The President’s Speech: Anatomy Of A Drowning Man By Abdulmalik Ibrahim

It is said that for most people, there come moments in their lives when certain events happen which unravel their inner selves for the whole world to see and consume and which will go on forever to define their true being and core. For our dear President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan these moments are coming in the speeches he’s been giving of late as he seeks another four (4) year mandate from the people of Nigeria. Hear him:

“How much did Jim Nwobodo stole? (sic) Money (sic) not up to the price of a Peugeot and Buhari (sic) regime send (sic) him to jail; is that good enough?”

“They came with promises but immediately they came in, what they did was to jail Jim Nwobodo for 301 years.”

“…they said that is the way to fight corruption. So immediately I suspect your uncle, I can just crate him and throw him into Kirikiri. Is that the way to stop corruption?”

 “In 1983/84, what they called discipline as a post graduate student instead of reading my book, the whole night I queued up to buy two tins of milk. And they say that is discipline.”

“We cannot run the government as if we are in the medieval age; we cannot run a government where somebody said he would throw people into jail. You are not a medieval king…”

“What happened in December was that IPPIS, software for processing salaries, — sometimes people steal through salaries- and some federal government agencies including some ministries tried to divert funds to pay some allowances. The system is scientific, it is not a human being, and as long as money meant for salaries is about to be diverted to other things, it shuts down. Those departments of government were shut down; this is the only way that you can prevent corruption.”

“And somebody who wakes up and tells young people of 23 years old that he wants to fight insecurity, ask him when he was the head of government did he buy one rifle for a Nigerian soldier.”

The above statements credited to our President at the PDP Presidential Rallies in Lagos and Enugu last week perhaps more than ever give us a clear insight into the mind of the man charged with the responsibility of leading Nigerians to the ‘promised’ land. His philosophy about stealing as can be deducted therefrom is not really in the deed itself but rather in the quantum of it. That is why he wonders why a man like Jim Nwobodo will be locked up in jail for stealing an amount not more than the worth of a common Peugeot vehicle. Mr. President was amazed that the Buhari led government could sentence Jim Nwobodo to three hundred and one (301) years in jail! It sounds so sacrilegious that an individual could be subjected to such ‘cruelty’ for mere stealing. He thinks only a ‘medieval king’ like Buhari can carry out such acts of cruelty. Personally I excuse the President for his bewilderment at Buhari’s ‘medieval’ acts; for how do you expect a man like himself with no sense of history, both modern and ancient to grasp and appreciate the import of the justice system the world over. I’m sure he hasn’t read about Chamoy Thipyaso, a Thai lady who in 1989 was given the world’s longest sentence for corporate fraud of 141,078 years. Allow me to bring our dear President to America, whose aura and modernism seem to tickle his fancy every now and then. I doubt our President has heard of Bernard Madoff and his infamous Ponzi scheme and how the ‘medieval’ US justice system sentenced him to one hundred and fifty (150) years in jail. Another American, Dwight York, leader of the Nuwaubian Nation religious group was convicted of child molestation and financial crimes and eventually sentenced to one hundred and thirty-five (135) years in jail. Instances of these and more litter the pages of history; if only our President would care to pick up a book today. Left to Mr. President no person should have to go to the famous ‘kirikiri’ maximum security prison. Perhaps this explains why despite the unprecedented cases of graft and fraud that’s been perpetrated and uncovered under his government, no single Minister or Aide of his has been charged to court much less convicted of any wrongdoing. For Jonathan, the unaccounted $20bn in the NNPC is a mere token that doesn’t warrant any hullaballoo or much ado. The N32.8bn pension scam is mere kids’ play that probably deserves a stern warning and nothing more. His outlook about stealing is the reason why Stella Oduah, a former Aviation Minister, is on her way to the hallowed Senate chambers and not the Kirikiri Prison in spite of her role in the BMW bulletproof car scam. That is also why his political godfather DSP Alamieyeseigha, an infamous, cross-dressing, cross-Atlantic money launderer was granted State pardon and like Stella is also headed to the Senate chambers. It is also why his ‘darling’ Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke is easily able to secure surreptitious court injunctions against appearing before the National Assembly despite the staggering questions of abuse of office looming over her head. Perhaps one has to steal in astronomical figures, say our National Budgets worth, before one is deemed as deserving of a slap on the wrist by this government.

The statement regarding his disdain of having to queue up ‘the whole night’ to buy two tins of milk during General Buhari’s regime reveals his personal discipline or the lack of it thereof. At a time when such universal ethos of discipline, righteousness, and commitment are totally missing in every sphere of our national lives, one expects the number one citizen to be able to stay off board and project a sense of character worthy of emulation. I wonder what I’d tell my 7 year old nephew tomorrow if he tries to shunt a line after he’s watched his President on TV crassly disapproving of queuing up in line. A President, asides giving executive orders is first and foremost a role model worthy of emulation. He is the one we all look up to when lofty virtues have become scarce and ill manners have blown off the roof. But what then happens to a society where rather than personify such virtues, the President is choosing to tow the line of a common motor park tout?

Something the President said in Enugu that made me fall to my knees crying and laughing at the same time was the issue of late payments of salaries for December 2014. The reason he proffered for this was as incongruous as it was ludicrous to say the least. Citing the fact that his administration has developed an ingenious way of ridding out payment of ghost workers from the salary schedule of Federal government workers by introducing an IT based centralized payment system which some -in his own words- ‘IT boys’ came up with, the President attributed the late payments to attempts by some heads of parastatals to access the system to ‘not necessarily steal but maybe’ pay out some allowances which caused the system to lock itself, thus causing the delay. Walayi when I heard him struggling to mumble those words, time seemed to stop for a moment as I froze thinking ‘what tha hell did I just hear?’ I concluded that either the President scanned his audience and decided to play on their foolishness as they cheer him on or he is totally out of his depths and has lost touch of reality all together. So the President would want us to believe that all heads of Federal government parastatals tried accessing the platform and that all of them got locked out and that for several days, his ‘IT boys’ were unable to unlock the system? How a President seeking reelection can mount the podium and tell such bare faced stupid lies is absolutely beyond me; but we move on. Asides appearing unnecessarily agitated and angry, the President made several statements that frankly were quite shocking and unbecoming of his office. Having charged the opposition to running an issue based campaign and leave the mudslinging, one would expect the President to in the least let his attack dogs instead; the Okupes, Renos and FFKs to drive the dirty side of his campaign.

On his claim that no government had equipped the armed forces like his and even going ahead to suggest that the Buhari administration did not buy one rifle for a ‘Nigerian soldier’, I feel the President unwittingly shot himself in the foot; for no sooner had he made those claims, than records began to surface online showing that indeed the amount of weapons purchased by General Buhari’s government in one year was more than what his administration purchased in three years. To think that this boastful claims and grandstanding is coming from a Commander in Chief that has consistently refused to lead from the front, deciding to rather keep a safe distance away from ground zero, is not only laughable but highly disappointing. Again I urge the President to borrow a leaf from his almighty America; where its Presidents are known to every once in a while pay visits to troops at the war front just to shore up morale.

Like the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola once remarked, this elections is a referendum on Goodluck Jonathan’s performance in office; nothing more, nothing less. It is an X-ray into the last six (6) years of this administration, to critically assess it on the issues that matter to most Nigerians. To modify James Carville’s famous phrase, ‘it’s the insecurity and economy stupid!’ At a time when most Nigerians, especially those in the Northeast sleep with their eyes open in fear of insurgent attacks, when more than a million people have lost their homes and have become refugees in their own land, when more than ten thousand souls have perished due to acts of terrorism the last year alone, when virtually the economy of the Northeast has been decimated by war, when Nigerians watch helplessly as the naira takes a downward plunge by the day and people in droves are being pushed further below the poverty line, when sacred elite cows are shielded and supported by the State to loot the country dry and jet around the world in their private aircraft, when job seekers are being led by government officials to their graves on the pretext of job interviews, when executive recklessness takes center stage and tramples upon citizens rights of free speech and assembly, at a time when all these and more affect the Nigerian voter, the President has nowhere to hide and must come clean and explain to Nigerians why they should trust him with another four years. So the President can go about blaming the whole world but himself of the ills and wrongs affecting the nation, one thing he cannot wish away though is the issues on the minds of most Nigerians. The Nigerian voter, admittedly not the most sophisticated, knows to a certain degree exactly that which he wants for himself, which is nothing more but a better and dignified life.

Concluding, personally I feel the President is making it easier by the day for the opposition with the way he’s going about with his speeches. I have opined that General Buhari’s chief campaign officer is none other than the President himself. It is his gross incompetence and shambolic handling of the Nigerian State for the past six (6) years that serve as a beacon of light shining the path for General Buhari to Aso Rock. And for Goodluck Jonathan to unwittingly unravel himself the way he does through those shoddy excuse for speeches is like gift wrapping the presidency to the General even before the race has started. See you all on 14th FeBuhari.

Abdulmalik Ibrahim tweets as @ibmaleeq. Do follow, thank you…

 

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Dear President Jonathan, You Can Not Win This Election By Force! By Ogundana Michael Rotimi

Permit me to use this medium to extend my sympathy to the victims of last weekend fiercely attack by the violent sect- Boko Haram, on Baga- a town in Borno State, North East Nigeria, where about 16 villages were reportedly to have been burnt to the ground. I have no idea why the report was kept away from the public for days or probably the media didn’t get the report is something worrisome. But to say that the presidency does not know that such a terrible attack happened in a part of its country and yet didn’t condemn it even at the flag off rally of the 2015 campaign in Lagos is weird and grossly inhumane. Well, that’s an issue to be discussed another day.

It`s my birthday and have decided to write this passionate piece as an advice and a cautionary note as my gift to the President. I sincerely hope that he takes every word seriously and thinks about it.

The 2015 general election is just few weeks away, the polity is heating up and every major contender for different positions is doing all they could to secure victories at the polls. On Thursday, 8th January, 2015, President Jonathan was in Lagos where he flagged off the 2015 campaign for his party- The People Democratic Party. In his speech which lasted for approximately 30 minutes, we saw a different President, totally different from the gentleman and easy going Jonathan that we know who spoke in an unusual way full of actions, attitudes and force.

President Jonathan has been generally perceived as a gentleman who has achieved most of his political ambitions so calmly backed up by luck and not by force. But in his speech at the flag off rally in Lagos, the President spoke with much anger, pains and not as a gentleman but like someone who is ready to do all within his power to secure victory in the next month election.

During his speech, while criticizing the opposition and past Nigerian leaders for his woes and failures, he failed to articulate his widely acclaimed achievements in a very straightforward way for the people to understand. Rather, he was aggressively criticizing his opponents. Even the little achievements that he well brags of in the Agricultural Sector are yet to be felt in the prices of foods and condiments in the country and also in the overall well being of the people. Every night, a lot of Nigerians still go to bed hungry and wake up with no hope of what to eat.

The truth is, the force that he brought to the campaign ground should have been used to restore over a million Nigerians that have been internally displayed by war. That force could have also been used to rescue the Chibok Girls from the hands of Boko Haram their abductor. In addition, the same force could have been used to crush Boko Haram completely. Furthermore, that same force and aggression could have been used to move millions of Nigerians out of the poverty line and do more great things for national interest.

His personal technique for fighting corruption is not in any way working and effective and has not in any way sanitized the system or even makes it to be less corrupt than the way he meant when he became President 6 years ago.

Although, it is a bold statement to combat corruption by building institutions that will make corrupt practices difficult to execute, but it is sluggish to still be talking about building institutions after 6 years as President while the ultimate bravery is to arrest and prosecute corrupt persons according to the law. There is no saner part of the world where corrupt practices are not considered to be criminal offences and where corrupt persons are not appropriately dealt with according to the law. So building institutions is not just enough, punishment must also be accorded legitimately.

