Somalia, Sudan, and a host of other countries under regional and UN peacekeeping missions. It was not long ago in 2009 that the UN Peacekeeping Department honored the Nigerian Military with the accreditation of pre-deployment training package at the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Center, the first in Africa to be so accredited, with the capacity to train two battalions simultaneously. With that accreditation we were in position to train UN peacekeepers from anywhere in the world, but I am not sure if that would be the case now. It is instructive to note that the military is one of the major instruments of national power, and no country can afford losing it. The insurgency in the northeast has exposed our weak capacity and lack of clear political will to deal with the situation. Would the 2015 elections lead us to an era in which this instrument of national power could be strengthened and made robust?

Now to the 2015 elections themselves which are not only central to this dialogue, but also significant in making Nigeria the winner. Of course elections are very important in democracy, especially in emerging democracies, like ours. It was the former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Anan, who said that “when citizens go to the polls and cast their votes, they aspire not only to elect their leaders, but to choose a direction for their nation” and according to him, only elections with integrity can bolster democracy, while flawed elections undermine it. I agree with Kofi Anan’s assertion, but how do we ensure that the 2015 elections in Nigeria would turn out to be of integrity in order to avoid undermining our nascent democracy? How do we conduct elections with integrity using the so-called “stomach infrastructure” by attracting votes with 5kg bags of rice? How do we ensure elections with integrity in a situation in which almost all the outgoing Governors, regardless of party affiliation, anoint their chosen successors prior to elections, thereby disregarding people’s choices? And those who still have the opportunity to seek re-election for another term are given automatic ticket, regardless of their performance, thereby not only blocking other contenders from exercising their rights to participate, but also denying people the right to choose their leaders?
Closely linked to the success of the 2015 elections is the role of INEC in the conduct of free, fair and credible elections. There are quite a number of challenges the INEC is now facing, thus: if we have to count on our past experiences, there is some level of certainty that attempts would be made at various levels to rig elections, and the INEC would have to contend with how best to prevent it; likewise, previous elections were accompanied by logistics inadequacies, and it is hoped that INEC has done a lot of work in this regard so as to avoid delays in the movements of elections materials in particular; already there are problems with the Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC) and the registration of voters, and with the way things are going, there is likelihood that a large number of Nigerians (including me) would be disenfranchised; funding is another area of challenge, and INEC has made this known to the public several times that the government has not be able to provide it with adequate funds; and the fourth challenge has to do with the current insecurity in the country, particularly the northeast. How can Nigeria be the winner if these challenges are not addressed?

