Femi Fani Kayode’s Fury Of Nothingness About Buhari By Okoi Obono-Obla

When I read the Headlines in This Day Newspaper edition of Sunday the 11th January 2015 with the screaming and bold caption “PDP: Buhari is Not Qualified to Contest February 14 Election” I was naturally curious to know what warranted such a sensational and alarmist headline.

I found that the story was attributed to the Spokesman of President Good luck Jonathan Campaign Office, Femi Fani Kayode; instinctively concluded that the story was more of shadow than substance, knowing the character of the author.

Truly after leafing through the story I found to my chagrin and consternation that it was full of fury and blustery but no substance whatsoever. The story was well calculated hype to deceive the undiscerning.

The headline was characteristic of the slap dash, inconsistent and impetuous character of Femi Fani Kayode that he has starkly manifested to Nigerians ever since he defected from APC to PDP after a mid night visit to President Jonathan whom he had severely lampooned and called unprintable names previously.

I was hugely disappointed when I read through the story where Femi Fani Kayode alarmingly but maliciously and falsely accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of covering up the failure of the Presidential Candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari to make available his certificates to entitle him to contest the Presidential Election.

Femi Fani Kayode interpretation of Section 131 (1) (d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that provides that a presidential candidate must be educated to School Certificate Level to be eligible to contest Presidential Election was ludicrous, outlandish, bizarre, obtuse and totally out of sync with the intendment of the makers of the Constitution.

Section 131 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) provides thus:

“A person shall be qualified for election to the office of the President if –

(a) he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth;

(b) he has attained the age of Forty years;

(c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and

(d) he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent”

When the words used in the Constitution are clear and unambiguous they must be given their ordinary and natural meaning; no more no less.

It is equally ridiculous and puerile for Femi Kayode to suggest that General Muhammadu Buhari has no certificate and therefore INEC ought to disqualify him.

I know Femi Kayode is a lawyer and I expect that he would do a good job of interpreting the Constitution correctly and not allow his phobia for General Buhari to take the better of him to the extent that he would show such pathetic understanding and appreciation of the canons of constitutional interpretation and the tenor of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

Otherwise how on earth would Femi Kayode suggest that Gen. Buhari is not qualified to contest on the ground that he failed to present his School Certificate to INEC and therefore INEC ought to have disqualified him? In the first place INEC has no modicum of power to disqualify any candidate even if such candidate did not meet the constitutional requirement prescribed by the Constitution.

General Buhari had in his sworn Affidavit in support of his Nomination Form which he submitted to INEC stated that his Certificates are with the Nigerian Army Secretary.

The Army through its Director of Public Relations, Brigadier General Olaleye Lajide confirmed indeed that Gen. Buhari’s Certificates are with the Military Secretary. Femi Kayode would still want us believe that he has no certificate and therefore no eligible to contest?

General Lajide had dismissed with a wave of the hand reports in the Nigerian media that the Army could not find Gen. Buhari’s Academic Records as false. He further said that the reports in the Newspapers that the Army could not locate Gen. Buhari’s record were untrue.

One would have thought that the explanation and confirmation by Gen. Lajide would put to rest the controversy. But alas the likes of Femi Kayode are not interested in running a decent issue-based campaign; they want to continue to mar Gen. Buhari, malign, and defame him in order to divert attention from serious social and economic issues that the two Presidential Candidates should address and articulate their plans on how to tackle the Country if elected into office.

Ironically the Vice Presidential Running Mate to President Jonathan, Vice President Mohammed Sambo also had sworn to an Affidavit in support of his Nomination Form submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission to the effect that all his academic certificates were burnt in a fire incident that gutted his residence in his home town. Has anybody raised any question as to the non eligibility of Architect Sambo because he swore to such an Affidavit?

Does Femi Fani Kayode know that the non qualification of Architect Sambo on the ground that because he swore to an affidavit that his Certificates were burnt he is not qualified to contest the forthcoming Presidential Election invariably would disqualify President Jonathan from contesting because they both are running on a Joint Ticket?