Mr. President had enough time to hit hard at the opposition while giving his speech at the rally last week but he forgot that under his watch over 200 school girls from Chibok community in Borno state were abducted by the deadly terrorist group since last year and are yet to be rescued.

President Jonathan had enough time to shout at his critics at the rally but ignored that just last weekend under his watch, Boko Haram ‘Burnt to the ground’ about 16 villages, in Baga, Borno State and killed about 2,000 people and as I write this piece he`s yet to say a word or lift a hand.

In spite of all his shortcomings, President Jonathan wants a second term and instead for his campaign to be based on vital issues revolving around national developments and taking responsibilities for his many failures, he forcefully went on attacking and blaming everyone for his failures. He may decide to plead to compassionate Nigerians for more years to fix his wrongs, but he must remember that this election is “issues based” and cannot be won by force.

Gone are those eras when elections are declared “do or die” and out of fear people voted for mediocrity. Time has passed and season has changed every vote he needs would be justified convincingly.

Unlike 2011, when he got the mandates of the people by luck and achieved this position on a platter of gold, this time around President Jonathan is not going to get it easily. He`s going to justify why he needs a 2nd term and why compassionate Nigerians must let him remain in office beyond May 29, 2015.

There is no level of force that the president decides to bring or introduce into the system that will add a vote to his votes. The best he could do now is to remain the gentleman we used to know him to be and campaign like a gentleman he is. Because heating up the polity that is already overheated will do him no good.

In conclusion, Dear Mr. President, I have this impression that you have exhausted your luck and want to turn to force, but you cannot win this election by force. As it stands now, neither luck nor force can add a single vote to your votes. Before now, elections might have been won by force or by violence, but those are no more. Nigerians have woken up from their slumbers and do not care about the qualifications or the age of your opponent; the best you could do is to appeal to the leniency of the people but this election cannot be won by force.

God Bless Nigeria

Ogundana Michael Rotimi

I tweet @MickeySunny

 

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Father Mbaka: When People Are Not Entitled To Their Own Opinions By Joe Onwukeme

When people air their opinions on vital issues or rebuke and admonish groups, individuals or politicians, affected persons some times ignore or reply with a popular phrase, “people are entitled to their own opinions”.

There are people whose opinions can’t be ignored or referred to the above phrase, whenever they open their mouths to speak against decisions or policies they perceive as bad, it shakes the high and mighty.

Nigerians were in lack of such a person and were in dare need of such a messenger whose voice will be heard, some one that after telling our leaders the truth won’t be referred to the phrase “he/she is entitled to his/her own opinion.

The last night of 2014 produced such a messenger, in the person of Revd.Fr. Ejike Mbaka, convener of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu.

Fr. Ejike Mbaka in his cross over night message described president Good luck Jonathan as a bad luck to Nigeria. The reactions that have continued to trail the cross over night message and the predilection at which anti-Jonathan’s government received the news of the message is an indication that the political atmosphere is about to change for good.

The renowned priest who has always been vocal in his positive but dissenting opinions on government’s insensitivity to the people, took everyone by surprise in his cross over night message.

31st December 2014 became the longest night before dawn, a night of heartfelt revelations, a night of uncensored and undiluted tirades.

There is a proverb that says: When people become too scared of a King, they wear thorns of baskets on their heads and talk to him.

The above proverb best describes what happened that night.

When the message first appeared on social media, early hours of 1st January 2015, people were in doubt if Fr. Mbaka could say such a thing, the priest must have been quoted out of context, it is the handiwork of his detractors were the thoughts of many. It was in the later hours of same day, that people’s doubt were cleared, the video had gone viral, it was all over the social media, even on you tube.

“…Listen, any moment they will begin to tell us this one is a Christian the other one is a Muslim. I don’t believe in that. Who is a Christian more than Judas? Did Judas not betray Jesus? Judas was not just a Christian, he was not just a mere apostle, he was a super apostle like a cardinal. But at a time he messed up and Bible says his office, let another take…” Fr Mbaka speaks.

Just the way one of Jesus’ super apostles, Judas betrayed Jesus Christ by trading our Saviour for 30 pieces of silver, some of our christian clerics have sold their consciences for a few bags of naira, they have betrayed not only their congregation but Nigeria as a whole.

Many are still in shock over Fr. Mbaka’s sermon for many reasons. Majority of christian clerics are in support of president Jonathan just because he is a christian, christian clerics are too sentimental to condemn Jonathan publicly, to others, they can’t believe a cleric from the South East that have the highest supporters of president Jonathan could say such a thing and finally, it was the same Fr. Mbaka that praised president Jonathan’s government two months ago when the first lady, Patience Jonathan paid him a visit.

Fr. Ejike Mbaka has come under heavy criticism for his latest verbal attack on president Jonathan. Many are increasingly of the opinion that the renowned clergy has been compromised. His untainted integrity is being questioned, he has been accused of speaking with both sides of his tongue and many are still bewildered why politicians who the clergy condemned in the past are the same politicians he is praising and praying for whenever they come to him for thanks giving.

Coming from his fellow clergy men, many are calling for him to be sanctioned by the catholic body while others have remained numb, some clergy men especially those that have made Aso Rock Villa their second home went as far as accusing the catholic priest of collecting bribe from the opposition party.

A top cleric in Enugu, in an interview, December last year, postulated that president Jonathan has not done meaningful projects in the South East to warrant their votes in his re election bid, but for the fact he is a christian he ill get blocked votes from christians in the South East, nobody accused him of collecting bribe, he went further to say General Buhari is credible but his muslim back ground and his fanatic utterances in the past has ruled him out, christians should vote for president Jonathan. What message is the cleric trying to pass to muslims? Is such unguarded utterances not enough to create religious crisis?

The involvement of our clerics in partisan politics is exactly the same reason why our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to the crowds and to his disciples and warns against the teachers of the law and pharisees. In Matthew 23:23. “Woo to you teachers of the law and pharisees, you hypocrites…but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the law, such as justice and mercy and honesty. These you should practise, without neglecting the others”.

“During election, Jonathan will answer Azikiwe, and answer Ebele and become an Igbo man and after election, the Ebele, the Azikiwe and Goodluck will vanish from his identity. Who is fooling who actually? Look at our federal roads, we are not even asking for new ones, roads built by Buharis and Babangidas — the so called Hausa people— cannot be maintained. …” Fr Mbaka.

Many profiteers and supporters of the incumbent government mostly of South East extraction have been throwing unguarded tantrums at the catholic priest. Let’s be sincere and objective here. Were his assertions true or false? The attackers of the catholic priest are they attacking him because he lied on his assertions? Are they not comfortable with the truth or the channel of dissemination?

Whatever your divide, the truth is always bitter and whenever you hear the truth, be objective in reasoning. Fr. Mbaka may have his short comings but the truth must be told, he has decided not to join his fellow clerics at the Augean stable or sit on the fence, he should be commended instead of crucifying him.

It is people’s reactions to opinions that will determine if people are entitled to their own opinions or not. The reactions Fr. Mbaka’s sermon has generated this past days, is enough reason to show that there are people who are not “entitled to their own opinions”, and such people should be avoided by doing the right things.

The same way God saved us from Ebola, God will save us from bad luck season. Fr Mbaka.

Joe Onwukeme: An Idealist is a social and political affairs analyst, writes from Enugu

unjoeratedjoe@gmail.com

 

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Pictures Of #BagaHolocaust 2000 Dead – Peregrino Brimah

Human right activist, Dr. Peregrino Brimah of ENDS, Every Nigerian Do Something, appears to be making a point to the world by presenting the black, blank image to portray the 2000 dead in the Baga attack of January 3rd, 2015.

This as a million march, the so-called “Unity rally” is being held with world leaders in attendance in France after about 17 were killed by terrorists in Paris.

The world has largely ignored the more horrendous attack which is one more in a continuous cycle of extermination in the nation’s Muslim-predominant northeast.

Dr Brimah says, the black blank image illustrates the unknown dead; the unmarked graves, the uncommemorated lives. It demonstrates the reality that their deaths will not be avenged as the Nigerian government will not be sanctioned and held to account for grossly failing to protect the lives f its citizens, Muslims and Christians who have been continually exterminated in a foreign orchestrated, world-power assisted, Chad-based mass displacement exercise that has lasted the entire 6-year duration of the Jonathan presidency.march for dead2

Large numbers of the terrorists who came into Nigeria on January 6th to dispel the multinational force stationed and exterminate the people in more than 16 villages in the Baga locality were from neighboring Chad.

Nigerians as a whole are victims. Nigeria’s president conspired with the president of Chad, Idriss Deby to announce a fake scam ceasefire in October of 2014 which was plotted to enable Boko Haram regroup and become a more deadly force to commit unthinkable atrocities including this 2000 massacre. But in spite of these government acts of terrorism being committed in the full view of the world, no serious action, sanctions or other repudiation was accorded to the Nigerian and Chadian leaders, which makes the global powers culpable or at the very least, complaisant in the continued acts of terror against the innocent people of Nigeria.

#BagaHolocaust

Dr. Peregrino Brimah; http://ENDS.ng [Every Nigerian Do Something] Email: drbrimah@ends.ng Twitter: @EveryNigerian

 

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Jonathan Worse Than Abacha — Pius Adesanmi

Pius Adesanmi

In this interview with Musikilu Mojeed and Ibanga Isine, Pius Adesanmi, a professor of English and African Studies at Carleton University, Canada, speaks about his writings, his activism, the way Nigeria is governed as well as his future political plans.

What is your impression of Nigerians and the challenges their country is facing at this time?

I love Nigeria and Nigerians so much because we are a bundle of contradiction. You see so much… I don’t want to call it poverty but existential challenges in every layer of society. In spite of this, everybody is still happy. People are still bubbling everywhere and I love Nigeria for that.

You are supposed to be in Canada. Why are you in Nigeria at this time?

There are a couple of reasons. Some are immediate and some are remote. The immediate is that I have some lecture events to attend. One was the NBA International Literary Colloquium which held recently in Mina. I was the keynote speaker. I also attended the 60thbirthday of Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Later Rain Assembly. It was a weeklong activity which culminated in a public lecture and a book launch in Lagos. I was invited to present the 60th Birthday Public Lecture. I had two lectures and an opportunity to come back home. It’s always good to come back home and enjoy the communion of kindred spirit.

Are you not going to stop by in your hometown in Kogi to take some palm wine because in one of your writings, you talked about how you salivate for the early-morning palm wine?

That was in a lecture I delivered two years ago titled, “Face me I book you.” I was reminiscing about that part of life in the village while growing up. My father had a palm wine tapper who would come at 5a.m. every morning. When my dad passed on about five years ago, I inherited his palm wine tapper. Only that this time around, he calls me with his blackberry phone from the top of the palm tree which shows that things have changed a lot. Fortunately, during this visit, I am not able to go all the way to Kogi which needs more surveillance visits from me. By and large, Kogi is not a state that is governed to my satisfaction and if I am complaining about any other state in my own attempt to be transcendentally federalist in my engagement of public institutions in Nigeria, I think there comes a time I should situate it a lot more in Kogi State.

What do you mean by saying Kogi is not well-governed to your satisfaction?

Looking at all the indices of underdevelopment and backwardness in this country, I think you could go back to Kogi again and again to cite examples – whether it is Millennium Development Goals, infrastructure or anything. There is little or no governance going on there as far as I am concerned and people like us who come from there need to pay attention to that. We need to let the authorities know that while we are concerned with the broader issues about Nigeria that Kogi State is also in our focus and that we have not forgotten that we have to also look closely at what is happening back at home in Kogi.

How are you copping living in Canada given your likeness of palm wine, the wine tapper and other delicacies from home?