I want to emphasize the significance of security during elections, but in particular the 2015 elections. The INEC would conduct the 2015 elections in an environment that is confronting serious security challenges that are unprecedented, due to the insurgency in the northeast where a significant number of Local Government Areas could still be under the control of the Boko Haram as at the period of elections; where a sizeable number of Nigerians have been displaced from the homes and scattered in various make-shift camps and other places. In other places such as Taraba, Plateau, Kaduna, Benue, Zamfara, Nasarawa, and Katsina, there are people displaced as a result of either ethno-religious crisis or clashes between herders and farmers, also resulting in the displacement of significant population in the affected areas. According to a joint report by the Internal Displaced Monitoring Center and the Norwegian Refugee Council providing 2014 Global Overview, approximately 3.3 million Nigerian are displaced due to all kinds of violent crises (the figure must have increased by now). We must note also that there is equally a significant number of Nigerians who are refugees in the neighboring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon. Furthermore, the fact that a good number of these displaced persons and refugees are eligible voters, how can Nigeria be the winner of the 2015 elections without these people being able to exercise their rights to vote? How about the over 200 Chibok girls and other abductees who are still missing, and what is their fate? Can Nigeria still be the winner while these girls remain captives in the hands of the Boko Haram terrorists?
Examining the current challenges, particularly the challenges of insecurity in Nigeria as a whole, and the insurgency in the northeast in particular, there are people who think that the elections should be postponed. If this should be the case, then this dialogue we are holding today becomes irrelevant. Therefore, we should also attempt to look at the alternative scenario in terms of the impact postponing the elections would have in the polity. If the elections were not to hold, what would be next line of action in terms of ensuring peace and stability? Would the suggestion of postponing elections not introduce another set of problems? Although some people have suggested an interim government or government of national unity, who would such a government and what would be the nature of its composition? While I do not expect Nigeria to be an instant winner with just the 2015 elections, the elections would certainly lay a strong foundation for ultimate victory if they are violent-free, and perceived to be free, fair and credible. This goal can be achieved through the combination of efforts by INEC, Security Agencies, Political Parties, the Media, and Voters themselves: First, INEC must not only be neutral, but must be seen to be neutral and truly independent, by ensuring that no contestant is shortchanged; that there is a level playing field for all parties, so that no party is disadvantaged; that the electoral laws are fully adhered to and enforced, while violators are sanctioned accordingly; that adequate logistics arrangements are made to ensure that election materials are delivered accordingly, in addition to strict adherence to timings and programs; and any attempt by any participant either as individuals or parties to rig the elections should be rejected. A situation in which the people believe that elections are not free and fair, governance becomes difficult, if not impossible, due to the fact that political leadership would fail to be recognized by those who feel betrayed, as such would continue to struggle for legitimacy until next elections. This is even more serious when complaints are not addressed and resolved either politically or legally. Second, security agencies have a tremendous role to play in support of INEC by ensuring that they not only provide adequate security during the elections, but that they also remain neutral. Not only that security agencies must as a matter of necessity stick to their constitutional role to ensure that law and order are maintained, but they must also not allow themselves to be used to intimidate voters. Third, the role of political parties in driving the campaign in orderly and peaceful manner is very significant in the success of elections process. Where national interests are threatened, for example, parties must put aside their differences to work together towards protecting such interests against violation. Parties must stick to the rules of the game and avoid mud-slinging or casting aspersions against political opponents. It is equally important for the political parties to maintain focus and avoid statements that would overheat the polity. Fourth, the media (both electronic and print) is a very critical and vital institution in this project. As a public agenda setter; a gate keeper on public issues; a watchdog of political transparency and fight against corruption; and a fourth estate which provides the needed checks and balances in relation to the three branches of government; the media has a crucial role to play in national development. However, to succeed in their role, the media must be professional and objective, therefore must avoid bias, sensationalism, propaganda and distortions, particularly in a society like ours with many fault lines. For the 2015 elections, the media must lead the civil society in ensuring that the elections are free, fair and credible in the overall interest of the nation. Fifth, Nigeria will win if the voters themselves vote freely to elect credible people not on the basis of religion, ethnicity or monetary inducements. Voters must not engage in any acts of violence and brigandage that could lead to the destruction of lives and properties. Matchets, knives and daggers are not the weapons of voters, but rather the most potent weapon for the voter is his or her vote which he or she must use wisely to vote for the candidate of his or her choice.
Post-2015 elections Nigeria cannot be the winner if the current insecurity environment is sustained, particularly the threats posed by terrorism and insurgency of Boko Haram in the north. Every day we live with the hope that the insurgency in the northeast would end using multi-dimensional approach so that the future would not experience such threats that have had devastating effects on our lives. How can Nigeria be the winner when the vast majority of people live in perpetual fear? Freedom from fear is not only a fundamental right in human security, but it also compliments the freedom from want. Unfortunately both freedoms are under serious threats. Educational institutions, markets, worship centers (such as mosques and churches), and motor parks, that are the major areas in which the bulk of daily activities of Nigerians are concentrated have become the main targets of terrorist attacks. Such attacks cripple the educational system; immobilize the movement of people; deny people the means of sustaining their lives; deny them their fundamental right to practice their faith; and above all, deny people the right to decent living (the insurgency has taken away their food, housing, education, and healthcare). In the southeast and south-south, people cannot move freely due to the fear of kidnappers and violent cultists. In the south west, ritual killers are lurking around for unsuspecting victims, especially women and children. How can Nigeria be the winner if the people residing in her territory are experiencing such hurtful disruptions of their daily lives? According to the first UN Human Development Report (1994), human security involves a “process of widening the range of people’s choices” in which “people can exercise these choices safely and freely, and that they can relatively be confident that the opportunities they have today are not lost tomorrow.” How can Nigeria be the winner if the choices of the people residing in her territory are narrowing instead of widening?

