The Road Once Traveled, By Abiodun Komolafe

Osun Local Government election has come and gone. Evidently, it has been won and lost! Winners have been declared, magnanimous in victory; and losers have emerged, graciously accepting to lick their wounds for some time to come.

According to Osun State Independent Electoral Commission (OSIEC), 318 councilorship candidates were returned unopposed while election took place in 71 wards. In all, 6 political parties participated in the election, adjudged to be free, fair and credible by election observers.

As a people, that we are now far better than having to move backward is no longer in doubt. With the level of development that has enveloped Osun in the last 7 years – in spite of the country’s overwhelming economic bunk, not by the aid of it – time is no longer on our hands to experiment political leadership with the dreamers and the adventurous whose sole mission is to practically reduce the masses to perpetual slum dwellers and the forgotten people.

Albert Einstein describes politics as a “pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fueled by perpetually rejuvenated illusions.” I have argued elsewhere that success at the Local Government poll may not result in victory on September 22, 2018 unless purposeful political reengineering is undertaken where necessary. Similarly, that the ruling party somehow missed it on July 8, 2017 does not translate into lost hopes for its adherents.

Not unexpectedly too, attempts at supplying answers to some probing questions are likely to end up throwing up more questions.  For instance, what kind of political leadership should Osun expect as from November 27, 2018 and how can the state build on the huge success recorded on January 27, 2018, preparatory to the bigger battle, slated for the latter part of the year? How do we sustain Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s responsive and human-centred efforts at making life uncommonly meaningful for the people and who do we run to, in case our assumptions fail us?

Stated in unambiguous terms, those who are expecting the governor to stand aloof or play the second fiddle in a matter as important as the choice of his successor are only trying to insult our collective intelligence. While this is a topic for another day, I am most convinced that an insider who understands the internal workings of the government and one who can continue the Aregbesola tendency will be most suitable for the job.


But then, if the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step, then, this is where our newly-elected Councillors have a lot of work to do. It’s time they took concrete steps, aimed at demonstrating leadership, ingenuity, creativity and courage in running the affairs of their Councils. Nigerians are in a hurry and are no longer interested in those who create excuses for non-performance. Willingly or by happenstance, Nigeria has also joined a ‘changing world’ where ‘greening the street’ is expected to be complimented with ‘greening the stomach’, lest an ‘ungreened’ stomach lead the battle for the ‘disgreening’ of the greened street. So, rather than surrender to the vagaries of stunted monthly allocations from the Federation purse, our Councillors should work towards shoring up the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR),.

Wrangling is not alien to democracy. Curiously, post-Osun West bye-election has compelled some quarters to erroneously conclude that party politics is dead in the State Chapter of   All Progressives Congress (APC). However, those who are familiar with the stories of David and Shimei (2 Samuel 16; 2 Samuel 19: 16-23; 1 Kings 2: 13-25) and Solomon and Adonijah, his brother (1 Kings 2: 13-25) will admit that political sins are rarely overlooked.

They are seldom forgiven. But this is Nigeria!  In the spirit of sportsmanship therefore, elected officials and those who wish the party well must strive to bring back into the APC fold the aggrieved, the disgruntled as well as the “Internally Displaced Politicians” who, at one time or the other, were either rumoured, even  seen to have worked against the party. Most importantly, a party that wants to beat the opposition to its silly tricks must take urgent steps to upgrade its winning streaks when such a step still has honour.

Interestingly, part of what distinguishes Aregbesola’s Social Welfare politics from, say, the late Isiaka Adeleke’s “Stomach Infrastructure” can now be seen in the price per plot of land on  n ‘Ona Baba Ona’ in Osogbo and ‘Oke Gada’ in Ede, both in the State of Osun.

Strategy must have continuity! It can be restructured, repackaged, even constantly reinvented! Again, this is where political will, not politics, comes into play! For instance, had Obafemi Awolowo’s ship of Universal Free Education not been forced to sink mid-sea, one is not in doubt of what Nigerian youth would  have year-after-year made of its generosity to evidently predict their future!

Similarly, had Larry Koinyan’s Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) not been shot to extinction somewhere along the line, its marked shift in focus from previous policies as a result of its unprecedentedly wide scope would have taken Nigeria’s rural infrastructure development to the Next Level. Once upon a time in this country, ‘Vision 2010’, and ‘Better Life for Rural Women’, among others, happened to us like a thief in the night. But, since the Nigerianness in us is one in which the image of motion is always mistaken with the idea of progress, these programmes flew away immediately their promoters left office.

Lastly, is religion, which unfortunately has now become as natural as the blinking of our eyelids, our bane in Osun? Is it our population? Or zonal arrangements which, curiously, have suddenly become Nigeria’s war games? Or the advantage or otherwise of age on the part of our political gladiators? Well, while  religion deals primarily with man’s relationship with his Creator, Donald Trump and Dimeji Bankole have shown that exploring age as a parameter for gauging demonstrable leadership is not only castrated, it also occupies the backwaters of the truth.

In all, while no one can blame self-seeking, self-serving and ill-assorted cynics for their inability to crack the code, thank God: Aregbesola as a man of ‘talent and potentials’  has shamed all-whip-and-no-hay bigots who once tagged him a religious fanatic on a mission to Islamize the state.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in Osun!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.


Kwara: Creating Enabling Environment For Businesses To Flourish, By Oyewale Oyelola

The new order in Nigeria is shifting from era where government involves directly in business ventures to era where government at federal, state and local government level tailored their machineries towards creating conducive environment for private entrepreneurs to establish companies, thereby contributing to economic growth through job creation, revenue generation for government among other benefits.

Kwara State Government under the leadership of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, a leader with business acumen, has displayed high level of commitment to make the state investment hub for local and foreign investors.

Governor Ahmed, having worked in private sector for many years, is not unaware that government policies could make or mar the growth of any business organisation. This accounted for different policies/programmes introduced by Kwara State Government to create conducive business environment for investors.

The state boasts of Public Private Partnership Bureau, run by accomplished professionals in business and banking, whose mandate is to promote investments and serve as a link between the state government and the private sector.

Also, the state government has doubled its efforts to address infrastructural deficit with the introduction of IF-K in order to build infrastructure such as roads, bridges, electricity and others. Similarly, the priority given to security of lives and properties through various support programmes for security agencies in the state of harmony has turned the state to safe haven for everyone. Additionally, the IGR reform of Kwara State has placed the state on a sound revenue pedestal and tripled internal revenue by changing the people, process and technology for tax collection and administration without introducing new taxes. Kwara State Internal Revenue Service has, within two years, streamlined taxes, boosted the informal sector and insulated the state from turbulence of unstable federal allocation.

