Ahmed Rufai Abubakar: When Competence Speaks Volumes, By Ambrose Omorodion

Ahmed Rufai Abubakar looked crisp, calm and reassuring all through last week after resuming for work as the new Director General of the

National Intelligence Agency (NIA). His visage, carriage and words of assurances to officers and men of the Agency brought some calm and a new sense of direction to an Agency that has been traumatized from the consequence of undue media attention which the agency is not used to. The support and solidarity Rufai is receiving from the entire workforce belies all the mediocre attempts to de-market him before Nigerians on a job for which he is eminently

qualified. Simply, the will of traducers to expropriate him on the sensitive appointment he bagged to serve Nigeria, came to naught.

The story of Ahmed Rufai Abubakar and all attempts to pull him down is a good study on why Nigerians must always shudder before accepting

every issue raised in the media while also looking for the real motive behind specific reports. This is  necessary these days with the negative use

of social media as a tool for churning out gibberish and  false propaganda.

The new boss of NIA, given his pleasant persona and competence has every reason to romp into office in a proud gait and with a mindset to

make the difference on his duty post. It was a thing of regret that opponents who had eyes on his seat needlessly raised the dusts, calling him names. They had questioned his nationality, competence and the motive behind his appointment, all in an attempt to turn back the hands of the clock. Yet, open and available

records have shown that every single issue raised by these opponents is fabricated to mislead the public and distract from purposefulness.

At this juncture, it is apposite for Nigerians to be abreast of how the NIA works and the mechanisms embedded in the structure to sort out

Unqualified and undesirable persons from the Agency.

The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) created on June 5, 1986 is a national agency saddled with the task of overseeing foreign intelligence and counterintelligence operations. NIA owes its

existence to Decree 19 by the military government of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida in 1986, proscribing the notorious National

Security Organisation (NSO).

Being a sensitive Agency, NIA has a very strict and robust  processes for background checks and its impossible for

unqualified or undesirable, persons to survive in the system. By implication, no foreign national can sneak into the Agency. It is also against the Agency’s rules for its officers to marry foreigners.

The Man Ahmed Rufai Abubakar

The NIA DG was born to a Nigerian family in Kofar Durbi area of Katsina into a

respected family of Quranic scholars. As was the tradition in Northern

Nigeria and indeed, West Africa, Quranic scholarship took his uncle to

Republic of Chad and he took young Abubakar with him where he was partly brought up. Keeping to the tenets of the closely knitted family, Abubakar later married his cousin, the daughter of his uncle – Alhaji Ali KD.

On his return to Nigeria, Abubakar attended Arabic Teacher’s College, Katsina where he obtained his Grade II Certificate. He later went to

Bayero University Kano where he obtained a B.A degree in French Language and Literature, and an M.A degree in Francophone Maghrebian

Literature. He worked as a Lecturer at Bayero University before taking up appointment with Katsina State Government. Later he transferred his

services to NIA in the 90s.

At different times, Abubakar served at the Nigerian Embassy Rabat, Morocco, African Union Peace Mission in Darfur, Sudan and later joined United Nations as Director in Peace Support Operations, Mediation

Process, Preventive Diplomacy and Good Governance office. He also worked as Senior Advisor with the Multinational Joint Task Force

(MNJTF), with headquarters in Ndjamena, Chad before his appointment as Senior Special Assistant to the President. He has always been fluent in English, French and became a versatile intelligence officer whose service is ever required in Nigeria’s Intelligence community.

He had also acquired extensive experience working with the United Nations in peace support operations, mediation process, preventive diplomacy and good offices, while all along helping to promote good

governance and respect for the rule of law and human rights.

Most Qualified To Serve As DG NIA

No one could have been more qualified for the top NIA job than Abubakar, who until his appointment was the President’s Senior Special Assistant on foreign Relations, Security and Intelligence analyst as well as Arabic and

French interpreter.

Abubakar’s academic records are open for verification. He holds a B.A degree in French Language and Literature, and an M.A degree in Francophone Maghrebian Literature, both from Bayero University, Kano

Abubakar married from Katsina State contrary to speculations that he married a foreigner. He has also never been on record to have failed any examination throughout  his career. There is no way the NIA in its finest tradition, would allow officers who failed exams to work for the President of Nigeria, even after retirement. It is common knowledge  at the highest level of government that the NIA puts its best foot forward at every turn. That Ahmed Rufai Abubakar occupied a sensitive post in the president’s office is a clear indication that he is one of the best product of the NIA and the Agency is proud of him.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Honourable Abike Dabiri had helped to douse the issue of ethnicity woven round the appointment of Abubakar, stating at an open function, “If it is this Rufai that I Know and has worked with, honestly, he is the best person for the job and I really don’t care where he comes from”

In the same vein, Mallam Garba Shehu described him as “A perfect fit who is most qualified for the job. He has occupied various significant schedules in the agency in the course of which he received several awards. He left voluntarily to work for the United Nations.

Kudos goes to President Muhammadu Buhari for sticking to merit in appointing Abubakar to head the NIA, which deserves a new orientation after undergoing a season of embarrassing scandal and image fuss. In

short, competence will make the difference for the new DG who faced a tempest to become an overcomer.

* Ambrose Omorodion a public Affairs analysts writes from Benin

Obasanjo: Between A Deliberate Plot For Confusion And Irrelevance, By Thompson Udenwa

Chief (Dr.) Matthew Aremu Okikiola Obasanjo, popularly known as OBJ, invented himself and it is quite arguable that in the narrative of post-independent Nigeria, he has become the singular, most intriguingly complex, topical and consistently visible political figure in the evolution of modern Nigeria.

It is therefore little wonder that with the above description, of the Owu/Ijebu High chief, he has undoubtedly become the major catalyst and virus that jointly contaminates and accelerate the processes in the gradual metamorphosis of Nigeria into the state of systemic dysfunctionality and operational difficulties which we have grappled with as a nation for over four decades now.

The recent thirteen page epistle which Chief Obasanjo directed to President Buhari smacks of hypocrisy, bad Faith and a clear manifestation of animosity against an administration that inherited so much problems from failed past leaderships which Obasanjo ruled ten years . In fact most of the things which Obasanjo accused President Buhari’s administration of being guilty of, are the very things which were planted, sprouted and flourished with unchecked supervision in his regime as the bedrock of this democratic dispensation.

In retrospect, Obasanjo’s role in the resolution or otherwise of the Nigerian civil war that nearly fractured the fledgling post-independent Nigeria, has been well documented, albeit largely by himself in a couple of self authored war novels, in which he mostly treated his persona with excessive kindness only permitted by authorial license and portrayed his military leadership and command in a heroic light that seemingly suggests his central influence in bringing that sad chapter of our national history to a shuddering end.

In the years that followed the civil war, Chief Obasanjo has not only ruled the country both in military uniform and civilian attire for a combined period of 10 years, he has quite literally and figuratively been the major defining force from the South of Nigeria, negotiating, dictating, determining and destroying the dynamics of institutions and personalities, particularly in the economic and political spheres.

It is quite impossible to imagine and discuss Nigeria from 1999 till date without Obasanjo looming large both like a benevolent and malevolent shape shifting ogre in the horizon. The tragic-comic trajectory of his chequered political evolution dates back to the days when he was sprung out of prison, looking ragged, emaciated and withering, with a pantomime, handle bar moustache, dusted and dressed up in fine clothes and foisted on Nigeria as President in a compromise arrangement that attempted to address personal and ethnic distortions.

Obasanjo’s first four years as elected President provided him a great opportunity to consolidate and fully embrace the processes of deepening our democracy, which he midwifed in 1979 but it was obvious that his military antecedents had been forever engrained in him. To his credit, he embarked on some revolutionary initiatives that opened up the Nigerian social and economic space but his political credentials were unimpressive and his efforts to rejig the components of our then nascent democracy were a colossal failure, particularly in his second tenure, which was so turbulent as he battled and was unceremoniously embroiled in a dirty power tussle with his vice president that soiled our aspirations for democratic recognition and excellence.

He was bitten by that power drunkenness bug, which has afflicted and become synonymous with African leaders and like a bull in a China shop, Obasanjo ran riot over all institutions and became typically and uncontrollably brutal, dictatorial and autocratic when his anti-democratic third term agenda went up in smoke.

Obasanjo’s tenure witnessed the beginning of state supported political intolerance and the assassination and elimination of political opponents and friends who had become suspect for advising him or standing in the way of his third term and other political ambitions and decisions. Impunity was elevated to the dizzying heights of statecraft, as Senate Presidents, Speakers of House of Representatives and chairmen of his political party were removed by him at will for failing to either accelerate the passage of one of his autocratic legislations, going against him by vetoing a legislation he refused to give presidential accent or standing resolutely against his third term ambition. Our electoral process suffered the kind of bastardization never witnessed before and which was to become its subsequent norm and method in future polls as elections were rigged massively and imposition of candidates reigned supreme as his handpicked puppets were installed across the length and breadth of the country.