Femi Kayode has hypocritically not made an issue of the fact that Architect Sambo did not present his academic records to Independent National Electoral Commission!

There is nowhere in the Constitution or Electoral Act that requires that a candidate must present his academic records to the Electoral Commission.

The Constitution only expects that a candidate show that he is educated to School Certificate Level or its equivalent. So if a candidate is able to establish that all he possesses is a First School Leaving Certificate, it suffices.

The Courts have interpreted the phrase “educated to School Certificate or its equivalent” used in Section 131 (d) of the Constitution in a legion of cases.

In the case of UKPO VS. ADEDE (2003) 3 NWLR (PT. 755) 671, 1st the Respondent’s election as a Senator elected to represent the Cross River Northern Senatorial District in the National Assembly was challenged by the Appellant on the ground that the 1st Respondent presented a forged School Certificate to INEC and was therefore not qualified to contest the election.

The Principal of the Secondary School which the 1st Respondent attended was called as a witness by the 1st Respondent and he tendered a Statements of Result dated 1972 to establish that the 1st Respondent was educated up to School Certificate Level or its equivalent. The Court of Appeal held that the 1st Respondent was qualified to contest the election because there was evidence that he was educated to School Certificate Level or its equivalent and had therefore satisfied Section   65 (2) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution.

A person shall be qualified for election under subsection 1, of Section 131 of the Constitution if he has been educated up to at least School Certificate Level or its equivalent.

Undoubtedly, Gen. Buhari is educated up to School Certificate Level or its equivalent. He attended Provincial Secondary School, Katsina. He attended the Nigerian Military Training Centre (now Nigerian Defence Kaduna). He thereafter attended the Mons Officer Cadet Training School, Aldershot, United Kingdom. He attended the Defence Staff College, India, and the United States War College.

The United State War College has since confirmed in a reaction to email sent to Carrol Kerr, the Scholar Public Affairs Officer by one Iwalaiye Sunday that Gen. Buhari attended the institution in 1980 and graduated and earned a United States War College Diploma. Kerr also confirmed that United States War College awarded Master Degree to its class of 2000.

This qualification alone has fulfilled the requirement of Section 131 (1) (d) of the Constitution.

Gen. Buhari has more than satisfied the provisions of Section 131 (1) (d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that provide that a Presidential Candidate must at least be educated up to School Certificate level or its equivalent.

Section 318 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, defines the phrase “School Certificate or its equivalent “ used in Section 131 (1) d) of the Constitution thus:

“School Certificate or its equivalent” means:

(a) A Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent, or Grade II
Teacher’s Certificate, the City and Guilds Certificate; or

(b) Education up to Secondary School Certificate level; or

(c) Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent and –

(i) Service in the Public or Private Sector in the Federation
in any capacity acceptable to the Independent National
Electoral Commission for a minimum of ten years, and

(ii) attendance at courses and training in such institutions
as may be acceptable to the Independent National Electoral
Commission for periods totalling up to a minimum of one
year, and

(iii) the ability to read, write, understand and
communicate in the English language to the satisfaction of
the Independent National Electoral Commission, and

(d) any other qualification acceptable by the Independent National
Electoral Commission.”

One would have expected that Femi Fani Kayode would avail himself the provision of the Freedom of Information Act that vests on him or anybody the right to access information from any public institution and apply to the Nigerian Army to make available to him Gen. Buhari’s Academic Record in its possession if he is not satisfied with the explanation of General Lajide rather than making outlandish postures on the pages of the newspaper that are all sound and fury but empty in substance and depth.

Also Section 32 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) vests on Femi Fani Kayode the right to file an action in the Federal High Court or High Court seeking an Order disqualifying Gen. Buhari from contesting the election if he strongly believes that Gen. Buhari deposed to false information in his Nomination Form by claiming that his Academic Records are with the Army.