Apart from that, the state government sometimes helps businesses to secure land for establishment of business in the state. In 2017, Governor Ahmed led administration facilitated the process that led to acquisition of 1900 hectares of land for farming by QuinniMCGrath Limited. The company according to its Chairman, Mr Didi Ndiomu would create over 700 jobs and boost economy of the state.

Furthermore, KAM Wire has expanded their business in the state, thereby making the Kwara based company leading manufacturer of building materials in the country. Another Multinational Feed Mills, OLAM farms has engaged about a thousand workers.

Likewise, a leading telecom company has relocated its Call Centre with above 1000 capacity to the state due to tranquillity and peaceful atmosphere in Kwara State. Aside that, media houses, especially private owned radio stations, are springing up in the state on account of business friendly environment created by Governor Ahmed led administration.

Consequently, the influx of business organisations in the state without doubt have created employment for thousands of people, contributing millions of naira to state’s economy monthly and increase state’s IGR through various taxes.

Hence, Kwara State is fast moving from typical civil servants state to a state that is driven by both public and private sectors.

The Campaign For Youth Inclusion: Addressing Misconceptions And Making A Case For Inter-Generational Cooperation, By Rinsola Abiola

Emmanuel Macron made global headlines when he was elected the President of France as his emergence further legitimized the call for a generational shift in leadership and increased youth involvement in most parts of the world, Nigeria inclusive.

The election process which gave him victory and his immediate actions upon assuming office helped to clarify, particularly in the case of Nigeria’s Not Too Young To Run campaign, the often held misconceptions around the call for youth inclusion in governance and leadership.

While the faceoff between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron during the election phase was deemed a battle between the old and the new, and the latter’s victory a conquest over the old, it was actually a correct portrayal of representative democracy and equity – a crux of the Not Too Young To Run campaign.

Macron, a 39 year old man, and Marine Le Pen, a 49 year old woman, both mirror France accurately as the country is presently largely populated by men and women aged 25 – 54. The fact that members of this age group, who account for the most people in the country, vied for its top job shows clearly that their democracy is functional and has achieved the goals of representation that its founders had in mind.

Furthermore, appointments into Emmanuel Macron’s cabinet after his victory at the polls showed that no ‘conquest’ took place. Citing the top positions, Jean-Yves Le Drian, a 69 year old man, was appointed the Europe and Foreign Minister, Sylvie Goulard, 53, was appointed Armed Forces minister and Jacques Mézard at age 69 was appointed Agriculture minister. Just as Macron managed to secure victory at the polls, these individuals, irrespective of their ages, got appointed on the strength of their ideas, competence, track-record and expected contribution to the government.

More than anything else, this indicates that the call for youth inclusion is not an advocacy for older folks to relinquish, completely and permanently, politics for members of the younger generation. Rather, it is an advocacy for social justice; a situation where we work together to proffer solutions to the problems of our country and chart a course for the future of our nation as is the case in France where a young and vibrant Macron, aided by an experienced cabinet, is rallying the country to emerge as the new leader of the free world.

It is an advocacy for growth and development made possible by inter-generational balance like in the United Arab Emirates where 68 year old Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is aided by young ministers such as 27 year old Omar bin Sultan Al Olama who is presently leading the country’s charge into Artificial Intelligence.

It is a call for young people, who account for the greatest numbers in Nigeria, to be acknowledged as stakeholders and allowed as active participants when and where the country’s present and future fate is being decided.

Last year, I was appointed as a member of the committee of my party, the All Progressives Congress, on True Federalism. The committee, which was chaired by the governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, was made up of other governors, lawmakers, professors and experienced politicians. With their combined wealth of knowledge and experience, I and other young members of the committee did not only work effectively in a healthy environment filled with mutual respect, but also gained meaningful insight into the workings of the country. This experience and the success recorded have strengthened my belief in the importance of youth inclusion and the immense potential of a political system with inter-generational balance, where young and old work together to achieve set goals and stimulate national growth and development.

Ideas are products of thinking and knowledge, both of which are not consigned to any particular age group or demography. The Not Too Young To Run Bill acknowledges this and seeks to end discrimination on account of age, especially to people who are deemed good enough to vote, and serve in different capacities in the corridors of power.

While we have worked to attain a level of inclusion, it is imperative that discriminatory provisions in the Constitution which effectively prohibit a large majority of young people from aspiring to elective office are done away with. This is not a campaign based on a sense of entitlement but on an ardent desire to entrench equity, for without justice, all other espoused values amount to naught.

The National Assembly has demonstrated its support for youth inclusion by giving wings to this discussion and advocacy by passing the bill, and it is key to encourage states that are yet to assent to it to do so in the best interest of the country. After getting the required number of states, presidential assent will be required, and there will be no better way to show appreciation for the young people who worked relentlessly for change in 2015, than to support the campaign for equity.

All stakeholders should be reminded that while we all admire the leadership of Emmanuel Macron and the compelling nature of his ideas, a Nigerian his age, with similar ideas or even better, is assumed inadequate by the Constitution to run for the country’s top job simply because he/she is not 40.

Rinsola is Ag. President of the APC Young Women Forum, board member of the Young Women in Politics Forum and a Member of the Board of Trustees of the governing party, APC. She is also a Special Assistant to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara and tweets via @Bint_Moshood.

President Muhammadu Buhari: The African Champion On Fight Against Corruption, By Aliyu Abdullahi

Not long ago, the Nigerian Green Passport was considered by many Nigerians as a disadvantaged international travel document for many reasons.

The initial treatment meted out by Immigration Officers at point of entries in foreign Countries to the holders of the Green Passport leaves a kind of defeatist feeling and a sense of unwelcome feeling from the host Country officials, Yes it has happened to me as well. Part of the reasons why the Nigerian Green Passport was not respected outside the Country was the perception of the Nigerian Citizens and the Country as a whole, Fraud and Corruption is what readily comes to minds of foreigners when dealing with Nigerians of before, and as it is said perception is often a reality.

Some foreigners you may encountered in your journey outside the Country may go a little off and ask sarcastically if you are also a “Prince of Nigeria with trapped Millions of Dollars and in need of help” with an arrogant and sheepish smile, this was in reference to the Yahoo-Yahoo boys Email Fraud which has became global knowledge and a brand for Nigeria, if they are friendly enough, they may occasionally throw in “but Nigeria is a good football Country” seeking your approval, and they will often follow with “How is Jay-Jay Okocha and Kanu Nwankwo” doing these days?, or if they are from the literary society they will remark something like, “I like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”, in an attempt to show you their understanding of the good side of your Country. Not long ago, a former Prime Minister of United Kingdom, David Cameroon called Nigeria a Fantastically Corrupt Nation.