Ironically, Obasanjo preached and was a vocal advocate against ethnicity and ethnic politics, but his quest to ensure that he became the singular, most powerful political figure in his Yoruba ethnic nation led him to deliberately and clinically decimate all opposition politics in the South West, including the irreplaceable Cicero of Isa Oke, the mercurial Bola Ige and the Yoruba would have by now become a toothless dog in national politics if not for the strategically brilliant Bola Tinubu of Lagos state (the Jagaban), who stubbornly stood his ground and as such, suffered immensely.

Another major hall mark of Obasanjo’s junta-like tenure was the rife Human Rights abuses and violations, and the deployment of armed and fatal suppression which was unleashed on decidedly recalcitrant minority groups, aptly captured by the genocidal mass massacres, total annihilation and decimation of the people and communities of Zaki Biam in Benue state and Odi in Niger Delta, where people were killed in their hundreds and houses razed down and deroofed as the inhabitants fled into the surrounding thick and dangerous forests for refuge, all in his tenure.

Realizing that Nigerians had firmly resisted his chances for a possible third term, Obasanjo, possible as an act of malice and revenge on a country that rejected his continuity, decided to wield his absolute powers in the succession race to replace him by hand picking an ailing yet administratively brilliant Umaru Yar’adua, from Katsina state, who was the nephew of his then military second-in-command and also a prominent member of camp of Atiku Abubakar, his Vice President, and made him the sole presidential candidate, thus pulling the rug from under Atiku’s feet. He also appointed the quiet and unassuming Goodluck Jonathan as his deputy.

But Yar’adua’s illness soon overtook him and Obasanjo, still intoxicated by the unchallenged democratic powers he had continued to exhibit and perhaps rattled by the considerable successes which Yar’Adua had achieved in a very short time and most remarkably with the Niger Delta militants, suddenly started calling for his removal even when the President was in hospital. This is the same person he installed as President only a couple of years ago.

Vice President Goodluck Jonathan became the next pawn Obasanjo’s political end game and having vociferously supported the doctrine of necessity which conferred substantive presidential powers on the vice president, proceeded in 2010 to posture like a statesman by becoming one of the major supporters of Goodluck Jonathan to become the president, immediately becoming his ally and touting himself as the benevolent leader who ensured that the minorities were also given the opportunity to lead the country.

As usual that romance was short-lived as Obasanjo, true to type, fell apart with his protégé, when it appeared that Jonathan had not only refused to do his bidding, but seemingly sidelined him, opting instead to give prominence to E.K Clark. Obasanjo’s reaction was to ridicule Jonathan at every opportunity and his public show of tearing his PDP Card in a well orchestrated ploy, all helped the reformed opposition to take over.

The emergence of President Buhari by the popular will of the people was well celebrated and while it is obvious that Obasanjo arguably played a nominal but self seeking role in the ensuring Buhari’s election, he began visiting Buhari in Aso rock ostensibly to try and impose himself on the new president but it seems Buhari too has given him the cold shoulder treatment, in political gambit reminiscent of his “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody” declaration on inauguration day.

Obasanjo in using his thirteen page letter as opportunity to praise former President Goodluck Jonathan whom he vilified mercilessly is sadly deceitful. By proceeding to use same as a backdrop to ask President Buhari not re contest is regrettable. Again, for him to turn around and dismiss the existing political structures and call for a new political movement, after only 3 years of the Buhari administration, not only reveals Obasanjo’s ambivalence but also indicates his frustration at being marginalized from the mainstream of political decision making processes.

Indeed if the truth be told, it is Obasanjo himself who just acquired a PHD from arguably his most enduring pet project, the Nigerian Open University, NOUN, that needs the rest as it appears he has lost touch with the reality of what Nigeria is today.

Dr Thompson Udenwa writes from Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s Visit To Nasarawa State And Its Significance, By Azige Machue

President Muhammadu Buhari, will on February 6, 2018, visit Nasarawa State to witness the flag off, supervision and commissioning of some projects initiated by the Governor Umaru Al-Makura led government in the state.
Across the globe, a President’s visit to any section of his entity is usually very significant for him and the host community. Although President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Al-Makura have met severally and at various levels, the President’s visit is particularly significant because he will interact with the people directly- an experience that will strengthen the bond between the President and the people of Nasarawa State and trigger greater commitment that will ultimately improve the fortunes of the state.
Since President Olusegun Obasanjo visited Nasarawa State in November 2002, no Nigerian President has visited the state to flag off, supervise or commission any project(s) initiated by either the state or federal government. But former Vice President Namadi Sambo was in the state on July 29, 2013 to commission a new Federal High Court complex and a newly constructed Ta’al Model School in Lafia.
Nasarawa State is reputed as Muhammadu Buhari’s “political laboratory.” The state is the only state in Nigeria that the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) under his leadership cruised to victory in the 2011 general elections. Even President Buhari’s home state (Katsina) could not surmount the challenge of the time and produce a CPC government but it was achieved in Nasarawa State under the leadership of Umaru Tanko Al-Makura.
As a private citizen, Muhammadu Buhari has visited Nasarawa State severally, especially after Umaru Tanko Al-Makura keyed into his philosophy and emerged victorious at the 2011 election. Buhari was in the state to attend the inaugural ceremony in 2011 where Al-Makura was sworn-in in Lafia the state capital as the first individual to oust an incumbent Governor in the state.
Before the 2015 general elections, he was also in the state to inspect some projects initiated by the Al-Makura-led government and to flag-off the construction of some roads. Thus, President Buhari is not coming to Nasarawa State as a visitor, he is coming home; but this time around, as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Al-Makura and the only CPC-led state contributed immensely in the merger with other political parties that led to the emergence of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC). Al-Makura under the platform of the defunct CPC sustained the legacy established by Muhammadu Buhari and led the party to form the alliance that successfully ousted an incumbent national government and won election to control 23 states in Nigeria.
President Buhari’s visit is expected to bring to national limelight, some of the legacy projects initiated by the Al-Makura-led government. The President will see for himself, the massive investments of the Nasarawa State government in the provision of health facilities to carter for the healthcare of a greater majority of the people; educational facilities and even for the disabled, markets for economic activities; road construction for easy movement of people and goods across the three Senatorial Districts of the state, among others.
The visit is expected to present President Muhammadu Buhari the opportunity to tell the people of Nasarawa State what his government is doing to improve their lives through the provision of basic infrastructures and other social amenities.
Equally significant too is that the visit will undoubtedly give the people of the state the opportunity to parley with the President and present him with some of the challenges confronting the state and get him to commit himself to address them. The President’s pronouncements and assurances can give confidence to the government as well as the people of Nasarawa State.
Governor Al-Makura has initiated the smart-city project at the Gurku-Kabusu area with a strategic plan to utilize a 13,000 hectres virgin land. This fresh land directly links Nasarawa State with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), bordering Maitama and Mpape and is only few meters away from the President’s official residence (Aso Villa). The support of the President can fast track this development.
Nasarawa State prides itself as the ‘Home of Solid Minerals’ – this, is a significant component of the diversification agenda of the Buhari administration. Therefore, the state stands to benefit from the President’s visit as he will be committed to making pronouncements that will ultimately increase investment in the sector and particularly in the state.
Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential visit promises to be significant and all well meaning citizens of Nasarawa State should be prepared to make the best of it.

Open Letter To Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, By Adejare Ibrahim

His Excellency,

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR), Fmr President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Dear sir,

Your Excellency, I have carefully read your open letter from the beginning to the end. If the letter is not fake, I can boldly say that it is one of the most objective and most sincere opinions expressed in recent time. Baba Obasanjo, being one of the highly revered persons in Nigeria, your letter is nothing but pure, naked and blatant truth. You have brilliantly expressed yourself in the most passionate manner befitting your status as a former president of this great nation, Nigeria. Before I go far, let me use this opportunity, on behalf of many Nigerians, to congratulate you on another garland of bagging a doctorate degree in theology at the age of 81. It is a well-deserved achievement. Congratulations, sir.

Sir, you wrote on an array of issues, which are in tandem and consonance with the wish and aspiration of every reasonable Nigerian. You clearly stated many woes beleaguering Nigeria as a nation. Also, you have clinically dissected our problems, put them in perspective and succinctly proffered feasible solutions. Though, there are some areas; which we may not totally accept; however, they can be taken as personal opinions of an elder statesman_ which I think you are entitled to. No one dare deny you of expressing your opinions on salient national issues. Nevertheless, critical issues of this nature ought to have been a tête-a-tête discourse with your dear brother, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari. After all, you have unfettered access to him more than all of us.

Baba Obasanjo, you pointed out three major areas which the Buhari-led government needs to urgently adjust. You mentioned: (1) Nepotism (2) Buck passing on the previous administration and (3) The President’s poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics. Sincerely, Chief Obasanjo, you were not totally wrong, but not 100% correct. The point you really got was Buhari’s poor understand of the dynamics of internal politics. An astute politician, in the mould of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, ought not to have been left in the lurch at the inception of this present administration. It was a grave mistake on the part of Mr President. Luckily, President Buhari has diligently retraced his steps. Asiwaju Tinubu is fully on board in this government. This is an obvious fact many of us can attest to.

