What You Need To Know Before Investing In Telecommunication In Africa, By Obafemi Adekunle

Telecommunications companies are a rarity in the stock market, their shares have exhibited characteristics of both income and growth stocks. For periods of several years, a company may enjoy its regulatory privileges like other utilities. Telecom firms often are protected from competition by government mandate, and produce reliable, generous dividend yields (generated by high monthly revenue from its stable customer base).

However, Africa has got its peculiarity when it comes to investment. I shall elucidate more in the coming paragraphs so as to  guide your thoughts and decision before embarking on telecommunication investment

Africa is struggling to create the infrastructure to sustain telecommunication sector amidst different dynamic challenges ranging from unpredictable political system, unstable economy, power , government policies like ‘right of way’, security of equipments and so on.

The Nigerian telecommunication sector for example is the largest segment of the Information and Communication sector. Nigeria has one of the largest telecom markets in Africa. The Nigerian Telecommunication sector has emanated over the years to an appreciable market structure (a small number of firms have the majority of market share). The sector includes a strong multinational presence. The leading players are MTN, a South African based multinational company with a market share of 37.21%, Airtel (an Indian based multinational telecommunication), Glo (a Nigerian multinational company) and 9mobile (formerly Etisalat).

The demand for telecommunications services persists regardless of changes in the business cycle. But if a firm hits a slump because of shifts in the industry (like the growing importance of wireless devices), value investors might snap it up, provided its fundamentals remain strong and it prove adept at adapting to change. The telecommunications sector dividends makes the waiting period for share prices to improve more enjoyable.

There has been a decline of GSM mobile subscribers as the market experience has changed due to the dynamism in the  product requirement. Consumers are moving away from traditional cellular services to data bundle packs.

Internet service providers are currently at ‘internet-battle’ with the telecom companies to deliver data at relatively affordable prices. The fierce price competition among telecom operators on their voice and internet data has led to the contraction in the sector revenue over time. Consumers benefit from temporary low prices only in the short run.  While Nigeria’s data bundle prices are the lowest in subSaharan Africa, they are priced below actual costs which can harm the sector and puts longterm customer benefits at risk.

Smaller mobile network operators find it hard to survive in the market which leaves an industry dominated by few players. These few players will increase their market share and have the power to influence prices. Prices can more than double which can have a negative effect on the levels of consumption.

In recent years, Nigerian companies have had difficulties accessing foreign currency (FX) to finance their dollar/FX debt. The telecommunications sector was no exception. They have been adversely affected by both a financial crisis. Etisalat for example obtained a $1.2 billion foreign backed guarantee bond in 2013 to upgrade and expand its operations, but has been unable to meet its obligations since 2016. Etisalat’s outstanding loan has adversely affected 13 Nigerian banks. Given the macroeconomic climate, it is expected that banks will record a substantial amount of nonperforming loans (NPLs) due to the debt crisis. Such a scenario will adversely affect their profits (a 12% decline is expected in 2017) and their ability to meet their activities.

Telecom sectors present a greater risk to investors, with stocks registering anywhere from 7% (for services) to 15% (wireless) to 24% (equipment) more volatility than the broader market. Investors with heavy exposure to telecom can expect stronger-than-average gains during bull markets. When a recession or bear market hits, however, losses from this sector can be severe.

About the author: Obafemi Adekunle is the founder and group chief executive of the black Alliance. Also a former Vice President mergers and acquisitions at Goldman Sachs Inc and Head of internal audit at citizen bank Boston as well as member of the internal audit team at Société générale in France.

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The Nigerian Left And The Constitution, By Edwin Madunagu

For some time in the early part of Nigeria’s Second Republic (1979-1983), several groups in the Nigerian Left debated what the movement’s relationship with the opposition People’s Redemption Party (PRP) should be. Several Leftists had been involved in the formation of the party while several more joined after formation. But the bulk of “hard core” Leftists, particularly Marxists, remained outside the party which, today, would be described as “radical left-of-centre”: left-of-centre on account of its ideological placement and radical in its methods. Of the 19 states into which the country was then divided, PRP controlled the governments of two: Kaduna and Kano—where Kaduna included the present Katsina State and Kano included the present Jigawa. The party was modestly represented in the National Assembly.

That PRP controlled the governments of old Kaduna and Kano states and had a presence in the national seat of power in Lagos meant that the party and the governments it controlled accepted the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979. They operated that Constitution and were bound by it. This legal relationship with the Constitution was one of the greatest subjective and ideological obstacles to the formal entry of several Leftists into the PRP. And this was the setting for a respected veteran Leftist to charge, in a closed meeting, and then in an international Marxist journal, that those Leftists who refused to join the PRP on account of the latter operating the Nigerian Constitution were ignorant and lazy arm-chair revolutionaries.

More directly and substantively, the comrade declared that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979, was sufficient for the Nigerian Left to make a revolution if it was actually interested in making a revolution! The “gates of hell” broke open after this charge. Comrades did not go to blows only because there would be no one to separate the fight. Besides, if fighting had broken out and the police had come in there would have been sufficient evidence to charge the two sides with any offence – ranging from “rioting” to “treasonable felony”. That was more than 35 years ago.

This near-violent debate over the possibility of using the Nigerian Constitution to make a revolution, in the particular way the question presented itself in 1980 or 1981, has since been resolved by history and transcended ideological and politically by the Nigerian Left. But the general question of the relationship of the Left to the fundamental law of the Nigerian State remains. So, what is this fundamental law, this constitution? How does the Left see it? How should the Left see it? Should the changing of the Constitution—including “popular-democratic restructuring”—be one of the current key demands of the Left or one of the key elements of the People’s Manifesto? If the Left comes to power today—alone or in a coalition—will changing the Constitution be one of its immediate priorities?