I have come across Nigerians who were willing to travel outside the Country with Ghanaian and Nigerien Passports respectively only to find out they are actually Nigerians avoiding the usual “Profiling” and Stereotype treatment internationally. But, Nigerians are not all bad and not all Nigerians are corrupt, this was what I have always tried to explain to many people I came across in my travels, some I manage to change their initial perception, some might still continue to hold that perception.

But generally the perception is changing for the good, I noticed this when I travelled to the United States in September last year (2017), My Green Passport was no longer a burden, in fact I was treated with utmost respect at the John F. Kennedy Airport, New York, the immigration officer asked, “are you here for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)”, I responded yes, partly for that, he smiled and asked is your President coming? I responded with I hope so, and as he was returning my Passport while smiling, he said “Buhari is good and a Man of integrity, welcome to New York Mr. Abdullahi”. I retorted, yes, you are right, he is a good man, and thank you, have a nice evening.

The African Continent is also not spared from this perception of corruption, and largely this is a correct assessment as indices of development has shown over the years as most African Countries remained underdeveloped because of corrupt leaders and system. Some of the African Nations largely depends on Foreign Aides from Developed Countries for their infrastructure development and sometimes even for their basic needs for survival particularly war torn Countries and those without natural resources.

These Foreign aides comes in many forms and hardly achieves its sets of objectives due to corruption in recipient countries, although as recently pointed out by a colleague, that this may not be totally true as 60% to 70% always found its way back to these Donor Countries through an over bloated recurrent expenditure from the various donor/supervisory Agencies with a larger portion paid to Consultant who always writes some fancy reports with little or no development on the ground, hence the Donor Countries always assume Africa as a Continent bedeviled by corruption hindering its development, perception or real, and perhaps both.

So, it is no surprising when the Continent decided to put the fight against corruption as one of its cardinal agenda through the regional body of Africa Union (AU) some fifteen years ago. Although the Continent has made some significant strides in enacting legal and policy frameworks such as the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC) to address the vice, the desired impact had been lacking as observed by President Muhammadu Buhari in his speech at the recent AU 30th Summit in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa.

It is at this Summit that Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari was unanimously selected to lead the all important crusade (the fight against corruption) in the Continent by a body comprising of not less than 52 Countries. The new Chairman of the AU, Rwandan President, Mr. Paul Kagame called on all the African Heads of States to emulate President Muhammadu Buhari in the fight against corruption in their Countries. This is no doubt a great confidence on the ability of President Muhammadu Buhari and a testament to not only his personal integrity but also for the work his Government is waging against corruption back home.

One may wonder why President Buhari? And the simple answer is why not. As it stands, President Buhari is perhaps the only African Head of State past or present (that spent 2 years and the half on the Seat) without a foreign Bank Account, a property outside his Country, a holiday home outside the Country, or an investment in any form outside the shores of his Country.

His record of fighting corruption back home the envy of many African Citizens, in the short period of his Administration, Institutions are being strengthened to fight corruption like never before, those perceived to be untouched were touched as there was no sacred cow.

His Administration has gone after powerful individuals both members of his Party and the major opposition Party who were inn Government for the past sixteen years. Serving Senior Military and Ex-Service Chiefs were not spared, the Judiciary also got its own share of Buhari’s fight against Corruption and we are beginning to see an otherwise toothless National Judicial Council to one that can bite.

Cases of high profile people are still in court being prosecuted, we have seen recovery of looted funds like never seen before. The Government of President Muhammadu Buhari did not stop there as it mustered the political will to also block loopholes otherwise explored by corrupt public officials through the implementation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) which require all Agencies of Government to have one account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) where all earnings flow directly in to the account, more than 6 trillion Naira has since been realized.

Little wonder we now see Nigeria Customs Service exceeding their projected revenue by far, some Agencies that has failed to remit a single kobo in the years before the Buhari Administration such as Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) are now showing a huge positive balance sheet and remitting revenue to the Federation Account, only recently, the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) declared a revenue flow of 4 Trillion Naira, never realized in the history of the Agency.

Another systematic fight against corruption employed by the Buhari led Administration is the Bank Verification Number (BVN) implementation which mandated all accounts with Nigerian Banks to be linked with an individual thereby, the era laundering money or using fictitious companies or what is known as shell company to hide ill gotten wealth became a thing of the past, many were caught from this even among top civil servants under this administration, most didn’t make the news but they were punished accordingly and such monies in their accounts legally confiscated by the Government, the half clever corrupt past officials began to hide their ill gotten wealth in all manners of places, from safes in their abandoned houses, warehouses, to digging trenches in their farms, to hiding it in water tanks and WC Latrines, many were caught as I am sure many must have escape being caught.

The newly whistleblower policy introduced by the Buhari Government as a tool to fight corruption also recorded huge success, the 44 Million USD in Cash from the Ikoyi Apartment, the 9.3 Million USD in cash found at a remote hideout house belonging to a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, Mr. Andrew Yakubu in the slump area of Sabon Tasha in Kaduna, the Lagos Market Stall full of Cash and many others in cash, accounts and assets are direct result of the whistle blowing policy put in place by this Administration.

Now that President Muhammadu Buhari has been made the Chief Crusader and Champion of fight against corruption which no other African Leader was ever bestowed with, this has brought back Nigeria’s glory and placed the Country as the true giant of Africa, but this is also a challenge to the Buhari led Administration that the Continent is following and Nigeria is leading, and you cannot falter once and twice and expect the followers to continue following.

I see this as a great challenge for the President for a renewed commitment of his fight against corruption as one of his major agenda for “Change”, and as he advised other African leaders in the AU Summit that Leaders attitude must change. In the same vein, just as the benefits accrued with this honor is not for President Buhari alone, so is the challenge of fight against corruption, it must be owned by the Citizens as well. As Nigerians, we must make conscious efforts to support if not lead the fight against this menace, or else as the President himself often said “If Nigerians do not kill corruption, Corruption will kill Nigeria” I do not have any other Country but Nigeria, do you?