 

Beginning 1999, it is now 15 years of democracy in Nigeria, but we are yet to consolidate it. We have already discussed the first step towards consolidating democracy, that is, free, fair and credible elections. Next, is the issue of good governance manifested in clear observance of democratic tenets, imbedded in adherence to the rule of law; respect for human rights; accountability; transparency; inclusiveness; and popular participation. Next, is strengthening of democratic institutions, and ensuring that there are adequate arrangements for checks and balances among the executive, legislature and the judiciary. Although there have been major challenges in the last 15 years, the Fourth Republic has been the longest so far in Nigeria’s democratic experiment. Is there any possibility that the 2015 elections could usher in the path for democratic consolidation in Nigeria? Yes, there is. But this is only possible when the right people are elected: people who are competent and of high integrity; people who are focused and selfless; people who are courageous and loyal; people who respect human rights and appreciate the rule of law; people who would be transparent and are ready to be held accountable; people who understand the essence of human security; people who are ready to once more make Nigeria the giant of Africa; people who appreciate that without peace and security there will be no development; and above all, people who believe in Nigeria as a united, indivisible nation. These are the kind of people that would guarantee Nigeria’s economic, political and social stability to put her on the path of sustained growth and development.
I have attempted to suggest a path to follow in order to make Nigeria the winner come 2015 elections. While this may not be the only path, I believe following what I have provided for this dialogue will go a long way in ensuring that we at least achieve very reasonable level of peace and stability. I do hope that my points would encourage or provoke enough discussions in this dialogue. Thank you.

 

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Legacy Jonathan: A Litany Of Deceit, Blood Letting And Destruction By Ayobami Oyalowo

My dear friends on Facebook,

I have said it before and I will continue to say and live by the fact that my ambition, and indeed the ambition of anybody, is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. Therefore, I urge all Nigerians to look forward in hope as we fulfill the dreams of our founding fathers to ‘build a nation where peace and Justice reign’.

President Goodluck Jonathan on his Facebook page, 8th January, 2015.

President Goodluck Jonathan has never failed to tell Nigerians and anyone who cares to listen that he is a man of peace whose political ambition isn’t worth the blood of any Nigerian. The quote above was taken from his Facebook page as he began his latest campaign to get a second term in office. He has been at pains to restate his commitment to peace and a peaceful electioneering campaign.

Hear him:

“In my political life, I have never been driven by the love of power. Rather, I have gotten to where I am today by the power of love which is the power that fueled (sic) the unity that saw Nigeria become the largest economy in Africa and defeat the Ebola Virus Disease.”

Reading president Jonathan from the above quotes, one could almost paint a picture of a saintly man, devoid of any evil machinations and plans to exterminate his political opponents.

But are these assertions of Mr. President true?

On 6th of January, 2015 in Port Harcourt, one person was allegedly killed while many were seriously injured when two groups of armed youths shot at vehicles conveying supporters of the All Progressives Congress from Asari-Toru and Khana Local Government Areas to the inaugural presidential campaign of the APC candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), the main opponent of President Jonathan in the upcoming presidential election. But as we publish this the President of Nigeria and the PDP presidential candidate, Goodluck Jonathan, is yet to comment on the violence nor commiserate with the dead and injured.