The grand standing, posturing and playing to the gallery by Femi Fani Kayode in the media amounts to nothing but a red herring to divert the attention of Nigerians from confronting his principal – President Jonathan on the promises he made to them in 2011 that he has glaringly failed to fulfill. By Femi Fani Kayode dwelling on irrelevancies and frivolities and peddling of falsehood such as the non-possession by Gen. Buhari of academic certificates, Kayode hopes to prevent the electorates from passing a vote of no confidence on President Jonathan on the 14th February 2015 election and becloud the sense of reasoning of the electorates with the hope of preventing the electorates from sending the President packing out of Aso Villa, which has become inevitable and long overdue.

 

OKOI OBONO-OBLA

 

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Enugu International Airport Scam: Another 419 on the Igbo Nation; By Obinna Akukwe

The Enugu International Airport also known as Akanu Ibiam International Airport is another 419 on the Biafran Igbo citizens of Nigeria because there is yet nothing international about the airport. It is instructive to note that late President Umoru Yaradua was the one who in 2008 approved the upgrading of the airport to International status in line with his administration’s policy that each geopolitical zone will have at least one international airport.

In 2009, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) under Yaradua approved the sum of N4.13 billion for work on the airport which would include extension, asphalting and marking of the runway. The old runway which is 2,400 meters long was to  be extended by 600 metres to make it 3000 meters or three kilometers and the width  extended from the existing 45 meters to 60 meter. In December 2009, the airport was closed temporarily for work to commence and those wishing to take the route were diverted to Sam Mbakwe Airport Owerri. This work spanned the period when Mr. Babatunde Omotoba was minister till when Fidelia Njeze took over. Therefore, the process of upgrading the Enugu International Airport was kick started by late Yaradua and N4.13 billion naira was approved by the FEC and released for the work to commence.

The Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Jonathan on October 19, 2010 reaffirmed the upgrade of Enugu Airport to an international facility and awarded a reviewed contract of about N6.1billion.

With the reaffirmation of the international status of the airport, Igbo leaders started the process of unbridled sycophancy by praising the current regime to high heavens over an international airport that still does not exist.

Chief among the praise singers was the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremmadu  who said that ““For many decades, the people of the South East, the local and international business community have waited seemingly endlessly for the commencement of international flight operations at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, and the people of South East will remain ever grateful to President Jonathan for the breakthrough.”

When Stella Oduah moved from ‘Neighbor to’ Neighbor Campaign Organization’ where she muscled out and overshadowed the Chief Tony Anenih owned ‘Door to Door Campaign Organization’, she was rewarded with Minister of Aviation for a job well done and she commenced upgrade of facilities in all the 22 airports in Nigeria. In  the  first phase eleven (11)airports including  General Aviation Terminal (MMA) International Terminal (MMA),  Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, (International Terminal ), Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, (Domestic Terminal), Kaduna Airport Terminal,  Margaret Ekpo International Airport Terminal, Calabar,    Benin Airport Terminals,  Akanu Ibiam International Airport Terminal, Enugu,  Sam Mbakwe Airport Terminal, Owerri, Port Harcourt International Airport Terminal, Yola Airport Terminal and Yakubu Gowon Airport, Jos were scheduled for upgrading.

Therefore it is absolutely silly for Igbo leaders to grovel before Jonathan for upgrading Enugu Airport as if it is the only one in Nigeria being overhauled. Completely silly and self-effacing!! For goodness sake the Igbos gave this man 90% votes and even zones that gave him 5% votes also got their airports renovated at amounts far higher than was spent at Enugu Airport.  Julius Berger was awarded the N9.5bn contract for the Nnamdi Airport upgrade work, while Messrs Crew Construction Company in a joint venture with Itlay’s Messrs Cremona Construction and Romania’s Messrs Coffer Impex were to upgrade Aminu Kano at a cost of N12.8bn while Enugu got N6 billon and yet the Emir Ado Bayero of Kano did not lead a ‘ thank you’ praise singing troupe to Aso Rock.