Aliyu Abdullahi is a Lawyer and a Policy Analyst, and can be reached on twitter via his handle @AliyuAbdullahA

Lekki Toll: What the Lagos State Government Needs To Do Urgently, By Ifedayo Ade-Olaoluwa

There has been quite a bit of hullabaloo about the price increase at the Lekki Toll Gate. On the one hand the concerns of people are understandable – these are tough times for Nigerians, the economy is only just coming out of a recession, and peoples purchasing power has been hit quite hard by the unavoidable naira devaluation in recent years.
But I’m also concerned that the other side of the argument – the rational explanations of the Government, which any fair-minded citizen should be willing to appreciate – is not coming out well enough.
Take for example the issue of the consultations that preceded the price increase, aimed at cushioning the impact on the most economically vulnerable Lagosians. For a government that sometimes gets attacked for not thinking about the poor, this was a masterstroke.
The comments by the National Union of Road Transport Worers (NURTW), are instructive. Alhaji Taofeek Oluwa, Chairman of the union in Jakande, one of the major transport hubs along the Lekki-Epe Expressway, was widely quoted in the media as saying: “It is encouraging that LCC carried the NURTW along as one of the critical stakeholders consulted during the engagement process for the toll review which resulted in the minimal increase in toll charged the branded commercial buses. From February 1, branded commercial buses popularly called ‘Danfo’ which previously paid N80.00 would be paying N90 for e-Tag payments and N100 for cash payments. We assure commuters that they will not suffer any increase in the fares paid to board the branded commercial buses coming into or going out of Eti-Osa/Lekki-Epe Expressway. The NURTW is happy to endorse the toll fare review.”
This is very commendable. And it is to a large extent because of this that I believe the planned protests by some faceless groups against the price review will not gain any traction. There’s really, in my opinion, no basis for the protests. The government has addressed the circumstances of those most vulnerable to this, the masses who commute daily by public transport. Those who own their cars have an alternative route which they can use.
Now, that mention of that alternative route leads me to another important issues – the ongoing responsibility of Governor Ambode’s administration to Lagosians. As a matter of urgency that alternative route that passes through Oniru should receive more attention from the Government. It should be widened, and all hands must be on deck to ensure a free flow of traffic on it. This means that Lagos Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), and other agencies must be fully on ground to ensure that there is minimal obstruction, especially around the Oniru Market. The alternative route – which is a necessity for those who either cannot afford the toll or who on principle want to avoid it – must not be made to look like unnecessary suffering for Lagosians.
Another responsibility from the Lagos State Government, is working to smoothen the flow of traffic at the Toll Gates. It’s not acceptable for Lagosians to be struggling to squeeze through only three or four gates, during rush hour, while the rest are kept out of use for reasons best known to the people managing the Toll. At all times all the available gates must be open for use and manned. This will go a long way towards reducing traffic and assuring people that Government is looking out for their welfare.
Finally, the Lagos State Government must pay more attention to maintaining the Expressway. They are doing a decent job so far, but more must be done. Ongoing flyovers must be completed, and new ones built. The road must be kept fully lit at night, and the emergency response service – which is a very commendable initiative – must continue to operate. The service has been perhaps the most efficient on any highway in Nigeria, and this standard must not be allowed to fall.
There is no doubt that the Ambode administration is doing wonders for infrastructure in Lagos, especially roads. The Ajah and the Abule-Egba flayovers, pedestrians bridges along the Lekki Expressway, Aboru bridge, the Ojodu-Berger interchange, the lay-bys and slip roads at Oworonshoki, ketu, Alapere, the ongoing reconstruction of Oshodi-Airport road, the new bus terminals at Oshodi and Ikeja, and Lekki Expressway which the government wants to complete all the way to Epe; all of these are clear evidence that the State Government means well for the people. Only a deliberately mischievous person will attempt to downplay the importance and positive impact of these projects. Only such a person will also try to pretend that these projects do not cost money.
We know that the Toll price increase – the first since the Toll Gate was introduced about seven years ago – is meant to fund the maintenance of the Expressway as well as the completion of the full length of it, all the way to Epe. This is commendable, and one hopes that those who are lured into unnecessary protests will realize this.
On its part the Ambode Government should also take heed of the suggestions above, and continue to show in visible ways that it is a listening and caring Government.
Ifedayo Ade-Olaoluwa writes from Lagos