Let me quickly dispose of the last question. As important as a radical review of the Constitution may appear, it cannot be one of the first acts of a Left government on coming to power. Radical and massive redeployment and redistribution of the nation’s resources in favour of the working, toiling, poor and de-classed masses and lifting of layers of burden from their shoulders will be the first symbolic and substantive acts. And these will be carried out not by initiating a constitution-review process—a long process—but by stretching to the limit the provisions of the present Constitution. No law will be broken, no court order will be disobeyed. Only two defensive steps will be taken: placing the revolutionary measures directly before the people and summoning people’s lawyers across the land. Constitution-review will be carried out later: not much later, but later.

Now to the other questions. The Constitution, in the sense we use it here, is the fundamental law or body of laws instituted by a state or adopted by a state to rule over a defined territory. Logically, the Constitution starts by defining the state whose instrument of rule it is. It then defines the People covered by the authority of that state and the operation of the Constitution. Somewhere in the introductory segments of the Constitution a claim is made—in one form or another—that the Constitution is an embodiment of the will of the people.

This claim is neither completely false nor completely true. Rather, it is ideological. For the people must have been involved—in one form or another, in one marginal or superficial way or another, at one level of deception or another—in the production of that document. But the Constitution is, in essence, the will of the state. And the state is, in essence, the will of the ruling classes.

The Constitution makes the claim of “universal” representation because the state uses it to rule over the entire territory and the whole people—and not a fraction of the territory or the ruling class alone. And because the Constitution makes such a claim it is compelled, regardless of the process of its coming into being and without mitigating its essence, to agree to some concessions to the people in content and in form (including the use of language). A ruling class or a state which refuses to make concessions and compromises is reducing the roads to change to only one: revolution. No state, no ruling class wishes to be permanently in a state of siege or turmoil. And the means of preventing this—as long as possible—is through concessions and compromises, including constitutional reforms. These concessions and compromises, as minor as they may appear when they are snatched from the ruling class, may be called into a decisive role at a future critical moment.

A Constitution which is a bundle of lies, and nothing else, will lack all credibility and will be useless to the ruling class and the state. It is these compromises and concessions that the 1980 “Leftist protagonists” of the 1979 Constitution insisted could be used and should be used to advance the popular struggle. What they did not say or did not say convincingly or were not allowed to say was that this use of the Constitution would not exhaust the forms of struggle or be the highest form of struggle in the revolutionary arsenal of the Nigerian Left.

What the “Leftist protagonists” of the 1979 Constitution were therefore saying can now be appreciated through the prism of 2018 and set out in a series of connected propositions: One: Although historically, the reform struggle, including the struggle for a more democratic constitution, has been an integral part of the revolutionary struggle in Nigeria, the latter cannot and should not be reduced to the former. In other words, the agenda of the Nigerian Left is much wider and deeper than the reform struggle, including the struggle for a new constitution. Two: The limited democratic provisions in the Constitution could be used to wage both electoral struggle and general popular-democratic struggle in a manner that the ruling class and the state had not envisaged. 

Three: Exposing the limitations of the Constitution is a revolutionary struggle which, in certain conjunctures can be more effectively waged in actual popular-democratic engagements—including elections and, when possible, actual governance. Four: In participating in electoral and governance politics where the Left is not in power—even if it is marginally in office—participating Leftists should seek, obtain and retain organized revolutionary backing.

 

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

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How Atiku Finances Miyetti Allah, By Terfa Naswem

Before PDP conducted its presidential primary election, most PDP politicians and supporters especially in Benue State launched apocryphal campaigns against President Muhammadu Buhari and also cast aspersions on him that he is a Fulani and a member of Miyetti Allah so he should not be re-elected in 2019. But Buhari is a man of refreshing candour who is focused on taking Nigeria to the “Next Level” of better things to come despite his shortcomings.
In Benue State particularly, the Benue PDP said it will never allow a Fulani and Miyetti Allah member to become the president of Nigeria in 2019. While they were saying this, they never knew that Atiku would buy his way through to emerge as the presidential candidate of PDP.
Even long before the primary election was conducted, I knew that since PDP was broke, Atiku would use his dollars to push through against all odds.
The Miyetti Allah propaganda became weak on PDP when Atiku emerged. They know too well his antecedent and his origin as a Fulani and strong member of Miyetti Allah.
Benue Elderstateman, Paul Unongo, the former Chairman of Northern Elders Forum (NEF) says Atiku Abubakar disclosed his membership of the group to him.
Unongo berates Buhari’s administration for treating the herdsmen crisis with unseriousness but noted that Atiku can’t be different but even worse in handling herdsmen crisis since he is a major sponsor and most influential member of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, which is known as the highest body of Fulani herdsmen in the country.
He said Atiku is the most powerful person in Miyetti Allah and wants to be the next president. He said that Atiku has more cattle than anybody in Miyetti Allah.
My questions to Benue PDP and PDP in general including all those supporting Atiku are:
(1) How can Atiku support Benue State Anti-Open grazing law when most of the cattle that graze openly belong to him?
(2) How can he fight or arrest members of Miyetti Allah, an organization which he is the greatest financier?
(3) What is the guarantee that if he becomes president, Fulani herdsmen attacks will end?
(4) Where is the conscience and dignity of those in Benue PDP and elsewhere who said no to Fulani and Miyetti Allah candidate but are supporting Atiku?
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How Governor Ambode Lost The Battle But Not The War In Lagos State, By Adebayo Samuel

Lagos state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, lost the battle at the All Progressives Congress (APC) party primaries conducted few months back. Ambode was said to have fallen out of favor with some bigwigs in APC including the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) and the National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whom many believed is the reason Ambode is currently the Governor of the state.

According to several reports and publications, Ambode had stepped on so many toes of Lagos stakeholders. Report has it that he abandoned many projects initiated by his predecessor, Babatunde Fahola, and had also deviated from the state’s blueprint.