The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), George Uriesi, even affirmed that the Federal Government had invested $870 million (N139,200,000,000) in airport infrastructure, which includes the remodeling of the terminals and other safety critical equipment. If the Federal Government invested N139 billion naira to upgrade 11  airports around Nigeria and Enugu Airport got  only N6 bilion of it, then why the celebration.  Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Jos, Yola, Kano, Calabar and Kaduna airports had more budgetary allocations than Enugu Airports yet Afenifere, Arewa Consultative Forum, Middle Belt Forum, South South Peoples Assembly have not kowtowed before any Jonathan. The Governors of the South West, South South, North East, North West or North Central have never led any delegation to over praise Jonathan for upgrading their airports.

President Jonathan had said that a new international terminal for the Enugu Airport will cost N13 billion naira. The question is, has any funds been committed to build the international terminal. Is there any budgetary allocation for the terminal for the year 2015? The answer is negative. Therefore the Enugu Airport project is a 419.

What is the state of landing and safety equipment at the airport?  This airport is a big risks to international airlines especially those from Europe, America, Asia, Middle East because it is international in propaganda and not in facilities. Egypt Air and South African Airways have rejected overtures to use the airport. The only airlines that had the magnanimity to use the Airport are Ethiopian Airline which operates skeletal flights  to Addis Ababa and  in connecting flights to some destinations.

The Turkish Airlines signed agreement in principle as announced by Vice President Sambo a year ago but fled back to Greece after inspecting the equipments on the ground. If that airport is truly international airlines like Virgin Atlantic Airways, Lufthansa Airlines, British Airways, KLM, British Caledonian Airlines, Oatar Airways, Emirates Airlines will ply the route, but for now all overtures from certain quarters to lure these carriers to Enugu have failed woefully due to what they termed poor quality infrastructure. As at January, 2015, no airline from Europe, America, Asia and Middle East have landed or taken off from Enugu International Airport

The airport lacks many safety landing facilities including the Doppler Weather Radar used for real time detection and tracking of hazardous weather systems such as thunderstorms, wind shear, turbulence, dust storms. This equipment was recently installed in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Maiduguri, Yola and none installed in Enugu.

What of the Low Level Wind Shear Alert Systems (LLWAS) and RETIM Synergy Satellite Image Receivers among others critical landing, navigational and radar enhancement equipments of international standards. They are missing at the airport and no foreign airline will risk a crash. The international terminal is not there yet.

The runway and aircraft hangers are always flooded whenever there is rainfall and many times passengers have to remove their shoes, fold their trousers to walk up the tarmac for boarding.     Many Igbos who expected to connect from their various overseas destinations to Enugu were disappointed  during the Christmas season of 2014 and will still be disappointed by December 2015 because there is no plan to give the South East  an international airport. This Enugu International Airport is another 419 on the Igbo nation and the foreigner airlines  have dismissed the international status of the  airport as a scam.  When the emperors decide to actually give us an l airport the volume of activities, flights and passenger traffic will prove it- what  we have is another International airport 419 on  the Igbo nation and some fools are still celebrating.

Obinna Akukwe

profetobinna2@yahoo.com

 

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If T.B. Joshua were American… By Samuel Olaleye

I genuinely grieve for my nation, Nigeria. A people so enriched with natural talent, a country so bequeathed with bountiful resources, a land so engraved with a remarkable history. Yet what headlines ring out across the globe today? Death, decadence and disaster! A nation ravaged by Islamic fundamentalists who chew sticks and cut throats with alarmingly fiendish frequency! A nation filled with power-hungry politicians who put personal aspirations above national interests! A nation polluted by the venomous fumes of corruption which have crept like a cankerworm into almost every facet of our society! With the 2015 elections around the corner, tensions rising and violent words being meted out by both militants and ministers of God alike, I wonder what lies next for the supposed giant of Africa.

My insipid musings were suddenly broken by a tap on the shoulder. My neighbour for the next several hours on a flight from Lagos to New York had belatedly arrived, takeoff fast approaching. After pleasantries were exchanged, my morbid national reflections continued. However, they were about to be somewhat lightened by a peculiar revelation my companion shared with me mid-flight. After introducing myself as a writer, I pondered if I could publish his tale. He reluctantly agreed on the premise that I should shield his identity.