LG Polls: Crippling Gang For A Stronger APC In Kano, By Salihu Yakasai

On Saturday 10th February, 2018, eligible voters in the 44 local government areas of Kano State will go to the polls to elect their council chairmen and 484 councillors. Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KANSIEC) has concluded arrangements in concert with all relevant stakeholders more especially security agencies and some political parties to ensure a hitch-free elections.
The Prof. Garba Sheka-led KANSIEC has repeatedly assured the people of the State of its determination to ensure a level-playing field for all parties to contest the elections.
But to close observers of the political goings-on in the State especially between APC led by Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR and the Kwankwasiyya gang led by the former governor and serving Senator representing Kano Central Senatorial Zone at the Senate, Engr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, these elections would be a litmus test regarding the tug-of-war between the supporters of the two political gladiators now slugging it out for the hearts of the Kanawas.
In my previous piece on the eve of the historic visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to his largest-cum most formidable political stronghold in the country, I rightly predicted that the president would be warmly received by the people of Kano State and he would see that the State still remains his stronghold despite the attempts by the Kwankwasiyya gang to paint him in a bad light because their leader nurtures the ambition to contest in the next year’s presidential election.
I am very much happy to have been vindicated and the presidential visit was highly successful with our amiable President expressing gratitude and appreciation to Gov. Ganduje for the warm reception the government and people of the State had accorded him.
For those unfamiliar with the so-called intra-party squabbles in the State, I think the crisis had its genesis right from day one when the former governor reluctantly succumbed to pressure to allow his former deputy to vie for the governorship of the most populous state in the federation. When the incumbent governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje won the elections, his predecessor warned that if his successor deviates from the ideology of the Kwankwasiyya gang, he and his supporters would roll up their sleeves and fight the current governor to the finish line.
Since the handing-over between the former and present governors, APC and the government have not known peace as characterized by smear campaigns, outright sabotage and other subterfuges. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was when the former governor mobilized his foul-mouthed supporters on a condolence visit to Ganduje Town supposedly to condole Gov. Ganduje over the death of his mother but instead of condolence, the rip-raps hurled every imaginable abuses at the bereaved governor to the hearing of the leader of the gang.
The then Doguwa-led APC vowed to carry out investigations into this unbecoming attitude of the former governor and his supporters, but later the former State APC chairman, Haruna Doguwa claimed that he was arm-twisted and clearly sided with the former governor in flagrant violation of the constitution of the party. Since then, Kano State APC chapter had not known peace until the national secretariat intervened and appointed an acting chairman in the person of Engr. Bashir Karaye to lead the party pending the party’s congresses which are scheduled to hold in a couple of months from now.
However, the Kwankwasiyya gang is not satisfied with this development aimed at unifying the party by bringing to an end the power tussle between Abdullahi Abbas and Haruna Doguwa which informed the decision of Senator Kwankwaso to hold a political rally under the banner of Kwankwasiyya gang at Kwanar Dangora which coincided with the one arranged by the APC during which it planned to present flags to the 44 local government council chairmanship candidates.
Despite the innocuous advice of the State Commissioner of Police to the Kwankwasiyya cult members against holding their rally in order to avert any possible political violence as hoodlums were mobilized from even other States to come to Kano to cause chaos, the members of the Kwankwasiyya gang refused to heed the wise counsel until the last minute when the writing on the wall became clear to them which informed their belated decision to grudgingly call off their planned “political rally”.
What is more annoying is the fact that the gang organized the rally in order to contest that Kano State is still the stronghold of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR especially after seeing the huge crowds of people that lined the streets to welcome the most popular politician in Kano State chanting Sai Buhari!, Sai Baba!, Sai Mai Gaskiya! Had the gang’s rally taken place, only God knows how many precious lives would have perished just because of the self-centred inordinate ambition of one person!
Indeed the quick intervention of the national leadership of our great party has saved the party at the state level and indeed at the national level by extension from the possibility of being drawn into all sorts of litigations by selfish elements who are bent on plunging the party into crisis especially with the approach of the local government and next year’s general elections.
With this new development, the party at the state level is now more unified and stronger which has made it to be well-prepared to participate in the forthcoming local government elections. Many aspirants indicated their desire to participate in primary elections to fly the APC flag during the local government elections and this tussle amongst aspirants was amicably resolved through consensus as enshrined in the APC constitution or in a very few negligible cases through primary elections which were conducted rancour-free. This is attributable to the astute handling of the issue by the far-sighted governor who refrained from imposing any candidate on the people in the spirit of fair-play, justice, democracy and freedom.
This consensus agreement in nearly all the 44 local government areas in the state has clearly cemented the bond among APC members and left the Kwankwasiyya gang in the cold: Ba Tsuntsu, Ba Tarko as the Hausa say, literally meaning “No Bird, No Trap!” Had the Kwankwasiyya gang members recognized Gov. Ganduje as the leader of APC in Kano State, they would have been carried along because our governor is a true democrat who believes in the spirit of justice, honesty and freedom for all and sundry. But alas, their loyalty is to the gang rather than to the party which is supreme over any primordial consideration.
The desire of the gang leadership and membership is to derail the second term ambition of both the President (though he has not publicly expressed his desire to go for the second term yet) and Gov. Ganduje whom they always accuse of betraying their “cause.” God willing, they will not succeed for God is behind the just and upright.
Holding this election in a period of economic crunch is a credit to Gov. Ganduje especially as the State pays a monthly wage bill of about N10 billion in addition to executing new and inherited projects each worth over N1 billion some of which were recently commissioned or inspected by Mr. President during his 2-day official visit to the State.
Many States in the federation have not yet held the elections and it is clear they are not ready to do so in the foreseeable future. However, immediately after the expiration of the tenure of the former local government councils, our governor appointed interim caretaker committees to oversee the affairs of the 44 local government councils pending the conduct of the elections and in less than a year of the expiration of the tenure of the elected councils, KANSIEC under a reputable university don, Prof. Garba Sheka will hold local government elections on Saturday.
If the APC sweeps the local government council elections as I am sure it will do since the major opposition party, PDP has chickened out by deciding not to participate because of what it calls exorbitant charges which its candidates cannot afford to pay to KANSIEC and resorting to instituting a legal suit in the State High Court which has ruled against it, the coast will be clear for APC to also win all subsequent elections more especially as many are now ditching their old parties for the APC in recognition of the good and exemplary leadership qualities of Gov. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje who refrains from being dictatorial unlike his immediate predecessor whose trademark is dictatorship, betrayal of even his loyal supporters and sadistic disposition to crush the opposition at all cost for to him, the end justifies the means.
Recently, during the three senatorial zonal rallies of the APC, Gov. Ganduje received thousands of people who decamped to APC among whom is Senator Bashir Garba Lado unlike during the dictatorial reign of the former governor when the late Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi, Senator Hamisu Musa, Dauda Dangalan, Musa Gwadabe, and a host of other political bigwigs who backed him to emerge as the PDP gubernatorial flag-bearer in 1999 parted ways with him.
APC in Kano State is waxing stronger by the day thanks to the dexterity of Gov. Ganduje and winning the forthcoming local government elections will make it stronger. Any gang member that is ready to ditch his moribund ideology of kwankwasiyya by pledging unalloyed allegiance and loyalty to the APC and the governor is highly welcomed to the party and all his past sins against the party will be forgiven and forgotten.
But it is not possible for a gang and the party to coexist since their ideologies differ and contract each other. The support of all is required for APC to win all forthcoming elections; but it has to be unified and strong for this to be realizable which has begun to appear and will be consolidated after the local government elections on 10th February, 2018, God willing!
Yakasai is the Special Adviser New Media to the Executive Governor of Kano State.

A Week Of Rebranding Initiatives As Rufai Ahmed Takes Over NIA, By Lanre Yusuf

Silhouetted suddenly under a pall of scandal generated by Ikoyigate, eyes have continued to gaze in the direction of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), in expectation of more sizzles and sensations. But the agency by design is never built for such. It was the reason the Presidency recently effected a change of guard in the agency, appointing Ahmed Rufai Abubakar as the new Director General.

Abubakar, a careerist had worked closely with the Nigerian President on Foreign Affairs for years before being appointed to head the NIA. He knows the desire of the President to have the place reformed and perfected. All along, he had been noted for hard work and dedication to service. Competence and professionalism have also been footnoting his conduct, drawing attention in the process, as a man fit for the job. He resumed fully just a week ago.

He had hardly settled down for work when the rank and file of NIA took note of his leadership and managerial skills. He too was eager to put on display the good virtues, while embarking on reorganization of the agency, almost immediately. His first task was to mobilise all the staff towards strengthening and sustaining the NIA as an agency founded on patriotism, courage, efficiency and professionalism. He looked visibly unperturbed by the cacophony of insinuations stuffed in both the conventional and the social media, aimed towards hacking him down.

For staff of the NIA, the zest and zeal the new Director General came with were unmistakable, All of them immediately aligned with his vision and purpose. Officers of the Agency who, hitherto had regarded him as one of them as well trained, well motivated, purposeful, thoroughly exposed and above all, professionally inclined were not taken by surprise. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar had proved a point that NIA officers never really retire, as they continue to train in anticipation that they could be called upon to render service to the fatherland at anytime, even after service.

Within the first 48 hours of assumption of office, the NIA boss established of a two-way communications with staff. That inspired optimism amongst members of staff who are now more motivated to put in their best as  critical elements in the first line of national defense. The new DG communicated the right thoughts and set the right tone in the most effective manners.

At different meetings with staff, he listened patiently to views and suggestions across board, welling up a groundswell of consensus that he is on a trajectory to become a boss who inspires. In just one week, the new DG had won the hearts and support of the Agency’s Management Team and members of staff in general.