For example the Lagos compulsory monthly environmental sanitation to ensure a clean and safe state for her habitats was abandoned by Ambode. This was confirmed when Tinubu told journalists that Ambode had derailed from the Lagos state blueprint and master plan with no good reasons.

As the primary election drew near, it was obvious Ambode was going to lose the battle as he convened a world press conference where he made several allegations on how the security of the state is being compromised to ensure he loses out and also claimed the preferred candidates, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-olu, was not fit to govern the state as he had at a time been admitted at Gbagada Hospital in Lagos, and arrested abroad for allegedly spending fake dollar at a club.

These outburst and allegations reinforced the widespread speculations that Ambode had indeed accepted his fate. Results and pictures from the primaries revealed Ambode completely lose out to Sanwo-olu with a wide margin.

What amazed political observers was the way Ambode conceded defeat and congratulated his opponent Sanwo-olu. He aftermath of the defeat, promised to work with him to ensure his victory at the 2019 gubernatorial polls. This gesture, many believed had nestled the heart of the aggrieved party leaders and may as well retain Ambode in their good book for a possible consideration for future party engagement. To confirm his loyalty to the party and in total acceptance of his defeat, Ambode was seen side by side  Sanwo-olu at the APC National convention held in Abuja with smiles all around them.

The battle may have been lost by Ambode but he surely didn’t loose the war. As we approached the 2019 election we all hope the perceived love and unity between the Ambode’s and Sanwo-olu‘s camp yield a positive result and the state is retained as APC led state.

 

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2019: Why APC May Lose Big, By Adebayo Samuel

The last of the crisis rocking the All Progressive Congress (APC) is not yet seen; as the issues, if not well managed, may lead to a total collapse of the party’s dominance in some states come 2019.

The post-primary elections issues in states like, Ogun, Kaduna, Zamfara and Rivers States are one that may mar the victory of the ruling party in those states.

Ogun state for example had two separate primaries where the sitting Governor Ibikunle Amosun handpicked some candidates including himself for the 2019 general elections. This stand didn’t go well with some stakeholders of the party including the National Working Committee (NWC).

Recall that the NWC who have the constitutional right to conduct primary elections, did conduct one but was boycotted by the Governor Amosun. At the end of the exercise, the Governor rejected the NWC’s candidates for the 2019 elections.

It is a case yet to be resolved and with all indications the Governor is not willing to support the candidates of the party produced by the NWC primary and this many believe will negatively affect the chances of the party come 2019.

Kaduna state is also one of the states with post-primary elections issues, especially the Kaduna Central Senatorial primary election where Senator Shehu Sani lost out due to total rejection by majority of the party’s supporter from the district. Though the party leadership at the national level offered the ticket to Senator Sani, the people’s choice prevailed.

Senator Sani has since left the party with his supporters reportedly teaming up with opposition parties in the district. This again may cost the APC in retaining the senatorial seat come 2019.

Zamfara State is one state the APC can’t afford to lose but with the fallout from the primaries and the recent press release by INEC where it claimed the party APC didn’t hold any primary as required by the constitution before the deadline set out by INEC, it is obvious the party have their work cut out for them in the next few weeks as failure to resolve this on time may deny them total participation in the election.

Lastly, Rivers State has been a state the APC had worked so hard to win but lost out in 2015. Though they currently have some serving legislators, all is still not well with the party in the state as parallel primaries were also conducted couple with the recent Supreme Court judgment which has further put the party’s faith in hanging.  To this effect, all effort must be made to set the court judgment aside or they risk losing out of any chance to participate in the 2019 elections.

With all eyes now on the party leadership to see how these issues are resolved, the court cases, submission of candidates, stakeholders are hopeful the aggrieved members are pacified to ensure victory for the APC in the 2019 elections.

 

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My Preliminary Issues With The Atiku Policy Document, By Umar Ardo

The major problem of this Policy Document is that it fails to address the most fundamental issues faced by most other previous similar documents – i.e. the ‘how’ issues! We all know the problems; we know why we’ve the problems; and we also know what to do to solve these problems. What we’ve not so far been able to figure out is ‘how to do’ what to do. And this Policy Document, like others before it, has no doubt identified the issues and problems, and what to do to resolve them; but, like the previous ones, woefully fails to demonstrate how. ‘How’ has always been the problem, and not ‘why’ or ‘what’. What Nigerians expected most from the document is the ‘how’, and the fact that it is missing makes the Policy Document less appealing.

Another key developmental problem relating to the ‘how issues’ is in the translation of paper policy to practical implementation. Over the years, our policy makers have failed to translate paper designs to ground implementation. For example, take any road or civil engineering design upon which bidding is quoted and contract awarded, and compare it with the finished project. The marked differences between the two will give u clear idea of what l mean. Or, how does it differ with Nigeria’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd National Development Plans, the 9-Point Reconstruction Programme, Operation Feed the Nation, Green Revolution, DIFRI, MAMSA, Vision 2010, NEEDS, 7-Point Agenda, Vision 2020, etc.

All these came and went without adequately being able to translate in practical terms the policies enunciated in those documents. Thus, the inability and failure to translate our policy designs into practice have been such a huge problem to Nigeria’s national development efforts that deserve special attention and solution in any policy document of this magnitude. The fact that this one completely fails to address the issue has put to serious question the author’s real grasp of the major problems facing the country. This is a glaring minus to the Policy Document!

Again, one of the key priorities of an Atiku Administration, according to the Policy Document, is to ‘establish Technology Support Programs (TSP) to be funded by Dispora Bond’. Based on available statistics, more than 70% of the diaspora money coming into this country is from the USA ??. How could a president who cannot visit a country design and implement a major policy of government that is mainly dependent on a country he cannot visit? How feasible is that going to be? The absence of an answer to this question casts a dark shadow on this critical policy thrust.