After our discussion had danced across topics from Buhari to Babangida to Bakare, I bitterly told him that it was nigh on impossible to point to a Nigerian icon today that has genuinely put his country ahead of his own personal pursuits. “Selfless patriotism can still be found,” he defiantly retorted. “Do you know Temitope Joshua?” Who doesn’t? The bearded Nigerian pastor has become increasingly famous (or infamous?) within Nigeria of late. “Let me tell you something about that man. My tight friend knew him almost 30 years ago. He taught his children for evening classes.” My interest was kindled. I had visited Joshua’s SCOAN once and was quite taken by the unique brand of spirituality at work in Ikotun. Apparently, a young and sprightly Joshua was in the tutoring career before delving into God’s work. “My friend and his children loved the guy so much; he practically became part of their family,” the unassuming gentleman continued.

But here comes the bombshell! “Would you believe he actually offered to pay for T.B. Joshua to travel with the family to America when they wanted to relocate?” What! So Africa’s most contentious pastor could have travelled abroad with a well-endowed family in his early 20s before he achieved any form of clerical reputation? “What stopped him,” I frowned, expecting to hear that perhaps his visa was denied or he had a sharp fall out with the family in question.

“He refused,” my new friend muttered. “He told them that God said he should stay in Nigeria until ‘it was the right time.’ ” The answer given by the famous preacher several decades ago left me astounded. Which other young, fledgling Nigerian could have made such a decision and not be crowned a raving lunatic by friends and family alike, I wondered. Especially considering Joshua’s poverty-stricken background in Ondo State.

However, upon some reflection, I can’t say that I am so surprised. Today, 30 years down the line, Pastor Joshua continues to tread the path of the unusual that has earned him the reputation of being both unconventional and unpredictable! While his counterparts (who have at one point in time vilified him) are embroiled in various political controversies via associations or damning statements, he has remained a consistent beacon of morality and magnanimity, choosing to let actions speak louder than words.

I genuinely admire the fact that Pastor T.B. Joshua chose to remain within Nigeria, especially considering the economical impact his decision to stay has had on our nation. Oil aside, it is a well known fact that the nation’s main tourism revenue comes from religious pilgrims, the majority of whom make their way to The Synagogue for some form of solace. And evidently they find it, given the fact that the foreign influx has consistently increased as time has progressed. Despite unending controversies, The SCOAN has continued to wax stronger, its founder standing in the forefront of a positive message being spread concerning Nigeria to counter the negativity projected by the likes of Boko Haram and Niger Delta militants. I hope it will not take the arrival of ‘the right time’ for Joshua to set his tents abroad before Nigerians wake up to value the abounding potential that lies within an unusual church compound in a rundown Lagos environ.

It is stories like this that help fan even the faintest embers of hope within me for my motherland. The very faintest…

Samuel Olaleye is a young novelist currently in Port Harcourt, Nigeria

 

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The Case for and against President Jonathan By Tolu Ogunlesi

Last week, I promised to write about President Goodluck Jonathan’s achievements. It would be silly and disingenuous to try to argue that his government has achieved nothing, or has been a total disaster, as some people have tried to insist. You will of course be familiar with most of what I’m about to say, because it is what his supporters have been shoving down our throats in the name of a “Transformation Agenda”.

Let’s start with infrastructure. On the railways, the Jonathan government scores high marks. The railway line between Lagos and Kano has been revived, after about two decades of inactivity. The Enugu-Port Harcourt line has just been launched; the Abuja-Kaduna line is almost finished. There was a determined push to upgrade airports across the country, for which we are grateful. A lot of noise has been made about roads but I don’t see much evidence of transformation anywhere. I travelled by road to Benue State last August and didn’t see anything that looked like transformation. Uyo-Calabar I’m told is still as awful as it was when I travelled on it in 2013. The East-West Road, which the government promised in June 2013 would be completed by December 2014, is not finished, even though a lot of work has been done, especially around the Benin-Ore area. The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is still very far from being a hellish experience.

