NANS Convention: Between Fact And Fictions, By Ibrahim Dallah

First and foremost, I am really pained that over the years some stakeholders (none Students) has taken it upon themselves  to always choose/select the leadership of NANS to the real Nigerian Students.
For the avoidance of doubt, before the convention proper, some of the member of the Convention were bribed and they sent their thugs after Obande Gideon, as I write, Obande has sustained injury on his face for being a top contender’s as at that time.
It is very worrisome that the election that was to be conducted on Saturday 7th July, 2018 but some of the already compromised Convention members delayed it until Tuesday 10th July, 2018, some of the real Presidents of the Students Unions that were to vote Obande Gideon as President of NANS went back to School.
This time around during the last convention, Obande Gideon dared them and pulled out of the convention where the legitimate Senators (SUG Presidents) found him worthy and elected him as the National President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).
Be as it may, Obande Gideon was left at the mercy of the ‘compromised Members of the Convention’ that are not even Students of any higher institutions in Nigeria.
Therefore, they accredited 272 delegates for voting, after the election the votes turned itself to 275. Where did the additional 3 votes came from? In fact, some of the people accredited are not worthy to be called Student based on the fact that they were thugs imported to rigged election.
As Nigerian Students were shouting after the sorting of the total votes “we no go free and ole” then, Obande Gideon pulled out of the election where the legitimate Students voted him in as the newly elected NANS National President from Nasarawa State University Keffi.
It is very unfortunate that there were a lot of electoral frauds and irregularities on the just concluded convention, Obande Gideon has no any other option than to pulled out of the Convention because there is no provision for taking any issues to the Court of competent jurisdiction by the aggrieved parties based on the fact that NANS is not a registered organization with Corporate affairs Commission (CAC). It is just a pressure group that can not sue and be sued.
The outgoing Senate President of NANS, Comrade Bamigbade Taiwo from Federal University of Technology, Akure that knows what’s called free, fair and credible election equally pulled out of the Convention and organized a fresh election where Obande Gideon emerges as NANS President.
We are aware that the stakeholders will never allow NANS to have just one President because of their selfish interest that’s why they declared one Danielson Bamidele as their President. The Students community has spoken in a single voice that their President is Obande Gideon, GCNS and nothing will change it.
Congratulations Obande Gideon, GCNS and all the lovers of Democracy.
Ibrahim Kabiru Dallah
Convention Planning Committee Secretary, NANS 2018

Open Letter To APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole, By Olawale Lawal

Your Excellency Sir,

I write to felicitate with you and to congratulate your honour on your election to serve the progressive development of great party, the All Progressive Congress (APC); and to bring to your attention salient issues in the State of Osun.

Your excellency sir, as a progressive and concerned party member, it is very crucial that I get you acquainted with the facts that many citizens and residents of Osun have been clamouring that whoever would be the flag-bearer of our party, the APC, should be from Osun West Senatorial District. This clamour, according to first-hand findings, is hinged on the quest for a equilibrium in the leadership of the State which hitherto has witnessed the sidelining of Osun West Senatorial District.

It suffices, based on this fervid clamour from citizens, that it has become apparent that State of Osun has since its creation and leadership under democratic dispensations, been governed by Osun West Senatorial District for just 22 months. And this was even during the defunct Third Republic (1992-1993). Since the return of democracy in the Fourth Republic – now 19 years, the gubernatorial position has been rotated between the East and Central Senatorial Districts; hence, the loud clamour that Osun West Senatorial District should be given a fair deal in bringing their leadership expertise to fore by producing the next governor.

Sir, Osun is strategic in the South-West and the current giant strides being achieved by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola need to be sustained in the next political dispensation. However, I have a serious fear, that should our great party, the APC, opt for candidate(s) from other Senatorial Districts other Osun West, political apathy may surge among the citizens; while many may opt for aspirants in other parties; thereby relegating the chances of continuing the good works being done.

From the foregoing, sir, I have known you as a Comrade whose pursuit of egalitarian policies have been pragmatic. Therefore, I would like to enjoin your authority to give this correspondence invaluable consideration. Particularly, I would like you to be in the know that any primary other than the normal delegates primary process would only not be accepted by party members but could possibly lead to irresolvable political crises among party members ahead of the gubernatorial elections.

While I look forward to seeing your practical resolve to giving this correspondence helpful importance, I pray God continues to strengthen you with wisdom as you lead our party from success to success.

Thank you and God bless you sir.

Sincerely yours,
Olawale Yusuff Lawal.

African Anti-Corruption Day Is A Call To Action, By President Muhammadu Buhari

The mark of African political leadership has too often been characterised by the reneging on pledges of clean government and indulging in corruption. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. Yet, regrettably, the political classes of my continent have often behaved like those who suffer from an addiction – blaming others for those consequences made by their own hands. But as with all addiction sufferers, eventually it is no longer possible to elude responsibility, and they are inexorably led to the day of reckoning.

This made the first African Anti-Corruption Day this week, for all 55 countries of the African Union, an important step in recognising both the realities and responsibilities for corruption. It is symbolic, of course, as is my appointment as the first AU champion on anti-corruption – but it is a call to action.

The AU’s recent Mbeki report calculated that as much as $50bn (£38bn) is misappropriated from my continent each year – more than three times the US overseas development assistance to Africa. The recovery of this amount would be transformational, as billions of Africans suffer when hospitals are without basic services, schools without chairs, people without water and young people without jobs. That is the consequence of this corruption, when vast sums are stolen from the wealthy: for it is impossible to steal such amounts from paupers. It is theft that makes the citizens of Africa poor when they should be rich.

There will be those who doubt the capacity of Africa’s peoples to take on corruption with any great success. There has been much hope followed by much failure before. But doubters need look to the fundamental change these very same citizens bring across my continent every month through the ballot boxes of Africa’s many fast-maturing, multiparty democracies: this is change made possible for millions by access to information and organisation that they have seized and harnessed through improved communications and social media.