Moreover, Baba, you laid great emphasis on the need for emergence of a movement to salvage and redeem our country. As you have rightly posited, this movement will be solely for good governance, social and economic wellbeing and progress of Nigeria. The movement shall be named COALITION FOR NIGERIA (CN); with its headquarters in Abuja. Honestly, this in line with the fulfilment of the aspiration of many young Nigerians. We earnestly yearn for a movement where an enabling environment will be created for all and sundry; irrespective of age or social status. I suggest it should be a movement that will have its political arm in form of a political party. Politics should be one of the cardinal activities of such a movement. The only reservation many Nigerians have about this movement is that who and who will be the drivers and actors. Our fear is further reinforced; based on antecedents of previous movements, that it may be another round trip; after so much resources, energy and time might have been committed and dissipated.

On the President’s health and need for him not to contest the next election. Chief Obasanjo, with due respect, your stance was quite wrong. The President’s health has speedily and significantly improved. He has fully convalesced and recuperated. Buhari is healthy. His health status is not questionable. Therefore, in line with the provision of our extant constitution, President Buhari is eminently qualified and fit to run for another term in office, come 2019. The decision and power of being voted for or rejected at the polls rest purely on the electorates. Nigerians know what is good or bad for them. They are wise. No one can spoon feed them.

Sir, you extensively discussed the poor state of our economy. This problem did not strike us overnight. It came as a results of the foibles and ineptitude of the past administrations. We failed to save for the rainy days. We squandered our abundant wealth on frivolities. No thanks to corruption and unbridled impunity in public offices. These mistakes cannot be corrected overnight. It requires strategic planning, great efforts and unweariness to right these wrongs. After all, Nigerians were so patient with you for 8 good years. This administration is just 2½ years old. It will be a crass injustice on our part to lose faith in Buhari in less than 3 years. As we gave you time to perform, so shall we give Buhari same and equal opportunity to perform.

Lastly, let me conclude this post by quoting you verbatim: our anger should not be like the anger of the cripple. We can collectively save ourselves from the position we find ourselves. It will not come through self-pity, fruitless complaint or protest, but through constructive and positive engagement and collective action for the good of our nation and ourselves and our children and their children. We need moral re-armament and engaging togetherness of people of like-mind and goodwill to come solidly together to lift Nigeria up. This is no time for trading blames or embarking on futile argument.

Sir, thank you for your kind attention. God bless Nigeria.

Yours sincerely,
Adejare Ibrahim.

2019: Looking Beyond APC And PDP, By Inibehe Effiong

I believe in the formation of a radical, spirited and peoples’ centered political movement in Nigeria, a movement that is designed with a specific mandate to redeem and salvage Nigeria. We urgently need a mass movement that will place Nigeria above other considerations.

Indeed, we need a movement that will break the chains of corruption, ethnicity, unemployment and bad governance in Nigeria. I am envisaging a revolutionary citizen movement that will vigorously confront the enemies of Nigeria. This movement must not be infested with the cancerous tumors of the ruling APC and the opposition PDP.

The movement should transform into a political party or adopt one of the existing political parties and sponsor a principled, vibrant, radical and egalitarian candidate to confront President Buhari and whoever the PDP presents in 2019. We need a movement that will have the progressive elements within the civil society, labour, professional bodies, student groups, artisans and working people. The movement should have a well articulated manifesto to salvage the country.

I believe that the recently formed National Intervention Movement (NIM) should be tested. Let the NIM be given an opportunity. Volunteers should be recruited immediately across all the 774 Local Government Areas and the Federal Capital Territory to move from house to house, street to street and spread the message and manifesto of the movement.

We should not discard the Red Card Movement simply because we dislike some of its pioneers. Angel will not come from heaven to sanitize Nigeria.

History has shown that there is no substantial disparity between the two leading political parties in Nigeria. Anybody can join either party any day. None of the parties is rooted in ideology. They are just vehicles for attaining personal electoral ambitions.

Look at President Buhari, he came in with so much hope and goodwill. I cried the day Buhari won the presidential election, it was tears of joy. I was of the view that a new dawn had finally arrived. The immediacy of change was in the offing.

Given how corrupt, incompetent and clueless the Jonathan regime was, we were ready to vote any other candidate but Jonathan. Those who are telling us that we made a mistake voting out Jonathan are deluded. There is no basis for regrets. We have not forgotten the perilous character of that administration.

The fact that Buhari has largely dissipated the goodwill that brought him to power does not mean that Jonathan was a better option. People should stop making irrational comparisons. If you are still enraged by the outcome of the 2015 presidential election, I wish you quicker recuperation.

The beauty of democracy lies in the ability of the electorates to choose who should lead them at a given time. For some of us, it is Nigeria first. We will never be intimidated by the blackmail of those who think that they love and know Buhari more than Aisha Buhari, his wife.

In 2019, ethnic, religious and political leanings must not take precedence over national interest. If you support Buhari simply because he is from your ethnic or religious group, you are a failure to your generation. If you support him just because of your affiliation with the APC, you are a disgrace to humanity. Let your support be premised on Buhari’s “achievements”.

Tell us the actual achievements of this government in terms of anti-corruption campaign, national integration, security, job creation, infrastructure and other developmental goals.

Something drastic needs to happen in our political landscape. I believe that we can have a Third Force. I believe that the destiny of Nigeria is not circumscribed to the PDP and the APC. I am confident that we can have a different platform. A movement is imperative at this point. Young people must wake up from slumber to spearhead this movement.

I am aware that this will not be easy. This is the same country that did not give Gani Fawehinmi a fair chance when he contested for the presidency. This is the same country that people vote for money. The same country populated by ethnic jingoists and religious bigots.

No matter the misgivings, we must continue to fight. The movement should be tested. Let everyone answer his father’s name. We should choose where we stand.

History beckons.

Email: inibehe.effiong@gmail.com


Nigeria And Challenges Of 2019: This Is Not A Game —— Bola Ahmed Tinubu

The mouths of babes speak truths that the hoary and the wise dare not utter. This may be an unusual way to begin an address on the political challenges that lie before us.

But I have good reason for this unique entrance.

Before I provide that reason, permit me to commend the Daily Trust for having the foresight to inaugurate this important event 15 years ago.

This dialogue has enriched our democratic discourse. As such, it has served us all well no matter one’s partisan stripe or political affiliations.

More profoundly, the Daily Trust has established itself as a pillar of journalism. It has become a well-respected, widely read newspaper, an objective platform for the exchange of views regarding the evolution of our country.

I thank the Daily Trust for the honour of addressing this important gathering at such a national moment, freighted with such consequence.

I must add a caveat at this point. I do not stand here in my partisan garb. The partisan moment will soon come and I will actively engage in it when it does.

But that moment is not now. Today, I speak to you as your compatriot, a man who seeks the best for his family, community and nation. I am not here to contend with anyone. I am here that we may better understand one another.

“From the mouths of babes…….”

I repeat this phrase because of a talk with some young children a few weeks ago.

One of the children raised his voice, saying the old people’s game will soon start. The statement puzzled me as I could not guess the sport he meant.

I was taken even more off guard when he answered my subsequent question by exclaiming: “politics.”

The young boy described how politics seemed but a game. He explained that people joined parties which were nothing more than teams.

Partisans dress in funny clothes with peculiar symbols on them, carry banners at big rallies in stadiums just like fans at a football match. And politicians always boasting that the contest will be tough but they will beat the other side just like opposing footballers do.

He concluded the only difference was victory in sports was measured by goals scored while in politics it was defined by votes gained.

Initially, I was amused by the boy’s observations. I tried to explain the differences between politics and games. Yet after the children left, I pondered his observations in earnest. It hit me that his comparison was more accurate than I dared admit.

Too many of us for too long have treated politics as a game open only to an elite, exclusive club of players. The nation and the people constituted the pitch upon which the game would be decided.

This incorrect mindset has misshaped our politics and injured the nation in ways mundane and profound.

Approaching nearly 60 years of independence, Nigeria remains a complex yet incomplete work of art, a project as much on the drawing board as it is our daily reality.

For too many, Nigeria itself is a game. They are not wedded to the idea and ideals of Nigeria as a diverse and democratic but unified nation.

They see the nation not as object of loyalty but as the most available platform to realize their personal aims. In their minds, Nigeria is lesser than their ever expanding ambitions. Because they view Nigeria as a game, their politics is but a game within a game.

Instead of being a joyous nation, we have become a cruel playground where the fears and concerns of the average person get exploited but their interests never get promoted.

While democratic politics inherently bear aspects of competition and contest, it must never be reduced to a mere game.

The objective of a game is served by the mere playing of it. Playing the game is an end in and of itself. However, this cannot be the case with politics and elections.

Winning the political contest can never be an end in itself.