You really don’t want me to get away with this palmwine business. But I think you are using palmwine as a metaphor for much deeper issues around dislocation, exile, displacement, nostalgia and home. You have been there and you know it’s always a struggle. You make do with what you have. On the surface, there is always a bottle of palmwine which is not the real thing but at least has the fragrance of the real thing. You make do with that. I like using one expression that as much as possible, try to photocopy Nigeria. Try to photocopy the culture and photocopy what makes Nigeria tick and reproduce it over there but always bear it in mind that photocopies and reproductions are not the real thing. So in the Diaspora, you must essentially make it a duty to always come back once in a while. I will give you an example since we are in the spheres of alcoholic metaphors. In the first half of last years, you know I recently attended a fellowship in Ghana and being based in Ghana for one year afforded me multiple opportunities to come home to Nigeria. I came once a month. At that time, everybody was almost into Alomo Bitters.

So I got into Alomo Bitters and the sub-cultural world of signification. Every alcoholic drink has a culture and subcultures surrounding it including modes of socializing, discuss engagement, banters and all that. But when I came back after a break of just three months, everybody is talking about Origin. Having gone for only three months only and hey, if you are talking Alomo Bitters, Nigerians have moved ahead. It is now Origin, Origin, Origin. I put that up for my Facebook followers and used that as a metaphor for much broader, much deeper and much significant things that you miss out when you stay away for too long. Somebody was in this country in July and came into the discourse of Alomo Bitters just to come back three months later to meet the discourse of Origin all over the place.

You were talking about nostalgia, displacement, exile and the associated problems and excitement about home. It does appear and it shows in almost all your writings that you miss home, you love Nigeria and Africa. Why can’t you come back home and invest your potentials in the country and continent?

Well, I think there are multiple ways to do that. First, at the political level I am not very sympathetic to the idea because you know a lot of my detractors will either try to blackmail me or try to coble me into some kind of emotional and psychological position from which some of my ideas and positions and engagements on national issues could be delegitimised. Like saying, if you love Nigeria so much, why not come back, or you are not even in a position to speak about some of these things because you are not based here. So at that political level, I am not sympathetic to their points of view and I don’t think that location ordinarily delegitimises ones mode of engagement with Nigerian especially in modes of intervention on issues of advancement. I am not sympathetic to that sort of argument. At another level, I like to think of it in terms of my fundamental attachment to Nigeria and my unimpeachable devotion to her development at the intellectual level especially – that is my constituency. In this case, my location is not mutually exclusive as an errant global cosmopolitan intellectual. I also take that identity quite seriously and this idea of being at home in the world so that the business of Nigeria and I hope you are not going to box me into a position that will make me say something that will make you remember the Yar’Adua days. I am going to say that the business of Nigeria should not necessarily be subjected to the strictures of location. You should not necessarily be here to make the intellectual business of Nigeria relevant and useful. In fact, I always tell people that I am much more useful to this country in terms of my contribution to her intellectual development than I could ever hope to if I was based here. Out there, I have more resources at my disposal to help individuals in universities and schools back home in Kogi State. I have more opportunities to throw out to colleagues over here in terms of development and grants. There are windows I am privileged to open up to my fellow Nigerians that I may not essentially have if I were here. Most of these factors make it possible for me to be there and still maintain a certain level of relevance.

You have a punishing schedule and at one point you collapsed in Frankfurt in July, maybe out of exhaustion. Why are you highly sought after?

I am almost tempted to tell you to ask those who invite me give you the reason. I don’t know. Maybe there is something they think I have and they like. Maybe there are some kinds of contributions they think I can make, not just to Nigeria because the engagements I have are mostly about issues of Africanist knowledge production and capacity building. I get invited a lot and I crisscross the continent giving lectures on the politics of generating knowledge in Africa, about Africa in the 21st century.

Does it have something to do with the fact that you are bilingual?

I think that helps a lot. People used to tell me back in the day, I don’t know whether that is true anymore because now I do a lot things in English Language. Back in the day, people used to tell me that if I stand behind a curtain speaking French, you would find it really hard to say that I wasn’t a Frenchman. I speak the Peruvian French. Yes, being bilingual means that I have one leg in Anglophone Africa and one leg in Francophone Africa and these are traditions, cultures and political issues are thrown up.

Are you also familiar with the culture of these places too?

Oh yes. My good friend and poet, Ogaga Ifowodo, who is back in the country and contesting for the Federal House of Representatives, used to grumble that I was becoming too “Frenchified” for his liking. So if you go into French studies the way I did, you know all my degrees are in French and I spent time in France. Even before going to school to study French, I was already exposed to it because of the peculiar circumstances of my upbringing back in Kogi State. I was partly raised by a French Reverend Father. If you take all that into consideration, you will see the rooted “Frenchness” I got into in this Anglophone giant (Nigeria). I have a strong French/Francophone background and didn’t only study French to acquire the language. When France colonized a part of Africa, they came with a philosophy of assimilation, “frenchification,” which means that whatever is your base culture isn’t work keeping. They brushed away everything and they pour frenchness into you. Part of that philosophy was built into the training of French graduates so they acquired the French culture and civilization along with the language.

You are a cultural icon and a respected writer but you are also a social critic which is where most of your writings are focused. You have criticized the Nigerian establishment extensively and tend not to see anything good in the country and those in power. What do you really want?

There are two things that are being conflicted here. When the spoilers and wasters of our potentials and boundless opportunities want to delegitimise my position, they will say I don’t see anything good about and in Nigeria instead of saying that I don’t see anything good about them or the way they are ruling. And that is part of why I am dissatisfied, that is why we are struggling because you have these guys who in order to continue to rule this country the way they are ruling and when I say ruling, I am using it interchangeably with ruining. There is a distinction between ruling and leading. That’s why I call them rulers and not leaders. Therefore, if I say they are rulers, I means they are ruining the country because they are not leading the country. One of the levels of resistance one must bring up against them is the equation of their own personality and overinflated ego with Nigeria so that if you criticise them, you are criticising Nigeria. If you say that X is not a good leader, then they unleash social media attack dogs on you. There is a constant case of sly misrepresentation and I do not agree that I do not see anything good in Nigeria. That is what our detractors think. My problem is that there so many things that are fundamentally annoying about this country which cause restiveness and dissatisfaction. There is very little things about the way the state, our mechanisms, our institutions function in ways that fundamentally alienate and dehumanise the citizens. I can go into specifics.

On my way to Minna, I took pictures of a Federal Government road construction in progress – a 21st century road construction in progress in this country. On the surface, you could see this fine layer of bitumen or tar in a stretch of macadam which is really nice to behold. But when you look closely, you find out that the layer is very thin. With all the machines and heavy-duty equipment, the contractor has just poured the thin layer of bitumen on sand in the 21st century. You want me to tell you the layers of corruption that went into the making of that road which is going to be washed off during the next rainy season so that it will be rewarded to our friends so that we take part of our cut. That’s just one example.

Are you referring to corruption in the country?

It’s everything.

Are you saying that nothing right is happening in the country?

That is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that a lot is being done wrongly which overwhelms whatever it is they are doing right and in the 21st century; we have absolutely no basis being overwhelmed by mediocrity, by substandard and evil. By the way, I perfectly understand and what I am talking about is not just limited to those who are ruling this country. There is an overwhelming ethos and general subscription to mediocrity as a standard and it has generally been accepted in every facet of our lives and it applies to the citizenry. In fact, I am happy that you are making me talk about our leaders now. For over a year now, I have been writing about the psychology of followers which is fundamentally wrong and we have to work on it. When you come into Nigeria, one thing which amazes me is the proliferation of “Nollywood” homes – lovely residential buildings. People are building very lovely homes all over the country and you could say to some extent that there is some level of middleclass empowerment that has gone into that process when you see all these duplexes, bungalows and very nice things. You could call that development – right? Yea, that is an index of socio-economic advancement. But when you go inside those houses, something as simple as finishing is wrong in a N10 million home. You may be tempted to ask what government has got to do with toilets not flushing properly in homes that also have bad plastering and doors that are not properly fixed in a N10 million home. Years of accumulation of mediocrity, years of the accumulation of the substandard even when there are regulations. That is what Nigeria paid for. It is not that there are no rules and edicts in the books. There are always there so that by the time you are building those homes in Lekki, in Banana Island, in Maitama, in Asokoro or these other areas, you see the façade of excellence outside but when you go inside, you are forced to ask, ‘what’s going on here?’. Why are we in this permanent state of rebellion against excellence? That’s the fundamental question we must answer.

You have criticised successive governments in the country and now we want you to look back and tell us which the worst government in Nigeria is?

 

I have come to a situation where I think that that question is no longer legitimate in the case of Nigeria – that is the transcendental comparison of the badness of successive government. Here is why I say so. Every time we face one government in its present, you thought it was the worst. Then the next government will come in and you say wait a minute, looks like we had it better in the previous administration. We thought there couldn’t be a worst government than Obasanjo’s administration. Then Yar’Adua came along and acquired the dubious distinction of being Mr. Snail who didn’t do anything but allowed the country to be dysfunctional. So we thought that quite bad and his 7-Point Agenda didn’t seem to go anywhere. I thought that was quite bad and screamed and screamed. His illness was capitalised upon by the so-called cabal and all those things that went on. Now this guy (President Jonathan) tags along. When you look back at Obasanjo and Yar’Adua, you find out that whatever was wrong with them now seems like child’s play. I have been home multiple times since President Jonathan came to power and I just don’t know or understand what he is up to. The weight of corruption has gotten so bad. In fact we are not even in position to complain about corruption because we now have bigger problems with him which makes corruption look like Boy Scout play in the field. We now live with layers of impunity that would make Sani Abacha ashamed of himself. But under Abacha, one would have the excuse that we were under a military rule. We have now democratized impunity. Under the military, there is the monopolization of impunity by the soldiers but what is going on under President Jonathan, am sorry to say is democratization of impunity at every level. Every Nigerian now exercises impunity in their little fiefdoms. I was on the road recently and somebody brought an MLS Mercedes Benz jeep and parked it facing the wrong side of the road. He just packed the car wrongly and left to attend to his own business. That Mercedes jeep suggests a number of things about the owner, assuming it was driven by the owner and not his or her driver. Ownership of that kind of car in this society suggests at least a minimum level of education, a minimum level of taste, a minimum level of culture and means to have bought it in the first place. Why did this person park in the middle of the road facing the wrong side of the traffic and goes away. That is impunity. Market women have impunity, taxi drivers have impunity, and everybody has impunity.

Reuben Abati was more critical of government than you are but today, he is on the other side. When people criticise government, it is difficult to know what they want. If you are given a job in government or a contract, would you still speak the way you are speaking now?

That question always assumes just like when I was reading the defence of my friend during the latest attempt by the Jonathan government to smear him. It is wrong to think that one is screaming because you want to draw attention to yourself or because you are waiting for your turn. I don’t know what motivated Reuben Abati to do what he did. But I am going to take a step at it and I hope it will be an indirect way of answering your question.

Reuben badly, tragically, and sadly underestimated the institution he had become. He misread the icon he had become. He misjudged the fact that there is no service he could ever offer to Nigeria that would be superior to what he was doing in the past. Reuben is a first-class brain. That brain, that intellect, that power. May all of that not fail us at the most critical moment of our lives. That is what I see when I always think of Reuben Abati. I hope that a time will not come when I am going to underestimate my own self because, considering what I have been doing, the activism, the writing, effort, the energy, are all thankless jobs that sway me from the legitimate job that puts food on my table. I am only extremely privileged to have the kind of employer which identifies with what I do. They like my service to the community, service to humanity and that’s why I haven’t run into problems. I strongly hope that a time will not arise when I will make two mistakes implicit in your question by underestimating the value of what I currently do, which I consider to be a contribution to my fatherland.