Ejection and election is today made rapid by this great power and, understandably, brings great expectations of those assuming office. It is a power to hold them accountable for success or failure – a power few African politicians, or leaders of the international community, truly thought would ever hold.

What my election as Nigerian president – much due to a campaign made possible by mass communication – has taught me is that democracy’s strength comes from this accountability, and the demand that the rights of all are equally upheld. This includes the right of those accused of crimes of corruption to a fair trial before an impartial court of law, and to be believed innocent until proven otherwise.

When once I was army head of state, special military tribunals – not civilian courts – heard corruption cases. Trials could be hastened, as lawyers to defend the accused often preferred not to be found. Arrests were quick, as were verdicts. This was possible because I was not accountable, something my younger self might well have viewed a distraction. But the absence of that accountability has allowed others to steal and be corrupt with impunity.

We are fast transitioning to the time when political accountability in Africa becomes no longer the new but simply the expected – but we are not there yet. That is why our citizens’ campaign will force those who steal to be held accountable too. For just as a thief does not steal successfully without a place to hide their stolen goods – so an addiction needs a supplier. That is why action against corruption requires its recognition and treatment both for its perpetrators and its enablers.

Muhammadu Buhari is president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the African Union’s champion on anti-corruption

Osinbajo Leaves Silicon Valley, Hollywood Wanting More, By Seun Bisuga

Prior to the meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, most of the representatives from Hollywood’s leading movie and entertainment companies like Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Lions Gate, IMAX Entertainment, Warner Bros, Walt Disney, BET International and even the National Association of Theater Owners knew Nigeria for many other reasons especially for stories of terrorism particularly that of the Chibok Girls which former First Lady Michelle Obama was actively involved.

Listening to Prof Osinbajo reel out investment opportunities and business potentials available in Nigeria was surreal. For people who are responsible for some of the biggest box office and who have worked with the biggest actors and actresses, Professor Osinbajo was putting up a show. He explained that creativity and talent abound in Nigeria and we are open for business.

Their face lit up when they heard about Nollywood and how Nigerian home videos and actors have a far-reaching audience globally including the US. They couldn’t hide the amazement on their faces and even had to blink their eyes to be sure Osinbajo was not auditioning for a movie role, he was holding them spell bound as he changed the Nigeria narrative, something akin to a fairy tale.

In one day, all they had known about Nigeria changed and the possibility of big investment began to play in their heads. You could tell some of them had already called for board meetings in their minds and were arranging trips to Nigeria. Without having to patronize them, Prof Osinbajo had marketed the true picture of Nigeria and the potential that Nollywood and Hollywood can work together to produce the next big thing.

But Osinbajo was more action than talk. It was not a political rendezvous but a marketing spectacle one that can be measured back in Nigeria and in the United States. At the Waldorf Astoria, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, he dropped a sales pitch that resonated across the room. “We understand how dynamic the environment is, both technology and creative arts. But we think that the way to go will be to work with those who are in the industry, those like yourselves who are putting in their money, their resources, time, and energy into this, and trying to do our regulations in such a way that we are competitive practically with anyone else in the world.”

Osinbajo was not done yet, he had more aces up his sleeves and all of it pointed in one direction, investment for Nigeria and in Nigeria. “So what we have done so far is that we’ve been looking at what the specific issues are, and there are quite a few. There are those who want to know about what we are doing in terms of Intellectual Property Protection, investment guarantee, and all of that.

“But I think that the most important thing really, is that we have a government and a lot of those who work in our agencies, who are determined to work through this, day by day, piece by piece to make sure that we get our environment right, and we get the right type of investment environment.”

With assurance of Intellectual Property Protection and investment guarantee, investors know they have a haven in their hand and one they have anxiously said they will be involved with for many years to come.

The magic wand of the Vice President in the United States began a day earlier when he met with leaders of the Silicon Valley starting with Google CEO Sundar Pichai. First he had a tour of Google headquarters – Googleplex – before again doing what he knows how to do best, pitch Nigeria to Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

Oh my, was Pichai impressed? Yes, he was. For someone who rarely takes to social media especially Twitter, Pichai tweeted about his meeting with Prof Osinbajo. “Happy to welcome the Vice President of Nigeria @ProfOsinbajo to the Googleplex today – great to chat with him about the opportunities of Nigeria’s digital economy,” he wrote. That tweet was on 9 July, he has not tweeted till date – 13 July.

Reinventing Nigeria is Prof Osinbajo’s three square meal and he served it hot to more investors and leaders of the Silicon Valley. His next meeting with LinkedIn co-founder, Allen Blue said more about his ambitions for Nigeria on the African continent.

Themed ‘Investing in African Talent’ Osinbajo outlined the plans of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and how it is heavily divesting following many years of reliance on oil. He also explained that technology and its know-how is the future and Nigeria has a staggering population waiting to benefit from the industry.

Preparing for the future and not the present, he explained that the Technology and Creativity Advisory Group was designed and established to drive policy in tech innovation and entertainment. By 2050, Nigeria will have third largest population in the world. We understand that we have to explore ways of delivering education outside of conventional classrooms.

The Vice President also met top US investors including Tim Kendall, a US investor who worked with Facebook monetization and has led Pinterest, headquartered in San Francisco and valued at about $12 billion.

Others investors who attended Nigeria’s investment summit in Silicon Valley included representatives of StreetEdge Capital, aBay Area, California multi-billion dollar family partnership with global footprints including holdings in the US, India and Africa.

There were others including Chika Nwobi and Tom Terbell, partners from Rise Capital, “a private equity firm specializing in early venture and later stage investments. If you’re a Nigerian seeking this kind of investment better get in touch, the big break is here. They seek to invest in the internet enabled sector in emerging markets.