The proper outcome of electoral victory is not for the victor to revel at his good fortune or his skill in electioneering. The inevitable sequel to an election is for the winner to assume the sobering burden of governance.

Elections are not the climax of an epic book. They are merely the close of the book’s opening chapter.

What comes afterwards – governance — is much more vital than politics, for governance determines how we shall live.

Whether we shall inhabit the lush fields of growth and prosperity, or the thorny bog of despair,

Whether we join in unison to overcome common social and economic afflictions or allow those afflictions to set us against each other in a ceaseless barrage of recrimination and animosity,

Whether we stand for justice and fairness for every Nigerian or stand for nothing at all, the quality of governance will determine these important things.

Politics determines governance and governance defines the life we lead. Thus, politics can never be a game. It is a link in that vital process that spins either toward progress or toward the accumulation of problems and their dire consequences.

In this regard, 2015 was a watershed year. People jettisoned the political game as usual. They rejected worn political affiliations and superficial loyalties for a chance at substantive change.

The people realized the political game had theretofore been played against rather than for them.

Prejudiced notions of all kinds were cast aside. Inducements that had enticed people before did not work that time. The people voted to better Nigeria.

Yet we must acknowledge that cynical politics as a game had been played, so long that it has become institutionalized.

The bad game permeates every institution of the political economy.

Ridding the nation of this rot is not a game. It is tantamount to moral as well as political warfare. Thus, we must not play at it.

We must fight desperately as if the fate of the nation depends on the outcome. For our fate actually does depend on it.

The battle waged during one election cycle is not enough to win this war.

Curing the ills that plague our house will require many years of outstanding governance.

Thus, it is imperative that we not allow politics as usual to claim the 2019 election season away from us.

We must insist on the principle that elections do not return to being games played by a well-heeled elite while the rest of the nation is left to struggle and starve.

The people must resist all appeals to unthinking passions and old prejudices. We must adhere to what our conscience reveals as the best path to good governance for all.

For me, that path has always been a progressive one that harks to the need to materially transform the power relationships upon which this political economy is based. Despite the progress made, too much political and economic power resides in the hands of too few. This results in a society described by too much unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, too little food, yet too much poverty.

For the debate needed on how best to tackle these structural problems, 2019 must not be a game between players similar in every way save the political party costume they wear.

The election to come must be a contest of different visions for the nation’s present and future.

As a progressive, I believe we must transform the nation by embarking on deep and impactful reforms, by creating more jobs, providing social policy initiatives and building an infrastructure befitting a leading nation. Social services must become a reality close at hand and not a vague dream lying in the distance.

For example, we must reform the current fuel subsidy regime. At this stage it causes more problems than it cures. Bottlenecks of long fuel queues, erratic supply, resultant economic dislocations for consumers from lack of fuel and the corrupt practices of trade insiders undermine the good intentions upon which the subsidy is based.

Currently, the subsidy does not benefit the average person. It sweetly profits the elites who manipulate the program to their own advantage. We need to allow market forces to more directly determine price. We need to open the now closed market to more suppliers. In this way, we may better harmonise supply and demand, where they do the most sustainable economic good.

In addition, we must repair our social safety net. Old people who have given so much to the nation are being shortchanged and forced to live in penury when they should be living in the dignity due their advanced years and their former labours.

Mr. President won the 2015 election on a platform that included economic recovery, job creation and improved welfare for workers. In keeping with his promise, one of his first executive actions was to arrange federal funding of nearly N800b for states to pay salary arrears; also, the subsequent refund of over N800b of Paris Club excess payment came with a similar guidance to State Governors to prioritise salary arrears and payments.

These laudable initiatives notwithstanding, clearing of salary arrears is still not fully achieved although it has clearly taken on an importance not seen in prior governments.

Meanwhile, the issue of longstanding mounting arrears of pension payments and retirement benefits to public sector workers remains outstanding. The total figure is estimated in trillions. This not only results in untold hardship for pensioners and their families, it denies the economy of needed stimulus and growth from the increased purchasing power resulting from payment of pensions.

In short, the progressive governance we seek will open the door to affordable housing for the average family, consumer credit for those with steady employment and the provision of basic welfare to our most vulnerable citizens.

Against progressive this vision, the other side, the conservative party among us, believes they can miraculously improve the nation by retaining the old ways that led us into the ditch in the first instance.

The past three years have captured the essence of our collective challenge. Progress has been made in part. However, advocates of the old ways have rebelled in full against even these partial blossoms of improvement.

Yet, I maintain the unshakeable belief that smart, progressive governance can bring prosperity, tranquility and justice.

During the past three years, this government has beaten Boko Haram into retreat.

None of us should forget the looming threat Boko Haram posed and the fear it instilled in the general public just a brief time ago. It had planted its flag over Nigerian land, claiming territory bigger than several nations. It had kidnapped and killed at will, decimating towns and villages in its wake.

The dreaded terrorist flag is nowhere to be seen and steadily people are returning to their homes, rebuilding their towns and villages in the process. Boko Haram may not be completely defeated but it shall never rise again to be the existential threat it once was. Because of this government’s policy, countless lives have been saved from the grasp of terror.

In addition, this government has progressed in the fight against corruption through recovery of stolen public funds and bringing wrong-doers to justice.

As progress is being made on these fronts, Nigeria also must face its biggest structural problem: our imbalanced economy and the poverty and misery it has caused.

If a prophet, I would begin to prophesy at this point about all the good economic things that shall visit Nigeria and its people if we stay the proper course; in taking further bold action to reform and improve our political economy.

But a prophet I am not.

Yet, if you permit me the slight indulgence of considering myself, at least, a statesman in the making, may I then state unto you the issues this nation and those who govern it must address.

I would be remiss at this moment if I failed to mention the terrible killings that have occurred in Benue and Taraba states.

It is important that we place the current crisis in proper context. No one should pretend that this evil just suddenly appeared from nowhere. We have been living and dying with this lethal situation for many years.

In years past, there have been herdsmen attacks smaller than this. There also have been attacks larger than this.

The current hue and cry against these killings is hopefully a sign that we are maturing as a nation. That we shall no longer countenance the wanton destruction of human lives no matter the religion, ethnicity or origin of the victims or the villains. If so, maybe this nation is coming of age and none too soon.

As such, this outcry is as welcome as it is overdue. We should have been agitating in this manner 5, 10, 15 years ago. Lives would have been saved. For reasons I cannot completely fathom we have come late to the point of strong, collective outrage at this bloodletting. Yet, all in all, late is better than never in this regard.

This spirit of compassion and care must be enshrined in our political culture because it is integral to national greatness and democratic progress. True patriotism requires that you love more than the concept of Nigeria. You must love the people who comprise this nation, whether they worship in a church, mosque, and shrine or not at all.

Over the course of history, nations have faced crises more crimson than this. Through wise policy, many nations emerged from the thicket better situated to realize their better destiny.

These nations and their people are no better than us. We can and we must do the same thing.

Against this backdrop, we must take prudent action. It is incumbent on the federal government to do what past governments neglected to do. We must forget our age-old prejudices in order to resolve this problem. What we need is serious committed action.

At its essence, this crisis was not born of religious or ethnic hatred. It is about a shrinking amount of grass and water.

In recent years the desert has expanded, consuming land once used to graze livestock. This pushed cattle herders farther and farther south to collide with the farmers who were there.

Ecological peril spawned economic conflict which descended into violence.

This violence has taken on religious, ethnic and regional consequences because of the identities of the parties involved. This tragic episode tolls a caution to us all.

Left to fester, this problem expanded to assume dimensions that now tremors the body politic.

This is what too often happens when dire problems are left unattended. Now, the current administration is moving to arrest the lethal situation.

I welcome the deployment of more law enforcement and military into the troubled areas. These security measures will stem the immediate violence and loss of life.

As we commend these security measures, we must not lose sight of the fact that the problem bears an economic origin. Thus, agro-economic policy initiatives must help shape the lasting solution.

The crux of the matter is that the nomadic way of life is fast becoming obsolete. Large scale nomadic practice does not belong in this day and age. This is reality and it is inescapable.

Thus, herders have no right to cling to this way of life by killing others. Government must stop their violence but also offer them a viable new way of life by moving them toward more modern, non-nomadic cattle rearing.

Additionally, government should establish a relief and rehabilitation program for those families and communities that have been so grievously harmed.

In short, to resolve this lethal problem, government must implement a multi-dimensional policy that encompasses security, agro-economic, educational and emergency relief elements. This is the art and mastery of governance that our nation and its complex problems require.

In addition to mending this rupture of peace, I believe those who seek to enshrine good governance must boldly act to improve the quality of life of the people.

1. We are a populous nation with large, ever-growing cities. We need to provide jobs for this expanding urban population. This means we must press forward with a national industrial policy by fostering strategic industries that will provide employment into the foreseeable future.

2. We need a national infrastructure plan that envisions a coherent and integrated infrastructural grid, as no national economy may grow beyond the capacity of the infrastructure that serves it. This particularly is true of electrical power.