By implication, the morale of the rank and file of NIA, which was down few months back, has started growing again, and robustly too. From now on, NIA will be operating by the rules that will literally stave off any possible scandal from its corridors. As situation stands today, with Ahmed Rufai Abubakar as the Director General, every member of staff now has a voice. That is a cheering development for the patriotic officials who work behind the scene, constantly putting their lives on the line for the security and prosperity of Nigeria.

The confidence reposed in Ahmed Rufai by the President is apt and understandable because when the chips are down, the buck stop on his table.

The Presidency in a statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Mr Femi Adesina, debunked allegations that he carries dual nationality and that he has never been qualified. It affirmed that the new Director General of NIA is a Nigeria and has never been a Chadian.

Adesina said, “The new NIA D-G retired from Foreign Service as Deputy Director (not Assistant Director) and had thrice during his career won Merit Award for competence and meritorious service. “Failing promotion examination can only exist in the fecund minds of fiction writers. “His last position before the new appointment was as Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs/International Affairs where again he quietly proved himself.

*Lanre Yusuf a Public Affairs analysts writes from Lagos

True Federalism: APC’s Report And The Path To Change, By Amabipi John

Debates on Nigeria’s structure, system of government and terms of continued union are as old as the country itself. However, in the past few months, it has gained new relevance in the political landscape with “restructuring” becoming an instant buzz word and subject of every political commentary.

In reaction, the ruling All Progressives Congress formed a committee chaired by the governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, and tasked it to distil the true intent and definition of “true federalism”, as well as provide recommendations to the National Working Committee that would serve as a guide in honoring the contract the party entered with Nigeria to create a federalism “with more equitable distribution of national revenue to the states and local governments”, to foster a ground-up approach to economic development and growth.

Unsurprisingly, the decision was greeted with scepticism. Owing to previous experiences, Nigerians are no longer fazed by government committees as they often turn out to be a jamboree for party members or friends of the government, who show up only to echo and rationalize positions favorable to the government of the day, leaving it with no obvious task or challenge to take on afterwards. After all, just barely four years ago, one of such national conferences gulped billions of Naira and gave us nothing more than piles of paper gathering dust in offices across the country.

The method of the El-Rufai-led committee, however, won over doubters. To ensure that the final report of the committee represents the views and demands of Nigerians living in all regions of the country, the committee held public hearings in the six geo-political zones and, deliberately, drew its participants – both as members of the committees and audience at the public hearing – to mirror the demography of the country, with no special bias for party or political affiliation.

Even more surprisingly, the party, in the final report presented to the public on Wednesday in Abuja, placed the government it constitutes on its toes with some of its recommendations. An example of this is the position of the committee on devolution of powers. It was recommended that the party should throw “its political weight behind overwhelming popular demand for devolution to states by the federal government” to solve the problem of “enormous exclusive legislative powers of the federal government with resultant over-centralization of power and authority.”

While this is both a rational and obvious move given the bogus Exclusive Legislative List of the country which renders state powerless and stalls development, a change has remained elusive as a result of the fondness of “federal might” displayed by previous governments. That a committee of the ruling party is advocating for this change shows good intentions and perhaps, a true commitment to shelf narrow partisan ambitions for national growth and development.

Other recommendations include the maintenance of the presidential system of government but a serious review of cost of governance and clamp down on corruption, provision of legal framework for interested states to cooperate and form a regional arrangement as long as the existence and unity of the country isn’t threatened, and the replacement of ‘indegeneship’ or ‘state of origin’ with ‘domicile’ to prevent tribal segregation.

Most certainly, the ideas/recommendations are not new. Some have been pushed forward in times past either by individuals or groups, but what stands out the committee’s reports is that it went further to state, step-by-step, how these recommendations can be implemented. The second volume of the report highlights actions which need to be taken by the Executive and the Legislature in order to achieve implementation. The committee even went to the extent of drafting bills to amend the relevant sections of the Constitution.

It is in the implementation process that the biggest challenge of the report is made obvious as the changes required cannot be achieved without the agreement and political will of all independent arms that make up the government. Amongst others, it begs the question; will the opposition support the laudable initiatives recommended by this committee in the interest of national progress?

Ultimately, with the report made public alongside the specific arms of government responsible for implementing the recommendations, the committee has armed Nigerians, alongside civil society, with a formidable tool to press home their demands should things stall. And this a good place to start.

How Buhari Will Fight Corruption In Africa, By Garba Shehu

Africa’s bid to stem widespread corruption took a decisive turn on Sunday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia when the African Union, AU placed on President Muhammadu Buhari, the task of championing the war throughout the continent.

Obviously, the choice is not for nothing as the opposition – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – back at home claimed in their deeply disappointing reaction to the inauguration of President Buhari as the continental anti-corruption champion for the year 2018.

As a matter of fact, a section of politicians and some economists have been quick to pronounce the war against corruption in Nigeria a failure because those people are the greatest losers wherever the ordinary citizens make a gain.

The PDP, in particular, has come to signify the face of corruption in Nigeria and they have not hidden their efforts to shrink the achievements of the Buhari Administration. They are bent, as it clearly seems, on crushing all hopes of ridding this country of the scourge of corruption.

As the President keeps saying, in 16 years that the party held sway, we solely relied on oil, the price of which was as high as US$140 per barrel. Government simply squandered oil revenue through personal spending by corrupt leaders, wasteful expenses and salaries.

This was done rather than growing the economy through capital investment in assets like seaports, airports, power plants, railways, roads and housing as this administration is currently doing.

Nigeria did not record a single major infrastructural project in the 10 years preceding the Buhari administration. In short, the money was mismanaged, spent largely on what was not needed and no savings were made. They compounded the problem by borrowing heavily and failed woefully to pay contractors and international oil companies.

The last two years of this administration have revealed the massive and unrivalled level of corruption in which the PDP and its leaders at the highest level thrived so it mustn’t surprise anyone really that they have chosen their obstructionist role rather than lending a helping hand in the fight against corruption.

By a rough estimate, the amount of money including the value of estates recovered (or in the process of being recovered) from a single woman (Madam), by virtue of being close to power can pay for the construction and equipping a cancer treatment hospital for each of the six geopolitical the Federation, and still counting.

So, if you have noticed, the barbs came out in the last few weeks ostensibly to cast a pall on this continental honour to President Buhari and to Nigeria which, in terms of added significance had the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Anthony Gutierrez, at hand giving full support.

Indeed, it is both a tragedy and an opportunity that this honour on Nigeria and our leader is in its timing, is coming amid heightened criticism of his well-recognised efforts to purge the country of bribery, corruption and illicit cash outflows that have become so entrenched to the point of forming a strong a normative social practice.