But nobody knows Nigeria like Nigerians and no one does Nigeria like Nigerians. Prof Osinbajo having met with the biggest investors in this world, it was time to give the ‘expo’ to Nigerians who are in the sectors.

Nigerian delegation renowned in the film, music and entertainment industry, including Innocent Idibia, popularly known as Tuface; New York-based Nigerian visual artist, musician, singer/songwriter, Laolu Senbanjo; CEO, Ebony Life TV, Mo Abudu, Chocolate City CEO, Audu Maikori; founder/CEO Terra Kulture, Bolanle Austen-Peters; New York artist, Sesan Ogunro among others.

But all this was only part one of a never-ending series. Osinbajo will be back for more and Nigeria will enjoy more.

Seun Bisuga is a journalist, and writes from Lagos.

Further Notes On Political Alliances In Nigeria, By Edwin Madunagu

In a previous piece on this subject (Notes on political alliances in Nigeria, July 4, 2018), I proposed that the following three broad objectives have propelled Leftist organisations, at home and abroad, to seek political alliances with non-Leftist formations: to fight or to prevent the emergence of certain forms of dictatorship (e.g. fascism and the one-party state); to expand the existing “democratic space”; or to capture power/accede to office. The aim of the present piece is to extend this proposition in two or three directions and then provide more historical illustrations or instances beyond the one offered in the previous piece.

Although every actual alliance mentioned or to be mentioned in this discussion was political, it is necessary to expand our perspective to include the possibility of non-political alliances. It is also necessary to state and admit a point that is well-known, namely, that the need for alliances between organisations within the “Leftist family” is, in certain periods and at certain times, primary and that constructing such alliances could be more difficult than constructing alliances with non-Leftist organisations. Nigerian Leftists of my own generation are aware of this long affliction. We ourselves caught it from our elders—and worsened it! It has also been the case that even when the need for alliances has arisen and has been confirmed, the choice of organisations (Leftist and non-Leftist) with which to seek those alliances may be extremely difficult, or even impossible.

To complete this picture, it may be necessary to state that alliances can be constructed, and have actually been constructed, at home and abroad between, or with, institutions other than political parties and groups. The various “agreements” reached during the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) between Nigeria-based Leftists and the Federal Government of Nigeria, on the one hand, and between the Biafra-based Leftists and the Biafran Government, on the other, are illustrations. There was a similar alliance or collaboration during the regimes of Generals Murtala Mohammed and Olusegun Obasanjo (1975-1976). But the “romance” was very brief.

The two actual historical experiences cited above need some elaboration. With the declaration of Biafra and the start of the Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Nigeria-Biafra War), the Biafran Left emerged and the Nigerian Left regrouped. Even before the shooting war started, the crisis had brought in several external powers—big, medium and small. Both the Nigerian government and the Biafran government sought and obtained various types of assistance from these powers. It was a bloody, brutal and savage conflict. It did not take long for the Nigerian Left and the Biafran Left—through various rapidly—created organisations and with different experiences and interpretations of the conflict—to enter the conflict as allies of “their” respective governments. Each of the two factions of the pre-War Nigerian Left took on two roles: internal mobilization and external campaign for support. On one particular sad occasion, rival Leftist delegations—from Nigeria and from Biafra—physically clashed in Berlin.

Eight years after the Civil War experience, during the brief regime of General Murtala Mohammed (July 1975-February 1976) and for a brief period in the regime of his successor, General Olusegun Obasanjo, some organisations of the Nigerian Left and some “freelance” Leftists found themselves on the same side with Nigeria’s military regime in the bitter anti-colonial wars and, later, civil wars in southern Africa, including Angola. The ensuing alliance between the two entities (Nigerian government and Leftist groups) lasted only briefly and was soon replaced by “traditional” hostility. The collaboration ended—some would say inevitably—like the civil-war alliances! There are living, though aging witnesses to the two alliances—(1967-1970) and (1975-1976)—especially the latter. The experiences have also been recorded in memoirs and archives.

These two historical experiences of the Nigerian Left in “alliance – construction” with non-Leftist institutions (specifically, military regimes) now lead to the addition of two more objectives (or simply, corollaries) to the three offered for alliances in the proposition with which this piece began. The two additional objectives for alliances are: to win “wars of survival”, that is, wars in which the very survival of a people (e.g. “Nigerian people” or “Biafran people”) is seen or believed to be threatened; or to strengthen the Leftist position—through “revolutionary internationalism”—in this arduous struggle for people’s liberation.

Nigerian Leftists know, or should know, that such alliances may not last much longer than the historical conjunctures that produced them. If an alliance of this type lasts longer than the conjuncture, then an ideological and/or political absorption of the particular Leftist organizations could have taken place! Such absorbed Leftist organisations or individual Leftists then become more dangerous to their former comrades than the traditional “enemies” are. The Nigerian Left has had several bitter experiences of this tragedy. But this is not a general argument against alliances with non-Leftist formations. It only points out a particular danger to guard against.

To continue with these notes, we may periodise the post-independence political history of Nigeria as follows: First Republic (1960-1965); First Military Dictatorship, Crises and Civil War (1966-1970); Second Military Dictatorship (1970-1975); Third Military Dictatorship (1975-1979); Second Republic (1979-1983); Fourth Military Dictatorship (1983-1999); and Fourth Republic (since 1999). The so-called Third Republic (January 1992–November 1993) is embedded in the Fourth Military Dictatorship. It was the period during which General Babangida experimented with a military-civilian “diarchy”. Although the period started and ended as a “tragic farce” or a “farcical tragedy”, it has now become historically significant: it witnessed the production, by the military regime, of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) and the June 12, 1993 presidential election.