3. We must reject the notion of orthodox economics that governmental balancing of budgets or surpluses are always good. In our case, following this mainstream approach may lead to perpetual stagnation and deter us from the brave steps required to promote true development.

In this regard, an immediate opportunity to provide stimulus to the economy while simultaneously alleviating the hardship of retirees and old-age pensioners presents itself, through the comprehensive tackling of outstanding pension payments. While what is needed is a holistic review and reform of the disjointed social security and welfare apparatus, a good place to start would be the clearing up of existing pension arrears and the establishment of a framework for averting their future build-up. The wider task of comprehensive social security reform would inevitably require a high-level body to review and advise on the harmonization of various initiatives and deductions from workers’ payrolls in the name of welfare, such as pension contributions, national housing fund, national health insurance etc

4. Monetary policy should move toward lower interest rates to make credit is more accessible to business and the consumer. This will spur industrial investment and help us reach more conducive levels of consumer demand. It also will dissuade people from corrupt temptations.

The need to pay for homes and other costly items in one lump sum payment is a strong invitation to corruption. For example, if mortgages and credit instruments are more available to the judiciary, jurists would be able to purchase homes, decent care and other items considered the basic amenities of modern life via long-term installment payments that can be met through their salaries. Able to purchase these things properly and thus afforded a comfortable life, jurists would be less vulnerable to improper inducements.

5. The government-backed home mortgage system must be re-structured and land conveyance more streamlined make mortgages and all forms of landed transactions are easier and less bureaucratic. This will increase the wealth of the nation and improve the efficiency of land use. It also opens the door to affordable housing for millions of families now beyond the reach of owning their own homes.

6. Agriculture remains the backbone of the nation. We must help the common farmer by improving rural output and incomes. Here, we must revive an old policy that served us well. We must return to commodity exchange boards which will allow farmers to secure good prices and hedge against loss. An agricultural mortgage loan corporation should be inaugurated to further promote these goals.

7. To achieve better levels of overall governance, we need to re-balance the duties between federal and state governments by giving states more power, authority and resources.

8. Last, Government must be sufficiently bold to begin a process that will ultimately result in a government-backed pension plan for all elderly Nigerians, this is something akin to Social Security which all great nations provide for those of advanced age.

The challenge we face leading into 2019 is not to fall backward in governance and development as we move forward in time. Reform and change are difficult because they are always and everywhere resisted by those who benefit from the old order.

But we must insist on a better life for our people. As such, the electoral politics of 2019 cannot be played as if a game that has no end other than itself. Here again, we must insist on politics having a nobler and larger goal than just registering certain people into the fraternity of officeholders.

People must not only aspire and hold office; they must seek to govern prudently from that office.

This is the challenge of 2019. Shall our elections be a game in and of itself or will it be a platform from which we continue to move toward the progressive, responsive governance Nigeria deserves.

I know the path I prefer. Because the next time I speak with a child, I would rather that it be that I can tell him more about the nature of our politics than can he tell me.

Asiwaju Tinubu, a former Governor of Lagos State, is the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress.

Herdsmen On Rampage: When Will Mr. President Bite The Bullet? By Tosin Omoniyi

‘The warnings pile up, the distress signals have turned into a prolonged howl of despair and rage. The answer is not to be found in pietistic appeals to victims to avoid ‘hate language’ and divisive attributions. The sustained, killing monologue of the herdsmen is what is at issue. It must be curbed, decisively and without further evasiveness…Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka on killings.

In July 2017, the governor of Benue, Samuel Ortom gave Nigerians a chilling account of how 1,878 lives were lost to the lingering clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the state, between 2013 and 2016 alone.

Mr. Ortom, who said this (according to a report on Premium Times) while receiving Edward Kallon, UN Resident Coordinator, who led a UN delegation on a courtesy visit to his office, said the killings cut across all the 12 local governments in the state.

Quoting a report from a research conducted by the State Emergency Management Agency and Benue Planning Commission, in collaboration with NGOs, he said that 750 persons were ”seriously wounded while 200 others were still missing.”

The embattled governor also noted that 99,427 households were affected, while property worth billions of naira were destroyed.

He was quoted by the report as saying that, “A 2014 survey, conducted by the Benue Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, found out that the destruction by herdsmen exceeded N95 billion in 10 local governments in that year alone.”

Another report, this time by the Benue State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, says about 80,000 Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, are present, across four camps located in Guma and Logo local government areas of the state.

Guma and Logo were the local governments affected most by the latest gruesome murder of over 50 people by suspected herdsmen. Scores more have lost their lives in such skirmishes in Nassarawa and Plateau states.

An anti-open grazing law to curb the perceived excesses of the herders came into effect in the state last November which many attribute to the real cause of the latest carnage. The governor had reportedly alleged that the herdsmen, who were not comfortable with the legislation had threatened to ‘react’. A cry for help to the presidency and security operatives to avert the carnage reportedly made Mr. Ortom was ignored.

The law was the state’s response to repeated attacks against its residents, including a February 2016 massacre of over 500 villagers in Agatu.

I am sure the Benue governor will have to take another look at some of his submissions in the wake of the recent killings by marauding bands of armed-to-the-teeth Fulani herdsmen that have taken over large swathes of his territory.
In the face of these bloodletting is the disturbing aloofness of President Muhammadu Buhari to stem the tide. Even though an unwilling Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim was eventually given marching orders to relocate to the state to handle the situation and a terse statement was issued by the presidency on the crisis, many are yet to applaud Mr. Buhari for addressing the disturbing trend decisively.
Many are appalled that it took the president less than a day to condemn the July 4 suicide bombing that rocked Saudi Arabia but took ‘forever’ before a presidential statement condemning the carnage in Benue to come. Many have humorously alluded to te fact that cows are more valuable than human lives.
This is perhaps not the best time to be a Nigerian president from the ethnic Fulani tribe which perhaps explains why the president appears to have been boxed into a not too comfy corner. Or how do you react when members of your tribe are being accused of criminality in a situation where you have to be a father to all and wield the big stick irrespective of whose ox is gored?
Many cannot seem to comprehend why the president would deploy troops to Zamfara to curtail the activities of cattle rustlers and then choose to send largely ill-equipped policemen to engage bloodthirsty armed herdsmen, who signatures, wherever they invade, are mangled human parts, broken limbs, bloodied corpses of women and children and massive destruction.
Disconcertingly, the eerie silence of the president (apart from weak public statements) is being interpreted in diverse ways.
One, the situation if not well handled, could fuel further ethnic conflict in a polity already ruptured by mutual suspicion.
The Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose alluded to ethnic cleansing as a reason for the killings in one of his vituperations though that is certainly not the case. It is pure criminality. The president’s silence is also seen as a sign of bias by his traducers while others still view it as a weakness of the security architecture of the nation which has not been able to tackle the menace for many years.
The gory pictures of the carnage that besieged our consciousness courtesy of the social media in recent days call for a deep introspection of what drives us as a nation. It reveals a greater evil that if not well managed by the president has the much more disturbing ability to rupture the already fragile unity that binds us a nation.
For me though, in the heat of the blood-chilling pictures, some pertinent questions beg for answers.
How did we get to this sorry pass? How on earth did the Fulani herder, who in the past was relatively known for peace and harmlessness in communities where they sojourned with their cattle suddenly become fiendish and subjects of terror in the same communities where they were once allowed to move unimpeded? Is there a conspiracy of silence among the ruling class no one is willing to unveil much like, ‘the voice of Jacob but the hand of Esau’?
I remember as a young ‘corper’ serving in a rural community in the capital city how I mingled with Fulani herders and had a good laugh with a few.
Even as a reporter in one of the dailies, in the course of writing investigative reports, I travelled to a few Fulani enclaves in Jos and Abuja and was warmly received by the Fulani and offered water and the notable delicacy, fura. I remember beautiful Amina, a vibrant Fulani damsel I was enthralled with while serving in Gwargwada on the outskirts of FCT and who I actually nursed getting married to! What went wrong?
Of course, the struggle to have access to land by both the herders and the farmers has been fingered as the principal cause but were these challenges not handled with wisdom in the past. Why has it now degenerated to incessant orgies and unbridled violence?
I feel for Mr. President, really I do. However, it is time he wields the big stick by ensuring that the situation is addressed and as quickly as possible. And in addressing the challenge, he must be willing to go all the way to entrench justice no matter who is indicted or from which tribe or ethnic cleavage such come from. If his ethnic tribe is indicted in the killings, he must do the needful to bring them to justice. If indeed, it is the local communities that are indicted in the killing of herdsmen, then the same axe of justice must descend. No one is above the law, no matter what tribe they belong!
Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo had to take some harsh decisions when the militant Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, members of his ethnic stock held the nation by the jugular and he even had to take tougher nay controversial steps when he deployed troops to parts of the middle belt populated by Christians like him. We all know the story of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, when they tackled one of their own, ex-president Goodluck Jonathan and how the usually taciturn Jonathan came down hard on them. Only former president Umaru Yar’adua appears to have been spared taking such harsh decisions against his own tribe.
Even the embattled Mr. Buhari has had to take military steps against his region which has been overrun by rampaging Boko Haram since he came into power. A leader has a burden that transcends ethnic considerations hence the need to take these actions. A plus for Mr. President, however, is the fact that he has overcome the seeming reverie by reportedly sending units of mobile police and troops to Benue as a first step. But is that enough?
The title of this piece is indicative. Historically, there existed the practice of having a patient clench a bullet in his or her teeth as a way of coping with the extreme pain of a surgical procedure without anaesthetic. In other words, the phrase could mean the ability to accept unpleasant consequences, take decisive actions, despite one’s assumed beliefs and stance. On this repeated killings, it is perhaps time for the president to ‘bite the bullet’: metaphorically of course.
I want to align with some of the suggestions preferred by a respected columnist and senior colleague, Timawus Mathias who suggested in a recent piece, the designation of cattle stock routes on 20/30 metres off the shoulders of state and federal highways across states as a veritable first step to solve the crisis. Other possible solutions include the designation and scouting of gazetted stock routes across states, designation and provision of protected grazing reserves, conducting annual of inoculation and data processing activities for regulated cattle breeding and assistance to herders, strategic publicity that ensures effortless community compliance of accepted government policies and continuous engagement of stakeholders in peacebuilding efforts.
The suggestion of ranching, which is private initiative and cattle colonies, which is government initiative are good ideas but must be accepted and approved by the affected states after due consultation. As it is, even though every Nigerian is entitled to live and move in any part of the nation constitutionally, this right is only strengthened by good community relations between the host communities and ‘visitors.’
At the centre of all these initiatives to resolve the crisis, the father of the nation, Mr. President must be seen actively channelling resources and energy to ensure that peace returns between the herdsmen and the farmers, who both deserve equal treatment under the Nigerian state. Nigerians are waiting.
Mr. Omoniyi is the former editor of the online news platform of Aljazirah Newspapers. 