Secondly, and this is the most important part, people mistake service in government as the only way to serve Nigeria. They tell me, Prof, you are making noise now because you have not been called upon to serve or to come and eat and I asked them, who told you I have not been called upon to serve and how can that be possible in today’s Nigeria that I will be doing the sort of thing am doing and at the level at which am doing them, the audiences I have not only in Nigeria and I will not be approached? That is not possible. It is not thinkable because I know places I have messed up these guys very badly. It is not every time you go public that you go and beat your chest in terms of the impact that you have. Knowing that you will be asking for specifics; let me tell you something. I am in the capital of a major Western power which increasingly is becoming a very attractive destination for Nigerian government officials. They have messed up and everybody knows them in London and they are not taken seriously officially. They have also messed up very badly in the United States of America and nobody takes them seriously in the official US. They are seen as clowns. Now they come to Canada with all kinds of intergovernmental, multilateral, bilateral this and that. There are always delegations coming. I am also well-known to the Canadian authorities. Do you how many times the Canadian will phone me and ask questions about visiting Nigerian delegations? They will tell me they are hosting a delegation of Nigeria and ask what my take is. I always tell people who have the kind of opportunity I have; like when a foreign government is seeking your opinion not about your country and about certain people who are coming and why they are coming, that is another opportunity to serve Nigeria.

Sometimes I look at the names and say these people are wonderful Nigerians; fantastic representatives of the Nigerian people and the interest of our country. Most times when I see the names and why they are coming, I tell the Canadians the people are not serious. For example, there was a time some of these clowns in the Senate came. I think they were doing constitutional review and it has been going on forever. So I got an email from the Canadians saying they were going to host a delegation of Nigerian senators. They said the Nigerian lawmakers were coming to study the Canadian Federalism. They told me that an entire Senate Committee was coming to study federalism in Canada in preparation for the process of restructuring Nigeria and ask whether I would like to attend their presentation. I thought within myself how Nigerian senators would come to understudy Canadian federalism. Of course I saw the name of Smart Adeyemi, the senator representing me, on the list and I laughed. I asked the Canadians who were going to host them what they know about Nigeria that these jokers should come here to study what Nigeria has been practicing right from the 60s. We had true federalism when we had the regions then and that is what the Canadian government is practicing. Ottawa has very little say in the affairs and economy of each of the province. They own what they produce. Ottawa is in charge foreign affairs, military and a few other sectors. I insisted that they didn’t need to come there and should be made to stay back home to find out how true federalism was implemented in Nigeria in the 60s. And those were some of the things I have the power to do out there.

You keep on complaining about mediocrity while people like you keep distancing yourself from government. Are you saying that if the Jonathan administration invites you to come and serve you will decline?

I find a little bit of blackmail in that question when people ask. If I reject an offer from the Jonathan government, it means I don’t want to serve under the administration and that should not be equated with not wanting to serve Nigeria.

But why won’t you want to serve under Jonathan government?

Why will I want to serve under a government that is dysfunctional in everything? I would be a hypocrite. It would take a change in the DNA of the Jonathan government to make me agree to associate myself with that government.

If Nigeria is handed over to you and you are asked to change two things about the country. What would those things be?

It is leadership by personal example. I have been speaking about it. It has disappeared completely from this country but it makes it so easy for good followership. A followership is as corrupt as the Nigerian followership has become and which is the biggest problem this country has. A country can survive corrupt rulers but no country can survive a corrupt followership where everybody in their own little corners have ethos of cutting corners in everything. What legitimises cutting of corners for the followership is because those who are in charge of things are doing it. All it takes is one day in the life of a president where a clear message would be sent through symbolic and evident-based action that impunity is no longer tolerated, it will reverberate throughout the country. It would create a miracle. The followers cannot do anything outside the personal example of their leaders. It will take only one day for a leader to make his life an example to the followers for things to change. It will take the renunciation of the present government ethos which has corrupted everybody. There is no level in our lives that has not been corrupted. Even kids now have the mentality of getting things quick by cutting corners and every time people cut corners, they cheating the country. it is important to point out that the act is not as important as the mentality that says such action is right and the legitimacy comes from people in government.

From your informal conversations, you seem to like Ghana a lot. Why it this so?

That’s where the example comes in. Don’t forget that Ghana also has problems of corruption and a very sharp North and South divide and strong tribal flashpoints. Ghana has all that but they have that layer which makes you as a Nigerian very uncomfortable. To some extent, they have power, water and other basic things to some extent. And you begin to wonder why we couldn’t do better as Nigerians. For example, we were celebrating the 50th Anniversary of African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon. It was a long week event with international conferences and dignitaries coming from every part of the world. It was Kwama Nkruma’s pet project and they were celebrating it as a national event. The event was rounded off with a banquet and the President of Ghana, John Mahama was going to chair it. The event was going to start at 9pm and I asked a Ghanaian colleague to pick my Nigerian friend and I on the way. When the guy picked us we got there at about 9.10pm and we found people milling around, chatting and about two people were already seated on the high table including the chairman of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA. I was looking at my time and it was almost 9.20pm and I turned and told my Ghanaian colleague that I thought their country was different and concluded that their president also comes to events late. He looked at me and said Prof what are you talking about? I said is it not President Mahama we are expecting? He pointed to the high table and said, that’s him sitting there. Of course I had seen the picture of the president a thousand times and not that I didn’t know him. Mr. Mahama was there on the high table and chatting just like any other person in the hall. I didn’t recognise him because of the ease of our access to the hall. I found out that the president was already seated before we arrived and had been sitting there all the time we were moving around and even passing in front of him.

Are you saying there were no security operatives near the president?

My brother there was no sign that a president was in the room and the two of us who were Nigerians were shocked. The Ghanaians didn’t understand why we reacted that way. I tried to tell my Ghanaian friend that if Nigeria’s First Lady, Patience Jonathan was coming to the campus, about 12 kilometers to the venue could have been sealed a day earlier. But here was a president sitting inside and we walked in without being checked by any security operative. It was shortly after that the master of ceremony announced that the programme was about to begin. But the president was just bouncing back and forth and mingling with people showing the demystification of power. If I heard siren in Ghana in a year, it was an ambulance or the police. So look at that? If power is seen as ordinary and that is taken as a philosophy from which a leader operates, he will understand the importance of showing example to his followers.

Your last book was “You Are Not a Country Africa.” When are we expecting another work?

I have three books in the works now. Two of them will come out soon and one of them is for my primary constituency, that’s the academia and the second is a sequel to “You Are Not a Country Africa,’ which involves the collection of my satires on Nigeria. I don’t know who will publish that. I heard from the grapevines that PREMIUM TIMES in collaboration with Richard Ali’s outfit will be publishing that book.

You seem to be doing a lot of your writings these days on Facebook and you seem to be reflective. Why do you do that?

I have realised the power of social media and that’s part of my beat as a scholar of culture. Fundamentally, I do literary and cultural studies and that is my professional designation. We try to study what we call the location of culture, the demography that I study to impact on are there. I have to locate my knowledge generation there and so I take what I do on the social media very seriously because my goal is to educate beyond the classroom.

You write on a daily basis on a lot of issues spanning from Africa, to the world and so on. How do you find time to do all that?

I find time out of no time and that it why I keep collapsing.

Are you hoping to collect some of these post on the social media into a book or something?

A lot of people have suggested that I need to do a selection of some of my best post for publication. If you look at Eduardo Galliano’s recent books, I have forgotten the title. Galliano is that guy who was so famous to the intellectual world but became known to the global public. Hugo Chavez held up one of his books at the UN while abusing George Bush. His latest book is a 400-page snippets that he had been taking from Facebook. I am inspired by that work by Galliano and I think I am going to look at that after we’ve finished the PREMIUM TIMES book.

Your friend Ogaga Ifowodo came back and is trying to raise funds to contest for a House of Representatives seat. When are you going to take that kind of step?

You know there are a lot of Facebook groups calling on me to come and run for Senate. That’s the question I cannot exclude but when you asked me about the Jonathan government, I excluded it. An elective position is a totally different ball game. I don’t think I have what it takes now to afford it and that is in terms of the nitty-gritty of the process. No matter how good you are, no matter how good your vision is and all that you still have to do things the Nigerian way. So am I able to do some of these things like the question of godfathers, factions and all that. Of course in my own case it would be any other party but the PDP. But can I do that now? It’s not that I don’t believe in it but I know that Ogaga could not have come without first having a very wide consultation with his people. He is my brother and we have been talking extensively. In fact I am not ashamed to say that I started preparing him because I believe in him. I believe in what he is doing. If somebody is trying to go in, in a way that is not totally like that of Reuben Abati to capture legal spaces, then we have to encourage such people. But I have had very pragmatic discussion with him to understand that there would be compromises. When you know that is a fact, then you have to prepare your mind for it but don’t lose the core of what you are about. In some cases, you will have to be maneuvering and there may be a particular godfather to make happy otherwise you will not get the nomination.

When is yours likely to happen?

You have boxed me to a position. Let’s look at 2019 and see what will happen.

What position are you considering? Governorship?

I can never be the governor of Kogi State.

Why?

Thank you for asking me that question. If we don’t restructure Nigeria, we will keep moving from discontent to discontent. I am an Iyagba or Okun man. We belong to the Yoruba race. When we were part of Kwara State, we were a part of the Yoruba majority in the state. So they yanked the Okun out of Kwara State and threw them into a state where they are sub-minority of sub-minority. Mathematically, for an Okun man to become governor of Kogi State, you will have to secure the magnanimity of the Igala majority and the cooperation of the Ebira. There are so many factors to overcome. So it is mathematically impossible until the Igalas get tired because they have the number. But who gets tired of governance in Nigeria.

So in that circumstance, you will be thinking of the Senate?

You really want me to make a commitment? It is a theoretical possibility and that’s my academic way of giving you a no answer.

 

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Baga: We Are Sorry, We Have Paused Governance – By @Obajeun

This is the moving message from the Presidency to Baga. We have paused governance, accept our condolences and apologies.

While Baga was lost in its angst, waiting desperately for godot, the state-pardoned tormentors of Baga in April 2013, came for the biggest of all insolence in January 2015. The mission this time, was to play the last card on the ghost residents of Baga – more than 2000 of them.  After the ravaging attack on Baga in April 2013, when 185 people were killed, with more than 2000 houses razed down and 6 vehicles burnt, I wrote a teary account of the ghosts of the village. So today, history has repeated itself – pointing us in the direction of our past silliness.

 

Yours sincerely wrote the below in April 2013, where I predicted that the tormentors of Baga would come back for more, for they would put logic on our silliness, as a collective.

BAGA – THE VILLAGE OF GHOSTS (First published in April 2013)

Explosion spree in Borno. Baga! The name sounds explosive. The village has exploded. Baga ghosts are subscribing to the graveyard. Graveyard is full, dead bodies piled high, waiting for new graveyard to be commissioned by His Excellency. There is tears in town, sorrow resides on the streets of Baga. Landscape is desolated, fumes of blood everywhere. Families vanished with the sound of guns. Everyone in Baga is a ghost. Those alive are living dead, waiting for the next explosion, expecting no help and getting no help. In Baga, help is dead! In Abuja and Lagos, life continues, business continues. No one bats an eyelid, no one is interested in another person’s life. Brotherhood is dead, sisterhood is dead.

Things cannot just go on as usual. If it is a question of aborted hopes, the country could live with that. In its short existence, the ill-led nation has had to cope with many betrayals and aborted hopes. Somehow, and like a stumped lover, it had always found the strength, the fierce energy to move on. Baga too will move on. But this time the omens of national regeneration are murky. While the FG is wasting “presidential pardon” on rogues who have stolen our blood in drums, something fundamental is also taking place. The spirit of the nation has decayed too. Having passed the point of morphine-assisted rebirth, Lugard’s contraption, christened by Flora in one of her many nights of emotional tete-a-tete with Lugard, is gradually expiring before our very eyes. We are in trouble.