Furthermore, the vital aspect of the fight against corruption is conspicuously missing in the Policy Document – i.e. leadership by example! While striving to create institutional mechanisms of fighting corruption, the universal most effective method of tackling the menace  of corruption is to lead by example.

The fact that the Policy Document has glossed over the need to build and promote honesty in our polity and see government funds and property as sacred trusts in the care of the president for which he is personally accountable is a serious cause for concern. Given that the Policy Document has even admitted that despite the creation of several anti-corruption agencies by previous Nigerian governments (interestingly when the candidate was VP), corruption still thrives is a clear indication that good policies alone are not sufficient; personal drive, follow-through and good example of the leadership is even more important.

That this critical element is insufficiently appreciated in the Policy Document has put a big hole in the personal resolve of the author to squarely face this serious aspect of our national malice if ever elected into office.

On the whole, therefore, the document creates more questions than provides answers to Nigeria’s political, economic, social, environmental and general developmental problems.

In spite of these shortcomings, however, the Policy Document is beautiful to behold for the eyes, being skillfully adorned with sparkling colors, designs and graphics.
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Tribute To Late Vice President Alex Ekwueme, By Chukwudi Enekwechi JP

How time flies! It was only one year ago, precisely on 19th November, 2017 that Nigeria’s second republic vice president,  Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme departed us after a short illness. His death came to many Nigerians as a shocker considering that even in his eighties, he maintained his avid love for the small round object- lawn tennis. He was not only famous in politics, architecture, law and other professions in which he garnered several degrees and laurels, but he also stood out as a sports personality particularly in lawn tennis.
Dr. Alex Ekwueme while on his sojourn on earth distinguished himself in different fields of endeavour. Apart from a being a reputable architect with his numerous works adorning most parts of the country, his foray into politics was a glowing era in which he proved that indeed politics can be used to serve the interest of the generality of the people ‘’ the common good”. He was a true ‘’citizen’ ’by ancient Greek definition.  He was a conscientious politician and administrator that never got immersed in the avaricious acquisitions associated with some Nigerian politicians.
As a man of integrity, he emerged stainless from the probe of the military regime that set up an inquisition in their four years in office, after the overthrow of then National Party of Nigeria government in 1983. Despite his superintending several sensitive government ministries, departments and agencies, he never compromised his integrity, but rather ensured transparency in the management of public finances. It can be recalled that the tribunal set up by the military junta at the time, in acquitting him of all spurious claims made against him declared that he left office poorer than when he joined politics.
As a reputable scholar Dr. Alex Ekwueme had acquired several academic laurels in various fields ranging from architecture, law, philosophy, urban and regional planning, and sociology.  He also distinguished himself in the business world having ran a world class architectural firm known as Ekwueme Associates. Till today the professional imprints of late Dr. Alex Ekwueme as an architect are still noticeable all over the major cities of Nigeria and beyond. His firm was the first indigenous registered architectural firm in Nigeria and later he served as the first president of the professional body, Nigeria Institute of Architects, and Architects Registration Council of Nigeria. Till his death last year he remained a fellow of these distinguished professional bodies.
Dr, Alex Ekwueme also believed that education can be used to liberate the untapped potentials of any society, hence he invested his hard earned resources in the sector especially with the establishment of the Federal Polytechnic Oko, Anambra state. He was notable for having used his own resources to build the first structures in this citadel of learning, and continued to support the institution financially until its take-over by the Anambra state government and later the federal government. In fact through the famed Ekwueme Trust Fund, he was able to support students from all parts of Nigeria to further their education both in Nigeria and abroad.
Perhaps Dr. Alex Ekwueme will be remembered mostly for championing the struggle for the restoration of democracy in Nigeria. He was the leader of G34, a group of eminent Nigerians that confronted the military junta of late General Sani Abacha, and insisted that power must be returned to civilians in 1999. His courage and quest for the restoration of democracy led to the formation of the Peoples Democratic Party which he also became the pioneer national chairman and later pioneer chairman of its board of trustees.
He later contested for the presidential ticket of the party in 1999 but the lot fell on Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who later won the election on the same party platform. Ekwueme can be described as the founder of PDP and Nigeria’s modern democracy.
Dr. Alex Ekwueme’s legendary political accomplishments reached its pinnacle when he propounded the six zonal structure of governance in Nigeria at the 1994 constitutional conference. His erudite presentation, power of conviction and delivery convinced the delegates to accept his theory of six zonal structure of governance in Nigeria, and this has endured till this day. It can be said that with his theory he led the conversation for institutional reforms and restructuring of Nigeria.
In his Oko community in Anambra state, Dr. Alex Ekwueme also offered scholarships to many indigent students who today are accomplished professionals in various fields across the world. As a democrat he believed strongly in the power of dialogue, discussion and negotiation, hence he led several UN and Commonwealth delegations to some conflict areas of the world as well as played the role of leader of several international election monitoring group to evolving democracies. Notable among them were Zimbabwe, Liberia and Tanzania. For several years he served on the board of the board of the Forum of Federations, a democracy advocacy group sponsored by the Canadian government.
As we mark the one year of his departure to eternal glory, it is important that personages like Dr. Alex Ekwueme are recognised as the shining lights of the African continent. The values they left behind are worthy of emulation by the succeeding generations, and African governments must immortalise them beyond their immediate environment for they remain our worthy heroes and beacons of light, courage, valour and compassion.
Despite that Dr. Alex Ekwueme suffered some injustices in the hands of the military in Nigeria, his love for country never waned as he continued to advocate for love, equity and justice for all Nigerians. He made friends across the various ethnic and religious groups in the country and oftentimes proffered solutions to myriad of national problems.
Even in death, the global community continues to honour and recognise the former vice president for his numerous contributions to humanity. On October 19th 2018 precisely two days before his posthumous birthday, the prestigious University of Strathclyde, Scotland, United Kingdom named a room after him and launched a new scholarship scheme in his honour. A delegation of the Ekwueme family led by his widow, Dame Beatrice Ekwueme attended the events.
By Chukwudi Enekwechi JP
An Abuja based Journalist and Politician
Kwechis19@yahoo.com
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Transition Hours”: President Jonathan Writes Back, By Reuben Abati

“There was no bitterness in him after he left power. He did not look back. He did not look down. Instead he looked up and after looking up, he looked forward and went on pressing ahead. That forward movement has resulted in this work of statecraft and statesmanship of which I am privileged to write the foreword. Though there are many themes in this book, My Transition Hours, the theme that most excites me is the one on youth and the next generation” – John Dramani Mahama, President, Republic of Ghana, 2012 -2017.   