Further violence was unleashed on the opposition on Sunday January 11, with an explosion rocking the All Progressives Congress secretariat in Abam Ama, Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State. Just as the news of the explosion hit Port Harcourt, another round of violence was recorded in Rumueme, Obio/Akpor LGA where four APC members were machetted by persons believed to be PDP political thugs.

The All Progressives Congress secretariat in Ngor communi­ty, in Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, was on 16th of January, bombed by some unknown persons suspected To be PDP political thugs. According to sources and eyewitnesses, the building, which was serving as APC sec­retariat went up in flames, af­ter it was attacked with dyna­mites. The attack was said to have created a lot of panic in the area, as resi­dents were seen fleeing the community.

The attack was said to be sim­ilar to the one carried out on APC secretariat at Aba-Ama in Okrika Local Government Area of the state at about 3.14am, on January 11 of 2015.

Despite the sickening and fearsome level of political violence being unleashed against the opposition, President Jonathan, in his usual manner, has maintained a deafening silence, pretending to be oblivious of the carnage that are being orchestrated by people suspected to be members of his political party. But he was quick to condemn the opposition when his convoy was pelted with stones by street urchins in some northern states.  It must have been embarrassing for him when a governor within his own party, the PDP, informed the world that the urchins were sent by another faction of the same PDP.

With this clarifications, president Jonathan position and condemnation of the opposition became untenable, but as usual, he kept mute.

His quiet acceptance and acquiesces to the attack being unleashed on the opposition, most especially in Rivers State by members of his party as led by Mr. Nyesom Wike, a political godson of the First Lady, led to the carnage that sent shock-waves to all in Okrika, the hometown of the wife of the President on Tuesday, 17th of February 2015.

As the APC were peacefully conducting their gubernatorial rally, five bombs went off, creating pandemonium. As people were fleeing from the rally ground, gunmen began shooting sporadically into the crowd, killing one policeman and injuring fifty others including journalists, APC  supporters and their members.

It is not a secret that Nyesom Wike, in collaboration with Mrs. Jonathan has been making concerted efforts to frustrate the opposition party, the APC in Rivers state. He has publicly claimed the APC would not be allowed to campaign in Okrika and the events of Tuesday 17th of February should not be taken in isolation.

The president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has continually pretend to be oblivious to what has been happening in Rivers State ever since, therefore it has been the practice for Nyesom Wike to create pandemonium in order to make Rivers State ungovernable for the opposition APC. He has sponsored several thuggish actions which the police has condoned and even supported openly especially during the tenure of former police commissioner Mr. Joseph Mbu.

Wike has now taken his bloodlust, thuggery and violence against the opposition to an unprecedented and dangerous level. The actions of the PDP thugs against the APC on 17 February, 2015 was captured on live television and beamed all over the world.

President Jonathan cannot continue to pretend to be a man of peace while looking the other way when his men go on a killing spree against the opposition especially within his own constituency, the South South.

Political violence in any way is an aberration and should not just be condemned but should be punished with all severity. One only hopes that the Nigerian Police will wake up and be alive to its constitutional responsibility of impartially maintaining law and order a cross the country.

What happened in Rivers State must not be swept under the carpet, there must be deterrents without which we can expect more unnecessary violence since some people can act with impunity and above the law. Remember there was a peace pact signed by all political parties and it would be foolhardy to imagine such pacts remain binding when one party can act with impunity and gets away with it.

President Jonathan should start acting as a president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not a President of the PDP or a particular ethnic group. Enough with his clannish disposition!

Mr. Jonathan cannot keep waxing lyrical about how his political ambition is not worth the life of any Nigerians while watching innocent Nigerians bombed to death under his watch by irresponsible political thugs hiding under the banner of political godfatherism.

Enough with these litany of deceits, which has been an encouragement to unnecessary blood letting of innocent Nigerians and wanton destruction of properties.

For once, we call on Mr. President to act like the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not the titular head of a banana republic.

 

You may follow the writer on twitter @Ayourb

 

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