Alas, succour has come the way of Baga, there is a statement from Abuja. Investigation must happen. Committees have been set up to pay up Baga’s tormentors. In this logic, while Baga dies, its tormentors will get additional life, furnished with unending cash flow, state appointments for juicy positions, life aesthetics and have presidential backing to live large. Baga’s tormentors will brag on the streets of Baga, sending sneers and jeers to the ghosts of the village. “We have arrived,” they will bark at the hapless living ghosts. They will build hills and live on mountains, dialing presidential phone numbers to call for political food like manna. They will blast siren on the streets of Baga, deafening the living dead and waking up the “dead” ghosts.

Consolation has come from the governor, he told the remains of Baga that it was God that came to destroy them, imploring the village to accept it as an act of God. It was God who became a demon and took over human flesh. It was God who built the Improvised Explosive Device that sent children to their premature grave. It was God who triggered hundreds of AK47 to destroy his own handiwork. It was God who led the gun dwell that consumed the whole of Baga because he was blood thirsty. It was God who wanted 185 souls has sacrifice, razed down 2000 houses and 62 vehicles. This is blaspheme! As a matter of godly gesture, the governor is donating N5m to revive the lost 185 souls. Let some people be prepared to be consumed by their own sheer ignorance.

A hitching history, a haunting tale, and hazy dreams, all conspired to define nothing and yet, they defined Baga. Nothing is life; Baga is now nothing, a conspiracy theory of pains. Pains, feelings of anomy, of gruesome fear, of tears cascading in bitter drops and of a grin smile full of sorrow. Now there is evil in Baga’s thought, evils of the mind and of feelings. Baga is mourning, Baga is rolling in tears, Baga is sobbing,  Baga is gnashing teeth, for everyone in Baga has witnessed to tears.

In addition to these woes, we have the alarming situation in which ordinary and normal protests or disagreements are condemned through the prism of religious and ethnic coloration.  We have a ruling class that has become a byword for a bizarre and berserk variant of kleptocracy. Unfortunately, the Nigerian post-colonial state has proved itself to be incapable of arbitrating or mediating anything, except when it comes to the deployment of gratuitous and autistic violence against different constituting units and nationalities. Like a childlike monstrosity, the Nigerian bandit leadership is frozen in conception as an instrument of Colonial Terror against captive nationals, like in the case of Baga, utterly incapable of coming up with an organic structure that will satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of its captured natives. Presiding over all this is a president who reminds one of a boy-emperor handed an empire as a toy rigged with explosives.

Baga will come out of this and move on. But Baga will not forget that it was once tormented and its tormentors were being begged to be rewarded. It will also not forget in a hurry that it once had heartless protectors. Like a friend said, we need to wait till 2015 to know if there are also no heartless voters in Baga. At the moment, Baga please take heart and move on.

It is me, @Obajeun

 

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GEJ: The Burden of Witless Campaign; By Wale Ajetunmobi

For many a Nigerian, the past year was trying period for the country. It was the period the humanity trapped in the space called Nigeria had a face-to-face encounter with horrors of politics, security and economy.

In the current year, 2015, people are faced with momentous options of either prolonging the term of the present order or change the status quo, which would usher in a new order. As this is an election year, Nigerians have another precious opportunity to change destiny of the country.

Already, electioneering has begun and the polity is entering a tempestuous moment when its peace and tranquility will be threatened by issues shaping political debates. Alas, the key political players have also applied heat, sending out notes of threat and accusations. The constitution of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) campaign organisation brought excitement to a polity already in the furnace.

Femi Fani-Kayode, the voluble former Minister of Aviation on whose neck multi-million naira corruption charges still dangle, is the Director of Media and Publicity of PDP presidential campaign team. In his first speech after his appointment, Fani-Kayode left nobody in doubt as to the issues that will shape PDP’s campaign.

He enthused: personality of on the standard bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the presidential election, General Muhammadu Buhari, will be the kernel of political discourse. Whatever the content of the PDP manifesto – that is, if there is one – is less important than the personality of Buhari.

Although APC has hinted that its campaign would be based on issue, but the electioneering, no doubt, will get messier as we approach the February 14 fixed for the election.

This missive is not an entreaty to the political matadors in the epic contest not to point poniards at one another. But, the method of campaign employed by main political party in this crucial plebiscite is nothing but an insult to the sensibilities of the long-suffering masses yearning for positive change.

While APC may have been projecting its programmes at the grassroots, the PDP has failed to understand the key issues and challenges militating against the progress of the nation as its campaigns progressed.

All politics is local, says former Speaker of the United States, Thomas O’Neill, but politics should not be so local to lose its essence and values. Ability to respond to the people’s wishes and service delivery are important aspects of political process in any country. Therefore, no matter how local politics might be, its soul and quintessence should not be lost on the people who occupy or aspire to lead in political entities.

It is rather strange that President Goodluck Jonathan, who has spent about six years in office, still could not get the message of contemporary politics vis-à-vis people’s yearning for change. For about 30 minutes he spoke at the PDP inaugural campaign at Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos last Thursday, Jonathan’s uninspiring narrative shows has failed to gauge the public opinion to know the spirit of time.

Visibly excited by the crowd of freeloaders and sycophants that graced the event, the president would rather use the occasion to attack the personalities of opposition figures. He could not articulate his much-touted achievements and the ‘bounties’ his re-election would bring to the masses. Jonathan, sadly, bungled the opportunity of time and space to engage in inanities, name-calling and mudslinging.

The president said he is the most vilified leader in history of the country but which leader has had it so good in a participatory democracy? Oppositions will always look for lacunas in the incumbent’s policies and programmes but a dedicated leader focuses on service delivery to the people.

Chief Moshood Abiola of blessed memory said in his famous wisecrack: “You cannot be driving and still be looking back; you will crash with the vehicle.” If only Jonathan (the driver in this case) and his campaign managers could decipher the coded import of this witticism, perhaps they would have engaged in issue-based campaign rather than making their opponents popular with their witless vituperations.

Let them not be in doubt that Nigerians are yearning for change in every stratum of our national life. They are tired of the creeping genocide being perpetrated by a coven of faithless murderers garbed the cloak of religion.

In the 21st Century, Nigerians want to see their homes powered by affordable interrupted electricity; they want their lots improved in the fabled economic growth. They want an end to bare-faced stealing and corruption in public and private offices, and they demand public accountability in the management of country’s resources. They want many more…

However, Jonathan bungled the opportunity to intimate people of his plan to overhaul the current security template proving ineffective by the day. The president boasted his administration, more than any regime before it, has provided equipment to the security agencies to combat terror tearing the fabric of the nation apart. But, just two days before the PDP presidential campaign in Lagos, ragtag Boko Haram insurgents sacked Baga village in Borno State and overran the military formation in the neighbourhood.

How do the beleaguered villagers, who have been displaced after the incident, reconcile the president’s boast of improved security and the reality on ground?

If the military is equipped adequately, why has President Jonathan not rescued the 219 schoolgirls kidnapped by terrorists in Chibok, Borno State eight months after the pupils were marshaled into the Sambisa Forest? Yet, the sycophants at the PDP campaign in Lagos roared in praise of Jonathan like a misguided herd of lambs.

On the same rostrum, Jonathan elevated his lack of freshness and witlessness when he said the coming presidential election is about the youth. He urged the youth to reject the APC candidate who, Jonathan said, is coming to jail their fathers for 310 years for corruption and indiscipline. This is ridiculous, nay it is an indictment on a president under whose supervision millions of petro-dollar and the multi-billion naira subsidy vanished into thin air.

Jonathan’s lack of energy to fight corruption is evident in his inability to prosecute top officials of his government embroiled in controversies ranging from financial misdemeanour to money-for-job scam.

There are so many issues left out in Jonathan’s speech at his inaugural campaign, which this writer is doubtful the president would have the courage to mention in his subsequent campaigns.

It would be good to remind President Jonathan that Nigerians fervently want change through a leader that will show courage to tackle challenges they face. Having said that, it is apt to note that, President Jonathan can still be the anticipated change if he can coherently articulate his achievements in key areas of our national life, such as security, power and economy management, and tell us how he seeks to improve on them.

But, if Jonathan and his campaign managers did not desist from their present obsession of blaming opposition for their lack of energy, there is a way the masses would make the change through the personage, who Jonathan and his men are busy making popular through ill-conceived remarks.
 
Wale Ajetunmobi is a media practitioner based in Lagos. Contact him on twitter @Riddwane

 
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Islamic State Group (ISIS) and the Lessons We Must Learn from Them By Mukhtar Usman-Janguza

This article is in response to the set of questions posed by Tunde Alabi on his Facebook wall regarding the group known as the “Islamic State”. I also suggest three lessons Nigeria should draw and learn from Iraq’s tragedy.

Islamic State fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of their proclaimed capital, the Syrian northern province of Ar-Raqqa (Reuters)

  1.     What is wrong with their establishment [as a State] and mode of expansion?
  2.     Are their mode of establishment, expansion and objectives truly in line with Islamic teachings as preached by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)?

Let me preface my answer by first briefly describing what the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) now known as the Islamic State (IS) is, and what its stated goals are.

The IS is a movement led by a man called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi which aspires to re-establish a type of polity known as a Caliphate – an Islamic form of government underpinned by Shari’ah which first emerged in the 7th century after the death of the Prophet, and was abolished in 1924 with the end of the Ottoman Empire. The group is a Jihadi organization in that it ideologically believes the Caliphate can only be re-established through armed force (i.e. Jihad). And finally it is an extremist sect in that, as we have seen, it doesn’t shy away from using mind-numbing violence to impose its narrow minded and literalist interpretation of religious tenets.

Its stated goals are the:

re-establishment of the Caliphate – which it believes it has already fulfilled

expansion of the Caliphate across the Levant (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine) – hence the “al-Sham” in its original name (al-Sham is the Arabic term for the Levant area)

and eventually the spread of their Caliphate across the whole world.

Now to answer the first two questions posed above. I will answer these from two perspectives. In terms of the historical perspective, there is nothing unique or new in states being born violently, and augmenting their power through expansion and conquest. While it may seem shocking to contemporary eyes that a “new state” – whether it will endure remains to be seen – is being born through war, and has set about expanding its territory through conquest. In actual fact this has been the “normal” process of state-building from a historical perspective. The overwhelming majority of states today are the products of violent creation and conquest – even post-colonial states like Nigeria where our borders were created through the conquest and destruction of pre-colonial polities by the colonial powers. As the leading scholar on Europe’s state-building process, the late Charles Tilly, famously said when commenting on that continent’s violent past: “War made the State and the State made war”.

Similarly from a religious perspective, there is nothing wrong in principle with the establishment of the Caliphate through violence and conquest. The Islamic Caliphates and Empires of the past were established, and dissolved, through exactly that process. There are major problems with the way the IS has gone about establishing its State however.

The first is the wanton butchery with which Baghdadi’s followers have gone about their business of state-building. It’s one thing when the violence unleashed is a product of the war being fought to establish the State – i.e. battlefield deaths. It is quite another thing entirely when that violence is transferred wholesale beyond the battlefield and is used to indiscriminately kill captured prisoners of war – as IS openly boasts of doing – or to target civilians – as they seem to be doing, simply because the civilians in question happen to be from a different religious sect. This is just nothing but slaughter. Criminal slaughter! I find it difficult to believe that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – who after all, led many campaigns – would openly revel in such a bloodthirsty manner as Baghdadi’s followers are known for doing after killing their enemies. And to my mind, it is the atrocities more than anything else that will eventually doom IS’ Caliphate to destruction. It will not only repel potential followers and supporters, it will also provoke the Major Powers into taking military action against it – as seems to have happened now with the US’ decision to conduct airstrikes against it.

The second major problem with the IS Caliphate is the fact that it has been rejected by the majority of Islamic scholars. Ironically, the IS Caliphate has also been rejected by other Jihadist groups. The rejection by the majority of Islamic scholars, including scholars respected within Jihadi circles, is not to be underestimated. Under Islamic law, a Caliphate can only be established one of two ways: when there is a broad consensus amongst scholars that the time is right for it, or through war. Baghdadi has obviously settled for the latter, hoping that battlefield success will legitimize his claim. Whether he succeeds or not, remains to be seen. As for me, I am highly skeptical of his chances.