DG NIA, Ahmed Abubakar: Newest Victim Of Senator Misau’s Destructive Campaign Against President Buhari, By Maiwada Dammallam

“I think Senator Isah Hamman Misau Representing Bauchi Central Senatorial District is an emotionally troubled person, an attention seeker that battles against low self-esteem and psychological trauma of the past. The man, a controversial narrative of all forms of democratic norms, seems to be erratic, hysterical and insecure member of the parliament that reacts on brazen impulses, thus, an embarrassment to the exalted office of the senate.” – Ibrahim Modibbo
I can understand when petty people engage “suya joint” arguments to attack President Buhari, his cabinet or key officers of his administration. However, I find it irritating when a serving Senator use pedestrian arguments/logics in a blind attempt to shoot down this administration as Senator Isa Misau has being doing consistently since the birth of this administration. His latest attack on the newly appointed DG of the NIA was no less petty, illogical and built on a weak foundation of factual inaccuracies not to talk of the indecorous approach.
Ordinarily one wouldn’t waste time responding to the inaccurate tirades released to the public on the respected floor of the senate but for the author being a serving Senator who enjoys enough institutional respect to be taken serious by the naive and the gullible. As an ordinary citizen, Misau’s acerbic comments against President Buhari’s appointment of DG NIA couldn’t pass for more than the “suya joint” vituperation they were much less, generate public interest worthy of response or public debate.
Senator Misau is famous for all the wrong reasons top on the list, being an expert in character assassination whose stock in trade remains the hard earned names of public officials which he trades for space in news magazines to remain relevant enough to negotiate a decent spot in the prestigious red chamber. One could easily deduce Senator Misau’s disposition by reviewing his recent case with IGP Idris and Mrs. Aisha Buhari.
Not so long ago Senator Misau hit Nigeria with a libellous allegations against the IGP in which he alleged the IGP was in an amorous relationship with two women police officers one of whom he impregnated and later secretly married in Kaduna against the law. As it turned out, not only there’s no law preventing police officers from marrying fellow colleagues, it was later exposed that the Distinguished Senator was a product of such professional incidentals.
His parents were both police officers and that didn’t stop them marrying to give birth to a future senator. IGP Ibrahim Idris competently defended himself before the Senate by stating categorically no law prevents him from marrying a serving female police officer if he so wishes.
Interestingly, Misau is yet to challenge the IGP’s claim that the law does not prevent him from marrying a  fellow police officer, a premise on which Misau built his porous allegations. He is also yet to respond to the family of the second victim who said that their daughter got married to the IGP publicly. Nasiru Baba Saleh, a member of the family, insisted that Misau lied against their daughter and that he must prove the allegations or the family seek redress in a court of law.
Who could fault the family for trying to defend the honour of their daughter especially with the abundance of proof in public domain to punch holes in Senator Misau’s childish allegations. The alleged IGP’s “secret wedding” turned out be an elaborate wedding conducted in the famous Sultan Bello mosque, Kaduna and was well attended by both families, friends and well wishers. Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha was also pictured attending the IGP’s wedding dinner alongside prominent dignitaries.
One could only wonder if Misau’s definition of “secret” is totally opposite and in conflict with its dictionary meaning. Not only that, one could only wonder how a person occupying as sensitive and responsible office as that of a Senator could be so flippant and verbally reckless.
Not done trying to smear and pull down IGP Idris, Misau concocted yet another libellous and inciting allegation. Against all sense of decorum and in total disregard to the prestige of his office as a senator and a lawmaker, Senator Misau alleged that the IGP has corruptly gifted the wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari some vehicles. While Mrs. Buhari promptly distanced her person from the concocted allegation, the police later confirmed the vehicles were to her police aides for their official use.
As usual, Senator Misau left the allegation hanging without retracting much less, apologising to the two public personalities for dragging their names in the mud. Thankfully Misau is still battling a libel suit slapped on him by IGP Idris to clear his good name.
That Senator Isa Misau is a senior member of the ruling APC whose actions and conduct should logically indicate support to the President and his administration yet, the flamboyant Senator remain consistently a thorn in the flesh of the administration and its major players shouldn’t pass as mere coincidence. Senator Misau is on a mission to distract and destroy this administration using the cheapness of the media as a weapon. This much could be deduced from the politics behind the election of the NASS leadership and Senator Misau’s open display of a consuming ambition to warm his way into the heart of the senate leadership. Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC/Nasarawa) proved as much when he rebuked Misau on his latest tirade against the new DG, NIA thusly:
“I will not accept, anybody coming here virtually calling the President by his name. Calling operatives of government by their names and condemning them. It’s not right. Make your points within the laws. Comment that there is insecurity, nobody is saying you shouldn’t say so but you don’t say so in a way of inciting the public, it’s wrong.”
To students of political science, why should Senator Misau make a habit of denigrating the President and his critical operatives in an inciting when he was elected under the same banner with the President and logically should be expected to be at the vanguard of protecting the administration. Is it because Misau, a serving senator, have no access to President or is it because he have a diabolical agenda to weaken the President’s political structure in preparation for a candidate he have in mind come 2019?
Is it not questionable that Senator Misau is always embroiled in scripted and non value adding controversies aimed at lowering the esteem of the President and his kitchen cabinet?
Is it also not questionable that Senator Misau, an APC senator, could shamelessly accuse President Buhari of not “taking any decision to move the country forward”? He said, and I quote:
“So many incompetent people are holding so many positions. Fifty per cent of the ministers are not performing. Since the president assumed office he has not taken any decision to move this country. Today we are seeing it and everybody is avoiding it, nobody wants to say anything.”
What could be more absurd? If actually President Buhari has not taken any decision to move the the country forward or if he is surrounded by “incompetent people holding so many positions”, was it accidental that the President and his “incompetent” officers were not only able to halt the dangerous slide of Nigeria into nothingness but, also kickstart the process of reversing the sad situation they inherited from PDP in just 2 years?
Senator Misau may be living an easy life on a fat salary to notice the feats achieved in Nigeria’s economy. For all the awareness he publicly displayed, Misau was not even aware that President Buhari recently pulled Nigeria out of a recession caused by the reckless management of the economy by the immediate past administration.
Perhaps, Misau was busy in his library debating which decent Nigeria to go after to further weaken the Buhari structure that he failed to notice how steadily Nigeria’s foreign reserve has been growing lately much less, notice the improvement of generated power up to 7000MW from the lowly 3,000MW President Buhari inherited.
With 24hrs private electricity arrangement paid by tax payers money, I don’t expect Misau to know that Nigeria’s transmission capacity has reached 6900MW from about 5,000MW and distribution is now averaging 5,000MW up from mere 2,690MW in just 2 years.
Insulated from the reality of Nigeria’s economy as inherited and turned around by President Buhari, I don’t expect Misau to be aware that monthly import bill (FOREX Dependency) has dramatically dropped from $5.5b to $1.9b thanks to President Buhari and his “incompetent officers” for “doing nothing”. I’m sure if this is the true meaning of “doing nothing”, come 2019 Nigerians would happily vote for President Buhari for “doing nothing” just to keep doing nothing.
Nigerians should be aware that when it walks like a dog, bark and wag its tail like dog, then certainly it’s a dog. It’s not such a going to Pluto mental task to understand that Senator Misau is a homegrown mole working tirelessly within to compromise to weaken the support base of President Buhari for reasons that would soon be clear to Nigerians. No sense of reasoning could accept Misau’s constant rantings against President Buhari and his officers of this administration as anything other than a carefully scripted campaign to weaken the integrity of the President with 2019 around the corner.
DG NIA, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar shouldn’t be distracted by Senator Misau’s campaign of calumny. He is a bull in a China shop. With so many battles to fight, I pray Senator Misau wisely chose which battles to fight. Rather than picking on honest and innocent people to destroy for the simple “sin” of working hard to earn a good name and reputation to be noticed to serve their fatherland, he should concentrate his energy on learning how to be a senator.
It’s repulsive to have to listen to Senator Misau preaching ‘competency’ when not long ago the media was awash with stories of how he was chased out of his Bauchi central senatorial district. The ‘sprinter senator’ was said to have ran away leaving behind his shoes and his heavily starched ‘kube’ cap in a bid to escape a ‘crash course’ on how to be a functional senator organised by youth in his senatorial district.