With this periodization, I am confident that a rigorous researcher in the subject will discover many instances of political alliance or collaboration of Leftist groups and individuals Leftists with non-Leftist entities, including governments, in virtually all the periods listed, that is, since independence. Most of these instances may even appear as mere employment of the Leftists concerned by the non-Leftist entities—including governments and government agencies. While conceding that the latter phenomenon has been a significant aspect of the history of the Nigerian Left—sometimes with tragic consequences—we are mainly concerned, in the present discussion, with significant political alliances between Leftist organisations and non-Leftist entities. Only one of these now remains to be adequately examined in my current series of articles on the Nigerian Left.

That remaining alliance is the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA) of (1964-1965). On the platform of this alliance, constructed towards the end of the First Republic, a number of Leftist parties and groups went into “field-battles” against the ruling Nigerian National Alliance (NNA) and Nigerian security forces. The best-known Leftist formation in UPGA was the Socialist Workers and Farmers Party (SWAFP) which published a 55-point manifesto embedded in a 35-page general programme. Together with fractions of the Labour Movement, SWAFP organized or supported strikes and mass rallies during the general elections of December 1964 and the crisis that followed. The Leftist groups that went into UPGA believed they were fighting a creeping fascist dictatorship and, at the same time, struggling to shift the balance of forces in the country in favour of a people’s revolution.

In conclusion: It will be of assistance to a researcher to be informed, or reminded, that during the Second Republic (1979-1983), especially in 1983, up to the December 1983 military coup that terminated the Republic, there was a serious debate in a section of the Nigerian Left (Calabar-Ife-Zaria) on the question of supporting an existing alliance or initiating a new one (UPGA-type) to confront the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN). Although the debate was inconclusive, it was documented. And the documentation lies in the archive of the Nigerian Left.

Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

 

Ali Ahmad: The Speaking Speaker Of Kwara House Of Assembly, By Adebayo Abdullahi

Dr. Ali Ahmad is neither the first nor last born (to use the Nigerian parlance) of his parents. His Islamic Scholar Dad is blessed with intelligent and outstanding children. Among them are PhD holders, Medical Doctors, and other Professionals. However, without sounding immodest, Ali Ahmad is exceptional.
In language  Education, there exists a Language Acquisition Theory that states that a child well-grounded in his mother tongue would  have little or no difficulty in second language acquisition. One is therefore of the conclusion that the Arabic/Islamic Studies background of Ali Ahmad is a key factor in his versatility and eloquence. Having undergone local tutelage in Arabic and Islamic Studies under his father as well as his sojourn at Arabic Teachers College, Jebba, one is left with no doubt that Ali Ahmad’s excellence in Law and, indeed, of general knowledge and English language is a clear testimony to the efficacy of the proponents of the above mentioned Language Acquisition Theory. Ali Ahmad is well versed in Yoruba language, his mother tongue, Arabic, his second language, Law, his profession and English, the official language of Nigeria.
His PhD in Law and rise through the ranks in the academics to the enviable rank of Associate Professor may be viewed by some as a mere happenstance or an achievement that many have recorded. However, his foray into politics courtesy his political mentor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, CON actually brought out to his people in Ilorin Emirate and indeed the good people of Kwara State, the stuff Ali Ahmad is made of. Many thanks to Dr. Saraki for this discovery. It’s however like the discovery of River Niger by Mungo Park. River Niger had always been there, Park only assisted in listing it on the World Map.
 Ali’s humble beginning in politics starting from his outstanding performance during his days as Special Assistant (Domestic) to Senior Special Assistant (Government House) and later Chief Of Staff, Government House all through which he served as Aide to the Governor were mere child’s play. His appointment to the position of Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Kwara State did a little magic in ‘exposing’ him and bringing his competence to the public glare. His political sagacity however got ‘fully blown’ when he was nominated and later won the ticket for the seat of Honourable Member representing Ilorin East and Ilorin South in the lower chamber of the National Assembly in 2011. He swept the election like no man’s business. His antecedents as well as the favourable political camp worked for him.
The Yoruba however have a saying that, one can only be helped to secure a job; one cannot be helped in carrying out the duties and functions of the job. Ali Ahmad proved his mettle as a fully baked member of the Saraki Dynasty by being above board all through his 4-year stint in the House of Representatives. He never disappointed the Emirate and the State in his assignment as Chairman, House Committee on Justice; neither did he fail the nation in his membership of the famous Farouk Lawan-led House Ad-hoc Committee that probed the Petrol subsidy scam. He was above board all through. Glory be to Almighty Allah.
His 4 year sojourn in the House of Representatives recorded many achievements. Apart from his unblemished membership of the famous Farouk Lawan Committee, Dr Ali Ahmad was reputed to be the foremost member with the highest number of Private Member Bills passed and assented to in the history of Legislature in Nigeria. The popular Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) now being domesticated by States of the Federation happens to be one the numerous Private Member Bills of Ali Ahmad passed and assented to by former President Goodluck Jonathan at the twilight of his administration.
To God be the glory. To be continued.

 

Adebayo Abdullahi

Prof Osinbajo Redefining The Office Of Vice President, By Bernard Okri

On 11 July 2018, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will sell Nigeria’s technology and entertainment industries to global leaders at the Silicon Valley and Hollywood respectively. With his track record for impeccable sales pitch, companies and individuals are waiting impatiently for the investments and attention that will follow this historic visit.

 We all know that when it comes to thinking outside the box, Prof Yemi Osinbajo ticks all the boxes. He’s naturally pumped up to achieve goals that are daunting and Herculean. So when I read chatter surrounding Prof Osinbajo, I wonder if Nigerians think he should be a superhero out of a Marvel flick. They sometimes blame him for things that he has NO-Business with.