  1.     Are they the ones beheading the Christian communities and issuing deadly warnings to non-Muslims? If yes, what is the basis for this in Islam?

To be honest, I have not come across any credible news outlet which has substantiated the claim that the IS are beheading Christian communities. And personally, I’d be very surprised if this was the case.

The IS, particularly its leadership cadre, are intensely ideologically motivated. The core of their ideology is their interpretation of Islam. Within Islam, Christians are recognized as “People of the Book” which means their religion is recognised, and theoretically Christians are safe from persecution – certainly this is what happened with Islamic Empires in the past. Now given that Baghdadi and his followers are intensely ideologically motivated, I find it hard to believe that they will go out and wantonly behead, or otherwise execute, entire Christian communities on a whim.

Be that as it may, what has happened to the Christian community in IS controlled territory however, is a tragic calamity in its own right. When the IS comes to town, Christians are often given three choices: convert to Islam, pay the Jizya (a form of protection tax), or leave. Not willing to convert and unable to pay, practically all have chosen to leave rather than stay and gamble with their lives given the well-known ruthless brutality of IS operatives. Therefore, Christians have essentially been ethnically cleansed from areas they’ve called home since time immemorial. They’ve been forced to flee with what little possession they can carry, not knowing when, if ever, they will return to their homeland.

The role of Ideology which makes me confident that the fate of Christians in IS controlled territory will not necessarily result in a pile of corpses, makes me less so when it comes to the fate of other religious groups that according to IS’ ideological framework are not recognised as religions. We’ve all seen the harrowing and heart-breaking images of the Yazidis atop the freezing mount Sinjar. Their hearts in their throats, their possessions in their hands, and the frailer members of the community on their backs, escaping what they believed was certain death had they chosen to hang around after IS took over their city. The options for them were stark: convert or die – according to reports. Unlike the Christian story, which I am for now skeptical of until provided credible evidence, for other non-Christian religious groups that the IS doesn’t recognize, such as Yazidis, Shi’ites etc. I honestly believe to be true the claims that they face Genocide, or at the very least mass killings of their civilian population, at the hands of the IS. The ideological beliefs of IS fighters, their sectarian rhetoric, and the increasingly sectarian nature of the Iraqi conflict makes these danger a very real possibility.

  1.     Do they pose any danger to the peace and stability of the Arab region and by extension the world?

To the Arab region, absolutely they do; to the whole world, in the long term potentially yes. The IS has made it quite clear that it aims for the destruction of the Middle East’s state system – which they view as the artificial construct of Europe’s colonial powers. Their erasure of the Iraq-Syria border, the declaration of a proto-state which straddles the two countries, and the very immediate danger they pose to Jordan and Lebanon is the most visible manifestation of this territorial threat. To the extent that the Middle East is punctuated by weak states, this threat will endure for as long as expansion and conquest remains the driving force of Baghdadi’s State.

While the territorial danger is real, we shouldn’t overestimate it however. To my mind, the IS has probably reached its furthest extent. It may still secure some tactical gains – a town here, a city there – but the big sweeping strategic advance that catapulted it to the limelight earlier this year seems unlikely for now. Everywhere, the IS Caliphate looks boxed in to me. To the south lies Baghdad, a prize Iran, and for that matter the Americans, will not let fall to the IS. To the north are Kurdish territories which the Americans, with the announcement of a supply of weapons to the Peshmerga (Kurdish militia) to better defend their areas from the IS, have practically committed themselves to protecting. To the east is Iran, one of the Middle East’s few strong and capable states. And to the west are Jordan and Saudi Arabia, countries which due to their strategic relations with the US, means that country would probably unhesitatingly defend them should their territorial sovereignty be comprehensively threatened by IS forces.

The biggest long-term danger the IS poses to the world is through the material support and training facilities it could offer to other terrorist groups. The IS is now listed as the world’s richest terrorist group, with billions in cash and gold bullion; and it now controls a vast swathe of territory straddling two countries. These are obviously resources that could be used to plan and support devastating terrorist attacks against adversaries. While precautions should always be taken, I however don’t believe any international terrorist operation to be among Baghdadi’s top list of priorities for now given that he is still trying to consolidate his territory. Any terrorist spectacular against especially Western countries will only draw those countries into taking more aggressive military action against the group.

  1.  What do we do as people of different faiths in the face of this newest empire with determined objectives?

In one sentence: Learn more about it so we avoid the dangers of name-calling and fear mongering. Many will simply see the word “Islamic” in the group’s name and conclude “Yep, I said it, Muslims are unhinged killers. It’s like when you say ‘Allahu Akbar’, something happens in their brains and it comes out translated as ‘Behead that man’”! Ok, most people won’t actually think this, but you get my drift. Nothing beats knowledge to help us better comprehend complex events as they unfold; and to better shape our reactions to those complex events.

As for Nigerians, there are at least three pertinent lessons that we can draw from the tragedy that has befallen Iraq.

1. No country lasts forever:
Iraq may yet survive the IS assault and emerge with its State intact. But for now, and probably for the foreseeable future, the possibility of stitching back together the broken societies of that traumatized country will remain a distant prospect. A country that was once a regional player in its heyday has now become a playing field for all the regional powers to act out their ambitions. With Iraq’s ruling elites having botched the opportunity to reform their country’s badly dysfunctional polity, when the forces of disintegration came knocking at the door, their enfeebled State simply collapsed.

As for the Nigerians who mindlessly parrot the slogans that ‘Nigeria will never break apart because God put us together’, or because ‘we are destined to be together’, should soak in for a while the stories of an Iraq in turmoil. While I am a firm believer in the One Nigeria project; I am also a political realist in that I recognize that States don’t emerge and stay together because some higher Power has divined for it to be so. Rather, States stay together because the societies over which they govern have decided to stay together, and have decided to act purposely towards that goal. They stay together because the leaders and the elites of those societies have decided to set aside all parochial interests to forge a common destiny, and a common vision of a shared political community.

The fact is when unbridgeable fissures emerge within weak states like Iraq and Nigeria; it provides the space for the forces of decay and disintegration to thrive. Not even a Kingdom of God on earth can escape this fundamental law of political reality.

2. No one will save you when you are unwilling to save yourself: This is a particularly pertinent lesson for those Nigerians who, faced with the resurging power Boko Haram, often insist that ‘America should do this, The international community will do that, Why isn’t Cameroon doing this or that?’. It is also particularly imperative for our indolent and short-sighted elites to sit up and take note of this lesson. As the Iraq example has amply shown, when a State is faced with existential challenges, the drive for survival must come from within. An absence of this internal drive, disintegration becomes inevitable. It is a brutal world out there. And no amount of appeals to brotherly solidarity will convince neighbors, or the wider international community, to lift a finger and save a dysfunctional state from tumbling over the precipice.

Despite the Iraq crisis now having dragged on now for a while, the US only decided to act when a community was facing the real threat of Genocide (in other words not because the State itself was collapsing), and when it became clear that IS forces were expanding further into Kurdish held territory. Given that the US has strategic installations and personnel stationed here; this was a direct national security threat. As for Iraq’s neighbors, what have they done to aid the country as it floundered to contain the threat of the IS? Well, they have contented themselves with watching the drama afar; unwilling to act lest they provoke the beast now tearing Iraq apart.


3. A demoralized and politicized army can’t fight:
Iraqi army collapse as IS forces surged into the north and the west of the country earlier this year was stunning. Faced with about 800 Jihadi warriors bearing down on them, two entire divisions of the army – roughly 30,000 men – simply buckled and fled. This comical, were it not so tragic, performance didn’t happen because the soldiers were ill-equipped – the soldiers were actually relatively well-equipped compared to the Jihadist and insurgent forces. Rather it happened because the soldiers were demoralized and, in a process known as “coup-proofing”, the officer core had been gutted; with competent officers replaced with politically pliant ones. This meant that when it came time to actually fight, the soldiers were simply not willing to sacrifice their lives for a mission they didn’t believe in. Neither were their officers competent enough to restore military discipline once it began to break down.

This is a very important lesson for Nigerians, particularly for our military planners and political leaders, to ponder on as we battle our own determined group of violent extremists intent on imposing their narrow (and heterodox) vision of Islam. While it is now no secret that Nigerian troops are badly equipped. The “mutiny” of the soldiers from the 7th Division on the 14th of May, and the often reported stories of soldiers fleeing at the sight of Boko Haram fighters, should be seen as warning signs of creeping mission weariness. It should also be seen as a problem arising not only from poor weaponry, but also from low morale and the erosion of command and control capabilities – i.e. the ability and competence of commanders to exercise authority over their troops.

If there is anything we can draw from the Iraq experience on this issue, it is that, even if adequately equipped, soldiers debilitated by poor morale, lacking belief in the mission they are meant to risk their lives for, and are led by incompetent officers, will likely flee when faced with a determined adversary!

Mukhtar Usman-Janguza is a London based Africa and Middle East public affairs commentator. He blogs at janguzaarewa.blogspot.com

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Chibok Visit: In Defense of President Jonathan By Adekoya Boladale

On Wednesday 6th of April 1994, around 8:30pm the Presidential Jet conveying President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda touched the country’s airspace after a trip from Tanzania. Few minutes before landing, the Jet was shot down by a radical terror group. The President and all his entourage died instantly thus marking the beginning of the Rwanda genocide. The President was from the ‘Hutu’ tribe and the assassination was believed to have been carried out by ‘Tutsis’ the other tribe in the country and before one could say Jack, all hell was let loose. In 100days of vengeance over one million Tutsis were slaughtered in cold blood not with guns but Machetes, Clubs and Knives. Husbands killed wives, Pastors betrayed Church members who had run to them for sanctuary. For months the reign of bloodbath continued without recess.

While I share the common opinion that President Jonathan has shown weakness in tackling the growing insurgency in the Northern part of Nigeria and also in his failure to visit parents and guardians of the over 200 school girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram terror group over a month after they have been abducted, I strongly feel the decision to abort the trip to Chibok few days ago was a wise one.

Most people have called President Jonathan names over this failed trip without giving deep thought to the danger posed by such visit. Unlike usual presidential trips, visit to region or areas under attack especially from rebel or terror forces are usually unannounced and mostly brought to public knowledge after such trip has been made and the President airborne home, surprisingly the media was agog with the planned visit of President Jonathan to Chibok twenty hours before the trip. Report by international news media Reuter claimed that a source within the presidency revealed the itinerary of the president which in normal situation is meant to be a closely guarded secret. With information such as this in public domain, it is a great security risk for the President to embark on such a trip not just for his own safety but also for the sanctity of the over 160 million persons he represents!

Sadly though, the presidential spokesman Reuben Abati instead of proferring a more ingenious explanation as to why Mr. President would not be in Chibok at such material time chose to play his usual denial and counter denial card. All he could do was to swing into action in other to save the presidency from ridicule and belittle the might of the presidential security detail by denying the visit which of course has no official correspondence.

Though it is not clear who within the president’s security detail betrayed the sworn oath of secrecy, but events in the past few days has pointed out clearly that no individual in any of the security forces can be trusted, not even the Strike Force. The Nigeria Army has suddenly become more of a pro-terrorist organization rather than waging war against insurgents. The continual withdrawal of Soldiers from road blocks few minutes before terrorist attacks by superior officers, the strategic order misleading troops to walk into ambush by commanding officers one of which caused the mutiny against the GOC of the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army by angry soldiers and the unending arrest of men of security forces betraying the country is a pointer.

Since the town of Chibok doesn’t have an airport, the President would have to land in the community via a military chopper which can be taken down by any surface-to-air missile. Now let’s not imagine the consequence of having Jonathan brought back to Otuoke in a body bag. It is Rwanda all over again!