Agriculture is arguably this government’s strongest point. The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, winner in 2013 of Forbes Magazine’s Person of the Year, has brought incredible energy and vision to bear on his job, with the obvious support of the President. Last year, I attended the launch of Olam’s integrated rice mill in Rukubi Village in Nasarawa State. It’s said to be the largest rice milling facility on the continent, and is certain to translate into considerable economic opportunity in the area.

There’s also the e-Wallet system that the government says now has more than 10 million farmers registered on it, designed to cut out the middlemen who invaded and messed up the fertiliser distribution system, and made it one of the biggest ongoing scams in the country.

Auto manufacturing is enjoying a boost, with local and international players announcing launch and expansion plans. Last year, Nissan rolled out the first cars from its new production facility in Lagos, powered by the government’s new automotive policy.

The National Mortgage Refinancing Company is a great idea – and the government says it’s now processing the first batch of applications that when fulfilled will provide houses to thousands of Nigerians, including young people. On the whole, this government has been good to women (with its appointment policy) and young people. YouWIN, the government’s business plan contest, is a fantastic idea, and there are multitudes of grateful beneficiaries.

Nollywood people tell us that this is the first government to pay attention to the industry. And it is true; President Jonathan’s government should take credit for directing substantial funding towards an industry that has long put Nigeria on the world map.

I also think that President Jonathan has actually signed more landmark legislative bills than any other president before him: the Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill, the Freedom of Information Bill, a Counter-terrorism Bill, National Health Bill, and a Pension Reform Amendment Bill.

Now for the case against. The insensitivity of Mr. President and his government has been a huge handicap. My honeymoon with him ended with the fuel subsidy fiasco. I couldn’t believe that a President under whose watch fuel subsidy payments ballooned four-fold could decide that the most appropriate immediate solution was to make Nigerians pay for the monumental corruption, instead of punishing the people who conspired against the country in such a brazen manner.

That insensitivity is the same one that plays out when the President goes dancing at a rally in Kano the day after a bomb blast in Nyanya motor park, or when his spokespersons stay silent on the massacres in Baga over the weekend, but remember to post to social media photos from the President’s daughter’s wedding.

Second, is the lack of control; the sense that the ship of state has no one in charge, or (as Femi Fani-Kayode pointed out a year ago) has too many people in charge (with the elected President somewhere near the bottom of the list). There is little evidence that the President has been in firm control of his government.

Years ago, I recall listening to a minister say that s/he had not had a chance to sit with the President one-on-one in the five or so months s/he had been appointed. And I hear stories that suggest this is the norm – the President is surrounded by a tight clique of people and there are many ministers who have little or no access to him. I dare anyone to contradict this.

That is no way to rule a country like Nigeria. Nigeria requires a hands-on, fully engaged approach, something much closer to the Obasanjo style (which, at its worst, admittedly descended into needless micromanagement) than to the Yar’Adua style (at the height of his illness he was reportedly spending only a few hours a day working and engaged).

This lack of “in-charge-ness” has in recent years manifested in a number of well-known incidents. The one I like to use as an example is the 2013 incident during which the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company suffered a blockade that prevented it from fulfilling its export obligations. The story is that NIMASA, under the orders of a very powerful militant (contracted for revenue collection purposes by the agency), accused the NLNG of owing it fees/taxes, and decided to cripple its activities until it paid up.

Where, in a sane world, does one agency of government lay siege to another in that manner, and for that long? That siege reportedly cost Nigeria in excess of half a billion dollars in earnings losses (more than the sum of the disputed taxes) apart from the reputational damage. If we had a President who was in charge, he would have immediately summoned all parties and issued the necessary orders long before the matter degenerated into an international embarrassment.

It is no mistake that his official title is President AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF of the Armed Forces. It’s a two-in-one obligation. Going by the security situation in the North-East, we do not have a commander in chief. The Nigerian Constitution provides a guarantee of every citizen’s right to life and liberty. The President has repeatedly failed to demonstrate any regard for that.