Those are some of the words with which former Ghanaian President John Mahama introduces the long-awaited and much-anticipated book by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. President Mahama is President Jonathan’s close friend. In a way they both share a similar destiny. Their bosses died and they both went on to become President. They also both won election as President and later lost their re-election bids. But they are perhaps more united by the shared affinities between Nigeria and Ghana. President Mahama is eminently well-qualified to write the even-handed, thoughtful foreword to President Jonathan’s first book, out of office.

Jonathan is Nigeria’s first President from the South South, first Ph.D holder in Nigeria to become President, first Nigerian President to rise through the ranks from the position of Deputy Governor to Acting Governor, Governor, first Gubernatorial candidate nominee to become Vice President, Acting President and eventually President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. No other Nigerian, dead or alive, has gone through such trajectory, or rite of passage. President Jonathan was Acting President 2010-2011, following the death of his principal, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, in circumstances that threw the country into a quandary and raised issues about Nigeria’s geo-politics and the matters of ethnicity and geography, indeed more importantly the right of minorities to also “rule” Nigeria, and if and when they are allowed to do so, whether or not they will be treated fairly.

I have enjoyed the privilege of reading President Jonathan’s first memoir out of office, which will be publicly presented today in the nation’s capital, Abuja, and I can report that it is a book about how Nigeria and vested interests treated him badly. He is the villain in the book: badly treated by entrenched interest groups, treacherous party members, a propaganda and hate-driven opposition and a badly constructed political ecosystem. The book is titled “My Transition Hours.”

In 2011, after much ethnic uproar and conscientious objection by progressive forces, Jonathan won Nigeria’s Presidential elections and remained Nigeria’s President till 2015.  He lost the 2015 Presidential election, according to the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but despite his prompt concession to General Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, Jonathan has suffered badly under his successor’s watch. He has been maligned, persecuted, harassed, intimidated, humiliated and insulted. His wife has been abused, maligned, criminally tagged and many of his associates have been labelled crooks and thieves. In 2015, in the lead up to the general elections. Jonathan announced that his “ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian.” He signed a document to respect the outcome of the process. He kept his word. His successors have rewarded him with odium and abuse. They have done their best to discredit and destroy him.

In this book, “My Transition Hours”, President Jonathan fights back. His public persona is that he is a meek, gentle personality who lacks the guts to fight. Indeed, after the 2015 elections, everyone deserted him. The Aso Rock Villa became ghost town. Nobody picked our calls again. Giants in the corporate sector who used to beg for access to President Jonathan were reportedly now on the Buhari side. Only the Attorney General of the Federation, the security chiefs and a few others came around. The President was left with just his main body, that is – his innermost circle of aides.

We felt hurt by the fact that many of the persons who benefitted from President Jonathan had jumped ship and were now sucking up to the other side. We saw some of the people who called President Jonathan their brother and friend, on the Buhari side less than 24 hours after the election was decided. They were laughing and grinning!  It was a painful moment for us. That was the real “Transition Hours” and that was when President Jonathan started threatening that he will write a book on his “Transition Hours”. He chose the title of the book at that very point. He wanted to tell his own story. I am intrigued that he has refused to change the title, but I recall how tough those transition moments were for us. On our return trip to Otuoke, we were treated shabbily by the newcomers. We had to struggle to be recognized.  We were treated like regular passengers! The people who took over from President Jonathan were determined to humiliate him. It got much worse later.

In this book, President Jonathan tries to fight back and set the records straight. I am glad he is doing this. I once went to him and asked that we should put a team together to protect his legacy. His response was that “God will fight for us, after God it is government, these people will crush us because they don’t know God, but let us rely on God.” Some people, who thought we should help our boss, ignored this advice tried to put a team together. They ended up in underground cells, and got labelled as thieves! Others fled into exile. It is good to see President Jonathan himself, more than three years later, speaking up. The man that comes through in these pages is the real Jonathan. and that is perhaps the big point: a Jonathan that is confident, strong, clear-headed and assertive, who does not take nonsense and who is very clear in his mind about leadership options. If he had won a second term, Nigerians would have seen a different Jonathan. He worked hard to hold the country together and to prevent mischief from over-running the country. He makes his case in this book as he addresses some of the strong issues that came up during his tenure.

It is not standard practice for a President to justify himself and his tenure. It is also not standard practice for a President to be discredited by his successor. President Jonathan has every reason to write this book.  He has chosen the right moment to go public: his successor’s most vulnerable moment. What he does majorly is to tell Nigerians that most of the things said about him were fake news. He insists that he did not abuse power as Nigeria’s President. He argues that every negative thing that has been said about him is an attempt to give him a bad name in order to hang him.  He argues that “real strength is power under control”. He adds: “This book is not my biography, as that will come later. This book reveals how I used power as shield in the service to our nation and God.” Jonathan’s argument is that power should never be abused.

The book is defensive and reactive on the vexed issues of fuel subsidy, Boko Haram, “stealing is not corruption,” governance and so on.  President Jonathan takes on the major criticisms of his administration. He doesn’t quite provide hard facts but he talks back. The key issues that the book addresses are noteworthy. This is a book that every Nigerian should pay attention to. In this book, a former President of Nigeria is saying that he was badly treated and he became a villain, because he came from a minority part of the country. He states that “people (are) working against our interest”. In this book, a former President of the country tells us that the idea of “one Nigeria” does not exist because we are a divided country. My boss insists: that “there is no patriotism in Nigerian politics”.