But like we often say, the reward for hard work is MORE work, and Prof Osinbajo is clearly confirming that saying. He is a workaholic, he is a perfectionist, he is a result-oriented and goal-driven person, so we often expect him to do the job of the security agencies, the ministers, the governors and in some cases the local government chairmen.

But we wouldn’t really appreciate VP Osinbajo if we do not understand his job description (JD) in the constitution. I think it’s because Nigerians are ignorant of his JD that they expect him to do everything.

According to the 1999 Constitution, “The executive functions of the Nigerian vice president includes participation in all cabinet meetings and, by statute, membership in the National Security Council, the National Defence Council, Federal Executive Council, and the Chairman of National Economic Council. Although the vice president may take an active role in establishing policy in the Executive Branch by serving on such committees and councils, the relative power of the Nigerian vice president’s office depends upon the duties delegated by the president.”

I think Nigerians should appreciate Osinbajo and not overwhelm him at every opportunity they get. The man clearly wants a better Nigeria and will work his sock off to make it happen. He travels across the country on daily basis as if he were teleporting or Hubert Davenport of ‘Rent-A-Ghost.

Without understanding his JD many of us say he did not speak up at this instance or at that occasion or on this issue but we do not understand that the man cannot step out of his jurisdiction.

Look across the globe, how many Vice Presidents names can you remember off hand. I’m sure Mike Pence will come to mind for those who follow US politics but not many can recall the last time they saw Mike Pence.

Just because VP Osinbajo is hardworking, diligent and committed to the Nigerian project is not enough reason to rub it in and demand that he does things that he shouldn’t do. When I read people asking him to speak up on matters, I chuckle because that is the job of a spokesperson.

He is redefining the role of the VP and I think he deserves more support.

By Bernard Okri

Of Gumi’s Criticisms And The Use Of Knowledge To ‘Counteract’, By Haruna Salisu

Dr. Ahmad Mahmud Gumi is an Islamic scholar, a son to Shiek Abubakar Mahmud Gumi, a fiery and outspoken father of the Izala movement in Nigeria—a movement that advocates puritanical Islamic teachings that went sour against a Sufi tradition which held sway across West Africa, especially during the colonial era.

His father was a vociferous scholar during the colonial era. Abubakar Gumi believed at the time that the colonial evaders’ indirect rule was systematically targeting northern emirs and destroying Islamic teachings, in a desperate move to westernize the entire north.

He became a staunch critic of the Sufis; admonishing that syncretism and mysticisms; the fundamental principles that define Sufism do not hold any water in Islamic jurisprudence.

To put this into context, it could be said that his son—Dr Ahmad Gumi inherited his father’s oratorical rhetoric. In an interview with Punch Newspaper, Gumi did not mince words; he lambasted, insulted and smeared the President; arguing that insecurity is worse under Buhari that it was under Jonathan’s regime. He described northerners as illiterates, rascals and fanatical supporters who do not “counteract” arguments with knowledge. When you try to correct the president, they come out in their millions trying to abuse you. They don’t even counteract your points with knowledge.”

In all Gumi’s arguments, what I found most unfortunate and disgusting was that insecurity; and precisely kidnapping is worse under Buhari, than it was under Jonathan. In fact he was with the impression that there were no kidnappings under Jonathan.

“Somebody I know very well was kidnapped while coming from the railway station towards Mando. They are looking for N1.5 million to secure his freedom. Insecurity has become worse…there is no security in the country. I was told that a girl was stabbed in Kaduna recently by thugs who were trying to snatch her phone. They killed an undergraduate just because of a phone. What has Nigeria turned into? During Jonathan’s time, these things were not happening”. Really?

Now let’s work with statistics and subject Gumi’s arguments into test—and examine whether there was no insecurity and in particular, kidnappings under Jonathan—so that we will “counteract” him with knowledge.

In September 2010, gunmen kidnapped three French crewmen in the oil-rich Niger-Delta working for marine service company, Bourbon. The kidnappers vow not to release them until ransom was paid. It happened during Jonathan’s regime!

In November 2010, the Nigerian Army was reported to have arrested suspected gang of kidnappers who earlier abducted 19 people in the oil rich Niger-Delta region. The gang demanded huge amount of money as ransom before releasing the hostages. It happened during Jonathan’s regime!

In June 2011, some sorts of Gunmen were again reported to have abducted five volunteers in Port Harcourt, the home of Patience Jonathan, the president’s wife. It also happened during Jonathan’s regime!

Again, in August, 2012, also during Jonathan’s regime, gunmen were reported to have stormed oil-ship, killed two Nigerian sailors and kidnapped four foreign nationals and demanded ransom.

In December 2012, the BBC reported Pirates attacking ship crew off the Niger-Delta, stealing personal belongings and kidnapped five Indian nationals. It happened during Jonathan’s regime!

In December 2012, in Jonathan’s home state of Bayelsa, Gunmen kidnapped six people, out of which were four foreign nationals working for a South Korean construction firm, Hyundai. Ransom was also demanded before their release. It happened during Jonathan’s regime!

Behold, the worst kidnapping in Nigeria’s history happened during Jonathan’s regime—over 276 school girls were abducted in Chibok, Borno state.

Still in connection to the Boko Haram imbroglio, more than 20 women were also kidnapped in June 2014, at the eve of Jonathan’s ousting, also during his regime!

Amnesty International in the build up to 2015 elections released disturbing reports. Amnesty says  since Boko Haram began its campaign of violence after the police killed the group’s leader in an extrajudicial execution in 2009, they have lead a merciless campaign of killings and horror – with at least 350 raids and bombings between 2013 and 2014 killing at least 5,400 civilians”—also during Jonathan’s administration!

More than 7,000 – people died of starvation, suffocation or torture while held in military detention since March 2011.

More than 1,400 – corpses delivered from Giwa barracks to one mortuary in Maiduguri in June 2013.