Under him, the law enforcement agencies appear to be underperforming – whether it’s the military, or the police, or the DSS (which suffered an embarrassing Boko Haram attack on their head office near the presidential villa; and lost 10 men to the Ombatse cult in Nasarawa State in May 2013 – for which their director-general offered blanket forgiveness to the killers). The Ikeja Police College saga of January 2013 was instructive. After visiting for himself and seeing the extent of the rot in there, any sane mind would have rightly expected presidential fury to follow. And it did, but for some strange reason it was directed, not at the police bosses responsible for the painful state of the place, but instead at imaginary enemies who were out to “embarrass the President and his government by leaking the photos”. Shocking.

Finally, I think the President’s people made a fundamental error when they decided to use “Transformation” to sum up their government’s mission. There is nothing transformational about what Jonathan has done in his first term. “Rescusitation Agenda” might have been a more appropriate, less impossible moniker. Reviving a comatose railway line (Lagos to Kano) is not transformation, it is resuscitation. Reviving and completing suspended power sector privatisation reforms is not transformation.

This instead is the stuff of transformation: making the Lagos-Kano railway line run at 200 kilometres per hour; advancing the power sector reforms from a theoretical argument (“we have privatised”) to a practical one (a doubling of generation output, at the very least, and an expansion of transmission capacity to sustain it).

 

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Jonathan’s Presidential Declaration: My Take Away By Governor Babatunde Fashola

On Thursday 8th of January, 2015, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came to Lagos, warts and all, in furtherance of a presidential campaign flag-off. They had advertised this flag-off with a promise to show what they had done in Lagos. I anticipated this visit because I hoped it would provide an opportunity to discuss issues important to the people. When they left, they left nothing tangible behind except violence, attacks and robberies on citizens who had been trapped in the traffic they created. The All Progressives Congress (APC) National Convention had held in the same city of Lagos a few weeks ago without violence and robberies. But that is not my take away. My take away was the presidential speech.

Having ridden to office on the back of civil society (a.k.a Doctrine of necessity), and having been elected by an impassioned campaign of emotion and sympathy (a.k.a ‘I had no shoes’), I expected that a president seeking re-election will understand that his record of service and not sympathy would be the vote catching message. Even though I was in Benin to attend the APC vice-presidential candidate’s town hall meeting, I took the time to listen to the presidential flag-off speech. Mr. President had my attention when he said his message that day, and for the rest of the 35 states and FCT, was going to be focused on young people.

And just as I thought he was going to raise hope, he did what no leader should ever do. He dashed hope. He told young Nigerians that his generation had failed. Yet he seeks their votes to lead them. This compounded the problem. If the president admits personal failure, he was uncharitable in seeking to paint everybody in his own service record. What then is his “Transformation Agenda” about? Failure?

My take away: Leaders don’t dash hope, they inspire it. To be fair, he quite rightly set out the agenda and burning issues on the minds of the Nigerian people when he opened by stating that he was going to address 3 (three) issues of corruption, insecurity and the economy.  I expected to hear about a security plan to restore Nigeria’s territory that was lost to terrorists and how to bring back the girls abducted in Chibok, the president sadly said nothing. Instead, Mr. President went for the sympathy message again, that there was an assassination attempt on his life four years ago.

My take away: Mr President, this is a good try but it took four years and on the eve of election campaign for you to disclose such grave national security information. Any attempt on your life as our leader is an attack on all of us as a people and a nation. Twenty-four hours before this Lagos presidential flag-off, there was an attack of terror in Paris in which 12 people were killed. By midnight, arrests had been made; the Government of France had swung into action with 80,000 combined security forces in a manhunt for the terrorists. They pursued the terrorists into a forest, evoking memories of Sambisa Forest.

As I conclude this piece, three terrorists had been killed and one was on the run. After six years, there was no message or plan in this presidential re-election bid speech on how to solve our security problem. Mr. President spent a lot of time accusing his predecessors of not buying arms. Those young people whom Mr. President sought to impress must remember that in the last 20 or so years, our armed forces have been involved in wars/peace-keeping missions in Somalia, Sierra-Leone and Liberia, and their performance was globally adjudged to be outstanding. They used arms.