Science Student: Will Olamide Ever Be Arrested? By Adekoya Boladale

When Shanawole, the 11-year-old vicious cultist was unveiled to the world in his full regalia, deck with fire blazing arm-size Indian hemp few months ago before his eventual rehabilitation by a Pastor of This Present House Church, most Nigerians who watched his confession which was often interrupted by a puff of the hemp in his hand interpreted his predicament to the breakdown of our societal values and decaying parental responsibility.

While this is true, his revelation also points to the drooping sanity across Nigeria today. Our society is in trouble and more than ever, our youth, male and female alike, are the most endangered species. Not only have we lost the war on drug abuse effortlessly, we have further created a yard for eventual neuropsychiatric disorder.

The soaring rate of drug abuse in our society is so shocking, the effects will be borne by generations yet unborn if not nip in the bud immediately.

Already, over three million bottles of codeine syrup are consumed daily in Kano and Jigawa States alone according to the Nigerian Senate. In an interview with This Day newspaper, a former Director General of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Otunba Ipinmisho, pegged the percentage of youths involved in drug abuse in Nigeria at 40 per cent. An estimated figure of forty million Nigerian youths!

At the heart of this escalating epidemic is a rave making Nigerian artiste, Olamide Adedeji, known by many as Badoo.

Ever since he started his musical career, the self-crowned ‘King of the street’ has more than often continue to promote vulgar lyrics capable of destroying the foundation of our morality and socio-cultural values. His beats, though danceable and rhythmical are often backed by a blend of social rascality. Mr. Adedeji seems fixated on maintaining a street creed that he consciously promotes violence, hooliganism and drug abuse.

From the days of ‘eni duro’ – a street lingual which he created and often associated with destruction and delinquency, followed by ‘Young Erikina’ where he openly eulogise the criminal activities of internet fraudsters, Mr. Adedeji’s promotion of immorality has been a hit back-to-back.

His most recent song ‘Science Student’, produced by his famous partner in crime, Young John, is the final nail to whatever coffin the sanity of our society is buried in. The lyrics are not only intoxicating but a multiplication of unfathomable glorification of hard drugs and encouragement of intake of same.

From the array of vulgarity the song portrays, his vigorous encouragement of youths to mix illicit substances like ‘skushi’‘monkey tail’ – a corrosive distillation of Indian hemp soaked in ethanol for days to derive hyper combustion, amongst other substances betray any decency left in the Nigerian music industry.

Already drug addicts have started wearing the toga like a badge with pride, many, who do not understand basic terminologies such as chromatography, transpiration or algebra now answer to the appellation ‘Science Student’.

It is high time the Nigerian Police Force and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency lived up their responsibilities for once and call Mr. Adedeji for questioning. He must explain his role in the promotion of indecency, public unrest and drug abuse. It is hardly unexpected that Mr. Adedeji may have more than a cordial relationship with merchants of this industry, perhaps, even a stake in the underworld market.

But if these acts of his are merely the display of youthful exuberance, Mr. Adedeji must realise that even if our society has failed and our political system continues to leave us all with no glimpse of hope, applying fuel to an inferno is never a way to quell it.

Mr. Adedeji wields enormous influence and the sooner he realise that he is no longer the teenager struggling for relevance few years ago, the better for this nation. If not for anything but for his fan base of young and malleable Nigerians open to musical influence, he should grow up.

Influence such as his, if used rightly can earn him global recognition and perhaps, a page in history. With his great power, he must take up greater responsibilities. He should focus his attention more on social causes and issues that affect the lives of his fans. Mr. Adedeji should be admonished to value humanity than rave or sustaining popularity.

Finally, the National Broadcasting Commission which should act as the clearing house for songs even before they hit the airwaves seems to have gone to sleep. I hope it is not too late to act now.

As a matter of national security and preserving whatever is left of our sanity, the President should direct the Minister for Health to order an immediate ban on all pharmaceutical drugs that are prone to abuse and make Mr. Adedeji the face of the campaign against drug abuse.

Boladale is on social media as @adekoyabee

Fulani: Pastoralism, Herdsmen-Farmers Clashes, Anti Grazing Law, And A Call For Modernisation, By Abdulbaqi Jari

Who are the Fulanis? Fulani people are historical Nomads and itinerants from upper part of Futajallon in modern day Mali who regularly move from there to Central African Republic in search of greener pasture for their battles.
The recent pronouncement of Anti Grazing Bill in Benue state does not come to me as a surprise considering the fact that there have been sereis of killing and community clashes between people who always believed to be “Fulani herdsmen” and farmers.
What many people don’t know is that this killings have been going on for the past 200 years or more in core Hausa states, since when Fulani usurped Hausa thrones in 1804. Almost every farming season, there are clashes between Fulani nomads and Hausa farmers which results in lost of many lives. But that has always been underplayed because the rulers of those sized lands (Hausa States) are Fulani and that since they sized those lands they have created classes of people and disparity which has always favoured the Fulanis.
A typical Fulani man is like a Japanese in 1800 when they always caused trouble trying to conquer China, Korea and Russia, until when America put a stop to their greed. They are aggressive, fearless and conquerors. They move with their animals destroying farmlands and government at no point in time has ever called them to order or tried doing anything close to that.
The locals must also not plant on routes designated for nomads. That is a crime and instigation. The Fulani has lived as nomads for hundreds of years. To ask them to give up that lifestyle at once is unjust and may not work. The process should begin gradually till it is fully accepted by them.
Just as there is not anything like Kanuri-Shuwa, Gbagi-Nupe, Igbo-Ijaw, Arab-Jew or Korea-Japan despite their closeness and intermarriages, there has never been anything like Hausa-Fulani despite our similarities. Hausa and Fulani are totally different people. But we Hausa people are always at the receiving end and made to bear the consequences whenever Fulani went to any place to cause havoc. Yes, they are our brothers, but we Hausa people have suffered and paid more than we should covering for the Fulanis.
It is time the Fulani should accept modernity and build Ranches. It is in their interest and in the interest of Nigerians, peace and above all, their offsprings. They should learn to live in peace with local people. Any feeling of superiority must be dropped and equality accepted. The Mughals conquered India and ruled over it for 700 years, but ultimately, they were chased away at some point in time because they have refused to accept and mingle themselves with the Hindi people, denying opportunities on the majority and ill feelings.
I call on federal government to ensure justice for both Fulani killed in Numan, Tiv killed in Benue, Hausas, Igbos and any other person of any tribe killed unlawfully in Nigeria. That is the only way that will bring peace and tranquility in Nigeria. And also, an inter-tribal and inter-religious forums should be organised regularly to help in bringing peace in Nigeria. Not forums on papers or for influential people, but real forums without disparity and separation.
Abdulbaqi Jari
Facebook: @bahaushen
Twitter: @bahaushee

Gov. Okorocha: Of Tyranny And Discontent, By Chido Onumah

A very significant event—a peaceful mass protest against the misgovernance and mindless plunder of Imo State by Mr. Rochas Okorocha—took place in Owerri exactly a month ago, on Monday, December 18, 2017. It was organized by the Imo Peoples Action for Democracy (IPAD), a coalition of civil society and professional groups in Imo State.

It didn’t get much media traction, not because it didn’t deserve national media attention. Part of the problem is the character of the Nigerian media. The other explanation was the concerted effort by Mr. Okorocha and his goons, aided by the Nigeria Police, to suppress the protest.

By the morning of the protest, radio stations in Owerri were running bulletins, issued by the Nigeria Police, claiming that the protest had been called off because the police had declared it illegal. That declaration was, of course, not only patently false but illegal considering that the Nigerian constitution guarantees citizens freedom of thought and expression.