It will be wrong to under estimate the might of the Boko Haram and the will of its lieutenant, this is one thing the people in government have been doing over the years and the result is evident today. Having the Vice-President take the trip is another option but I doubt Alhaji Sambo will agree to embark on such journey not after his convoy was brought down by an RPG is Kaduna few months ago.

Some may not see the reason why the State Security Service cannot save the President in situations like this, after all they are well equip to do just that. But similar events in recent years have shown that it is better to not make the journey than trusting the security forces to do their job. The assassination of John F. Kennedy who in spite of numerous security reports believed the secret service could protect him but gunned down in broad daylight in Dallas, Texas is a lesson for all.

The high point of this is that, while it is important President Jonathan makes a solidary visit to Chibok, it is of high importance that the anti-government spies within the government are first flushed out before such trip. Nigeria will never survive the outrage and events if the president is assassinated in Borno as the South will view such act as a conspiracy by the Northerners. Already the Southerners refer to every Northerner on the street as a Boko Haram member and if such event occurs every Northerner however innocent will pay for it.

As much as the opposition and some Nigerians are tired of the president and really wish to take over  Aso Villa come 2015, it is important that such dream is achieved through constitutional means which is election. Frustrating the president into making journey such as this at this particular time may pose a greater threat to the existence of the country. That we don’t like the president doesn’t mean we should wish him death. As it stands now having Jonathan alive even though inactive is the best option for us all.

Adekoya Boladale wrote via adekoyaboladale@gmail.com. Twitter is @adekoyabee

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Boko Haram: New Considerations For New Challenges, By Peregrino Brimah

Boko Haram is facing two new challenges: the rise of the farmers is the most significant new challenge that threatens the sect’s status quo. The second new challenge faced by the group is the foreign intervention, which in our view is less worrisome and of particular appeal to the sect.

Rise of the Farming Villages

It has been clear following the events of the past couple of days that the farming villages have risen to fight to save themselves from the unabated carnage of Boko Haram. From Bama to Chibok, to Rann, Shuwa and Dikwa villages in Borno, and also now in villages in Adamawa, the farmers have decided to bear arms and use all means necessary to face the Boko Haram invaders head-on in armed and spiritual battle. They have waged a “Jihad (struggle)” against Boko Haram, no longer depending on the State security service. The villagers have scored some of the most significant victories against the sect in these encounters. Over 300 terrorists have been killed in the hands of the villagers in less than 10 days of armed resistance and several dozen have been arrested. Weapons and transport equipment used by the cultists have been claimed by the villagers.

How Boko Haram May Face The Villagers Threat

In light of the determined, brave resistance of the villages the terror sect has prior enjoyed the free ransack of, Boko Haram is calculated to attempt to modify their techniques to prevent such massive losses of their lives and equipment. One new technique the sect already demonstrated in attempt to inflict carnage from a distance is the use of long range weapons. In an attack on Bama, a now fully armed village this weekend, the terrorists reportedly fired rockets at the village market square from a distance. We can expect such similar long-range artillery attacks from this cowardly sect in the coming weeks. In light of this, we will later recommend strategies the villages should utilize to defy the sect of success. It must be noted that Boko Harm acquires these weapons from its easy conquests of Nigeria’s military barracks’. The Giwa raid yielded the sect tons of rifles and missiles as eye-witnesses informed us.

The International Coalition

France, Canada, The United States, Israel, France, all these nations have suddenly decided to get involved in the Nigerian terror crises. Their sudden realization of the seriousness of Nigeria’s terror threat under Jonathan comes after the cult abducted 234 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno state, April 14th this year. Though this abduction is not the worst this cult has done, this event raised significant global awareness that appears to have forced action from these foreign States. Boko Haram however has done much worse, comfortably and under the radar of the watching eyes of the world in the past four years of Jonathan’s government. Boko Haram has abducted thousands of men and women; raped the women and forcefully, at knife-point, conscripted the young men. Boko Haram has killed an estimated 40-80,000, injured over 245,000 and displaced over 3 million citizens in the northern parts of Nigeria.

The western intervention which is taking place after the recent abduction however is surprisingly an obvious desire of the cult. It has been noticed that the persons claiming to be Abubakar Shekau in video releases over the years, have always offered open invitations to the west, almost begging for them to come. “Shekau” in almost all his videos has always called the names, “Francois Hollande,” “Obama,” and “Margret Thatcher” or perhaps “Queen Elizabeth.”

Apparently, being involved in a battle against these foreign nations has always been in the terror sect’s interest. Boko Haram has always craved western participation in the war and always desired western boots on Nigerian soil. The reasons for this are difficult to imagine, however, while inviting foreigners into Nigeria’s north, the terror sect has not particularly targeted foreigners and foreign interests in Nigeria. Their target has remained literally limited to destabilization and decimation of Nigeria’s north.

Boko Haram: Seeking a Rhythm to The Carnage

If 95% of the attacks of the Boko Haram terror cult since President Jonathan assumed office are to be studied, one begins to see an undeniable pattern. What has Boko Haram done the past four years? 1. In the initial stages, Boko Haram began by bombing Churches literally every Sunday. This was evidently aimed at instigating religious crises in Nigeria. Religious crises in Nigeria will promote disintegration of the nation, a desire of southern elements more than northern players. When organizations like Muslims Against Terror and brave northern leaders like Sheikh Gumi, late Sheikh Albani Zaria (killed by Boko Haram), Sheikh Jingir, Sheikh Pakistani to mention a few, stood up and thrashed the activities of the cult in the middle of 2012; calling it demonic and promoting Muslims to defend Churches, the terror cult suddenly stopped attacking Christians and went after a new target; Imams and farming villages. 2. So we get to the second target of Boko Haram: The northern poor and farmers. Boko Haram has since the middle of 2012 and through the emergency rule from may 2013 to date, gone on an expensive mission targeting farmers and farming villages from Benue to Borno with the aim to maim, frustrate and displace any and every farming village in sight. Boko Haram has aggressively invested on and engaged on a mission to deplete and destroy the only resource in Nigeria’s north: farming.

The reasons for this well financed and expensive mission against Nigeria’s farmers in the north and in whose interest such activity can be is left to the imagination, however, analyzing both points of Boko Haram’s engagement over the four years of the Jonathan administration, one cannot avoid seeing its sponsorship as coming from foreign quarters possibly interested in farming in Nigeria, and definitely from quarters of either people who are pro-destabilization and disintegration, anti-north, interested in the land of the farmers, or northerners who dislike the north and Nigeria and wish to push frustration, suspicion, famine and disintegration. Boko Haram pays as much as $3000 as revealed in a recent BBC report, to boys in Cameroun and Niger to recruit them to decimate farming villages in Nigeria’s north. According to the report, the terrorist leadership pays them big bonuses, the more farmers they are successful in killing. Why does Boko Harm hate Nigeria’s farmers?

Boko Haram: A Short Term Agenda

In view of the above mentioned points, one realizes that contrary to the submission of Nigeria’s President in France, Boko Haram has never had an agenda of taking over Nigeria. Had Boko Haram had such agenda, it could have achieved this rather simply. Nigeria’s military today is so underfinanced; they lack the ability to resist a Boko Haram incursion against national interests and the capital, Abuja. Boko Haram and the Niger Delta Tompolo civilian force sponsored by the Nigerian government are both better equipped and motivated today than the army that is severely undermined under the Jonathan administration. The effects of sabotage and corruption on the State army have been elaborated by the Pentagon and United States officials involved in Nigeria’s mission to find the abducted girls. In contrast, the current administration has financed the development of a civilian army of ex-militant, Tompolo with millions of dollars. Boko Haram and Tompolo’s army both have night vision goggles, while the Nigerian army does not have such equipment. The disadvantage of the Nigerian army came to public light, if it was not realized in our exposes and those of SaharaReporters, when there was mutiny at the Army division 7 in Borno. The soldiers there could not take it anymore and according to confirmed reports, actually attempted to kill the GOC.

In recognition of this, Boko Haram has obviously had a very limited and local agenda: destroying farming in the north and the northern economy and Nigeria’s food stability and local food supply. Further elucidating the limited time and scope of the sect’s agenda, we realize that the sect has fully engaged in terror that not only annihilates the local community that it depends on for food, but also depletes any local support it can get from the same community. This is suicidal to say the least. No group or organization that has a long-term plan, destroys its local food source and local acceptability. Boko Haram had a time limited plan to inflict as much causality on the local farmers and fiber of the north and Nigeria’s food sufficiency, and then to invite the foreigners.

Foreign Intervention: The Time Factor

Foreign intervention in Nigeria predicts protraction. Almost everywhere in the world foreign powers get involved, the crisis never ends. We can predict that a crises that Yar’Adua curbed in weeks, will now extend in Nigeria for decades. Unlike Nigeria’s intervention in Liberia which Nigeria satisfactorily solved and completely stabilizes in a few years, with Boko Haram now with foreign intervention, one can predict the crises will manage to stay alive for over ten years. It is displeasing that other African countries could not get involved with troops and equipment in addressing Nigeria’s terror crises as Nigeria used to do for them in the past. A local, ECOWAS and African originated address of the terror crises if Nigeria had had good leadership, would have potentially solved this rather non complex problem, quickly and completely. A local armed civilian Patriots resistance, as worked for Algeria during its 1991-2000 Black decade, if the governors of the affected stats and the President f Nigeria honestly cared for the people and intended to end the terror, would have provided a quick and effective end to the problem: the locals know the terrain and the enemy more than anyone else with whatever sophisticated equipment of surveillance and mass murder they bring.

Foreign Intervention: New Strategies of the Terrorists

With the foreigners here, Boko Haram is expected to engage in new strategies that tamper with international consciousness. The recent attack in Cameroun with the possible kidnap of up to ten Chinese nationals is possibly the beginning of a new desperate approach. It is advisable that all foreigners within Nigeria, Cameroun, Niger, Chad, CAR and Algeria, update their security measures. Boko Haram is expected to be on the prowl for foreigners they can kidnap and utilize to negotiate with the foreigners and use as aerial bombing shields.

No Government

Global participants in Nigeria have realized as most Nigerians have for the past four years, that Nigeria does not have a government. John Kerry, Senator McCain, Hillary Clinton, New York Times, The Economist, News.com.Au, The London Times, to mention a few foreign observers have professed this in one form or the other in the recent weeks since the spotlight was on Nigeria. A recent statement purported to have been made by the governor of Borno State elucidates this further. The governor allegedly said that if he opened up, “heads will roll.” Apparently the governor of Borno is not opening up to prevent heads from rolling. So what are heads? We the masses have seen thousands of farmers heads rolling. If there are sponsors or failures of the Nigerians security services that need be exposed and that need their heads to roll along with those of ours, why will the governor of Borno state be hesitant to expose these? Obviously to him ours are not heads but merely mud balls rolling in red sauce. Heads are heads of the cabal, military chief’s, heads of defense and executive leadership; those are what our leadership consider “heads,” our deaths and our “heads” that have been rolling in our blood are to them, mere disposable farmers’ chicken-heads.

ENDS Recommendations, Mission

Of particular interest to the ENDS organization is the safety of life and welfare of the poorest and most affected Nigerian masses. In light of the fight and armed resistance against Boko Haram; as the most successful strategy against the sect today, we support the procurement of all weapons of self defense by Nigeria’s farming villages and a continued brave armed resistance against the marauding terrorists.

We have thus far distributed battery operated Bullhorns and aerosol spray hand-held alarms, to Bama and Biu and sent others to and Gamboru-Ngala, Dikwa and to Kwa Busar. We intend to supply many of these alarm devises to all most affected communities to utilize in an organized vigilante alert defense set-up. We have also commenced the distribution of intruder detection equipment that the villages shall be utilizing to monitor their surroundings. These villages now suspect to rocket attacks are advised to have several rotating look-outs with alarms and an alarm alert chain to alert the entire village in the event of attempted attacks, this system akin to the nuclear attack and artillery alert systems applied in western nations and Israel during its wars.