If Mr. President’s predecessors did not buy arms, which arms did these soldiers use for those operations? It seems to me very simple to accept that armoury management is a matter of inventory management; use and replace. I think young people must see these accusations against predecessors as being without basis.

Assuming there is a basis, General Buhari left office in 1985; the technology of arms has improved rapidly and it cannot be his fault that a president in 2015 is seeking to use 1985 arms.

Mr. President still owes Nigerians an explanation about the $9 million cash seized in a plane in South Africa, in an amateurish attempt to buy arms through the back door. As far as corruption was concerned, the president’s silence on the forensic audit report about $10 billion and $12 billion or $20 billion, (depending on whose version between the ministry of finance or central bank), showed an unwillingness to defend his record. I think it would have helped Mr. President’s re-election bid if he spoke about losses to the economy as a result of pipeline vandalism and huge economic losses to the country in terms of stolen crude oil.

Answers to allegations of mismanagement of SURE-P funds being used for political objectives and the unresolved kerosene import scandals would perhaps have been helpful. Instead, Mr. President chose to attack the records of predecessors, many of whom are not seeking re-election.

My take away: Mr. President seems to have forgotten that he is the one seeking re-election and it is his record in the last 4-6 years (not his record as Governor of Bayelsa) that would be helpful to the people in decision making. In case Mr. President has forgotten, he should ask his aides to provide tapes of the Obama campaign for him. President Obama rode into office on a massive emotional campaign anchored on change (and that is where the comparison ends) but in the second term bid, the Republicans were most scathing, unrelenting and uncompromising in the public scrutiny of his first term record. That is what happens in every democracy. It is not about emotion and last minute allegations of assassinations.

Even after Obama had taken out Bin Laden, who claimed responsibility for a terror attack on America, it took a most passionate presidential convention speech by his Democratic predecessor, President Bill Clinton, to defend his record of service and ‘save’ the Obama re-election bid.  Which one of President Jonathan’s predecessors will stand up for his record of service? As far as the economy was concerned, the president pitched on the size of the Nigerian economy as the largest in Africa.  He was silent on why the citizens of the largest economy in Africa still live in darkness. He was silent on why the football team of the largest economy in Africa will not be at the Nation’s Cup, when Cape Verde, the smallest country will be there.

Mr. President, who was addressing young people, would have helped his own case if he had explained to them why Bolaji Abdullahi, a young Sports Minister, under whose tenure we won the Nations Cup, was removed for political expediency. I think Mr. President needs to be reminded that as recently as December 2014, citizens of the largest economy in Africa were looking for petrol in jerry cans across Nigerian cities including Abuja.

Instead of revealing the plan for the next four years on the issues which Mr. President chose by himself to address, he sounded angry, and appeared irritated by the demands of his citizens for a better life. I expect that Mr. President will seek to do better as he promised across the next 35 states and FCT.

My take away: A re-election bid is like a job appraisal or interview; the applicant who seeks to serve cannot get angry – Anger is not a strategy. We the citizens must continue to ask questions.  Mr. President made promises to us in Lagos such as the construction of the road leading to the Murtala Muhammed Airport. He promised stable electricity. He promised to keep us safe. He promised jobs although Nigerian youths died under his watch while seeking to serve in the immigration service. Mr. President must show us that these promises have been fulfilled, or he must explain why they were not fulfilled. This is the essence of the social contract in a democracy.

He must show us that he will not lose more parts of Nigeria and that he has a clear plan to reclaim the lost ones and rescue the Chibok girls who fall into the generation of young people he chose to address. This is the presidential speech I waited for. I am still waiting. Mr. President has 35 more states and the FCT to convince us not to vote for the CHANGE that beckons.

P.S:
If you watched the speech given by the APC vice-presidential candidate in Benin City on the same day, please note that he became candidate only on the 11th of December, 2014? 25 days ago (not six years ago) yet he was able in half an hour without a prepared speech to discuss a plan for security, power, jobs, healthcare and social security.

•Mr. Fashola, Governor of Lagos State write from Lagos

 

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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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