Not trusting their own propaganda, Mr. Okorocha and the police rolled out tanks, deployed various security outfits and laid siege to Owerri, searching vehicles coming into the city centre for protesters. Their machinations, and the massive security presence, notwithstanding, citizens of Imo State came out to show their displeasure with Mr. Okorocha’s harebrained polices. Expectedly, the police confronted the protesters, firing tear gas, attacking those who refused to disperse and confiscating banners and placards.

Interestingly, on the same day, Mr. Okorocha’s myrmidons, suborned by a vicious and clueless chief executive, gathered at the Imo International Convention Centre (IICC), Owerri, with full security protection, singing and dancing, to show their “support” for a man desperate for acceptance and approval even with the national opprobrium his time as governor has drawn.

A day before, as I distributed leaflets about the protest at an anti-imperialist youth camp organized by Social Action in Owerri, one of the young people I met informed me that the Imo State government had made available two million naira (N2,000,000) for youth from all the local governments in the state to dissuade them from joining the protest.

The responsibility of “sharing” the largesse fell on Onwueyiagwu Valentine who was just two weeks old on the job as commissioner for youth development.  The young man in question told me, in an appealingly irreverent way, that when he and his mates were summoned by the obviously edgy commissioner, he had no inkling that he was going to convey Mr. Okorocha’s message that the youth should be paid to put the kibosh on the protest. He said his share of the money was three thousand naira (N3,000) and that he collected it to cover his transportation. He assured me he would participate in the protest. This is just an insight into how far a desperate Mr. Okorocha went to deny Imolites their right to protest his malfeasance.

The December 18, 2017, protest was significant for three reasons: one, it laid to rest the myth that the tyranny of Mr. Okorocha could not be challenged; two, it showed the incestuous, and profitable, relationship between Mr. Okorocha and the Nigeria Police Force in Imo State headed by Mr. Chris Ezike, the state police commissioner; three, it marked the beginning of what would be a long-drawn-out battle to reclaim Imo State and rescue it from the grips of a grotesque mediocrity, to use Karl Marx’s apt description of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. I shall return to this third point.

Anyone who has taken, even a cursory, interest in happenings in Nigeria, will be piqued by the actions of the menace called Rochas Anayo Okorocha, the governor of Imo State. Two years after he took office on May 29, 2011, he orchestrated the impeachment of his then deputy, Jude Agbaso, by the State House of Assembly, on allegation of corruption. Okorocha installed his sidekick and chief of staff, Eze Madumere, as deputy governor.

For Imolites who had gone through a string of ineffectual governors—including Okorocha’s predecessor, Ikedi Ohakim, himself a devious administrator—the emergence of Mr. Okorocha in 2011 was a testament to the beauty of democracy and the power of the people. Mr. Okorocha’s antecedents did not qualify him to run a local government much less a state. His “fame” derived from what Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, describes as being an “appendage of power.”

A semi-literate political freeloader who has toyed with the idea of running for president several times, Mr. Okorocha promoted himself as a “successful businessman and education philanthropist.” In April 2011, he “won” a highly controversial election marred by irregularities and became the fourteenth governor of Imo State since its creation in 1976.

Let it be clear, some of those who oppose Mr. Okorocha today supported him a few years ago. They thought, then, that considering his so-called rag to riches story, Mr. Okorocha could empathize with the harried citizens of the state. Imolites were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on the heels of a succession of depraved governors. It didn’t take long before Mr. Okorocha proved that governorship of Imo State was beyond his pay grade.

In a recent interview with Tell magazine, Mr. Okorocha noted: “My ideas drive me crazy.” He wasn’t speaking figuratively. Going by his own insane admission, there is no other way to describe his stewardship other than pure madness. Mr. Okorocha has embarked on the most reckless anti-people programmes Imolites have witnessed. He has demolished markets, displacing poor market men and women without providing succour.

Civil servants are owed backlog of salaries and when they are paid, they are only given a percentage of their salary. Same for pensioners. He runs the finances of Imo State without recourse to the State House of Assembly. In an October 14, 2016, petition addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, a group, Concerned Citizens of Imo State noted, among other things, that Mr. Okorocha had destroyed the civil service in the state and rendered it ineffective.

According to the group, “The first thing he did after he took office was to publicly announce: ‘I do not believe in the use of files or in due process. Due process is due corruption; whenever I wake up, I move where my mind directs me.’ The governor makes appointments bypassing the state Civil Service Commission and with no regard for competence. Workers in the state civil service are the worst hit. Permanent secretaries, directors and professionals like doctors, engineers, architects and surveyors are mere spectators, even in areas where their specialty and experience are most needed. Their jobs have been taken over by Okorocha’s surrogates.”

Indeed, Mr. Okorocha’s mind has been directing him to all kinds of inanities. A few years ago, he woke up and his mind directed him to pull down the central library—an edifice older than Imo State and one which, as an undergraduate at the University of Calabar three decades ago, was a refuge for me and many in my generation and beyond—to construct what has turned out to be his personal cathedral.

Recently, not being able to pay civil servants, notwithstanding the billions of naira from the federal government to meet that obligation, Mr. Okorocha woke up one morning and his mind directed him to declare a three-day work week. He asked civil servants who were owed months of salary arrears to take up farming to make up for the unpaid wages. His latest idle fancy is erecting statues in Owerri.

And Mr. Okorocha’s statues don’t come cheap as he gleefully told Channels TV in an interview a few weeks ago. He recently commissioned one, amid national outrage, of the certified rogue president, Jacob Zuma of South Africa.

Back to the issue of reclaiming Imo State. Today, the state has become the Okorocha fiefdom. For Mr. Okorocha, democracy simply means government of the Okorochas by the Okorochas and for the Okorochas. Last month, he announced his younger sister, Ogechi Ololo (nee Okorocha)deputy chief of staff for internal and domestic affairs—as commissioner for “happiness and couples’ fulfillment,” and later, “purpose fulfilment.”

He has no compunction naming public buildings after his family members. His father-in-law, Prof Anthony Anwukah, a former secretary to the state government under Mr. Okorocha, and now the junior minister of education, is the minister representing Imo State in the Federal Executive Council.

A few days before the December 18 protest, Uche Nwosu, ex-personal assistant, lapdog, and son-in-law of Mr. Okorocha, and currently his chief of staff, launched what was clearly his 2019 governorship campaign, leaving no one in doubt that the son-in-law is being primed to replace the father-in-law; a grand tragedy set to be replaced by a rotten farce, to paraphrase Friedrich Engels. Regrettably, some members of the do-nothing Imo State House of Assembly have already endorsed this caricature.

There is so much a people can endure. It is comforting that the Imo Peoples Action for Democracy has declared 2018 a year of rage! Now that the heat is on, those who aspire to lead Imo State in 2019 must stand up and be counted.

Onumah is the author of We Are All Biafrans. Follow him on Twitter @conumah

This Talk Is Too Much, By Tayo Elegbede

If talks guarantee development, Nigeria would be a first-world country.

Unfortunately, Nigeria is still a grand master in the third-world colony, elusive of expansive social, economic and political development.

Unarguably, Nigerians are blessed with extensive talking prowess. But then, talk is cheap and not an alternative to actions that ensure all-round human and social advancement.

Bring up any issue, anytime, anywhere and anyhow, most Nigerians will have something to say. From those who have deep insight into the issue(s) at stake, to those who rely on hearsay to express their warped perceptive and, of course, those without a pinch of the issue but don’t want to “carry last”, it’s almost a reflex action for most Nigerians to talk, talk and talk. “No be every talk dey make sense ooo.”

For (some), politicians and governments, it’s perfidious promises, explanations and excuses for quantum failures. Clerics have their forte in perpetual proclamations without substance effect. Businesses grow in producing phoney proposals, plans, projects and performances. Many others, it’s simply a case of spitting words at every (un)expected moments.

Realistically, the gains of this plethora of talks are invisible.

Check out the myriad of thoughts expressed daily on Radio, TV, Print and Online and privately and you’ll appreciate how much Nigerians talk. Check the endless legislative, committee and public hearing sessions and you can quantify the value of talk. Take a look at the number of conferences, seminars and workshops held in Nigeria annually and you will be amazed at how less we’ve harnessed the power of our talks.

We’ve simply mastered the act of flipping pages on issues, offering analyses and talks, bouncing the blame ball, proffering superficial solutions and moving to the next issue of discourse. No follow up, no introspection, no implementation…Just move on! A circle we’ve been comfortable with through the decades.

At this juncture of our national existence, we need to be more conscious of the potency of words and get definite with our talks to achieve clear-cut agenda. In doing this, identifying and engaging the right audience is key. Who are you? What do you want to talk about? Who are you talking to/about? What do you want to achieve? You can’t be advising government without the government’s knowledge or presentation of your idea piece. Enough of enclosed conversations and social agitations tagged social analyses without social value.

The media needs to redefine its public/government relations role by clearly dissecting issues, welcoming opinions, filtering thoughts and present relevant ideas to all stakeholders.

Talk is cheap, find the value of your talk.

Enjoy your freedom of speech, responsibly.

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