He refuses to pull punches. Nobody is spared. In Chapter 3 titled “Politics and Patriotism: The Fuel Subsidy Dilemma”, he argues that “politics in Nigeria and some other African nations is conducted like primitive war”. His major reference is the battle over fuel subsidy in 2012.  He argues that the protests over the fuel subsidy proposals were “politically motivated.” Donald Duke should read this chapter. There are some references to him here. Chapter Four is titled “The Chibok School Girls Affair.” The Governor of Borno state needs to read this chapter. He is accused of seizing an “opportunity to politicize an unfortunate incident”.  The APC also allegedly indulged in “psychological programming”, making President Jonathan look like a “villain”.  President Jonathan rejects the labels. He pointedly accuses the Barack Obama administration in the United States of working against his administration and he provides evidence to back his claims. He accuses President Obama thus: “For some strange reason, the Obama administration had tactically penciled Nigeria and my administration down for failure”.

Hadiza Bala Usman, now in charge of Nigerian Ports Authority, should also read Chapter Four of this book.  President Jonathan is convinced that the Chibok girls matter is an act of grand conspiracy, because whereas he took every necessary step, the Governor of Borno State had a different agenda. In Chapter Five, he deals with the question of stealing and corruption. He provides an explanation on that particular matter. The irony is that many of the initiatives now being adopted by the Buhari administration– Treasury Single Account, IPPIS and the BVN were all Jonathan’s initiatives. Jonathan discloses that his government did better on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. Chapter Six is focused on “Power Struggle in Nigeria”. Here, Pr5esidnet Jonathan talks about he “strayed into power” and the attack of he majorities on the minorities. In Chapter 7, he offers an account of his “Presidential election campaign”.

He goes further to describe what happened during the 2015 presidential election and how he personally took the decision to save Nigeria from a descent into imminent chaos. Too many persons have tried to write the story of that significant moment in Nigerian history. I am glad that President Jonathan has now given his own account to correct the many lies that may have been told. He records the responses from the international community.  It is a rich and detailed account. In this book, ,President Jonathan puts on the table his credentials as an internationals statesman and the goodwill he enjoyed among his peers before and after the election of 2015.

To be fair to him, making Nigeria look good in the international community was one of his major achievements. But President Barack Obama of the United States did not help him, and he refers to this more than once in this book. In Chapter Ten, President Jonathan talks about what he and his team did with the 2014 National Political Conference and his personal commitment to the peace and stability of Nigeria. Needless to remind us that the Buhari administration upon assuming office threw away the report of that conference. In Chapters 11 to 13, President Jonathan takes on other interesting subjects including the youth bulge, private sector reform and the African Renaissance.

This must be a book close to his heart. He uses it to settle scores and to explain the main issues of his era as President. I consider this a must read for all Nigerians and students of the Nigerian process. President Jonathan offers a personal portrait of his own politics, career and achievements. I may have read the book through the prism of a man who was his staff and who was involved, but I can tell that this is a honest and forthright reportage of what transpired. President Jonathan gave to Nigeria his very best. He was conscious of his humble beginnings and he wanted to make a statement. He was a poor man’s son who made it to the highest level in Nigeria. He was an embodiment of the Nigerian dream.

But Nigerian politics is vicious and dirty. You will find a sense of that in this book. He projects himself as a “victim”, but he probably does not tell the full story, which is okay.  It means he can tell more stories. There are persons who will read this book and throw tantrums, but may such persons, like Nasir el-Rufai and the Governor of Borno state and all the deceitful associates who fooled the President during the 2015 elections, for reasons of religion and ethnicity, be reminded that this is all told a very kind book. President Jonathan playing the statesman has refused to tell it all. He has held back much more than he has given away. Some of us who were part of his “Main Body” may have now been unwittingly empowered to tell more stories.

I know that my boss is excited by this book. He wants to be remembered for the right reasons and not for the fake news that his opponents reported about his Presidency. President Goodluck Jonathan was President at a unique moment in Nigerian history. His emergence and experience both mark a special moment in Nigerian history. I urge you to read this book, his first one, on what he encountered as Nigeria’s President, before, during and after. Despite the travails of his post-office experience, Goodluck Jonathan, his legacy and value, will survive beyond his “transition hours”.   He will,  beyond everything else, find a good place in Nigerian history.

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The Nigerian Youth: Bridging The Gap Between Dilemma And Opportunity