At least 1,200 – men and boys extrajudicially executed by the Nigerian military in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa since February 2012.

More than 5,500 – people killed by Boko Haram between 2014 and March 2015.

At least 2,000 – number of young women and girls abducted by Boko Haram since 2014.

All the foregoing happened during Jonathan’s reign as reported by Amnesty International

Reports after reports have documented more than 13, 000 people killed, hundreds of thousands injured, their houses destroyed and were made homeless under Jonathan’s administration.

All the foregoing is a tip of the iceberg under Jonathan, contrary to Gumi’s nauseating claims.

However, this is not to absorb Buhari of blames. It’s the responsibility of every President to ensure that the territorial integrity of this country and its citizens are protected. That is sacrosanct. We shall continue to offer constructive criticisms where they matter. Everyone should.

But Shiek Gumi should be reminded that the Qur’an warns believers thus: Show integrity for the sake of Allah, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to taqwa (Qur’an 5:8)

Shiek, what you said is blatant disregard to the truth, human decency and an abdication of the knowledge of the Qur’an you have, just to smear and denigrate the President.

It’s quite unfortunate!

Haruna Mohammed Salisu is reachable at harunababale@gmail.com

Even In Silicon Valley, Osinbajo Redefining The Office Of Vice President, By Bernard Okri

On 11 July 2018, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will sell Nigeria’s technology and entertainment industries to global leaders at the Silicon Valley and Hollywood respectively. With his track record for impeccable sales pitch, companies and individuals are waiting impatiently for the investments and attention that will follow this historic visit.

We all know that when it comes to thinking outside the box, Prof Yemi Osinbajo ticks all the boxes. He’s naturally pumped up to achieve goals that are daunting and Herculean. So when I read chatter surrounding Prof Osinbajo, I wonder if Nigerians think he should be a superhero out of a Marvel flick. They sometimes blame him for things that he has NO-Business with.

But like we often say, the reward for hard work is MORE work, and Prof Osinbajo is clearly confirming that saying. He is a workaholic, he is a perfectionist, he is a result-oriented and goal-driven person, so we often expect him to do the job of the security agencies, the ministers, the governors and in some cases the local government chairmen.

But we wouldn’t really appreciate VP Osinbajo if we do not understand his job description (JD) in the constitution. I think it’s because Nigerians are ignorant of his JD that they expect him to do everything.

According to the 1999 Constitution, “The executive functions of the Nigerian vice president includes participation in all cabinet meetings and, by statute, membership in the National Security Council, the National Defence Council, Federal Executive Council, and the Chairman of National Economic Council. Although the vice president may take an active role in establishing policy in the Executive Branch by serving on such committees and councils, the relative power of the Nigerian vice president’s office depends upon the duties delegated by the president.”

I think Nigerians should appreciate Osinbajo and not overwhelm him at every opportunity they get. The man clearly wants a better Nigeria and will work his sock off to make it happen. He travels across the country on daily basis as if he were teleporting or Hubert Davenport of ‘Rent-A-Ghost.

Without understanding his JD many of us say he did not speak up at this instance or at that occasion or on this issue but we do not understand that the man cannot step out of his jurisdiction.

Look across the globe, how many Vice Presidents names can you remember off hand. I’m sure Mike Pence will come to mind for those who follow US politics but not many can recall the last time they saw Mike Pence.

Just because VP Osinbajo is hardworking, diligent and committed to the Nigerian project is not enough reason to rub it in and demand that he does things that he shouldn’t do. When I read people asking him to speak up on matters, I chuckle because that is the job of a spokesperson.

He is redefining the role of the VP and I think he deserves more support.

By Bernard Okri

How Code Is Mainstreaming Advocacy Communication For Citizen Engagement

By

Ani, Nwachukwu Agwu & Chambers Umezulike

At a time when many researchers lament the deterioration in the quality of democracy and accountability in Nigeria, part of the reason governance has failed is lack of committed advocates. The central question is what is advocacy and how can advocacy enhance the performance of political establishments in Nigeria?

In democracies, development agenda do not fall from heaven. They are neither dictated by any holy code nor an exclusive reserve of any politician, no matter how “powerful”. In actual fact, problems or matters bordering on governance are generated from our environment. They are uncountable ranging from: out-of-school children, rural banditry and farmer-herdsmen clashes to infrastructural deficits and rising figures of poverty. But how does a particular issue receive the attention of policymakers at the expense of others?

Just like microeconomics, every development agenda has an opportunity cost. The notion of opportunity cost plays a crucial part in attempts to ensure that scarce resources are allocated efficiently. Technically, this is the bedrock of governance – making best choices in the face of limited or scarce resources. This article is about how citizens can participate and ensure that social issues receive due attention of legislators and policymakers in the face of competing needs and declining state revenues.

Theoretically, leaders should be proactive in responding to social issues because they control or supervise government apparatuses or agencies. These agencies are, by design and mandate, created for collection of public data, or more fashionably, intelligence gathering. Collection of important public data can be achieved using a complex combination of professional approaches and techniques. For instance, in Peace and Conflict Management, a notable technique often deployed is Early Warning Systems (EWS). EWS enable experts, preferably a multi-disciplinary team, to function in proper diagnosis, detection and treatment of social conflicts. A multi-disciplinary team among many functions serves for collaboration; participation and presentation of alternative voices in searching for solutions to social problems.

The practice of public input in policy making and legislation is sweeping across countries in the world, courtesy of Open Government revolution. Closed governments confer a degree of secrecy and dysfunctionality in the ways they organize and run institutions. Evidence suggests that, deliberately or inadvertently, closed governments accommodate unresponsiveness and inefficiency in public service. Therefore, as a measure, citizens are constantly required to agitate (raise alarm) on lapses, inadequacies or discrepancies in order to attract the attention of bureaucrats. If so, how can citizens effectively exert their voices on legislative processes; public policy and governance in general?