To help Africa lead this fight, leaders of the 55 countries making up the African Union (AU) leaned on President Muhammadu Buhari who swept to power in 2015 vowing to get to grips with graft and unbridled looting of public resources which is undermining the Nigerian economy.

In its two-and-a-half years in office, the administration has made significant strides in its efforts to identify and block loopholes through which oil revenues are stolen; payrolls are populated with ghost and non-existent workers and devised ways of blocking criminals as well as corrupt businessmen and officials from laundering illicit wealth.

As aptly captured by retired Ambassador Usman Sarki, the former Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, “this well-deserved laurel on Mr President’s brow demonstrates the close affinity between domestic policy and foreign policy, particularly in matters that have transnational and global significance like fighting corruption.

“Through concerted advocacy and demonstrable leadership shown by Mr President, the world and Africa have now come to accept the fact that Nigeria is making progress in the anti-corruption front. This positive achievement is now acknowledged as an example of best practice for others in Africa.

“The African Union’s selection of this subject as the theme for this year’s summit meeting is not only of symbolic significance. The AU has come to recognise that corruption is an egregious problem that has fostered many ills all over the Continent.

“Appointing an Anti-corruption Champion is appropriate and timely, and an indication of the prioritisation of the fight against the scourge by all of Africa. This is the logical outcome of many previous initiatives by the AU, such as its high-level panel (jointly with UNECA) on illicit financial flows (IFF) from Africa that was chaired by H.E. Thabo Mbeki.

“Giving this honourable task to President Buhari is, therefore, recognition of his mettle and reinforcing the evident commitment that he has shown to eradicating this evil in Nigeria. While Mr President can be trusted to guide by example and provide the needed leadership, it is also important for others to support his efforts.”

As widely-reported in his speech on the launch of the African Anti-Corruption Year dubbed Project 2018 on the theme, “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A sustainable path to Africa’s Transformation,” the President showed a clear understanding of what the task entails and showed a readiness of the rare type to take on the assignment diligently. In his words: “I promise that I and my government shall do our very best to ensure that the anti-corruption agenda receives the attention it deserves.”

He made it clear that corruption is indeed one of the greatest enemies of our time; that it runs completely counter to our shared values as Africans of justice, the sense of fairness, law and order and equity and equality. Corruption, he said, rewards those who do not play by the rules and also creates a system of patronage where the resources are shared out by a small elite, while the majority are trapped in poverty.

When it comes to tackling corruption, President Buhari noted that the Continent has made significant strides in putting in place legal and policy frameworks, notably the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC).

However, the adoption of legal and policy frameworks on their own have not had the desired success in tackling this evil. This, he noted, is one of the driving reasons why the AU has designated 2018 the African Anti-Corruption Year. The idea is to scale up the efforts during 2018.

Notably, 15 years after the adoption of the AUCPCC, 2018 provides a good opportunity to take stock of the progress made so far, assess what still needs to be done and devise new strategies that appropriately address new corruption challenges.

While the continent has seen sustained socio-economic growth over the past two decades, public confidence has been corroded by a concentration on near-term priorities and payoffs, propelled by corruption. We see the negative impacts of corruption in governance through the creation of political and business cartels that serve narrow interests.

The President noted, “let us not view the fight against corruption as an end in itself, but rather as an instrument in the fight to eliminate poverty and restore justice, order and dignity to our societies.

”In particular, he recognised the leading role that the media can play in this fight: “you the media have a strong role to play in public sensitisation and awareness and requesting and publishing information to increase transparency to hold public institutions and governments to account.”

In expounding on the theme, he expressed the view that corruption has an especially devastating impact on marginalised communities notably youth, women and children. “The effects of corruption breed unequal societies that render vulnerable groups susceptible to human trafficking and displacement, recruitment into armed groups and militia and it deprives them of opportunities to develop their livelihoods.”

To this end, he announced that the AU would organise a Youth Congress on Corruption to address the specific challenges and impacts that corruption has on our emerging leaders. Engaging young leaders is especially important in developing a new attitude to transparency and accountability.

According to President Buhari, the manifestation of corruption in Africa is also a reflection of the need for stronger leadership and oversight institutions. “Tackling corrupt acts and greed require a reorientation of our attitudes and perceptions to corrupt practices. Changing the state of play requires retraining and education as a means to instil better and more transparent values”, he said.

He then announced that as part of the activities during the year his leadership would bring about engagements with key actors in the fight against corruption including parliamentarians, the media, the business community and faith-based groups.

“As corruption cuts across every sector in society, we should continue to support consultative dialogue among all actors to forge joint solutions to this menace and we look forward to your support and ideas.”

As we indicated in an earlier statement, the Buhari Administration has so far done very well in asset recovery, asset return and transparent management of returned assets. The government has achieved the highest amounts in the recovery of stolen assets and achieved the highest number of convictions by any administration in the country so far.

To this extent, several measures have been initiated for the strengthening of our asset recovery legislation, investigating agencies and the Auditor-General’s office, including through non-­conviction based confiscation powers and the introduction of unexplained wealth orders. The results Nigeria achieved came about as a result of these and other efforts and these are essential steps to initiation of sister African nations in the fight against corruption.

Happily, the anti-corruption Champion, President Muhammadu Buhari, says he is ready and available to give tutorials. This gives the continent a good starting point.

New Day And Age For Primary School Teachers In Niger State, By Abdullberqy Ebbo

Niger state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani-Bello, following his familiar compassionate steps, has done the unusual again, this time for the primary school teachers, who have consistently and for years been expressing preference and agitating for being put under the control and management of State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), rather than that of the Local Governments.
The governor’s directive has ended for the teachers years and ages of suffering under a system which effectively sentenced our teachers to needless suffering and gnashing of teeth, as they remained unpaid weeks after other categories of workers in the state had taken their salaries.
Their worries and consequent pleas were well founded. It is the routine for the teachers to endure another two or three weeks, depending on the preference and grace of the local government headship, before receiving their monthly wages, a situation against which they fought, with memos, speeches at meetings, and lately even with open display of anger.
Their agitation, has now ended with the directive of the governor that they must now be located under SUBED to ease the task of their  administration, especially payment of their salaries and allowances, and for other routine needs.
Governor Sani-Bello has equally approved immediate promotion of all teachers who had been due for such, but had been denied for upwards of 5, even ten years. The directive which is to be given immediate execution is that all teachers who have been due for promotion must be promoted with immediately.
The governor, to ensure that the age of denying teachers their dues, particularly their well and genuinely deserved and timely elevation,  has now made it mandatory that no teacher must again be made to wait for his/her promotion again.
Henceforth, no teacher in Niger state would have to await their dues weeks  after their counterparts in other services had taken their own. No teacher would again have to go to the mountains or embark of prayerful vigils to get their promotions as and when such are due. Finally, all arrears of promotion for teachers must be given them, a directive which is already law that must be executed in a maximum of weeks.
It is indeed a new age of compassion and people-focused governance in Niger state. It is also a regime of extreme sensitivity to the plight of the common people, whose plight and concerns had hitherto won only a second place in earlier times. Kudos again to Abubakar Sani-Bello

Liberalization Of Air Transport Market Takes Africa Closer To Desired Economic Integration, By Bukola Ogunyemi

Traveling by air from one African country to another, as those familiar with the routes and processes would testify, is often strenuous, expensive and time-wasting due to poor air connections borne out of ill-advised protectionist policies.