A man must first learn to live upon the less he could earn. If a man has not acquired more than a bare existence in the years, it is because he has either failed to learn laws that govern the building of wealth, or he does not observe the laws very well. The thoughts of a young mind; are bright lights that shine forth like the meteors that oft make brilliant the sky, but the wisdom of age is like the fixed stars that shine so unchanged that the sailor may depend upon them to steer his cause.
A lot of people have manipulated the truth to serve their needs, murdering those whose discoveries did not even serve their selfish ambitions. The typical ways of the Nigerian leaders that the youths adore. So funny, we mystify our leaders and see them as super humans. The clique is full of tired and hired brains enjoying the recycling world at our request and honour.
I have come to realize in life that it is not blood that defines us; it is actually our faith. The water that we sail on is not as thick as the blood that flows in our vein. Some of us live on the notes of worthiness and others on the dreams that would never come to past. Many things happen under the sun, but so sad we settle for second best and live the life of a mediocre  all because we refuse to search within us and come up with what is buried. So, what do we see? People pretend they do not need much money when they do; some say that they can manage any job but they crave for better; some say the government is doing good and yet rants about the failure to tap from the dividends of democracy. From one stage to another, the mediocrity in us makes us mendicants. Are we going to conclude that the Almighty has wasted resources in fashioning us? No! We have just simply betrayed our own existence, purpose and potentials. The Youths keep failing the Youths.
True, there are times when things happen and we have no control over them, but those are the times when we should stand up and clinch to our hopes. Blaming others however, make us bitter, confused and angry. It weakens us. While many people are pleasure junkies and avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, successful people understand the value and benefits of working through the tough stuff that most would avoid. Many a times, we are always one decision away from turning our life around. I would rather help you in my own way than give advices on how to go around getting help. I think by now, the Nigerian youths would have learnt that they are no longer the greatest asset that Nigeria has.
Not only that they deceive us with the legitimacy that comes with the phrase, future leaders but with the potential fact that the youths are the greatest investment for the countrys development. These words are very eloquent in the mouth of our leaders but hardly seen in their governance and policy implementations. Your guess is good as mine, we are not relevant to them save for election periods.
It is no news that Nigerian youths are labelled lazy, inexperienced and impatient but their spontaneity, adventure and daring disposition can, and is being put to productive use. The only productive use that our leaders have deemed fit is to ensure we help them get to power at all cost. The youth sector has become a reserve army of the unemployed used by irresponsible politicians and religious bigots to perpetuate violence at all levels of intellectualism and radicalism. We are good for ‘use and dump’ purposes. The rhetoric is beyond obvious that the change mantra that brought this particular government into power was not only occasioned by the Nigerian youths but was fought for by the youths. In short, we dictated the tune that we never danced to.
After the exchange of power, we were confronted with the poser that the youths are not ready to learn nor matured enough to handle affairs.
Yes, some Nigerian youths have lost confidence in the elders and institutions of government. I begin to wonder if the narrative would not spread to the majority of the youths in the country. There are huge contradictions and gaps between the youths and the leaders. The country cannot continue in the way it is presently being run. As at now, the youths do not have a viable political party or movement that is committed to change. What we have are bulk of supposed vanguard revolutionary organizations that lack the capacity to wrestle power from the leaders. There are no well-organized democratic and popular organizations to support a change process.
Although, there are youths committed to, and are driving change, the organizational support required for sustainability and great impact is lacking. The challenge is to build the organizations with dynamic and visionary leadership as well as a committed followership that is dedicated to change. This is what the leaders would never want us to achieve as youths. It is time the youths break away from the barbaric and demeaning conventions of the Nigerian political tune. If proper leadership entails the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose, and the character which inspires confidence, where are the Nigerian youths with this quality?
The mystery of our nation being blessed by nature and wrecked by the very hands that should nurture it like a rare flower is daunting. I have always wondered the reason for the poorness in our leadership when we have young men and women who can stand tall among the worlds best in politics. When and how did we miss it? Can we regain our glory? When? In this generation? There was a time in our history when the youths were the movers and stakeholders of Nigerian leadership as a whole. So resting our mindset to go back to the basics has to do with seeing the reason to do so.
If achieved, we then deploy the imagination to paint a mental picture of where we are heading to as youths. We have no choice than to reason with one another. We must out of relative obscurity discover our true mission and fulfill it. We cannot afford to betray our own existence again.
(WHYTE HABEEB IBIDAPO is a Lawyer, United Nations Award winner, Africa International Arbitration Award winner and Coca cola/ The Nation Campuslife Award Winner and Author  Burden of Irrelevancy)
@whytehabeeb
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2019: Why Violence Against Women Must Stop, By Idris Funtua

The value of political equality is central to normative theories of democracy, it is argued that women are equal citizens and therefore should share equally with men in public decision-making .Otherwise, and there is a democratic deficit. By contrast, since the returned of democracy in Nigeria, women are at the fore-front in growing and developing our electoral process, despite  their narrow inclusion but still the percentage that voted in the previous elections  was an indication that, women deserve to be included in the democratic governance. But why violence against them in election is always increasing from one part of the country to another?

In Nigeria, there is a lot of identity base violence against women running daily offline and also on our social media platforms. The recent primaries all the country, female aspirants faced challenges from their male counterparts. For example,   a female aspirant posted on the social media handle that she failed to get ticket from her party because of her denial to sleep with some of the party chieftains. Another was also saying that they forced her to step down for a male candidate just because of her gender.

This violence often spikes around elections because it is used as a tool for political intimidation, but little is known about how much of and in what ways this violence is directed at women. In 2011 general elections, for example, there were reports that female National Youth Service Corps volunteers experienced sexual harassment, threat and hate speech at polling units across the country. In a nutshell, Women are targeted for violence during elections specifically because they are women and to stop them from exercising their democratic or civic rights.

 On Sept. 1 in Abuja, an NGO-National Democratic Institute designed and launched campaign titled : “Stop Violence Against Women in Election” with the effort of documenting and reporting the incident of violence against women in election to the relevant stake-holders such as election official, security agencies, women group, religious bodies and other organizations that are interested in elections. In spite of  this effort, women are still confronting violence on daily basis. Punch, Vanguard and Thisday 24thSeptember reported 60 cases of violence against women recorded in just concluded Osun Gubernatorial elections.

Violence against women takes different forms and dimension. The violence can be seen as physical, psychological, sexual, threat, cultural and economic violence.  For the lack of space, let me cite some examples of violence against women in election. Denying the female aspirant ticket because she refuses sexual advancement from the political parties chieftains, denying them access to financial support, assault, hate languages, and cultural barriers attached to the issue especially in the Northern Nigeria. Moreover, women received threat from opponents, members of their own party and even from their own family members. These forms of violence have become apron-string to wide or inclusive participation of women in our democratic process. The numbers of aspirants released from INEC indicated gender gap or disparity if one compares to other democratic countries of the world

violence against women in elections is a threat to the integrity of the electoral process – it can affect women’s participation as voters, candidates, election officials, activists, and political party leaders, and it undermines the free, fair, and inclusive democratic process. With this, it is has become imperative for the stake-holder to develop new strategies aim at promoting peaceful and violence-free elections, which necessitates full gender inclusivity at every step of the electoral process. Also, women should be encourage to report issue of violence against them to the appropriate authorities.