Citizen engagement (CE) is the bullet. It is a concept as old as humanity. Whether formally enshrined in documents such as the Magna Carta and the Code Napolean, or manifested informally at local levels, the concept of citizen engagement is thoroughly global. Kin-based societies from Nigeria (the Igbos in the Southeastern geopolitical zone); East Africa; to the Amazonian rainforest have traditionally made decisions by consensus and persuasion rather than by top-down diktat. Drawing on the World Bank and recent literatures in governance, citizen engagement is defined as the “two-way interaction between citizens and governments or the private sector that give citizens a stake in decision-making, with the objective of improving development outcomes.”

The spectrum of citizen engagement, as defined includes government sharing information with citizens, and citizens drawing on this information to take action and communicate, including providing feedback to government, both solicited and unsolicited. Key to CE is the responsiveness of government to citizen voice. While the scope of CE includes consultation, collaboration, participation and empowerment, we need a two-way interaction. CE requires transparent and effective mechanisms by governments for responding to citizen voice. The end game is to improve the accountability of governments and service providers, thus closing the feedback loop. But this is not without its complexities.

To begin with, is CE a science or an art? As a science, CE is designed to collaborate with government officials in solving specific problems in the society. As a science, it is logical; systematic and employs empirical techniques, both quantitative and qualitative data, if solutions/interventions must be evidence-based. Furthermore, as an art, CE depends on intuition and perception. It requires deliberate; creative and specific information generation and dissemination.

From the foregoing, out of the typologies of communication frequently encountered in the development context, the one that most emboldens CE is advocacy communication. Advocacy Communication influences change at the public or policy level and promote issues related to development practice. Specifically, it is used to raise awareness on hot development issues; use communication methods and media to influence specific audiences and support intended changes.

Now, to optimize CE, a critical mass of informed citizens must emerge who are skilled in advocacy communication. Comparatively, more than policymakers, citizens know where the problem lies in the communities because they are usually the victims of leadership failure who lack access to potable water, their children learn under unsafe situations and who lack electricity. Nevertheless, for citizens to engage meaningfully, they are expected to creatively communicate (advocacy communication) and call the attention of elected/appointed officials to issues of concern order to trigger appropriate response or intervention.

Connected Development (CODE) understands the potency and power of speaking up – drawing the attention of decision-makers to important issues of development concern and influencing solutions. CODE targets actions and messages at decision makers in support of specific legislations e.g. #AmendUBEAct – seeks to extend the right to free education from 9 years (pry 1 – JSS 3) to 12 years (Pry 1 – SSS 3). This is partly necessitated by the worrisome figures of out-of-school children and the growing poverty statistics in Nigeria. Advocacy aims at winning support from others in order to create conducive environment for implementing a development agenda. Through advocacy, CODE has amplified local problems to national levels and negotiated desirable changes in rural communities, states and entire nation.

To sustain democratic gains, citizens are reminded and enjoined on the potency and wonders of citizen engagement through one of the vehicles – advocacy communication. In reality, there is nothing like a neutral public policy. Every policy is designed to favour particular groups or interests. If so, against government repressiveness, citizens must unite, persevere and continue engagement. How can we abandon governance and legislative processes to politicians who only fight for elections rather than for generations? There are so many issues that currently require government attention, eg #ReformPoliceNG and #EndSARS, which are aimed at reforming a policing agency perceived to be brutish boorish and thuggish in Nigeria. Let us continue to engage officials more creatively.

Key words: Citizen Engagement, Advocacy Communication, Ani Nwachukwu Agwu, Open Government Revolution, #ReformPoliceNG

Authors: This piece was written by Ani Nwachukwu Agwu and Chambers Umezulike. Ani is a Rural Development Specialist while Chambers is Development Governance Expert. They both live in Abuja and work with Connected Development. For correspondence, please contact Nwachukwu at nwachukwu@connecteddevelopment.org

Osinbajo’s Superlative Leadership Skills Yield Fruits, By Chukwudi Enekwechi 

William Shakespeare must have had a character like Prof Yemi Osinbajo in mind when he came up with one of his most popular quotes, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

No one can speak greatness in Nigeria without tucking the name of the Vice President of Nigeria up there. He is an emblem of uprightness in politics because he has worked the talk and talked the work. He is in a class of his own for obvious reasons.

For starters, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has carried out his job as number two citizen with zest, determination and focus. He has notrelented in supporting President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption drive and has done so with professionalism and integrity.

From all indications, it is obvious that Professor Yemi Osinbajo is not relenting in supporting President Muhammadu Buhari in resolving problems associated with governance. At times when emotions run high the intervention of the Vice President has helped to douse tension and soften the hearts of victims of some unfortunate conflict situations.

His timely interventions at some critical moments have also helped to assuage frayed nerves and reduce tension. This natural ability of the Vice President manifested in Benue and Plateau when farmers-herders clashed as well as other knotty national problems. At such occasions he has never failed to reiterate the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari, and indeed the federal government to find a lasting solution to the lingering problem.

It is also ascertainable that the search for solutions to the farmers-herders clashes have been multi-dimensional and Vice President Osinbajo through the National Economic Council proffered workable solutions to these problems. In the same vein he has continued to apply pragmatic solutions to the problem of unemployment and lack of skills among Nigerian youths.

The introduction of N-Power and School Feeding Programmes has given the direction and focus on how the problem of youth unemployment and abject poverty can be addressed in the country. Professor Yemi Osinbajo is also in the forefront of supporting struggling businesses to survive by facilitating the provision of various financial motivation, incentives and necessary amenities such as power and other infrastructure in the markets and other business places.