We also advise the villages divide up their markets and market days so they are never gathered together in large numbers; to reduce possibility of causality from Boko Haram attacks of any sort, till we the civilians have exterminated the threat by cutting off their food supply, link to community and finally by invading and decimating them .

Civilians Will End Boko Haram in One Month If Military Pulls Out

We will support the villagers in any armed attempt to invade and engage the terrorists in their hideouts. It has been made public information that the Nigerian armed forces are ill-equipped, unable and currently uninterested in engaging the terrorists. The people on the contrary are willing, motivated and able. Vigilante’s in Nigeria’s north have offered that the military can now be pulled out as the President of Nigeria wishes. In this event, the villagers will cooperate with the foreign partners and are poised and ready to invade and clear all bushes of the terrorists in one month.

Dr. Peregrino Brimah for http://ENDS.ng [Every Nigerian Do Something]
Email: drbrimah@ends.ng Twitter: @EveryNigerian

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Married To Terrorists: I Don’t Know How To Pray For Those Girls With Boko Haram

It is like my daughter is with them. It is like I know all the over 200 girls in Babylon. No, theirs is no Babylon. Theirs is hell. Every day of my life, I remember these girls and I can imagine what they are going through, even right now!

I know they were captured, not just to shield the insurgents from immediate reprisals by the military, but also for domestic work and sexual reasons.
I can imagine those girls, 16, 17… the oldest perhaps 20, being sexually assaulted everyday!

I can imagine some of the girls, out of fear of being killed, allowing the evil people to have their ways with them. I can imagine the mercilessness with which the criminals would force themselves into the girls, some of whom would still be virgins!

I can imagine a small girl, who must have thought of the first sexual experience  with her own husband some years to come, experiencing it now with criminals, with a man she never desired, on a bare floor of a cursed forest, an environment polluted with guns, mortars, bullets, filth, sorrows, tears and blood.

I can imagine some of the girls, trained from home, with scruples, saying “NO Way! Kill me. I won’t allow you to violate me.”
I can imagine such girls being forced to the floor … and the girls struggling with them, shouting “Kill me… kill me… you can not violate me. You can’t violate me… I rather die!”
I can imagine Shekau, the head of Boko haram responding with anger… “I will kill you.” He picks his gun and shoots the little girl. And as the girl passes out, she heaves a sigh of relief, saying… “Better to return to my God in purity!” And she dies.

I can imagine innocent girls, virgins being infected with diseases … out of no fault of theirs, but the ill luck of being Nigerians, a country ruled by morons! I can imagine some of them, being tied, hands and legs, so they will not escape. I can imagine the girls so dirty, since they have no new clothes to wear! No sanitary towels to use!

I can imagine Nigerian senators, representatives, senate president, speaker, Sambo, Jonathan, all of them, feeling unperturbed, drinking tea, laughing in their offices, deceiving themselves that the Nigerian Military is on top of the situation!

What a Nation!

Anytime I kneel down to pray, the pictures of these girls come up and I just don’t know what to say to God!
In your church or Asalatu today, say a word of prayers for them.

Written by a sister and mother.

Dr. Peregrino Brimah
http://ENDS.ng [Every Nigerian Do Something]
Email: drbrimah@ends.ng Twitter: @EveryNigerian

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The Presidency’s Jamboree Budget By Nasir El-Rufai

The year 2014 is already off to a dramatic start with allegations of massive fraud to the tune of about $20 billion (N3.6 trillion) being leveled against the NNPC for failure to remit oil revenue earnings for a period of 19 months. As soon as the revelations gained traction, the governor of the Central Bank was illegally removed, and as usual whenever Jonathan’s government is under pressure, the wanton killings of Nigerians escalated in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

Boko Haram and President Jonathan seem to be working in unison to ensure attention is diverted from the administration whenever massive cases of corruption are revealed. We saw this with the fuel subsidy protests of January 2012 and several other instances since then. Let us mourn our dead, grieve over the murder of our innocent children, but never lose track of the clear link between Jonathanian theft and the insecurity our nation suffers.

Back to the diversion of federation oil revenues: Under whose watch did the $20 billion disappear and into whose accounts have they gone? Should a government that claims to have the interest of its citizens at heart so brazenly loot public funds? Does the average person know the intricacies of how the budget is appropriated? These are questions that must command the interest of Nigerians as yet another cycle of wasteful spending unfolds.

In seeking answers to the above questions and in line with our tradition of annual budget analyses, we will begin 2014 with an assessment of the Presidency’s allocations. The Presidency has allocations of about N108.2bn. It includes the State House (N33.4bn), the offices of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (N63.2bn) and Head of Civil Service of the Federation (N11.6bn). Indeed, the offices of the National Security Adviser, the Independent Corrupt Practices, Salaries and Wages, Sports and Planning Commissions – and all federal executive bodies can be considered part of the Presidency, though under separate budget sub-heads.

This week, we will look at the ‘Presidency – State House’, while the offices of the SGF and Head of Civil Service will be examined in ensuing weeks. The State House is an important budget subhead that overlooks 14 agencies, some of which are central to Nigeria’s anti-corruption, transparency and disaster preparedness.

In 2013, the Presidency – State House supervised 11 MDAs. This fiscal year, two new operation departments have been created, confirming that this administration is only interested in increasing the size of its already bloated bureaucracy. As the current budget proposal shows, government seems to have cemented a policy that allows wasteful proposals and a very heavy recurrent allocation.

In 2014, the Presidency would spend N33,406,722,566 or 0.7% of the federal budget. On the surface, the amount would represent a decrease of 10.3% or N3, 855,660,039 when compared to the N37, 262,882,605 that it got in 2013. Of this sum, N12.7bn or 38.3% of the budget is apportioned to personnel costs or staff salaries in 10 Departments and agencies under the Presidency. N12.2bn would is for maintaining existing structures and people, effectively bringing the recurrent budget to N25, 016,720,760 or 74.8%. In other words, contrary to the government’s promise to bring down the recurrent budget, it is quietly, but consistently increasing it.

Capital provisions for the Presidency this year would be N8, 390,001,806 or 25.2% of the total budget. There is a reduction in the capital budget of about 41.8% from the N14.4bn 2013 figures. With provisions like these, what immediately becomes clear is that the 2014 budget is a budget of salaries, traveling, tea and coffee for the privileged few that would in no way guarantee any real progress or help Nigerians redress growing poverty and destitution.

Total allocations across agencies reveal the following: State House HQ 26.1%, State House Operations (P) 8.9%, State House Operations (VP) 1.3%, National Boundary Commission 1.9%, Border Communities Development Agency 1.2%, Office of the Special Assistant MDG’s 0.5%, NIPPS, 4.3%, Bureau of Public Enterprises 6.7%, National Emergency Management Agency 3.8%, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission 30.6% and the Bureau of Public Procurement 3.8%.

Similarly, NEITI has 3.3%, National Atomic Energy Commission 6.6% and the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President 0.4% of the total MDA budget. As is evident from the above, the highest allocation of 36.3% goes to the State House alone whose only responsibility is catering to the President and his largely ‘missing-in-action’ deputy.

Analyzing the capital budget further, it becomes clear that this government is insincere in its fight against corruption. How can it justify the allocation of N3.7bn or 44.5% of the Presidency’s total capital allocation to the State House and a paltry N1.4bn or 16.8% to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission? It is even more pathetic when one considers that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) gets a miserly 4% or N339m allocation for capital expenditure in the 2014 fiscal year.

The budgetary provisions can be seen in clearer perspective if you consider that the State House intends to amongst others, spend its capital allocations on building and furnishing guest houses, purchasing vehicles and buses, procuring sauna baths, massage beds and renovating horse stables while the BPP, NEITI, EFCC and NEMA, all agencies which render essential anti-corruption and disaster management services get fractions of its allocation. A closer look at EFCC will suffice to illustrate the sorry state of affairs.

Beyond a shortage of funds, the EFCC faces the challenges of a legal system that grinds slowly and unsurely, resulting in prolonged litigation and outright loss of cases due to poor investigation and evidence gathering. This reality should ordinarily lead to increased funding for legal services under the commission, but President Jonathan simply cannot be bothered.

In 2014, the EFCC would get N283.6m for the services of lawyers and for prosecuting financial crimes. While this is an increase over the 2013 allocation of N100m, it is a classic example of perverse prioritization when you consider that the State House intends to spend N320.2m on honorarium and sitting allowances alone and N267.7m on welfare packages while EFCC has difficulties paying for legal services. NEITI which is the transparency watchdog of the oil industry with less than N70m for capital projects is similarly constrained, while NNPC diverts $20bn without appropriation!

As concerned Nigerians, we should ask important questions like: if the fight against corruption is sincere, why does the State House get an allocation for sitting allowances that is higher than the legal services allocation of the EFCC or NEITI’s capital budget? Why does the Presidency also think that welfare package for a few State House employees is more important than the oil revenue transparency and anti-corruption drive, assuming it can be called that?

To use the NEMA as another example, with Nigeria’s insecurity issues, threats of global warming, flooding and other unforeseen disasters, why is the agency not getting higher allocation for research and development? Instead, nowhere in its paltry N339m capital provision is there a line item for this kind of contingencies. The consequences could be unpreparedness for disasters which would only lead to an increase in the number of internally displaced Nigerians.

Even if the contingency budget under the service-wide vote is resorted to, the time-lag in accessing it and then complying with the provisions of the Public procurement Act 2007 would hamper the operations of NEMA and impact the timeliness of its response to disasters. Even more bothersome is the fact that for both local and international training in 2014, the agency would get some N60.6m, while at N173.3m the State House would get almost thrice that amount for refreshment and feeding alone.

Zoologist or not, President Jonathan must be living on another planet to assume that he is responsible for wildlife conservation and animals, when more than 70% of Nigerians live in abject poverty, insecurity and inequality. How else can one explain spending N100m in tax payers’ funds on wildlife conservation and animals in the fiscal year 2013 and in the 2014 budget proposal? Does Nigeria still have a ministry of environment?

To put this in proper context, in 2013, the Villa spent N7.5m on wildlife conservation and intends to spend N37.5m in 2014 on the same purpose.  Upgrading and maintaining the State House zoo would cost Nigerian tax payers some N8m. The renovation of stables cost N7.5m in 2013 and would set the nation back some N15m in the current fiscal year. In addition to all these, we would spend a generous N14.5m for the purchase of two very lucky animals.

Almost every item in the Presidency’s budget proposal redefines the term ‘wasteful’. For instance, there is a provision of N1.5bn for the upgrade of facilities, but the proposal cleverly leaves out details of the facilities to be upgraded. If the budget is finalized as it is, the government would spend N23.7m on the purchase of laundry equipment, N50m on the reconstruction of perimeter fence and gate house for the state house and N310.5m on vehicles purchase. Most ridiculous is the spending of N218.3m on generator fuel. The Presidency should simply get connected to the national grid and experience the much touted ‘improvement’ in power supply if it believes its own fairy tales.

Misappropriation of public funds should not be treated with such levity if there is going to be a more even distribution of national income and if there is any hope of closing the wide gap between the rich and poor in Nigeria. The populace must not fall for the deliberate distraction tactics of this government whenever their failures manifest. Public accountability must be paramount on the minds of those vying for political office as well as the electorate. The $20bn diverted must be accounted for in full to the 36 states and the FCT as well as the 774 local governments that make up our federation. We must demand accountability and insist on it.

The government – beginning with the Presidency – needs to urgently reduce wasteful spending by trimming unnecessary costs and eliminating wasteful provisions to free up funds for investments in human and physical infrastructure. The Presidency should set standard for probity and sensible spending. Unfortunately, the Presidency’s current budget proposal shows no indication of any real progress or positive change, only the jamboree mentality that has become a hallmark of Jonathan’s government.

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