Idris Mohammed Funtua is a Program Officer with Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement wrote from Abuja. 07063424263

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Abubakar Sani Bello: When a Governor Knows What, When, Where And How, By Abdullberqy Ebbo

It is good, perhaps almost even imperative, to make occasional clarifications about the mind of an administration, especially when such (an administration) actually, not titularly, has a mind of its own and values the welfare and concerns of the led.

This is if people’s opinions count for much regarding assessments upon the performance and achievement of the people’s political leaders.

“As a leader your first and most important consideration is the sensitivity of the needs of your people.” ~ Governor Abubakar Sani Bello

Queries are often being heard that why should any government engage in constructing boreholes, bridges, drainages and doing small projects that can be handled by the local governments.

The simple answer remains that service must always be tendered, irrespective of the body or organisation carrying out such and when people are in need, what matters is the speed with which yearnings are being met.

Factually, most of what were tabled before the Governor as requests had been absent for quite a while and people had suffered without helps coming their way.

It must therefore be seen as a blessing that such requests which had sentenced communities and their people to untold hardship to ages of very needless suffering must be met with despatch and a very fatherly force.

This was the spirit behind the projects. It is often called ‘service according to needs’. However big and mighty a project is, it will make sense only if the people consider it needed and valuable.

You can not construct a N5B bridge when the people lack basic amenities. Leadership to Governor Abu Sani Bello is not a show business, it is to him doing that which is right and reflective.

In another way, you don’t build new primary school structures for a community where roads are the priority. If people’s demands bear no links to projects approved and executed, no government can expect to be appreciated. This is just the fact.

I embarked on a visit to Ministries, Departments and Agencies to update myself on the achievements of the Government, I was shocked to realize that more than half of the Governor’s achievement are yet to become public knowledge.

If you’re a keen follower of the happenings in the state, we are about to reveal to the world, some of the most amazing things the Governor has done in the rural areas.

#LoloIsWorking.

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Why Vice President Osinbajo’s Approval Of North East Emergency Fund Is Legal, Constitutional, By Akinloye James

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is an integrity and dignity personified vice president that has constantly been talking about the grand and massive corruption that occurred in the previous administration before the emergence of the Buhari Government.

His clamour for exposing these corrupt entities in the previous administration is topnotch hence, the malicious attempt to tarnish his image and the series of attacks against his person and office; a plot I learnt was concocted by the Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party and his cohorts.

Contrary to the false accusations made by Femi fani-kayode on his Facebook page alleging that the Vice President was indicted by the House of Representatives for the misappropriation of 5.8bn NEMA fund, The House of Representatives said it did not indict the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in its probe report on the National Emergency Management Agency as reported in some quarters of media.

Chairman House Committee on NEMA and Disaster Preparedness Representatives, Isah J.C made the clarification while raising a matter of privilege on Tuesday at plenary.

Recall that Femi fani-kayode as described by Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu is a nagging community irritant that has an extensive career in public nuisance.

That proposition emerged from a consensus acceptance that Femi fani-kayode displays the capricious behavioural pattern of a voracious substance abuser because his convulsive agitations rise and fall on the crests of depression and exhilaration.

Although,the HOR earlier stated in their report alleging that a sum of N5,865,671,939.26 was approved and released in June 2017 via a Memo raised from the Office of the Acting President, directing the Honourable Minister of Finance and the Accountant General of the Federation to so act.

The House Committee also concluded that the payment made was in contravention of approval of the National Assembly.

This conclusion is both false and misleading.

It is important to understand the context of the transaction. This was at a time when internally displaced persons and their host communities faced very severe food shortages throughout the North East, as a result of successive poor harvests and abandoned farmlands, minimal cross-border cash crop trade and lost economic opportunities.

There was an immediate need to distribute grains, including rice, maize, soya beans and sorghum, to Internally Displaced Persons through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The only way to obtain the quantity of grains required was to resort to the National Food Security Progamme (NFSP) earlier established by the Federal Government as a means of shoring up its strategic grain reserves.

It was in consequence of the Federal Government decision to urgently purchase the stored grains for distribution to Internally Displaced Persons that the CBN made the proposal for approval of 30,905.08 Metric Tonnes at N5,229,685,333.26. Of that amount, the then Acting President eventually approved N5,036,644,933.26, after excluding bagging costs.

This was pursuant to the recommendation that bagging, transportation and other logistics were best handled by NEMA.

NEMA also originated a request to the Acting President, dated May 25, 2017, requesting the sum of N829,026,456.00 for general logistics, branding & packaging, tracking, security, personnel, media & publicity and contingency costs of taking the grains from their respective locations in Kano, Kaduna, Funtua, Ibadan and Gombe to Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba and Jigawa States.

These presidential approvals were well within the clear constitutional authority of the Acting President, who needed to take emergency steps to forestall acute food shortages in the affected States and there was nothing illegal or unconstitutional about them.

The approvals were duly communicated by the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor of Central Bank, Director General of NEMA and the Minister of Finance for implementation.

On account of the emergency nature of the procurement, the House Committee’s assumption that the ordinary rules of procurement would apply was wrong.

Section 43 of the Public Procurement Act makes provision for emergency procurement, in which case the procuring entity is allowed to engage in direct contracting for goods and file a report thereafter with the Bureau of Public Procurement.

It is crystal clear that there is no violation in approval of N5.8B emergency food Intervention Fund for North-East and one could easily deduce that Femi Fani-kayode’s allegations is devoid of authenticity bearing in mind that he’s bounded by obsessive rabidity.

Akinloye James is from the Initiative to Save Democracy Group

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