His involvement in Social Intervention Programmes as a way of supporting Nigerian youths to acquire necessary skills is already refocussing the Nigerian youths and turning things around. The Conditional Cash Transfer Programme which he is spearheading has helped to improve the living standards of many Nigerian youths.

It’s important to note that Professor Yemi Osinbajo has played very important roles at critical times during this administration and he is not relenting, hence he has been attracting rave reviews from some quarters especially those who usually critical of government’s achievements. This is also not surprising as he is paying a price for leadership and loyalty to the country.

In the eyes of most Nigerians Professor Yemi Osinbajo has emerged as a leader and solution provider as he does not play to the gallery, rather he uses pragmatic approaches to proffer workable solutions to the myriad of problems confronting the country. His insightful leadership has in most cases helped to resolve issues that ordinarily would have been intractable.

This is manifest in the National Economic Council where his proactive leadership has helped to revamp the economy to a great extent including exiting recession. Today the economy is witnessing growth in leaps and bounds as there is rise in foreign direct investments.

From the beginning Prof Osinbajo and President Buhari led the campaign for ease of doing business in Nigeria, and to a great extent this policy has encouraged both local and foreign investors to show interest in Nigeria’s economy. Today Nigeria is a preferred investment destination in Africa.

Even the doubting Thomases will accede to the fact that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is adopting the inclusive approach rather than exclusiveness in governance. This method has also given a lot of people in Nigeria a sense of belonging as they are able to connect with the Buhari administration on many fronts.

It is however regrettable that some cynics are trying to misinterpret Professor Yemi Osinbajo’s loyalty and friendship with President Muhammadu Buhari. There is no doubt that the synergy and mutual cooperation between the two leaders is helping to drive the development we are currently witnessing in various sectors of our national life.

For instance most infrastructural amenities are receiving attention across the country. They include power, roads, railways, housing as well as the agricultural revolution taking place in Nigeria. It therefore behoves all Nigerians to appreciate the sacrifices of the vice president in lifting the country up again.

By Chukwudi Enekwechi

An Abuja-Based Journalist

kwechis19@yahoo.com

APC Finalise Strategy To Win Southern Kaduna, By Adamu Hayatu Kagarko {@AHayatu}

The recent declaration by Kaduna’s Deputy Governor, Architect Barnabas Yusuf Bala popularly known as Bantex to contest the Southern Kaduna senatorial seat under the All Progressive Congress (APC) in 2019 has been viewed by political strategists as a masterstroke of the Kaduna APC to bring on board a man with vast legislative and executive experience to fill the void in Southern Kaduna Senatorial District.
A first-class graduate of Architecture from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, his first foray was in the private sector where he established Bantex Consortium which contributed to numerous engineering projects including the Medical Centre at the Nigerian Institute for Policy & Strategic Studies (NIPSS), as well as a pavilion at the Kaduna Trade Fair Centre. He successfully ran for Chairman of Kaura Local Government where he was credited with the implementation of numerous developmental projects one of which was a hospital commissioned by President
Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001, the only LG project ever commissioned by a sitting President at the time.
Bantex delved into politics as a member of the opposition in a zone that was totally controlled by the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) where he won a seat to serve in the House of Representatives under the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) representing Kaura Federal Constituency. This feat made Hon. Barnabas Bala the only ACN legislator in the entire North West geo-political zone of Nigeria. He played a vital role in the merger of defunct CPC, ACN and ANPP in Kaduna State. In 2014, he successfully ran for the Chairman of APC in Kaduna State and led the party commendably with fairness, transparency and openness. These qualities endeared him to party faithful’s and the flagbearer, Nasir el-Rufai, chose him as his running mate after consulting party elders, stakeholders and then candidate General Muhammadu Buhari. He continues to have the complete trust of his governor and is identified as probably most influential deputy governor in the 36 states of the nation as he chairs numerous strategic committees and is in full acting whenever the Governor is out of office.
The recent local government elections in Kaduna State is a big pointer to the rising popularity of APC Government in Southern Kaduna where the dominant party PDP lost two important local governments; Sanga and Kagarko LGs and the APC made in-roads into other Local Governments. It is clear that an increasing number of voters in the Zone are appreciative of the developmental efforts of the APC government which has made huge and unprecedented capital investments worth over 30 Billion Naira in Southern Kaduna from 2015 to date.
The inclusion of Bantex in the cabinet and his strong voice towards Southern Kaduna influenced the siting of projects worth over 30 Billion Naira in the zone including Kauru N8bn, Kagarko N5.7BN, Kachia N6.3BN and Zangon Kataf N6.8bn respectively.
Bantex as Deputy Governor to el-Rufai must be the envy of his colleagues- who operates freely with so much influence and contributed immensely towards the progress of Southern Kaduna and Kaduna State at large, having played a prominent role in the Peace efforts in Southern Kaduna and ensured the completion of Late Yakowa’s projects in Southern Kaduna which were abandoned by his successor-Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and also influenced the citing of several projects in the zone notably – the Vicampro Potatoes Farm and the Manchok Solar Power project etc.
In the words of former Kaduna State Governor, former National Chairman of PDP and current PDP Presidential Aspirant, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi “ Bantex has proved to be unbiased, somebody that believes in justice, equity and honesty to all and not beclouded by religious or ethnic sentiments, he is one of those who really helped me and my administration to come through the troubles that my administration went through in the year 2000-2002 because of the ethno-religious conflicts in Kaduna State”.
Arc. Barnabas Bala Bantex will be running against the incumbent PDP Senator Danjuma La’ah (if he eventually get the PDP ticket, which looks highly unlikely). Danjuma La’ah who has performed woefully in the senate having been ranked as the worst of all the past southern Kaduna senators will have an uphill task confronting the quintessential Bantex.
Adamu Hayatu
Writes in from Jere, Kagarko LGA
Can be reached: adjere517@gmail.com
On twitter: @AHayatu

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