As Umaru Fofana, a BBC journalist, detailed in his experience in 2017 flying between the West African capitals of Freetown (Sierra Leone) and Banjul (The Gambia), a journey of 700km (400 miles) which should take about an hour could take 24 hours or 72 hours due to the non-availability of direct flights.

Travelers from Freetown sometimes fly via Abidjan (Cote D’Ivoire) then Dakar (Senegal) before arriving in Banjul. A quicker but far more expensive option would be to fly to Brussels (Belgium) and then connect to Banjul.

This obviously complicated and problematic arrangement has left African countries incapacitated from exploring the full economic potentials of the budding aviation market on the continent. As a result, non-African airlines currently control about 80 percent of the air transport traffic to and from Africa, fly about 80% of intercontinental traffic to and from Africa.

The decision therefore of the African Union to launch the Single African Air Transport Market last week during the 30th AU Summit in Addis Ababa is a timely development. The Single African Air Transport Market is a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063, an initiative of the African Union to create a single unified air transport market in Africa, the liberalization of civil aviation in Africa and as an impetus to the continent’s economic integration agenda. SAATM will also enhance the realization of the African Passport and free movement of people and goods, as well as the creation of the continental free trade Area (CFTA).

Implementing the SAATM, which is similar to the EU’s single aviation market, would go a long way towards making African air travel more competitive by reducing protectionist policies. Liberalization of air transport within Africa to facilitate better connections within the continent would result in substantial benefits for passengers, airlines, and the economies of the respective African countries.

The 23 countries currently signed to the single air market are: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe.

The twenty-three countries have a combined population of roughly 670 million, more than half the population of the continent.  In addition, these 23 countries have a combined GDP of $1500 billion and their average per capita income of $2,119.5 is higher than the continent’s average of $1888. These countries also account for more than 80 percent of intra-African traffic and also accounted for over 54 percent of the 63.5 million international tourists recorded by Africa in 2015.

The aviation sector in Africa currently supports over $72 billion in GDP, creating 6.8 million jobs. Clearly, there is a lot of potential for growth there. According to the International Air Transport Association, addressing market barriers in air transport between just 12 African countries could lead to 4.9 million additional passengers journeys, unlocking $1.3 billion additional economic activity and 155,000 new jobs. The demand potential for intra-African air travel remains large and the economic benefits of policy reforms on the issue of intra-Africa connectivity could be significant. Demand for air travel to, from and within Africa is forecast to more than treble over the next 20 years – growing from 75 million passengers in 2016 to more than 240 million passengers per annum by 2035.

Under a single market, airlines from the region would be allowed to connect any two African cities, without having to go through their home hub first. South African Airways could, for example, fly Johannesburg-Nairobi-Cairo on the same trip and Ethiopian Airlines could go to Nairobi and Johannesburg in a single trip.

South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya are expected to be the biggest markets for air travel within Africa while Ethiopia will maintain its position as the key driver for air travel between Africa and the rest of the world. Currently, intra-Africa traffic accounts for at least half of the total air transport market in most African countries, with Cape Verde and Egypt being the only exceptions to this trend.

Full adherence to and implementation of the terms and agreements under the single air market policy by the various African governments is crucial but the liberalization and unification of the African air transport markets is expected to bring unprecedented financial growth for indigenous airlines in Africa, most of which currently record huge operational losses annually. This will also open the sector up for much needed foreign investment.

Bukola Ogunyemi is a policy analyst and media executive based in Lagos.

The Points Buhari Missed, By Mukhtar Jarmajo

It was note worthy that ahead of the 2015 presidential elections, Obasanjo and many other stakeholders of Corporate Nigeria Plc supported Buhari only because the options were either him or Jonathan who obviously was heading the country towards total collapse. The Boko Haram insurgency, which Jonathan failed to handle, was threatening the continuous existence of Nigeria as a single entity. So as the main beneficiaries of the investment called Nigeria, they thought it wise to save us from crashing.
They came together and with the rest of us, the nation was saved. The rest as they say is now history. So Obasanjo’s “Special Press Statement” to Buhari asking him not to contest again in 2019 didn’t come as a surprise in any way. The President has served the purpose of saving their company from bankruptcy and it’s now time for him to leave, they feel, so they continue milking us dry. And perhaps that’s why they are busy managing events through time.
Just look at the timing of Obasanjo’s press release. It didn’t come until the boyish looking Ezikwesili, Utomi and several others announced the formation of a movement to replace Buhari in 2019? It didn’t come until it was the eve of the elections year and when the middle belt has gutted on fire. It came only when ethnic, religious, and farmer/herdsmen crisis in the middle belt have become matters of national concerns. The whole scenario is assuming the dimensions of how Jonathan was sent packing.
Perhaps, a plan has been perfected by those who feel politically wounded, schemed out of relevance or economically hit by the Buhari administration to ensure that he doesn’t come back. And if this is true, the plot may succeed for two reasons. One, the plotters are financially resourceful and equally committed to the cause and two, Buhari is handling government matters as if he didn’t get to it in a revolutionary vehicle.
History is there to tell that revolutionaries upon getting to power do things tactfully and with a requisite effectiveness and boldness. They ensure that anyone wanting to prove to be a clog in the wheel of government is dealt with accordingly. They try as much as possible to take along their people to keep them abreast of happenings and aware of the directions of events.
These, they do after surrounding themselves with not just competent hands but also like-minds who understand the import of the revolution and therefore committed to the cause of effecting a change in the name of a prosperous and therefore a greater society. It is sad to note here that Buhari did virtually the opposite of all this.
Given the peculiarities of Nigeria, the president was expected to first make strong our institutions of democracy. And of course, the ruling APC, his party, should have been the first port of call. While it is true that by principle and ideology there is no political party in Nigeria, a lot of good would have been done had the APC forced the idea of party supremacy in its fold.
The party and by extension its government wouldn’t have suffered pains caused by internal debacle. Its state governors would have been serious with issues and think in tandem with the federal government. But here we are with state governments hopelessly in hopelessness and local governments that are virtually none existent.
Jarmajo wrote from Abuja

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